an easy lie

In the silence of the Temple, they spoke.

A murmur, a sigh, an awakening, a cry.

Mother …

Father …

King …

I moved my cheek from the stone, the pain of the whispers too great to bear.

Although night, the workers — slaves, prisoners of war, many of them mere boys — still pulled and pushed the immense blocks into place, the already overwhelming Temple forever expanding, a veritable mountain of stone at the edge of the city.

For many of them, this was all they knew, their lives after capture, after defeat, one of constant work, nonexistent sleep, and death, quick and inevitable.

Above them all, the Priests watched.

And here, under the light of an almost full moon, the pain, the rage, the powerless despair of all those trapped and troubled bones in the stone surrounded me like a fog.

In the quiet, safe in the dark, far from those who watched and those who worked, I pressed myself to the cool rock.

I would listen.

Cry …

Whimper …

Sob …

Yes, I feel you.

Wound …

Suffer …

Die …

I pulled away.

Die …

King …

Die …

“They know you.”

I turned.

A small woman stood behind me, her long hair as silver as the light bathing her, the years in her face softened by the glow of the moon.

I glanced around for my guards. But, no, I had left them hours ago, ordering them away before I climbed the hill to the Temple.

“Your guilt needed solitude,” she said. “Your shame too great to share, yes?”

She waited.

I nodded.

Yes.

“And this is why you, the Almost King, stand here now, at this hour, under the moon, listening.”

She stepped closer.

Though draped in woolen, the rough fabric scarred by clumsily mended rips and tears, her feet bare, her wiry frame alarmingly thin, she carried herself with an unapologetic sense of majesty and dignity and strength as she moved near.

“Is your power worth all that death?”

“No.” The answer came from me, quick and unthinking. “No.”

“And yet it is not something you can deny, this power. This crown. It will be yours regardless of what you want or what you do. Or what I do. Born into this, you are as trapped as those in the stone.”

The tears threatened to come. I blinked. And blinked again.

“The most powerful of men,” she said, her voice gentle and kind, “utterly powerless to change what must be changed.”

Watching me, she grew silent as if she, too, were listening.

She turned her head, her gaze on the workers in the distance, the sweat on their skin shining under the glow of torchlight.

“Your mother is one with the Dark Gods, yes?”

I hesitated.

“There’s no need to answer.” She continued to watch the nameless who toiled under the gaze of the constant moon. “It’s commonly known, understood. We barbarians, as she calls us, here in the city talk of her and the Priests and their ancient religion. Those beliefs from the Time of the Moon. Of their worshipping those who must be paid in blood, in flesh, in fear. In the tears and cries of those they slaughter.”

“This is known?”

Looking at me, she continued.

“It is also known, and spoken of, that once these souls are bled and lifeless and useless, they burn –”

“Stop. Please.”

She stopped.

It was my turn to watch the strangers pull and push, the thick, braided rope threatening to split and shred under the weight of the stone.

“The gift you must give,” she said, my mother’s words echoed in hers.

“Is something I regret.” I refused to look this stranger in the eye. “Something I wish I didn’t have to do. Something I wish I had never done.”

“But it’s done.”

I looked at her.

“She’s a very powerful woman, your mother. Not many can deny her. Not many dare. Those who do …. ”

She grew quiet, the thought unfinished.

“And the Priests?” I asked. “What of them? Do the people talk about the Priests?”

“Yes, they do. And they understand what you and your mother do not: these men, these Priests, are more powerful than you know.”

“She believes she’s a God.”

“An easy lie for them to feed her. And her mind …”

Hesitating, she looked for the words.

“Her mind is wounded and hungry. Desperate for comfort, the grief, the guilt, the horror of what she’s done still at war with the tender delusion of her immortality.”

“She struggles.”

“And eats.”

Confused, I watched her, her eyes almost silver under the light of the moon.

“The bones are in the stones, yes?” she asked.

I waited.

“And what of the flesh? The flesh you burn before they grind these bones?”

She stopped, watching me before asking again.

“What of the flesh?”

— an excerpt from The Martuk Series, A Collection of Short Fiction, Vol. 1

COMING SOON

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a small somewhat ephemeral thing

A sincere Thank You to everyone who picked up a copy of The Tall Priest or took advantage of the recent promotion and snagged a free copy of The Wounded King.

Because of your support, The Tall Priest climbed higher on the Amazon charts than any of the previous Martuk Series books. And, especially in light of the minimal marketing I’d done, that’s a small, somewhat ephemeral thing worth celebrating.

Here’s hoping enough of you will like it enough to share your thoughts with a brief review. (crosses fingers)

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Coming soon

The Tall Priest from The Martuk Series, the fourth installment in a continuing series of short fiction based on the full length Martuk…the Holy novels

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Stay tuned for synopsis, excerpts, reviews 👊😎👍

violent tsunamis of bitter guilt

A peek at “The Scariest Part” for me of writing Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast.

“Click” was scary because…how can I put this? It was scary because why it was happening was coming from a mindset that could never be mine. The reasoning behind the cruelty, the quiet joy taken in it, the victim’s confusion shifting into realization and then terror, the whole thing turned my stomach. Put a lump in my throat. An insistent thump, thump, thumping in my head. Sent me to bed at night drowning in violent tsunamis of bitter guilt. I actually more than once — more than twice, to be honest — stopped midsentence, stood up and stepped outside just to get away from Apartment 1C.

Read the rest over on Nicholas Kaufman’s fantastic blog.

And Eidolon? Available now from Crystal Lake Publishing

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“a wrench to the skull”

From another review of Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast

This is what horror should be, at least, it’s the what I like my horror to be. Not only graphic and lurid, but beautiful, jarring and unnerving as well. Weighing heavy on the mind and spirit. Violently abducting you from your safe place, shattering your comfort zone with a wrench to the skull. Applying a constant pressure on the (constantly constricting) boundaries of what is deemed socially acceptable.

This is my horror. And like a pastor in the church of horror, this is the book that I’ll be preaching to my congregation.

But there’s more! Read it here.

And then check out the book from Crystal Lake Publishing

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“a voice unlike any other”

“Each apartment holds something truly horrifying and disconcerting. Even when fantastical elements are introduced, Winn grounds the story with grim realities. Violent and graphic, the actions and thoughts of each tenant push the boundaries of comfort. There are flourishes of intensely dark content, both physical and psychological, within the pages of this story. It never goes to Edward Lee extremes, but this is classic splatterpunk by way of early Clive Barker and Jack Ketchum with the unhinged way Robert Bloch can get under your skin.

This is truly adult horror.

A voice unlike any other, Eidolon Avenue is a masterclass effort in horror literature.”

Read the full review of Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast (available now from Crystal Lake Publishing) here.

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Thank you

After months of writing, months of editing, revising and rewriting, months of marketing and planning, months of hoping and worrying and happiness and fear, Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast is finally officially live.

Go ahead and make my day by picking up your copy here.

But before I go, it’s worth mentioning those who helped make this possible. Because if these folks hadn’t stood by my side, Eidolon would not have been possible.

So, thank you.

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