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Every day for the past eight months I stare at my empty mask with a sense of elation. I am no longer its prisoner, no longer its slave. I am free.
Of course, freedom always comes at a price, usually a very high one. After the accident, anyone looking at my face, even if they were kind and never meant to, always registered a certain revulsion. Well, who could blame them? I was absolutely hideous. Wearing the mask was marginally better. I still received their stares, but more out of curiosity. Naturally, I would never have the affection of a woman again, especially since my dearest wife was killed in the accident that made me a monster.
I decided to re-read it because I was looking for material from which to construct my one-on-one role playing games I play with my thirteen-year-old grandson.
Long story short, the novel was too involved for me to mine anything useful for what I had in mind. But having only a vague recollection of the book, the re-read was thoroughly enjoyable.
Imagine a future where role playing games have evolved with such sophistication, they can be played out live in a huge, high-tech amusement park. Games are big business because Dream Park, which puts a bunch of money into them to begin with, recoups its dough with movie, book, and other game deals based on the live-action game. The players must be in relatively good shape since, although lives are never lost and most of the danger is simulated, they must still withstand the stresses of “camping out” in a (simulated) wild environment for several days amounting to hard labor. There are also personal and professional reputations on the line.
Finally got some mojo back and am doing a bit of writing, but I’d better hurry, because the deadline for this one is just a week away and I’m still halfway through my first draft. Here’s an excerpt. Tell me what you think of it.
“A wise man once said, it ain’t over til it’s over. I got lucky enough to get a seat at the highest stakes poker game in the west coast underworld with who, a drug kingpin, a racketeer…” he winked at Harris as the butt suspending her three-hundred pound frame shifted, threatening to turn the ancient wood chair into kindling. “…an assassin…,” he nodded at Elias Swan, who looked more the part of a balding, frail accountant. He only spoke from behind his surgical mask when the game necessitated it, “…and the man who runs the unions and the docks from here to San Diego. Tell us why do they call you Daddy?”
Miller knew he was pushing them all, especially Cooke, but that had always his point. Still grinning like an all too visible Cheshire cat, he slapped his hand on the peeling varnish of the pine tabletop. “Read ‘em and weep. Straight flush in diamonds, six through ten.”
“I’m impressed Miller, but not impressed enough. Still can’t beat a…”
Cooke had just enough time to start tipping his hand downward revealing a royal flush in spades when Al Miller exploded out of his seat, violently shoving the table into the other three to his left. As if by magic, a Colt M1911 appeared in his right hand. He lunged at Daddy, whose…
Cover art for Iain Kelly’s novel “A Justified State”
I’ve been following Iain Kelly‘s writing online for a few years now. He and I (along with a bunch of other folks) met while participating in a series of internet writing challenges such as this one. That’s where I found out that he’s the undisputed master of murder mysteries, only in his case, he actually created a series of novels in that genre to prove it.
Finally (given my meager budget), I was able to download a free promotional copy of A Justified State, the first novel in his “The State Trilogy”.
It was amazing.
The story is set slightly in the future in the UK, known as the nameless “state.” The nation is in a conflict with unrevealed adversaries in “The First Strike War,” which is the backdrop for everything that follows.
Police Detective Danny Samson, who lost his twin newborns soon after birth, and his wife a year later by suicide, is mysteriously assigned to investigate the murder of a local politician, who was the victim of a professional assassination.
Cover image for Aditya Deshmukh’s short story “Plastic Nightmare”
Aditya Deshmukh’s short story Plastic Nightmare reads more like a prelude to a novel than anything else. It certainly ended on a cliffhanger, and Deshmukh even states that there will be a sequel.
I really felt like the author didn’t give himself enough room to develop the situation or the characters.
Five years ago, police officer Razia lost her brother. To the rest of the world, it was a tragic accident, but accidents don’t happen in their future utopia. The result is that she has increasingly become obsessed with his disappearance, letting her career begin a long, downward spiral.
Her main foil seems to be her lover and her boss on the police force (not a good combination), and when what appears to be a serial murder impossibly occurs in a world with practically no crime, Razia starts making connections between the so-called “Scarlet Killer” and her brother’s vanishing.
Promotional image for the soon-to-be published anthology of drabbles “Dark X-Mas.”
Not one but two of my drabbles have been accepted in the Eleanor Merry Presents Christmas Horror anthology “Dark X-Mas”.
According to the blurb for Dark X-Mas Drabbles Anthology:
I’m dreaming of a Dark Christmas
With every little tale that I read
When the knife blades glisten
And scared children listen
To hear slayers in the night
Where sugarplums can be gory
In the frightening elf story
And trees eat favorite household pets
There are gifts on all the pages
Of terror through the ages
Told of gift giving regrets
I’m dreaming of a Dark Christmas
With every little tale I read
While the bright lights shine
And the family dines In the soft fireplace glow
So hold loved ones tight
It’s not Santa visiting tonight
Death lies buried in the snow.
I actually don’t know a whole lot about co-publishers Eleanor Merry and Cassandra Angler, but some other authors I’ve been published with before, including David Bowmore and Shawn Klimek, are participating, so I figured “what the heck?”
I’m thrilled to announce that this fantasy love and horror story is available on Amazon now!
Cover art for the Cloaked Press anthology “Fall Into Fantasy 2019”
Here’s what you can expect from my short story “The Demon in the Mask:”
Andre Paul LeClair was an orphan, an infant found on the steps of a monastery. Raised in the midst of Priests and Nuns, he grew to be an intelligent, charming boy, and then a handsome, bewitching man. Coming to the attention of a sinister Cardinal, LeClair was whisked away to remote mountain Chateau. Trained for a decade by soldiers, spies, and courtesans, he was honed to be the perfect instrument of assassination. His target, the secret ruler of the Kingdom, the Princess and witch Katia Asa Vajda. But when the moment came to liberate a nation, would he kill the princess, or fall in love with her?
From cover image for “1929: A Zimbell House Anthology”
I’ve been checking periodically, and the Zimbell House Publishing anthology 1929, which features my short story “The Devil’s Dilemma,” is now available for pre-order at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble for delivery March 26, 2019 (that’s for digital books, the paperbacks will take a little longer).
I’m really excited about this story since it’s one of my more ambitious projects.
Sixteen-year-old Timothy Quinn grew up in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, working as a “printer’s devil,” an apprentice in a newspaper print shop since age twelve. One day, the teen and would-be boxer starts hearing strange news announcements on the radio that seem to come from the future. Then he learns that in the next seven weeks, a ten-year-old girl will be kidnapped and murdered by a notorious serial killer. No one believes his wild tale, so he sets out to confront the killer himself, but will he succeed in saving the life of an innocent child only to sacrifice his own?
My story is one of only six appearing in “1929.” Be the first to buy, read, and review this unique anthology.