Monday, 8 February 2016

Tau Ceti Mission - 30.06.2314 - Deceleration

Seb reports from the Venti probe as they begin to decelerate into the Tau Ceti system:

Sunday, 7 February 2016

January Short Fiction Contest Winners

By Penny Dreadful Newspaper (Penny Dreadful Paper 1838) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Thanks to releasing one of my own books last week I'm a little late with announcing the winners for January's Short Fiction Contest, but here they are. As always I was impressed by the variety and quality of the entries and we had a lot of new writers taking part this month. Thank you to everyone of who entered and also to you who read and share the winners.

Here are the winners:

 - First prize of a £50 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to M. A. LaMothe for  'The Devil Wore Heels'
 - Second prize of a £20 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Leigh McQuuen for 'The Devil at the Gate'
 - Third prize of a £10 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Jay Michael Wright II for 'The Devil's Bad Day'

Congratulations to the winners and here are their stories:

The Devil Wore Heels by M. A. LaMothe

None of us really expected Satan to be wearing thigh-high patent leather boots with fuck-me heels, but then again we never actually expected him at all.

It was Ebony Rayven (Kayla) who suggested that we try to summon the devil. We’d been sitting around in the basement of Bloodwyng’s (Daniel’s) parents house. It was toward the end of summer vacation, and we’d gotten bored. We’d seen all the movies we wanted to see, since the theater was too mainstream to get the good stuff. No one wanted to go to the pool even though it was a thousand degrees outside because there were too many mundanes. Also Vlad (Luke) was still banned because of the kiddie pool incident the week before. So we were sitting around, bored, listening to Bloody Ma’Arie’s (Audrey’s) CDs, and drinking the peppermint schnapps I stole from my parent’s liquor cabinet.

So, Ebony goes, “Let’s summon a demon.” Who summons a demon at two in the afternoon on a Wednesday? Everyone else thought it sounded fun though, and I was bored, so I figured what the hell?

We thought we were going to have to go out to the store, because we thought maybe we needed pig’s blood or something, but in the end we figured the chicken we found in the freezer would work for the sacrifice part if we stabbed it and maybe cut a finger and rubbed blood on it.

So anyway, since it was his house, Bloodwyng got to draw the pentagram and light the candles. Vlad was on knife duty, Ebony and Ma’Arie went through books to find some Latin incantations, and I finished the booze since I wasn’t needed.

Finally we got everything together. Vlad cut his wrist and bled all over the chicken and tried to stab it but it was frozen and his hands were slippery because he cut himself pretty good. We all chanted.

Nothing happened at first. I wasn’t too surprised. Vlad kept chipping at the frozen chicken and complained he was dizzy. We were about to give up and go get him stitched when we heard something outside, a clacking of heels on concrete as someone hopped the fence.

No one opened the door, but he got in anyhow. A puff of yellow smoke made us cough and suddenly he was there, in our midst. I saw his disappointment as he took in the scene: five emo teens, one bleeding profusely, a frozen chicken with chips out of it, Halloween store candles. Then again, we were expecting something more demonic than dominatrix boots and a red tunic, so I guess everyone was a bit put off.

Satan sighed, shook his head, and turned on his spike heel, walking away. “Not worth the paperwork,” he said, vanishing into a puff of smoke and leaving us there, stunned and (in Vlad’s case) bleeding.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt more inadequate in my life.

The Devil at the Gate by Leigh McQueen

“The Devil is comin’ for you, Stevie,” Mama, whispered weakly. “I can’t protect you when I’m gone. He’ll come to claim his own.”

Mama’s dying words were as discouraging as they were ominous. 

A hot retort pressed against my lips, but she deserved patience. This was her final hour. I patted her hand. She coughed. A deep, wet rattle within her alarmed me. 

I rose from where she lay and walked through the old house. It was a fine Spring evening. Mama had opened the windows earlier. A cool breeze had developed as the day gave way to evening. I enjoyed the wind against my skin. 

Full dark had not yet fallen. In the gloaming, I thought I saw movement just outside Mama’s front gate. The blooming wisteria made it difficult to tell. 

I moved in with Mama four months ago. She was sick and needed my help. I took a leave of absence from my job in San Diego and came home to Mississippi. The little farmhouse where I grew up was isolated. 

The floorboards creaked as I moved and answered a compulsion to go back upstairs to the attic. The attic door still stood open. The floorboards were unfinished pine. 

I padded on bare feet across the stained boards. I had long ago created a grid. I knew exactly who each stain represented. I always loved to come up and visit again to watch the blood turn from deep red to brown and then become absorbed into the wood. 

I stared at the new stain – still sticky and red. 

Mama should not have come up here while I was “visiting” old memories. She found me naked and writhing in ecstasy on the floor. 

I looked out the window that faced the front gate. A man looked up at me. His face pale in the darkening night but I thought I saw … horns on his forehead. He leapt the six-foot gate and landed on the front walk. 

With a gasp, I ran back downstairs to the kitchen where Mama lay. I froze briefly as I heard footsteps on the front porch. 

I knelt down. Her eyes were closed. I thought she was already gone. 

Suddenly, she opened her eyes and took a shallow breath. She looked at me without bitterness. 

“…the deal was only for as long as I lived …” her bloodied hand, which had clutched the knife in her chest in a pitiful attempt to remove it, now patted my cheek. She took one last breath and was gone. 
There was movement at the front of the house. The front door creaked. There were footsteps in the front room. I rose – naked – covered in my mother’s blood. 

He entered the kitchen as night fell. The room’s only light was from the hood over the stove. 

The Devil grinned at me. My bowels turn to lava. 

He whispered the two words I should have already guessed. “Daddy’s home.”

The Devil's Bad Day by Jay Michaek Wright II

Oh my!  A desperate soul wanting to make a deal!  Oh how I love nights like these!

Leaping the gate, the Devil was startled to find himself face to face with a vicious looking bulldog.  “Dear me!” the Devil said, smiling.  “Hello there, Spot.”  The dog growled.  “Rover?  Fluffy?  Cujo?  Oh screw this!  I don't have the time!”  With a wave of his hand the Devil teleported the canine to another dimension full of exceptionally large, irritated cats.

With that distraction out of the way, the Devil walked up to the front door and knocked.  The door swung open and He was greeted by the butler who was carrying a pistol.  Catching a bullet to the chest, the Devil staggered backwards clutching at the wound.

“You shot me?!”

In a smug British tone, the butler replied, “But of course!”

With fire burning in His eyes, the Devil screamed, “I'm the damned Devil, you fool!”  With just a thought He sent the butler traveling through time.  You like guns so much, try out 1943 Germany for a while!

Stepping down the hallway, He heard footsteps approaching from the kitchen.  He sidestepped at the last moment as the lady of the house buried a butcher's knife into the wall a few inches from the Devil's face.  “Good lord, madam!  Do you treat all your house-guests so crudely?  You at least could have offered me some tea first!  What you need is a lesson in etiquette!”
Placing his index finger upon the lady's forehead, in a puff of green smoke and brimstone, she transformed into a baby.  Picking the baby up, He smiled.  “I know an orphanage run by nuns who are very peculiar about proper protocol.  I'm sure the good Sisters will teach you well.”  With a flick of the wrist, the baby was placed in a basket and dropped on the doorstep of St. Mary's Home for Wayward Children several hundred miles away.

Straightening His suit, the Devil thought, Now that's dealt with, let's get on with the goodies shall we?

Swinging the bedroom door open, He exclaimed, “I have come to grant your... wait!  You're not dying!”

Sitting up in bed, the man smiled.  “Actually, I've never felt better!”

“But—but you summoned me!  You said you were dying and wanted to make a deal for your soul!” the Devil hissed.

Jumping out of bed, the man said, “Well, I was dying of boredom!  My life was atrocious!  My wife was a constant nag!  My butler was sleeping with my wife!  And the dog... don't even get me started on my dog!”

“So you're not dying?!”

“Well, to be honest, I was thinking of killing myself, but since you got rid of all my problems for me... I'm going to the pub!  Care to join me?”

Gritting his teeth, the Devil said, “Oh bloody Hell!  Why not?  I could use a drink!  So what kind of work you do?”

“I'm a lawyer.”

“Should have known.”

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Kingdom City: Revolt Blog Tour

To celebrate and promote his latest release 'Kingdom City: Revolt' Ben Ireland pays a visit to this blog to tell us about this new release and the book details can be found at the bottom of the post.

What was the most surprising part of writing this book?
I was most surprised by how dark it was. I was always fascinated by things that were a little dark and gritty, so I set out to create something edgy. Once I was done and I reread the book, I was taken aback by how dark it had actually become. Reading the first chapter again after not seeing it for several months made me think ‘oh gee, I wrote that?’ I think darkness in art is important to help us see the light and good in life. Though I believe some authors take that too far. RR Martin is a prime example. I feel that artists that write darkness simply because it’s “realistic” miss the point of art.

Who is your favorite author? Who has most influenced your work?
Early on, I loved The Hobbit—it was the first big-kid book I read twice (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish was the first little-kid book I read more than once). I read a lot of Azimov growing up, too. Just prior to my writing really taking off, I fell in love with Harry Potter. JK’s world is so colorful and engaging it’s hard to not fall in love. Today I’m an avid fan of Harry Dresden. The engrossing characters and thoroughly conceived world that Butcher has created is something I’m constantly trying to emulate.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always loved creating. Probably the worst thing that happened to me is when I took a creative writing class in college. The professor told me that my story was the best thing he’d read “in a long time.” I’ve been spiralling since then. That story ended up being a scene of Kissed a Snake, in Xchyler’s A Dash of Madness short story anthology.

Paul Stevens has survived a terrorist attack, medical experimentation, and an attempt by the government to “neutralize” their rogue subjects. However, his escape cost him his wife, and now he battles to overthrow Brian Shuman, the dictator responsible for her death. With the kidnapping of his daughter and the disappearance of his son, he must choose between saving what may remain of his family or the fledgling rebellion on the verge of collapse.

Click here to buy Kingdom City: Revolt from Amazon

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Old Ones Productions - Visitation of the Reaper T-Shirt Available

The Reaper visits in this Paradise Lost inspired t-shirt.
"Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste brought Death into the world [...]" - John Milton/Excerpt from Paradise Lost.
Available in unisex sizes small to XXXL.
Original artwork by Luciana Nedelea.
Available for £14.99 plus postage and packing here:

My Books on Goodreads