A Haunt Of Jackals In Betrayal On Monster Earth

Last year saw the release of Mechanoid Press’ MONSTER EARTH, a really cool little shared world anthology whose central concept was of a world where giant monsters had taken the place of a global nuclear arsenal. A Kaiju Cold War. I had to be a part of it.

You can read about my own entry, Mighty Nanuq, right HERE.

temple-mountThe folks at Mechanoid Press have just put out the sequel, BETRAYAL ON MONSTER EARTH, which continues the story of MONSTER EARTH, introducing a new, insidious clandestine threat, the Dissemblers.  The book features stories from Nancy Hansen, Jeff McGinnis, Fraser Sherman, I.A. Watson, James Palmer, Jim Beard, and my own contribution, A HAUNT OF JACKALS.

Set against the backdrop of the 1987 Palestinian Infitada, A HAUNT OF JACKALS follows the pursuit of a fugitive Nazi scientist by a top Mossad agent, and ends up in Jerusalem, when a pair of insurgents insinuate themselves into the population after ingesting a suicide serum which transforms them into a pair of colossal, glowing-eyed jackal creatures who proceed to lay waste to the Holy City. Israel responds with its own giant protector, the living statue called The Magen, and a destructive three way monster battle erupts across Jerusalem, culminating in an epic battle on the Temple Mount itself.

Here’s an excerpt….


The Palestinian Ploni Almoni had been admitted into the hospital twenty minutes earlier complaining of stomach cramps.

Shimon had gathered the interns around for a simple demonstration in diagnosis when the convulsions started.

Shimon called for the nurses, but the man lashed an arm out wildly with enough force to send two of them crashing back into the interns. He shook and bent and contracted on the bed violently, and began foaming at the mouth, eyes bugging, screaming through his teeth.

Then the hair sprouted. The nose and face became distended. A fin-like sagittal bone crest rose from his scalp and his neck thickened.  Shimon watched fascinated as the heels popped and slid up the backs of his calves, bones grating audibly, feet elongating, ears sweeping back into elfin and then satanic proportions.

At the same time, the body swelled, spine hunching and sloping, bursting the seam of the patient’s hospital gown, displaying a layer of coarse, pale hair so thick it obscured his musculature. Black slashes occurred along his ribs.

American Werewolf In London. It reminded Shimon of the movie, American Werewolf In London.

All his training was fleeing from his mind at the sight of the transformation occurring before him. The man’s eyes grew yellow, and as he gasped in pain, Shimon saw his teeth were elongated, the gums distending before his eyes.

Shimon whimpered.

But something else was happening. The bed groaned and collapsed to the floor. The man was not just transforming, he was rapidly increasing in size and apparently mass.

One of the interns, Meyeroff, stepped forward once more, breaking from the mass of his screaming, cowering colleagues to try and restrain the man, or perhaps offer him some kind of help. Shimon didn’t know.

The floor shifted beneath their feet, and beds, cabinets, IV-stands, all fell over or began to roll toward the thing in the broken bed, as if it was attracting them. But no, it was the floor. God, the floor was collapsing beneath its weight.

And it was huge now! The remnants of the bed couldn’t even be seen beneath it. It’s canine muzzle nearly touched the ceiling. From chest to back, it was as tall as Meyeroff.

The intern yelled for a sedative.

Shimon laughed. What dosage would calm that thing? What would stop whatever it was becoming?

jackalHe turned and shoved his way past his students, his run for the exit becoming a climb as the floor of the room suddenly gave way beneath the thing. He heard screams of people falling through the hole with it as he grabbed the doorknob to keep himself from falling with them.

He looked back, and saw the fanged maw of the thing poking through the floor, felt its hot breath. The whole building rumbled and the door, the frame, and the wall into which it was set, buckled and gave. He shrieked as he slid along with tons of debris from the two floors above him into the things ever-expanding mouth…


And I will cut off your carved images and your pillars from among you, and you shall bow down no more to the work of your hands; Micah 5:13


I’m quite proud of this story, and I hope you’ll check it out. E-books are out now, print to follow.


The Akeldama Dig Now Appearing In Strange Trails

strange-trails-coverA new weird western anthology from Mechanoid Press, the guys behind Monster Earth, is out and features my short story The Akeldama Dig, about an ex-miner suffering from claustrophobia who agrees to tunnel into a rich man’s grave for a huge paycheck and runs into something….bad.

Born from my own mild claustrophobia (don’t get it in closets or elevators, but can’t be locked in a trunk), The Akeldama Dig takes place in (or underneath, really) Delirium Tremens, a town my loyal readers will be familiar with.

Here’s an excerpt.

“You’re a miner, Mr. Leslie?” Gallow repeated.

“I was,” Spiro said, warmed to the company by the drink, bad as it was. “I used to be foreman at the Copper Queen in Bisbee.”

“Used to be?” Gallow pressed.

“A shaft collapsed.”

gleision-mine-in-the-neath-valley-south-wales-pic-wns-955379992-154079He tried to keep the tremor out of his voice. He wasn’t sure if he had. Three little words hardly encompassed what had happened to drive him from his trade for good. First there had been a faraway groaning in the earth, then the timber had splintered and the whole shaft had shuddered and filled with dust and the tremendous clatter of stone. That reassuring pinhole of daylight far over his head had winked out like a pinched candle. He’d never known just how much he’d depended on that little light until it was gone. Hell, he had worked without sight of the surface since a boy fishing for lead in Galena, Illinois, but somehow he had come to think of that point of light in the Copper Queen as a guardian angel looking down. Seeing it go out was like seeing God turn away from you when you needed it most.

He may well have, for tons of rock had come down, enclosing Spiro like a firefly in a fist. He hadn’t been able to move. Could only lay there, feeling the cool subterranean air grow hot.

A few of the men who’d been near him had been trapped too. He could hear their muffled pleas turn to faraway screams as the desperate hours turned to lingering days and all reckoning of time faded like a drop of blood in water. He heard the subdued scratching of men trying to dig themselves free one bootless finger of dust and stone at a time. Then came a deep, perennial silence.

300px-Cave-in_(indust)At some point, he knew not when, something animate had penetrated the inches of space around his head and begun to paw and scrape at back of his neck.  This alien sensation had thrown him into a trembling panic which, while encased in tons of rock, made Spiro feel like a trapped bird. He had no notion of what it could be…some animal?  It was hours before he deduced it to be a single disembodied hand belonging to a man buried very near him. Like a spider, that strange hand blindly groped his neck for hours, growing feeble and finally ceasing its labors, cooling and stiffening as the unseen owner suffocated. He had thanked God for that man’s death. Every stroke of the phantom fingers, every brush of broken, bleeding nails against his sweaty nape had raised his small hairs and got him whimpering.

His head pounding, heart beating only intermittently in his sinking chest, he had prayed in his last moments that a rock might slip and flatten his skull, putting an end to his anguish. When the stone above his face had shifted and light had broken over him on the third day, he had nearly torn through his rescuers to get at the cool air.  After a precarious ride up the rope, he had whirled and flapped his elbows, dancing and gibbering hoarsely like a madman. They told him later he had bit the men who tried to restrain him.

Once he had been strong enough to stand again, he straightaway resigned and put miles between himself and his would-be grave. He hadn’t even stayed to learn the fate of his comrades.

But now every night was like the time in the shaft anew. He couldn’t bear to sleep beneath a roof. He awoke sweaty and thrashing beneath bedclothes. Whenever he closed his eyes for any period, his breaths grew short and sharp, his heart hammered, and all he saw behind his eyelids was the lid of a stone coffin. He had to drink himself insensible or go to the point of collapse just to sleep.

Featuring stories from James Palmer, Josh Reynolds, Tommy Hancock, Morgan Minor, and Barry Reese, Strange Trails can be picked up right ‘chere for about nine bucks.

Not bad for all that.


Published in: on August 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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