Cover art for Denton Salle’s novel “Black Earth Rises”
Black Earth Rises is the third book in a series by Denton Salle, but it stands very well on its own since I haven’t read the first two novels.
Denton asked me to review his book and was aware of recent difficulties I’ve had reviewing books by people I know. He assured me that he’d understand me being forthright and fair about my review, and I have been.
For being a supernatural urban legend thriller, the story is pretty standard, up to a point. Two college buddies from very different backgrounds, the women in their lives, coming up against frat jerks, all seems normal.
Then the frat jerks turn out to be werewolves and there is a sinister school being operated by an evil sorceress in the bowels of a Texas university near Dallas. But this school also has an old graveyard haunted with the unexpected, both evil and good.
A good Catholic boy named Jim gets pulled by his frat friend Mike into an Orthodox religious group (most of which are Mike’s family) of an ancient order sworn to protect our existence from occult dangers. They live an uneasy peace with the “Otherworld” by a compact signed untold centuries ago…but not all of the Otherworld creatures are obedient, or perhaps they just didn’t sign on the dotted line.
Boise train depot circa 1920. Found at napcommissions.org
The wind was a howling wolf. Emma Elizabeth Durbin knifed her hatpin like a sabre through both her short-brimmed, kid skin hat, and mounds of luxuriant auburn hair as she exited the train’s passenger car. Scuffed shoe leather met fresh boardwalk. Her long dress and matching short jacket were oppressively warm. It was only 10:15 in the morning, and hot for June in Boise.
Checking the weight of her satchel by jiggling it in her right hand, she longed for a comfortable bath and a filling meal. Neither of them were in her near future as she clip clopped forward, desperately avoiding semi-intimate collisions with fellow passengers and locals on the platform, as she navigated through the terminal hordes.
The rest of her belongings would be delivered to her hotel, but she had someplace else to be. Assuming the information on the telegram nestled in her dark jacket pocket was accurate, and he was on time like he said he’d be, she’d be sitting across a table from the Sheriff of Idaho City in half an hour.
Image of “The Tower” Tarot card found at biddytarot.com/
Sir Edward, the Black Prince, was startled to stupefaction at discovering himself suddenly removed from the cries, blood, and gore of the Battle of Crécy. Father had left the field intentionally, gambling on his son’s ability to win the day. Now sorcery had stolen victory from him and placed him where?
Her hideous screams followed her all the way down from the top of the tower as she fell, their last echo dying as she struck the earth and stone with a sickening “thump.” She bounced once, which almost made him laugh to his horror, then she ceased to move at all.
The night, for it was night here, was illuminated by flashes of lightning, rolling thunder causing him to tremble. His sturdy mount, white mane and noble stature, struggled against the bit and reins, trying to escape the macabre scene, but he was in control…barely.
© C.E. Ayr
The Occultist had been a small child when he was last here. He remembered playing in the yard, ringing the now rusted bell next to the forlorn gate, playing behind the trees out back, and eating pizza with his Grandpa on the shaded patio. All of his memories of this home were happy and joyful except for the one that was horrifying.
The house and grounds had been neglected for the past twenty years. When his Dad inherited it after Grandpa’s tragic death, he didn’t have the heart to sell it or have the structure demolished. Raymund stood at the gate, closed his eyes, and said a silent prayer of gratitude. If the house at 595 Hitori Kakurenbo had been destroyed, he would have no hope of discovering the identity of the inhuman being who had slaughtered his Grandfather two decades ago. Raymund had only been seven years old when it happened, and was the only witness to the murder.
His Grandfather’s long career as a paranormal investigator had finally caught up with him. Raymund spent the past decade training for this moment. Tonight, he would discover the identity of Grandpa’s inhuman killer and bring it to fearful justice.
I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of July 1, 2017 hosted by Susan. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 198.
Yesterday, I again discovered the hazards of allowing children unmonitored access to the internet. My nine-year-old grandson showed me a video on YouTube called 10 Paranormal Games You Should Never Play. He wanted to incorporate some of them into a game we’ve been playing (role playing game, so it all exists in the imagination), but after viewing them, I said absolutely not.
Chances are, all of these are hoaxes, but if you have faith in God, you have to accept that there is a supernatural realm, and the danger of falling into evil.
I borrowed the villain and the street name from the original appellation of one of those games to act as the murderer and the address of the crime scene. Yes, today’s wee tale takes a turn into the darkness, however, I rarely can let evil win, so I’m also planning for redemption.
To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.
From the YouTube video Project Soul – CHOCOLATE LEGS – Eric Benet (Live Band Cover) Freddi Lubitz
“Your cocoa skin against mine…Is all I need to help revive me…”
I’m dead and it’s all her fault. Oh, she didn’t actually murder me, but she knew it was dangerous. Well, that’s unfair. I was dying anyway. I had nothing to lose and she knew it. She was actually trying to help and I even agreed, but if I’d said no, I might have had a few more weeks or even months.
We met at a “Pagan Pride” event in Oak Park near Chicago. The place was actually pretty impressive compared to what I was used to. I’d just hit “the Windy City” and was staying at a cheap hotel wondering what I was going to do next. Kenadee had a little apartment on the South Side. She normally didn’t hook up with guys the same night she met them, but I have that affect on people.
Neither of us were exactly “pagan” people. They tend to be pretty nice and harmless, Crescent Moonies, Wiccans, and Heathens who pull together for local charities and social causes. I only went because they were having an open house and the food was free, plus they aren’t nearly as judgmental as churches, synagogues, and mosques.
She was there because being a witch, she had no other place to go for a social outlet plus she has a soft spot for puppies and they were having a fund raiser for the animal shelter.
© Janet Webb
The Sun would be setting soon. The stage was set. The candle and amulet were in place, herbs were mixed and sealed in the urn. Most importantly the painting was there. It was unusual and very rare, the only one not cataloged as part of great-grandfather’s works. Maria had been great-grandfather’s lover for five decades. Enzo fell in love with her through reading his journals. The young man studied years to perfect the art. Tonight, on the eve of her death, Enzo would bring her to life out of the painting and in all her loveliness, she would become his.
Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Lewis’ Friday Fictioneers writing challenge. The idea is to use the photo above to inspire a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.
To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.
© James Pyles
Daniel was in the henhouse gathering eggs, but he also wanted an opportunity to check in on Henrietta. Gerald the Rooster was elsewhere in the barn yard, so there was time for this clandestine meeting.
While the other hens appeared as they always did, the ten year old was shocked to find the talking hen missing feathers and with her left eye swollen. What had happened to her?
“Henrietta. Are you okay?”
© James Pyles
Ten year old Daniel let the screen door slam behind him as he walked into the kitchen. Uncle Ethan was working with the new horses this morning and Aunt Abby had gone into town. He grabbed a glass from the cupboard and filled it with ice cubes from the freezer.
Ethan and Abby still had a freezer old enough to need ice-cube trays. The child momentarily considered this a charming anachronism in the 21st century.
He filled the glass with water and swallowed it down, attempting to quench not only the heat of an Idaho summer morning, but the growing sense of surrealism he was experiencing, particularly at the latest disturbance, a talking hen.
© James Pyles
Another morning, another visit to the henhouse for Daniel. Most of these eggs would be sold at the market, which added a modest amount to his aunt’s and uncle’s income. His experiences yesterday taught him to get in, collect the eggs, and get out.
Since his encounter with the frog, nothing amiss had happened to the boy. He and Towser had walked over to Ben Swigert’s farm, found his uncle and old Ben, and watched them struggle with and cuss at the thirty year old tractor until almost sunset.
Finally, replacing several hoses and a fuel pump later, the machine roared back to life.
© James Pyles
After leaving the pond, Daniel didn’t go back to the farmhouse right away. He spent a lot of time wandering around, looking at everything which, since his encounter with the frog, seemed perfectly ordinary.
He played “fetch” with Towser until the boy got bored (the dog never got bored with “fetch”), he found Fearful Symmetry and two of her three kittens (the pink one was still missing) near the barn and petted them for a while. He even peeked into the henhouse only to find it was still an ordinary henhouse with ordinary hens.
Finally, he slipped back into the backdoor of the house and into the kitchen.