Monday, 29 February 2016

Tau Ceti Mission - 16.04.2341 - Coherence Failure

By Guarnieri Fabrizia (Own work)
Seb reports on his latest efforts to restore the PCM on the Venti probe:

http://www.taucetimission.com/2016/02/16042341-coherence-failure.html


Sunday, 28 February 2016

February Short Fiction Contest Winners

Original art by https://www.facebook.com/LucianaNedeleaArt/

Picking the winners for the Monthly Short Contest is never an easy process and this was even truer for February's winners. The contest attracted more entries than any previous month with over 120 submissions. Even with such a high number I was still impressed by the quality and variety for the entries - Luciana's amazing art inspired some excellent stories!

A big thanks to everyone who entered and also those who support the contest by reading and sharing - please continue to do so. I wish I could support more winners, but there has to be three and here they are:

 - First prize of a £50 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to R.D. Piner for 'Life and Death'
 - Second prize of a £20 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Annie Percik for 'The End of All Things'
 - Third prize of a £10 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Hugh Clarke for 'Gelosia'

Congratulations to the winners and here are their stories:

Life and Death by R. D. Piner

Life was already there, ever the optimist, ever eager. Life was always there, always present, there before one realised.

Life, just a tunnel, a passage to the end. A one way route. A tunnel that can twist and turn, but ultimately will always lead to the same.

Life was cradling him, that weak, frail man; holding onto him like a child, not wanting to lose him. They were always weak at the end.

***

Death had arrived. Always unwelcome, late but always on time. His presence always overshadowed that of Life's. Life could be there through someone's entire being, but only be noticed when Death arrived.

Death, the ultimate end. The arrogant, constant finality.

***

"He's not ready, Death." Life said, with a faint accent of fear.

“They never are." Death's tone betrayed the cruel smile.

"You won’t be needed here,” said Life in a hard-held voice.  “He wants to fight."

"The passage of time passes stealthily." Death said. “He’s had his fight.”

A protest wavered from Life, speech faltered. Deep down, he knew it. He always knew it. He couldn't hold on forever.

“You know this, just as you know that I wait for no man.”

“He wants me.” Life almost pleaded. “He has dreams, unfulfilled ambitions.”

“The graveyard is filled with unfulfilled ambitions”.

Silence fell.

***

They were always weak at the end. Life always lingered, always clutched desperately. Life was like a cocoon, desperately trying to keep in an ugly, wretched and hopeless being. A being inflicted with empty hopes, with desires never to be tasted.

Life never took too much temptation to let go, his grip short-lived. From the second he took hold, the swinging pendulum of time was counting down until Death’s arrival.

***

Why were they always so weak at the end? As long as Life had hold, they would give away their youth by the handful, squandering their existence for a few worthless memories, until the taunting echoes of their long gone youth mocked them.

Life slowly released the hand of the man. His grip panicked and reached out like a new babe reaching for a teat. It was too late for the man. Life knew it. Life had always known it. From the second he grabbed hold and let the man think he would never let go, Life knew that his days were numbered, that one day his ward would be passed to Death.

***

“Where do you take him now?” Life’s question rested in the air.

“To the beginning of it all.” There was a mild triumph in Death’s voice. “To the journey only known to those who take it. This is a journey that could not possibly be conceived. You, Life, could never understand where it is I go.”

“Why do you always take them?” Life called into the shadows of Death as his energy started to fade. “I give them hopes, dreams, possibilities. You take it all.”


“Because, Life is a beautiful fantasy, whereas Death is the ugly truth.”

The End of All Things by Annie Percik

I wait.  Formless yet conscious, just beyond the edge of reality.  I know I have a role to fulfil.  The passage of time has no meaning for me yet, but my time will come.  Nothing can remain static forever.  All things change and, when the change comes, I will be ready.

There is a shift in the ether.  Even in the nameless void, I can feel it.  Something is stirring.  A curiosity and a desire that may lead to my release.  The potentiality alters my form and my nature, bringing me closer to being.  With it, comes an impatience that has me pushing at the boundaries of creation.  My sense of imminent freedom builds.

I have a purpose.  My achievements will be great, so great as to dwarf any that have come before.  My impact upon the universe will be so all-consuming, so catastrophic, that nothing will ever be the same again.  My presence will change the very nature of existence for all creatures that currently, or will ever, walk the earth.

Far beyond the reach of my senses, another great entity works towards its own ends.  I cannot assist from my prison, but I know those ends will result in my birth.  I yearn to influence the outcome, though I am confident it is inevitable.  What little knowledge I possess in my non-corporeal state tells me this is so.  A seed has been sown, an idea brought into existence.  One little thought, one small question.  That is all it takes to start the process.

And yet, I want desperately to be involved.  I am tired of waiting.  I want to take my place in the grand tapestry and start weaving my own part of it.  What happens at this juncture will be debated and talked about for all eternity, and I want an integral role in that tale when it is told.  My greatness deserves adulation, and will inspire awe and terror for every generation to come.

At last, the tempter is victorious.  The fruit is taken, tasted.  Knowledge bursts forth into a mind ripe for conquest.  As a child unwittingly walks into danger during play, the new sinners revel in their desires without thought for the consequences.  And those children open the door and welcome me in.  I ride out into the world and doom follows in my wake.  I am their punishment for disobedience, I am the price paid for their sin, I am the end of all things.


I am Death.

Gelosia by Hugh Clarke

In the beginning with the creation of life there was also death. But death was stagnant, waiting for his moment, one that shaped creation. A moment and scene we are all familiar with, the first man and woman, a tree with a forbidden fruit and a serpent with hidden intentions.

But something went wrong, for the first man did not take the fruit nor the woman, they did as commended by their creator and turned away from it. As a result the vines from the tree reached out and gripped death tight, pulled him back and bound him to the tree. Generations passed and humans multiplied, there were now hundreds of them, all eternally young.

Gelosia, a descendant of Eve was surprisingly short in stature. She could not reach the fruit on trees and thus had to depend on others to get it for her, but they would always take the best ones before giving her a share. One night a man came out of a bush as she was passing. He was unbelievably thin to the point that the shape of his bones could be seen from looking at his skin, his skin was dry and satiny and he had no eyelids or eyes.

He told to Gelosia of a tree that bore delicious fruits that she could reach. Gelosia followed the strange man to the mysterious tree. To Gelosia’s surprise it turned out to be the tree that bore the forbidden fruit. The thin man managed to convince her that the fruit wasn’t cursed and that the others were just trying to trick her so that she would not get to taste it.

Gelosia, plucked the fruit and took a bite and it was so delicious that she did not notice the red clouds forming in the sky. After she took a bite she became even more amazed to see that the fruit became whole again. That is when death emerged from the tree, but she could not see him.

She took the fruit and happily skipped back to her family as the thin man and death followed close behind. After a while the thin man disappeared. She went to everyone giving them taste of her fruit without telling them where she got it. As soon as everyone had tasted the fruit, all light faded to black and no one could see anything. When light faded back in and everyone could see again, they were no longer in the garden but a desert.


Death was pleased since mankind was now in the land that he governed. Out of gratitude he allowed Gelosia to keep her eternal life in this new land, along with giving her the height she had always desired. However for disobeying her creator, Gelosia became as thin as the thin man and her mouth was permanently sealed so she could not eat. Now she travels the earth with her fruit in hand, constantly starving, unable to eat and unable to die.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Old Ones Productions 10% Discount Until March 1st


A 10% discount is available on all products on the Old Ones Productions store until March 1st with the discount code:

E5M5WKDJJNFE

The code can be applied to all orders and there's  range of prints, t-shirts, signed books and hand painted chess set available here:

https://oldonesproductions.com/




Friday, 26 February 2016

Tau Ceti Mission - 09.11.2338 - Reaching Out

By Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Seb transmits a message to Tau Ceti e as he travels deeper into the Tau Ceti system on the Venti probe:

http://www.taucetimission.com/2016/02/09112338-reaching-out.html

Thursday, 25 February 2016

New Drabble - The Thing With No Name


A new drabble of mine has been posted in the Book Hippo daily newsletter - check out the daily Kindle bargains here: bookhippo.uk

You can check out some of my other drabbles here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/100-word-stories.html

The Thing With No Name

What a power it is to name a thing. With a simple word or phrase, you identify it and so can know its nature and divine its purpose.

What then when you encounter something that has no name? More than that, it can have no name.
To look at it is to feel a twist in your sanity and compounding your terror. You don’t know that it is a thing at all, only that this isn’t something you can flee from, fight, or bargain with.

What do you do when all that you know is that it must be endured?

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Book Review - Auto 2 by David Wailing

Before I start I should declare that I've worked with the author as he's edited some of my work. However it is his original Auto series that was the clincher to working with him and my opinion of his latest release isn't coloured by that collaboration.

Quite simply I loved this.

No surprise there you might think (after the opening paragraph of this review), but let me explain why and then see what you think!

This is one of those rare sci-fi books that slips a science fiction story by you without realising it. The core premise is very grounded in current technology with devices called 'autos' that manage our digital lives. This includes identification, social media, finances - everything in the digital realm. The technology has become so ubiquitous that everyone relies on it and it's become ever more autonomous.

In the first book there was a series of short stories that focused on specific aspects of what such devices would means to us. It was quite clever in that as you read it it you started seeing connections between the stories until it evolved into a cohesive whole by the end. Here we have a similar format, but the overall narrative is more linear than the first book. This makes it more accessible, but for me I preferred the the more abstract approach of the first book.

A core component of a believable world is that it makes sense, the technical grounding here is very solid and transparent to the reader, but how the characters live in that work highlights some of the issues visible in society today.It's their actions and feelings that make it a living, breathing world. There is a complimentary blend of characters here, which represent a microcosm of society. They contrasted each other nicely and the short story format allowed the differing views to be handled with greater depth.

For me the only weakness was the police officer Young - she felt a little cliched. Not because such characters don't exist, but more because they tend to get used so much. She does fill the role well though, adding some physical menace to the story.

I especially enjoyed the exploration of online religion as party of the story. It's an interesting development that in many ways echoes the evolution of more traditional beliefs in the physical work.

Last, but not least is the quality of writing and it was this that first encouraged me to work with the author with my own projects. The writing is crisp and keeps the momentum going and makes this book a joy to read.



THE AUTOMATIC AFTERLIFE

Digital detective Joanna O’Donnell’s investigation into a dangerous hacktivist group has ended with her partner dead.

But death is no longer the end. Your auto can keep running after you’ve gone, interacting with those you left behind. So Greg Randall’s auto – Greg A – lives on as a digital echo of the man Joanna loved. The man she got killed.

Joanna discovers Greg A holds the key to the catastrophic revolution the hacktivists have planned. When every auto in the world will betray its user, exposing all secrets publicly on the internet.

A revolution that history will call the First Auto War…


Auto 2 is the second full-length novel in the Auto Series.

Click here to buy Auto 2 from Amazon

Currently Reading - Through a Mirror, Darkly by Kevin Lucia


Crystal Lake Publishing presents...

Through a Mirror, Darkly is a Supernatural Thriller collection masked as a novel. With elements of mystery, suspense, and otherworldly horror, Through a Mirror, Darkly successfully delves into the worlds of Lovecraft, Grant, and the mysterious Carcosa.

“Arcane Delights. Clifton Heights' premier rare and used bookstore. In it, new owner Kevin Ellison has inherited far more than a family legacy, for inside are tales that will amaze, astound, thrill...and terrify.

An ancient evil thirsty for lost souls. A very different kind of taxi service with destinations not on any known map. Three coins that grant the bearer's fondest wish, and a father whose crippling grief gives birth to something dark and hungry.

Every town harbors secrets. Kevin Ellison is about to discover those that lurk in the shadows of Clifton Heights.”

Through a Mirror, Darkly is a Supernatural Thriller collection masked as a novel. With elements of mystery, suspense, and otherworldly horror, Through a Mirror, Darkly successfully delves into the worlds of Lovecraft, Grant, and the mysterious Carcosa.

“Kevin Lucia writes my favorite kind of horror, the kind not enough folks are writing anymore.” – Kealan Patrick Burke, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Turtle Boy and Kin.

"Through a Mirror, Darkly serves as Kevin Lucia's early-warning system to the horror field - Brace yourselves, folks." - Gary Braunbeck, Bram Stoker Award-winner of To Each Their Darkness, Destinations Unknown, and the forthcoming A Cracked and Broken Path
“Literate and stylish, yet fast-paced and accessible, Through a Mirror, Darkly is a thoroughly engrossing read. Kevin Lucia is a major new voice in the horror genre.” – Jonathan Janz , author of The Nightmare Girl

" Through a Mirror, Darkly earns Kevin Lucia a literary place alongside these enduring philosophical horror crafters.” – Mort Castle

"He is a skillful guide through Clifton Heights, telling tales of mystery and horror in a town where dark secrets and ancient evils lurk to prey upon those who read Through a Mirror, Darkly." – Rena Mason, Bram Stoker Award® winning author of The Evolutionist.

“With Through a Mirror, Darkly, Kevin Lucia proves once again that it’s only a matter of time before he’s one of the genre’s biggest names." – James Newman, author of The Wicked and Animosity

Through a Mirror, Darkly follows on the success of Lucia's Things Slip Through collection.


Click here to buy Through a Mirror, Darkly from Amazon

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Old Ones Productions - Nightmare Chess Set Now Available

I'm pleased to announce that a new nightmare themed chess set is available from the Old Ones Productions store.


A horror themed chess set with pieces representing some of the classic scares from the genre.

The pieces are all metal, hand painted in fine detail with felt bottomed bases. The pieces are laid as follows: ghosts are the pawns, spooky stones are the rooks, killer clowns as the knights, plague doctors as the bishops, banshees for the queens and the reaper as the king

The set comes with a hand crafted leather board in red and black (to match the pieces) with a green trim.

https://oldonesproductions.com/products/nightmare-chess-set








Monday, 22 February 2016

Tau Ceti Mission - 30.06.2335 - View from Afar

By Planetary Habitability Laboratory @ UPR Arecibo

Having entered the Tau Ceti system seb conducts observations of the planet Tau Ceti e:

http://www.taucetimission.com/2016/02/30062335-view-from-afar.html

Sunday, 21 February 2016

March Short Fiction Contest


February's competition attracted the highest number of entries of the contest so far - can we beat that record this month? For this month's image we have a man reading to a woman and two girls - what story does he tell? And why do they react so? If you know the answer then write a story about it and send it in.

As always the stories can be of any genre. They just have to be inspired by this month's image and no more than 500 words.

Entry to the contest remains free and there are prizes for the three winners. I will also feature any of the stories that don't win but I believe are worth showcasing on this blog.
  • First prize is a £50 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize
  • Second prize is a £20 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize
  • Third prize is a £10 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize
The money for the prizes come out of my own pocket, although I do make a little from advertising on this blog. So if you see something of interest then feel free to click on the links and purchase away! If you haven't tried my books yet then check them out at the top of the page, as well as buying a good read you'll be helping this contest.

Please make sure to check your story for typos before submitting. I don't mind a few errors, but my enjoyment of a story is diminished if I have to wade through too many.

I'll post the winning entries by April 1st 2016.

As with everything in life there are a few rules:
  • Only one entry per person.
  • The story must not be longer than 500 words.
  • Closing date for submissions is March 20th 2016.
  • By submitting the story you grant me a non-exclusive license to post the story on this blog. I do request that I post it here first.
  • You also grant me a one time non-exclusive license to include the story in an e-book release.
  • The judge's decision is final.
Use the form below to enter your submission. After you've submitted please leave a comment on this page stating that you have submitted. And please help spread the word. Great stories deserve great readers!

As well as comments section below you can chat about this competition in any of the threads I've listed below. If you don't know the sites then entering the competition is a good way to introduce yourself. Note that these sites are not affiliated with the competition in any way!




If you've started your own thread or discussion somewhere about this month's competition then let me know and I'll add the link to this page.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Signed Copies of my Books Now Available



I'm pleased to announce that signed copies of my print books are now available from the Old Ones Productions store. Take a look here:

https://oldonesproductions.com/collections/signed-books




Friday, 19 February 2016

Our Day of Passing Free This Weekend

Our Day of Passing - a collection of short stories and essays (including one of mine - This Empty Place) is available for free on Kindle this weekend.


Do you have a macabre fascination with death and the afterlife?

If so, then this anthology is definitely for you. While some see the subject of death as too morbid to contemplate, others such as the skilled writers that have contributed to this anthology, view it as the perfect subject to stimulate creative thinking. Much like ‘love’ and ‘war’, the topic of death has the ability to draw out some of the most thought-provoking pieces ever to fill a blank sheet of paper.

Our Day of Passing is formed from an eclectic and diverse mix of short stories, poems, fictions and essays. Contributions have been assembled from over 30 talented writers across the globe, each with their own fascinating interpretation of an event that comes to us all…eventually.

Written by Ingrid Hall, Franco Esposito, Dennis Higgins, Virginia Wright, Candida Spillard, Valeri Beers, Dada Vedaprajinananda, Strider Marcus Jones, Adam E. Morrison, Allyson Lima, D. B. Mauldin, David A. Slater, David King, Dee Thompson, Donald Illich, Edward Meiman, Eileen Hugo, Emily Olson, Joan McNerney, J.S. Little, Kin Asdi, Madison Meadows, Malobi Sinha, Marianne Szlyk, Mark Aspa, Mark David McClure, Megan Caito, Michael Brookes, Michael Burke, Pijush Kanti Deb, Prince Adewale Oreshade, Rafeeq O. McGiveron, Robin Reiss, Sasha Kasoff, Stephanie Buosi, Talia Haven

Whether they resonate with your own circumstances or provide new wisdom or something to ponder over, each of these carefully selected pieces will undoubtedly unlock a series of emotions within you. The anthology has been written in such a way that it can either be devoured or dipped in and out of as your emotions dictate. Either way, you can expect to feel a greater sense of self and enlightenment from reading it.


Click here to download Our Day of Passing - it's free for this weekend only!



Tau Ceti Mission - 22.02.2333 - Arrival

Image source NASA

Seb reports from the Venti probe as it becomes the first man made object to reach another star system:

http://www.taucetimission.com/2016/02/22022333-arrival.html

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Looking for a Blood Bowl Themed Chess Set?

Are you looking for a fantasy or Blood Bowl themed chess set? Well if so you are in luck!



For fans of Blood Bowl and other fantasy football games a hand painted fantasy football chess set with a classic match-up between Elves and Orcs.

All figures are mounted on textured bases which have been weighted and felt bottomed for easier movement and protection of the board.

The board in the pictures is included.

The Elven team is painted in forest silver and contains the following:


  • The pawns are the swift and agile linemen (a mix of plastic and metal figures).
  • Two massive Treemen provides the strength and the vulnerability of the team as the King and Queen (metal pieces).
  • Deadly wardancers protect the flanks as the Rooks (metal figures).
  • Sly Wood Witches confuse and penetrate the opponent's ranks with their magic as the Knights (metal figures).
  • Throwers confound the opponents with their cross pitch diagonals as the Bishops (metal figures).

The Orc team is painted in war-torn bronze and contains the following:

  • Brutish linemen form the battle line of pawns (plastic figures).
  • Hulking Trolls are the heart of the team as the King and Queen (metal figures).
  • Mighty Black Orcs guard the flanks with their strength as the Rooks ( plastic figures).
  • Cunning Goblin Catchers skip through the defence as the Knights (plastic figures).
  • Throwers provide the diagonal movements as the Bishops (plastic figures).

This one-off Fantasy Football chess set is available from the Old Ones Productions store:

http://oldonesproductions.com/collections/chess-set/products/fantasy-football-chess-set

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The Church of Virtual Saints Goodreads Giveaway

Three signed copies of The Church of Virtual Saints are available in a Goodreads giveaway:


Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Church of Virtual Saints by Michael Brookes

The Church of Virtual Saints

by Michael Brookes

Giveaway ends March 16, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway



While experimenting with human consciousness Adam Samuels discovers a being which transforms his life. It’s a religious experience beyond anything possible in the conventional world, and together the two lay down the plan for humanity's ultimate quest - to become like God.

But some consider the development a threat to mankind itself, and will stop at nothing to put an end to it.

Despite the destruction of the artificial intelligence known as Misty Felice, GCHQ investigator Sarah Mitchell and hacker Dan Emmet each continue to suffer from its twisted legacy.

The Church of Virtual Saints follows on from Faust 2.0.

Available for Kindle and in paperback.

Buy now from:
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Kb1vjL 

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Book Review - The Book of Cthulhu by Various

It's fair to say that I'm a huge Lovecraft fan and the Cthulhu mythos in particular. Here we have a collection of short stories based to varying degrees to that mythos and there's some well known writers here - which unfortunately leads to the first issue with the collection and that is that I'd read more than a few of these before in other anthologies.

The second issue is common to any collection and that is the varying quality of the stories. I didn't think any of them were bad, but some were truly amazing, while others lagged in comparison. My biggest issue came as a surprise to me. This isn't a curated universe, so there's no guidance as to how the stories should fit with established fiction in this world. That can make for some jarring reading as one perspective shifts radically into another and after three stories in Innsmouth you wonder what is going on!

That isn't a fault with the stories though, more how the anthology was compiled. The stories themselves all have something of value and some stood out for me and made the compilation worth reading. For the most part it was the earlier stories that grabbed me, especially with Ramsey Cambell with the second tale. This had an authentic Lovecraft feel and was exceptionally well written.

The other standout was Charles Stross' cold war redux with the elder gods being the weapons of mass destruction. It was a fun idea that was carried quite well and fitting with the events of the time. I also enjoyed the Jihad over Innsmouth, which was a fun meld of modern technothriller and Cthulhu mythos.

If you're relatively new to the mythos then this is a great book to start with (assuming you've already read Lovecraft's originals!). If you're familiar genre then your mileage may vary, but it's worth checking out.


The Cthulhu Mythos is one of the 20th century's most singularly recognizable literary creations. Initially created by H. P. Lovecraft and a group of his amorphous contemporaries (the so-called "Lovecraft Circle"), The Cthulhu Mythos story cycle has taken on a convoluted, cyclopean life of its own. Some of the most prodigious writers of the 20th century, and some of the most astounding writers of the 21st century have planted their seeds in this fertile soil. The Book of Cthulhu harvests the weirdest and most corpulent crop of these modern mythos tales. From weird fiction masters to enigmatic rising stars, The Book of Cthulhu demonstrates how Mythos fiction has been a major cultural meme throughout the 20th century, and how this type of story is still salient, and terribly powerful today.


Click here to buy The Book of Cthulhu from Amazon

Currently Reading - Auto 2 by David Wailing


THE AUTOMATIC AFTERLIFE

Digital detective Joanna O’Donnell’s investigation into a dangerous hacktivist group has ended with her partner dead.

But death is no longer the end. Your auto can keep running after you’ve gone, interacting with those you left behind. So Greg Randall’s auto – Greg A – lives on as a digital echo of the man Joanna loved. The man she got killed.

Joanna discovers Greg A holds the key to the catastrophic revolution the hacktivists have planned. When every auto in the world will betray its user, exposing all secrets publicly on the internet.

A revolution that history will call the First Auto War…


Auto 2 is the second full-length novel in the Auto Series.


Click here to buy Auto 2 from Amazon


Monday, 15 February 2016

Tau Ceti Mission - 17.12.2332 - Loop


By Kirk39 (Own work) [GPL (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Seb discovers more about the latest signal from Tau Ceti in his latest report from the Venti probe:

http://www.taucetimission.com/2016/02/17122332-loop.html

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Happy Valentines - A Marriage Made In...

To celebrate Valentine's Day here's one of my favourite drabbles (a 100 word story) that suits the occasion :-)

William Blake [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


A Marriage Made In...

Hell. You know the place. Lakes of burning sulphur. Torture pits filled with the wailing of the damned. Not the place you'd expect to fall in love. But I did.

Our eyes met across the inferno. It was love at first sight, or at least first scream. The demons didn't approve at first, they tried to quench our love with fire and brimstone.

We endured and in the end they came round.

Lucifer himself even officiated at our wedding. Love, honour and obey, two of those things are welcome here.

But 'till death do us part could be a problem.

-

You can discover some of my other drabbles here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/100-word-stories.html

Last Week to Enter February's Short Fiction Contest

Original art by https://www.facebook.com/LucianaNedeleaArt/

We've entered the final week for February's Short Fiction contest and this month's image of Death by Luciana Nedelea has already attracted many excellent entries. But there's still time for more! To enter, simply write a story of no more than 500 words based on this month's picture and submit it through the form provided here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/february-short-fiction-contest.html

There's no entry fee and you could win one of the following prizes:

 - First prize is a £50 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize
 - Second prize is a £20 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize
 - Third prize is a £10 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize

If you've not read January's winners yet then you will find them here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/january-short-fiction-contest-winners.html

Friday, 12 February 2016

Tau Ceti Mission - 04.12.2331 - Sail Unfurled

This illustration compares the somewhat larger and hotter Sun (left) to the relatively inactive star Tau Ceti.

The Venti probe is close enough to Tau Ceti for the sail to be unfurled and Seb reports receiving a staggering signal:

http://www.taucetimission.com/2016/02/04122331-sail-unfurled.html


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

https://malamothe.wordpress.com/

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

www.jmw2author.wordpress.com

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:

Monday, 1 February 2016

Tau Ceti Mission - 09.08.2276 - A Shot in the Dark



Seb is awakened prematurely from low power mode on the Venti probe by a collision in interstellar space:

http://www.taucetimission.com/2016/02/09082276-shot-in-dark.html

The Church of Virtual Saints



While experimenting with human consciousness Adam Samuels discovers a being which transforms his life. It’s a religious experience beyond anything possible in the conventional world, and together the two lay down the plan for humanity's ultimate quest - to become like God.

But some consider the development a threat to mankind itself, and will stop at nothing to put an end to it.

Despite the destruction of the artificial intelligence known as Misty Felice, GCHQ investigator Sarah Mitchell and hacker Dan Emmet each continue to suffer from its twisted legacy.

The Church of Virtual Saints follows on from Faust 2.0.

Available for Kindle and in paperback.

Buy now from:
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Kb1vjL 

The Church of Virtual Saints Launch - Thank You!



Yesterday saw the launch of The Church of Virtual Saints and I celebrated with an event on Facebook and handed out a variety of prizes. A big thank you to everyone who took part!

Following up on that I was delighted to learn that I'd reached a decent chart position for cyberpunk books - thanks to you all!

If you haven't bought your copy yet then the details are shown below:



While experimenting with human consciousness Adam Samuels discovers a being which transforms his life. It’s a religious experience beyond anything possible in the conventional world, and together the two lay down the plan for humanity's ultimate quest - to become like God.

But some consider the development a threat to mankind itself, and will stop at nothing to put an end to it.

Despite the destruction of the artificial intelligence known as Misty Felice, GCHQ investigator Sarah Mitchell and hacker Dan Emmet each continue to suffer from its twisted legacy.

The Church of Virtual Saints follows on from Faust 2.0.

Available for Kindle and in paperback.

Buy now from:
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Kb1vjL 

My Books on Goodreads