Jesus Jackson, by James Ryan Daley

jesusTitle:  Jesus Jackson
Genre:  Young Adult Mystery
Author: James Ryan Daley
Website: www.jamesryandaley.com
Publisher:  The Poisoned Pencil

The Poisoned Pen / Amazon Barnes & Noble

Jonathan Stiles is a 14-year-old atheist who is coping with his first day of ninth grade at the fervently religious St. Soren’s Academy when his idolized older brother Ryan is found dead at the bottom of a ravine behind the school. As his world crumbles, Jonathan meets an eccentric stranger who bears an uncanny resemblance to the Son of God (except for his white linen leisure suit and sparkling gold chains). Jesus Jackson, as he calls himself, offers to find a faith that Jonathan can believe in—with a money-back guarantee. He also encourages Jonathan in his belief that Ryan’s death may not have been an accident. Jonathan teams up with Henry, his new best friend at St. Soren’s, to investigate. The boys find footprints leading to the ravine that match Ryan’s sneakers. They are warned off their investigation by Ryan’s football friend, Alistair, but they find an ally in Ryan’s grieving girlfriend, Tristan, who also thinks the accident theory is bunk. The police, however, will not listen. But Jonathan knows something the police do not: Shortly before his death, Ryan was doing cocaine with Alistair, not far from the ravine where his body was found. An inspired Jonathan battles sanctimonious school psychologists, overzealous administrators, and a cavalry of Christian classmates on his quest to discover the truth about Ryan’s death—and about God, high school, and the meaning of life, while he’s at it. But he keeps getting distracted by Cassie, Alistair’s quirky younger sister, who holds the keys to the answers Jonathan is searching for, but who also makes him wonder if he should be searching for them at all.

Chapter 1

When I first saw Jesus, he was standing like a statue on the fifty-yard line of the high school football field, one arm pointed at the goalpost and the other cocked back—fingers curled around an imaginary pigskin, locked at the ready for a pantomimed hail-Mary in the final seconds of a make believe bowl game. It was a glorious moment to behold…at least, that is, until an invisible opponent rushed his offensive line. Jesus had to fake right, spin left, and duck around a pretend tight end to make a harrowing dash for the touchdown. He hit a few straight-arm blocks, pulled some fancy footwork, and half a second later he was jogging across the goal line, spiking the ball, and moonwalking clear from one side of the end zone to the other.
Now I know what you’re thinking, but stop right there. And trust me: This guy was totally Jesus. The long, straw-brown hair, straggly beard, gaunt frame, and clear-bright eyes; he was a dead ringer for the son of God. The only difference, as far as I could tell, between the Jesus on the football field and the one hanging on the cross in the school auditorium, was his clothes. The latter wore nearly none, of course, while this one was done up all dapper in a white linen suit, patent leather loafers, and a wide-collared, pastel pink button-down disco shirt, opened just enough to reveal a tuft of flaxen hair and a sparkling gold chain.
But before I get too far into this story, I need to stop and explain a couple things to you. First, you need to know that this little run-in with the savior was happening on a cold and dewy Saturday morning, at about nine am. It was the first of September—about fifteen weeks after my fourteenth birthday, roughly three months since my last day of junior high, and exactly two hours after my big brother’s body was found, lifeless and broken, at the bottom of a sixty-foot ravine behind St. Soren’s. I don’t want to dwell on this detail too much at the moment (we’ll get into it all later, trust me), but I just thought you ought to know. For perspective.
Oh yeah, and another thing: I don’t actually believe in Jesus. Didn’t then, don’t now. Not even a little.
So anyway, I watched the old king-of-kings run a victory lap around the track—arms raised, hair streaming behind him in the wind—but just as I was about to wander off, he stopped again on the fifty-yard line, waved his left hand high over his head, and called out, “Hey, you!”
I looked behind me to see if he was referring to someone else, but no one was there. We met eyes and I pointed to my chest with a shrug.
“Yeah, you,” he yelled. “Come on down here, would ya?”
I didn’t have anything else to do at the moment (the cops and paramedics wouldn’t let me near the ravine), and to tell you the truth, I was happy for the distraction. So I put my hands in my pockets and strolled all the way down the aisle, through the bleachers, and onto the field.
Jesus just stood there, grinning at me more like a salesman than a savior, waiting for me to reach him. And as soon as I stepped onto the grass, he hopped back and began bouncing on his toes, his hands cradling another imaginary football.
“All right,” he said, staring down the field. “Go long.”
“Excuse me?”
“Go long.”
“Why?”
He started bobbing, weaving, dodging pretend defensemen. “It’s the fourth quarter. We’ve got twelve seconds, and we’re down by five. Now go long.”
“But you don’t have a real ball.”
He shook his head, unimpressed with my logic. “And you aren’t a real wide receiver and this isn’t the real Super Bowl, and I’m not about to get sacked by areal defensive lineman named the Arkansas Annihilator. Don’t be so concerned with reality all the time. Just go long!”
I realized that I was not about to beat this guy in an argument. And seeing as how my current options were to go long with Jesus or go back to the crowd of cops and detectives and school administrators and weeping parents and one very dead older brother in a ravine behind the school, I decided on the former.
“Fine,” I said. “Fine.” And I ran.
I didn’t run very fast, but it felt good to put my body into action, to pump some blood back through all the numbness. I’d been so still and so frozen since the morning, when I first found my mother in the kitchen surrounded by pancakes and bacon and fruit salad and coffee and pastries and juice (she likes to cook when she’s upset), and learned that Ryan had apparently fallen while taking a jog after football practice the previous afternoon. But right then, on that field, I could feel my body begin to warm, the sensation returning (just a little) to my limbs.
The funny thing is, Jesus must have been hiding a real ball somewhere (though I can’t imagine where) because when I finally made it down around the ten-yard line and turned to make the imaginary catch, I got smacked clear off my feet by a solid, real, and perfectly spiraling football.
The pass hit me right beneath the rib cage, knocking the wind out of me. I fell hard and gasped for air. My eyes shut while I struggled to catch my breath and when I finally opened them, there was Jesus, standing straight over me, reaching a hand down to help me up.
“Sorry about that,” he said, hoisting me to my feet. “I was just trying to make a point.”
I rubbed my chest and winced. “I get it. You’ve got one hell of an arm. You could go pro.”
“That wasn’t exactly my point.” He extended his right hand. “I’m Jesus.”
I shook it. “I figured. It’s a good look for you. You really pull it off.”
Jesus tugged at his lapel. “Well, thank you.”
“Aren’t you supposed to wear, like…robes, though? And sandals? And, you know, do things more holy then mess around on a football field?”
“No,” he chuckled, pulling a business card from his pocket. “You’ve got me mixed up. I’m not that Jesus. I’m Jesus Jackson.”
He handed me the card. I looked it over. It read:
Jesus Jackson: Spiritual Contractor
100% faith guaranteed!
Call for a FREE ESTIMATE!
Strangely, there was no phone number on the card.
“So, are you going to try to sell me something?”
His face contorted into what can only be described as a very poor attempt at sincerity. “I’d never sell you anything you don’t need, of course. And even then, before you paid a dime I’d provide you with a—”
“Free estimate. Yeah, I got that much.” In the distance I could hear a siren making its way around the far side of the school. “So what exactly do you do?”
“I’m a contractor. I build things for people, depending on their needs…just not physical things.”
“If not physical, then what?”
“Metaphysical, of course.”
“Hmm…”
“Gods, to be precise.”
“You build gods?”
“Well, not actual gods, of course—that would be terribly difficult, and possibly illegal. I build the belief in a god. I construct faith.” Jesus Jackson put his hand on my shoulder, turning me toward the far side of the field, where a groundskeeper was laying a piece of sod over some fresh dirt. “Take this guy, Nino Taglione. I’m scouting him as possible client. Nino is fifty-seven years old, and has been working here at St. Soren’s Academy since he was twenty-five. He’s been married for thirty-five years, and just found out that his wife has been having an affair with Joe Shannon, the custodian for the athletic building, for the past twenty-eight. Obviously, this news has shaken his faith in his wife, but more importantly, it has destroyed his faith in God. After all, how could the same god he’s been praying to for fifty-seven years have let him be a such a chump for so long? Right?”
“Um…right.”
“Well, that’s where I come in.”
“You’re going to restore his faith in God?”
He shook his head. “Not exactly, that’s what priests do…or rabbis, ministers, or what-have-you…. Restoration is difficult, messy work. I’m going to give him faith in a new one.”
“A new…god?”
“Or something like a god anyway. He has lots of options.”
I was intrigued. “What kind of…options?”
“Oh, they’re endless. It could be a Pantheon of demigods, or a Divine Force, or a belief in karma and the cycle of reincarnation. He can have a warrior spirit guide, an ancestral apparition, a guardian angel…he can have a giant bunny named Harvey with twelve arms and a third eye, if he wants one…so long as he’ll have a little faith in it.”
I thought this over for a moment. “But will he ever see the god you give him faith in?”
“Ha!” Jesus laughed. “No, no. Alas, that’s the thing about gods, they tend to stay out of sight.”
“Well if he can’t see it, how will he know he’s got it?”
Jesus pointed a finger at my nose and flashed his widest salesman’s smile. “Well, you see, I guarantee—”
“One hundred percent faith. Got it.”
“Or your money back, no questions asked.”
Right then, the siren I heard before came screaming past the stadium. An image of Ryan in the back of that ambulance—ghost-white, bruised, bloody, covered in a sheet—snapped into my head. A wave of dizziness overcame me, and I struggled to keep my balance. I said, “You know, well…that all sounds…really great.”
Jesus touched his hand to my arm, steadying me. He spoke softly, “So can I interest you in a free estimate?”
And then—right at that moment, right there, right when Jesus Jackson touched my arm—it all just became too much: Jesus and Nino and free estimates for invisible gods and a dead brother and a magic football and the first real day of high school just three days away…. “No, no, I don’t think I need any god right now…I’m sort of an atheist, anyway. But…um…thanks….” And before I even knew what I was doing, I turned and stumbled toward the sirens and the screams and the crowd and the cold, hard, welcoming seat of my dad’s car.

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A PIRATE, A BLOCKADE RUNNER, AND A CAT, by Beverly McClure

pirate-blockade-runner-cat-333x500Title:   A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat

Genre:   Paranormal

Author:  Beverly Stowe McClure

Website: http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com

Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing

Purchase on Amazon

Thirteen-year-old Erik Burks’ life is falling apart. When he discovers a lace bra in the glove compartment of his dad’s car, his mom leaves his father and drags Erik from being king of the hill in Texas to the bottom of the pits in South Carolina. No Dad, no baseball, no friends, just Starry Knight (a girl who reads minds) and her equally weird brother, Stormy, the twins that live down the block.

Just when Erik thinks life can’t get any worse, while hanging out at the beach one evening, he and the twins notice lights radiating from the lighthouse. Stranger still, a ship materializes in the moonlit harbor. Curious, the twins and a reluctant Erik investigate and discover the ghost of a blockade runner, a cat, and a pirate who prowls Charleston Harbor, and the fun begins.

Chapter One

It’s funny how a split second can change a guy’s life. One week, I’m living in Texas with Mom and Dad. I’m the star pitcher on the Pirates baseball team, and I’m trying to figure out what to say to make Diana, the blonde in history class, notice me.

The next week, I’m in South Carolina, a thousand miles from Texas. No Dad. No baseball team. No Diana. Just Mom and me, now living with Aunt Molly. Oh, and Starry and Stormy Knight, the weird twins who live down the street.

So here I am, a thirteen-year-old kid ripped from my friends and my life, sitting in the sand on Folly Beach, a short distance from Aunt Molly’s house, watching the sky grow dark, the waves building, and wondering where it all went wrong. I’m not alone for long. As always, they find me.

“Hey, Ek. How’s it?”

Stormy plopped down beside me, stirring up sand. My nose twitched. I sneezed. What kind of talk was “How’s it?” And who was “Ek”?

His sister, Starry, settled on my other side. I was surrounded, no chance to escape, short of jumping into the ocean.

“Have you seen the lights?” Star asked.

On the day we met she told me to call her Star or Starry. Either way she was from outer space. I glanced over my shoulder at the football field length of tall grass separating the beach from the nearest houses.

“You mean those?” I pointed at the hazy glow around a street lamp. “What’s the big deal?”

“Not those. Over there.” Star tipped her head in the direction of the water. “Look.”

“I’m looking. I’m looking.” Why was she so excited? All I saw was a faint beam of light floating across the inlet. “So? It’s a reflection of the moon.”

Star shook her head. “No moon tonight.”

She was right. Yet stars (the heavenly kind, not the girl) glittered between the layers of gathering clouds. “Okay, it’s only the starlight.”

“The light comes from the lighthouse,” Star said.

“You can see it blink on and off,” Storm added.

Morris Island Lighthouse stood several hundred yards into the water.

According to Mom, who was big on history, the water was land during the Civil War. Over the years the sea had eroded the shore and water now surrounded the lighthouse. I couldn’t deny the yellow glow flowing from the top of the building. I couldn’t explain it either.

“Impossible. Mom said the lighthouse has been out of commission for years. The lantern was removed. Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse across Charleston Harbor replaced it.”

“Then tell us what it is, Erik,” Star said. “You see it. Storm and I see it. This isn’t the first time, either. On cloudy, rainy nights the light flashes on.”

“It’s not raining,” I said.

“It is raining.”

Star had barely said the words when a gust of wind whipped across the beach. Sand spiraled like a Texas dust devil. Something wet slapped me on the nose. Several somethings wet—raindrops. The space girl predicted the weather. So what? Dark clouds usually brought rain. “Yeah, it’s raining.” Under my breath I mumbled, “And I’m getting wet.” In a lame attempt to pep me up about my new home, Mom had promised many adventures waited for me in Charleston. Adventures? Yeah. If you called ocean waves slurping against the shore and neighbors with two grains of sand each for brains adventures, I was up to my wet nose in adventures.

The twins stared into the gloomy night, watching the light fading into a dim sliver.

The rain seeped into my T-shirt, gluing it to my skin. Lightning raced across the sky. I shivered. I’d had enough. I shook Stormy’s shoulder. He kept his eyes focused across the inlet. Star didn’t budge. They could drown if they wanted. I was outta there. I jumped to my feet, turned, and took one step, before Star snagged my ankle.

“Wait. Where are you going?”

“Home, before I turn into a duck with webbed feet,” I yelled above the

whistling wind and growling thunder.

She freed my ankle and stood. Raindrops plastered her carrot-red hair against her face. “Besides the light, we’ve seen a ship, Erik. It always comes during bad weather.”

Stormy sprang up. “We think someone in the lighthouse is warning the ships.”

“Who? How? They can’t.”

“The proof is before us.” Star twisted her mouth, the way she did when she was thinking. “We have a theory.”

They always did. Since I was sopping wet already, and the rain showed no sign of letting up anytime soon, I wasn’t interested. “Stay here if you want. I’m opposed to drowning.”

I loped off, but not before I caught a glimpse of a shape in the water that vaguely resembled a ship. I paused. Either I was hallucinating or something was out there. Curious, I trudged back, raindrops dripping from my hair down onto my chin. The water had calmed. The dark crept in. The inlet was empty. “Where is it?”

“Vanished, the way it always does.” Lightning flashed, revealing Star’s eyes, wide and troubled. “Tomorrow, I’m going to the lighthouse and investigate.”

I swiped the rain off my face. “What do you expect to find?”

“You know, Erik. Your mind dreams tell me so. See you tomorrow.” She sprinted away.

I raised an eyebrow at Storm. “My mind dreams?”

He shook his head. “She knows your every thought, Ek. She calls them mind dreams.”

“You’re kidding me?”

“Nope.”

“Lights. Ships. Mind dreams. I don’t believe it,” I muttered as the rain tumbled around me.

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Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows, by Andrew Cratsley

frontcover_444x664Title: Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows

Genre:  Fantasy

Author: Andrew Cratsley

Website: http://www.keeperofrunes.com

Publisher: CreateSpace

Purchase at: http://keeperofrunes.com/ 

SUMMARY:

An extraordinary coming-of-age fantasy tale written by a dynamic new voice in the world of fantasy, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows has garnered high advance praise.  Kirkus Reviews notes that Cratsley “believably and authentically develop[s] his characters” and calls the book a “promising debut.”  In a Clarion Review, ForeWord Reviews reports that Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows “has all the color, imagination, and drama one might expect from the genre as well as emotional depth.”  Moreover, the review states that the book’s “fast pace and gaming-style characteristics may appeal to more reluctant readers and inspire future fantasy enthusiasts.”

About Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows:  At 120 years old, Corinth is young by elf standards.  But even as a young elf, Corinth is haunted by his sordid past. When he emerges from his solitude within the eternal forest around Enzlintine, Corinth is sent away to quell the troubled region plagued by Khalid, the Lord of Conquest.  But this will be a journey like no other. Corinth bands together with two curious companions—the human ranger Aventis and the oh-so-spirited Nadine—until the trio is captured by an insidious necromancer, Mortiscet. A vile dark elf who forces the group to help his daughter Rieka find a mysterious object, Mortiscet thrusts the group into increasingly dangerous circumstances. Can Rieka escape the clutches of her wicked and overbearing patriarch?  And what will happen when the group launches towards a frigid wasteland in search of the bane of the evil that stalks them?  On this perilous journey, they’ll have to battle assassins, ominous creatures and the forces of Khalid. Expect the unexpected—because sometimes, the best intentions come from the darkest recesses of the heart…  

A splendid and magical tale with a captivating storyline, extraordinary characters and a plot brimming with action, intrigue and adventure, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows is a fascinating read that captivates from page one. Resplendent with characters that come to life within the novel’s pages, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows is a beautifully-written, imaginative, and inventive tale.  With its strong central female characters, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows offers a refreshing diversion from fantasy tales that focus largely on male protagonists and male supporting characters.   

A mesmerizing work of fantasy geared towards young adults, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows will also appeal to adult readers of fantasy, as well as fans of such fantasy classics such as The Lord of the Rings or the Harry Potter series.  According to Pacific Book Review, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows has aspects to entice most any reader, whether lover of fantasy or not…. readers of fantasy will delight in Cratsley’s work.”

1

The Dawn of a Knight

 

As the grove shimmered under the gaze of the waning moonlight, the young elf basked in a glowing cloud of fireflies along the trails. A triumphant vigor carried his tired body like the nearby orange fire-burst petals on the wind. Never before had a stroll through the dense forest surrounding Enzlintine been so blissful, and its serenity urged him to lower the hood of his gray cloak. During these rare moments of freedom, the timeless charm of the forest swept away his worries. Leaving the barracks so early was unnecessary, but he was embarrassed by the thought of a late arrival. Not the sort of thing a sage knight should do, and certainly not him.

Heavy fog rolled in and devoured him as he strode deeper into the dense foliage. More knowledgeable of the terrain than most elves, Corinth refused to be deterred after his twenty-seven years of solitude within it. His 120th birthday promised long-desired responsibilities, but the choking mist consumed his elation over attaining adulthood. Although fog was natural in early spring, this sudden onset was peculiar. He knew he was close to the clearing, but the thought of imprisonment within a smoky prism came to mind when he struggled to see his hand in front of his face.

A soft gust whispered into his pointed ears and stopped him in his tracks. Certain no wind had brushed his face, Corinth looked down at his cloak, which hung just as limply as his strong, uneasy hands. The soft forest floor greeted his feet gently as his silver eyes swept his surroundings while he felt his way through. When he noticed his footsteps were unusually muffled, the sounds of nature perished. The cooing of mourning doves, the scratching of nearby brambles against his cloak, and even the pounding of his heart, which threatened to break through his rib cage, no longer reached his keen elven ears.

“Silence spell,” he mumbled. With a glance into the warm sky, his anxiety mounted as he wished for the light of the bright moon he knew was overhead. Resting his back against the nearest tree, he brushed his shoulder-length, ebony hair from his forehead and drew his long sword. Since the enchantment around him prevented the use of magic, he wondered if it was the work of Tessius. He dismissed the absurd thought as he considered a more sinister threat might be around him. Wary of the clearing ahead, he stopped at the edge of the tree line and gazed into the eerie place that usually soothed him. A pillar of moonlight illuminated the harsh fog, which swallowed their usual meeting place.

The sharp intake of breath meant to calm him revealed an unnatural scent carried upon the white mist. It was dirty, lacking the fragrance of flowers and pollen, which should have filled the air. He stowed his blade beneath his cloak and held it tightly, since exquisite elven steel shined brighter than silver. It was the first time he regretted this quality of his father’s sword.

With a solid defensive stance, Corinth kept his back close to the great oak just outside the clearing. Shadowy distortions appeared in the fog and leaped toward his chest as he gracefully sidestepped them. Anxiety sharpened his senses as he swung instinctively toward the glare of the amber eyes, which bulged when he ripped open the throat of the waist-high menace. A putrid scent filled the air as its pustules ruptured against his steel. He glanced quickly at his feet and found no trace of the dead, wrinkled goblin, which meant it had been conjured.

Walking into the center of the vibrant clearing, Corinth relied on his sight since goblins could easily trace his scent. His fingers tingled with anticipation, and he dared not blink as his silver eyes studied the area. Two dusky blades lashed toward his toned body, followed by more pointed, snarling faces. Slashing forward with all his strength, Corinth parried the rusted short swords and launched one of the blades through the moist air. Although thrown back a couple of paces, he remained on his feet and glared at the fearful creatures. The goblins stared wide eyed at him when they landed, unable to compensate for his speed. After impaling the wrinkled forehead of the one to his left, he turned his steel and swept it to his right without pause. His lustrous blade cleaved through the other creature’s rib cage as it attempted to retrieve its weapon. Narrowly evading the cold, iron weapon at his feet, Corinth felt the rusted edge scrape his boot. Restlessness clenched his chest when he studied the area, wondering from where the next strike would emerge.

A reflection loomed in Corinth’s blade, enticing him to spin around with a blind swing. His sword clashed awkwardly against the corroded iron, and he stared down at the toothy grin of the crazed goblin who parried his attack. The small, fanatical menace scraped its steel along Corinth’s weapon with surprising strength before Corinth could recover his slackened grip on the hilt. The goblin stared gleefully at his elven steel as it tumbled through the air. Kicking it across the bridge of its long, pointed nose, Corinth staggered when another creature leaped onto his back. He struggled to pry away the stubby, strong arms that grappled his neck as the flat of a blade slammed into the back of his knee. Tears poured from his eyes as he fell backward to the soft forest floor. The goblin on Corinth’s back swung around his neck and landed gracefully on his chest as Corinth hit the ground. Anger and terror ravaged his fit body as the tidal wave of creatures swallowed him from all sides.

After punching the devilish monster straddling him, Corinth sat up as it fell unconscious between his legs. Sharp blades poked his back before he could scramble to his feet, and a fierce kick to the ribs knocked him prone again. Sound returned with a surge of the hideous laughter of the goblin pack that towered over him as they pointed their swords at his angry face.

“Cowardly beasts!” Corinth sneered through gritted teeth.

“That is enough,” Tessius said as he calmly walked into view. The remaining creatures parted to allow him to approach. His long fingers stretched out, and his arm made a polite sweeping motion. “Un-accersi.” The creatures growled as they vanished, and the fog lifted. With a swish of his large hand, Tessius pulled down his brown hood, and his web of hazelnut braids fell neatly against his back. He smiled down at Corinth with his usually kind expression and extended his open hand.

“That was very good,” he said. “Can you stand?”

Nodding, Corinth accepted his master’s hand grudgingly. This was yet another training session, and he had failed what was perhaps his last test of skill. With a strong grip, Tessius squeezed Corinth’s shoulder as he walked toward the stone bench near the center of the clearing. Corinth gazed hopefully at his master for an explanation, while his pulse raced at the thought of this mockery before he looked at the ground, feeling mutinous.

“Come now, Corinth. This is a time to celebrate, not sulk.” Tessius chuckled and reached under his brown cloak. “Come here and sit down.”

Realizing that his attempt to hide his anger had failed, Corinth was unable to resist his protest any longer.

“I was outnumbered ten to one,” he grumbled. “You prevented me from using magic, and I could see nothing! How was I supposed to succeed?” Annoyed while Tessius surveyed him with amusement and interest, Corinth bit back his mounting anger.

“Simple,” Tessius replied as he paused to open his jug of elven mead, which always hung from his thick belt. “You were not supposed to succeed.” He held up his hand to silence Corinth before he could speak. “Sit down.”

Reluctantly Corinth took his usual seat beside Tessius, who removed two flasks from the sack on his right hip. Staring back in confusion, Corinth could think of no response as his master thrust the jug and flasks toward him. “Pour, and I’ll explain since you are of age now. I want you to drink with me and talk for a while.” Enticed by the polite gesture to pour, Corinth thought the sweet aroma had an inviting appeal, but the timing felt peculiar. Unwilling to test his master’s patience with more rudeness, he filled the flasks.

The mead soothed Corinth’s throat with a warm sensation. It was remarkably smooth, with the hint of a rare berry that grew locally. Sapphire eyes pierced him as he drank, and the calm demeanor the ladies of Enzlintine admired so much relaxed him. Faint traces of blue embraced the sky, which met Tessius’s gaze as he scratched his hazelnut braids. His bulky arm lifted his flask for another sip before he continued.

“Time and again your sword has shown no limits, and your technique can only evolve with real experience.” Curious as to why the moon enthralled Tessius so much, Corinth pondered what his master thought when his bright eyes fixed upon it.

“You intended to mimic a real battle?” Corinth asked. “It seemed like the usual kind of test, only different tactics.” His choice of words came more easily as the mead washed away his contempt.

“Your training has entailed the art of swordsmanship in the way known only to the elites of the elven guard, the sage knights. This has done nothing to aid you against what awaits you in the real world, since few share our principles of chivalry.” After pausing to empty his flask, Tessius held it out for a refill and smiled reassuringly. “If you had succeeded, the lesson would have served little purpose.”

“It would have shown I possess superior skill. Surely the lesson would have been as—”

“It would not have,” Tessius interjected. Mead spewed out of the top of the flask as he spoke, and Corinth shifted uncomfortably as it ran down his master’s arm. Tessius sighed and moved his flask to his right hand so he could shake the wasted mead off his left. “Many young sage knights fall to such perils soon after induction into the order; thus my reasoning for this lesson before giving you real assignments. Now that your eyes are open, you can proceed.” He chuckled at Corinth’s blank expression.

“You mean I was accepted?” The nearby doves scattered amid his excitement.

“Of course!” Tessius laughed heartily at Corinth. “This means greater responsibilities ahead, and as my disciple, you represent not only me but also our community. You will be officially inducted tomorrow, so be sure not to get involved in city business.” He cast a quick, stern look at his student before he lifted his flask to his lips.

“Yes, sir!” As Corinth watched the sun rise, his spirit blazed like the red sky as it enveloped Terranesit, the world in which they lived.

“Take the day off.” Emptying his flask again, Tessius stared into the sky and admired the glow of the new day. All the trees swayed gently in the breeze, and the woodland creatures scuttled about with their daily tasks. “Go visit Enzlintine. I know you miss it.”

“Yes, thank you…, sir,” Corinth replied, forcing a smile of gratitude.

“Out with it,” Tessius said as he stowed his flask into his hip sack.

“I wonder how the townspeople will…I mean to say—have they forgotten?” Intense heat swept over his shameful face as he searched for the right words. He wished he could avoid this conversation and immediately begin his duties.

“No,” Tessius said. “They are elves, after all.” He stared at Corinth’s crestfallen face and smiled. “So you made mistakes in your youth.”

“It was only twenty-seven years ago,” Corinth uttered as he swept back his uncooperative hair.

“And in that time you have grown more than any elf could be expected to. Yes, you will have to earn respect again, and as you know, it may be a slow, difficult process.” A patient smile swept over Tessius, who gave a few moments’ pause. “You were a rather petulant child who had too much pride to accept aid from those who respected your family, so you and your gang of friends hid in the old city, plotting petty heists.” He stopped for a moment to grasp Corinth’s shoulder, while he bore into his silver eyes again. “A shameful thing for any of our kind to suffer. However, you were doing the best you could on your own.”

Turning away slightly, Corinth found the sight of the sapphire eyes too much to look into; the act prompted Tessius to release him and stare at the falling moon. “Those days are gone, and you will now serve Enzlintine with the highest pride and honor that is possible for an elf.”

“I will do all that is possible, Master.” Little relief swept over his burning eyes, and the urge to start his duties consumed his thoughts.

“If you recall, your pleading went on for years before I agreed to teach you the secret arts. Only your will to learn, determination, and deep sense of remorse led you to where you are now. The pain you still feel from this tells me I have made the right decision in training you.”

Leaving Corinth to his thoughts, Tessius rose and disappeared behind the wall of vines on the east side of the clearing. The mead tingled Corinth’s lips as he pondered his master’s words, shuddering at the idea of another couple thousand years of guilt. Eager to escape his past, Corinth dreamed of heroism and noble servitude to Enzlintine.

He trudged north with little notice to where he stepped, aware that he was on a direct course toward home. A dense heaviness clung to his feet as he passed the training barracks where he’d lingered for so long. Newborn leaves and blossoms didn’t sweep him away as they should have as he walked the vast forest. Looking down at the vibrant sword he had inherited, Corinth wondered what his father would have said at his matching in rank at his young age.

Upon his arrival at the outer rim of Enzlintine, Corinth stared at what the elves called the “old city.” The ruins saddened him—as they did most of his kind—as he walked past the decimated buildings. Two hundred years of overgrowth nearly swallowed the remnants from the era of chaos. Restoration of their homeland had been slow as they had built outward while their race repopulated the forest. Keeping his eyes fixed on the cobblestone-and-alabaster road, he reached the stone archway next to the waterfall, which separated the ruins from the new city.

Sunlight glistened off the ivory buildings and mansions of the many aristocrats, artists, and musicians, reminding him at once of how beautiful Enzlintine was. Trees and gardens lined the vast structures toward the center of town as he strode by, waving at the local blacksmith. As he feared, memories of his last days in Enzlintine flooded his mind. He wondered how long it had been since his parents’ funeral when Tessius arrested him and took him into the solitude of his parents’ cabin, which was near the barracks. Recalling the many funerals of friends and family, Corinth remembered only sadness and was unable to discern what he had done at the time.

Greeted by the town square, a grid of well-kept trees and fountains, Corinth stopped on the short stone bridge. He stood over the moat and gazed at the most precious gift given to the elves, the Tree of Life. Granted by their goddess, Nartha, it was the sigil of their essence. The tree kept the entire forest fertile and immortal, and its great branches spread over the moat surrounding it. Its top was barely visible, and in the spring, it attracted doves by the hundreds. Most elves believed the tree blessed the city with prosperity, and they often held ceremonies, such as weddings, under its heavy branches. Although religion had never interested Corinth much, the tree always lifted his spirits, and today was no different. He rested on the grass of the small island and stared up for a while at the white blossoms, which floated toward the water surrounding him.

Feeling recharged, he wandered into the marketplace in the northwestern district, where the granite buildings, ornate with quartz and precious metals, were tightly packed together. The market was crowded as he passed, wondering where he should go next.

“Corinth! Is that you?”

Stopping in his tracks, he turned toward the sound of the familiar, sly voice. He caught a glimpse of the clothing vendor, who stood behind one of many booths along the street, and approached him apprehensively.

“It is! Ha!” he added, grinning at Corinth, who nodded curtly with a forced smile. “Where have you been all this time?” The scrawny vendor leaned over his counter and extended his bony hand.

“I was…removed, Besmyr,” Corinth replied as he took the vendor’s hand, unsure what to say to his old friend. The man had been the ringleader behind his childhood mischief and the last person he expected to find.

“I heard!” Besmyr said, ruffling his short, blond hair. Scathing looks from nearby vendors and customers pierced Corinth from all sides. “I was told Tessius arrested you personally.”

“Yes,” Corinth replied, glancing at passersby as his face grew warm.

“I spent a month in the dungeon, given my age, but I was worried when I heard that bloody sage knight had an interest in capturing you. Where have you been?”

“I was isolated, but after some years, I was relocated to the barracks.” The vein twitched in Corinth’s forehead, which burned as red as his tunic. He wished more than anything that he could have avoided this reunion.

“The barracks?” Besmyr asked with a suspicious frown.

“I started training after my punishment ended,” Corinth explained. It was my decision.”

“You wanted training…for what purpose?” His blue eyes flickered as his pale face reddened, and the casual conversation quickly resembled an interrogation. Corinth stood rigidly and glared back at him.

“To atone. Surely you are doing the same?”

“I’m sorry I was caught, but I make an honest living to avoid expulsion from the city!” Besmyr hissed, pulling his face up to Corinth’s. “You think I would live among humans?”

“You are not regretful of what happened?” Corinth’s heart raced furiously over the unavoidable conflict.

“Regretful I have been reduced to this living, and having to watch you puff out your chest like a pompous fool!” Besmyr snarled as he slammed his fist on the counter. “Why would being a lowly town guard make you walk about like a self-righteous buffoon?”

“I do no such thing,” Corinth said in a low tone, “and I am not a town guard. I am a sage knight.”

“A sage knight?” Besmyr blinked. “You’re full of…You have no crest.”

“I will be inducted into the order tomorrow, and I owe you no apology simply because I want to serve the city!”

“You sound just like that fool who arrested you.” Besmyr narrowed his eyes before an odd smile stretched across his face.

“You go too far!” Leaning closer to Besmyr, Corinth felt a slight tug on his belt and turned to find what had amused him. The elven child who’d pulled the purse off Corinth’s belt stood barely past his waist. Panicking, the blond boy sped down the street with Corinth on his heels.

“Serves you right!” Besmyr barked after him.

Pursuit of the thief through the marketplace was clumsy as Corinth attempted to dodge citizens with the same grace as the child.

“Boy! Everyone step aside!” Corinth shouted as he ran into a middle-aged woman, whose husband caught her as she fell. Shouting his apology over his shoulder at the angry elf, Corinth dared not pull his eyes off the child. As he sped down an alley to his left off the main street, the debris did nothing to help him gain ground. Wagons and carts vendors used to restock businesses blocked the narrow passageway, and the child passed them with impressive speed. It was the first time Corinth was thankful to be thinner and less muscular than Tessius, who could always break Corinth’s stance when he parried.

The small blond boy was almost in reach, and he dropped a bag of marbles as he rounded a corner. Unable to stop in time, Corinth braced himself with an outstretched hand as he trampled the tiny glass orbs. His left shoulder screamed in agony as he bounced off a stone wall and fell to one knee. Despite his robust training, a painful stab erupted in his side from the chase as he sprinted off once more. Ignoring the protest of his lungs and the bleeding from the cuts he had received in the alley, he cut across a vacant side street. Almost within arm’s reach, the boy ran down the alley between two men in brown cloaks. Huffing as he grabbed his knees, he stopped behind them and in front of a third man. The two men in front barred Corinth’s path as he slid to a halt. Handing over several coin pouches to the man in the back, the child scampered off behind him.

“That’s far enough,” hissed the man in the back. “He’s a good worker, and we don’t need little goodies like you turning him in.”

“Are you his employer, or are you lowly pawns as well?” Corinth wheezed, squinting for a better look at the faces under the large, brown hoods.

“I don’t see why it matters to you, foolish one. You don’t appear to be the town guard.”

The chuckling of the two men in front burned Corinth’s ears as the child’s footsteps drifted out of earshot.

“That matters not,” Corinth replied as he recalled Tessius’s warning to stay out of city business. “What you are doing is unjust, and I cannot watch you corrupt that boy.”

“What do you intend to do about it?” The man in the rear stepped toward Corinth so they could be face-to-face. Although he kept most of his face hidden, a black-and-gray beard fell out of the hood, tipping off Corinth that the man must be human, since elves couldn’t grow facial hair.

“You have no place here!” A violent explosion erupted in his chest as he shouted at them, unable to bear the thought of outsiders corrupting his home from within. The men burst into laughter, only antagonizing him further.

“You hear that, boys? We have another pompous elf to contend with,” the man scoffed as he thrust his dagger at the elf’s chest.

Sidestepping the stab, Corinth slammed his back into the wall behind him.

Illuminas caecae!” he snarled as he extended his left hand toward the bandits. The leader ducked and turned away, narrowly avoiding the flash of white-hot light, which burst from Corinth’s casting hand. The man to his right caught the full brunt of the spell and fell unconscious. He hit the paved road with a thud, while the other man shielded his eyes—but not quickly enough.

“I’m blind! I can’t see!” the cloaked man cried as he backed away and tripped over the crate behind him.

“Only temporary, I assure you,” Corinth said as he drew his weapon. “You cannot defeat me. Do yourself justice and—”

The leader spun around and hurled a pouch of sand into Corinth’s face. Intense burning consumed his eyes as he resisted the urge to scream and instead focused his energy on his keen hearing. Footsteps circled farther to his right, then paused. He pretended not to hear and held his breath as he waited for the side attack. Sidestepping gracefully, Corinth swept his elven blade and cleaved a deep wound in the man’s unarmored chest. The bandit screamed in agony and fell to the ground, heaving his last breath.

“Not so fast,” a man hissed from behind Corinth, who rubbed his watery eyes. Sharp pain erupted through the lower-left side of his back when he tried to turn. Hands wrapped in black leather grabbed his throat and prevented him from falling to his knees. Gasping for air, Corinth winced as painful tears filled his eyes. “I was watching from the shadows for my amusement, but I’m afraid I can’t let you capture my hirelings.”

Immense agony rippled through Corinth as the dagger in his side twisted before the man wrenched it back out. Laughter filled his pointed ears as he screamed. The hand that bound his throat released him and pushed him to the ground. He felt dizzy, and his eyes faded out of focus; a chill swept over him as the strength drained from his body. He rolled onto his back, unable to see the face of the cackling man who had stabbed him. Harnessing the last of his strength, Corinth raised his sword and pointed it at him.

“You still want to fight me? You can’t even stand!”

Trinus,” Corinth muttered, focused on the evil laughter. An unseen force knocked the man forward onto Corinth’s steel and impaled him. The pommel slammed into Corinth’s ribs when the rogue fell on him, but it no longer mattered, since Corinth felt no pain.

“Curse you,” the man gurgled into his ear, choking on his own blood.

Corinth twisted his blade one last time and heard the man fall silent. Darkness crept over him as he listened to the pounding of footsteps.

 

 

Categories: Fantasy, Young Adult | Leave a comment

A Hidden Element, by Donna Galanti

?????????????????????????????????????????????Title: A Hidden Element

Genre: Paranormal Suspense

Author: Donna Galanti

Website: www.ElementTrilogy.com

Publisher: Imajin Books

Purchase on Amazon

In A Hidden Element evil lurks within…

When Caleb Madroc is used against his will as part of his father’s plan to breed a secret community and infiltrate society with their unique powers, he vows to save his oppressed people and the two children kept from him. Seven years later, Laura and Ben Fieldstone’s son is abducted, and they are forced to trust a madman’s son who puts his life on the line to save them all. The enemy’s desire to own them—or destroy them—leads to a survival showdown. Laura and Ben must risk everything to defeat a new nemesis that wants to rule the world with their son, and Caleb may be their only hope—if he survives. But must he sacrifice what he most desires to do so?

CHAPTER 1: The Beginning

Silent dark hung under a star-filled sky.

The dark deepened as they headed into the forest. Ancient conifers towered over them, blocking out the moon. Rain fell cold and lifeless. The nearest town of Benevolence, Oregon, was five miles northwest.

Caleb Madroc’s father stood across from him, waiting for his people to gather their belongings. Their pale faces glowed like orbs within gray hooded robes as they waited for his father’s instruction.

“We head toward town,” his father ordered. Caleb opened his mouth, but there were no words for his feelings of anger and loss at suddenly leaving the only home he’d ever known. It raged inside him, a tumult of emotion he must quell for now. At least his own black hair, like his face, was a constant reminder of his mother to his father. This made him glad.

Caleb shut his mouth and nodded, stepping in behind his father. Rain fell cold and lifeless. He fell behind as he helped the womenfolk with their bags. One young female sent him a furtive, desperate look as she touched his hand in passing.

I’m so scared. What will happen to us?

He smiled at her. Keep your thoughts to yourself. It’s safer this way. All will work out once we settle. She bit her lip, her eyes full of tears, and nodded looking back down at her feet.

“Father, how much further? Some of the younger females are struggling,” Caleb said.

His father’s eyes stung him through the mist rising up from the forest floor. They were eyes so different from his, and from his mother’s. Caleb had often seen sadness and pity for his father in his mother’s eyes. The day he had found her dead in the well her eyes held only nothingness.

“Can’t we stop and rest, Adrian?” A few in the group grumbled. They looked wet and tired, a sea of gray flowing before him. His father glowered at their weakness. As Caleb scanned the sodden crowd a female smiled at his father, holding the promise of submission. Perfect for his father, who wanted to breed another son to take his place. A worthy son.

“We do not stop.” His father’s voice rose over the line of people before him, and he smiled back at the female and a strange sense of relief washed over Caleb. If his father did create a new prodigal son to groom it might remove his first born from his watchful eye.

With that thought, anguish over his mother’s absence hit him fresh again. At eighteen and bigger than his father, he still needed his mother. She had been his kindred spirit, like Uncle Brahm. But now he was alone in this strange place. No longer did he have someone to be his true self with. He must step carefully.

His father continued to scan his flock. They stood still and silent, conveying their subservience. He nodded, apparently satisfied with their response. “You all took the oath to come here. Hard work lies before us in breeding our new community. Understood?”

They nodded in a collective wave.

Just like you bred with Aunt Manta while your wife lay dead? Caleb spewed out in his head without thinking.

His father moved closer, until his flaring nostrils touched his. Caleb stepped back, but his father gripped his arm. Dozens of eyes watched their battle.

Do not ever mention my brother’s wife’s name again, Son.

His father’s fingers pinched him hard and his hot breath pulsed across his face, but Caleb couldn’t stop. Mother’s dead because of you. And what about Aunt Manta? Did you kill her, too?

I didn’t kill anyone. And your mother should have been more careful.

You let her travel alone. She fell and died because she was alone.

It was your well, Caleb, she fell into. Your hideaway you carelessly covered up. Your fault.

His father’s accusations stabbed him with painful truth. He sucked in his breath. My fault. Yes. My fault.

He looked around the watchful crowd as his head reeled with the agony of what he had done. His people stared back at him, their thoughts hid behind blank faces. Why did they come? Didn’t they have dreams and wants and needs of their own, too? Or were they all obedient drones of his father?

His father thrust his arm away and turned around, plunging faster through the woods. Caleb hesitated then followed behind, trying to keep up. He envisioned himself standing still until everyone glided around him, leaving him to remain alone under a watchful moon.

Branches snagged his robe shooting him back to reality. His father’s people followed in silence. If they didn’t obey there would be consequences. As Caleb knew. He had no special privilege here as Adrian’s son.

At last his father stepped out onto a paved road. It stretched far into the distance, where welcoming lights beckoned them across the final mile. They reached the main intersection of town. A car flashed by. A radio blared. Faces stared out at them. He stared back. They were so different from himself and yet…not.

He broke his gaze realizing how out of place this group looked late at night. The people here wore jeans and shirts, the shapes of their bodies outlined under tight clothes. The female’s curves called to him, unlike his people who clothed themselves in shapeless robes to discourage free sexual thoughts. They were now to breed only with those chosen for them.

His father led them single file down the sidewalk. A handful of people sat behind windows drinking. They pointed at them as they walked by. “Gillian’s Bar” flashed in neon green above the doorway in the late evening hours. A man and woman, heading into the bar, stepped back from the sidewalk to watch them pass. Freaks, he heard the man say. And his father erased the memory of the encounter from these strangers’ minds in the seconds it took to pass them.

“Father,” Caleb whispered in his ear. “Where are we going?”

A large building rose at the far end of a parking lot. “Ray’s Lots” blinked over and over.

“Here is where we go.”

A woman pushed a cart filled with bags to her car, the only car left in the lot. She stopped and stared at them. Her hair framed her face in tight curls. A blue and white striped dress strained to contain her breasts and belly.

“Good evening, brothers,” she said with a hesitant smile.

His father motioned for them to stop. He smiled at her. She smiled back.

“Good evening, madam,” his father drawled.

“God bless you.” She grabbed his father’s hand. Caleb swallowed a laugh at the way his father looked at her with such a serious, doting face.

“And God bless you, my child.”

“What church are you with?” The woman fingered a cross at her neck. “Are you having an event in town?”

His father had said a church was the perfect cover. One of the many cultural ways learned before infiltration. All part of his father’s master plan.

“It’s the Church of Elyon,” his father said.

The woman took her hand away and frowned. “Never heard of it. You’re not one those crazy cults are you?”

Caleb stepped to his father’s side. Let me work her mind, Father. “What’s your name, Madam?”

“Sally.”

“I’m Caleb Madroc.” He shook her hand hoping his father didn’t have some depraved mission in mind. Caleb wanted to get food for their hungry group and shelter and have as little interaction with these town people as possible. “We’re simple folks. Our bus broke down outside of town. We seek food and a place to stay nearby. Can you help us?”

“What a nice young man you are. Of course I can help you.” She abandoned her cart and pulled Caleb toward the store. “My cousin runs this store and can stock you up with food. And the Mercenary Motel is down the street.”

He didn’t understand her eagerness as she dragged him along then it was made clear by his father’s mirthful laugh. His father had probed her mind and now controlled it—she would do whatever he commanded.

Caleb followed her into the store. Their people streamed in behind. Sally dragged him to a counter where a short red-faced man scowled at them. “Ray, these folks are here in town from a wonderful church. Their bus broke down and they need food.”

Within seconds Ray’s frown changed to a wide grin as Caleb’s father continued his mind games. “Come in, come in. Time to close up anyhow.” He flicked the sign on the front door and shut off the lights outside.

“Thank you,” his father said. “I need food here for my flock before we find a place to stay.”

“Help yourself to anything you want.” Ray ran his hands over shelves. “Pretzels, baked beans, cereal, Ding Dongs. We even sell the word of the Lord.” Sally and Ray beamed at them.

His father directed everyone to gather food and drinks. Sally and Ray stood by the counter, their minds blank except for what his father put into them. He dared not combat his father’s powers. Not here. Not now. But someday.

“Ray, I need all your money now,” his father said.

Ray clapped his hands together. “Of course.” He pulled money from a nearby metal box.

When his father’s bag burst full of items he handed it to a community member and cocked his head at Ray and Sally. “Time to go now, my new friends.” He motioned his people out the door. Ray and Sally stood with stupid smiles on their faces as the group filed out into the parking lot. All, except his father.

“Come on, Father,” Caleb pleaded, the dark knot in his stomach hardened. “Our job here is done.”

“Not quite.” His father moved toward the smiling cousins, a book in his hand. The Holy Bible. He thumbed through it to a passage and looked up smiling. “As for God, his way is perfect, is it not?”

“The word of God is true,” Sally sang out, clutching Ray’s hand. Her cousin nodded.

“Ray, isn’t Sally lovely? Look at her.” His father pointed at the heavy set woman.

Ray turned to Sally. His pants bulged and Sally’s eyes widened. She tugged on her dress top.

“Have your way with her Ray, you know you want to.”

“Father,” Caleb whispered, clutching at him but his father stayed his hand.

Ray licked his lips and nodded.

“Sally, unzip your fine dress and show Ray what you’ve got.”

Sally stepped out of her dress in a motion more fluid than one would have thought possible given her size. Her belly oozed over her thighs and her bra cut into her mountainous breasts. Ray panted, tapping his hands against his skinny legs.

Caleb moved toward the door.

“Stay, Son, I want you to watch this.”

“I won’t.”

“You will or you know what will happen.”

Caleb stopped and sighed, looking down at the floor. Eyes watched from the parking lot.

“Look.”

Caleb focused on the dirt in the floor cracks. His muscles twitched with anger. His father thrived on his hate, wanted him to hate—wanted his son to be a Destroyer like him. They had hidden their true selves for so long and now were free here to unleash it. Not Caleb. He refused to give in to the dark inside. He tried to release the hate for his father, but it now filled his every pore. He made a vow right then and there, he’d never allow himself to be controlled. No matter the consequences.

He finally looked up. His father nodded, pleased, and turned back to his playthings. Ray massaged his crotch. Sally moaned, squeezing her mammoth breasts, and stepped out of her underwear.

“Take her, Ray. Bend her right over the counter. Dive into all her lushness.”

“Lush, yes.” Ray moved toward Sally, fumbling to unbuckle his pants. She squealed with glee and bent over the counter to receive him, her white bottom rising like a pitted sea of blubber. Ray mounted her, forged a path through her two white mountains, and slapped up against her in his glory.

“Lordy, Lordy,” Sally sang out as she bounced up and down.

“Now that’s wholesome entertainment.” His father jabbed him. Caleb jerked away. “They’re both enjoying it.”

Caleb clenched his fists and shoved them in his pockets. “Can we go now?”

“Yes, Son, only one more thing to do.”

His father pulled out something that looked like a handle. He flicked it open to reveal a small knife he must have picked up in the hardware section. He placed it next to Ray on the counter. Sweat flicked off the red-faced man’s forehead as he plunged into buttery flesh.

“Ray, enjoying yourself?”

Ray grunted and grabbed on to Sally’s hips, sinking into her expanse. She moaned again in delight as her buttocks shuddered.

“Good. When you’re done fucking, kill the bitch.”

His father strode out the door, pulling Caleb along with him.

“Father, no.” Caleb struggled against him as his father shoved him hard through the door. Caleb spiraled his thoughts into Ray’s brain. Stop, Ray! She’s your cousin, your family!

Ray stopped his thrusting as if listening to Caleb, but his father’s punch to his face ended his brain probe. Caleb staggered back, blood gushing from his nose. Ray straightened his head and rammed into Sally with a loud groan. Caleb drew his hand back but his father’s fingers crushed his forearm. He fell to his knees. Blood spattered down his gray robe. The flock widened their circle, silent and watching. His father led as both law maker and enforcer.

“These lowly forms of life must be controlled,” his father said. “We’ve studied their ways. Now, this first act is how we begin their demise and our rule. We will grow in number with our selected breeding and thrive as these useless beings die out. Watch this historic moment, Son, for anyone who turns away will be marked weak…and unworthy.”

All eyes turned to the inside of the store as the desperate carnal scene played out to the end.

“I hate you,” Caleb whispered, watching the forced lovers before him.

His father smiled at him in satisfaction.

Ray arched his back with a moan and finished his business. Sally squealed and pressed up against him. And when Ray raised his knife and plunged into Sally in new ways, she squealed again. And again. Her blood ran onto scuffed tiles and still she squealed. And then she stopped.

Tears filled Caleb’s eyes and he closed them against the evil scene.

His father laughed. “Don’t you see, Son?” He shook The Holy Bible at him. “I am their Way, their Truth, their Life—and Death.”

Caleb did not answer. He remained inside his dark prison and swore someday he would end his father’s rule.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Supernatural, Suspense, Thriller | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Unholy by Paul DeBlassie III

The Unholy 7Title: The Unholy
Author: Paul DeBlassie III
Publisher: Sunstone Press
Pages: 200
Language: English
Genre: Psychological/Paranormal Thriller
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

A young curandera, a medicine woman, intent on uncovering the secrets of her past is forced into a life-and-death battle against an evil Archbishop. Set in the mystic land of Aztlan, The Unholy is a novel of destiny as healer and slayer. Native lore of dreams and visions, shape changing, and natural magic work to spin a neo-gothic web in which sadness and mystery lure the unsuspecting into a twilight realm of discovery and decision.

 

Book Excerpt:

 

“Hush now, child,” said a voice she recognized as that of her mother’s

closest friend. “The man cannot harm you, mijita, as long as you are with us.

We will make him think you are dead. But you must be very quiet. Ya no

llores,” the woman warned, raising a finger to her lips.

 

The woman then carried her into a dark cave illuminated by the light

of a single candle. The cave was frightening, with shadows of what appeared

to be goblins and demons dancing on the red sandstone walls. “I will return for

you soon. You will be safe here,” the woman said. The girl watched the woman

walk away, shivering as a breeze blew through the cave’s narrow passages.

 

Closing her eyes, she rocked back and forth—imagining herself safe in

her mother’s arms—then opened her eyes to the light of the full moon shining

through the mouth of the cave. The shadows on the walls were just shadows

now, no longer goblins and demons. As she slipped into a trance, images

flickered in her mind. She saw the woman who had brought her to this place

scattering pieces of raw meat around the open mesa where her mother had

struggled, helped by two other women the girl could not identify.

 

Suddenly, the scene shifted to a stone ledge jutting over the mesa, and

she heard the pounding footsteps of a man running toward the women. The girl

felt her heart race and her breathing quicken, afraid that the bad man would

spot them and kill them. Then the image shifted again, and she now saw on the

mesa three gray wolves circling the raw meat and the man walking away from

the granite ledge. As he left, she heard his thought: The child is dead.

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

My Battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome by Beckie Butcher Book Feature

 
 

ABOUT MY BATTLE WITH CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME

Title: My Battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Genre: Health/Wellness

Author: Beckie Butcher

Publisher: iUniverse

Pages: 52

Language: English

Format: Ebook

 “As a former CFS sufferer and current healthcare practitioner, I feel Ms. Butcher provides an informative and interesting perspective on this disease and her road to recovery.”
Kyrie Kleinfelter,D.C.,
Upper Cervical Chiropractor.
“As a fellow sufferer of CFS, I was truly able to relate to Ms. Butchers’ experiences, thoughts and feelings. Her reference to the Word of God comforted my heart. Truly inspiring and honest.”
Darla Canney,
CFS Patient.

Ms. Butcher shares her intense and emotional journey of how the autoimmune disease chronic fatigue syndrome impacted her life from her first symptoms to the progress of her treatment and physical, spiritual and emotional recovery.

By sharing with others, she hopes to inspire others to seek help so they may lead better lives as well. She wants them to know there is hope.

 

iUniverse

ABOUT BECKIE BUTCHER

Ms. Butcher worked as a Lab Technician in various hospitals and laboratories. She is an avid cook when she feels up to it, and in 2005 she published a small cookbook. Ms. Butcher lives in her hometown of Elgin, Il.

Categories: Health/Wellness | Leave a comment

More Precious Than Rubies by Randy Coates Book Blitz – Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

More Precious Than RubiesTitle: More Precious Than Rubies
Author: Randy Coates
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 174
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Ebook

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Paul Brager is twelve when his father tells the story of Iduna and her apples. Mr. Brager always tells stories before bed to entertain Paul’s little brother, Adrian—a ritual that has become even more important since their mother died. Iduna was a goddess who grew apples that made the gods younger and stronger, but one day she disappeared, along with her apples. Paul doesn’t think much of the myth; he has other things on his mind.

Paul and his best friend, Chad Tremblay, are excited to start the school year as seventh graders at Dorian Heights Public School. Even when they hear about the new principal, Mr. Theisen, they aren’t worried about ending up in his office. When Paul finally meets the principal, however, he finds him to be strange, mysterious, and extremely fond of apples. That’s when things start going wrong.

Theisen develops an uncomfortable interest in Paul, claiming he once knew Paul’s father. It becomes apparent to Paul and Chad that Theisen is after something, maybe some kind of treasure—and it involves the Brager family. Paul believes his family must be protected and that Theisen must be stopped. Still, he can’t get the story of Iduna’s apples out of his head; there seems to be an odd connection to the tale his father told. He and Chad want to know the answers, but learning them may put their lives in danger.

 

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Randy Coates graduated from the University of Waterloo with a bachelor of arts degree and went on to acquire his teacher’s certificate at the University of Western Ontario. He is currently an elementary teacher in the Toronto District Board of Education. 

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Dakota Gold by Karen Wilson Book Blitz – Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Title: Dakota Gold
Author: Karen Wilson
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 80
Genre: Biography
Format: Ebook
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 Karen Wilson watched as a little tyke came running from the group of golden retriever puppies as fast as his little legs would carry him. Wearing a red ribbon, he was the most adorable bundle of golden softness she had ever seen. As soon as he reached her and she picked him up, he settled in her arms and immediately captured her heart. There was no question that she was his mama and he was her baby dolly. In a poignant retelling of the unconditional love between a dog and his owner, Wilson details how Rusty, at five weeks old, warmed her heart and eased doubts and pain as he quickly acclimated to his new life in her home. He turned out to be a gentle-natured puppy known to elevate the spirits of all who met him. Wilson recalls Rusty’s comical adventures as he grew by leaps and bounds; made friends with her collie, Chester; had fun with a rope swing, a bucket, and leaf piles; caught snowballs in his mouth; and discovered that a cow can be a guardian angel. Dakota Gold shares the true story of a tail-wagging, mischievous dog as he is adopted by his new family, embraces the fun in life, and learns from his best friend that love is the key to happiness.
Karen Wilson is a retired nurse and published poet. She is a member of the American Legion Post, its color guard unit, and its management team, as well as the Patriot Guard Riders of New York. When she is not spending time with her sons and grandchildren, Karen enjoys painting, writing poetry, and reading in her home in New York.

 

Karen is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins July 21 and ends on August 1.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, August 4.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

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Go In Faith, and You Will Prosper by Prophet Owusu Afriyie Book Blitz – Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Title: Go In Faith, and You Will Prosper

Author: Prophet Owusu Afriyie

Publisher: iUniverse

Pages: 88

Genre: Fiction

Format: Ebook

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Exhibiting the Force of Faith to Execute Your Calling!

Permit Prophet Owusu Afriyie to help making your calling successful and fulfilled through Go In Faith, and You Will Prosper. The journey to fulfill your ministry and profession demands faith only. Because of that you must use your faith wisely depending on the Lord. Faith is the main thing that you possess to control and overcome the affairs of the world. You will communicate with heaven as a faith practitioner and direct the affairs of life supernaturally:

 God will Direct Your Path by Faith

 Speak as it Ought to be

See your dream comes to pass as you feed on the Word of God believing what God has said will happen as you stay on board.

Speak the Word of Faith in the direction God gives you and never be regretted.

Reverend Afriyie is a Fasting and Prayer minister who was asked by the Lord to fast 2 forty days in a year. He was instructed to do this for a special ministry. Owusu Afriyie tested the waters of mandate and the Holy Spirit performed awesomely. This book will teach you faith that achieves.

The Lord advised Owusu Afriyie in May 3, 2010, to write books. He had a dream in late 90s of huge volumes of books, which indicates the writing assignments ahead of him. Afriyie always says to the Lord, “I am yours to command.” As the Prophet Samuel to the Lord, in the presence of the Priest Eli, so is Owusu.Prophet Owusu Afriyie is a Fasting and Prayer organizer by divine calling. God led him to fast two, 40 days for 10 years, and one, 40 days for 3 years for His power and work (1999-2012). God told him to go in faith and prosper in the work after the fast was over. The Lord has directed him to go back to Ghana to start the work from there and enter other worlds. God has given him a mandate to do Crusades and Plant Churches. Owusu Afriyie says this looks impossible, but with God, it is a done deal. He sees it as God asked Abraham to go a place without a map. Finally, Abraham made it as God directing him from the inside out. Prophet Owusu Afriyie says he will make it, with the Mighty Holy Spirit (the Champion) inside him; the mandate will prosper and succeed with great optimism.Owusu Afriyie is a theologian, graduated from Concordia University, and the founder of the Apostolic Creative Faith Ministries in Montreal, Canada. He is the senior minister of the Ministry. Prophet Afriyie is married to Boatemaa, and is the father of seven children: Millicent, Rose, Daniel, Joseph, Victoria, Theresa, and Samuel.

 

Owusu is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins July 21 and ends on August 1.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, August 4.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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It’s Your Decision by Ed Grizzle Book Blitz – Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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It's Your DecisionTitle: It’s Your Decision
Author: Ed Grizzle
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 128
Genre: Family Relationships/Parenting
Format: Ebook

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Children are gifts from God, but parenting those children can often be a difficult task. In It’s Your Decision, author Ed Grizzle shows how parenting can be successful when it’s carried out according to God’s plan.

Using his life’s experiences as a guide, Grizzle explores the importance of making the right decisions in life—from choosing the right lifestyle and the right mate and to raising children according to what God has planned for you. It’s Your Decision discusses

• planning for children;

• knowing what children need;

• being aware of the important years in a child’s life;

• understanding that children will test parents;

• valuing the role of grandparents;

• dealing with abused children;

• communicating openly and honestly;

• clarifying family roles.

Grizzle presents a guide to strengthening lives and making your family life more enjoyable. He shows how this is possible when you accept Jesus Christ into your life; he will show you the way in the difficult times.

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Ed Grizzle started a ministry called It’s Your Decision that helps addicts, prostitutes, and others who face difficult circumstances. He and his late wife, Mary, raised two children. Grizzle currently lives in Illinois

Ed is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

645

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins July 21 and ends on August 1.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, August 4.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

Categories: Book Blitz | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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