Tag Archives: thriller

Author Showcase – Andrew Cull (Bones: Horror Anthology)

Bones brings together four chilling stories by the award-winning writer-director Andrew Cull. 

 

“He had written to me a month or so before he died. I’d ignored the letter the same way I’d ignored all the others.” 

When Cam Miller returns to the town he grew up in he’s heading to clear his estranged Father’s farmhouse. He’s also returning to the house he fled 23 years before. There, among the nicotine stained keepsakes and remnants of a broken life, he’ll come face to face with a horror that has waited all those years for his return. 

“It’s you he wants.” 

 

 

“We were both 10. But he was dead. And I sat drawing him.”

Em Walker is just like any other 10-year-old girl growing up in the small, outback town of Hope. That is, except for the fact that her Dad runs one of the town’s two funeral parlours, and the dead have just started speaking to her…

When Hope is rocked by a terrible crime, Em, stubborn, scared of spiders, and with a temper that’s likely to get her into trouble, will find herself thrust into the middle of a dangerous hunt for the truth.

“Being scared’s good,” Grandpa Walker had told me once. “Stops us from doing stupid things.” 

It hadn’t stopped me.

 

 

That summer should have been filled with laughter, with slip n’ slides in the yard, lazy afternoons lying watching ice cream clouds swirling through the blue sky, melting in slow motion. I watched a plane rising high above our house. From the ground it looked completely still, as if it hung suspended in the air, a model on a string. I wished I was on it, I wished I could escape. I was seven and that was the summer death stalked our home. 

It began with the offerings… 

 

 

 

“We buried Dad in the winter. It wasn’t until the spring that we heard from him again.”

Knock and You Will See Me is a new ghost story by award winning writer-director Andrew Cull.

When grieving Ellie Ray finds a crumpled, handwritten note from her recently deceased father, hidden behind the couch, she assumes that her middle boy, Max, left it there. It has a single word written on it: WHY. But, as more and more letters begin to appear throughout the house, Ellie and her three boys will find themselves dragged into a deeply sinister mystery surrounding her father’s death.

“Dad? I looked down at the scribbled note in my hand, at the words torn into the paper. What had started as a whisper had grown louder, more desperate. The words had been screamed onto the page. Dad? Please. What’s going on?”

 

“Did You Forget About Me?”

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“Hope and Walker”

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“The Trade”

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“Knock and You Will See Me”

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Bones: Horror Anthology 

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~~ Meet the author ~~

Andrew’s first screenplay attracted the attention of BAFTA award-winner, Philip Saville. He went on to  develop film projects with Hammer Films,  Paul W.S Anderson’s Impact Pictures and  wrote for cult TV hit, ‘Urban Gothic’. Alongside this,  Andy ran a video rental store in London with the  largest horror collection in the UK.

In 2007 he created the YouTube sensation,  ‘In the Dark’. Regarded as the first YouTube  horror series it is considered to have been the inspiration for such renowned projects as Marble Hornets. This was followed by his first feature, ‘The Possession Of David O’Reilly’. It quickly garnered much praise and enjoyed a UK theatrical and DVD release with Momentum Pictures. In the US, it was picked up by IFC Films for VOD and DVD release.

Andy recently completed his first novel, ‘Remains’ and is in pre-production for his next horror feature.

Andy loves Horror and Hitchcock and, like you, he’s not easily scared.

 

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Author Showcase / Interview – Renee Miller (Eat The Rich)

 

  1. Welcome, Renee Miller. For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?

(Renee)  I’m a Canadian author who lives in a tiny rural town famous for harboring Elvis’s Ghost. I love Netflix and junk food and have too many animals living in my house.

I don’t know if there’s a point where I officially “started.” After years of just scribbling short stories and terrible poems, I decided (in 2008), that I’d write a novel. It was awful. I made a few big mistakes early, but once the rose-colored glasses were off, I focused on learning the craft and the industry. I self-published my first few titles in 2013, and then I signed a series with a publisher who closed its doors shortly after the first book’s release. There was more signing and closing over the past few years, but I kept plugging away, and here I am.

Basically, writing is hard. Publishing is harder. If you want to get anywhere in this business, you have to accept that it will never be easy, but you can’t let speed bumps slow you down.

(Kam) All the trials and bumps in the road of life make us great(er) in whatever career choice we choose. Keep up the good work! 

 

 

 

  1. All writers fear the dreaded “block”. Please tell us how you handle it.

(Renee) If I don’t feel like writing, I edit until I’m so miserable I’ll write about anything just to escape the torture of editing.

I don’t believe in writer’s block. Stress, life, ego, laziness, and all kinds of crappy little every day real life things can affect productivity. That’s entirely different than being afflicted by a condition in which your brain is incapable of crafting a story. We’re always able to do that. We just need to figure out how to get out of our own way.

That sounds kind of arrogant, I suppose. Maybe I’m jinxing myself by saying that, and some day I’ll be sitting here staring at a blank page going, “Shit, it is real,” and everyone will have a good long laugh at my expense.

 

 

 

  1. Will you please share with the visitors what genre(s) you write? Also, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?

(Renee)  I prefer dark fiction, be it horror, crime, comedy or erotica, but I tend to lean toward horror. When I’m not writing, I’m Netflixing, reading, working the day job, or scrubbing toilets and cleaning up pet hair. Glamorous, eh?

(Kam) Hmm, maybe scrubbing toilets and cleaning up pet hair would be glamorous if you did it while wearing a ball gown, heels, and a tiara. I don’t see that happening though.  😆 

 

 

  1. I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?

(Renee)  I tell anyone who will even pretend to care about my writing. I think some are all, “Oh, that’s nice,” while inside they’re thinking, “Wonderful. Another weirdo who thinks she’s fancy.” My close friends and family, though, are very supportive. Many don’t read my writing, but I think that’s only because they’re worried about what I’ve written about.

 

(Kam) Viewers, please check out these titles by Renee and let her know what you think! 

Publisher: Unnerving (April 10, 2018)

It’s okay to watch. Watching hurts no one, as long as you don’t touch.
Elwin likes to watch. His position as star employee at a real estate agency gives him plenty of access to the homes of his clients. A camera or two hidden where no one will find it, and he can watch as often as he pleases.
No one knows. No one gets hurt.
But it’s hard to look without touching. Touching leads to bad things. Elwin knows this, but allows himself a moment of weakness. 
And then another.
Soon, watching isn’t an option anymore. Not if Elwin wants his secrets to remain buried.

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Publisher: Deviant Dolls Publications (September 30, 2017)

La Femme Fatale is a secret travelling carnival full of weird wonders for men young and old. Clown burlesque, a bearded lady, and a snake charmer who is also skilled with a blade. 

You won’t want to come, but you will. 

The ladies are beautiful, their show is erotic, and your climax will be deadly.

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  1. Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.

(Renee)  This is always my least favorite question, because I love so many amazing authors. Ugh. Okay, in no particular order:

Stephen King

VC Andrews (the original, real author, not the after death nonsense)

Dennis LeHane

C.S. Lewis (The Narnia Chronicles will forever be a favorite read for me)

Nora Roberts

Ronald Malfi

Thomas Harris

Anne Rice

Margaret Atwood

Charlaine Harris

 

I’m not even sure if these are “all time” favorites, but they’re the first that come to mind.

 

 

  1. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love see casted in the parts?

(Renee)  Another tough one. I just finished Ronald Malfi’s BONE WHITE, and I’d LOVE to see that as a film. He’s created such a vivid world with characters that stay with you, so I don’t think Hollywood could mess it up. As for who I’d like to see casted, I’m not sure. Clive Owen? I just like to see him cast in everything.

As for my books, if I could choose one to be on the big screen, it’d have to be… CHURCH. I think Mads Mikkelsen would make a good Darius, because he’s brilliant at playing villains. My first instinct was to say Tom Hardy, though, because I have a huge crush, but Christian Bale is probably the best option. Something about him is always creepy, so I think he’d take Darius to the next level. In Ray’s role, I’d cast Ed Norton, because he does tortured souls very well. Or maybe Chris Evans. He’s got that baby face and looks so sweet and innocent.

Ray is a Christian, but he loves a woman who follows a god called Zabir. Determined to save her from eternal damnation, he joins her church.

He doesn’t realize that indoctrination into the Zabian way is a process that not only breaks a man physically, it strips his identity and shatters his mind. He holds onto his faith at first, but as his prayers for mercy go unanswered, and the pain inflicted on him becomes too much to bear, the void of nothingness promises relief, and tempts Ray to do the unthinkable, even if leaves his soul as damned as the one he tried to save.

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  1. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.

(Renee) I’m working on a book about a lethal brain parasite from another planet (or is it?) and I’ve got a few shorter pieces “in progress.” Oh, and I’ve got a weird fantasy/horror thing that I’m not sure is even worth pursuing, but it’s at 40K words, so I may as well finish it, right?

 

 

  1. Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?

(Renee)  You can find most of my work on Amazon, but I try to keep my book list updated on Deviant Dolls. Reading order doesn’t matter, although the newer stuff is probably the weirdest.

Amazon Author Page Link

deviantdolls.org

 

 

  1. Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?

(Renee) You can find me on Twitter (@ReneeMJ) or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/authorreneemiller/. I also work with a fantastic group of authors on www.deviantdolls.org. Or you can email me at reneemiller(at)bell(dot)net.

 

 

  1. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.

(Renee)  I’d just like to say thanks for having me and I’m sorry if I rambled. (No, I’m not. I always ramble.)

(Kam) Please feel free and come back anytime. I love ramblers!  😉 

 

 

 

~~ Closing remarks ~~

Ok, I know Renee and I have given you a few reading options above but how about just one more………

 

Release Date: July 13th, 2018

When Ed Anderson discards his life to become a homeless person, he has no idea of the shit storm about to happen. Almost overnight, the city’s homeless population spikes.

So does the murder rate.

Ed learns that aliens posing as homeless people are eating the city’s wealthiest residents. he tries to warn the police, but they think he’s crazy.

The situation is worse than Ed describes, though.

He’s right about the aliens. They’re here to free humans from wealth and poverty. The flesh of the rich is just a tasty reward for their hard work. And if humans refuse to embrace the utopia imagined for them, there is a Plan B:

KILL EVERYONE.

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Goodreads contributor, Michael Hicks rated it ⭐⭐⭐⭐.

Goodreads contributor, William Bitner Jr. rated it ⭐⭐⭐⭐ .

Goodreads contributor, Charlotte rated it ⭐⭐⭐⭐.

 

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Author Showcase / Interview – Diane Shute (After Midnight & Midnight Crossing)

Welcome, Diane Shute!

 

  1. For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?

(Diane) First of all, thanks for having me, Kam. I’m a somewhat typical West Coast girl (at my age, the term is best used loosely) I’ve always loved crafting stories, but writing did not evolve beyond a hobby until after I retired. Now that my children are grown, I’m free to enjoy my own pursuits. Before my mother passed away, she encouraged me to publish my work. I dedicated my first book, After Midnight, to her memory.

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  1. All writers fear the dreaded “block”. Please tell us how you handle it.

(Diane) Nothing is worse than the intimidation of the blank page of a new work. For me, it’s best to just start writing. The story shapes itself later. Syntax and rhythm don’t matter in a first draft. The point is to get it down to edit later. Afterwards, I put my work away and let it sit while I do other things. When I pull it out again, I go back to work. Voila—no more “block” in the process of defining the sentences.

 

 

  1. Will you please share with the visitors what genre(s) you write? Also, when you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

(Diane) Absolutely—I write 19th century historical fiction, with a twist of mystery and suspense. When I’m not writing a book, I can usually be found with my nose in one. My kids tell me I’m a good cook, but maybe they just like to eat. I love flowers and putter around with light gardening. I also have two dogs and three cats, all of which are rescue animals. I’m guilty of taking too many pictures, some of which I post on social networks.

(KAM) Kids will tell you when they don’t like a food/meal, so I’m sure you’re a fantastic cook. As for gardening, I’ve never had any luck making anything grow — well, except weeds.  😛 

 

 

  1. I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?

(Diane) Yes, with one book published and on the verge of launching the sequel, everyone in my family is aware of my passion to write. One of my daughters is actually my chief beta reader…I love to brag about my supportive family!

 

 

 

  1. Will you share with us your all-time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.

(Diane) Holy cow; where to start? I hold near and dear the writings of Kahlil Gibran. In high school, I read all the classics I could find in the local libraries. John Steinbeck’s The Red Pony was my first real book, a gift from my grandmother when I was eight. Lewis Carroll was also intriguing because he was my father’s favorite author. My older brother is actually named after him…but out of all those old classics, I would say Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe win out. Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne, and Kipling have long been exciting. Of contemporary writers, I admire Gregory Maguire and Dean Koontz, Janet Evanovich, Michael Connelly, and I’ve just begun a fantastic new series by Ken Fry that’s very promising.

 

 

  1. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love to see casted in the parts?

(Diane) I would cast my own, of course!

Of the characters from the Midnight Trilogy, I’d like to see

Natalie Portman as Alix and her twin sister Lily

Richard Armitage as her uncle, Quenton Saint-Descoteaux

Taron Egerton as Lily’s husband, Nicholas Griffon

Hugh Jackman as Alix’s guardian, Sir Robert Gordon

Ryan Gosling as the mysterious Drago Fortescue

Ryan Reynolds as the notorious Count Claude Rouget, and lastly but not least…

Jessica Chastain as Alix’s friend, Leah Burton

(KAM) I love your casting choices! 

 

 

  1. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.

(Diane) Book 3 of the Midnight Trilogy is my WIP. It is as yet untitled, and is the conclusion of the series and solutions to mysteries will be revealed.

 

 

  1. Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?

(Diane) After Midnight is Book one, Midnight Crossing is Book two. Book 3 of course is under construction. They can be found online at Amazon, Kobo, Barns & Noble, Taylors–wherever books are sold, basically.

 

As far as Alix is concerned, she has no past—only today, and her plans for the future: creating a dynamic stable of Thoroughbreds that will take the 1830s British racing world by storm. When forced into assuming the role of Lord Griffon’s wife in London, her plans are threatened by disturbing images of a castle from her past that fight to resurface. Alix is determined to find a way to take control of her life and fulfill her dreams. This women’s historical fiction novel is the first in the Midnight Series.

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When Quenton wants to take Alix home to France after years of exile in England, she is torn between the restoration of her fortune and her dream to build her Sterling Wood Stable into a successful racing business. She finds an unlikely friend in her uncle’s companion, Nicholas Griffon. Caught by her surprising fondness for him, Alix does not realize shadows from the past are stalking her―until she’s trapped by their darkness.

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  1. Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?

(Diane) Anyone can find me at www.dianeshute.com… After Midnight is on Facebook, and I’m @DianeShute on Twitter.

 

 

  1. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.

(Diane) I appreciate the invitation to join you, Kam. I look forward to hearing from your followers and reading their reviews! Thank you!

 

Thank you so very much, Diane, for joining me today. It was a true pleasure learning more about you. I wish you all the best in life and oodles of sales!

 

 

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Review of “County Vices ” – A.M. McKnight

Detective Olivia Winston and IRS Special Agent Maureen Jeffries have “tied the knot” and happily settled into married life. But crime in their home county of Goslyn hasn’t settled down—in fact, it’s at an all-time high. Drugs and corruption have found a foothole in the once small, quiet community, and Olivia and Maureen discover it’s a family affair that reaches from the street corner dealer right up to the County Board of Supervisors.

The love-hate drama between Supervisor Cleo Jacobs and her street-wise nephew, Chris Jacobs, has filled their pockets with plenty of cash but caused a dangerous rift between the two as both try to make their mark in the drug game. Driven by greed and ego, the Jacobs do their best to satisfy the growing demand for pills that “make you happy” and “numb the pain.” But their love of money comes with a callous disregard for others, including those close to Detective Winston and Special Agent Jeffries, who find themselves right in the middle of Goslyn’s biggest crime story.

Love, violence, and betrayal combine to make the perfect, poisonous pill.

 

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

Housed within the pages of County Vices are strong and resourceful female characters.

Maureen and Olivia, a married couple, are on the case of who’s harassing old man Rufus Bennett. As they put their detective skills to work, they discovery Rufus’ drama is only one small piece in a very large puzzle. Drugs, corruption, and greed are running amuck in Goslyn County. Honestly, it’s an epidemic all over the world. Like in real life, it takes a team to combat the distribution of narcotics. It takes many people to stop corruption plaguing the political world and/or cooperations, too. 

A.M. McKnight created a dream team to bring justice to most of the guilty parties. However, what about Stuart and Big Smit? Maybe their story will continue on in a future book. It must because there were loose ends that needed cleaned up. 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

 

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OTHER AVAILABLE TITLES

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A mostly black community with its roots in farming, Goslyn, Virginia lay just south of the State’s Capital. The once small, close-knit county had grown rapidly in the past two decades and boasted a population of just over fifty thousand. But the county’s crime stats had grown as well, and the latest offenses included several break-ins and rumors of a meth lab. Time had brought many changes, and many of the longtime folks of Goslyn no longer recognized their community and longed for days gone by. 
 
Goslyn PD Detective Olivia “Ollie” Winston loves her family and friends and shows it through her sense of humor. Just like her neighbors, she too worries about the recent events, and it’s her job to find out who’s behind the crime spree.

While investigating three burglaries, Olivia meets IRS Special Agent Maureen Jeffries who is pursuing a tax fraud suspect. Their cases are connected, and both soon discover they have much in common, personally and professionally.

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Sweet is the moment when you know you’re in love again. And who better to be in love with than someone who wants you as much as you want them. That’s the feeling shared between Olivia and Maureen, two women who have experienced love’s hardest lessons—pain and disappointment. But so much has changed in just two years—two years in which both women realize that letting go of the past can open one’s heart. For Olivia and Maureen, what they have together, could be their best love ever.

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I’m a longtime Virginian and practice law as a first profession.  I decided to try my hand at writing after getting hooked on lesbian crime and romance novels. As a lover of fast crime action and black lesbian romance, I combined the two and wrote my first book, Goslyn County–self published. My future works include a short story romance and a second self-published novel–both based on the characters of Goslyn.

Twitter: @wordmc46

Website: ammcknight.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ammcknightbooks

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Author Showcase – David M. Kelly (Joe Ballen series)

~~ Book One ~~

Meet former space engineer, Joe Ballen. These days, he’s scraping a living flying cabs in flooded-out Baltimore, trying to avoid the clutches of his boss and the well-meaning advice of an old friend. When one of his passengers suffers a grisly death, Joe is dragged into a dangerous web of ruthless academic rivalry centered on a prototype spaceship.

As the bodies pile up, Joe becomes suspect number one, and his enemies will stop at nothing to hide the truth. With the help of an enigmatic scientist, a senile survivalist, and the glamorous Ms Buntin, can Joe untangle the conspiracy and prove his innocence before it’s too late?

Mathematics Of Eternity: the first in an explosive SF thriller series by a fantastic new Canadian author. 

The future’s about to get a lot more action-packed!

 

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Chapter One

 

“Negotiations between the assembled Earth nations and Atoll negotiators broke down today, with no relaxation of the restrictions on Earth-based extra-orbital operations. General Chadwick, from the combined Atoll security forces, stated there would be a vigorous response to any attempt by Earth to increase operations outside Low Earth Orbit, other than the Mars mining operation. He also said that this boycott included the starship—”

I stabbed the off-button hard enough to make the plastic click sound like a gun had gone off inside the car. The news shouldn’t have bothered me, but it did. The fact that I used to work in space was part of it—the fact that I couldn’t any longer was another. But mostly it was because the Atolls were right—we didn’t deserve another chance.

I pulled up outside The Kase waiting for the traffic lights to change. The rain on the windshield distorted the garish neon and holo-projections from the bar into painful tracks that burned ghostly afterimages on my retina. I rubbed my face to ease the ache in my eyes, a two-day growth of beard rasping against my palms. Time to polish yourself up a bit, Ballen, otherwise someone’s going to think you stole this cab. It had been that kind of night. The only thing keeping me going was the thought that my tour was over for another twelve hours.

The cab bucked and I grabbed the shuddering controls, wrestling the car into a level attitude. The door hissed open as someone slid in the back. The turbines whined as the stability systems fought to compensate for the shift in weight distribution and for a second I thought we were going to plummet to the ground.

I cursed loudly, my fingers only slowly releasing the death grip I had on the controls as the motions steadied, not caring if my new passenger heard. The old adage was true—there really is always one.

“You better watch yourself, chief.” My cab had been almost a meter away from the Jump-Off platform—a potential disaster when you’re sixty meters up at L4. “That’s not a choice likely to take you to retirement.”

All I could see in the mirror was a dark shadow filling the entire back seat. “I’m off duty. You’ll have to call someone else.”

“Two-Seven-Three Fairland Road, Ell-One. Rossmoor.” The voice had a liquid rasp that didn’t sound like it came from drink alone. More like the death rattle from a set of lungs drowning in a sea of flesh.

Maybe he hadn’t heard. I sure didn’t want a forty-kilometer detour on my own clock. “The light’s out, chief—I’m off-duty. Give me a break and get out.”

I nudged against the Jump-Off and re-opened the door. He didn’t move, and I turned round to get my first proper look at him. Purple and red bar lights reflected on his waxy skin, and he must have weighed well over a hundred-eighty kilos. A sweat-drenched green jacket molded itself to both his torso and the seat, making his face look sickly. I couldn’t remember ever seeing anyone so overweight, outside historicals. Everything about him was bloated. From the head that flowed directly into his shoulders without the benefit of an intervening neck, to the corpulent fingers gripping the worn parahyde seat as if he were scared he’d fall off the world. It was no wonder the car had struggled—he was a one-man weight-restriction violation.

Sometimes when the circuits fail, all you can do is accept it and reroute. There wasn’t a chance I’d be able to get him out single-handed. It would be easier to take him where he wanted to go and hope he was sober enough to get out under his own steam.

I shrugged and hit the meter. The lights had long since gone green, so I eased the throttle forward to minimize any motion sickness. The last thing I needed was the alcoholic excess in his gut emptying in the back of the cab. Then, as if I needed anything else to make my night miserable, an asshole in a Saber cut me up from below. His streamlined tail almost clipping the front of the cab as I wrestled to keep things together in the turbulent wash from the arrest-me red sports car.

I shook my head. “Life’s too short,” I muttered.

“Your statement carries a paradoxical veracity that forms a Universal comedy.”

I hadn’t meant to be overheard and didn’t generally start conversations with drunks. His quirky mannerisms singled him out from the usual fare, though. It’s true you see pretty much every aspect of life while driving a cab, and after two years I’d seen them all. But I’d never had anyone using phrases like paradoxical veracity—not even sober.

“It was a rather discourteous maneuver. You should tag him.”

My jaw tightened. Decades ago, the Saber driver would have been handled by the national sport known as “drive-by shooting.” Now, with the promotion of civic thinking, we had the more humane, if less immediate, option of tagging anti-social behavior. The all-seeing Argus brain reviewed each tag and, if judged guilty, the appropriate points were added to your citizenship record. Amass enough, and you faced fines, community service, or “attitudinal re-adjustment” in severe cases. An electronic voxpop bringing peace and tranquility to the teeming streets and suburbs of the United States and Provinces.

I should have tagged the guy, but I’d never really bought into the idea. My previous life had left me used to the rough and tumble of a more anarchic environment, where you relied on personal relationships and dealt with problems by rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in when needed. Marking someone with a coded low-energy laser felt a little unsatisfying, not to mention cowardly.

“I guess I’m not quick enough,” I said. “No harm done.”

My passenger’s deep-set eyes seemed to darken in the RearView. “You have a good heart, sir. Most people find it easy to use that particular reflex.”

“You’ve definitely had too much to drink.” His manner and old-fashioned speech piqued my curiosity enough for me to break my own rule and attempt a conversation. “A good night, chief?”

“Good night?” He hesitated. “In the bar?”

“Sure. You were in The Kase, right?”

“Was that its name? I didn’t really take much notice.” He looked out of the window as the city lights from the buildings slipped past us. “I don’t get out much.”

His size made that seem likely. “You must have had a good few drinks if you don’t know where you were. Was it a celebration?”

“Oh, I wasn’t drinking. I’ve been in so many bars tonight I don’t remember them all.”

I was getting annoyed now. Not with my passenger, but with myself. I’d broken my no-engagement rule, and now it turned out he was simply another drunk who couldn’t remember how much he’d had, or where he’d been. Besides, I should have been home. “What were you doing then? Those places only have one purpose.”

“I bought a lot of people drinks. They seemed to enjoy it.”

“That’s pretty generous. You must be one of those eccentric millionaires I see in the trashy Solidos.”

“Millionaire?” He seemed genuinely surprised and coughed wetly. “No, I’m not especially wealthy. Money doesn’t matter anymore.”

“It does to some of us, chief.”

I followed Broadway south, passing over the bloated wetlands that stretched across the old Inner Harbor and Federal Hill. The once grand buildings footed several meters in the water lapping around their crumbling lower levels. Many were flood-thrus, but I could see faint glimmers of light creeping out of the grimy windows. Wet-foot didn’t care where they lived. All they wanted was a roof over their heads. Danger and disease didn’t deter them in the slightest.

“They should put those people in proper buildings.” The liquid voice rolled out of the darkness of the back seat. He must have followed my gaze and guessed what I was thinking.

The Big Shake and rising sea levels had driven people inland, away from the encroaching ocean. Waterfront property no longer commanded a premium—it was a danger to be avoided. As a result, even the most precarious of condemned buildings held groups of otherwise homeless residents. Not all of them lived there illegally—as long as you stretched the definition of legal. City health ordinances were often “overlooked,” and upper-level apartments in buildings that should have been torn down, or concrete-filled as sea defenses, were frequently rented out. Sometimes at ridiculous prices, but when you’ve lost everything, even crap is better than nothing.

We swept over the distended extremes of the Patapsco, pushing west until we hit Silver Lake, then I settled the car into Airway Six which followed the path of the old Highway One, heading southwest. I kept the car within the 100/100 ‘City’ zoning limits as we followed the track of the highway, the ribbon of crumbling pavement lined with equally crumbling buildings that looked like splintered teeth pushing out of a jawbone of some huge leviathan.

“Housing isn’t the problem,” I said. “There are subdivisions past the old Beltway virtually empty, thousands of homes—but those people can’t afford even subsidized rent.”

“That can’t be.”

My passenger sounded shocked, and I wondered where he’d been hiding. The FabHome scandal had left swathes of houses built with taxpayers’ money lying empty and slowly falling apart, while city officials enjoyed generous business trips. It was an old story even back when Ramses was building pyramids, but fresh enough to fill the news for the last three months. Human altruism at its finest.

We finally escaped the limiters past Larch, and I lifted the nose, bringing the cab up to 500 meters while boosting to 200 klicks. The landscape was flat, and outside the managed traffic zone I was free to use my own discretion, as long as I didn’t break the general free flight regs for an AeroMobile. Of course, the cab could have managed all this on its own, but since the ICab debacle, a human driver was mandatory.

“They should let those poor unfortunates have those houses for free. Are people really that selfish and greedy?”

“Free? That’s a four-letter word with a lot of people.” The Pilot beeped several times, warning me of our imminent arrival. I throttled back and did a slow drift, spiraling around the U-shaped apartment building as I brought the car down outside the main entranceway at L1—ground level. “Talking of which, we’re here, and you owe an even fifty-five.”

He didn’t answer, so I turned to encourage his exit. I could hear his breathing, the wheezy inhalation of air followed by an almost spluttering exhalation. For a moment, I thought he’d fallen asleep and cursed, wondering how the hell I’d get him out. Then I noticed tears rolling down his fat cheeks.

“There’s a girl.”

“There usually is…” Something in his tone made me think he wasn’t using the word girl euphemistically. “Maybe you should keep that to yourself though.”

He leaned forward, and I tasted his fetid breath as it filtered through the screen. “Take care of her.”

“Sure… don’t worry, chief, I’ll take care of it.” All I wanted was to get him out of the cab so I could go home. “Now go sleep it off. Everything will look better in the morning.”

“Sleep? Yes. ‘What dreams may come?'” His voice sounded tiny and afraid—like something was eating him up inside. “I don’t want to be alone.”

“No one does. Call your girl tomorrow and apologize. It’ll be fine.” It was time to draw this melodrama to a close. “Look, chief, I’ve got a wife and kids waiting. If I don’t get home soon, I’ll be alone too.” It was a lie, but claiming a family usually helped with drunks.

He dragged his credit chip out from a pocket and tapped it against the payment scanner. A couple of seconds later it let out a doleful beep, and the screen flashed with a red declined warning. The doors locked automatically, and the plastic security window between me and the passenger compartment shuttered tight.

“I have no money left?” His tear-streaked face swam close to the transparent barrier. “I must have spent it in the bars. I’m so terribly sorry.”

It was more likely the bank had stopped his credit chip if he’d been as generous as he claimed, but my patience was exhausted. I got out and manually unfolded the back door, opening it wide. “Come on, chief. Forget the money and get out.”

“I’m sorry for causing trouble, I really am.” He shuffled part way through the door. The car dipped alarmingly on its landing gear, and I was glad I was dropping him off at ground level. “I have some cash in my apartment. I’ll get it and return immediately.”

“I may look stupid, but I’m not. I am tired though.” I sighed. “Get out of here before I change my mind. I won’t even watch what direction you go.”

He struggled out, barely making it even with the door opened fully and again I wondered how he’d managed to get in at the lights. Maybe he was an acrobat under those layers of flab, but it seemed unlikely.

“Please, don’t be angry.” His eyes shone like two titanium bearings freshly bathed in oil. “I will bring you some money, I promise. This won’t take very long.”

My boss is pretty tight when it comes to non-payers, but I really didn’t care. All I wanted was a hot shower and a cold beer—not necessarily in that order—but if agreeing would get him out of my hair then I’d play along. “Okay, you get some cash. I’ll wait five minutes and if you choose not to come back, don’t worry. I won’t be disappointed.”

He nodded profusely, tears running down his face as he waddled towards the arched entrance. I was surprised when the entry system recognized him and allowed him into the protected interior. I leaned against the car, wondering whether to cut my losses or give the guy the benefit.

The condo had that bare functionality mixed with quality workmanship typical of late-twentieth architecture, all sharp lines and black quartz walls mixed with a pinstripe steel exoskeleton. It was probably part of the growth of designed communities that enjoyed a brief popularity before their eco-conscious designers gave up and went back to making money. It wasn’t the kind of place I’d associate with drunken non-payers, but that didn’t mean anything. His claim to have real cash was intriguing. I hadn’t seen any in years and wondered if I’d still recognize it.

A light flickered several floors up, outlining a pagoda style section forming the top floor corner of the U, and I saw an unmistakable shadow totter past thinly screened windows. A penthouse then—maybe he was genuine.

There was a faint smell of cooked meat in the air. It could have come from the apartments, but at that time of night, it was more likely a NeverSee in the sewer. It wasn’t pleasant—maybe cat or something even worse. I pulled out my Scroll and, with a slight sense of embarrassment, called up the inappropriately-named WorldLink News—one of the sleaziest news-tabs. I’d be the first to admit it was mostly mindless dross, but it held a perverse fascination. I opened up the classifieds—nothing else reveals the true depths humanity can sink to any better—and scanned various enigmatic headlines.

My mind was toying with the delights of “Willy. Got the powder, you still got the meat? H.,” when a sickening wet impact shattered my guilty entertainment. A heartbeat later a burning snap of something stabbed deep into the back of my shoulder, and I staggered forward. Time seemed suspended in the dust-heavy wind as the Scroll slipped from my fingers and clattered on the rough concrete paving.

I turned—not having to look far for the source of the sodden explosion. A lump of still-quivering gelatinous protoplasm was splashed over the pavement a few meters away. Snakes of uncoiled intestine slithered towards me as the moist, salty odor from the steam drifted into my nostrils on the cold night air.

Twin rows of burst ribs reached upwards through the green jacket, like claws from a pair of cupped hands begging for more. Remnants of a head were scattered across the sidewalk, its once precious cache discarded in a casual puddle of gray and crimson mucous.

I wasn’t going to get my fare after all.

…Copyright (C) David M. Kelly. Read more at http://davidmkelly.net/moe/ .

 

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~~ Book Two ~~

Ballen’s back in another action-packed sci-fi noir thriller, guaranteed to keep you turning the pages.

 

PERIMETER – In space, treachery runs deep

Joe Ballen’s working on a new ore-processing platform in the harsh environment around Mercury. When a savage Atoll attack decimates his crew, Joe is injured and must return to Earth to recover. While it’s a setback for the project, at least it means he can rebuild his relationship with his wife after nearly a year away.

But then the security forces come calling. Vital starship engineering files are missing, and without them Earth has no hope of escaping Atoll domination. Someone has to locate the files, and Ballen is bulldozed into the not-so-choice assignment.

But he’s not the only one in the hunt. As Joe struggles to find the data, he becomes tangled up in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse. It’s a journey that will take him to the perilous depths of space, where no one is quite what they seem. Can old enemies ever make good allies? And can Joe trust even the people closest to him?

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David M. Kelly writes intelligent, action-packed SF. He is the author of the novel, Mathematics of Eternity and the short story collection Dead Reckoning And Other Stories. He has been published in Canadian SF magazine Neo-opsis.

David’s interest in science and technology began early. At the age of six his parents allowed him to stay up late into the night to watch the television broadcast of Neil Armstrong stepping on to the surface of the moon. From that day he was hooked on everything related to science and space.

An avid reader, he worked his way through the contents of the mobile library that visited his street, progressing through YA titles (or ‘juveniles’ as they were known back then) on to the classics of Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Harry Harrison.

David worked for many years in project management and software development. Along the way his interests have included IPSC combat (target) pistol shooting, crew chief on a drag racing team, and several years as bass player/vocalist in a heavy rock band. He also managed to fit in some real work in manual jobs from digging ditches and work on production lines to loading trucks in a haulage company.

Originally from the wild and woolly region of Yorkshire, England, David emigrated to Canada in 2005 and settled in Northern Ontario with his patient and supportive wife, Hilary. Foot surgery in 2014 temporarily curtailed many of his favourite activities – hiking, camping, piloting his own personal starfighter (otherwise known as a Corvette ZR-1). But on the plus side, it meant a transition from the world of IT into life as a full-time writer—an opportunity he grasped enthusiastically.

David is passionate about science, especially astronomy and physics, and is a rabid science news follower. Never short of an opinion, David writes about science and technology on his blog davidmkelly.net. He has supported various charity projects such as the Smithsonian’s Reboot The Suit and the Lowell Observatory Pluto Telescope Restoration. He also contributes to citizen science projects such as SETI@home.

 

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