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Excerpts

STINGY JACK Available Now!

AVAILABLE NOW at Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo.

Click below for more information and scroll down to read an excerpt from the new story

STINGY JACK, OL’ SCRATCH, AND A HEAD FULL OF FIRE

STINGY JACK and Other Tales

Screenshot-2017-10-27 Stingy Jack and Other Tales


Excerpt from:

Stingy Jack, Ol’ Scratch, and a Head Full of Fire

Jack shuffled into the cottage, his grimy hat gripped in both blackened hands, and stopped just past the door.

His sister Elspeth rose from stoking the fire and huffed at the sight of him, hoisting her skirt to stalk past him and out, slamming the door behind.

Jack lay his hat over the wooden peg on the wall, and took a single, miserly step forward, watching the old woman -who now seemed almost like a stranger to him- for signs of wakefulness. It would be a relief if she didn’t rouse, if she never roused, for she hadn’t offered a single kind or comforting word in many years, not since he was a teenager. Despite circumstances, Jack did not expect a change.

But family and neighbors lingered outside, and none would spare a charitable thought or word for him if he spent any less than a good halved hour tearfully apologizing to the poor old woman, and swearing his renewed, unshakable devotion to the path of The Straight and The Narrow.

Tears were not to be, alas, but the time he could manage, so long as the old woman slept most of it away.

Jack looked at the fireplace, stayed well back from it. Elspeth had almost always taken care of the fires –she’d had to be after all, for Jack hated fire and avoided it like leprosy, even when he inherited the blacksmith business from his uncle. Thanks be to God he had inherited his uncle’s helper, Colm as well.

But hearing the low eerie squeal of steam escaping from the young birch logs, he shook his head vigorously. That sound was why he only allowed Colm to use wood left drying for a season or so. It was bad enough he had to be around fire all day. Screaming fire was insufferable.

His gaze rose to the silver cup on the mantle and he immediately wondered what value it held. Then a hoarse cough from behind had him cringing.

He turned and saw that his mother’s eyes, watery and fogged, were open and focused on him. Her frail hand rose from her side, weakly wriggling fingers of summons.

He hoped for the regretful and forgiving love of the dying, but when he extended his hand, she clutched with such harsh strength and speed it gave him a start.

He leaned toward her, but just a few inches. Dead and dying bodies sent him queasy. Even mere mice in the mouths of the village cats -whose eyes gone wild and distant with some fugue caused by killing, their ears pointed backward to detect would-be thieves- made him feel like a wee lad in a vast dark forest.

His old mum, already interred under a mound of quilts, managed a string of clear and concise words. “Jacky. Ye make my heart hurt.”

“It’s gonna be all right, mum.” Jack whispered. “Just get your rest and ye’ll be back on-“

“Ye’ll never change.” She coughed again, a droplet splatting Jack’s cheek, making him revulse. “An’ I can’t protect ye any longer! I’m bound fer glory…”

“No mum. Ye’re gonna be fine.”

She ignored him, drawing her other hand from under the heavy quilts, a trying labor. In it was her cross, the silver one for which she had saved and saved, to buy from a silversmith the next town over when she was just a lass. She had worn it all these years, hanging it on one bit of string after another as they wore thin.

She held it up in trembling hands, on the opposite side of the bed from where Jack stood; the side pushed against the wall. Jack had to reach across her to take it, holding his breath as he did for fear he would inhale some essence of her ancient illness.

As she released it, thoughts of its value danced in his mind, and of potential buyers.

“Keep it with ye, boy,” his mother rasped. “Once I’m gone, ye won’t have my prayers to scare away the evils of the world.”

“Don’t say that, M-“

She sat up so fast it sent a thin rod of ice through his spine, and had him falling onto his ass as if kicked by a mule. Her eyes reflected the fire, and in so doing, brought Jack’s very worst memory to the fore. “That’s yer only hope, boy!” she bellowed, then fell back to the bed and gave off a hiss like that of the birch logs crumbling to ash in the fireplace.

Jack closed his eyes and shook his head till it hurt, trying to break apart that image against the inside of his head. But the vigil watchers would have heard the cry; they would be crashing in, and it wouldn’t look good for him to be cowering on the floor, so he quickly rose and approached her, looking for the rise of the quilt over her chest.

There was none. He reached out to shake her gently, and realized his calloused hands were shaking.

Then the door burst open, and Elspeth was pushing past him.

“Mother!?” She frantically patted the corpse’s pale cheeks, shook the scrawny, purple-veined hands, put her ear to the old woman’s ears. More watchers came in to crowd past him, and Jack suddenly realized he was in the presence of a dead body. He dashed out of the cottage, roughly pushing past the vigil keepers as he went to the big Ash tree behind the chicken coop and vomited his gorge of beef, turnip hearts and very much beer.

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Dusk’s Warriors by Emerian Rich

22835257_10154844436022601_1720627097_nJulien is a tortured soul. His whole life he’s been infected by his father, the devil. Beings from another world planned a destiny he doesn’t want to fulfill. All he wants is his vampire life back. Will he ever find peace?

 

Excerpt from Dusk’s Warriors:

Scribbling in the flickering candlelight, the woman tried to capture what happened minutes before. A breath, and then on with the story she’d never show to another living soul. Perhaps the greatest work ever, but no one would ever know, for she was not alone in her small abode.

A stranger lurked only steps away, savoring the moment he may never have again.

“To kill once more,” Julien said to himself. “To drink the blood even as it draws cold. To feel her fear and see a life pass through her eyes which I have only observed.”

An eternity, it seemed as he crossed the room and placed his cool, marble lips to her warm, tender neck.

Alas, the blood was not warm. It was ice cold.

 

Julien woke to find he’d been dreaming, a bittersweet nightmare of a dream with him as the victim, not she. If only Julien could go on, accept his new life, live it as his immortal comrades.

He wanted his passion back. Nothing brought him pleasure anymore. He didn’t need food or drink to live, and even the luscious taste of wine made from Heaven’s own vineyard had lost its potency.

He drifted back into his restless sleep, filled with memories only posing as dreams.

 

A fresh young mortal in his arms, smelling of leather and alcohol. Beauty in its finest form. Her blood had been rich, filled with a power no mortal had, infused with knowledge and enlightenment. She had control over him in those moments before, beckoning him to give her pleasure in that intimate way. Why had he touched her so? Running his hand over her soft breasts, down across her shapely thighs to the mound of ecstasy had seemed a necessity. How warm she was inside. He believed if he submerged his skin into her warm moisture, his immortal coldness would fade. It did, for a time, as she rose to his touch and her blood ran into his mouth like a fountain of youth.

Blood. More of a feeling than a taste. Pure pleasure.

 

Opening his eyes, Julien found himself in the everlasting garden so green it almost hurt his eyes, but hurting was not known in Heaven. Even the bright sunlight had a soft glow to it. Not hurting perhaps, but longing.

Julien knew nothing but longing. He did not want to be the God of Dawn. Although he’d accepted the position, he longed to be a vampire once more. He wanted to be feared, mysterious, allowed the evil deeds he’d pretended to hate in his vampiric life, but which over the years, he’d come to savor.

He rose from the healthy, damp grass, his limbs numb and head throbbing. True, there was no pain in Heaven, but his sorrow surpassed physical aches. He stretched his arms far up into the sky. The sight of his pale, marble-like limbs sent a spark of anger through him. They had made him their…creature. Their god. His mother—if she truly was his mother—had planned it. The olden gods had helped. Damn them! And damn his father—the devil himself—for causing it.

Never did Julien’s life seem so meaningless. He was supposed to be happy, to feel purpose. He was Lord Dawn, the god of the time between Night and Day when the first appearance of daylight breaks the morning, waking birds and farmers and…

Never again. I will never feel as I did, again.

Julien walked around The Garden, and then broke into a sprint. The Garden went by in a blur as his speed grew. His long white hair flew out behind him. He wanted to be away from the beautiful world. He wanted to be alone. In the too pretty place, with no pain, he felt as if he were being judged, as if the olden gods, or the gods above, or even Jespa waited to see him fail.

Damn Jespa! Damn her world! Damn every force that be! Julien’s rage built as he rounded The Garden. Away! I want to be away! He ran faster and faster, thinking of all that had passed. All he’d lost. Finally, he jumped into the nothingness of his own sector, creating a path to run on. Just a path. No towers or gates or gold cherubs or red sky, just a road…to nowhere.


22834583_10154844436072601_802260320_n

Dusk’s Warriors by Emerian Rich

 

Heaven has opened up and welcomed the vampires of Night’s Knights into a new reality. As they struggle to find their place in their new world, trouble brews on Earth.

 

Demon servant, Ridge, is causing havoc by gathering up all the souls on Earth that have been touched by immortality. When he injures one of the Night’s Knights crew, he launches a war between the vampires of Heaven, the Big Bad in Hell, and a mortal street gang of vigilante misfits.

 

Will Julien, Markham, and Reidar be able to defeat the evil that’s returned, or will they once again need Jespa’s help?

 

Praise for Dusk’s Warriors:

“All hail, the queen of Night’s Knights has returned! Emerian Rich’s unique take on vampires delights my black little heart.” ~Dan Shuarette, Lilith’s Love

 

“A world of horror with realistic characters in a fast paced thriller you won’t be able to put down.”

~David Watson, The All Night Library

 

Praise for Night’s Knights:

“Fresh, original, and thoroughly entertaining.” ~Mark Eller, Traitor

 

“Emerian brought the Vampire Novel back from the dead.” ~C. E. Dorsett, Shine Like Thunder

 

Available now at Amazon.com in print and eBook

 

https://www.amazon.com/Dusks-Warriors-Nights-Knights-Vampire/dp/1544628803


22895026_10154844435977601_1337514846_nEmerian Rich is an artist, horror host, and author of the vampire series, Night’s Knights. She is the hostess of the internationally acclaimed podcast, HorrorAddicts.net. Under the name Emmy Z. Madrigal, she writes the musical romance series, Sweet Dreams and she’s the Editorial Director for the Bay Area magazine, SEARCH. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

 

 


STINGY JACK is coming soon…

COMING SOON to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo.

Click below for more information and scroll down to read an excerpt from the new story

STINGY JACK, OL’ SCRATCH, AND A HEAD FULL OF FIRE

STINGY JACK and Other Tales

Screenshot-2017-10-3 Stingy Jack and Other Tales


Excerpt from:

Stingy Jack, Ol’ Scratch, and a Head Full of Fire

Jack shuffled into the cottage, his grimy hat gripped in both blackened hands, and stopped just past the door.

His sister Elspeth rose from stoking the fire and huffed at the sight of him, hoisting her skirt to stalk past him and out, slamming the door behind.

Jack lay his hat over the wooden peg on the wall, and took a single, miserly step forward, watching the old woman -who now seemed almost like a stranger to him- for signs of wakefulness. It would be a relief if she didn’t rouse, if she never roused, for she hadn’t offered a single kind or comforting word in many years, not since he was a teenager. Despite circumstances, Jack did not expect a change.

But family and neighbors lingered outside, and none would spare a charitable thought or word for him if he spent any less than a good halved hour tearfully apologizing to the poor old woman, and swearing his renewed, unshakable devotion to the path of The Straight and The Narrow.

Tears were not to be, alas, but the time he could manage, so long as the old woman slept most of it away.

Jack looked at the fireplace, stayed well back from it. Elspeth had almost always taken care of the fires –she’d had to be after all, for Jack hated fire and avoided it like leprosy, even when he inherited the blacksmith business from his uncle. Thanks be to God he had inherited his uncle’s helper, Colm as well.

But hearing the low eerie squeal of steam escaping from the young birch logs, he shook his head vigorously. That sound was why he only allowed Colm to use wood left drying for a season or so. It was bad enough he had to be around fire all day. Screaming fire was insufferable.

His gaze rose to the silver cup on the mantle and he immediately wondered what value it held. Then a hoarse cough from behind had him cringing.

He turned and saw that his mother’s eyes, watery and fogged, were open and focused on him. Her frail hand rose from her side, weakly wriggling fingers of summons.

He hoped for the regretful and forgiving love of the dying, but when he extended his hand, she clutched with such harsh strength and speed it gave him a start.

He leaned toward her, but just a few inches. Dead and dying bodies sent him queasy. Even mere mice in the mouths of the village cats -whose eyes gone wild and distant with some fugue caused by killing, their ears pointed backward to detect would-be thieves- made him feel like a wee lad in a vast dark forest.

His old mum, already interred under a mound of quilts, managed a string of clear and concise words. “Jacky. Ye make my heart hurt.”

“It’s gonna be all right, mum.” Jack whispered. “Just get your rest and ye’ll be back on-“

“Ye’ll never change.” She coughed again, a droplet splatting Jack’s cheek, making him revulse. “An’ I can’t protect ye any longer! I’m bound fer glory…”

“No mum. Ye’re gonna be fine.”

She ignored him, drawing her other hand from under the heavy quilts, a trying labor. In it was her cross, the silver one for which she had saved and saved, to buy from a silversmith the next town over when she was just a lass. She had worn it all these years, hanging it on one bit of string after another as they wore thin.

She held it up in trembling hands, on the opposite side of the bed from where Jack stood; the side pushed against the wall. Jack had to reach across her to take it, holding his breath as he did for fear he would inhale some essence of her ancient illness.

As she released it, thoughts of its value danced in his mind, and of potential buyers.

“Keep it with ye, boy,” his mother rasped. “Once I’m gone, ye won’t have my prayers to scare away the evils of the world.”

“Don’t say that, M-“

She sat up so fast it sent a thin rod of ice through his spine, and had him falling onto his ass as if kicked by a mule. Her eyes reflected the fire, and in so doing, brought Jack’s very worst memory to the fore. “That’s yer only hope, boy!” she bellowed, then fell back to the bed and gave off a hiss like that of the birch logs crumbling to ash in the fireplace.

Jack closed his eyes and shook his head till it hurt, trying to break apart that image against the inside of his head. But the vigil watchers would have heard the cry; they would be crashing in, and it wouldn’t look good for him to be cowering on the floor, so he quickly rose and approached her, looking for the rise of the quilt over her chest.

There was none. He reached out to shake her gently, and realized his calloused hands were shaking.

Then the door burst open, and Elspeth was pushing past him.

“Mother!?” She frantically patted the corpse’s pale cheeks, shook the scrawny, purple-veined hands, put her ear to the old woman’s ears. More watchers came in to crowd past him, and Jack suddenly realized he was in the presence of a dead body. He dashed out of the cottage, roughly pushing past the vigil keepers as he went to the big Ash tree behind the chicken coop and vomited his gorge of beef, turnip hearts and very much beer.


A GIFT FOR YOU!

Subscribe to our free monthly newsletter before midnight on Halloween and we’ll send you a free download of STINGY JACK and Other Tales!

a gift for you(1)

Stingy Jack, Ol’ Scratch, and a Head Full of Fire

Jack shuffled into the cottage, his grimy hat gripped in both blackened hands, and stopped just past the door.

His sister Elspeth rose from stoking the fire and huffed at the sight of him, hoisting her skirt to stalk past him and out, slamming the door behind.

Jack lay his hat over the wooden peg on the wall, and took a single, miserly step forward, watching the old woman -who now seemed almost like a stranger to him- for signs of wakefulness. It would be a relief if she didn’t rouse, if she never roused, for she hadn’t offered a single kind or comforting word in many years, not since he was a teenager. Despite circumstances, Jack did not expect a change.

But family and neighbors lingered outside, and none would spare a charitable thought or word for him if he spent any less than a good halved hour tearfully apologizing to the poor old woman, and swearing his renewed, unshakable devotion to the path of The Straight and The Narrow.

Tears were not to be, alas, but the time he could manage, so long as the old woman slept most of it away.

Jack looked at the fireplace, stayed well back from it. Elspeth had almost always taken care of the fires –she’d had to be after all, for Jack hated fire and avoided it like leprosy, even when he inherited the blacksmith business from his uncle. Thanks be to God he had inherited his uncle’s helper, Colm as well.

But hearing the low eerie squeal of steam escaping from the young birch logs, he shook his head vigorously. That sound was why he only allowed Colm to use wood left drying for a season or so. It was bad enough he had to be around fire all day. Screaming fire was insufferable.

His gaze rose to the silver cup on the mantle and he immediately wondered what value it held. Then a hoarse cough from behind had him cringing.

He turned and saw that his mother’s eyes, watery and fogged, were open and focused on him. Her frail hand rose from her side, weakly wriggling fingers of summons.

He hoped for the regretful and forgiving love of the dying, but when he extended his hand, she clutched with such harsh strength and speed it gave him a start.

He leaned toward her, but just a few inches. Dead and dying bodies sent him queasy. Even mere mice in the mouths of the village cats -whose eyes gone wild and distant with some fugue caused by killing, their ears pointed backward to detect would-be thieves- made him feel like a wee lad in a vast dark forest.

His old mum, already interred under a mound of quilts, managed a string of clear and concise words. “Jacky. Ye make my heart hurt.”

“It’s gonna be all right, mum.” Jack whispered. “Just get your rest and ye’ll be back on-“

“Ye’ll never change.” She coughed again, a droplet splatting Jack’s cheek, making him revulse. “An’ I can’t protect ye any longer! I’m bound fer glory…”

“No mum. Ye’re gonna be fine.”

She ignored him, drawing her other hand from under the heavy quilts, a trying labor. In it was her cross, the silver one for which she had saved and saved, to buy from a silversmith the next town over when she was just a lass. She had worn it all these years, hanging it on one bit of string after another as they wore thin.

She held it up in trembling hands, on the opposite side of the bed from where Jack stood; the side pushed against the wall. Jack had to reach across her to take it, holding his breath as he did for fear he would inhale some essence of her ancient illness.

As she released it, thoughts of its value danced in his mind, and of potential buyers.

“Keep it with ye, boy,” his mother rasped. “Once I’m gone, ye won’t have my prayers to scare away the evils of the world.”

“Don’t say that, M-“

She sat up so fast it sent a thin rod of ice through his spine, and had him falling onto his ass as if kicked by a mule. Her eyes reflected the fire, and in so doing, brought Jack’s very worst memory to the fore. “That’s yer only hope, boy!” she bellowed, then fell back to the bed and gave off a hiss like that of the birch logs crumbling to ash in the fireplace.

Jack closed his eyes and shook his head till it hurt, trying to break apart that image against the inside of his head. But the vigil watchers would have heard the cry; they would be crashing in, and it wouldn’t look good for him to be cowering on the floor, so he quickly rose and approached her, looking for the rise of the quilt over her chest.

There was none. He reached out to shake her gently, and realized his calloused hands were shaking.

Then the door burst open, and Elspeth was pushing past him.

“Mother!?” She frantically patted the corpse’s pale cheeks, shook the scrawny, purple-veined hands, put her ear to the old woman’s ears. More watchers came in to crowd past him, and Jack suddenly realized he was in the presence of a dead body. He dashed out of the cottage, roughly pushing past the vigil keepers as he went to the big Ash tree behind the chicken coop and vomited his gorge of beef, turnip hearts and very much beer.

Keep Reading STINGY JACK, OL’ SCRATCH, and a  HEAD FULL OF FIRE…


THE CRIMSON CALLING by Patrick C. Greene

The latest from Patrick C. Greene and Hobbes End Publishing – THE CRIMSON CALLING –  Centuries after their eradication and the death of their Queen in the Great Fire of London in 1666, the Vampire population now numbers in only the hundreds. A few of the remaining survivors regrouped and a High Council was born. Now a new threat has arrived: modern day military is not only tracking members of the council, they are attempting to create their own vampire soldiers.

Enter Olivia Irons. Ex Black Ops. Doing her best to live a normal civilian life, but it never feels right. No family, no friends, and trouble always seems to follow. When the Sanguinarian Council offers her the chance of a lifetime, the biggest risk of all seems like the only path left to choose. How will she answer The Crimson Calling?

AVAILABLE NOW! CLICK HERE TO BUY THE PAPERBACK

also available for KINDLE – CLICK HERE!

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an excerpt…TCC jiang excerpt


UNTO THE EARTH by Patrick C. Greene

excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlack NEW COVER

UNTO THE EARTH by Patrick C. Greene.

via UNTO THE EARTH by Patrick C. Greene.


STILL DYING 2: Zombie Anthology

Are you looking for the latest from Patrick C Greene?

Here it is! Read an excerpt below…

*********************

STILL DYING 2 

Zombie Anthology 

Nine authors… Ten stories… nothing but zombie horror!

Still Dying 2

An excerpt from

STILL DYING 2

HOW ME AND BOZY BECAME DADS

By Patrick C Greene

They just popped up one day, the creeps, when we was out doing some community service, clearing the highway.

Some guy was stumbling around off down the interstate a good piece, and I said “Someday, that’s prolly gonna be me.”

“Stop jabbering to yo’ sef,” Bozy muttered, “They gonna send you off somewheres.”

“I don’t know man,” I answered, “This is prolly the end of the line for me.”

“Don’t be all down. Be glad you’re outside today.”

Funny. Bozy had sort of turned into my bodyguard and big brother since I got transferred to medium security back in February. What was funny about it, Bozy was about five-six, maybe one-forty after chow. He was locked up for stealing checks; he had used ‘em to buy his girlfriend some clothes for her new job, so they could get ahead.

And here I was, six-two and finishing a stretch for armed robbery. Bozy took up for me on day one. Turned out he was just a really good guy deep down. Being kinda small, he had to kick the shit out of three other inmates on his first day—and they tell me he did it easy.

I had managed to maintain good behavior while I was in max. So when I showed up at County to do my last year, I was nervous, coming off like a bitch waiting to be broken. He told everybody right away to lay off. And they did.

I found myself turning around, realizing I got antsy anytime his black ass got too far away, and made my way toward him. Further down the stretch was Tollison, Jefferies and Pokey, so-named not because he was slow, but because he had poked out the eye of one of his mugging victims. They were all caught up in filling their trash bags, thinking about what it would be like to be back out here everyday, I guess.

Puttering around the side of the road, I found a half-empty, fairly fresh bag of Funyons, and thought about holding onto it, passing it off to the hobo when he made his way past us. I didn’t expect he’d get hit by a car.

Right as I picked up the bag and rolled it up, Officer Schlotsky started toward me, bowing up his arms and shoulders, bringing his shotgun around in front of him like he was ready to bring it up and butt me with it. “Whatchoo got there, Randall? Lemme see it.”

“It’s just a snack. For that man.” I pointed off toward that weird guy still stumbling our way, sure Schlotsky would take one look and wave it off. Instead, he had to be an asshole about it.

He slapped the bag out of my hands, spilling Funyons all over the dewy grass. “Fuck that. If you was a good Samaritan, you wouldn’t be here.” Then Schlotsky stepped on those Funyons, crushing them into the ground, staring me down all squinty-eyed like the pig he was; tough with his shotgun. Just like I had been with mine.

 READ MORE


The Beginning…

“Bizarrely morose…” Amazon Review

An excerpt from the short story

 BILL’s BECOMING

By Patrick C. Greene

Bill's Becoming

Bill Travers looked with bitter eyes at his reflection. Since puberty, that time when humans learn to care about such things, Bill had been painfully aware that he was ugly.

His oft-inspected reflection offered no differing opinion, ever. Even in the soft light of the lamp on the bathroom counter, there was little reason for hope.

His face, like his physique, was pear shaped, with jowls that drooped around his neck. His brow was thick and pronounced, hooding his beady, unremarkable eyes and forming a trifurcated, bulgy wrinkle over the bridge of his flat nose. His short, thick neck dropped straight to narrow shoulders. His thick-jointed legs appeared too short for his oval torso. Now that he was hitting his mid-thirties, a potbelly was starting to take shape, and his dark brown and oily hair was beginning to thin and recede.

Over the years, Bill had made many attempts to offset the shortcomings with which nature had blighted him. Regular visits to the gym, a stricter-than-average diet, attention to posture, expensive haircuts by that swishy fella that owned the style shop, good hygiene and skin maintenance had been part of this plan, a plan that ultimately must be considered a failure.

Bill had talked to plastic surgeons, hair transplant experts, personal trainers, dieticians, all of whom were eager to accept his money, but less eager to make concrete promises about what could be done for him. Even then, his job as a forklift driver at the warehouse didn’t provide the cushion to make it viable. If only he didn’t have the house payments.

With no self-esteem and little reason to hope for a good life, Bill hadn’t had the tenacity, the temerity to dare dream of a great life, only an adequate one. No college for Bill, only an unceremonious entry into the blue collar world at the age of fifteen, and no looking back.

Bill had scrimped and saved and used the best elements of his less-than-persuasive personality to establish at least a nice home for himself, one that would help lure a practical wife who could then decorate and furnish it as she pleased.

“I don’t deserve Connie.” he said softly in his meek voice.

Nonetheless, Bill had a detailed plan to ask Connie out on a date, charm her beyond anything she had ever experienced, and be on his way to living a life of considerably less solitude. That plan was well into action.

Bill had been kind, but not overt in his dealings with her. Being that she worked up in the office, largely isolated from the activity in the warehouse, Bill had only a few brief moments a day when he could say hello and ask about her day or make some other innocuous inquiry. Today would be different. Today, Bill would make his move.

He added another spray of designer cologne to the heavy layer he had already applied, hoping it would cover the gas fumes he would accumulate while driving the forklift. Bill tried on his smile at its brightest and most sincere, then toned it down, disappointed as always that he was stuck with stubby teeth that were too far apart. Bill smoothed down the front of his new T-shirt and left for work.

As the morning progressed, Connie walked by several times en route to discussing deliveries with Randy the warehouse supervisor, always returning Bill’s smile and wave. From his perch on the forklift, Bill watched her go, admiring her form, swept up in her graceful movement. At 10:30, Randy signaled a break.

In the breakroom, Bill sat with Randy and senior loader Todd. He broke out an expensive energy bar and went to work on it, washing the tasteless paste down with apple juice.

“When you gonna give up that crap, Bill?”  Randy asked.

“What crap?”

“Them health bars. They just give you high-dollar shit, ya know.”

“Maybe I like ’em.”

“Nobody likes ’em.”  Randy sneered.

“Beats burgers.”

The three of them discussed the work to be done for a few minutes, then Randy excused himself to return to his duties, leaving Bill an opportunity to seek Todd’s advice.

“Hey Todd.”

“Hmm?”

“You know Connie, up in the office?”

“Yep.”

“What do you think?”

“About…?”

“I was thinking about asking her out. Think I should?”

“Hell…why not?  You know, Dave went out with her.”

“Oh?”

“Didn’t get nowhere, he said.”

“Well, I just want to ask her out, that’s all. I don’t expect nothin’.”

Todd shrugged. “There you go.”

“So if she went out with Dave, she’ll probably go out with me, right?”

Todd seemed to be studying this for a moment, staring into space. A moment later, it became apparent his eyes were following another of the facility’s female staff members, Jolene, as she ambled past their table. Bill hoped he never seemed this obvious. Jolene certainly didn’t seem impressed.

“Connie, huh?  Ask her. Who knows?”  Todd finally answered. “Her face aint much, but she’s got a nice rack.”

Bill got up and left without another word. He was bothered that Todd thought of women in this way, yet seemed to have no trouble getting dates. Further, he saw Connie as nothing less than beauty queen material. Certainly, he would be proud to have her on his arm.

The hours between break and lunch passed quickly, thanks in part to the huge shipment that needed organizing, but mostly because Bill thought only of Connie, and their date. The conversation with Todd had been encouraging in an odd way.

Dave, one of the sales reps in the office, was no Brad Pitt himself, though he stood a few rungs above Bill in the looks department. There was reason to believe Connie valued personality over aesthetics.

The bell sounded. Bill hopped down from his lift, and checked his deodorant. Good working order. If he timed it right…

Bill caught Connie coming out of the office and essayed the practiced smile, despite his misgivings about it.

“Hey Connie. Going to lunch?”

“Yeah. Meeting some of the other girls.”

“That’s nice. Say, listen. I was wondering if you were doing anything this weekend?”

Connie took on a mildly panicked expression, darting her eyes away and back very quickly.

“I don’t know, I might be busy. Let me get back to you, okay?”

“Sure. We can go to the steakhouse, or anything you like.”

“Okay. Maybe.”

“Can I call you?”

“Well, I live with my Mom, and she’s not too well. Maybe you better not.”

“Okay, well, that’s fine. Just let me know something tomorrow or the next day.”

“I will. See you later.”  With this, Connie made quick strides to the door and was gone.

Being a realist, Bill knew that it hadn’t gone ideally, yet he was hopeful. Somehow Dave had convinced her. Why couldn’t Bill?  The rest of the day, he re-lived the encounter, picking out morsels of hope to sustain him until she gave her answer.

The next day, Wednesday, Bill waved and smiled to Connie as always, noticing less enthusiasm than before in her reciprocation. Bill knew the old brush-off when he saw it, yet somehow managed to remain optimistic. When she left early both for lunch and for day’s end, Bill started to get the picture.

On Thursday during break, Bill sat down to be by himself with his energy bar and apple juice, but was joined by Todd, despite his best efforts to be less than sociable.

“Hey man. Heard you asked Connie out.”  said Todd while chewing a distressingly gummy-looking ham sandwich.

“Yeah,” responded Bill, turning away from the sight of Todd’s sloppy mastication.

“What’d she say?”  asked Todd.

“She just said she’d let me know.”

“Did you say something bad to her?”

Bill searched his memory. “No, I think I was pretty nice”.

“Well, she sure was insulted when I asked her about it.”

“You asked her about it?  Why?”

“I just wondered how it went. She practically spit at me.”

As Bill considered this, Todd continued.

“Dave said she was pissed about it on the phone last night, like you was bothering her.”

“On the phone?  Dave calls her?”  Bill heard his voice rising.

“I think she calls him sometimes.”

“Are they dating?”  Bill asked.

“Nope. Dave says just friends.”  Todd explained.

“And she was pissed…that I asked her out?”

“Yeah. I figured you musta said something rude, about her tits or something. But that aint like you. Just curious, that’s all.”

Todd went back to the floor, leaving Bill stunned and simmering in a cold soup of humiliation. His worst image of Connie’s feelings for him were exceeded. Connie didn’t just dislike him, she was disgusted by him. Because he was repulsive.

Bill drove home at the pace of a geriatric Floridian, too distracted, too hurt for a quicker clip. Every niggling doubt he ever harbored about himself stampeded to the surface to stake its claim on the rightful territory he had tried to rob.

The formula fell together with wicked ease. Dave was in sales, a suit and tie guy, so that made up for his lack of good looks. Bill had never made it to sales, because his appearance and reserved personality held him back. Connie was appalled that Bill asked her out, probably because that made her feel like she was as unattractive as Bill himself. And God forbid, Bill had made it known to others in the warehouse that he was interested, embarrassing Connie among her peers.

Poor Connie, Bill thought. I’m so sorry I put you through that.

In the safety and privacy of his home, Bill’s reflection scowled miserably at him, enhancing his ugliness, mocking him with its earnestness. Bill gave himself to the pain he felt, the worthlessness he knew was his lot. To end it, to be finished with this shell that was his prison.

Not an option. He cursed his own cowardice in being unable to end his life.

He had heard from some smartass that if you stare at your own reflection long enough, you could go mad. That was damn sure preferable to the reality that tormented him. So Bill leaned forward and stared hard, though he was offended and nauseated by what he saw. He had an urge to smash the mirror, but realized that action was a trite cliche’ perpetuated by bad television.

There really was no option, but to be miserable, or to accept a life of loneliness, gauzy romantic fantasies and masturbation. Better yet, total freedom from emotion or desire. Wasn’t that Hinduism or some shit?

Bill hadn’t the guts to kill himself, nor the patience to drive himself mad. He simply submitted then and there, ready and willing to be fate’s blowing leaf.

The alarm clock scolded Bill for his dreams. He got up and went to the bathroom, avoiding the mirror. He considered skipping the shaving process this morning, as he no longer felt any need to be presentable for Connie.

Habit overruled self pity, and Bill soon found himself at the mirror with his razor, trying to avert his eyes from the big picture of his revolting features. Bill scraped the razor across his lathered cheek, his mind drifting to the events and the pain of the past week.

That pain demanded companionship. Bill felt pent-up frustration rise to the surface, taking over his razor hand. Gritting his teeth, grimacing at his grimace, Bill pressed the razor viciously into his cheekbone. A deep and alien sound arose from him as he felt the steel sliver penetrate.

Widening his eyes to behold the damage he was doing, he watched a thin rivulet of blood draw a line down his cheek to round his jowl. Bill was surprised there wasn’t more pain and blood, and withdrew the razor to assess the damage.

The tiny flap he had cut lay open just a centimeter or so, revealing the next layer, as Bill expected it would. But that layer was not a bloodier version of his epidermis, as his knowledge of the human body dictated it would be.

Instead, there was a slick blackness there, like eel-skin. Bill stared in wonder at this, picking it gingerly with his fingers. Alarmingly, the flap gave way rather easily, without the pain and pliability of flesh as he knew it. He began to peel the flap, revealing more of the shiny, smooth-textured…growth?

Suddenly alarmed by the ease with which his initial efforts had succeeded, Bill stopped and gazed at the anomaly for several seconds. In this time, he grew to admire it. Not only curious, he felt a kind of pride in its uniqueness. Bill took a long look at his features as they were, saying a less than tearful goodbye. He then dug in with his fingers and began pulling away the useless husk that had trapped him for so long.

Bill’s story continues and can be found alone as BILL’s BECOMING or in the collection DARK DESTINIES.

BUY BILL’s BECOMING for Kindle HERE www.tinyurl.com/pcgbillsbecoming

BUY DARK DESTINIES for Kindle HERE www.tinyurl.com/darkdestinies

BUY DARK DESTINIES  Special Edition paperback HERE  http://tinyurl.com/DDpaperback

Please visit the publisher Sekhmet Press LLC


BILL’s BECOMING FREE

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An excerpt from

 BILL’s BECOMING

By Patrick C. Greene

Bill Travers looked with bitter eyes at his reflection. Since puberty, that time when humans learn to care about such things, Bill had been painfully aware that he was ugly.

His oft-inspected reflection offered no differing opinion, ever. Even in the soft light of the lamp on the bathroom counter, there was little reason for hope.

His face, like his physique, was pear shaped, with jowls that drooped around his neck. His brow was thick and pronounced, hooding his beady, unremarkable eyes and forming a trifurcated, bulgy wrinkle over the bridge of his flat nose. His short, thick neck dropped straight to narrow shoulders. His thick-jointed legs appeared too short for his oval torso. Now that he was hitting his mid-thirties, a potbelly was starting to take shape, and his dark brown and oily hair was beginning to thin and recede.

Over the years, Bill had made many attempts to offset the shortcomings with which nature had blighted him. Regular visits to the gym, a stricter-than-average diet, attention to posture, expensive haircuts by that swishy fella that owned the style shop, good hygiene and skin maintenance had been part of this plan, a plan that ultimately must be considered a failure.

Bill had talked to plastic surgeons, hair transplant experts, personal trainers, dieticians, all of whom were eager to accept his money, but less eager to make concrete promises about what could be done for him. Even then, his job as a forklift driver at the warehouse didn’t provide the cushion to make it viable. If only he didn’t have the house payments.

With no self-esteem and little reason to hope for a good life, Bill hadn’t had the tenacity, the temerity to dare dream of a great life, only an adequate one. No college for Bill, only an unceremonious entry into the blue collar world at the age of fifteen, and no looking back.

Bill had scrimped and saved and used the best elements of his less-than-persuasive personality to establish at least a nice home for himself, one that would help lure a practical wife who could then decorate and furnish it as she pleased.

“I don’t deserve Connie.” he said softly in his meek voice.

Nonetheless, Bill had a detailed plan to ask Connie out on a date, charm her beyond anything she had ever experienced, and be on his way to living a life of considerably less solitude. That plan was well into action.

Bill had been kind, but not overt in his dealings with her. Being that she worked up in the office, largely isolated from the activity in the warehouse, Bill had only a few brief moments a day when he could say hello and ask about her day or make some other innocuous inquiry. Today would be different. Today, Bill would make his move.

He added another spray of designer cologne to the heavy layer he had already applied, hoping it would cover the gas fumes he would accumulate while driving the forklift. Bill tried on his smile at its brightest and most sincere, then toned it down, disappointed as always that he was stuck with stubby teeth that were too far apart. Bill smoothed down the front of his new T-shirt and left for work.

As the morning progressed, Connie walked by several times en route to discussing deliveries with Randy the warehouse supervisor, always returning Bill’s smile and wave. From his perch on the forklift, Bill watched her go, admiring her form, swept up in her graceful movement. At 10:30, Randy signaled a break.

In the breakroom, Bill sat with Randy and senior loader Todd. He broke out an expensive energy bar and went to work on it, washing the tasteless paste down with apple juice.

“When you gonna give up that crap, Bill?”  Randy asked.

“What crap?”

“Them health bars. They just give you high-dollar shit, ya know.”

“Maybe I like ’em.”

“Nobody likes ’em.”  Randy sneered.

“Beats burgers.”

The three of them discussed the work to be done for a few minutes, then Randy excused himself to return to his duties, leaving Bill an opportunity to seek Todd’s advice.

“Hey Todd.”

“Hmm?”

“You know Connie, up in the office?”

“Yep.”

“What do you think?”

“About…?”

“I was thinking about asking her out. Think I should?”

“Hell…why not?  You know, Dave went out with her.”

“Oh?”

“Didn’t get nowhere, he said.”

“Well, I just want to ask her out, that’s all. I don’t expect nothin’.”

Todd shrugged. “There you go.”

“So if she went out with Dave, she’ll probably go out with me, right?”

Todd seemed to be studying this for a moment, staring into space. A moment later, it became apparent his eyes were following another of the facility’s female staff members, Jolene, as she ambled past their table. Bill hoped he never seemed this obvious. Jolene certainly didn’t seem impressed.

“Connie, huh?  Ask her. Who knows?”  Todd finally answered. “Her face aint much, but she’s got a nice rack.”

Bill got up and left without another word. He was bothered that Todd thought of women in this way, yet seemed to have no trouble getting dates. Further, he saw Connie as nothing less than beauty queen material. Certainly, he would be proud to have her on his arm.

The hours between break and lunch passed quickly, thanks in part to the huge shipment that needed organizing, but mostly because Bill thought only of Connie, and their date. The conversation with Todd had been encouraging in an odd way.

Dave, one of the sales reps in the office, was no Brad Pitt himself, though he stood a few rungs above Bill in the looks department. There was reason to believe Connie valued personality over aesthetics.

The bell sounded. Bill hopped down from his lift, and checked his deodorant. Good working order. If he timed it right…

Bill caught Connie coming out of the office and essayed the practiced smile, despite his misgivings about it.

“Hey Connie. Going to lunch?”

“Yeah. Meeting some of the other girls.”

“That’s nice. Say, listen. I was wondering if you were doing anything this weekend?”

Connie took on a mildly panicked expression, darting her eyes away and back very quickly.

“I don’t know, I might be busy. Let me get back to you, okay?”

“Sure. We can go to the steakhouse, or anything you like.”

“Okay. Maybe.”

“Can I call you?”

“Well, I live with my Mom, and she’s not too well. Maybe you better not.”

“Okay, well, that’s fine. Just let me know something tomorrow or the next day.”

“I will. See you later.”  With this, Connie made quick strides to the door and was gone.

Being a realist, Bill knew that it hadn’t gone ideally, yet he was hopeful. Somehow Dave had convinced her. Why couldn’t Bill?  The rest of the day, he re-lived the encounter, picking out morsels of hope to sustain him until she gave her answer.

The next day, Wednesday, Bill waved and smiled to Connie as always, noticing less enthusiasm than before in her reciprocation. Bill knew the old brush-off when he saw it, yet somehow managed to remain optimistic. When she left early both for lunch and for day’s end, Bill started to get the picture.

On Thursday during break, Bill sat down to be by himself with his energy bar and apple juice, but was joined by Todd, despite his best efforts to be less than sociable.

“Hey man. Heard you asked Connie out.”  said Todd while chewing a distressingly gummy-looking ham sandwich.

“Yeah,” responded Bill, turning away from the sight of Todd’s sloppy mastication.

“What’d she say?”  asked Todd.

“She just said she’d let me know.”

“Did you say something bad to her?”

Bill searched his memory. “No, I think I was pretty nice”.

“Well, she sure was insulted when I asked her about it.”

“You asked her about it?  Why?”

“I just wondered how it went. She practically spit at me.”

As Bill considered this, Todd continued.

“Dave said she was pissed about it on the phone last night, like you was bothering her.”

“On the phone?  Dave calls her?”  Bill heard his voice rising.

“I think she calls him sometimes.”

“Are they dating?”  Bill asked.

“Nope. Dave says just friends.”  Todd explained.

“And she was pissed…that I asked her out?”

“Yeah. I figured you musta said something rude, about her tits or something. But that aint like you. Just curious, that’s all.”

Todd went back to the floor, leaving Bill stunned and simmering in a cold soup of humiliation. His worst image of Connie’s feelings for him were exceeded. Connie didn’t just dislike him, she was disgusted by him. Because he was repulsive.

Bill drove home at the pace of a geriatric Floridian, too distracted, too hurt for a quicker clip. Every niggling doubt he ever harbored about himself stampeded to the surface to stake its claim on the rightful territory he had tried to rob.

The formula fell together with wicked ease. Dave was in sales, a suit and tie guy, so that made up for his lack of good looks. Bill had never made it to sales, because his appearance and reserved personality held him back. Connie was appalled that Bill asked her out, probably because that made her feel like she was as unattractive as Bill himself. And God forbid, Bill had made it known to others in the warehouse that he was interested, embarrassing Connie among her peers.

Poor Connie, Bill thought. I’m so sorry I put you through that.

In the safety and privacy of his home, Bill’s reflection scowled miserably at him, enhancing his ugliness, mocking him with its earnestness. Bill gave himself to the pain he felt, the worthlessness he knew was his lot. To end it, to be finished with this shell that was his prison.

Not an option. He cursed his own cowardice in being unable to end his life.

He had heard from some smartass that if you stare at your own reflection long enough, you could go mad. That was damn sure preferable to the reality that tormented him. So Bill leaned forward and stared hard, though he was offended and nauseated by what he saw. He had an urge to smash the mirror, but realized that action was a trite cliche’ perpetuated by bad television.

There really was no option, but to be miserable, or to accept a life of loneliness, gauzy romantic fantasies and masturbation. Better yet, total freedom from emotion or desire. Wasn’t that Hinduism or some shit?

Bill hadn’t the guts to kill himself, nor the patience to drive himself mad. He simply submitted then and there, ready and willing to be fate’s blowing leaf.

The alarm clock scolded Bill for his dreams. He got up and went to the bathroom, avoiding the mirror. He considered skipping the shaving process this morning, as he no longer felt any need to be presentable for Connie.

Habit overruled self pity, and Bill soon found himself at the mirror with his razor, trying to avert his eyes from the big picture of his revolting features. Bill scraped the razor across his lathered cheek, his mind drifting to the events and the pain of the past week.

That pain demanded companionship. Bill felt pent-up frustration rise to the surface, taking over his razor hand. Gritting his teeth, grimacing at his grimace, Bill pressed the razor viciously into his cheekbone. A deep and alien sound arose from him as he felt the steel sliver penetrate.

Widening his eyes to behold the damage he was doing, he watched a thin rivulet of blood draw a line down his cheek to round his jowl. Bill was surprised there wasn’t more pain and blood, and withdrew the razor to assess the damage.

The tiny flap he had cut lay open just a centimeter or so, revealing the next layer, as Bill expected it would. But that layer was not a bloodier version of his epidermis, as his knowledge of the human body dictated it would be.

Instead, there was a slick blackness there, like eel-skin. Bill stared in wonder at this, picking it gingerly with his fingers. Alarmingly, the flap gave way rather easily, without the pain and pliability of flesh as he knew it. He began to peel the flap, revealing more of the shiny, smooth-textured…growth?

Suddenly alarmed by the ease with which his initial efforts had succeeded, Bill stopped and gazed at the anomaly for several seconds. In this time, he grew to admire it. Not only curious, he felt a kind of pride in its uniqueness. Bill took a long look at his features as they were, saying a less than tearful goodbye. He then dug in with his fingers and began pulling away the useless husk that had trapped him for so long.

Bill’s story continues and can be found alone as BILL’s BECOMING or in the collection DARK DESTINIES.

BUY BILL’s BECOMING for Kindle HERE www.tinyurl.com/pcgbillsbecoming

BUY DARK DESTINIES for Kindle HERE www.tinyurl.com/darkdestinies

BUY DARK DESTINIES  Special Edition paperback HERE  http://tinyurl.com/DDpaperback

Please visit the publisher Sekhmet Press LLC