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Monkey House: Chapter 1

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The bird cried out in alarm. I looked up from my lawnmower, right into the setting sun as it squawked once more before flying from its perch atop the shoulder-high lilac bush on the outer edge of my property.

I furrowed my brow as I covered my eyes with an arm. The evening air was still. Was it a fox? Maybe a skunk? Maybe one of the feral cats I always found. My dog Becker lay in the nearby grass that I hadn’t yet mowed and he too raised his head in curiosity, carefully sniffing the air.

The day had been hot, and despite the late hour, it was no less warm than it had been just a couple of hours previous. I released my hold on the mower, letting go of the handle so that it killed the engine. I kept an eye out for the source of the disturbance as I walked to where I’d left a water bottle sitting on the hood of my old Ford truck. Becker continued to test the breeze, and I noticed movement in the lilac bush as I put the bottle to my lips and took a swallow.

The bush rustled again as I finished another swallow and wiped my mouth on the back of my hand.

Becker was up on all fours by that time, a low, menacing growl escaping from his throat. This was as excited as he usually got.

“Quiet, Becks.” I made a snapping sound with my fingers, and he immediately shut up. After a moment of hesitation, I told him to stay, remembering a kitten I’d found climbing up a tree on the backside of our property last week.

Thinking that it might be a similar situation, I didn’t want Becker on my heels making things more difficult.

I walked towards the bush, swinging my water bottle on my finger, using the loop of plastic between the lid and the container to keep hold of it. It had been five years since Marjorie and I had retired and moved from the city. Not a day went by that I didn’t ask myself why we hadn’t done it sooner.

I’d thought the office had needed me, that they couldn’t do without me, but my retirement had been easier than I’d imagined.

I was four steps from the bush when the branches parted, and the head of a furry creature came out from behind. Becker barked when he saw the animal, which was surprising. He almost never barked.

“Hush,” I said, snapping my fingers again. Becker sat back on his haunches, but he became more agitated, whining as he waited. I ignored the noise, taking it as a sign he was trying to be good. 

At first glance, I thought the animal was a bear cub. It was brown and about the right size, but the more I looked I realized something was off.

It wasn’t uncommon to get wildlife wandering across our three acres, but it was usually a rabbit or a fox. Sometimes a few deer. It was the first I could recall seeing a bear, or for that matter a bear cub.

I automatically took a step backward when it looked at me.

Its face was distorted. The snout was too small, and it appeared to have human skin through the blonde fur. “Help!”

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New Short Story: Monkey House

I have a new short story out today: “Monkey House.” Here is the book description:

Retired lawyer Tom Tate is just about to call it a night when an impossible creature comes out of the bush and asks for help. It is convinced they are in danger. Tom, despite his better judgment, allows the creature in the house.

His house is shortly attacked by burly monsters that look like monkey-ape hybrids, demanding he turn over the strange creature. 

The monsters can’t just talk, some are as intelligent at Tom Tate. 

Tom Tate must use his wits to escape the clutches of these menacing monsters as he tries to understand the unexpected situation and how he should respond. If you like monster stories that push the bounds of your imagination, this story is for you. Fans of Planet of the Apes, the Island of Doctor Moreau, and Michael Crichton’s Next will enjoy this yarn. 

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Sneak Peek

Fuzzball ran from a window to a far corner as I entered. One of the ape-monkey creatures stood in the broken window, a foot lazily hanging over the edge while a hand was propped up on the inside for balance.

Becker’s barking appeared to be the only thing that kept it from entering. It blinked at the barking dog.

“Watcha doing?” came a voice from below. “Go on, get in.”

The creature hissed. “There’s a dog that will bite me the moment I touch the floor.”

I swung my ax, catching the haft in my hand. If there could be a talking bear cub, why not talking monkeys? Had Marjorie slipped something into my diet Coke before heading out for the evening? I was starting to feel like I’d been transported into a bizarre reality, with wild animals that could mimic human speech patterns.

“Flee, you tormentor!” cried Fuzzball from the corner. “Death take you.” Strong words from a small cowering creature who had no way of fighting.

I glanced at Fuzzball and did a double take, he had his paws up, four-inch claws were extended. His teeth were bared, giving me a clear view for the first time. They could have chomped my arm in half. He was also standing straight on his two feet, rising well above my waist. He looked much more dangerous than when I had first met him.

I took several steps into the room, brandishing my ax as if it were a club or a baseball bat. Its handle felt familiar and was comforting. I used it every day during the winter to chop wood.

“Look here,” I shouted. “This is no place for a brawl.” I motioned with my ax at the creature. “You can leave the way you came. Take your friends with you. I won’t charge you for the window.”

He let out a barking laugh. “Petey, you got to get up in here, there’s a fleshbag with an ax who thinks he’s going to scare me.”

“Move, move, Regey! You need help.” This was a third voice. I guessed there were five, maybe six. I hadn’t counted the shadows.

For as fierce as the monsters looked, they sounded like teenage boys who were skipping school for the first time to have a little fun.

I took umbrage at being referred to as a fleshbag, but I thought of them as talking monkeys, so perhaps it was only fair.

“Call off your dog,” Regey said, looking at me with a mocking smile. 

Pick up your copy today!

Blood Games – Episode 16



This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:  

KRIS WASN’T HARD TO find, but I had to circle the DataRader headquarters to do it. I had become antsy, and just as I was about to take out my phone, I spotted her SUV.

Within a stone’s throw from the entrance to the parking garage.

She shouldn’t have parked so close. I shook my head, muttering under my breath before I thought better of it. I looked around, in case somebody was close enough to have picked me up on Spectrum, and was relieved the nearest man was a block away.

Kris couldn’t have chosen a closer or more prominent place to monitor the entrance of the parking garage. She might as well have hung a sign. I’d been careful at the DataRader compound to park several blocks back to decrease the chances of us being spotted. It should have been a given she do the same here.

Perhaps fatigue was affecting her decisions.

More likely she just doesn’t believe Reed is involved in all this, I thought. Or worse she has less experience with this sort of thing than I’ve given her credit for.

Now that was a scary thought.

I was glad I’d taken the time to fix my disguise before coming to find her. I’d even added a piece of latex to my chin in hopes of fooling FaceRec. I’d done a bad job of it but hadn’t wanted to waste time to fix it. I figured the dark would cover up most of it. If anybody noticed they’d assume it was a scar. The goal was to throw off FaceRec. I planned to put a bandage over it once the sun came up.

Letting out a quiet breath, I stepped into the shadows while I observed Kris. Even with my disguise, I didn’t want to get any closer. I located the security cameras. The most obvious were at the entrances, but a place as big as the DataRader headquarters would have them all over. The cameras I saw were focused on the parking garage entrance. There was a chance she was far enough back to not be on video, but it was slight.



Blood Games – Episode 15



This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:  

I SHIELDED MY EYES with a hand as I came around the corner and took in the scene before me. I had expected to come face to face with a wall of flame but found the explosions were blocked from view because they were coming from the far end of the compound. The crashing thunder echoed through the city street causing my hands to go to my ears.

The people in the parking lot ran as the explosions moved closer. The guard was late in swinging open the gate and a handful had begun to climb. Most hopped off when they noticed it was moving, but one man continued to the top and went over. Through the chaos I could barely hear a horn as cars came up behind the people.

I feared a large pickup truck in the front was about to run over a large swath of people but at the last second, those in the rear noticed the driver wasn’t slowing and got out of the way. One of the men could have had a hip clipped by the truck as it sped by but I wasn’t certain.

I shook my head as I watched from my place of safety. At least the guard hadn’t run and was trying oversee the evacuation, little good though he did. The fool should have listened to me and sounded the alert when I warned him. By the looks of things I assumed he had run a fire drill, that would explain why the people had congregated in the parking lot. It had at least given them a fighting chance of outrunning the explosions.

The guard had his rifle out, but it was pointed in the air as he waved his free hand at the truck while it zoomed out the gate. The vehicles behind came next, heedless of the guard but most taking care to avoid those on foot. 

Even with my hands over my ears, I could tell the explosions were coming closer. They’d been going for a full thirty seconds and didn’t show any signs of slowing.

 

Blood Games – Episode 14



This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

AS I STARED OUT at Reed’s compound something clicked in my mind and it all came together. I understood why Reed was having the fake me target DataRader.

It was about the kids.

He was trying to convince them they were my next targets. It was so obvious I wondered why I hadn’t put it together before. Reed had probably planned on this from the beginning, he’d just escalated the timing after I’d shot Sam.

Reed had been only too happy to turn Sam into a martyr. Even though I’d taken one of his best men out of play, I doubted Reed saw it that way. My gut told me he’d just zeroed in on the opportunity Sam’s death had presented.

I took a deep breath and let it out. While Reed was a great Beltran admirer, it looked like he wasn’t following the playbook completely. The children knew they worked for DataRader.

Reed wasn’t repeating Beltran’s mistake of setting up a shell company. Perhaps he figured that trying to convert me to Diggon is where Beltran had gone wrong.

The problem with Beltran and Reed was that they didn’t understand the human connection. They thought they could move people around like pawns on a chessboard, never giving a second thought to what they were thinking or feeling.

They lacked empathy, the ability to view things from another’s perspective.

War of the Fathers Box Set

I recently released a box set for War of the Fathers that includes War of the Fathers, Lord of the Inferno, Enemy in the Shadows, and Blood of the Redd Guard. You can find it here.

After twenty years of war, the aliens left them in ruins.

They had no defense when the aliens returned a thousand years later.

War of the Fathers

Adar Rahid and his son Jorad have been on the run for fifteen years, chased by servants of Adar’s father who are intent on finding and killing Adar. Even while a fugitive, Adar continues to search for the secrets of their forefathers because he fervently believes that an ancient alien race known as the Hunwei are about to attack. When Adar stumbles upon large cloaked creatures in the woods, he determines that the Hunwei have returned and that drastic action must be taken. Readers are taken on an adventure as the Hunwei attack while a father and son struggle to find a way to fight back in this tale of epic fantasy and science fiction. This action packed story is the first volume in the War of the Fathers series. Buy your copy today! 

Lord of the Inferno

Immediately after Adar Rahid activates an ancient weapon that kills the Hunwei in Zecarani, he discovers the Hunwei have humans fighting for them. As he fights these traitors and tries to capture his wife’s murderer, he finds death waiting for him wherever he turns. After Adar kills a human in Hunwei armor, he realizes he still doesn’t know the full extent of the Hunwei technological capabilities. His blood boiling with rage over the death of his wife, he barely thinks about the consequences as he rushes after her murderer. 

Enemy in the Shadows

The fate of many rests on Jorad Rahid’s shoulders as he arrives in Rarbon to make his claim, something he swore never to do. As he faces new enemies and old, he is thrust into a position of responsibility that brings unforeseen difficulties that threaten his life, direct reports he cannot trust, and a bureaucratic process that is likely to drive him mad if it doesn’t leave him dead. As he navigates these problematic waters, he faces off with a jealous grandfather in a political battle for which he is ill-prepared. Hoping to spark a fire in the people of Rarbon, Jorad boldly asserts that the Hunwei have returned, but his words are met with disbelief and open hostility. As he strives to find a way to convince the people of the truth, he becomes impatient with those who stand between him and the Rarbon Portal.

BONUS NOVEL: Blood of the Redd Guard

Adar Rahid has only been a general for two months, but his problems are already multiplying. He has his hands full with a father who wants to kill him and Helam Morgol, another general who is secretly laying plans to take over the Rarbon city government. 

If you love science fiction and fantasy, these four action packed novels are for you. Buy your copy today!

Sneak Peak:

The leaves rustled with the breeze and flashes of moonlight splashed onto Adar’s face as the movement of the trees created gaps above them. Jorad was surprised to see that Adar was calm, even contemplative. He would have expected Adar to be anxious and afraid, given that the thing he’d been paranoid about for years had finally happened.

“We have to get to Rarbon,” Adar whispered as he stared at the place where the Hunwei had disappeared.

Jorad made a face but didn’t speak. He could still smell the Hunwei even though they were gone. It was a musky stench mixed with rotting flesh. He sniffed trying to imprint the smell on his memory. The return of the Hunwei changed everything. Adar hadn’t expressed the sentiment yet, but Jorad knew that their time in Neberan had come to a close. His second thought was that he’d have to reevaluate his decision about returning to Rarbon to make a claim.

“The Rarbon Portal is our best chance now.” Adar stared at Jorad.

There was a loud boom of thunder and the ship disappeared. 

This book features three full length novels in the War of the Fathers universe and another full length bonus prequel novel, pick up yours today!

Blood Games – Episode 13



This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

MY HANDS BURNED LIKE they were on fire. Ripping my eyes away from the children, I looked at them and realized I had balled them into fists and that they were shaking and numb. Even though my nails dug into the palms of my one hand and the edges of the monocular cut into the other, I barely felt them. I stretched them several times to get the blood flowing as the wind blew across my forehead, freezing the sweat that had formed during my run.

It took every bit of my resolve to not hop the fence and charge after the kids. It wasn’t just anger that drove me. No, it was also guilt.

I was ashamed that I’d let my focus be so drawn by Sam back at Reading Market that I’d hadn’t thought of the children until after they’d disappeared.

They’d been right there, within my grasp, and I’d let them escape. I sometimes tried to blame Sam for that, but it had been my mistake. Seeing them with Reed made me realize that in a way I had not yet been willing to come to terms with. 

I backed away until I was out of view of the compound. Once I was sure I wouldn’t be seen I booked it up a couple of blocks before running flat out to where I’d left Kris. Reed and the others were moving quickly, I doubted I’d make it back in time.

My foot caught on something and I went down. Hard. Luckily, my reflexes were good and I broke my fall with my palms and kept my head from slamming into the concrete. I slid on my side as I skidded forward. Grabbing hold of a bench that I’d narrowly missed, and ignoring the flare of pain in my hands, I leapt to my feet and pushed ahead, a little slower and watching more carefully.

 

Blood Games – Episode 12




This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

THE SPRAWLING DATARADAR COMPLEX had a large footprint on the outskirts of the city. Several structures were more than ten stories high, but most were less than five. It was an industrial location with residences and office space starting up a handful of blocks to the left.

Kris had checked with Jolene ten minutes ago, and we still weren’t any closer to locating Reed’s home, so I had continued on our way here. I’d never been out this way and figured it was a good time to visit, especially since I had wheels. It wasn’t likely anything would turn up, but I’d been outside the DataRader headquarters numerous times, hoping to spark an idea of how to locate Reed. It was time for a different perspective on the company, perhaps it might help me figure out what I should do next.

I doubted Reed came to this site much but I was antsy to be doing something, if only to stay busy. I parked on the street with our car facing the complex’s gate. We were several blocks back to avoid both the guards and any cameras that might be connected to FaceRec.

Kris had barely spoken during the drive. What she had said had been short and clipped, but I didn’t care. If she had been more open to my claims about Peck, I would have told her about Reed weeks ago. Or if she would have looked into the kidnapped children she might have found something that would have facilitated the conversation.

She had nobody to blame but herself.

The awkwardness became worse after we parked. I could tell she wanted me to ask and even though I didn’t want to give in, if something were to happen I needed her to be ready to deal with it, not stewing in anger.

“What’s eating at you?” I asked.

Blood Games – Episode 11



This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

THE TEMPERATURE IN THE room didn’t change after Kris had gone. Jolene looked at her tablet, pretending like the exchange hadn’t happened.

Maxine fixed me with a cold stare. “My employees know I like to be told when I’m being stupid, Jake.” She straightened her back and twisted her head to the side. “There is a reason why my business has been successful. I listen when I’m told I’m in the wrong.”

“I’m not in disagreement about speaking the truth. It’s the tone. Such conflict isn’t healthy. Not everybody will let your display of anger just wash off their shoulders. Some will harbor resentment.

“Those people don’t work here long.” She smiled. “You disagree with my methods.”     

“I shot my last boss in the head. I’m not a stranger to interoffice conflict.” That wiped the smug look off her face, but I could appreciate the fact she was trying to foster a work environment where people told her what she needed to hear. I wasn’t convinced it should be as conflict-filled as she made it, but I’d never run a business.

Maxine seemed content to wait for Kris’ return and opened a laptop that had been sitting on the table in front of her. Between her and Jolene, the temperature seemed to have dropped several more degrees as they both avoided eye contact.

I leaned back in the chair and rubbed my eyes, wishing I could spare a few hours for rest. It had been weeks since I’d had a decent night’s sleep. My mind was only working due to the adrenaline I had coursing through my veins and nothing else. I went to a window and stared at the fire which I could just catch a sliver of from up here, splitting my time between the muted television and the real thing, wondering if the fire had been contained.

I checked my burner phone and thought about sending a text to Shannon. I wanted to reassure her again that I’d had no part in this. I’d told her that night outside of Benny’s Diner and again this afternoon before the fire, but maybe she would need to hear it again considering all the damage that had been done.

Dead Man’s Game: Chapter 3

To say my body hurt was an understatement, it felt like I had been stuck in a metal drum somebody had hit with a baseball bat for hours on end. My ears rang and felt like they were filled with liquid. My skin was on fire as if acid had been poured all over and I had been beaten with spiked clubs.

“Where am I? What happened?”

My words were unintelligible. The voice seemed to be mine, yet it was wrong and lower in tone. Something was wrong with my mouth but I couldn’t tell what it was. I tried to check the clock on my bedside table but couldn’t move. It was dark, nothing to see.

Shouldn’t there have been light somewhere?

Monsters, I thought, remembering my dreams. Getting shot. The monster dream came back crystal clear. I had been on the ground, looking into the blue sky. On either side were buildings, like those in the alley after I’d stepped out of opposing counsel’s office building. They were different, but the overall structure was the same, like a blurry photocopy.

I tried to move my head, but it was fastened in place.

That was when I heard an engine, low and rumbling. It started quiet but grew to fill the alley, echoing off the buildings. It came closer and closer, louder and louder.

A strange creature bent over me. I opened my mouth to scream, but it was wired shut. It looked like a jaguar that had turned into an insect and grown wings, but that wasn’t quite right. Its mouth opened and I could see into a deep maw that was wide enough to swallow me whole. I could hear people as if they had been eaten alive.

The creature’s mouth opened wider and wider. Its teeth stopped inches from my face. Another creature came from behind.

That was where it ended.

There had been other dreams, but none as vivid as that. It was just a dream, I reminded myself.  They had all just been dreams; nightmares, so vivid they were convincingly real but not quite there.

I shivered, suddenly cold.

My body was covered in sweat. My eyes stung, my hand wouldn’t move when I tried to wipe away the perspiration. The last moments of the dream where I’d been shot returned, the sudden reality of the warm asphalt on my head came like a breaking dam. 

“Ricky! Ava!” I said. My voice was still unintelligible and wrong. Little details about the shooting came back, one piece at a time. The acrid smell of blood—my blood—as it covered the ground. A masked man.

The shooter.

He’d been crazy. He hadn’t listened to a word I said, even though I had tried to help.

More sweat dripped down my face.

Perhaps it wasn’t a dream after all. I swallowed, remembering he’d spoken through a prerecorded message.

Face the facts, Earl Anderson, I told myself, face the incontrovertible facts. You were shot. You saw blood. You smelled blood. You lost consciousness. I took another deep breath. But you are still alive. You can feel your body. You can think.

Think.

I was probably sedated. After another attempt to move my hand failed, I worked on my eyes. They were not secured. I could feel my eyeballs rolling around, I just needed to get my eyelids open. On the first try I saw a short slash of gray and felt a stinging sensation. The second time showed little more, but my eyes burned more as well, from sweat I assumed. After the burning went away I tried a third time.

It worked.

Everything was blurry. I could distinguish shapes and saw a light overhead.

There was a beeping that sounded far away.

“Where is my family?”

The beeping slowed, sounding in time with my heart.

I was in a hospital.

Not my favorite place but not the worst either, especially after getting shot. As I drifted into unconsciousness, I no longer had trouble distinguishing between my dreams and the reality of taking a bullet.

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