“Eat up” She said. Bob looked skeptically at the fish but his stomach churned with hunger. He said “Can I have my tool back?” Ihana said “Why?” Bob said “Well, I’d rather cut the scales off than chew through them.” Ihana shrugged and reached in her satchel pulling out Bob’s multi-tool. Bob pulled out the knife blade and skinned the fish collecting their fillets for his food. Ihana watched in amazement. “I’ve never seen anyone eat that way before.” She said. Bob snarkily replied “That’s because you are all savages squatting in this shit-hole world.” Ihana retorted “Hey, Tania is way better than your non-magical Earth any day!” Bob rolled his eyes and replied “Says the man-eating Ogre…” Ihana replied sarcastically “I bet it doesn’t even matter that you came here. A man as clumsy as you would have probably been eaten by something in your world anyhow.” Bob looked closely at Ihana and said “Nothing eats people in my world. I mean, maybe once or twice a year a shark or bear might snag someone, but people aren’t food.” Ihana’s eyes widened “But, what keeps your population in check then? I mean, surely that is an unsustainable ecology with humans having no natural predators!” Bob thought about this.
He never considered it that way before. He replied “Maybe that’s why there’s over seven billion of us.”
Ihana gasped and her eyes shot up wide “Billion!?” Bob smiled and said “More than seven billion.” Ihana looked off and sighed “An entire world, practically carpeted with and controlled by a single species… one shudders to think about it!” Bob replied quietly “Or yearns to return.” Ihana shook her head “Well, at least I can rest safe in the fact that you won’t be missed from your world. Here, we predators have to be careful. There’s only a few million humans in this world, tops. Little episodes like what you saw between me and that mermaid are becoming more and more common as we share a limited and dwindling resource. If you had not been so close, I would have killed her simply for the insult of having touched my livestock.”
Bob frowned and said sarcastically “I’m touched by your sympathy.”
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Abe staggered along the old road, a shadow of what he had been. His hair was disheveled, his eyes were dull, and his gait suggested one much older than his thirty years. No signs existed to tell him if he was going the right direction, but according to the copy of the handmade map that he’d been given, he was heading toward Geddon, California. He couldn’t reach it soon enough. It was hot. It was dry. He had run out of the meager provisions of water that the Ra had given him. He was miserable.
Still, he was thankful. The Ra had left him alone on the road and he preferred it that way, regardless of how poorly they’d provisioned him. It was as if they didn’t care one way or the other if he survived his mission.
His mission: he shook every time he thought of it. He was to infiltrate the enemy where they were strong, in Geddon, and when the time was ripe, assassinate their leader. He disdained it. He was not a murderer. Sure, it had all been explained to him. This was war. He was a soldier following orders.
The description of the leader made his job even more distasteful. Their leader was a woman, a hundred-year-old woman. He would know her by her unusual brown eyes.
He hadn’t received the mark of the Ra, so he didn’t see how he could be in the army. He would receive it after his mission was complete. It was a mark he no longer wanted, yet one he saw no way of avoiding.
He wondered how he would be received at Geddon. He felt dirty, as if the stench of the Ra was upon him. Would the enemy notice the stench? Would they see him for who he was? A snake in the grass waiting to bite? But he was being fanciful. Of course they couldn’t smell the stench of the Ra. It was a stink only he could smell. It leached to him from within.
As he walked the desert road, he had time to plan. I’ll claim to be a defector, he decided. If they can tell I come from the Ra, I’ll claim to be a defector. He thought about it as he trudged along. He needed to make sure there were no holes in his strategy. He couldn’t think of any, but then, dehydration was hardly conducive to brain activity.
He stared ahead as far as he could see. He strained his eyes until they stung. As he gazed into the distance, the road seemed to take on a life all its own, shimmering and wiggling as if electrified. It was a result of the heat, he told himself; still in his dehydrated state, he wondered.
He wore denim jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. Despite the heat, he refused to remove his clothes. They were the only thing protecting him from the sun. Perhaps it was because the Ra were foreigners to Earth, or maybe they didn’t care about their human charges, but they also hadn’t provided him with a cover for his head. That, along with the lack of water, played havoc on his body.
He walked on. No, he trudged, his legs barely picking themselves up for the next step, and when they came down, landed haphazardly, chaotically.
With every yard, it became increasingly difficult to keep his path straight. He was unsure if he was unsteady or if the road itself wobbled and veered. Several times, he stumbled into the culvert that hugged either side of the deserted two-lane highway.
The highway itself was hard to follow. Sand dunes covered entire sections and it was clear no one had driven down it for years, maybe even decades. It made sense. Only an abandoned road would lead to a secret city like Geddon.
Something flickered above him. He glanced up, just for a moment. The sun above was too bright for staring. He could only see that something, some things, circled above him. Their shadows contrasted darkly against the bright sky. He couldn’t tell what they were. He kept walking.
A breeze blew, an unpleasant dry breeze. It blew away what remnants of moisture remained within him. He stumbled. He fell. He rolled into the bone-dry culvert and got a mouthful of sand. He spit out the wad, but a grainy coating stuck to his tongue and refused to leave.
Even when his body settled to a stop, his head continued to spin. His perception danced and wavered, as if he were drunk. He knew dehydration was the mastermind behind his state of being. However, basic thinking was now being trumped by the more primitive attributes indicative of a dying man.
He rolled onto his back, telling himself he would only rest a moment. He looked up into the sky and felt the desert rays bake him.
That strange flickering persisted. He stared hard, no longer caring if the sun burned out his retinas and realized what those strange dark bodies were. They were buzzards. The scavengers circled above him, effortlessly riding the hot-air currents that pushed up from the desert floor. He knew these creatures to be skittish. They would descend to him eventually, when they thought it safe, after he was dead. Lucky buzzards, he thought. They won’t be waiting long.
He would have shed tears at the thought of his impending death, but had no moisture for their creation. Still, he lamented his future which now appeared quite short. He heard a noise. He turned. He saw. Crap!
The reptilian face before him appeared larger than life. It flicked a forked tongue. Its eyes were like pearls with elliptical pupils. The image of it shimmered in the desert heat. It took a second for Abe’s dehydrated brain to register what he was looking at. At first, he thought it was Lucifer, but then he noticed the eyes were not as powerful. He was face to face with a rattlesnake. Its tail was vibrating, its rattle sounding.
In his delirium, he wondered if the snake really existed, or if it was just a byproduct of his altered state of thinking. He watched the pit viper levitate away from him arching into strike mode. It seemed real. A snakebite was the last thing he needed. Sure it would bring his death quicker, which was the only thing he had to look forward to, but it might make the process that much more painful, which he was not looking forward to at all.
The snake was poised, but did not strike. Again, Abe questioned the reality of what he was seeing. If it was real, what was it waiting for?
He couldn’t stand it any longer. He had to know if his predicament was real. Slowly, he reached out his hand knowing he would grasp empty air or get pierced by venom-dripping fangs.
As he reached out, the rattling intensified. The head of the snake retracted back almost to its tail. Abe stopped mid-reach. His tension was maxed. Everything froze. His hand, the snake; even the air around him felt still as if he existed within a hiccup of time. He didn’t know what to do. His moisture-deprived brain was unable to make a decision.
I quickly flagged down one of the casino workers—I swear to you that it seemed to be a requirement for employment at this hotel that the women all had to look like they’d just stepped off the photoshoot for the latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue—and the platinum blond pixie cut, would make any man quickly forget the throaty beauty in the café, whose name I didn’t bother to read smiled and pointed in the direction of the blackjack tables.
I hurried over, hoping to find Charlie, and grab onto the one lifeline I could count on to help drag me back from the edge and make some sense out of whatever the hell was going on. It wasn’t hard to find him at all once I got to the area; his booming laugh at some joke he’d just heard was a welcoming beacon to my ears.
When I got to his table, the first thing I noticed was a ridiculous number of chips piled up around his area of the table. Much like I had seen at the baccarat table earlier, it looked like everyone at the table was doing well but Charlie’s stack was approaching Mount Olympus in size. He was good at this game, I easily admit, but not that good. No one was.
The second thing I noticed was the enchanting young Carrie—still in her hotel uniform but her nametag was now gone—draped on Charlie’s right arm and looking like she was there to stay. That wasn’t the least bit ridiculous at all. He was good at that too, as I’ve mentioned before, and he really was that good in that arena.
“Hey, Pete,” he exclaimed when he saw me. “Pull up a chair and join us.”
“Not right now thanks,” I said. “Hey, I think they got our bags mixed up and one of mine is in your room. I was hoping you could let me in so I could get it.”
That seemed to me to be a perfectly reasonable explanation to get Charlie out of the casino where I could talk to him without any unwanted eavesdroppers. Unfortunately, my lifeline went and threw me the anchor and sank my plan in less than a heartbeat.
“No problem, buddy, here’s the key.” He flipped his room card in my direction with one of those Friday night goofy grins of his face that I knew all too well. “Just leave it in my room. I don’t think I’ll be needing it.”
Somehow, Carrie managed to snuggle even closer to Charlie than she had before. Even as I snagged the tumbling card out of the air, I tried to come up with some excuse, some pretense to get Charlie up and moving. But something in both of their expressions told me that it wouldn’t matter one bit what I said or did next. Charlie wasn’t moving from that chair anytime soon and when he did, he wasn’t doing it just to go off somewhere with me.
I’d lost my wingman, my lifeline and maybe my only hope of figuring out what had happened to us. Charlie turned back to the table, and his new girlfriend, without so much as another word in my direction and I stumbled away without any direction in mind other than to get away from the creature who’d once been my best friend.
Before I realized it, I found myself in an abandoned area of the casino, empty chairs stacked around a few unused card tables and standing face to face with Liz. How long she had been watching me, how much she had seen, I simply did not know. But there she stood with an odd, sad look in her eyes.
“Aren’t you going to ask me how you can be of service?” And I am sure there was more than a hint of bitterness in my voice, certainly more than she deserved to be on the receiving end of.
“No,” she replied without reproach for my tone. “At this moment, Mr. Childress, you are looking for any exit that will lead you back to the outside world. I simply can’t help you with that. All I can suggest to you is this—perhaps you are looking for the way out of here in the wrong direction.”
“What does that mean?” I asked in confusion.
Something from behind me suddenly caught her attention at that moment. Her eyes quickly flickered to whatever it was for a brief moment before returning to meet mine.
“Your room opens up to the central park,” she said after a moment’s pause. “We see so very few of our guests ever bother to go out and fully explore it. Perhaps you should visit it. You may find it to be peaceful and relaxing.”
She moved suddenly then, as if to walk past me without another word. But just as she drew even with me, her lips just inches from my right ear, I heard her whisper in a tone almost too soft for me to hear.
“You might even find it very enlightening, Mr. Childress.”
Then she was gone, moving on into the casino to engage some of the other guests in conversation. As I turned to watch her walk away, I noticed what it was that had distracted her earlier, what had appeared to make her suddenly cautious not only in what she said but how she appeared while saying it.
Standing out there in the middle of the casino, clearly scanning the crowd for someone in particular, was the hotel’s manager. But before he could look over in my direction and take notice of me, I darted toward a much darker area of the casino and eventually made my way back around to the entrance without him seeing me at all. For a reason that I could not put a logical explanation to, I suddenly had a very strong urge to be as far away from that man as I could possibly get myself and do it as quickly as I could.
Even within the seemingly limited, but very gilded, confines of this nightmarish trap that I found myself in.
Liam leaned back against the counter, his arms folded as he continued to stare me down. “All I know about Avalon is from you and those mercenaries. What I see when you talk about it, is that you don’t know much either. You’ve been hidden away your entire life. How do you KNOW what’s truth and what’s lies to keep you in the dark?”
Bridgette replied “Yeah, I mean, it would be totally weird for one to transform into a 1960’s Black Ford Mustang and try the same dumb trick in nineteen ninety-eight as it probably pulled back in thirteen ninety-eight. I mean, seriously, they would have to modernize their game.” Sophie shrugged and said “Well I would think incorporating the car to be a pretty nifty adaptation. Besides, Kelpies have more important things to think about than keeping up with human toys.” Bridgette cocked her head to the side and asked “Really? Like what?” Sophie’s face grew dark as she said “Like the drainage of the wetlands to make room for mini-malls, the destruction of the forests for corn-fields, the murder of innocent animals for sport, the rape of resources for convenience, the never-ending backwash of putrid chemicals flushed into their homes… oh, Bridgette, a Kelpie, like all fairies, has a great deal things more important to consider than finding new ways to trick men to their death when the old ways work so well.”
Sophie took a step towards her and her teeth clenched. Her black hair began to move and wave as if it had a mind of its own. Bridgette’s eyes widened in fear. Sophie said “All of the Kelpie’s problems, Bridgette, have a singular answer. A simple, singular answer. The easiest way to end terraforming, clear-cutting, hunting, desolation and pollution is to simply end mankind itself.” Bridgette’s heart began to throb in her ears. Sophie’s eyes grew so dark as to turn black. Soon they became entirely black with no cornea to be seen. Sophie’s flesh and clothing began to melt and shimmer growing black as oil in color with a sheen to match. Sophie continued “You ask too many questions but I only have one.” Sophie held up a hand and her fingers began to bend backwards against their joints. They waved and waggled in a tentacle-like fashion. Sophie slung out her hand towards Bridgette and it elongated with incredible speed. Before Bridgette could even react, it wrapped the long, black, tentacle-like fingers around her throat. Sophie said “Did you actually think you would be walking out of this bathroom alive after challenging me?”
And the town of Ransom is in total chaos…
Just as twelve thousand Vypers are about to descend on Ransom, California, to seek revenge for the attack on Shane, the GSA moves to take over the slayer facility and test their termination program on the supernaturals.
But Hunter’s back and he’s ready to reclaim his city from this horror by any and all means necessary. Now, locked and loaded, he’s determined to kill anyone who gets in his way.
Hunter King will take no prisoners. He will ask no questions. And he will do whatever it takes to re-take his city and protect those he loves.
Vampires. Werewolves. Humans.
They all want the same things: Territory. Autonomy. A “life.”
But which of the factions will prevail?
HUNTER’S HELL is Book Seven 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...
"You've come to the Rims. This is the place of High Adventure!"
It all began with One Last Errand (SylverMoon Chronicles Vol V). Before Dungias, before JoJo Starblazer, before the games being played to change the known universe... First there was a single young boy touched by fate.
Orphaned at a very young age, Valian Styrke found himself in a realm far away from where he was born. Adopted and raised by the House Jhormynn, Valian was part of a world to which he never truly belonged. A world that tried to label him - a world that tried to change him.
But Valian kept to his heritage; he maintained his identity and most importantly, he kept to the dedication of courage and honor demonstrated in his parents’ final act... A dedication and loyalty which will be tested time and time again in his quest to become the man his parents meant him to be. In the Inner Rim Empire, there is a paragon of skill and power called the KnighT. Valian is but one hopeful, seeking his place in their number.
A hand wrapped around my arm and I was pulled back to sit again. The contact of that hand was gentle, but I could feel the change. Power pulsed through my system. It was happening again.
“Nia, listen to me, okay? It wasn’t your fault,” Kane’s voice said, the olive-green of his aura both bold and calming.
Wait. Aura? How was that possible? I had felt the change, felt my body absorb something just like it had that morning, but for some reason, the colors were still there. My body was filled by a wild strength, as though I had the ability to lift a car off the ground one-handed.
What was wrong with me? What was I?
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Writing has always come easily to me ever since I began studying journalism in college. I was a newspaper reporter, journalism professor, and editor of...
I started to write only recently. I had my nose in a book since I was a child, and whilst seeing my name in print...
The inspiration for 'The Worst Man on Mars' came after a chance meeting with top British scientist and author Mark Roman.
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Welcome to this edition of Words For Thought , the blog on wordrefiner.com . Like many of the previous blogs we are looking at homophones.
https://www.gofundme.com/teamfistbump Note: All underlined words are links to the sites I am currently discussing. Team Fist Bump (#teamfistbump) is on a mission: These journals are
Periodically, ForeignCorrespondent participates in virtual book tours that allow authors to showcase their books to a broader audience. Today I am hosting fellow RRBC/RWISA author