utterly Umbra

Another peek at Eidolon Avenue, due out in early-2016 from Crystal Lake Publishing.

Really looking forward to seeing this book come together. ESPECIALLY the cover! There are some great ideas and some amazing creative back-and-forth going on with that. Sure to be frickin’ amazing. 🙂

And now, onto Umbra! (pronounced ewm-bra)

There was something living in the walls.

Still wearing her only black dress, a rose taken from the cemetery in one hand, her bright pink backpack in the other, she’d watched the stain in her new bedroom. Round and raised in the middle, like a bubble, it was different than the others.

And it was alive.

She’d known it the moment she’d walked in. Had felt it as she’d turned to put her backpack on the creaky bed. Had expected, when she first saw the stain two weeks ago, to see a face, two eyes, lips, a nose and cheeks and teeth, pushing from the wall.

But there’d only been a wide brown circle. A stain that wasn’t a stain. One that wasn’t long and dark like the others. One that hadn’t dripped from the ceiling to the floor. One that sat alone, removed from the others. Just like her.

“What kind of name is ‘Umbra’?” were the first words Gran had said when the big lady with the onion bagel breath first dropped her off. The State had decided this was where she had to be. With her dad as flat as a pancake under the car in the garage and her mom, after belting back her fifth Jack and Coke of the morning, shredding her throat by eating the glass, she’d had nowhere else to go.

“Worthless cunt never could hold her liquor,” Gran had said with a laugh.

Had she known there’d be a new home, a new school, new classes, and new kids, all making fun of the skinny girl with the boney knees who walked too slow and read too much, she wouldn’t have sorta accidentally wished her folks dead.

A sip of Anniversary

Another little teeny tiny peek at Eidolon Avenue, my new book due out in 2016 from Crystal Lake Publishing, one of the top publishers of dark fiction and horror.

Why not? Besides, you’ve already had a glimpse of China followed by a taste of Bullet and then a little Click. Makes sense to take a sip of Anniversary, right?

Right.

“I suppose.” Gripping the table’s edge, she hoisted herself back and plopped down into her chair with a deep sigh. “That makes more sense.” The thought rolled through her mind as she reached for her champagne. “Oh, that’s right. I remember. He took a bump to the head, quite a big one, now that I think about it, and knocked himself cold as a cucumber for, oh, how long was it …” A glance down at Benji. “Something like two or three weeks, wasn’t it, dear?”

He ignored her, his eyes on the ceiling above her.

She looked back at Peabody. “Trust me, it was two or three weeks. Just laid there in the hospital bed, dead to the world and snoring like a lumberjack. Took his darn sweet time waking up, too, I gotta say. Found myself envying him toward the end. And then he woke up and …” She shrugged. “Life went back to being life and we went back to messing it all up, time and time again.” She paused. “Though he did seem … I don’t know. Off, I guess. Or somehow different in some way after then. Just not the same.” A small grin for Peabody as she sipped her champagne. “I guess that’s what falling off a cliff will do to you.”

“But that wasn’t the first time,” Peabody said as he placed the champagne back on the table and pulled his salad bowl near.

“Oh no, no. Not at all.” Fork in hand, she tucked into her bowl of watercress. “Now, remember, that was the ten year anniversary. We’d had, oh, I don’t know, maybe …” She stabbed a piece of lettuce as she thought. “I’m not sure, but definitely a few, if not several, tries before then.” She shoved the lettuce in her mouth.

“Really. Several?” Peabody swallowed a bite of salad and then sipped his champagne.

She nodded. “Absolutely. You see, I met my beloved Benji one month – and I was twenty-eight by then, so in the world’s eyes, and that of my family, I was darn near a spinster and utterly without hope – and I married him the next month, and then we spent the next fifty years happily trying to kill each other. By choice.”

“By choice.”

“Of course.” She returned the champagne flute to its place near the untouched glass of chardonnay. “Murder/suicide pacts. One after the other. All of them sincere. All of them determined and, one would hope, well thought out. And all of them ending either dismally or disastrously, take your pick.” She dabbed the napkin to her lips. “Never could get it right.” Napkin in hand, she put her elbows on the table and leaned forward. “And when we got it wrong, boy howdy did we get it wrong.”

“So now it’s Mr. Peabody to the rescue?” The affable stranger, the napkin covering his lap, speared another piece of lettuce.

Stay tuned for more in the weeks to come!!!!  🙂

A little Click

Here’s yet another peek at Eidolon Avenue (earlier looks included China and Bullet), a collection of novellas and short stories due out in early-2016 from Crystal Lake Publishing, considered one of the best publishers of horror and dark fiction in the business today.

Really looking forward to you guys checking this out. Oh! And did I mention it’s already being circled for adaptation into a TV series? Stay tuned. —

He hip checked the door open and, taking her hand, led her into the apartment.

She stood, her eyes above him, to the walls, the ceiling, as he unbuttoned her rain coat and dragged it away from her shoulders. “Who are they?” she said.

“Huh?” He threw her coat in the hall. “Who? That’s just Brody. Relax.”

“Who?”

“Brody. Brody!” He watched her. “My bud Brody. He’s cool. That is who you’re talking about, right?” He pulled closer.

She shook her head. “No, no, I don’t know.” Her breath grew ragged. “There’s more than one. I don’t like them. Their eyes, they’re dark. Like people, but not people. And their fingers are like scary claws. And the smell, they smell, it’s –” Her cheeks blushed as she fought for breath, her chest rising and falling in quick jerks. “I don’t … I don’t like it.”

“Hey, hey, hey,” he said, cradling her face in his hands. “Relax. You’re okay. We’re just getting out of the rain for a minute, alright?”

“I can smell that thing. Can’t you smell that thing?” Her eyes rolled back in her head as her chin titled up. “Oh my god, Mom, Mom? Help! This is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong –”

“Yo!” He gripped her face tighter. “Hey! What’s wrong?” He gave her a quick, violent shake. “Freak! Yo! Answer me!”

“It … won’t … stop … breathing.” She screwed her eyes shut and started to cry.

“That’s you.” She shook her head. “You’re the one breathing, okay?” He stopped her. “You need to settle down. You’re fine.” He lifted the umbrella. “You want this back? Here you go. See? I promised. Take it.”

She opened her eyes, her cheeks stained with tears. She ignored the umbrella.

“You can’t leave.” She sniffled. “It won’t let you.”

“You said I looked like a prince, remember? Remember that?” He forced a smile. “Wanna kiss a prince?”

She shook her head. “I want to leave.”

“Aw, c’mon.” He moved closer, pressing his body against hers. “Just one kiss? When have you ever gotten to kiss a prince, right? One time shot, right here.” A smile. “Yeah?”

Another shake of the head, this one slower, more careful, her eyes on him. She started to cry again, her nose leaking thick streams of snot, her shoulders rising as she hiccupped and sobbed.

“Shhh, shhhh, shhh.” He traced a tear with his thumb, rubbing it into her cheek. “Relax. It’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you.”

She caught her breath, her tear-filled eyes watching him. “You lie.”

You will see …

(a small excerpt from Martuk … the Holy:  Proseuche)

“You will see the beginning,” she then said.

With a small shake of my head, I focused on the water.

Another fire.

This one in a small room. A cave, I think, the ceiling low.

And around the flames, a group of people chanting.  Cecilia chanting.

“You will see …” she began.

A dead boy.

“You will see …”

A dead boy who now sat up, his eyes open, his mouth open.

Words coming from the dead boy.  Words that were not his in a voice that was not his.  The voice too deep, too rough, too masculine and wise and …

“You will see …”

The dead boy lifted and held in the air, his mouth open as the words spewed forth, words I couldn’t hear, as the fire behind him grew, the flames reaching the ceiling and then, spreading like water, to ripple across the stone and race down the walls.

“You will see …”

Cecilia and these strangers clambering away, desperate to escape.

From the fire he came.  The Magi.  The Master.

“… this stranger come from the flames,” she finally finished.