Twenty yards ahead a lamppost illuminated a solitary man. At this distance there was no mistaking Ulysses Lundetto, current chancellor of Zone 11, a heavyweight in every sense. Next in line to be World President, he was a politician of golden reputation. Not so much as a tinge of corruption had ever been proved against him, yet the inner circle knew. Lundetto was as crooked as a donkey's hind leg tied up in knots, then twisted before being spun.
Bardolf took the moment to flick his special zollar coin, not that he believed in augury. Spinning this favoured silver piece was merely a habit, and he cultivated habits like other people might nurture children. He glanced as it landed in his palm. Decision made, he moved on.
‘What were you doing back there?’ Lundetto barked as Bardolf covered the last few yards – not that he paused for an answer. ‘You’re late. Bad mistake keeping me waiting.’ He sniffed and tugged up his coat collar.
‘Chancellor Lundetto,’ Bardolf stated unapologetically, dark eyes unwavering.
As Lundetto glowered, Bardolf set aside Gorg’s advice to check round for treachery. He saw no need. Obviously Lundetto had something important to say, otherwise he’d never have left his palatial quarters and travelled a quarter of the way around the globe.
‘Makes no difference if you are. I’ve technology that knocks out any device.’
‘Chancellor,’ Bardolf parried, ‘you’re one of the most influential men on the World Council of Zone Councils, I assume you have a reason for summoning me to this late evening chat in the rain.’
Lundetto took a deep breath, his small eyes lifting as if to deliver a keynote speech to the WCZC. When he spoke it was with enforceable menace. ‘I have you dead to rights, Bardolf. It’ll cost you everything.’
Bardolf arched an eyebrow, another habit. ‘I’m just a businessman.’
‘Save it. Your scam’s taken millions out of the Exchequer and I can trace it all back to you.’ He ran a podgy hand over his forehead like a preening mantis. ‘You’re off to jail and you can rot there for all I care.’
Bardolf didn’t react.
Lundetto twisted the knife. ‘I’ll have you targeted by all the lowlife scum.’
Still Bardolf didn’t react.
‘Are you stupid?’ Lundetto demanded tersely.
‘Since we’re here, Chancellor, you’ve obviously something else in mind, so let’s hear it.’
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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 an ancient evil stalks them? An assassination attempt on the head of the American Meta Association guild sends adept Peter Branton looking for who wants him and his leader dead. Finding the beautiful, shape-shifting assassin leads him to his real enemy, an enemy that is much worse and much more dangerous: living gods of Atlantis. Branton must team with up with his would-be killer and a mysterious warrior to defeat the gods of strife that are intent on starting a war that could devastate all mankind.
They say once a junkie, always a junkie, but this is ridiculous. I haven’t been dead more than a few hours and I already need a fix. It doesn’t make sense; my blood isn’t even circulating, but it’s the process I crave—copping, cooking, tying off, finding a vein, the slow, steady pressure of thumb on plunger, and now it’s my first order of business.
One of the advantages of being dead is that people don’t expect you to get up and walk away. I don’t imagine it happens often at the morgue, anyway, or they would take precautions against it. Not that I think I’m the first to remain awake through the entire process of dying, or even of one’s own murder, perfectly aware of the bullet smacking into my skull, tunneling through my brain, bouncing off bone, and ricocheting around like a bee in a bottle.
I must have blacked out for a bit after it happened. There was a roaring sound, like a hurricane, that drowned out anything from the outside and made thinking impossible.
When the roaring subsided, I woke up disoriented before I realized where I was: disembodied and looking down at the mess that was once me, lying naked on a gurney. I roamed around the room, light as a whisper, fast as a thought, and then returned to the body. When I got close enough, it pulled me in like an inhalation, and suddenly I felt the heaviness of physical being again. It took me a while to figure out that I could move my fingers, stretch, sit up, and even see through my own eyes. Running the body was cumbersome, like wearing a gorilla suit.
The clock on the wall says it’s four. I assume it’s at night since the joint is so dead.
As an experiment, I disengage from the body again. This time, I roam the entire place to check for anyone working the late shift, but no one is around except for a technician in a bathroom stall. I re-enter the body, get off the gurney, and shuffle over to a stainless steel tub with a hose hanging above it. I climb in and turn the water on. Some real shampoo would be nice, but at least there’s a dispenser with disinfectant soap. Eventually, I get all the blood out of my hair. The hole in my head is weird and I want to poke around in it, but I have stuff to do so I climb out, dry off with a lab apron, and go looking for a stiff my size that has some clothes I can put on.
So here I am in Doc Martens boots, black Levis, and a white tee shirt. The only six-foot-two male body I could find was a goddamned skinhead with a big Aryan Nations tattoo and huge muscles. I hope he doesn’t get up and start walking around.
There’s a clipboard at the end of my gurney. It has a report on it that says “Unidentified male, COD gunshot wound to head.”
I need a plan. I’m jonesing pretty bad, so, bail out of the morgue, score some dope to tide me over, and then on to the next order of business: finding out who killed me. The easiest way to do that, I figure, is to visit everyone I know and see who looks surprised.
It’s time to split.
After more than 200 years of being dead on the ocean floor, vampire Dominic Kollar is released in the year 2012, only to find out that the rules have changed. Bounty Slayers are responsible for keeping Vampires in line.
As Dom acclimates to the strange modern world, he discovers that he really likes two things: riding motorcycles and the sight of a mysterious, bewitching lady.
Aided by an old vampire frenemy, Dom confronts human bikers in order to infiltrate their gang and find the object of his blood lust. As long as he can keep himself fed in this new world of challenges, Dominic Kollar will make a stand, avenge his past and attempt to destroy those who dared to cross his path.
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.’
What most impressed Calder but also rankled the most was that these conspirators had chosen the weakest point in the electoral process. They were relying on the apathy and ignorance of normal citizens. At precisely the time when no one thought to look at what was going on—indeed when most thought the election was already settled—a small group had struck at the very heart of the process.
Fear ebbed slightly, as he was overwhelmed by indignation at the hubris of the criminals. Politics was a dirty pursuit, of course. Everyone knew that politicians twist the truth even when they’re not telling outright lies. But this wasn’t some cynical exchange of rhetoric and trumped up statistics to do with denying unemployment assistance in favor of funding something else; it wasn’t about gutting environmental law for private gain. Those debates, however full of trickery and spin, were nevertheless just that—debates—and they were more or less overt, carried out before the public and in the public’s name.
This plot, though, was covert, a nationally organized threat to the integrity of the office of the President. It was secret, precise in its economy, and deadly in pursuit of its goal. If the plot succeeded, the government would not legitimately derive its “just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Calder had spent more than twenty years studying and teaching about elections; and while his primary interest was academic, and despite his stated ambivalence about the “real world,” that theory and practice was underpinned by an abiding, visceral connection to what was it was all for—people: their rights, their lives and livelihoods; the just, lawful application and use of power. He found himself filled with outrage.
He wondered again about who the conspirators were. Calder couldn’t see the either party’s leadership doing something like this. It was too risky, far beyond the normal kinds of “dirty tricks” a party would be likely to countenance.
Did they know at the top level, like Watergate, and so would neither help nor hinder the conspirators? Or had some private, well-heeled and well-connected set of ideologues seen this dirty plot as a means to get their way, abetted by the confusion wealth in American politics affords?
Hours later, Calder was no nearer figuring out who was doing the killing and manipulation than when he sat down.
If you like the paranormal, and creepy haunted houses with a dark romantic twist, venture into the estate called, Shadow Ley.
“Shit,” Kellyn O’Brien complained as she negotiated another turn. The foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains had more than their share of winding roads. At the five-mile marker, she found the turn off to Reservation Road. A quick left, then a right, brought her to a wrought iron gate that barred her entrance. Shutting off the engine, she glanced back at Scott. Her two year-old son slept with a sippy cup clutched in his hand as if his life depended on it.
Getting out of the car, she approached a gate that stood at least six feet high and was topped with heavy spikes. Grabbing the rigid metal, she gave it a good shake. The lock held while rust-colored needles fell on top of her like rain. She glanced around, unnerved by thick pine trees and underbrush. It looked as if the gate hadn’t been opened in ages. All was dark gray and green, spider webs dancing in spiky boughs.
A razor-sharp wind picked up, blowing her scarf across her face. She whipped it away as she stumbled over a rock. Without notice, her stomach gave way to morning sickness that only occurred in the afternoon, and she retched painfully. Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, she approached the Prelude where her newly awakened son babbled at an invisible presence in the back seat. Her heart sank as she realized he was up to his tricks with his imaginary friend, Man. She opened the driver’s side door and sat down.
Scott giggled. “Man!”
Covering her weariness, she glanced back at the empty seat next to him. “Man?”
“Yes. Nice man.”
“Very nice man.”
Kellyn’s hands shook as much from the cold as from exhaustion. Closing the car door, she peered out the window. The solicitors had promised her the gate would be unlocked for her arrival. She sighed. Trouble was something she had come to expect. Life had been challenging, first as an orphan, then as a foster child. She considered herself toughened, relished challenges, and met head-on whatever circumstances came her way. She thought herself emotionally strong, but the death of her husband and the strain of her pregnancy had stretched her resilience almost to the breaking point.
“Cain I hep ya?” a tobacco-thickened voice asked from outside the car.
Startled, she glanced up, instinctively clutching her purse as she rolled down the window. An elderly man stood before her dressed in filthy corduroy pants with a small, stained, gray T-shirt that read See the Grand Canyon Today! His coat was at least two sizes too large and hung on a skeletal frame. The old man scratched his beard then sucked on his teeth.
“You Kellyn?” he asked, sticking his head toward the opened car window.
She stared back at large canine-like yellow teeth, chipped and stained. “I’m Kellyn O’Brien. Are you Henry?”
He nodded and his glasses slipped down his nose. He pushed them up with a gnarled, blue-veined finger. “Sorry ’bout keeping ya out here. I was busy up at the house ’en just made it to the gate.”
“Can you let me in?” She wondered at his voice. For a moment, it had sounded odd—bereft of emotion and tinny. She laughed at herself. Fanciful thoughts for a pregnant woman, she mused.
Needles crunching underfoot, the air perfumed with pine, Henry muttered to himself as he fumbled in his pocket. He withdrew a thick iron key and unlocked the gate. It swung outward before coming into contact with a large pinecone.
“Widdamaker,” Henry said, puffing. Visibly distressed, he pulled the pinecone from between the gate and the dirt. His legs shook with the effort.
“What?” With her head poked out the window, she shivered in the cold, almost missing his last remark. Thick heavy clouds roiled overhead, threatening rain or snow.
“Widdamaker cone,” he yelled. His large fingers curled around the heavy seedpod as he walked toward the car. “No good for nothing, ’cept to hit ya on the head ’en knock ya out.”
Concerned, she clicked the shoulder harness into place and relocked the car door. Scotty opened his pudgy hands as she glanced at him in the rearview mirror.
“I see, Mommy?”
She shook her head, catching his eye. “No, Scott. It’s dirty.”
The old man continued, “You watch out for these things, missus. They can kill a grown man. Or woman.”
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?
THE MANCINI SAGA. A family of six close Italian siblings each has a compelling story of romance, danger and mystery that could tear them apart or bring them together.
What if the woman you love is kidnapped from your vehicle during a traffic accident?
When famous actor Antonio Mancini meets famous paparazzi Candace Moore, he doesn’t expect to fall in love with the beautiful, passionate photographer of the rich and famous. Candace is thrilled when Antonio embraces her and the demons in her closet.
On the night that Antonio proposes to Candace, their car is involved in a massive car accident. When Antonio wakes in the hospital the following morning, the investigator tells him that he was alone in the car at the time of the accident. Against medical advice, Antonio flees the hospital and starts to search for the woman who accepted his proposal. One clue after another brings him closer to discovering the truth and proving his sanity.
Why read 7 short stories?
7 is a special number for people all over the world. There are 7 days in a week; 7 deadly sins, 7 virtues; 7 colours of the rainbow; 7 Wonders of the Ancient World – and, of course, the 7 year itch!
These 7 stories are special, like the number itself.
Why an extra ½?
We all like a little extra and this extra comes with a bonus.
You get to decide how the last story ends. ‘The Night Before Christmas’ leaves Emily with a choice – and it’s not an easy one! Read her story and go for what you want to happen. Wonder what you’ll decide.
Grimly he shuffled forward a decisive five centimetres. Nothing was ever going to change the world or his place in it. Just one second of courage,then it would be over. He would be over, on his way to the pavement and certain death.
John Arnold and Lily Smoot sat on a bench in the Santa Fe Plaza early that evening....
He looked at her in the dim light. “What are you doing running around with guys like Cummings and Damours, Lily?”
“Cummings is a U.S. Marshal, John. And I wasn’t running around with Damours. We were chasing him. What’s your point?”
“Cummings is not much of a Marshal and you know it, Lil. Is it true you worked in the Nevada brothels?”
She looked up at his face. Clearly his feelings had been hurt.
“Yes, John. When I left Utah, I looked into all the political and military and business management jobs open to teenage girls, but they were all filled. I didn’t meet any guys like you who were single and sitting around that I could safely live off, so I got a job where I could save some money.”
She looked closely and caught his scowl. “John, you're married, and unless you’re offering to adopt me or to start taking care of me, I have to look out for myself. And for my ranch.”
He looked down at her. For the first time ever, he hugged her. “I’m sorry, Lil. You’re right. It might not be appropriate, but I care about you and want to see you succeed.”
She stood up. Bent down to him and kissed him gently.
“Appropriate,” she said, “Is overrated.”
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An Unbidden Visitor by Dianne Ascroft Narrator: Elizabeth Klett Published by Self-published on 11-21-17 Genres: Fiction , Historical Length: 32 mins Source: Audiobookworm Buy on
Summary by Blogging for Books: In the burned-out, futuristic city of Empire Island, three young people navigate a crumbling metropolis constantly under threat from a