THE PUMPKIN ORB
As I entered the room, my grandson was jumping on my bed. He was laughing, playing and having a good time. The weather outside was awful. It had been snowing most of the morning. He was telling me to take a picture. I assumed he wanted a photograph taken of him. I couldn't have been more wrong. He pointed out the window at a very large bright orange orb floating across the yard. I was stunned, almost frozen in time. I took a couple of photographs as the orb continued to move out of view. When reviewing the photograph, I was in complete shock at what I saw. Now confusion is all that remains as I try to figure out what we just witnessed.
By: Chris King, Paranormal Researcher
Oklahoma Paranormal Research Agency
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Traffic was thick even this early in the day. A line of cars snaked down San Marcos Pass as impatient drivers frequently passed four or five cars at a time in a vain effort to gain a few minutes over the rest.
Suddenly I felt a hard jolt as a car rammed my truck from the rear. My pulse raced. All I could see was a blur of white in my mirror before he hit me again. I heard Zorro barking in the camper and wondered how soon we could get off this horrible road.
Anger replaced fear as I saw the white car fall back and then gain speed for another onslaught. I remembered watching stunt drivers play out this scene in movies. Mike always said the driver should slam on the brakes and let the ramming car take the brunt of the crash—like cars in a demolition derby. He claimed the rear end of a car could absorb more abuse than the front end.
I braced myself and jammed the brake pedal to the floor. The crunching jolt was almost satisfying, but my head whipped back into the headrest. My neck felt sore. I glanced in the mirror and saw that the white hood looked crumpled and black smoke poured from the engine.
I stomped on the gas and gained distance while fumbling in my purse for my cell phone. I really needed to clean out the junk in that mammoth purse! Flipping open the lid, I saw a blank screen and a “searching for signal” message. I threw the useless instrument back into the black hole of my purse and glanced into the rear view mirror.
A knot formed in my stomach as Zorro barked in the camper.
The white car crept closer, like a tiger stalking its prey. Suddenly the car veered sharply into the passing lane, and I realized he planned to push me over the edge by hitting me from the side. I slammed on the brakes again hard, skidding to a stop as the white car shot past. He barely missed an oncoming car and veered back into our lane before screeching to a halt ahead of me.
Hunter King struggles to keep his town from falling apart. With the Government Security Agency threatening to close down The Slayer program, an unknown beast on the loose in his city, and commanders at other locations disappearing, he finds himself at the breaking point.
Dominic follows clues that bring him closer to Florin while Chari finds herself struggling as a slayer when her heart belongs to a vampire. On this night, loyalties will be forged, promises broken, and secrets revealed. In a war between all, some will live and some will die, but everyone’s lives will change.
Captain Olly Johnson has twice used his stolen Bussard ram jet, the Longboat, to blackmail human colonies into giving him large amounts of gold. That makes him humanity's first interstellar pirate, even though his ship travels slower than light. One more profitable raid, and Johnson thinks he, his family, and his First Mate John Larsen can retire, and never have to worry about money again. Approaching a third star system after an eight-year (ship's time) journey, the pirates have found mysteries they cannot solve: an entire population of a human colony missing and an unknown, alien-looking ship in orbit. When the alien ship comes after them and they can't outrun its superior technology, they have to decide to fight or surrender. And Johnson isn't the type to surrender. Have they stumbled into a galactic war, or are they about to start one?
Sometimes, the government creates bigger monsters than the supernaturals ever could…
Ransom, California, is under attack by the Government Security Agency, a special forces department that threatens to destroy the very program it has sworn to protect.
But when this outsider threatens an entire town, vampires, werewolves and slayers must band together and take swift action in order to survive. Some will die and some will live, but those who make it through alive will all seek their revenge on the agency.
When the kill button is about to be pressed, who will be brave enough—and smart enough—to save the supernatural residents of an entire town?
Vampires. Werewolves. Humans.
They all want the same things: Territory. Autonomy. A “life.”
But which of the factions will ultimately prevail?
GSA: Dead to Rights is Book Eight in April M. Reign’s Disciples of the Damned, the bestselling series of vampire bikers versus werewolves versus humans in an alternate history California where all supernaturals are controlled by the government. And they are bloody angry about it, too. Don’t miss this exciting, fast-paced science fiction / fantasy / paranormal series with heroes and heroines to cheer for—and villains to die for...
They live among us. We know they are there. No government can control them; no authority can stop them. Some are evil. Some are good. All are powerful. They inhabit our myths and fairy tales. But what if they were real, the witches, wizards, and fairy godmothers? What if they were called "adepts" and were organized into guilds for mutual protection and benefit? And what if they started mucking around with the affairs of "lessers" (that is, those humans not able to match their powers)? During the height of the Cold War, Michael Vaughan is a rogue without a guild. He survives by working for the CIA as NOC (Non-Official Cover). Shortly after the funeral of President Joe Kennedy, Jr., he is sent to Cuba to assassinate Castro. There he finds himself in a cat-and-mouse game with adepts working for Fidel.
When billionaire Virginia Ann "Peep" Holler dies, a battle for her estate begins. However, she leaves all of her wealth and Jodi’s Place – a popular Oklahoma ranch dedicated to helping wayward kids – to Abigail Brennan. Abby, a young single mother and favored protege, is elated. But her enthusiasm does not match her experience. After a few bad choices, the ranch becomes embroiled in financial turmoil causing some board members to vie for its ownership. In the meantime, Abby discovers a plot by a local oil baron who wants to seize control of Jodi’s Place, for its rich oil reserves, and end its usefulness to troubled youth. Just when she thinks the inevitable is about to happen, Abby meets an attractive newcomer in town who may hold the key to saving the ranch and helping her out of her dilemma...but not without a price. In spite of the cost, can Abby trust this newcomer to aid her in saving Jodi's Place? Or will Peep's fortune and good name be ruined by forces she cannot control or tame?
Tessa nearly tumbled out of the saddle but grabbed a handful of mane, cursing herself for carelessness. Sparks quivered and her nostrils flared.
“What is it, girl?” Tessa whispered and scrutinized the trail for danger. Nothing seemed wrong. The leather saddle creaked as she leaned forward and patted the mare’s neck. “It’s all right. I don’t see anything.” With a jab of her heel, she urged Sparks to move forward, but the mare whinnied, planted her hooves, and refused to budge.
Tessa’s heart thudded.
The dense woods felt oppressive, terrifying. What could she do? Hours from home with unknown danger lurking ahead, she frantically searched the landscape to gain her bearings. She saw no familiar landmarks, having lost track of her location while she dozed, but abandoning the trail might prove deadly. A wrong turn could plunge them over a precipice or get them stuck in a springtime bog.
She must face the danger head on. Clutching her hunting knife she held her breath and listened. Except for the horse’s snorts and the pounding of her heart, the woods were deadly silent—a sure sign of trouble. What an idiot I am! I missed nature’s warning signs by falling asleep.
Leaves rustled. A dark body moving through the undergrowth drew her attention but disappeared behind a bush. Tessa stiffened and Sparks jerked her head high, her ears pinned back. Trenton trained his horses to stand absolutely still when he braced for an attack, and Sparks became a statue.
A twig snapped.
Look up! Look at the branch. The mental command startled Tessa and she stared at the branch.
A snakelike tail twitched across the top of the branch, betraying a thick body hunched against the dark wood. Tessa angled her knife blade into the sun and flashed light into the shadows. She saw large almond eyes and the white fangs of a mountain lion.
The branch exploded and a snarling yowl shattered the silence.
Tessa jerked on her reins and Sparks reared, striking at the hated creature with her hooves. Razor-sharp claws slashed at Tessa but missed as she tumbled out of the saddle. Claws scraped across the leather saddle, while Sparks whinnied and her hooves raked the turf. Tessa hit the ground and rolled, amazed that she still clutched the knife. She crouched, ready for another attack. A dark shape blurred in the perimeter of Tessa’s vision—the lion’s mate?
At the next corner, pedalling toward him came an aged postman moving barely fast enough to remain upright.
‘Station Road beach, I do,’ the postman said as though preparing for conversation.
Tony was soon consuming the man’s life tale, and listening lifted him. He felt his spirit lighten, like this stranger was re-igniting what he believed was lost. Maybe these were his people after all, he thought, maybe he was closer to home than he believed: how they danced all over you, sang to you, felt you worthy of their stories, of their trust and time, and seemed not to doubt you’d feel the same for them; how they made light of the hard outer world at every opportunity, and when there was no opportunity how they invented one; they played with what others called suffering until it wasn’t suffering but something essentially good for you, a redeeming purgatory ordained by God. They seemed at one with the mill of living. And as for those he’d called liars the day before, they now seemed in some way saintly; maybe equally saints and liars. As a race, there was no denying it, these people inhabited a realm beyond him, a holy place that he might rise to, this Irishness.
‘Remember now what I told you: go past Macker’s field, bear left into Eamon’s Lane, and at the end take a sharp left and Station Road beach will be staring at you, and may God go with you because I can’t.’
Noted Psychologist Sebastian Cork has lived a life full of zest and splendour. At the pinnacle of his career, all should be well, but he finds himself at a loss with no explanation and no desire to fight his way out of it. With his enthusiasm lost and his vitality lacking, Sebastian is unwittingly ejected from his melancholy and at the centre of a murder investigation. Ripped from the safe confines of the place he calls home. Sebastian is surrounded by the slum and the detritus of a life so far removed from his own. Now, he must find a killer before the killer strikes again or worse, finds him. Can Sebastian outwit and outrun a sadistic killer or is he completely out of his element?
The following excerpt is from a scene near the middle of Murder In Absentia. Felix finds himself on a ship attacked by pirates at night. This is one of my favourite scenes, for several reasons. First, I get to write a fight scene, and as Murder In Absentia is primarily a detective mystery there aren’t a lot of them. I have also done a lot of research into realistic sword fighting techniques, and I get to write one properly, which is always a good feeling. Second, is that as a writer I get to play with the tempo of the story. By carefully choosing words and crafting sentence lengths, I hope to evoke the feeling of urgency and breathlessness that occur within a fight. I will let you be the judge of the results.
I woke up to urgent yells from heavy slumber. Not bothering with clothes, I grabbed my dagger and ran outside to the deck. A ship larger than ours was heading straight at us under power of oars. Their crew were silent, no drums to keep pace and no shouts. That they were pirates was evident from the vessel itself. A fast and decked bireme, its prow was painted with large blue eyes, slightly slanted to give a menacing look as they stared at us. Its sail was folded and the mast down, the pirates were ready for battle and boarding. A row of men stood at the railing, armed and ready with ropes and planks.
The pirate ship was perhaps three hundred paces from us, and by their angle and equipment I knew that they did not intend to ram us, but rather angle next to us and board us. Piracy does not make profit by sinking treasures — these come from the robbery of goods, selling the crew to slavery and holding any notable passengers for ransom.
Our crew was frantic, everybody suddenly awake after last night’s celebrations. Margaritus was yelling orders, the sailors were hoisting the anchor and going to the oars. Aulus Didius looked particularly dishevelled, not yet recovered from yesterday’s enchantments, and seemed unable to focus on the events storming around him.
With two hundred paces between our ships and us barely moving, it was becoming obvious that they would gain on us and that we would have to fight if we wanted to escape capture. Margaritus had broken out the weapon stores, and the crew and divers each grabbed a tall oval shield and a short gladius, and braced on the side facing the pirate ship. I picked up a shield and grabbed the handle inside the shield’s boss with my left hand, though I elected to remain armed only with my trusty dagger.
Margaritus yelled at the remaining crew to put up the sail with the hope that Didius Rufus could conjure sufficient winds, as the oarsmen armed themselves instead to prepare for boarding. I stared out across the dark waters watching the moonlit vessel closing in on us rapidly. At this distance I could make out the individual faces of the pirates and the murderous intent written on them. I wondered what mess I had gotten myself into and whether I would live to see the morning.
With fifty paces to go, the pirates banked oars, grabbed ready bows and let a volley go. All of us in the front lines raised our shields and managed to absorb most of the volley. Only two of our men were hit, though from the quick look I cast in their direction the wounds seemed slight. Our ship did not have a means to return fire — it was not a navy vessel, and was designed for the specific operation of the divers. It relied on speed generated by its resident incantator, who unfortunately seemed in a state of battle shock like a green recruit. The lack of a proper night guard could only be blamed on Margaritus.
Thirty paces to go, and another volley of arrows. This time one man fell down when an arrow that ricocheted from a shield lodged itself in his neck. The deck became slick with the blood spurting from his wound. Margaritus was shaking Didius Rufus by his shoulders, yelling in his face to get the wind up.
Ten paces, and the pirates cast ropes with hooks onto our rails, dragging us closer. We dislodged the hooks and struck at the ropes, but within the space of a deep breath the pirate ship bumped into ours, shaking the deck under our feet. The two ships screeched like racing chariots colliding.
The pirates were upon us. With wild cries they jumped from their ship onto our deck, swinging swords, axes, hooks and clubs. I braced my shield, and as the pirate who targeted me tried to land his curved sword in a neat arc from above straight on my head I took a step back, causing him to miss his mark and forcing him to stumble as he landed, and immediately with my full weight behind the shield I jumped and slammed into him, forcing him backwards and the boss of the shield knocking the wind from his lungs, yet still with his back against the ship’s rail he tried to raise his sword to protect himself, but I knocked it aside with my shield and plunged my knife deep into his chest. His eyes widened and a gurgling, rattling sound came from his throat as he lost balance and fell overboard, splashing into the waters in the space between our ships.
What followed was a mad free-for-all battle. The pirates were ferocious, the deck was slick with blood and the air was heavy with the din of fighting, the shouts of enemies colliding and the cries of the wounded.
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Utopia by Thomas More Narrator: Douglas McDonald Published by Cornerstone Studio on 06-23-17 Genres: Classics Length: 4 hrs and 19 mins Format: Audiobook Source: Publisher