I Should Have Been a Rock Star
by John Kaniecki
Genre: SciFi Fantasy
"What happens when Don ‘Hypo’ Colandri mysteriously disappears from Edward’s University on his way to a Statics exam? Why his three roommates lie outright claiming he was kidnapped by a Satanic cult, all to get money and score with chicks. Don, however, has been mysteriously transported into outer space where he becomes a pawn of one Nellie Watt against the Time Lords in a cosmic game being run by God. Unfortunately for Myron, Slick and Psycho, (Don’s three former roommates) they have dived into a realm where fools tread. Hilda Thethia, a practicing Satanist, learns of the ruse and quickly begins to blackmail the trio. Sadly Myron, Slick and Psycho realize that the followers of Satan are more wide spread than they could have ever imagined and none are too happy at having the name of their Dark Lord besmirched. Meanwhile poor Don is learning the ropes of outer space in a very hard way. Every mystery he solves only brings more questions. Will Nellie Watt succeed in her contest against the Time Lords and go to the Twinkling of Twilights to press the Reset Button? Will Myron, Slick and Psycho manage to escape from the miserable maze they created? And most important of all, Why didn’t YOU become a rock star?
John Kaniecki was born in Brooklyn, New York. Though having no memories of life there, John is proud to be called a Native New Yorker. John was raised in Pequanock Township, New Jersey. At age twenty John was baptized and became a member of the Church of Christ. Presently John resides in Montclair, NJ and lives with his wife of over twelve years Sylvia. The happy couple attend the Church of Christ at Chancellor Avenue in Newark, NJ. John is very active in outreach and teaching as part of the leadership of the congregation.
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Meet Don Colandri
This is the story of Don Colandri: a fictional character in a fictional universe.
Everything else presented upon these sacred pages is potent gospel truth.
We now join our protagonist in the midst of one of his most distasteful pastimes.
He is not studying. Oh no, studying is far from the excruciating, intense ordeal
happening. Rather, the young college student is cramming. Observe the multiple
beads of sweat gathering on Don’s head, in particular on the glossy area of his
premature receding hairline, where the light shines and shimmers. It is a physical
feature that makes Don Colandri look older than he actually is, not old in a
positive sense, like he could enter into a liquor store and not be asked to present
an ID, but rather in a merciless pathetic way.
If Don Colandri could be mistaken for a tennis star, it would without a doubt
be John McEnroe. Of course, Don couldn’t play tennis like the aforementioned
world champion. But you wouldn’t know that if you sat and listened to Mr.
Colandri. In fact, with frantic persuasion Don would lay down pertinent
statements to make his case. As is his habit, his truths are laced with lies. “I can
serve the ball over one hundred miles an hour,” he says. “My two-hand
backhand is better than most people’s forehand,” he claims. “I would have
played in the Olympics, but I pulled a hamstring,” he laments. In fact, such
falsifications are canted with “hyper” enthusiasm. This leads directly to Don
Colandri’s nickname. He is known by friend and foe alike as Hypo. By the way,
his two-hand backhand is better than most people’s forehands, as everybody who
has never played tennis is part of that which constitutes “most people.”
Words fail me to describe Don Colandri with only one primary adjective.
Some men, for example, are known as handsome. They have perfectly straight
teeth, creating a glistening white smile, with luscious blue eyes that capture all
the wonders of creation and with hair in immaculate style as if painstakingly put
in order strand by strand, all summed up in one label as handsome.
Hypo, however, is not handsome. Rather, he is far from it. In perfect honesty,
and truthful I must be, the young man is quite repugnant. His mouth boasts
crooked teeth, stained yellow from smoking tobacco cigarettes. He has beady
eyes reminiscent of a rat, always shifting left and right as if navigating some
grand maze in an endless quest for a massive hunk of provolone cheese. The
character’s receding hair has been previously mentioned. In addition, these
disloyal tresses were curly and frequently greasy. Yet I am reluctant to simply
describe Don Colandri as repugnant. For it would miss inner values, some of
which contain virtue. It is not that Don Colandri is remotely righteous. Rather,
true to life, he is gray. Not ambiguous in that shade, for as the story proceeds,
specific personality traits shall clearly come forth. Don Colandri, simply put, is
Don Colandri. So let’s just call him Hypo, shall we?
Now, Don Colandri is a sophomore attending Edward’s University. As attested
by his statics book, Don is an engineering student. At this exact instant, he is
trying to deduce the effect of moments on cantilever beams. One day, Hypo
dreams of being a successful engineer. He has no pretense that he is working at
this for the betterment of mankind. Rather, his mind is focused on green. Not the
green of nature either, but rather the green of money. But before he can count his
riches, he must attain them. This means paying some dues and attaining his
college degree. So the pressing matter at hand is the complicated sketch of a
cantilever beam with an abundance of arrows and measurements. Why, if Don
didn’t know better, he might think the picture was some insidious drawing
designed just to cause havoc and confusion. Just for fun, Don turns his textbook
all different angles. He looks at the drawing sideways. He looks at the drawing
upside down. It could be that some lost pirate hid a treasure map inside the
textbook in the open disguise of a force diagram. But after a noble effort, Don
decides that this isn’t the case. He lets out a sigh of desperation similar to a
tremor before an earthquake.
Now, Don is not alone in his obscenely messy apartment room. Clothes of
every variety are tossed all about. So badly sloppy is the abode that if a thief
broke in and ransacked the room, nobody would notice. Sadly, I do not
exaggerate. From these clothes emits an awful stench. The dreaded stale smell of
sweat serves as the base odor. This is masked over by cigarette smoke and
marijuana smoke. Yes, Hypo and company do indulge from time to time in
smoking some weed. It is one of their favorite pastimes, in fact. But I want to
point out the most embarrassing aspect of the clothes strewn around the
apartment. This is, of course, the dirty underwear. Some of these white garments
are soiled both brown and yellow. Ah yes, dear reader, it is a tragedy of epidemic
proportions. But Don and his roommates don’t live like this perpetually. They
are only slobs by convenience. They are quick to tidy up if some festive event is
to occur, especially if there is any possibility of them getting laid.
Who are Don’s roommates, you ask, the other individuals who share the
domain known as room eight? Well come on down, Peter Bellos. You’re the first
contestant to be introduced to the fine reader. While not the hero of the story,
Peter Bellos does play a major part in this tale. In fact, whether Don Colandri is
a hero or not is up to conjecture. Truly he is a victim of circumstance. But not
Peter Bellos. No, he, along with Hypo’s two other friends, proves to be
opportunistic. Take a good look at Petie. His darker-colored skin must be noticed
first in light of this racist society in which we live. Observe his piercing brown
eyes, two wonders that Don Juan himself would envy accompanied by the plump
belly hanging over his belt that he laughs away as “love handles.” Most
prominent of all is his long black hair, hair that is greased back with globs of gel.
This style has earned Mister Peter Bellos his nickname: Slick. For you see, as
you may have noticed, every one of the occupants of room eight has a nickname.
At this present moment, Peter Bellos is lying down on the couch amongst the
dirty laundry, his head buried in a textbook of some sorts. Slick, too, desires to
be rich. It is a common malady of people in this story, always wanting something
that they don’t have. But that seems most logical, does it not, dear reader? Why
would you want what you already have? That would be redundant.
Unfortunately, the whole of mankind is swept away with coveting this
illusionary thing called money. After all, it is either green pieces of paper or
digits upon a computer. But there shall be time enough for me, the author, to
subtly introduce my subversive feelings. So I will lay off and say that Slick, too,
was a greedy bastard and, like Don Colandri, an engineering student.
Now, Myron Thompson, the next roommate of room eight, is a man of
contradictions. He has a deep-seated hatred of his parents for naming him
Myron. Any time that Myron hears his name called out, he cringes in
humiliation. Of course, his peers don’t say “Myron” in some normal fashion.
Rather it is more like “Myyyyyyyyyyyyyyron,” kind of in a singing way to
express a notion of mockery. Myron is a bit of an athlete. As he found out early,
he has to be tough to live up to the name he wears. Now, Myron Thompson
really isn’t motivated to become an engineer to get rich. Rather, his existence is
void of life and purpose. This is evidenced by the black celebrations of room
eight. A black celebration is an event during which the attendees get intoxicated
without any real reason to do so. It’s one thing to get plastered because it’s New
Year’s Eve. There is some formal reason or a semblance of an excuse. It’s
another thing to do so simply because it’s Thursday. Myron Thompson is a bit
taller than his roommates and had curly, sandy blond hair. His nickname is
“M.T.” Those are, indeed, the initials of his first and last name. However, “M.T.”
sounds very much like “empty.” So whenever Myron’s nickname is spoken,
people point to his skull where his brain should be if it wasn’t “empty.”
Occupants of room eight laugh at things that really aren’t that funny. It is just the
way that they are.
Now I must diverge and ask the philosophical question: Do we save the best
for last? Well, at rock and roll shows, you have opening acts and then out comes
the best act. They call these “headliners.” This brings me to the title of this story:
“I Should Have Been a Rock Star!” In American culture, or even British culture,
it is probably something that every intelligent human being has said at one time
or another, when you wake up from the drudgery of the job staring into the
dismal black abyss that is your reality, gasping for air as if you were submerged
in the sea of life being pushed down by some invisible hand directing your
worth. But there is a very crucial thing we shouldn’t overlook, and that is to
never lip-sync. It is an unforgivable sin, the blasphemy of the Rock and Roll
Spirit. Transgress just once, and the ghost of Elvis Presley will haunt you
forever, singing “Love Me Tender” day and night without repose.
Lastly, I have the great pleasure to introduce Saul Griffin, and yes, like Jesus
Christ, Saul Griffin is a Jew. What exactly a Jew is these days, I really can’t
define, so I’ll digress. I’ll save my preaching for Sunday morning at Chancellor
Avenue. Right now, I’m trying to tell a story. You could call it an allegory if you
like. But I’d rather look at it as a bunch of stuff that just happened to happen.
Just a whole lot of whoopla that excites you, and then before you know it, the
book is over, with your tongue hanging out panting for more, more, more. That
is Saul Griffin’s personality to the hilt. He is always looking for that bigger
score, trying to outdo not only everyone else but himself as well, and yes, Saul
Griffin has a nickname. They call him Psycho. As far as a physical description,
Saul Griffin would call himself tall, dark, and handsome. Unfortunately, reality
begs to differ with those adjectives. Psycho is short, pale, and ugly. He has
reddish hair with freckles out of control.
Well we had to mention Woody Guthrie somewhere, so we’ll just throw his
name in here at the end of the chapter. He is perhaps the one man in the music
business who is mightier than a rock star. We could have thrown Lead Belly’s
name in there too, but America in 2016 is still a systematically racist society,
from the Sunday morning cartoons, up to the man who pulls the strings of the
chief of the Federal Reserve. But Don Colandri doesn’t care to contemplate any
of these matters. In fact, he has blotted out even his three chums from his shortterm
memory. In turn, he can calculate the moment of a cantilever beam. The fly
on the wall observes Don Colandri’s forehead and sees one particular bead of
sweat. The light of the lamp has caught the drop of perspiration at just the right
angle, making it glisten as a diamond in the rough, and that is exactly what
Woody Guthrie is. How pretty, thinks the fly.
A Charleston Harbor Novel Book 1
by Debbie White
Genre: Sweet Romance
Real Men Eat Cupcakes
Annie McPherson has had it with all the blind dates her grandmother and auntie set her up with. She just wants to be left alone to run the Sweet Indulgence cupcake bakery – even if it means she’ll remain single forever.
Jack’s just been through a gut-wrenching break-up, and women are the last thing on his mind. Now he’s on a mission to pick up cupcakes for his niece’s birthday party—not a mission to fall in love. Pulled in by Annie’s good looks and witty charm, though, temptation proves too sweet.
But will Annie’s pesky grandmother and auntie welcome Jack as Annie’s choice or will they have him jumping through hoops to prove he’s the one?
Fans of Debbie Macomber, Sherryl Woods, and Susan Wiggs are sure to love Sweet Indulgence, the first sweet romance novel in the Charleston Harbor series.
This book is too sweet to pass up!
**Only .99 cents!!**
A Charleston Harbor Novel Book 2
What doesn't divide us makes us stronger.
While on their honeymoon, Annie and Jack are called back to Charleston, cutting their trip short. But no matter what the disaster, nothing can deter this dynamic duo from moving forward with their plans to build their dream home, Sweet Magnolia on Kiawah Island.
This is book two of the Charleston Harbor Novels set in historic Charleston, South Carolina where sweet tea and love for family prevail and is the balm that soothes the heart. Follow along in the series as the Powells and McPhersons live life to the fullest while overcoming many hardships, making them stronger, and bringing them closer than ever.
A Charleston Harbor Novel Book 3
When a hurricane threatens to wreak havoc on the South Carolina coast, Annie prepares Sweet Magnolia for what she thinks will be a day or two without electricity while Jack checks on Lady Powell down at the dock. But when Jack doesn’t return promptly, Annie becomes concerned.
Mary makes an announcement that makes her the center of attention, but Annie has a bit of news causing them to share the limelight.
Annie is having second thoughts about running the Sweet Indulgence. Is she just feeling the pressure of motherhood or could this be the end of the cupcakery she started from the ground up?
Sweet Carolina, the final installment of the Charleston Harbor Novels promises to be an uplifting clean and sweet contemporary women’s fiction laced with a romantic thread, where honor, family, love, and hope always prevail.
Debbie is a USA Today Bestselling Author. She currently lives in northern California where the hills are dotted with vineyards and the jagged coastline is nearby. Many of her books describe the beautiful area she calls home. She avidly supports animal rescue by donating a percentage of all book sales to rescue groups nationwide! Now here are a few more interesting tidbits of information about her!
1. Her spouse served in the U.S. Air Force for over 20 years. She uses some of her experiences as a military wife in some of her stories.
2. She has two granddaughters and a grandson.
3. She received her degree in Sociology in 2011 and graduated Magna Cum Laude.
4. She hasn't always dreamed of writing, but she's always loved reading and decided she'd give it a try. Her fans love her so much, she's still putting out books three years later.
5. Her very first book, The Salty Dog was an Amazon Best-seller.
6. You can follow all the latest news about releases, book signings and more on her website http://www.authordebbiewhite.com
“Oh, Vicky,” Annie said, spreading her arms wide.
“Girl, it’s been way too long. It’s so good to see you.”
“I can’t wait to hear about your wedding plans. Are you stressed yet?”
The two gabbed as the hostess led the way toward their table.
“I’m so stressed. But you know, my new favorite saying is, it is what it is.”
Annie laughed. “I bet. Well, I can’t wait to come and see you two lovebirds finally tie the knot. Soon you’ll be Vicky Collins.”
“Victoria Collins,” Vicky said with a tone of superiority.
“I like the ring of that,” Annie said, nodding.
Vicky fussed to Annie about how picking out the right bridesmaid dresses for Jessica, who’d just given birth and still had a few extra pounds to camouflage, as well as one to accommodate the expanding girth of Cassie’s tummy, challenged her beyond her wildest dreams.
“I’ve selected five different dresses at three different stages of planning my wedding. I’m about to just have you as my only bridesmaid. You’re not pregnant are you?” Vicky teased as she poked at her salad.
“No, I’m not pregnant. I’m hardly seeing anyone.”
Vicky peered up at Annie. “Hardly?”
Annie smiled. “Jack is his name. We really just started seeing each other. He’s a great guy.”
“Good. Great guys are good.” Vicky put her iced tea to her lips and drew in a taste.
Annie nodded. “You know Jessica and Cassie didn’t do these things on purpose. They love you, and it’s just one of those things.”
Vicky forked a beet chunk and put it in her mouth. She chewed it slowly.
“Having a baby is a nice thing. You are happy for them, right?”
Vicky twisted her mouth then relaxed her lips. “Of course, I’m happy for them. It just makes it difficult picking out dresses. Do you realize we went from a fitted knee-length shift to an A-line skirt? Not to mention the color changes.”
“I think A-line is still a good choice,” Annie said, savoring a spoonful of her chicken gumbo soup.
“Yes, but now the measurements have changed. These changes are costing me money.”
“The wedding is in two weeks. You’re probably safe with one more fitting.”
“Tell me more about Jack.”
Annie’s eyes lit up. “He’s part owner of Powell Limousine Services. Oh, and they also have a vacation rental business.”
“I’ve used his services before.”
Annie knitted her brows together. “You have? When?”
“A while back. In fact, he’s providing pick up service for me at the airport for my out of town guests. And I’ve rented a couple of houses for them to stay at. Diane …”
Annie widened her eyes. “Diane is his sister. In fact, my sister, Mary is working with Diane now.”
“What a small world.” Vicky glanced at her watch.
“Do you have to run off?” Annie said, relaxing her shoulders and slumping.
“I do, dear. I have to meet Cassie and Jessica at the dress shop. Thank God you are still the same, and no adjustments are necessary for your dress.” She pushed back her chair.
“Lunch is on me,” Annie said.
Vicky dug in her purse and fetched her keys. “Thank you. Next time it’s on me.”
Annie slid her chair out and met her halfway. She reached her arms out and pulled her in for a hug. “Everything is going to be just fine. The dresses will be beautiful, you’ll be beautiful, and it will go down as one of the best weddings in Charleston history,” Annie said, giving her a quick peck on the cheek.
Vicky drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Thanks for saying that. I really am happy the girls are in the wedding. I just want everything to be perfect.”
“It will be. And, you know why?”
Vicky cocked her head to the right.
“Because we’ve been best friends for many years. We’ve had our ups and downs, but we all agreed we’d be in each other’s weddings. This is just us keeping our promise.”
The Virgin and The Bull
Genre: Noir Romance, Suspense Thriller
Suicide, rape, murder — Love is a serpent more subtle than any of the field.
Twenty-three year old Charles Macgregor had everything going for him, so why did he choose to take his own life? As the Sheriff-Depute of Edinburgh reads through his collected letters, he uncovers a breathtaking story of femmes fatales, jealous rivals, and love gone violently awry.
An artful and intellectual thriller told with a noir style, The Virgin and the Bull shocks and startles with tense plot, lurid sex and vivid characters amidst a seductive and scary vision of Old England and Scotland. The frisson is out of this world when the fiery anatomist Macgregor risks life and limb to fulfill his desperate desire for the dangerously beautiful Constance Fawkes, pitted against her mad father and the more-than-meets-the-eye “virgin” priest, Francis Exenchester.
“Erato did a superb job… the pace is right on point… highly intriguing… It blows your mind.” - T. Renee, author of Hearts On Fire.
Be taken to another ERA with ERATO.
Erato is a hispanic American author of historical fiction. Her stories are often set in the Georgian/Regency period, taking the characters past the traditional bonnets and balls into gritty cities, forced marriages and painful love affairs.
The name Erato belonged to one of the nine muses of Greek mythology: that who ruled love stories. No, it's not the same word as erOtic; literally Erato is "the Lovely," from Greek erastos "loved, beloved; lovely, charming." The author's own given name being that of a different muse, the name Erato was chosen as the nomme de plume that seemed especially fit for writing historical stories with a romantic theme, though she also writes historical novels without strong romantic elements. Her works are normally highly researched, subversive, and can tend toward humorous even when telling of tragedy.
We reached the turnpike at Holloway a while past midnight. The road was dark and desolate as one might expect for such a late hour. We had the moon’s gray light to guide us only, for there are no street lamps out of London. We stopped to water the horses at the circular watering hole, and we took a while’s rest; after which we bound for the gates, at which we paid our toll and were let through to continue our flight from the tyranny of Fawkeses and Exenchesters. I cannot describe our delight at that moment! The joy we felt at that event, at our first great landmark passed and our one degree nearer to the sweet destiny that is planned — that joy was indescribable. In the moonlight, our bright, hopeful smiles were plain to see. We were lost in thoughts of our future bliss, dreaming of the bright days before us, and scarcely did we observe the empty countryside all around. The cold of the night seemed like an enchantment, the empty unpaved roads may as well have been strewn with roses and perfume to welcome us to our destination. We exchanged a bit of idle and hope-filled talk, but we did keep riding at a good pace in order that we not fall tardy to our intended timeframe. After a time our horses seemed to grow less enthused for the journey ahead, and we slowed a bit. I already had laid plans that we should change the horses out in Barnet, a town not too much distant from us, so I felt no distress at this. We were entering then the Finchley Common, a wooded area, very enclosed by trees and shrubbery. I have since learned that it is not a path which is generally considered safe to travel by night.
Evidently we were not so much alone on the path as I should have expected at the late hour. I believed I heard some whispers about us, but at the time I dismissed it as my own imaginings, or mishearings of some forest creature’s call. Constance, too, began to complain of hearing odd sounds, but there was no use in stopping to investigate their origin, even if we should have recognized their significance. Then, as if from thin air, two men on horseback appeared upon the road behind us.
At first, I thought they might be fellow travelers, connecting to the road from some obscure passage which had been overlooked by us in the darkness. They rode very fast, and I called out to Constance that we should move to the side, that they might pass us. She agreed, and we directed our horses as such. But alas! These two men of the road, rather than move along the open way, pulled their steeds to a halt before us, and drew forth pistols. We were told to stand and deliver, our property or our lives.
My heart sank. My optimism was now turned against me, for I had fallen into the trap of these highwaymen, and had directed Constance too to follow.
We were ordered to dismount our steeds and present our silver. Constance was so terrified at this that she screamed aloud. At this terrible sound, my heart raced and my whole body was cast into a burning desire to defend her, and myself. Henry: it was as if the world around me had slowed, like observing the hands of a watch left too long unwound. I have not found it necessary to physically fight since we were bairns staging rivalries with the laddies in the next neighborhood. I had no arms with me, and can scarcely shoot a gun even when I do possess one. I found myself to contemplate the situation — I am certain I could have not spent so much time in pondering as it felt I did. I considered, first, that what money we had was all that we had; to lose it would have required the termination of our journey and all our plans for the future, for we had only scarcely passed out of London, and would we be robbed at this moment, we could not hope to reach Gretna Green at all. That would obligate our return to Richmond, to Fawkes, to a life of being barred from one another’s company. Such an outcome could not be allowed — must never be!
But then, what means did I have to prevent it? I had no weapons, whereas it was evident that our tormentors were very suitably equipped for their chosen profession. Must I really be called to turn over all of my hard-won silver and abandon all my hopes and cherished dreams? Or was there any other way that I could preserve myself and bring Constance safely with me?
I raised my hands as if in peace, and called out to them: “I shall deliver. Allow me to dismount.” I looked to my Constance, frustrated that there was no means to communicate to her my intentions, without revealing them to the enemy as well. I put my leg over the saddle of my horse, as if I were prepared to dismount. Yet that is not the action I performed; rather, I leapt upwards with both feet upon the saddle of the horse, and jumped, then falling violently upon the beast of the first highwayman. This was, I perceived, my only hope for victory against these rogues — my wish was to beat the man senseless, and perhaps relieve him of his weapon. When I seized him, he was properly startled, and in his fright he fired his pistol without meaning to — fired at nothing, and hit nothing. His gun’s one and only bullet was spent. His horse became startled, though being an obedient beast and probably much accustomed to gunfire, it did not rear up or run, but it rather circled and shook itself, attempting to throw me from its back as I wrestled with its master. I was at risk of a fall, for certain; but with pure tenacity I held my opponent and prevented his striking me a single blow with hand or fist. Yet circumstance was rendering me unsure of my continued hold, for the saddle — plainly not meant to bear the weight of two struggling men — was beginning to slide sideways and would surely pull down one, or both of us, in a short time.
As we writhed, I heard Constance to call my name. I called back to her, scarcely aware of what I even said, but my full intention was upon overcoming the villain with whom I grappled. I instructed her to flee, and though she hesitated, she obeyed my command and sent her horse galloping off amidst the commotion. Constance has since revealed to me that the second highwayman had aimed his pistol for me, and she had been seeking to warn me when she called out; but her alarm was unneeded, as the horse upon which I was fixed was too busily spinning in circles, he such could not aim his weapon sure enough to find it worth his bullet.
I knew this not, at the time, and was only puzzled by my most evident challenge. My opponent had recognized the futility of his endeavors to knock or slap me, and thus begun to strike me about the head and face with his empty pistol, which with so much sturdy metal and wood in its construction, is no meager thing to be hit by. Yet I could do little else than to maintain my grip upon him, even as he painfully struck, and in short order my efforts were repaid when at last the horse succeeded in shaking the both of us together from its back. I was first to land upon the dirt, still a-cling to my enemy, and he tumbled after. I felt my very guts jostle from the force of the impact.
I was no longer obliged to reserve my hands to hold my opponent, and thus at last could I return his blows. I have observed from childhood that to hit a man in his face will often wet out his battle-lust, and thus I balled my fist and struck with all my might. I was not without effect: blood was sent spraying from the criminal’s mouth and nose. And yet this impact did nothing to hinder his urge to fight me. He struck me back every bit as viciously, and hit me on the forehead with his pistol so sharply that my world nearly went blacker than the night had already rendered it; yet I did not fall senseless, but rather I discovered myself so badly bleeding from a wound in my scalp that the gush of it was ever running into my eyes.
Without thought of it, I curled my legs inward and, by use of both feet, I struck out at the highwayman and pushed him away. I did not tarry further before I sought to seize this chance to raise myself from the dirt — but as I moved to stand I discovered I had become entangled in my large traveling cloak! The cloth which was trapped beneath my knee seized me by the shoulder and pulled me back to the ground.
Now, throughout all this, the second highwayman had been merely an observer to the skirmish, waiting with his gun aimed but making no other activity. I suppose, however, he must have now found me in a worthy condition to receive his bullet. I only knew, as I sought to disentangle myself from my bulky garments, that I heard the sound of a gunshot and felt a slight pull upon my clothes. I did not feel any wound to my person, and I realized a moment later that he had shot only my large cloak but missed the body within it. As terrifying as I ought to have found this brush with murder, I felt only relief and I dare say even a sense of rejoicing, for I was aware that, now, neither of my opponents bore loaded firearms. I disentangled myself from the cloak and ran with no hesitation back toward my own horse. Notwithstanding that, the fact remained that my primary opponent had not been removed from the activity entirely, and he pursued me. From behind he seized me, and forced me again to the dirt. I landed upon my face and was nearly knocked senseless at this painful impact. My tormentor was now sitting upon my back, and as I recovered myself he called out to his friend by name: “Noah! Your knife!”
This second villain, seemingly named Noah, dismounted his horse to present the dastardly tool. My primary opponent, in the meantime, amused himself by kicking me and stomping upon my back. I could hear an internal crack from within my body, and despite the pain my mind was compelled to a recollection of my anatomy lessons, as I wondered which of my rib bones had been just broken by the monster atop me. My breath began to ache. In my agony I flailed somewhat, and my hand — by utter chance — landed upon a sizable stone in the road, not so large that I could not lift it in one hand. I recalled our childhood fights in the streets, and that a well thrown rock had often done more damage than was intended. I was not oriented well enough to throw it at anybody but I grasped it and waited for my opportunity to utilize this new weapon.
When Noah arrived to his friend, to present him with the fatal instrument, my tormentor was obliged to turn away from me to receive it. This afforded me the chance I had sought — I turned upon my side (which was an agonizing thing to do, but knowing that the pain of death would be so much worse, I resolved to endure it) and with the stone in hand I lashed out and struck the first villain upon the knee with such force that he fell, and perhaps his joint was even put from the socket. He came down screaming — but he did not yet have the knife in his hand. It was still in the grasp of his companion in treachery, this Noah, who changed his course and now lunged himself at me.
As Noah was standing whilst I was upon the ground, this was a not inconsiderable distance through which he had to cut. I was thus granted time enough to move away by rolling, and Noah’s knife struck nothing but dirt.
Now the first villain, who was injured, but perhaps like me too desperate to be fully sensible of it, crawled to my side and locked me in his grip so I could not move away. As he clung to me he screamed, “You fool, is the money worth your life?”
Continuing the words of his friend, the other remarked, “It matters little, for we would have killed him all the same.”
I answered that the money was worth more, and with the stone in my hand I struck my prehensor again in the face, which caused him to release me from his grip. With one more swing of the stone he was rendered insensible, and fell down as if asleep.
I was able, this time, to rise to my feet. I was now filled with a painful fire that urged me on to battle, and I lunged directly for the wretched Noah, who had by this time retrieved his knife from the ground. He slashed at me — and, dear Henry, for all the times you have laughed at me for that I so sentimentally keep a copy of Fergusson in my breast pocket, I now owe my life to it. It ensured that nothing more than the leather cover was sliced, and my skin was not so much as even scratched. Bless that bard!
Noah and I were left face to face. Before he could again swing his blade, I struck with my stone, and bashed him across the face. Had I not been in such a fury, I might have thought it too horrible a deed — but I had been reduced to the animal, and I felt no mercy for my fellow man in this instance. By my blow, I had broken the zygomatic bone of his skull, and thereby his eye quite near fell from his face. He went to the ground in an agony of shrieks, dropping his knife and now making no more effort to retrieve it. Though he had received fewer injuries than any of us in the fight, his were perhaps the most debilitating. But I knew that I must not dwell over any of this — I turned immediately and ran (or near as I could manage resembling a run) for my horse. As I made this mad shamble, I began to consider my next course. Naturally, I knew I must find Constance — she was safely away someplace, but I knew not where. I knew that I must search for her, but as I plotted my course I was attacked with dream-visions of these two highwaymen mounting their own horses and coming in pursuit of me once more. To think that I could again lead Constance to danger was intolerable, and so — I saw the villains’ horses. As the criminals were left to licking their wounds, I took both mounts by the reigns; I led the animals beside my own. Once I was mounted, I led the two horses of the villains away with me, and abandoned those wicked men to this desolate road of which they had made such terror.
A ways up the path — nearer than I should have imagined — I discovered Constance. She had hid within view of everything, her horse concealed in some copse nearby. Our relief at reunion was rather tempered by the real fear for our situation, and with each of us leading a horse we proceeded the distance onward to the little village of Barnet.
April 28th, 1800.
To all my best friends and my dearest family — you could have never done more for me than all the goodness, favor and friendship which you have offered and provided unto me, your wretched relation who did so ill-deserve them! You must know that what has passed is, in no capacity, a mark against you. You cannot be blamed, and you could have offered no help that would have altered, in any way, the outcome of my unhappy condition. To the unfortunate man who shall find me, I offer my deepest apologies and regrets that it must be you. As I was a student of medicine, I know full well the horror that it is to look upon a dead man for the first time, and to see the human form with frightful lack of motion, heat and soul; but do not fear it; rather, take comfort, and know that one day this sad fate shall befall each and everyone that you have ever known. Be familiar with it now, and know what lies ahead for you, rather than to find yourself blindly leapt to the abyss of death — “And mind, for aw your mickle pride, sae will become o thee.”
With tears in my eyes, I know it is most probably my family that shall ultimately take possession of this letter, and none but they shall take concern with it. I have loved you all. Never doubt that I have loved you, but familial love is not enough to sustain a soul that writhes in such unending torment as mine, all my dreams dead, all hope dispersed. Be not sad for my passing; be glad that I have ceased to suffer a torment which has been endured for too many months, and which it is evident shall never pass. If there is a Heaven, perhaps, in spite of this deed, I may still be admitted thereunto, for this sin has been committed only to prevent a greater misdeed; and in the name of preserving whatever good may come of this, I beg of you to never disclose my fate to the one named Constance Fawkes, or now that she is to be married, called Constance Exenchester. If it comes, ever, that she will ask what has become of me, tell her that I have gone away to India or Jamaica, or that you know not where I am, but that I am never expected to return. Do not mar the happiness in her life with any cause to fret herself for me. But if she should pry and insist to know my fate, or if she might catch a circulating rumor, or by some accident come to know of what has passed — in a word, if it cannot be helped, and the circumstance be such that denial of the truth could do nothing more than to concern her the worse, then and only then might you disclose the facts to her. That you might know those facts, both for your own comfort and for hers, I have collected here all the artifacts of my time with Constance; in particular my letters to her, which have been returned by her own hand. How I have suffered in my love for her! And she (though I do not blame her for this) has chosen another for her spouse, my prior claim to her notwithstanding. Perhaps I should not have done what was right. Perhaps I ought to have kept her, greedily, for myself, and compelled her to go forward with a match that would have shamed us both; but I, so confident in her love, did allow her to slip from my hands, and I shall never see her again. Now I have lost all; lost unspeakably.
I cannot go on with this writing, with these thoughts, or else I shall lose my resolve and merely spend another long, sad night wallowing in tears. Having shed such oceans of sorrow already, one might expect that my bodily humors would be so much disordered that a natural death could easily come to me; but then, that is a slow and painful process, and I would be at risk that some well-meaning surgeon might indeed chance upon my cure. Then to what good will I have prolonged my misery? The time is now. My victory shall be my success in this endeavor — the accomplishment of my escape. I bid you farewell, my loved ones. I pray that you shall forgive me, and I am sorry for what I did to Exenchester, and to Fawkes.
Your own, Charles Macgregor.
From the Sheriff-Depute of Edinburgh.
The letter, which you have just read, was found atop a stack of papers which had been carefully curated, even edited at times, by the late Mr. Macgregor. When discovered, it was rather soiled from the blood of its own author.
Mr. Macgregor was found dead in his house, in the Cowgate, discovered by his landlord, Mr. Richards. The blast of the bullet had rendered his corpse a most gruesome sight, such that would bring terror to the heart of even a skilled medical man as himself. He had shot himself through the skull, blown so thoroughly asunder that there was nothing left to call a face upon the body. A butcher’s boy had to be contracted to clean the room after the corpse was taken out, for not even the lowest housekeeper could be persuaded to suffer the blood, brains and skull that were strewn all over the floors and wall. Upon further examination, a second, recent gunshot wound was discovered, through the leftmost side of Macgregor’s hip. Two pistols, emptied of their charges, were in reach of the body; one of which was found in his hand.
In life, Charles Macgregor had been the sort of man who dressed ever in sad hues, and until a recent accident, he had been known as a very handsome youth. It is said that many a man would have been proud to possess such a face, and even his enemies are documented to have called him “the Scottish Adonis”; yet Macgregor was not previously known to have been caught into this trap of vanity, and he was perceived to be generally of a sensitive temperament, and much devoted to his studies. He had ice blue eyes and skin so fair it was described as being like that of a ghost, yet his colorless complexion was corrected by the vivid hue of his hair, which he wore a little longer than is the present fashion, but in a styling that suited him well. He stood a height of around five feet, ten inches. He was said to have always carried in his breast pocket an edition of Fergusson's Poems. This was found on his body, with a lock of woman’s hair pressed inside. At the time of his death, he was aged three and twenty years.
The Macgregors were a family of intellectuals from the city. Their financial condition saw that they were not altogether lacking in resources; but Charles was not born into the ranks of society which could have guaranteed his lifelong comfort out of nothing more than his name or family connections. Thus it fell to Charles to pursue a career. He had sought to better himself by attending university in England; he received a scholarship at the age of fourteen, and thrived. He subsequently believed himself to be destined for a career in the high sciences, in which he should find himself winning his income through patronage and patents. Certainly he was understood to possess the attention to detail and the depth of mind for such tasks, and nobody ever claimed that any lack of talent or intellect would hold him back. He was known to have been committed to his business, and demonstrated skill in his pursuit; and everybody that knew him expected greatness from this young man. Through means of much private effort, he had been able to secure for himself a position alongside a most prominent anatomist by the name of Samuel Fawkes, who dwelt without London. Charles Macgregor did little suspect that this should beget his downfall; at the time, he considered it only to be a great blessing. He went to the Fawkes home, where he lived alongside the family: Samuel Fawkes having also in his home a wife, his elderly mother, a young son, and a daughter of marriageable age who answered to the name of Constance. These letters are hereby collected and faithfully copied by myself, assistive to the Procurator Fiscal in his reaching a true ruling on the nature of Mr. Macgregor’s death, and to judge whether he was killed by his own hand, by some coercive action, or any other cause; for though the letter we found would appear to suggest he was felo de se, cases have been known in which a murderer did falsify such documents in order to disguise his own guilt; and the wound to the hip does raise some concern. Included in these papers are some very intimate details, regarding the lives of Macgregor and others; my motive in recopying the whole of them is to ensure that nothing shall be subject to destruction or loss at the request of any relative or acquaintance of the deceased, who might be disgraced by the revelations within. Only truth and justice are sought from this collection, and it is my hope that these words shall prove useful to our investigation of the affair. — H. A.
From Macgregor to Miss Fawkes, no date.
I was sent into the city today, by your kindly father, to procure some anatomy books at St. Paul’s Churchyard. I took the liberty to browse another bookshop, and procured for you this edition of the Vicar of Wakefield, which was one amongst the books that Werter mentioned. I hope you shall enjoy it.
From Miss Fawkes to Macgregor, no date.
You mistake me if you believe that I can accept such a present from a gentleman, who lives in this house as one employed by my father. I return your book, with thanks for the kindly intentions of your offer; but I admonish you, do not forget your station and the divide between us. I am,
From Macgregor to Miss Fawkes, no date.
Please excuse the folly of a young man, who, being proffered an uncustomary opportunity to grow familiar with you, has proved himself to presume too much. We breakfast and dine together each day, we share stories and conversations around the evening fire, all very much as might a pair of cousins, or even siblings, and it is evident that I have thus presumed too close a bond of friendship between the two of us, that there was no reason to expect. I am so sorry for any distress I may have unwittingly brought about. However, I too must admonish you, on this one point: that I am no employee of your father. We are partners in science and equals in our business, although through his seniority I do offer him a certain deference which, I can certainly understand if it is mistaken for servitude, but in fact is nothing else but respect for his superior accomplishments.
I am most sorry for the trouble I have caused. To show that I maintain no hard feelings towards you, and to prevent an accidental discovery of this message which might lead it to the hands of the servants or some member of the household who might find its contents without context to be alarming or, worse, reason for scandal, I include it once again within the book, which is your own to keep if you will desire it; or you may return it to me once more and I will not fault you for any ingratitude, it is your decision.
Your humble house-guest, Charles Macgregor.
From Miss Fawkes to Macgregor, no date.
Dear Mr. Macgregor,
I do beg your pardon if I have offended you by the implication that you are my father’s lesser, indeed, I ought to have known that an inferior would not be given such freedom with the rest of the family. I also will apologize if my words may have seemed too sharp before, for the present of the book is very much appreciated. I shall keep it with me, as a token of our amends. I do consider us to be friends, and look forward to our continued talks over breakfast, and our merry exchanges by the fireside with the rest of the family, for you are a very clever man and the cheer that you bring us all cannot be too much commended. The entire family thinks so highly of you, that I should be ashamed to cause you any fear that we could mistrust or dislike you. I look forward to only the happiest of times with you, during your stay with us, and pray that you find no fault in my previous caution. Please, do not hesitate to speak to me when we are about the house, for we ought not be strangers when we dwell together so closely; and I am not being courted by anybody at this time, so you need fear no infringement in that regard. Speak to me at leisure, or leave any further correspondence you wish at my door — for there is nothing we have to be ashamed for.
Sincerely, Miss Fawkes
Of Blood and Ashes
Of Cinder and Bone Book 2
by Kyoko M
Genre: SciFi Fantasy Romance
The world's deadliest dragon, the infamous Baba Yaga, is loose on the streets of Tokyo.
Dr. Rhett "Jack" Jackson and Dr. Kamala Anjali have been tasked with helping the government take down a dragon the size of a Tyrannosaurus Rex after it sends part of the city up in flames. Things worsen when they lose track of dragon in none other than Aokigahara, the Suicide Forest--a section of woods in Japan that is rumored to be one of the most haunted places on earth. They've also got the yakuza who cloned the dragon hellbent on getting her back, and they don't care who they kill in order to re-capture the dragon.
Jack and Kamala are joined by CIA field agent William Fry and dragon-hunting expert Juniper Snow as they infiltrate the forest to hunt the dragon before she can hurt anyone else. Between the ruthless yakuza hot on their trail and the growing mistrust in their small hunting party, it will take a miracle for Jack and Kamala to make it out alive...
Of Blood and Ashes is the second book in the series, following the Amazon bestselling Of Cinder and Bone.
Of Cinder and Bone
Of Cinder and Bone Book 1
OF CINDER AND BONE is Ron Howard's Ransom meets Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park!
After centuries of being the most dangerous predators on the planet, dragons were hunted to extinction. That is, until Dr. Rhett “Jack” Jackson and Dr. Kamala Anjali cracked the code to bring them back. Through their research at MIT, they resurrected the first dragon anyone has seen alive since the 15th century. There’s just one problem.
Someone stole it.
Caught between two ruthless yakuza clans who want to clone the dragon, Jack and Kamala brave the dangerous streets of Tokyo to steal their dragon back in a race against time before the world is taken over by mutated, bloodthirsty monsters that will raze it to ashes.
Of Cinder and Bone is an all-new sci-fi thriller from the author of the Amazon bestselling Black Parade novels. Don’t miss out on this explosive first-in-series! Fans of Westworld, I Robot, Pacific Rim, and Reign of Fire will fall in love with this mashup novel that opens up a whole new world of possibilities into what we know and love about dragons.
**FREE at Amazon and Smashwords!!**
Kyoko M is a USA Today bestselling author, a fangirl, and an avid book reader. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Lit degree from the University of Georgia, which gave her every valid excuse to devour book after book with a concentration in Greek mythology and Christian mythology. When not working feverishly on a manuscript (or two), she can be found buried under her Dashboard on Tumblr, or chatting with fellow nerds on Twitter, or curled up with a good Harry Dresden novel on a warm Georgia night. Like any author, she wants nothing more than to contribute something great to the best profession in the world, no matter how small.
"Mind holding up for a second?"
The Scottish woman heaved yet another sigh. "I swear to the almighty, I'm going to leave you here to rot."
Jack scowled. "Do that and I'll find you and haunt the crap out of you."
He stepped behind a tree. Pausing, he glanced around the trunk to see her aiming yet another hateful glare in his direction. "Would you turn around, you freak of nature?"
Snow growled. "What are you? A three-year-old?"
"I can't go when someone's watching."
"I can't even bloody see you."
"Would you just turn around, woman?"
Snow grumbled insults under her breath and faced away from the tree. Jack pulled a face, knowing she couldn't see it, and took care of business. "Christ, it's like you've never been around another human being before. You're about as warm and cuddly as one of those face-huggers from Alien."
"I could use one of those right now," she groused. "Attach it to your face so you'll shut the hell up."
"Oh, I could do that. And then when I don't have a distraction and I mistake you for a killer clown and belt you one, you can break both my arms and call it a day."
"Legs," Snow corrected. "I'd break your legs, Jackson. That way you either starve to death or are completely helpless when the yakuza show up."
"Honestly," Jack said, shaking his head. "No wonder your last name is Snow. I'm gonna start singing the Cold Miser song in a minute."
She whirled around, glaring. "Sing a single line and I'll cut your fingers off, Jackson."
A shit-eating grin spread across his mouth. "I'm Mister--"
He stopped abruptly just after he'd zipped up and stepped around the tree. Without another word, he threw himself on top of Snow just as the man who had appeared behind her pulled the trigger.
The gunshot nearly deafened Jack from so close. A piercing whine filled his ears, but Jack didn't have time to notice the pain. The second after he'd tackled Snow, he grabbed a log behind her head and swung it as hard as he could at the man's knee as he aimed at them again. The log made a sharp cracking sound against the man's patella, shattering it, and the shots went to the left, missing them both. Jack lunged forward and grabbed the gun, yanking the barrel up and away from him. Gritting his teeth, he slammed the top of his skull down on the man's nose and the man reeled backwards, dazed. Jack jerked the gun out of the attacker's grip and kicked him in the injured knee. The mercenary crumpled to the ground with a scream.
Jack pointed the rifle at his head, barking, "Stay down!"
The merc glared at him from the ground, but remained still. Jack tried to slow his racing heartbeat and tilted his head slightly, not taking his eyes off the man, as Snow rose to her feet.
"Fine," Snow said, picking leaves out of her long tresses.
"The word you're looking for is 'thank you.'"
"Piss off," she snapped.
Jack grinned, replying in a sing-song voice. "I saved your life. Ha-ha, ha-ha, ha!"
"Go to hell," she seethed.
"Give me the gun, idiot."
Jack shot her a quick skeptical look. "Yeah, that's gonna happen."
She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. "Do you know how to use that thing?"
Jack adopted an accent reminiscent of Antonio Banderas. "Yes. Barrel end points at the other man."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "Remind me which one of us is hopped up on a hallucinogen again?"
"Oh. Point taken." Jack handed her the rifle. She gave it a brief glancing over. To her surprise, it had .308 rounds rather than the .50 cal rounds that the others had been carrying. The implication was chilling. The shooter might have been dispatched specifically to kill them, not the dragon. Their targets had changed. They were being hunted.
"Are you alone?" she asked the merc.
The man didn't say anything. "No one is going to come find you if we shoot out your remaining kneecap and leave you to die in this forest. Answer the question."
Snow swung the barrel towards the leg he wasn't clutching. "Fine. Enjoy bleeding to death."
She fired the rifle.
"Two men!" he blurted out before he could help himself. "Closing in from the rear."
He frowned, realizing she'd shot the ground a mere inch from his leg, and muttered, "Goddammit" under his breath in resignation.
"Lovely. Thank you for your cooperation." She slammed the butt of the gun into his forehead and he flopped backwards unconscious. She knelt and handed the rifle back to Jack.
"Watch our six. I'll see if he's got anythin' useful." She checked the mercenary's pockets, finding extra ammo, a map, and a burner phone. He had a link in his ear as well, which she took and placed in her own. She stood and unfolded the map, checking the marked locations on it.
"There are two sites marked here," Snow said. "One is the campsite I saw. The other...it's heading back towards the city."
"You think that might be where they'd hide the dragon if they got it?"
"Then we'd better get back to the forest entrance on double-time. We have to warn our guys."
"I'm sure they already know," Snow said, tucking the map into her pocket and then taking the gun back. "Fry's not stupid."
"No," Jack agreed, falling in step behind her once again. "Cold and calculating, but not stupid."
"Not everyone can be as warm and fuzzy and useless as you, Jackson."
"Yep, the warm, fuzzy, useless man who saved your life."
Snow ground her teeth. Jack snickered victoriously.
She held up a fist and Jack stopped. She peered through the rifle's night-vision scope. "There's the other two. Forty yards out straight ahead."
"What's the plan?" Jack whispered.
"Create a distraction and I'll take them out."
Jack aimed an incredulous stare at the back of her head. "Seriously?"
"What?" Snow asked, adopting a facetious innocent tone. "You don't trust me?"
"You just told me you'd break my legs five minutes ago!"
"If I were going to let you die, I'd have done it when I found you. Now make yourself useful and distract them."
Jack let out a frustrated growl. "You are the absolute worst."
Snow smiled smugly and said nothing as he crept off in the direction of the two approaching mercenaries.
Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter
Every family has its secrets…
One hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden picked up an axe and murdered her father and stepmother. Newspapers claim she did it for the oldest of reasons: family conflicts, jealousy and greed. But what if her parents were already dead? What if Lizzie slaughtered them because they’d become zombies?
Thrust into a horrific world where the walking dead are part of a shocking conspiracy to infect not only Fall River, Massachusetts, but also the world beyond, Lizzie battles to protect her sister, Emma, and her hometown from nightmarish ghouls and the evil forces controlling them.
Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter 2
After being acquitted of brutally slaying her parents, Lizzie Borden thinks her nightmare is over—but it’s only just begun!
Now Lizzie and the citizens of Fall River must battle a new surge of flesh-eaters, this time with a heartbreaking twist: the infected creatures are friends and family, hidden away by their grief-stricken caregivers.
When her sister Emma becomes a pawn in the growing war against the undead, Lizzie has no choice but to pick up her axe again. With the help of her charming self-defense instructor, Pierre, she vows to end the horrific zombie menace, once and for all. But can she overcome her personal demons and the rampaging monsters, no matter the cost?
NOTE: The book does contain spoilers if you have not read the first book, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter.
Christine (C.A.) Verstraete enjoys putting a little "scare" in her writing. She follows the murder trial and offers a twist on the infamous 1892 Borden murders in her book, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter. She also looks at the murders from the viewpoint of Lizzie's doctor in her latest, The Haunting of Dr. Bowen. Other books include a young adult novel, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie, and books on dollhouse collecting and crafting.
Christine's short stories have appeared in various anthologies including: Descent Into Darkness, Happy Homicides 3: Summertime Crime, Mystery Weekly, and Timeshares, Steampunk'd, and Hot & Steamy: Tales of Steampunk Romance, DAW Books.
She is an award-winning journalist published in daily to weekly newspapers, and in various magazines. Her stories have received awards from local and national newspaper associations, and the Dog Writer's Association of America.
Why Veer from History?
By Christine (C.A.) Verstraete
In Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter 2: The Axe Will Fall, the story picks up after the end of the 1893 trial of Lizzie Borden for the horrific axe murders of her father and stepmother the year before. Now the zombies are back, and so is Lizzie’s charming self-defense instructor Pierre. Could she be in more danger, both romantically and physically?
If you read the first book, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter, you’ll know that the Lizzie I portrayed was true to the trial and some real life events, but with zombies, you have to bend reality a bit. That means Lizzie was no staid, Victorian lady sewing in the parlor. My thinking was she already was a social pariah, would conventional rules really apply much anymore? When you’re accused of such a heinous crime, in society’s eyes you’re still guilty, even if you were acquitted by the jury.
In Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter 2: The Axe Will Fall, it seemed natural to have the relationship between Lizzie and Pierre develop further. In real life, Lizzie became a heavy, unattractive, old maid. She had money and lived her life as she saw fit. Boring in fiction.
As a writer, you have to go where the story takes you. While following up on this next wave of undead, Lizzie and her instructor are spending a lot of time together. Oh, and a warning: if you didn’t read the first book, you can read the sequel alone, but be aware there are spoilers as it continues certain story lines from book one.
So the second book veers from the historic Lizzie. It had to. While I hit on certain real-life elements in Lizzie’s life in Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter like the trial and her later estrangement from her sister, the story pretty much ends there. In reality, except for some odd shoplifting accounts later (was Lizzie perhaps trying to get attention?), she led a quiet life. She lived in the home she and her sister bought after the trial in the more exclusive part of town until her death. She supported the local animal shelter. Not much drama there.
But if you’re out fighting zombies, well, that’s already a pretty unconventional life. What Lizzie does, how she ends up, is far from reality, but I think it made sense in this zombie-filled fictional world. I hope you’ll agree.
A Peace Series Novella
by Sandra Hurst
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Brent Harrington is gone and Cyn Redman really couldn’t give a rat’s ass. While the whole town celebrates or mourns the end of the Harrington dynasty, Cyn’s life is falling apart. Her mother has recently been diagnosed with cancer, throwing Cyn’s heart, as well as her future plans into turmoil.
The last thing Cyn is looking for is Jericho, the quiet, soft-spoken ranch hand from the McBride place. Between the clinic closing, her mom’s health, and Cyn’s long-delayed college plans, there are already too many uncertainties. Could Jericho be the anchor she needs so desperately as her world falls apart? Or is he just another excuse not to let go of Peace and move on.
A mythmaker at heart, Sandra Hurst has been writing poetry, fantasy and science fiction since her school days in England. Hurst moved to Canada in 1980 and was deeply influenced by the wild lands and the indigenous cultures that surrounded her. Y’keta, her first full-length novel, is set in a mythical land, untouched by science or technology, an ancient world where legends walk and the Sky Road offers a way to the stars.
A member of the Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society, the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, and The Mythopoeic Society, Hurst works to build fantasy worlds that allow her readers to join her in exploring the depths of human interaction in a mythical game of ‘what if.’
Her first novel, Y’keta, is long-listed for the prestigious Aurora Award, for best Canadian fantasy novel (Young Adult) and the American-based RONE award for break out fantasy novel.
She now lives in Calgary, Alberta with her husband and son, both of whom she loves dearly, and has put up for sale on e-bay when their behaviour demanded it.
Complaining to herself, Cyn slumped off the sidewalk and headed across the
street toward the grocery store. They usually had soup or something on sale. It
was better than an empty stomach on a cold day. She didn’t even see the dirty
brown pickup truck until it veered away from her and slammed into one of the
garbage cans that were cemented to the sidewalk up and down main street. A tall
man unfolded himself from the cab, cursing quietly. “Miss? Ya’ll okay? I didn’t
see you there.”
Cyn shook her head and kept walking away until a hand grasped her
“Are you okay? Answer me, please!” The deep voice with its hint of a
southern accent was quiet but firm, and the hand that gently shook her shoulder
knocked Cyn out of her daze and somehow centred her thoughts.
“You…” Cyn’s voice was shakier than she thought it would be. She
swallowed thickly and tried again, “You almost killed me.”
“You need to watch it when you step out into the street, ma’am. Peace may
be small, but we do have cars here.”
“Who are you to talk to me about Peace,” Cyn said, her dark eyes flashing.
“I’ve lived in this litterbox since junior high school.”
“My name is Jericho Matthews.” Jericho let go of his grip on Cyn’s shoulder
and stepped back slightly, politely ignoring the fact that the shaking hadn’t gone
away yet. “I work up at the McBride ranch. Don’t come into town much, so I
guess we haven’t met.”
Cyn looked up at the cowboy. She couldn’t believe just how far up she had to
look to meet his dark-brown eyes. She tilted her head back so that she could look
at his face rather than his chest, nice though it was. Cyn scowled, trying to get a
sense of the man from his features. She wished her mom was here—Mom could
see through people like they were made of glass. “Let me go, please, Mr.
Matthews. I need to get back to work.” Cyn tried to keep her voice steady, but it
still sounded shaky and much younger than the twenty-six year-old she really
was. “I’m sorry that I didn’t watch what I was doing. I hope your truck isn’t
knocked up too bad.”
Damn, Cyn thought, that’s all I needed—truck repairs are just one more
thing I can’t afford to pay for and I will not worry Mom about this kind of stuff.
“Not to worry, Miss…?” He made the polite statement a question and Cyn
sighed ruefully. She hadn’t told him her name. She was kind of hoping not to.
Cyn had decided months ago that she didn’t have room in her mind for anything
other than her mom and their future. Everything else, everyone else, was
“Redman,” she finally admitted, when it looked like Jericho was going to
stand there until she gave him a name. “I’m Cynthia Redman. I work at the
counselling centre across the road.”
Jericho took her hand and held it gently. His skin looks so dark against mine,
she thought. Cyn had never had her mom’s beautiful copper skin.
“Let me walk you back, Miss Redman,” Jericho said, giving her a guiding
push back down the street toward the clinic. “You still look really pale, and I’d
feel better if you were inside somewhere warm.” As Jericho steered her down
the slushy sidewalk and back toward the doors of the counselling centre, Cyn
couldn’t help stealing glances. He was an anomaly in a town full of bellowing
ranchers and chirping old ladies. He didn’t talk much, didn’t ask questions, just
walked quietly beside her with his hand once more resting on her shoulder.
“A large hazelnut latte, please.” Jericho said, “And for me…” The girl behind the counter winked at him saucily, her blue eyes more than a little interested. “A fresh Chai for you, coming up.”
“Erm.” On a fair complexion, Cyn guessed, she would have seen a bright-red blush, but on Jericho it was more like the ghost of a blush. It flashed under his dark skin and an embarrassed smile flickered through his eyes and was gone.
Jericho coughed, paid for the drinks, apologized for making a mess, and gestured for Cyn to lead as they headed back toward her waiting laptop.
Cyn took a long sip of her gloriously hot latte and licked the milk froth from her top lip, blushing a little when Jericho’s eyes fixated on her mouth. She hadn’t meant to do that. Well, maybe she had. My emotions are getting out of control, she warned herself, terrified that letting her guard down with Jericho would let the “too much” boil over.
NOT PG 13. –
Sliding his hand into the hair at the back of her neck, he angled her head down toward his, eyes fascinated by her lips. “Miss Cynthia, may I…”
Cyn had had enough of waiting for her southern gentleman, leaning in she closed the gap between their lips. Closing her eyes and letting go of all the reasons she shouldn’t be doing this, she gave herself to this moment, and to Jericho. His lips were firm and soft, the hand against her cheek felt callused, but not rough. He gently explored the contours of her face, shooting fireworks through her heart and, as he pulled her closer, warming her body until it melted against his. Her hands wandered, almost instinctively, over the muscled outlines of his chest, delighting in the contrast between the soft denim shirt and the hot, hard man who wore it. Jericho growled softly, nipping at her lips in appreciation. She sighed, opening further to him, asking, although she didn’t quite know what for.
He knew. His hand grasped her head tighter and his agile tongue slipped between her lips to stroke the roof of her mouth. One large hand cupped her breast, the soft weight no more than a palmful for the big cowboy. She gasped when his thumb brushed lightly over her nipple, making it pebble tightly beneath the soft chiffon.
The giggles of a couple of teenagers shattered their privacy. Jericho and Cyn looked at each other with embarrassment, recognizing the same young couple that they had chased out of the stairwell earlier. “Cynthia, I…” Cyn put a shushing finger over his lips. “Shush, Jericho,” she said quietly, nodding at the pair of teenagers peering through the windows of the stairwell door. “I think we’ve given them quite enough to talk about for now.”
What is something unique/quirky about you?
Ooh, you really want to go there? I think that answer would depend on who you talk to. My son would cringe and point to ‘opera nights,’ evenings when I don’t speak and insist on singing my answers to any questions. My husband might point to my fits of insomnia and my late-night Facebook addiction. But really! You meet the best people online at 3am.
If there is one thing I would say was unique or quirky about me it would be my breadth of interests, I’m a bit of a Hermione, a collector of odd facts and knowledge about anything from the Kaiju culture of manga Japan, to Shakespeare, to Opera, or the band Nightwish. There isnt much that I wont listen to, read, learn about and find value in.
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
I don’t know how interesting other people will think this is, but to people of my vintage, it rocked!
I was just out of high school, it was the early 80’s and music meant everything. Early one Saturday morning I was working to set up chairs for a church service the next day. My church had its Sunday morning service in one of the smaller theatres connected to Calgary’s big concert auditorium. We were doing sound stuff and putting out chairs when three sloppily dressed guys wandered into the back of the theatre and motioned us over. The guys asked what we were setting up for, and when we told them it was for church the next morning, they quickly jumped in to assure us that if their band got too noisy we should just come in and let them know, they didn’t want to disturb us. They were performing in the main auditorium that evening and they were getting ready to do their sound checks.
They introduced themselves as Peter, Gene, and Chris. It wasn’t until I saw the tour bus outside that I realized I had just met ¾ of KISS out of makeup!.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I grew up in England, surrounded by old Celtic and Arthurian stories and legends, learning from them how important imagination was. When I was 8, we moved to northern Canada and the legends changed. Stories of the Fae and the little people were replaced by legends of the Thunderbird and stories of the woodlands. I never stood a chance. What could I be but a writer?
I now live in Calgary, Alberta with my husband and son, both of whom I love dearly, and have put up for sale on e-bay when their behaviour demanded it. My day to day life is a balance between my outside life as a paralegal counsellor and my inner life as an author/poet. In between writing projects, I work on improving my craft, study the Cree Language and aboriginal history, write book reviews, try to keep my blog current, and study mythologies from around the world.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Words, Wings, Wit, and Whimsy.
by Desiree King
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Life can be difficult for normal people, it can be hell for the supernatural and no one knows that better than Alex Summerland.
She`s beautiful, rich, and famous. What more could any teenage girl want?
But all is not as it seems and delving into her past is like unlocking a Pandora’s box of living nightmares.
Victor is the opposite of everything she`s ever known.
He`s America`s bad boy and Alex is going on a wild ride across the country with the world`s loudest rock band.
Will she get a second chance at a happy ending or will she crash and burn?
I'm a author from Phoenix Arizona. I've been writing most of my life but only in the last few years have I had the guts to put my work out there for others to read. Books are my passion as well as my two loves my husband and son. I believe in supporting local art whether it is a band an artist or author go out and experience the art of the world in all its forms.
I’m running in a dark forest.
The loamy earth feels soft under my bare feet and my breath is coming as fast pants. The trees are like lifeless sentinels all around me watching my witless terror as I race for the lights I glimpse between the trunks. ‘If I could just reach the light I would be safe,’ I thought to myself. My heart sank as I heard him behind me, chasing me. I knew that if he were to catch me I would be trapped and he might take my soul along with my blood. I put everything I could into my sprint and faster, feeling the twigs and small branches whip my bare skin, slicing deep, and feel the warmth slide down as blood wells up and drops to the thirsty earth. This eerie wood seemed to be never ending and the wind was cold, blowing into my face. My blood frozen in my veins, I would never escape him. I was almost there when I blinked and found myself transported to a crowded bar. I was sandwiched in the crush of people. The air was hot and smelled of smoke and sweat and I could barely hear myself think over the din of the people and the hard-pulsing rock song coming from the stage. My heart still raced but now I could feel it and enjoy it as the terror turned to the rush of the crowd and I joined their twisting, writhing dance, hypnotized by the beat and lost in the melody. The band would play forever and I would die here in this ecstasy, and happily.
The crowd seemed to get tighter. I was surrounded. The air was getting tighter by the second and there was an explosion, maybe a flash pot on the stage or maybe a grenade but I felt my feet leave the ground as the brightness ate away my sight. “Alex…” I heard my name being whispered into my ear in a deep voice, an unfamiliar voice. I was in the dark again but instead of the forest I was standing in a strange bedroom. I looked down at myself to see hands on my hips, smearing what looked to be blood and ink on my skin, almost glittering in the moon light. His hands were strong and covered in tattoos and I watched them carefully as the red and black sank into my skin, leaving only a black tattoo of a wolf`s paw print on my hip. The room was silent but for our breathing and I was just getting used to the silence when I heard a deep growl behind me and more importantly, felt it rumble thru his chest where it was pressed to my back.
Suddenly I was awake sitting up in my bed in my hotel suite. I was gasping for breath and covered in sweat. Today was my last day here in LA and I knew just how I wanted to spend it.
Sins of the Father
Ravage Riders MC #1
by Nikki Landis
Genre: SciFi Time Travel MC Romance
RIDE OR DIE baby . . .
I was drunk, angry, and spoiling for a fight. The crowded bar was the perfect distraction until all hell broke loose.
She walked in. My world collapsed.
It wasn't supposed to happen like this. I never thought I'd see her again. Rae never should have been there that night . . . but 5 years of regret, loss, and vengeance have waged war inside me, and the sins of our fathers won't stop me from claiming what's mine: Rae Stenson.
She's my addiction. I need her. Even if I have to lie, cheat, steal, or kill.
But it may not be the past that we have to confront as the real sins of our fathers wreak havoc in Providence, CA where reality and fantasy collide.
Ravage Riders MC #1, first in a series of Sci-Fi Alien Time Travel Romances with a twist. Is there anything sexier than gun toting alpha male bikers . . . who aren't quite human?
Love always deserves a second chance...even if it's a little out of this world.
2017 IPPY Award Winner, Gold Medalist Best Romance/Erotica
Nikki Landis is the award winning author of over a dozen novels, mostly in the romance genre. She grew up sneaking her mother’s romance novels intrigued with the characters, the stories, and the historical settings from authors that have greatly influenced her writing like Johanna Lindsey, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, and Bertrice Small.
She is also a fan of the classics and adores Jane Austen. Books like The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit have shaped and molded her vision of fantasy and inspired it, contributing to her popular series The Fight for Light novels.
Nikki holds two degrees, in Dietetics and Nutrition, and her Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Wellness. She’s a wife and mother, spending her free time reading, writing, and enjoying the outdoors.
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive teasers, excerpts and a giveaway!
Neither of the guys indulged in this lifestyle when they could help it. Their
mutual problem was one that haunted both of their dreams . . . and their past.
The same girl.
Rage rushed through his veins like sharp poison, stinging and burning within
the vessels. Thoughts of her always brought the same reaction. Pete’s fist
clenched the red plastic cup, once full of beer, in his hand a little too tight. Good
thing he already downed it. Why were these cups always fucking red? His
patience was wearing thin and he was sick of the constant act around Rafe.
Alcohol was an easy escape and one he sought often.
He was an expert at getting drunk. Ask anyone.
And he had a temper too.
Pete used to be a different guy, one who gave a shit and cared about doing
the right thing. A low bitter chuckle rumbled in his throat as his best friend’s
gaze caught his across the room, appearing in the doorway with a frown. R.J.
glared in Rafe’s direction and ticked his head toward the exit, but Peter mouthed
the word ‘no.’ He wasn’t ready to leave quite yet.
There were a few things he needed to settle before he attempted to make all
his wrongs right. Not an easy choice for a man whose life was condemned, but
vengeance was bittersweet, and he intended to savor the moment once it arrived.
For now, he had a plan to enact, which meant taking necessary risks. Right or
wrong he was determined to avenge the wrongs done to him and those he loved.
Doing the right thing caused him to lose the only woman who ever meant
anything to him.
Rae was gone forever because of his choices . . .
So . . . fuck doing the right thing.
He didn’t give a shit anymore.
Time was ticking, his hatred burning deep and simmering low, ready to ignite
in a flame of righteous revenge. So much time had passed. Too many years to
No more waiting, it had been long enough. Rafe would answer for his
Five long painful years.
But just like the Grim Reaper . . . death was about to seek retribution.
The name of vengeance was Peter “Edge” Harding.
Presented by Enchanted Anthologies
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Enchanted Anthologies brings you a co-written paranormal romance anthology based on Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Centuries ago, Dracula found himself cursed at the hands of a witch after murdering her family. Now, he is forced to live his days as a slave to the sun, plagued with a constant thirst for blood, and an immortality without love.
Crina was a farm girl in Romania who met Vlad shortly after he turned. He fell in love with her innocence and kindness.
Emilia was a virgin who was stolen away from her family and fiance on the eve of her wedding, captured by the count for her beauty.
Isabella was the last to turn at his hands. Her wit and intelligence captured his heart.
Can love last an eternity?
Four Novellas intertwining the story of Dracula and his three brides.
LJC Fynn - Dracula
Alyssa Drake - Crina
Rita Delude - Emelia
K. L. Bone - Isabella
This anthology is intended for readers aged eighteen and over.
LJC Fynn was raised in a beautiful small town in South Carolina. She got lost in the fictional world as a child, and that world stayed with her as she became an adult. She loves nothing more than to create a setting to share with the world. She has a supportive husband of fifteen years and two children. She also co-writes with her sister under the name A.L. Marchant.
Best-selling, award-winning author Alyssa Drakehas been creating stories since she could hold a pen, preferring to construct her own bedtime tales instead of reading the titles in her bookshelves. A multi-genre author, Alyssa currently writes Historical romance, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy romance, Contemporary romance, Horror/Thriller, and Dark romance. She thoroughly enjoys strong heroines and often laughs aloud when imagining conversations between her characters.
Alyssa graduated from the University of the Pacific, with a B.S. in business and a concentration in French literature. Currently she resides in Northern California with her blended family, where she works full-time at a chocolate factory.
She believes everyone is motivated by love of someone or something. One of her favorite diversions is fabricating stories about strangers surrounding her on public transportation. Alyssa can often be found madly scribbling notes on a train or daydreaming out the window as the scenery whips past.
Rita Deludecreates worlds with words, whether it’s an undiscovered planet, a circus tent, a vampire’s cove, or a romantic getaway, that take readers to eclectic places and experiences. She has published "Bully" in Through Their Eyes Anthology, "Aftershock" in War Cry, "Plum Secrets" in Madame Scarlet’s Carnival, "Vive la Resistance in Deadly World: Vampires in Paris, and "Crazy About Her" in Crazy About Love. Her first novella, Kaleidoscope, releases February 15, 2018. Her novella Baby Blues releases August 15, 2018. She has been a newspaper journalist, magazine writer, and college professor. Delude has a MFA in Writing. She lives in New Hampshire, USA with her husband of forty-four years. They have four married children and nine grandchildren.
K.L. Bone is the author of the Bestselling Black Rose Guard dark fantasy series. The Rise of the Temple Gods fantasy series. And a stand-alone sci-fi novel, The Indoctrination.
Bone has a master's degree in modern literary cultures and is currently working towards her PhD. She wrote her first short story at the age of fifteen and grew up with an equally great love of both classical literature and speculative fiction.
Bone has spent the last few years as a bit of a world traveler, living in California, London, and most recently, Dublin. When not immersed in words of her own creation or studies, you'll find her traveling to mythical sites and Game of Thrones filming locations.
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!
Cataclysm: Survival in a Barren World
by Robert F. Lundrigan
Genre: SciFi Fantasy
The story is told from two points of view. The Clark family finds themselves seemingly alone on a barren planet while an alien named Pzx is in charge of the fleet looking for a home. She is under orders but would prefer to communicate with other beings. This is a tale of the struggles of both of them as they seek to survive in a barren world.
Robert F. Lundrigan is a certified member of APICS and former Manager of Materials at General Electric. A native of Massachusetts, he graduated from Lowell Institute in Mechanical Engineering and later attended technical and creative writing workshops at Harvard. He has helped several companies as a consultant to improve profits by using the theory of constraints, with great success. Bob has written numerous articles for professional journals, this is his second novel.
The end of the three hundred year journey is at hand and the flagship passes silently into the outer reaches of Earth’s solar system. As programmed, the artificial brain is automatically activated when the craft passes through Pluto’s magnetic influence, causing the temperature and atmosphere of the cryonic chamber to change. At the same instant, a signal is transmitted to the other space vessels and soon the entire armada slows to sub warp speed and deploys to establish a parking orbit around Mars, the planet nearest to its ultimate destination.
Slowly Pzx opens her eye and it takes her but a moment to realize what seemed like no more than a good night’s sleep has in fact, spanned three centuries. She stretches her stiff tentacles and breathes as deeply as she possibly can to clear her lungs of the stale air, while she looks carefully at the bank of instruments overhead to be certain that all is in working order. Satisfying herself that all is as it should be she projects the thought command that lifts the lid of the vacuum chamber that has been her world for three hundred years, and slithers to the deck where she anchors her base appendage to the foot-beam. She rubs her eye and seeing her reflection in the chamber lid, decides that she looks terrible - just as she does every morning until she’s had time to adjust her
plasma casing from rest to activity mode. It’s extremely cold in the cryonic chamber but the twisting and turning exercises she must go through to make her face cause her to forget the chill. When she’s satisfied that she looks presentable enough for what she needs to do, she slides slowly to the next capsule and extreme apprehension takes over as she peers through the transparent lid at the still form of Hrnk. She engages the activator switch and watches fondly, and the apprehension is replaced by something else as he goes through his waking process. He
opens his eye and when he recognizes Pzx his thought projections tell her that all is well with him. Pzx doesn’t open the cover until she is certain that all of Hrnk’s vital signs are normal. At the precise moment the cover is unlatched Hrnk’s reproductive organ begins glowing with that unmistakable signal that is characteristic of all male members of the Drmbkian race, a race dominated by females, a race where the male’s only functions are reproduction and companionship. Although there is an almost overwhelming desire within her to climb into the chamber with Hrnk, Pzx closes the lid reluctantly and tears herself away from her mate.
She has so much to do and so many duties to fulfill. Her first duty is that of activating the cryonic capsules of the ninety nine other ships in the fleet so that they can can get on with the business that has brought them to this new world, the world which they have chosen to be their home, New Drmbk.
Bill wakes at the crack of dawn and gets things ready for travel without waking the others. As he leaves the main gate he stops to look in on the ranger booth but no one is there. Somebody has left a uniform, complete with shoes right there in the middle of the floor of the small cubicle, and the cash box is open and filled with money. He shrugs his shoulders at the strange condition but leaves the price of a campsite rental for one night on the small counter and drives on. Soon he is out of the Mammoth Cave National Park land and on the entrance to the
highway that leads towards Nashville. There hasn’t been a single car or truck on the road so far but, now that he’s on the main drag, there’s bound to be traffic.
He looks both ways and there’s nothing coming in either direction. “I know that there’s light traffic in the south as compared to the north, but this is ridiculous,” he mutters to himself just before he sees the two cars overturned in the ditch beside the road. He stops and gets out to investigate. There’s nobody in the cars but there’s clothing
scattered about in both of them. He gets a terrible feeling in the pit of his stomach. The road is straight and flat affording good visibility. There’s no traffic in either direction. He waits for five minutes and nothing shows up. Something is wrong, terribly wrong.
He climbs back into the driver’s seat and proceeds slowly towards Nashville. He sees more and more overturned and smashed vehicles along the way but investigation always reveals the same thing - No people in evidence but there is always clothing scattered inside of each vehicle. There’s even watches and jewelry in some of them. His
head is beginning to pound. None of this makes any sense. He turns on the radio to get the news, to find out what in the hell is going on. All he gets is the shoosh of the open airways. He scans the band over and over but either his radio is broken or nothing is being broadcast. He turns on the CB and gets the same shooshing sound, nothing more. “Oh my God,” he shouts. “What is going on?”
His shout wakes up the rest of the crew and they find him sitting in the driver’s seat shaking like a leaf. “Dad, what’s the matter?” asks Marty. “Are you alright?”
“There’s nobody out there,” is all that he can say.
Diana is the first to notice the smashed vehicles alongside of the road. She shakes Bill and he snaps out of it. He tells them what he has found, or has not found. The details are enough to numb them all into a sort of semi-shock but Bill decides to press on towards Nashville until they at least come to a McDonald’s or someplace where he knows that there are always people.
For a while they stop at every empty vehicle to investigate but it’s always the same. They soon learn that it’s useless to stop, and keep going until they come upon a sign that tells them there’s a Burger King at the next exit. When they get to the exit ramp there are several smashed vehicles and an overturned eighteen wheeler blocking the way. The restaurant is nearby so they leave the motorhome and walk. There’s no sound except the sound of a soft breeze murmuring through the trees, and there’s no movement save for that moved by the same breeze, and when they start walking, the sound of their footsteps are like drum beats. The parking lot of the Burger King is nearly full of cars and the big yellow and red signs glow with the electricity that’s inside them.
“Looks like there’s somebody here. The place is open,” shouts Mike as he dashes on ahead followed by Marty and the girls .
When Diana and Bill get to the top of the ramp the children are on their way back, their faces as white as new fallen snow. There is shock in their eyes. “All there is inside are piles of clothes but no people. All the lights are on and there’s even Whoppers ready behind the counter, but there’s nobody anywhere,” says Debbie. “Oh, my God! What is happening, Daddy?”
“I don’t know, honey. I don’t know.” He takes a sobbing daughter into his arms, feeling helpless and confused.
They go into the restaurant where Bill notices on the small computer above the counter that the last order was taken at five-thirtyeight PM. “Whatever happened must have happened at about five-thirtyeight last evening,” he tells them, pointing to the screen.