Thursday, September 20, 2018
Monday, September 17, 2018
Planet of the Dead
by Thomas S. Flowers
Publisher: Shadow Work Publishing
Date of Publication: Oct 13, 2017
Number of pages: 268 (Kindle), 266 (paperback)
Word Count: 60K
Cover Artist: Travis Eck
Tagline: Live. Die. Or become one of the Undead.
News reports speak of mass panic and violence spreading across the globe. Negligent leaders hide behind misinformation. But in an age of paranoia and suspicion, who can say what is true anymore? Struggling to survive against a sweeping epidemic that has engulfed the planet, survivors will have to make hard choices in a world that no longer makes sense.
There it is again. Scratching in the walls. Harold sat up in the queen bed he shared with Silvio, his grey-haired miniature Schnauzer. He stared out into the darkness of his room, turning his head to the wall. What was that sound? Scratching…was it rats? Now it sounded like it was above him, that nails against wood kind of sound. But that didn’t make sense. He lived on the first floor of a two-story apartment building in one of the quieter neighborhoods in the Yongsan-gu area. Nothing ever happened here. While in the past, he’d had his share of crappy neighbors, Mrs. Kim was farthest from what one would consider to be a rowdy neighbor. Kim was a sweet little old lady with poorly dyed hair that gave her thinning white a touch of blue. She wore large red framed glasses and never made much of a sound, even during the day. The only complaint he would have would be the smell of kimchee that permeated through the walls whenever she cooked the awful stuff.
Still, the scratching persisted.
Silvio whimpered, turning his head upward at the sound, and then burying himself under the comforter.
Harold looked to his quivering dog and back to the ceiling. Now there was something else. Was that…moaning? Christ, what if Mrs. Kim fell and hurt herself. She could be dying up there. I should probably call someone, emergency services…anyone. But would they get here in time to help her? What if she’s really hurt? I need to do something.
He flung off his warm blanket and hopped out of bed. Harold slid on his slippers and went for the door. The hallway outside was empty, not very surprising considering most of the residents here at Yongsan-gu were nearing or past retirement. The very reason why he wanted to rent here was the quiet; nothing out of the ordinary ever happened here. A sudden cold breeze tickled his neck and arms. Pulling his robe closer to his chest, his skin breaking out in goosebumps, he quickly shuffled to the stairs.
Hoping Silvio would be okay on his own, Harold climbed the short steps to the second floor.
Silvio will be okay, he promised himself.
It’ll only be for a few minutes.
Mrs. Kim’s apartment was at the end, just above his own. Passing the door before hers he thought he’d heard the tenants arguing inside.
Odd, he thought, tempted to press his ear against their door. In all the years that Harold had lived here, he had never once heard or seen Fred and Marcy fight. Not once. They were the picture perfect boring couple, and the only other Americans living in the complex. Teachers, at some private school. Not that Harold would know much about that; he taught at the public institution, and had so for years now. As the saying goes, he was a professional bachelor and had little to nothing keeping him from wanting to return to the States. And besides, he liked it here. The culture, the food, the purposefulness, and the discipline of the students were far advanced from what he’d dealt with back in Kentucky.
Harold took a step and stopped, thought better of it, and continued to Mrs. Kim’s.
He knocked on the red door.
“Mrs. Kim, you in there?”
“Is everything okay? I thought I heard— “
The door to Fred and Marcy’s apartment flung open.
Harold jumped back, pulling tighter on his robes.
Someone ran out. A blur. Down the hallway to the stairs. Turning back, he stared at Harold.
“Fred? What’s going on?”
Fred, who was normally tan with tidily kept clothes, looked disheveled and ghostly. He’d obviously been sweating, his hair ruffled and sticking up in areas. And on his clothes, there were red stains, dark red, covering most of his untucked shirt and pant legs. On his neck, an aggravated wound, crimson and purplish, oozing down and soaking into his collar.
“Fred, are you okay? Are you hurt?” Harold took a step forward.
Wide eyed, Fred turned and darted down the steps.
Harold watched, silent and unmoving.
He eyed the open door to their apartment.
No sounds came from within.
He glanced at Mrs. Kim’s door and then back to Fred and Marcy’s.
Swallowing hard, he moved toward the open door. With his slipper foot, he slowly nudged it open. The door creaked and stopped. No lights inside, just a dim glow coming from a lamp in the living room. Chairs were turned over, dishes smashed and broken on the floor in the kitchen.
“Hello?” he called. “Marcy? It’s me, Harold, from downstairs.”
“I don’t mean to intrude, but I saw Fred. He looks hurt. Is everything okay?” Harold stopped short of coming into the kitchen completely. He saw legs and feet sticking out around the corner, lifeless on the floor.
Harold gasped, covering his mouth with his cold trembling hand.
“Oh no,” he whispered.
He moved to the body. Marcy lay face down on the kitchen tile. Blood pooled underneath, staining her yellow polka dot dress, wet in a gamey orange.
“Marcy?” Harold called out. He bent down and reached to check for a pulse.
He jerked back.
“Oh, God, you startled me. Marcy, are you alright?” Harold shuddered, his breath coming too fast, heart pounding against his chest.
Strangely, in odd twitching movements, Marcy got to her knees and turned.
“Oh no, Marcy…what…what happened? How can— “Harold wanted to scream, his breath and his heart pumping too hard to allow him. She ground chunks of pink flesh between red stained teeth… Fred’s flesh, he was sure.
Marcy groaned and lunged for him.
Harold moved back just in time.! He watched as Marcy fell face first onto the kitchen tile, inching away as she began moving again, crawling, reaching out with reddened fingers, clawing at his slippered feet.
“Marcy, what’s happened? What’s going?” he begged, again taking another step back out into the living room, back towards the open apartment door.
Marcy groaned, annoyed and hungry, still in pursuit, still crawling.
Unable to watch anymore, wanting nothing more than to run back downstairs to his own apartment, to lock and deadbolt the door, to hug close Silvio, his miniature Schnauzer, wanting nothing more than to be somewhere else, somewhere not here with this bloodied crazed woman who was no longer the Marcy he thought he knew.
Or on drugs, has to be.
She’s not herself.
Harold turned and started for the open door.
Mrs. Kim stood in the entryway. Her bluish white hair ruffled and torn. Red swollen teeth-like wounds on her arms. And her eyes, a creamy yellow white, but not a sunny yellow, rather much more like decay that reminded him of rotting things eking some measure of existence at the bottom of dumpsters. She shuffled toward him, quickly grabbing on his robe and pulling herself to him.
Harold slapped at her. Hard.
But her hold was strong, manically strong.
“Stop, Mrs. Kim, please— “
She angled down and bit his exposed wrist. Blood pooled around her lips as she gnawed and suckled, grunting with a sort of pleasurable ecstasy.
Harold screamed and fought to dislodge her, but he could not remove her bite.
Nails scraped his shins.
He glared down.
Marcy was clawing at his legs, nipping at his flesh.
He kicked away, but she held fast. With a quick sneer, she bit into his calf.
Harold shrieked, toppling over the couch. He rolled and hit the floor on the other side hard, knocking his head against the coffee table. Dazed, he lay there, unsure if what was happening was even real. Maybe he was still in his own apartment, fast asleep with Silvio by his side.
Shuffling over, moaning deeply, Mrs. Kim reappeared, her lips wet and scarlet, dribbling down onto her white ruffle blouse.
He watched, frozen, his body refusing to move.
“Please…stop…don’t— “he begged.
Another moaning, gurgling above him.
Harold angled and watched as Marcy crawled towards him from the other side of the couch. As if driven by the smell of his wounds, she quickened her pace, scrapping along the floor. Reaching his face, she thrust her sneering teeth clamping down on his cheek, ripping, shredding loose flesh and tissue and fat, pulling back to enjoy the chunky red and purplish glob.
Harold squirmed and squealed.
He stared in horror as Mrs. Kim kneeled beside him, reaching with greedy claws for his now exposed belly. She tore into his flesh, bleeding him, reaching, wiggling her fingers deep inside.
Harold lost his voice, whimpering and gnashing his gums as he watched in disbelief, watched as Mrs. Kim ripped out a rubbery looking hose like noddle what he could only assume to be part of his intestines. Dripping wet, she suckled and chewed hastily and dug some more.
What about Silvio, he wondered, shuddering at the molten touch of Mrs. Kim digging farther into him, pulling out more of his stomach, licking, eating him alive.
My dog, what’ll happen to my Silvio…
Who doesn't love a good story? Thomas's favorite books include All Quiet on the Western Front, Salem's Lot, and Hell House.
In his own writings, he aspires to create fantastic worlds with memorable characters and haunted places. His stories range from Shakespearean gore, classic monster tales, and even stories that hurt him the most to write about, haunted soldiers and PTSD. Residing in the swamps of Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter, Thomas's debut novel, Reinheit, was eventually published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with Lanmò, The Hobbsburg Horror, FEAST, Beautiful Ugly, and Planet of the Dead.
His veteran focused paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Series, filled with werewolves, Frankenstein-inspired monsters, cults, alter-dimensional insects, witches, and the undead are published with Limitless Publishing.
In 2008, Thomas was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served three tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston-Clear Lake with a Bachelors in History. He is the senior editor at Machine Mean, a site that reviews horribly awesome and vintage horror movies and books from guest contributors who obsess over a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics.
Machine Mean https://machinemean.org/
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Saturday, September 15, 2018
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
by Jennifer Harlow
Genre: Horror, Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Devil on the Left Books
Date of Publication: September 11, 2018
Number of pages: 300
Word Count: 99,000
Cover Artist: Jennifer Dowis
Tagline: Lust…Murder…Madness. Welcome to Crimson Vale.
Welcome to Crimson Vale.
It’s a dream come true. A vast inheritance. A beautiful mansion in the heart of the small town South. A seductive, mysterious, literal man of her dreams offering true, pure love. Ravaged in both body and mind, Jane Harrow leaps into that living dream with abandon.
Despite the voices.
Despite the visions.
Despite the warnings from both the living and the dead.
Because what Jane doesn’t know is nothing and no one are what they seem.
Because demons from the past are patient. Because dreams can quickly turn into living nightmares, especially in…Crimson Vale
This must be where it happened. My uncle lay in this room for close to forty years with my grandmother by his side, apparently knitting as the tubes and respirator kept him…I wouldn’t call that alive. Undead. What on earth was she thinking? Waiting one year sure, but thirty-plus? Giving up her own life to watch over a comatose man? Insanity. It really must run in the blood. I only hope—
Creaking in the hallway startles me out of my dark thoughts. Darn it, I guess he didn’t leave. I’m not sure how much longer I can handle social niceties. I’m exhausted from the drive, not to mention out of practice with people, and would derive great satisfaction from smacking that letch with my purse should he glimpse down my shirt again. I just want to take a shower, get into my pajamas, and sleep for a week. Have to get him out of here first. I walk into the hallway.
My lungs, my heart, even my ability to blink stops the moment I set eyes on him. If it were storming outside I would swear I’d just been hit by a bolt of lightning. Time stands as still as we do, just staring at one another with the same awestruck expression. The stranger my age is a few inches over six foot with a lean body encased in an expensive gray suit with matching tie and vest. He could grace the pages of a magazine with that suit, wavy dirty blonde hair with a lock brushing his forehead and coiffed to appear slightly disheveled, big blue eyes, feminine lips, straight nose, and strong jaw ending at a pointed chin. He’s around my age, but as our eyes meet and another wave of whatever this is jolts through me, he seems a century older and I’ve known him every moment, every millisecond of that time. I’m scared, exhilarated, unnerved all at once. But deep down there’s a …recognition peeking through the strum and drang.
I never believed in love at first sight, and I don’t know if that’s what this is, but every atom of mine senses, every atom of his calling to me, screaming for me to sprint over to this stranger, tear off our clothes, and have him rut me like a beast right on the hardwood floor. To feel him stretching me, thrusting inside me. My most sacred place pulsates and grows wet just from the mere thought. What the heck is happening to me? This stranger must be suffering the same torment because those blue eyes grow ravenous like an anorexic faced with prime rib. No one’s ever gazed at me like this, with pure unadulterated, hot, wild, salivating lust. The same way I’m gazing at him. My resolve to remain on my side of the hall cracks with each passing moment. His fails. He lets out a soft grunt and takes a stride toward me. Thank God.
Those two words break whatever enchantment engulfed me. I somehow pry my eyes away from the stranger toward the creaky stairs. Suddenly I’m freezing and trembling as if in shock. At least I can breathe again, though only in short bursts. D.J. takes the final step up into the hallway. “Oh, good, you found her,” he says to the stranger.
“Yes,” the man says, quiet voice cracking a tad, “I did.”
“Mrs. Harrow, may I present my son, Bram. He’s the one who tracked you down.” D.J. glances from his son to me, eyes narrowing in confusion. “What the hell is the matter with you two? Y’all look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“We’re fine, sir,” Bram says with only a faint trace of a Southern accent. “Just got a chill. Old house and all.”
“Oh. Well, you can get someone to fix that, I guess. Bram can give you the handyman’s name and number. He’s been the one taking care of things. Hey,” he says to his son, “I’ve been meaning to ask. What happened to all those weird looking creatures and symbols that used to be on all the walls and tables? The gargoyles and such? There were still a ton of them even after the renovation.”
“I, uh, had them removed.” Bram turns to me. “I hope you don’t think I overstepped my bounds. I had them remove the medical equipment too and clean up. I just…wanted to cheer the place up for your arrival.”
“Um, thank you. For thinking of me.”
“Your grandmother would have wanted me to, um, make things as comfortable for you as possible.”
“You’re very kind,” I say, blushing. I’m sure as red as a fire engine. I look over at D.J. “Both of you.”
“So, have you decided what you’re going to do with the place?” D.J. asks me.
“I haven’t really thought that far ahead.”
“But you’re planning on staying, right?” Bram asks with urgency. “At least for a while?”
I meet his eyes again, instantly overpowered by the intense fear in them. I can stand it for only a millisecond. “Um, I-I guess.”
“Well, you are welcome to stay here while the will’s in probate. Or the Cypress Hotel is lovely. There’s also the Crimson Vale Motel, but it’s a tad low rent.”
“Um…” Do I really want to spend the night alone in this house? Two people died here, and those are just the ones I know of. I don’t believe in ghosts—your soul either enters heaven or hell—but this house feels as if it’s under an enchantment. Frozen in time by an evil witch. But it’s mine. I came all this way, and if I don’t stay in this house tonight, I never will. “No, I’ll be staying here. The letter said everything was still turned on?”
“It is,” Bram says. “I-we kept the utilities up to date for when you finally arrived.”
“Thank you. Both.”
We stand in silence for a few awkward moments. I sense Bram staring at me, waiting for something, but I can’t return his gaze. My eyes remain glued to the floor. “Well,” D.J. says, “we’ll get out of your hair. You’re probably tired from your trip. Bram?” The son follows the father down the hall and stairs with me three steps behind to show them out. Bram glances back, each time his mouth opens to say something, but he thinks better of it each time. “You have my card if you have any questions,” D.J. continues. “Don’t hesitate to call, even if it’s just for the name of a good restaurant.”
The men step out onto the porch, but I wait at the threshold. “Remember. Anything,” D.J. adds as he ambles to his BMW.
All I want is for you to leave now. “I will. Thank you.”
His son moves toward his own BMW SUV, but halfway there Bram suddenly stops, doesn’t move for a moment, then spins around to face me. For some reason my stomach clenches from nerves as he does. I grip the door handle in case he’s about to finish what he started in the hall, whatever that was. “I, um, I…” he says. His mouth clamps shut again to find the right words. If possible, he’s as unnerved as I am. He shakes his head to clear it and smiles. “Welcome home, Jane.”
Those words send a cascade of warmth through my body like warn rain just washed over me. I haven’t a clue what to say back. All I can manage is a weak smile before retreating inside like a mouse into a hole. The moment the door shuts, I turn my back to it and rest against the wood with a sigh. What is the matter with me? Have I replaced voices and seeing invisible people with nymphomania? I remain pressed against the door until I hear both men drive away, the tension waning as the sounds fade, leaving nothing but glorious silence. The house is still. My house. Mine.
About the Author:
Jennifer Harlow spent her restless childhood fighting with her three brothers and scaring the heck out of herself with horror movies and books. She grew up to earn a degree at the University of Virginia which she put to use as a radio DJ, crisis hotline volunteer, bookseller, lab assistant, wedding coordinator, and government investigator. Currently she calls Atlanta home but that restless itch is ever present. In her free time she continues to scare the beejepers out of herself watching scary movies and opening her credit card bills. She is the author of the Amazon best-selling F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad, Midnight Magic Mystery series, The Galilee Falls Trilogy, and won the Independent Publisher’s Award for Best Mystery Novel.
For the soundtrack to her books and other goodies visit her at www.jenniferharlowbooks.com
Mailing List: https://bit.ly/2MPt2iY