Not for the squeamish.

When Brandon asked me if I would like to read his new short story The Card, I was all over it!

The Card

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Some of you might think this story is predictable. Not so for me. Brandon threw in some curve balls that distracted me long enough to forget a few hints.

Jason is the moderator for the three. Even close friends get into it now and then.

Brian’s ticked off. He’s adamant he didn’t do it.

Freddie’s furious. He’s sure Brian slipped the card into his deck.

They get in each others faces, causing Jason to step in and try to diffuse them.

Freddie designs his tarot decks himself, and he’s positive the card was slipped into his deck by Brian. Even though the back has the same design, there’s no way he created the picture of the creepy old man in the hooded cape. The figure is surrounded by fog, and the raised hand holding up three fingers, what’s up with that? No way does this card belong in his deck.

Brian’s tired of hearing about it. He didn’t put the card in the deck and doesn’t get why it’s such a big deal. It’s just a card.

Freddie storms out. When Jason suggests to Brian that he apologize, Brian storms out too.

Great. He’ll just let the two cool off for the weekend and see them next week when they’ve had time to cool down.

Monday comes and Freddie doesn’t show up for work. After his shift, Jason heads to his mobile home to see what’s up.

The minute he steps up to the door, his radar starts warning him somethings wrong. He has a sick feeling, but continues inside.

OhGodOhGodOhGod

What he discovers sends him to his knees. Before everything fades to black he sees it lying there. That card.

I love short stories. I get something similar to tunnel vision when I read them. There’s nothing like them. So much is revealed in so little words. I let myself go and just become engrossed in the story, knowing I’ll only be allowed to be there for a short while.

Brandon is great at getting you to connect with his characters quickly. They become familiar and you grow to care about them. At least the good ones.

Then comes the twists. You have to have some good ones and know where to place them. Brandon does this very well, drawing my attention this way and that, my mind trying to visual each scene.

I didn’t get the ending I expected and that was a nice surprise. I’m usually close when I guess the ending and thought this story would go another way. But, nope. I got a different ending and thank Brandon for that.

The Card gets Four Stars from me!

Next up is Out After Dark. Another creepy short story by Brandon.

Out After Dark

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Eric had to get out of the safehouse. He couldn’t stand it for one more minute.

That’s how he finds himself in the alley with the woman. Not sure if she’s spotted him yet, he slips deeper into the shadows.

He’d first spotted her in the club. they exchanged passing glances. He should’ve known the night was going to be bad when he thought he saw her again at the next club.

When he spots her in the shadows of a doorway outside, his worry turns to dread.

Sure enough, she follows him, so he ducks into the alley to hide.

But she follows him.

She calls out to him.

“Come on out and play, you little bastard….”

She casually steps forward as Eric slips further down the alley, and her hand, when she withdraws it from her coat, holds a gun.

Not good.

This was fun. At first I thought Eric was one thing, then I thought he was another. It was fun finding out what he was or wasn’t and whether he was a good guy or a bad guy. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about that.

You know that feeling you get where the hair stands up on the back of your neck and you’re sure someone or something is watching you? That’s what I experienced when reading Out After Dark. I’m sure that’s how the author wanted me to feel. Good job creeping me out.

When the true story of the mysterious woman became clear, I was delighted. I had it somewhat figured out, but then Brandon did the twists thing again, and took it in another direction. An exciting one too!

I just wish it had been longer!

Four Stars for Out After Dark!

About the author

Brandon R. Luffman

Born in Statesboro, Georgia in 1976, Brandon Luffman was raised in rural North Carolina from the time he was old enough to walk. In the sixth grade he discovered The Chronicles Of Narnia. Soon after that, he was on to Stephen King and Arthur C. Clarke. At the same time, he was making his first forays into writing fiction. After creating a series of short fantasy pieces for a class assignment that were received with praise, he was hooked on writing fiction for the entertainment of others. Now Brandon writes supernatural horror as well as fantasy, science fiction, and other genres. His short fiction is available online in various formats. Brandon still lives on the family farm in northwestern North Carolina with his wife and family. Taking inspiration from his homeland, he brings southern sensibilities and a modern flair to these classic genre themes. His upcoming survival horror novel, Frostwalker, is expected to be released in 2013.

Frostwalker

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Coming In 2013!

There’s something in the woods behind Jake Marsden’s house – and someone wants him to find it. A strange dream shatters his sleep, night after night, and a compulsion to find the dark presence in the forest wars with his logical and ordered nature. What’s a geek to do?

When his small hometown of Wynn falls under an ancient curse, Jake will find himself in a battle against creatures worse than any he’s faced in a game. Playing for keeps, it will be geek versus god in the fight to stop an evil force bent on destroying everything he holds dear.

The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth – If They Live Long Enough.

For more information, or to sign up to be notified upon release, please visit the Frostwalker site.

I’ve been anticipating this one for a while now. Excited to know it’ll be here soon!

For more about the author

Website

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon

Click on the covers to purchase the books.

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More free books from the Light Brothers

Evans Light is at it again! He’s giving away more books!

Go here to get your copy of The Black Door.

It’s free on Amazon through Friday, Feb. 15th.

BLaCK DooR

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William and his brothers are on their way to summer camp. But when a wrong turn leads them to an abandoned campground, things start to get weird in this nail-biting tale of adventure and suspense. Appropriate for pre-teen to adults.

This is one of the few books by Evans I haven’t read, YET!

You’ll be reading my review soon!

And Adam is doing it too!

Great news for ya’ll. It’s free to download on Goodreads here.

Vengeance By The Foot

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This is a wicked fast read. Only takes around 10 minutes. I love the play on words Adam used in the title. You’ll get it when you read the story.

If you like stomach turning horror with your dark humor, you’ll like this one. Just a warning!

It’s a lot darker than other stories by Adam that I’ve read.

Go here to read my review.

I wasn’t kidding when I warned you about this one.

2013 Derringer Awards

2013 DERRINGER AWARDS TIMELINE

Submissions will be accepted from Noon ET, January 1, 2013, to 11:59 PM ET January 31, 2013

Judges will score Derringer submissions February 1–28, 2013, determining the finalists

– Finalists will be announced March 1, 2013

– SMFS members as of December 31, 2012 will vote to determine Derringer winners from March 1-30, 2013

– Derringer winners will be announced March 31, 2013

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

Best Flash Story (Up to 1,000 Words)

Best Short Story (1,001 to 4,000 Words)

Best Long Story (4,001 to 8,000 Words)

Best Novelette (8,001 to 20,000 Words)

Freefalling Terror

Clouds by Matt McAvoy

I spotted this on Amazon as a free download. Seeing it was only 10 pages long, I thought why not, and nabbed this puppy.

Being only 10 pages, I figured it would be quick and over. Those 10 pages felt like an eternity!

Imagine waking up and you’re falling. Falling from the sky. The rate of your fall causes the friction to rip at you, trying to tear out your hair and rip off your eyelids. It’s freezing cold, so cold it burns. Have you ever felt that burning sensation when your hands are wet and freezing? Imagine feeling that all over your body.

Your body tumbles from the sky in an out of control descent, making it hard to tell if you’re falling up or down to the clouds that are looming closer. And you have no parachute!

You have the insane hope the clouds will buffer your fall, maybe cradle you. It’s irrational, but your mind races for a solution, a way to change the inevitable.

Most people have had that dream where you’re falling and you jerk awake before you hit the ground. That’s how I felt while reading Clouds, but I couldn’t wake up, I didn’t wake up.

If you’re looking for a quick, intense story, I recommend you grab Clouds. There are no wasted words, it’s well written, and don’t you want to know how  this could happen and what the end is?

Go get Clouds now. I don’t know how long it will be free to download. Just click here and it’s yours.

Matt has written two more stories I plan to read really soon.

One of Matt McAvoy’s “Modern Tales of Horror”, available as a complete works, and the author’s first foray into supernatural horror.

Modern day London – a proud day for a very proud man, and why shouldn’t he be? Boris has worked so very hard, and is now launching his new driver-less tube train on the pioneering Tower Line. But while some consider the line a triumph, not all are as pleased; in fact some, the more spiritually-attuned perhaps, are downright terrified.

For the line, along with its creators, hides a secret… a secret darker than the tunnels under the Thames, and darker than the stories around the bodies buried there. As dark as the blackest evil of which man is capable. Bear witness – in the tunnel there is no way out.

WARNING – ADULTS ONLY

I can’t wait to read this one! It’s around 60 pages and sounds like it’s packed with scary goodness, or I guess you’d say badness. And it’s only 99 cents or free for Prime members. Click on the cover to buy a copy.

Meet Ollie. Well-educated and spoilt – a rich kid, fun-loving party-goer and brutal sociopath.

Ruthlessly arrogant Ollie takes what he wants, when he wants it. But Ollie’s going to learn, the hard way, that for every action there’s a consequence, and for every bounty a price.

Because living with Granjy isn’t the bed of roses he thought it was going to be; the blind old lady sees everything – sees him – and most of all sees the monster he is becoming, in a way that nobody else can. And that strange and terrible perception that surely only she has frightens Ollie more than he’ll ever admit.

It was she that spoilt him rotten-to-the-core, and now his payment is due. Her sightless eyes and her creepy, knowing smile will compel him to tear apart his own dark soul.

Granjy will teach him new meaning of the word ‘remorse’.

Ooh! Scary! I can’t wait to read this one either! It’s a bit longer than the others, around 100 pages Click on the cover to buy it. Only 99 cents or free for Prime members.

This contains all three of the tales from Matt McAvoy. Click on the cover to get your copy. It’s less than three dollars.

About the Author

Matt McAvoy was born in Hertfordshire in 1974. As a child he moved with his family to Devon where he attended the Torquay Grammar School for Boys and started writing fiction at an early age. He has studied screen-writing and production, and has graduated from the Open University (which he recommends highly) in psychology, social policy and criminology. Although he originally undertook the studies, he says, to make him a better writer in his favoured subject, since their completion he has spent many years working with young offenders as a mentor/project worker, and adult offenders as an officer with the public protection team; he is also the founder and chairman of the web-based organization for victims of violent crime justice4victims.org, which he uses as a platform to campaign for changes in the criminal justice system.ting fiction at an early age. Matt enjoys writing dark, often comical, usually violent and sometimes even romantic fiction in the drama and thriller genres (though recently departed temporarily into horror, after being bought a cool, gothic, bound parchment journal as a gift); he writes in a variety of formats, including short stories, novels and screenplays. He is equally content publishing theses and essays on criminal behaviour and the British criminal justice system. All of his diverse work can be downloaded from his website – most of it for free. Matt lives in London with his wife Katherine.
You can visit Matt here .

Women and Other Monsters

It has been an experience to read Women and Other Monsters by Bernard Schaffer. This collection contains lots of darkness and cruelty, a good dose of satire and some surprising tenderness. Each story evokes different and sometimes conflicting emotions.

Room Service – A down and out recovering addict takes revenge on the vampire who killed his girlfriend.

(A dark, vengeful story with a make you grin ending. No sparkly vampires here)

The Reluctant Death – No matter how many times Clarissa dies, a supernatural creature brings her back.

(An eerie tale of African folklore, poignant but chilling)

Codename: Omega – A soldier comes back from the dead with extraordinary powers and is enlisted to take out Nazi SS soldiers.

(Complex and unique, with plenty of action. I was urging him on all the way!)

Cold Comforts – A wife takes out her revenge on her unfaithful husband.

( Deeply disturbing and scary. Understood her rage, but cringed at her wrath)

Nazareth – Two alien researchers use us as experiments and change the course of our history.

( Funny and gruesome, this thought-provoking tale makes me more certain than ever that I do not want to meet an alien, ever!)

Digestif – Different and revealing.

(You are treated to wonderfully written passages that evoke a longing to be there, in the pages. It had a lasting effect on me, like an echo. It felt familiar.)

I entered the world of Bernard Schaffer at my own risk. I left it knowing I had to have more. And I am going to be reading other books by this author. He has many to choose from, just look at the list below.

About Bernard Schaffer

As a teenager, Bernard Schaffer starred in Nickelodeon’sDon’t Just Sit There,” musical productions, television commercials, and a skit on Saturday Night Live. He left acting to pursue a career in law enforcement. Since 2000, Schaffer has worked as a patrolman, detective, and narcotics officer in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

In 2012, he released a series of books titled Superbia about a dysfunctional police department that reached the Kindle Top 100. As a result, he was stripped of his detective rank.

Schaffer is the founder of the Kindle All-Stars. The project’s first release was an anthology titled Resistance Front that starred Harlan Ellison and Alan Dean Foster. All profits from that book are being donated to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Contact Bernard here:

http://www.BernardJSchaffer.blogspot.com

http://www.ApiarySociety.com

https://twitter.com/ApiarySociety

More books by Bernard Schaffer. To purchase, just click on the covers.

From Going Bad to Worse

More short stories. I love these. Quick reads that pack a wallop.

Some of these tales are like flash fiction while some are longer. All are dark, twisted and shocking.

It starts off with Searching, a search for a missing girl, this story lets you know what you’re in for.

The people are diverse, a thieving grandson, trans bashers, rapists, debt collectors and bad  priests, nobody you really want to know.

The author managed to catch me on many of these. You’d think being so short, I would see the end coming, but with some of them, I didn’t. That’s the fun thing about this collection.

I especially liked Let’s Dance and Watching, but this collection of urban noir with a Brit flavor has something for everyone. I didn’t “meet” a story I didn’t like in Gone Bad.

Got to warn ya, these stories are all too real and come from the dark underbelly of humanity. They are nail-biting, cringe at the thought tales. Nothing warm and cuddly here.

About Julie Morrigan

Variously described as a crime writer, Brit Grit writer–and even “the new queen of urban noir”–Julie’s short stories have been printed in respected publications such as Bullet, Out of the Gutter, and Blink Ink, and online at such venues as A Twist of Noir, Thrillers Killers & Chillers, Powder Burn Flash, Pulp Metal, At the Bijou, and Darkest  Before the Dawn.

Julie’s first short story collection, Gone Bad, and her first novel, Convictions, were met with acclaim from readers world-wide–both appeared in the Gift Magazine readers survey for the best books of 2011, while Convictions was voted as one of the top five books of the year by crime and thriller fans at the Crime Fiction Lover website.

2011 also saw the publication of Julie’s latest novel, Heartbreaker(the thrilling story of the excess, betrayal, and guilt behind an English rock band), short story collection, The Writing on the Wall(a collection of weird and spooky tales guaranteed to send a shiver down your spine) and a new anthology of crime shorts entitled Show No Mercy. Julie’s next title will be Darke, a novel about a stage magician who has sealed a satanic pact. The stakes are high, there’s everything to play for, and there’ll be the Devil to pay if the game is lost.

http://www.juliemorrigan.co.uk/

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4711729.Julie_Morrigan

Got to get me some of these. To purchase these books, just click on the images.

Short and Sweet?

I have great respect for authors who write short stories. Compressing so much detail into a quick, compelling story takes true talent.

L. Vera tells this story in a unique way, as personal diary entries, and I really enjoyed it. Well written and easy to follow, it is, literally, the diary of a madman.

The author’s choice of cover art is perfect. After all, it is a diary.

Todd Casil’s life is spiraling out of control. Experiencing episodes of missing time, he begins to question his own sanity when he discovers missing pages in his personal diary and entries he did not make. Who is killing the people around him, and why does he keep seeing green eyes?

Pulled into Todd’s life, I began to dread the conclusion that was racing towards me as I turned each page. You will too.

Also included are two bonus short stories.

I Hate Every Beautiful

This story will make you ask yourself whether you believe in coincidence or fate. The lives of 6 people are about to converge in a min-blowing final scene. The author knows how to wrap up an ending!

Cut

Henry awoke to find himself lying on the floor of his apartment. His attempt at suicide was a failure, just like his life.

An emergency broadcast on the TV warns everyone to stay indoors. Darkness has descended on the planet and there is something in it.

Now Henry must decided if he wants to live or die.

Open this book and prepare yourself for a gut-wrenching, edge of your seat buffet. L. Vera wastes no words, keeping these stories short and sweet. Well, maybe not sweet.

For more about L. Vera and his books:

http://lverawrites.wordpress.com

https://aknifeandaquill.wordpress.com

Other works by L. Vera: