Friday, July 25, 2014

''Murder Horror Flash Fiction Stories'' Anthology (Flash Fiction)

Genre:  Horror

Type of Short Story:  Flash Fiction Anthology

Summary:  An anthology of horror flash fiction stories all involving a murder. Murder out of habit, impulsive murder, murder framed on someone else, murder carefully planned and executed.


What is that noise behind her? Footsteps? No, it can’t be. She is sure of that, however she is not turning back to check it out. She is fastening her pace even more.

But the noise behind her is not stopping. Someone or something is definitely behind her. Is she being followed? No, it can’t be. Maybe it is a stray dog, or a stray cat, or another person walking back home like she is. She is sure of that, however, she is no turning back to check it out. She is fastening her pace even more.

In less than 5 minutes she will be home she starts telling her scared heart that is beating fast. She is fastening her pace even more.

Buy this collection on Amazon.

Friday, July 18, 2014

"Knights of the Iron Dragon" by Edward Lange (Novelette)

Genre:  Steampunk

Type of Short Story:  Novelette

Summary:  The Iron Dragons: flying, steam-powered battleships. Used by knights to fight the dragons that dwell in the sky.


It was only a few moments before the ship and the beast engaged in combat. The dragon made the first move, lunging at the cockpit with its snout wide-open. Lily dove the Iron Dragon downward, just as the beast’s jaws snapped shut. Behind her she could hear a chorus of metallic clicks, as the archers fired off their crossbows. The beast howled in pain, as the barrage of arrows crashed into its body. Though most had merely bounced off the creature’s scaly hide, enough had struck his soft underbelly that Lily could see droplets of blood fall down onto the windshield of the cockpit.

“Try to aim for the wings.” Harding said. “Crippling it will be easier than killing it.” The archers silently agreed, and continued their assault.

For the next several minutes, the knights of the iron dragon engaged the winged monstrosity that threatened their countrymen. The twin serpentine forms twisted in the sky, shining silver and green in the sunlight. The two combatants would often get so close that they’d appear as a single half-flesh, half-metal double helix in the sky.

They would swoop, and smack into each other, denting the metal on the air ship, and cutting the flesh of the monster. Through the various windows of the craft, Lily and the others were given dozens of up-close glimpses of the beast’s increasingly bloody body. Its stench dominated the cabin, to the point that it was the only thing the knights could smell, besides the blood, and the smoke from the engine.

The creature’s roars and growls eclipsed all other sounds. The knights in the craft felt like they were really and truly in the belly of the beast. All other sensations and life experiences had been supplanted by this dragon. It occupied all senses, and only its death or theirs would free them from its grasp.

Throughout the ordeal, Lily found her mind bombarded by memories of the last time she’d seen a dragon. Her nostrils could faintly smell her sister’s burnt corpse, and hear her final death cries. Tiptoeing around the edges of these flashbacks was the paralyzing terror and fear that Lily had felt at the time, and the threat that it would take over again. But Lily resisted. Throughout the ordeal, she kept herself focused on the task at hand, expertly dodging the beast’s attacks, while flying in close to give the archers clear shots. There had been a few moments when she wasn’t able to push these emotions back, and she felt them overwhelm her. But when these moments came, she simply did what she’d done at all other such times; drown it out with blind, undiluted hatred.

As the fight went on, the wings of both combatants became riddled with holes and tears. Both now had to struggle to stay airborne, but neither was in any immediate danger of falling out of the sky. The fight would go on.

Buy this story on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Friday, July 11, 2014

"Money Lies" by Annie Turner (Novelette)

Genre:  Western Adventure/Mystery

Type of Short Story:  Novelette

Summary:  Book 1 of the Zachary Davis Series

Called in to investigate small town's bank robbery, Texas Ranger Zach Davis immediately gets the impression that there's more to this case than meets the eye. A mysterious note, a ruthless railway overseer... how does it all add up? 


His horse and chaps were caked with mud that dried days ago as they made their way across the desert with dogged determination. The only hint of moisture in the barren landscape was the sweat dripping off their worn bodies. It was a state of being that Texas Ranger Zachary Davis had long since become inured to. He didn’t sign up for the Rangers for a life of lavish comfort.

Zach dared to tilt his head up to look at the bright, sun-cooked landscape. At long last he could just make out the faint outlines of buildings in the distance. Lagerton was a flea-ridden, no-account little town that existed solely to service the needs of the railway crews as they worked to lay down tracks. It was the sort of place that might not even exist in ten years if the crews decided the location too inconvenient. But it was also the bread and butter of Zach’s profession. Towns like this had little to no law enforcement and it was his job to right the wrongs.

A telegram was sent to the Rangers a week ago saying that a bank robbery had taken place. Unless there had been a tip off to prevent a robbery from ever taking place, there was little Zach could do other than write up an official report. But the mayor of the town had insisted. There was something about this case, something different.
Buy this story on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Friday, July 4, 2014

"A Higher Purpose" (Witches of Cullowhee) by Lucy Varna (Novella)

Genre:  Paranormal Romance

Type of Short Story:  Novella

Summary:  The day Adam Cowan walked into the coffeehouse she managed, Ella Southards panicked. Here was the man of her dreams, literally, but he had made his appearance twenty years and a failed marriage too late for her bruised heart.

Adam came to Cullowhee to take a much needed breather from his past. In the reluctant Ella, he sees the possibility for a fresh chance at love, if only he can convince her to gamble on him.

As Adam persuades Ella to make a place for him in her life, she begins to wonder at the timing of his arrival there, and if her life might hold more promise than she'd ever dared to dream.


He came in early that Monday, shaking off the cold rain with the absent-minded air of a man with things to do.

When Ella Southards saw him, her heart flipped in her chest, then boomed so hard it took her breath.

His features were astonishingly familiar to her: the wavy brown hair that tended to curl at the ends because he'd forgotten to cut it; the long nose and thin lips and heavy brows above chocolate eyes in a face that was thin, intelligent, friendly; the athletic build, earned through work and not trips to the gym; clothes that were more shabby than chic, but still labeled him as Somebody. Not somebody famous, but somebody with a life, somebody with a purpose.

She recognized him, but she'd never met him. Never seen a photo of him, never heard anyone talk about him. But she knew him, nonetheless.


The voice of the customer in front of her, waiting for the coffee-like concoction she was supposed to be preparing, brought her back to the present. With a smile of apology, Ella finished making the drink and rang up the sale. As she shut the cash register drawer, a soft glint of gold winked from her ring finger, and the surprised astonishment she'd felt at seeing him faded into a muted despair that had been her companion for far longer than she liked to contemplate. She'd remembered him, but had forgotten that she had nothing to offer any man, especially not this one.

Without giving herself the time to look at him again, to wallow in the reality of his presence, she signaled to her co-worker that she needed a bathroom break. Carrie Long, a petite twenty-year-old chemistry major, was a sweet young woman, but her effervescent optimism was a bit more than Ella could stand at the moment.

She slipped into the back, used the bathroom so she wouldn't be caught in a lie. Dawdled for a moment in front of the mirror. Caught herself smoothing her hair back and wishing for better makeup, a face lift, a tummy tuck, and nicer clothes, all at the same time. Exasperated, she checked her watch, determined that he'd had enough time to order something from her eternally perky co-worker, and that it was safe for her to get back to work.

On the way back in, she grabbed a box of coffee cups, hoping Carrie would forgive her for taking a bit too long in the restroom, and not talk about the dishy gentleman who was currently uppermost in Ella's mind.

Carrie sidled up to her and grabbed some cups to help restock. "Check out Mr. Hottie over there by the door," she said.

Ella suppressed a sigh. Carrie refraining from noticing, and talking about, a good-looking man had probably been too much to hope for. "Who?" she asked, not looking up.

Ella caught the are-you-kidding-me eye roll out of the corner of her eye. "Tall, dark, and handsome at number two," Carrie said, as if it were perfectly obvious. "Coffee, straight up, and a doughnut. No froufrou crap for him."

"Ah, a manly man," Ella said.

"And nice, too." Carrie gave up all pretense of work and settled her elbows against the counter.

"So he asks politely before he drags a woman back to his man-cave?"

Carrie laughed and nudged Ella playfully with her elbow. "Har, funny," she said. "Aren't you even curious?"

"Nope." Ella purposely used her no-nonsense Mommy tone. "I have a firm policy of not ogling manly men. Besides," she added, "I'm married. Takes all the fun out of it."

Carrie snorted. "Yeah, right. You're married, not blind." She grabbed the empty coffee cup box and tugged a bit. "And you're only half-married, anyway. It'll be over soon, right?"

Ella relinquished the box and shook her head. "Not soon enough, but that doesn't really matter. Until it's legally settled, I'm still married."

Carrie's face melted into sad sympathy for a moment before she abruptly stuck her tongue out and made a funny face. "Neener, Ms. Stick in the Mud," she said in a light tone. "One of these days, I'll get you to admit you think he's hot." And she flipped her blonde ponytail and grinned when Ella muttered a mock stern, "Very mature, Miss Priss."

He stayed at the small table for an hour while he drank coffee (black) and ate a doughnut (powdered sugar) and peered intently at the screen of his open laptop. The rain abated, people drifted in and out. Ella discovered a pressing need to clean under the counter any time he looked up. Carrie chattered prettily away until they'd run out of chores and people to wait on, then took a textbook and highlighter out of her backpack to study in the fits and starts around customers.

Another hour passed with him typing madly away, hunched over at the small table. The cup of coffee sat forgotten among crumpled napkins. Ella hadn't the nerve to bus the table around him or offer a refill, as she normally would. Thankfully, Carrie didn't notice the aberrant behavior, being absorbed in a weighty tome on the ethics of responsible journalism, her minor.

Finally, he rose and stuffed his laptop into its bag. He picked up his trash and stood for a moment as if unsure about the etiquette of leaving it on the table or discarding it on his way out. Carrie was putting away her book in anticipation of the lunch rush and noticed his dilemma. With a pretty smile (and, really, Ella admitted with some envy, what about Carrie wasn't pretty?), she bounced over to help, chatting with him in a friendly way that brought a matching smile to his face.

When he left, Carrie turned to Ella with a triumphant grin. "Adam Cowan," she said. "New to town, divorced, one child. Paleogeologist with multiple degrees, one in math, by the way, coming out of a long stint of field work, and writing a book on his finds. Sexy voice." Carrie sighed dreamily. "If only he were a bit younger."

"You got all that from a one minute conversation?"

Carrie laughed mischievously. "I'm good, but not that good. No, I recognized his name. He's doing a lecture series at the college on science and math journalism. Every Monday night at seven 'til the end of term." She paused and slid Ella a sideways look that was not as innocent as it should have been. "Not that you're interested or anything."

Ella pulled a wry face at her co-worker and shooed her back to work.

"Very mature, Madame Grouch," Carrie said, and Ella entered the lunch rush in a lighter mood for the co-ed's antics.

He came back to the coffeehouse several times over the next few weeks, and more than a few times she saw him jogging shirtless past the window along the sidewalk. Ella avoided him whenever possible, and passed that time without ever having to wait on him personally. Carrie was deep in the middle of juggling a heavy course load and managed only a few knowing looks. To her credit, she only teased Ella once about attending Adam's lecture series.

As the days passed, Ella settled into life as a nearly-single woman. She met with her lawyer, learned that a final hearing had been set for the divorce, and ignored her husband's phone calls. After leaving the coffeehouse each day, she worked on some freelance accounting work she'd taken in to make ends meet, and finished knitting a sweater intended to be a Christmas present for her son, with whom she spoke by phone or e-mail nearly every day.

She met Harold Tennenbaum, her old math professor, for lunch one day, but didn’t give in to his urgings to return to school to finish her degree; nor did she agree, at his request, to join a research project in desperate need of her particular skills. "I'm too old," she insisted. He merely shook his head sadly, as if he understood that it wasn't her age holding her back at all.

Most of all, she did not think about him, the man who had haunted her for so long, or the reason fate might have brought him into her life at that moment and not another.

Buy this story on Amazon.