A Stroke Of Lightning In The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias from LVP!

Lycan Valley Publications is set to release their new anthology The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias, edited by MJ Sydney, with interior illustrations by Luke Spooner and a cover from Kealan Patrick Burke.

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From the publisher:

Phobias are defined as an irrational and extreme fear to something. It could be anything as long as it causes an intense and debilitating fear.

What happens when these irrational fears/phobias become reality? When the irrational becomes rational and there’s a reason to be scared? Find out in The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias.

We’ve created an A to Z phobia list and elevated each one to a new level of fear. These stories come to life in ways that will make you want to sleep with the light on, double check the locks on your door, and think twice before dismissing your fear as irrational.

A — A TOUCH OF MADNESS — Tim Waggoner
B — IT CAME FROM THE GRAVE — James Pyne
C — ENTWINED — Colleen Anderson
D — DESTINY’S ROAD TRIP — Jay Troy Seate
E — MORBID DREAD OF THE DAWN — Philip Athans
F — MUTUAL POSSESSION — WT Paterson
G — RIGHT OF CROSSING — James Chambers
H — PASSING JUDGEMENT — Chad Lutzke
I — THE CLINIC — Asher Ellis
J — NOT JUST DESSERTS — Jonah Buck
K — THE MAN WHO FEARED THE SKY — John Skipp
L — CHILDREN OF BLOOD — Greg Chapman
M — THE YEARNING JADE — Hank Schwaeble
N — THE CEMETERY MAN — JG Faherty
O — WHITE TO BLACK — Michael Bailey
P — THE HUNCH — Richard Chizmar
Q — FIVE IN THE SIX — Sephera Giron
R — THE TOXIC MAGICIAN — Sheri Sebastian-Gabriel
S — FEEDING THE ORISHAS — Gabino Iglesias
T — MUNCHAUSEN — Max Booth III
U — TRUE CONFESSIONS OF THE HAPPIEST PISTACHIO — Mehitobel Wilson
V — BEAUTIFUL WOMEN — Ray Garton
W — A BOLT OF LIGHTNING — Edward M. Erdelac
X — HALFPENNY — Steven M. Vance
Y — TOO HOT IN BOILERTOWN — Jill-Hand
Z — THE CATALYST TO GROW SOME GUTS — Kerry Lipp

My contribution, A Stroke Of Lightning (a nod to Ray Bradbury’s ‘A Sound of Thunder’), follows a grad student buried under a mountain of debt seduced by a fantastically wealthy entrepreneur into participating in a radical time travel engineering project and explores the niggling fear of such an endeavor actually coming to fruition, with all its attendant ramifications.

Here’s an excerpt:

On Thursday, November 16, 2018, Martin Emmet finally solved the equation that would make time travel possible.

But he didn’t share it with anybody.

He’d been a twenty four year old physicist at Berkely finishing up a doctorate with a pending application at CERN when the wild-haired, white bearded Dr. Gavan Columbarius had burst into his lab like some eccentric Gandalf in tweed and scuffed Oxfords firing off a volley of rapid-fire questions about altering the mass and gravity of harnessed microsingularities utilizing a hypothetical electron injection manifold.

Martin had been amused and played along, thinking the bizarre old man part of some prank put on by his colleagues. After some engaging back and forth, Columbarius had pushed a plain business card into his hand and offered him a place on an independent research team in Chicago for five times what CERN was paying.

Skeptical, Martin had shown Columbarius’ card around Berkely.

“Sure, Columbarius,” said one of his colleagues, looking over the business card. “The guy’s some kind of independently wealthy nutjob. Got booted from, I think it was UIC particle physics, years ago. What he does, he insinuates himself into the lives of exceptional young scientists and coaxes them from legitimate avenues of study into his crazy pseudo-scientific experiments. He’s a good way to make a quick buck, if you’re not above bilking a senile old crackpot.” He’d handed the card back.  “Ask one of the professors.”

He had.

“A scientific Bluebeard,” said his instructor, rather over dramatically, Martin thought. “That old man’s a serial killer of reputations. He baits gullible theorists struggling under college debt with dollar signs and then strangles their best years with his dead-end navel gazing projects. If you’re smart, you’ll forget about him.”

Neither of them knew exactly what his projects were, however, because upon further questioning, both had admitted that they’d actually never been personally approached by Columbarius.

The man was eccentric, sure. Martin had pegged him as that from the first, unexpected meeting. But despite his perpetually frazzled appearance and his unsavory reputation, Columbarius had known what he was talking about, which was not something Martin could say a hundred percent of the time about his peers.

And there had been the money.

Martin had more than student loans to worry over. Jay, his eight year old kid brother, had terminal cancer and his mother was struggling to ease the boy out of this life as smoothly as possible on a substitute teacher’s wages. Chemotherapy, nurse visits, escalating medical bills, maybe Columbarius wasn’t as prestigious as CERN, but he could wipe a good portion of that worry away. It would mean leaving behind steady employment and cutting short his studies, but after his brother Jay died he could always return, and debt free.

The next time he took Columbarius’ card out of his wallet, it was to call and accept the position in Chicago.

Columbarius’ lab was located in a palatial house on Sheridan Road in Kenilworth, a wealthy North Shore village bordering Lake Michigan, about a half hour north of the city proper.

Columbarius had introduced him to the rest of the team, which read like a list of Bermuda triangle victims. They were respected names who had mysteriously dropped out of the scientific community over the years.  David Eccleston, applied lasers, from Princeton, nuclear physicist Anna Wells from Stanford, Taniguchi, the genius engineer and designer from the frontier sciences department at University of Tokyo, a few others. All of them had been lured to Columbarius by money, though, he found, they universally asserted that they had stayed for the stimulating nature of the work.

And what was the purpose of that work?

“A time machine,” Columbarius had told him in his rich, wood paneled office looking out on the lake after Martin had made the rounds, seen the extensive research lab, and settled in the leather chair before the old oak desk. “Specifically, a temporal tunnel generator, a projector, utilizing elements of the Tipler cylinder theory. I’m calling it a Merlin Tunnel. It’s the right of the man with the money to slap a name on the end product, and it’s so much less of a mouthful than Columbarius Tunnel, don’t you think? Have you ever heard of the Garden of Joy? It’s from Arthuriana, a magical forest planted by the wizard Merlin. Via the Garden, one could step through a hedge and emerge in any forest in the world. That’s what we’re building here, really. A time travel station. A hub that will allow us to pass through any point in time. “

Martin had chuckled, but the old man had met that response without a hint of mirth.

“Stop there,” Columbarius warned, holding up one hand. “We’re in the latter stages of producing a working protoype, Mr. Emmett.  What we need help with is building a computer that can calculate gravitational field fluctuations and make corrective spatial navigational decisions instantly. Time can be traversed, but we have to account for the movement of planetary bodies, else our first chrononaut will step out of the Merlin Tunnel into a space along our planet’s orbit which the earth unfortunately no longer occupies. It would be like jumping from a bridge onto a moving train after it’s already passed.  I’ve enlisted you to work in tandem with Dr. Taniguchi in fine tuning a gravity sensor of his design. I’ll also ask you to assist from time to time in contributing calculations to the development of that manifold we spoke of on our first meeting.”

Martin had stifled his instinct to grin, remembering what they’d said about Columbarius at Berkely. This was how he was going to earn the money to help his kid brother.

“That’s….a lot of variance in work,” he managed.

“I believe you’re capable of it,” Columbarius said, “and I’m paying you a great deal. You may live here at my estate. A suite’s been prepared. If you find that disagreeable you may elect to stay elsewhere nearby and I will send a car for you each day, but I will deduct your rent from your pay accordingly. Do you need to make any arrangements for direct deposit or anything like that?”

“Well,” Martin had said, “I would like to have a percentage diverted to my family back home.”

“Of course. Biola, California, isn’t it?”

Martin hadn’t bothered asking him where he’d found that out. Any reasonably proficient web surfer could have learned that in five minutes.

He had nodded.

“I’ll have someone take your bank information.  Are you ready to get to work?”

Really, he hadn’t expected much from the work. He’d imagined the other researchers were daily engaged in a high stakes game of a distraction to keep themselves on staff, a long running con. He expected humoring Columbarius would be challenging given the old man’s learning, but ultimately it would be possible to drag the project out indefinitely given the extent of his delusion. He had already spent millions of dollars outfitting and staffing a state of the art facility dedicated to his obsession, after all.

Time travel.

But after a few days working with the team, Martin had realized they weren’t just taking advantage of the old man’s limitless resources. They were all quite sincere.

And more, they truly were working towards a real breakthrough.

It seemed fantastic at first, but the proof was there. The calculations were solid, the engineering radical but sound.

Eccleston proudly demonstrated an elaborate emitter that could project a focused, visible blue beam at the lab’s mascot, a white rat called Dorian. At first the beam appeared to disintegrate Dorian, then, miraculously, reconstitute him. But a second look at the process via video played back at a slower speed showed the rat aging rapidly to the point of death and decomposition, and then, somehow, reversing its course, flesh and fur regenerating at an astounding rate.

“We can even make him younger,” Eccleston had said proudly. “This is just an offshoot of our research. We only threw it together to impress the noobs. We’re calling it a Chronal Pulse Ray till we can come up with an acronym that won’t be confused with Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.”

Martin had come away more than impressed.

He’d come away terrified.

Pick it up here!
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1645629511/

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The Allclear in Return Of The Old Ones

rotoo-cover-800px-1Dark Regions Press has three new titles up for preorder via Indiegogo – You, Human, The Children of Gla’aki, and Return of The Old Ones, an anthology of Lovecraftian fiction taking place before, during, and after the awakening of the Old Ones. Return of The Old Ones features new stories from a gaggle of great writers. Check the TOC –

Around the Corner – Jeffrey Thomas
Tick Tock – Don Webb
Causality Revelation – Glynn Owen Barrass
The Hidden – Scott T. Goudsward
The Gentleman Caller – Lucy A. Snyder
Scratching from the Outer Darkness – Tim Curran
Messages from a Dark Deity – Stephen Mark Rainey

Time Flies – Pete Rawlik
Sorrow Road – Tim Waggoner
The Call of the Deep – William Meikle
Howling Synchronicities – Konstantine Paradias
Chimera – Sam Gafford
The Last Night on Earth – Edward Morris
The Incessant Drone – Neil Baker

Breaking Point – Sam Stone
The Keeper of Memory – Christine Morgan
Shout / Kill / Revel / Repeat – by Scott R Jones
Strangers Die Every Day – Cody Goodfellow

My story, The Allclear, is the post-apocalyptic tale of an underground society enacting a quasi-religious annual tradition in which they elect one of their number as Holy Scout. The Scout is pampered and indulged for a full year and then ascends the Elly Vader to perform the Great Reckon on the blasted surface world, the Hellabove. Except this year, as the new Scout prepares to fulfill her obligation, the previous year’s Scout returns….

Here’s an excerpt.

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In the morning, Nougat would go up Elly Vader. She would see the Upper World, smell it, feel it. Probably she would taste the poison of Ray Dio, the last communion.

She wasn’t too scared. She had prepared for a year, a very good year.  The year of Nougat. She had filled her stomach with the best spinach and avocado, she had drunk as much wine as she liked. Yet though she knew she had her choice of the best of the men, men like Cannikin the Pipe Tech and Storax, the High Gardener’s apprentice, she had never exercised that right.

Part of it was that she didn’t want to spend the year of Nougat pregnant, or go to Ray Dio with a baby in her belly, or the guilt of a dead baby on her soul. But also, she knew Cannikin was Julin’s man, and she remembered the year of Plum Bob only too well, when he had barged into their quarters and taken her right on the table in front of Latchkey, and neither of them had been able to say a word against it because it was the law. Things had been different between her and Latchkey since. Colder.

She hadn’t wanted to inflict that on anyone else. Besides, despite what had happened, she still loved Latchkey, who was one of the Holy Radmen.

But old Uncle Buster-Jangle, the current Scion of Tist, claimed no favorites. He said the name of Scout came to him always in a vision on the night before the Reckon.

She had never had a vision in her life.

But as she lay against Latchkey’s naked chest, listening to his breathing and the beat of his sweet heart, feeling his sweat cool on her cheek, she closed her eyes, and had her first.

She was standing in Elly Vader, and she knew as the doors opened, that it was the Upper World, for why else would she be in there otherwise?

The doors slid into their housings and she saw before her all the Scouts she had ever known. Sculpin and Cresset, Wei Wu and Jancro, Basinet and Heathrow and a dozen more whose names she could not recall.  All of them, except Plum Bob.

They were all standing in a field of green under a blue sky, like the one in the picture she had found deep in the bunker while cleaning in Uncle Buster-Jangle’s quarters.

Uncle Buster-Jangle had told her it was a picture of the Upper World, as it used to be in the Long Agone, before the mushrooms and Ray Dio and the Path O’Jen and the Hellabove.  It was a sacred relic of Baxter, and on the back, he said, was written a love letter to his wife, Blessed Sheila Baxter, who had been a Scion of Tist in the faraway bunker of Pindar. It had never been sent, and it was called Baxter’s Great Sorrow. She couldn’t read the words herself.  No one in Greenbriar could. Only the Scion of Tist could untangle them into thoughts. The picture though, was beautiful, so vibrant and full of colors, and she knew the Upper World wasn’t like that anymore, but in her vision it was, just as it had been in her secret hopes all this past year, when she had prayed with all her heart to Potus that she would be Last Scout and be the one to ride Elly Vader back down and unbutton the people.

But though they stood in that happy place in the ceremonial red jumpsuits and Scout regalia she had last seen them in, the Scouts weren’t happy. They looked pained and desperate, and their eyes were gaping sockets as they stretched out their hands to her all as one and said;

“Don’t let him in.”

They said it all together in one voice and then some dark shadow fell across them and they all looked up at once and opened their mouths and bared their teeth and screamed, but instead of human voices it was the loud, blaring Klaxon of the Drill Ritual that came out, the machine wail of distress that the Scion of Tist said meant that Ray Dio had found a way down into Greenbriar, the catastrophe they re-enacted every month, stripping naked and running into the scouring showers while the Radmen acolytes rushed to their holy lockers and donned their yellow rubber vestments and black masked hoods and passed their crackling wands over everything, warding the seams and corners of the bunker against Ray Dio, all to the primal song of the Klaxon.

She opened her eyes again, and flinched.

Latchkey stirred.

“Are you alright? Bad dream?”

“No,” she whispered. Because it was no dream. It had been a vision.

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Head over to Indiegogo and preorder a copy. If the opening day stretch goal is released, the book will get an illustration from M. Wayne Miller, the artist who did all the great interiors for World War Cthulhu and who did the cover for my novel Terovolas (and my forthcoming collection, Angler In Darkness).

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/three-new-books-from-dark-regions-press#/

Flesh Like Smoke Up For Preorder from April Moon Books

April Moon Books, who put out the great Dark Rites Of Cthulhu anthology a while back and will be publishing my ninth novel, Mindbreaker, is set to publish their lycanthropy anthology Flesh Like Smoke, which includes my short story Philopatry, in which a Catholic priest enlists the help of an ex-convict to stop a streak of serial murders in his south Boston neighborhood after hearing the murderer’s confession.

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Also featuring –

Her Father’s Skin – Christine Morgan
Chaney Jr. Overdrive – Glynn Owen Barrass
Blood and Bone – Tim Waggoner
Bruce, Waking Up – Paul McMahon
Purity Ball – Cody Goodfellow
Were…? – Darrell Schweitzer
Scoop – Sam Gafford
Hunter’s Moon – Don Webb & D.A. Madigan
The Abraxas Protocol – Scott R Jones
Claw and Fang, Stone and Bone – Konstantine Paradias
The Weathered Stone – William Meikle
Survival of the Fittest – Sam Stone and David J Howe
Things Change – Pete Rawlik
Though It Be Darkness There – Damien Angelica Walters
Blood and Dust – Brian M. Sammons

And here’s a preview of the illustration accompanying my story, drawn by Neil Smith.

philopatry

Preorder here –

http://www.aprilmoonbooks.com/#!flesh-like-smoke/c1x91