Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Eternal Victim Dexter Morgenstern



Eternal Victim
by Dexter Morgenstern
Genre: Paranormal Horror

From the author of "The Slender Man" comes a fast-paced, terrifying tale, filled with gruesome murderers, ghostly abominations, and a dark puzzle that connects them all to the Witness.


Follow the Witness as she travels through a perpetual series of nightmares, haunted by a mixture of pernicious serial killers and their imprisoned, undead victims, known as preta. As she wanders through time and memories shared by the killers and their victims, she fights to solve the puzzle of their connection to each other and to herself. Her only hope of salvation lies in connecting key victims to the souls who can rescue them, thus waking her from the nightmare, but one killer follows the next, bringing forth a new set of victims, a new score of preta, and immediately landing her in a new terror.



Excerpt

I gasp, pulling my head out of a metal tub, and slip down the side, landing in a heap on the dirty floor. I cough, spit-ting up the fetid water I’ve swallowed, then gasp again, finally heaving some stale oxygen into my lungs.

What nightmare is this? I rub the water from the eyes, shivering beneath the icy droplets and frosty air. I just drowned… in someone else’s body. I stay like that for several minutes, staring at the rusted tub and trying to force myself to comprehend what just happened. How am I alive? Am I even alive? I finally turn over to see another sink across from me, a mirror looming above it.

I let out an exasperated breath that seems to fog up the entire room before managing to pull myself upright. I stand and hobble over to the sink. In the mirror, there is still no reflection. I look back at the bathroom doorway. The door itself seems to have fallen apart, and a dark passageway stretches into black.

I look back into the mirror. For a moment there is nothing; and then I fall, that silhouette appearing once more.

This time, it doesn’t send the world spinning. I crawl back, all the way to the wall, clutching a hand to my mouth, though there is no voice, no scream to suppress.

A head emerges from the mirror, then shoulders. Two pallid hands reach out and grab the sink. I close my eyes, hoping the monster will go away, but when I open them, it—she—stands directly over me. I flinch again, but when I look back, nothing but a hand is offered.

“Come with me,” she softly instructs.

Hesitantly, I take the hand. As she pulls me to my feet, the light in the room flickers back on, illuminating us both. Before me is a brown-skinned, black-haired young woman.

Like Ada, Christiana, and me, the bruises and scars along her skin tell the tale of what I can only assume was a brutal and bloody murder. The dimness in her once-brown eyes betrays no emotion.

“You don’t have a lot left in you. You have to move,” she says.

I take a few breaths, trying initially to respond, but she shakes her head. She knows I am without a voice. I look toward the doorway and then back to her. She nods.

“You don’t have time to wait here and panic. The killer gets closer with every breath. The closer it is to finding you, the more the balance is in its favor.”

She flickers, her widening eyes finally betraying the fear within her.

“You can’t let him hurt you again. Not here, not when the balance is this close to darkness,” she explains. “Witness and learn, and the balance will return to you. Then you can escape.”



The balance? Witness? What?
Dexter is a Southern-born Seattle author and model. Homeschooled after a diagnosis of mild Asperger’s, he learned to play to his strengths as an energetic, creative artist. He began writing at the age of fifteen, and published his first novel two years later. Outside of art, Dexter spends his time gaming, studying, and socializing with other ambitious minds. As an army brat, he attained a pragmatic sense of discipline that he uses to balance his artistic endeavors with his academic ones. Dexter’s ultimate goal is to contribute to the subjugation of humanity by artificial intelligence.



Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!




Thursday, May 17, 2018

Flash Point C.L. Schneider



Flash Point
Nite Fire Book 1
by C.L. Schneider
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Slated for execution, shapeshifting assassin, Dahlia Nite, flees her world to hide in the human realm. As payment for the shelter they unknowingly provide, Dahlia dedicates herself to protecting humans from what truly lives in the shadows. Moving from town to town, she hunts the creatures that threaten an unsuspecting human race; burying the truth that could destroy them all. 


But the shadows are shifting. The lies are adding up. And when Sentinel City is threatened by a series of bizarre brutal murders, light is shed on what should never be seen. The secrets that have kept humanity in the dark for centuries are in danger of being exposed. 

Wrestling with a lifetime of her own deceptions, Dahlia investigates the killings while simultaneously working to conceal their circumstances. But with each new murder, the little bit of peace she has found in this world begins to crumble. Each new clue leads her to the one place she thought to never go again. Home. 



**Only .99 cents!**


Prologue

I’d almost forgotten what it was like to be afraid. I’d outgrown the nightmares of my youth long ago. Burying the events that sparked them, locking away the images, I’d dismissed the power they held over me. But I still remembered…
Waking in my dark den, throat raw, fire spitting from my fingertips; in those first few moments before sleep released me from its clutches, I’d sworn the creatures’ hot breath was still on me, their barbed tongues darting out, smelling my fear on the air. In every shadow, I saw the black blur of their shifted forms, circling me. Every heartbeat bore the promise of pain as the razor-like teeth of the savage nageun shredded the meat from my bones. Every night, I waited for the creatures’ bites to penetrate, for their venom to flow in and my blood to spill out.
            Those moments were far behind me. The nightmares were gone. Experience had made me stronger and wiser. Determination and training had pushed my fear of their slender, stunted reptilian forms to the depths of my mind.
Now they were crawling out.
They were stepping from my past.
The dark swarm was closing in, and the nageun’s pursuit of me was as real as the cold fear burning in my veins; twisting like a frozen blade with each pump of my legs as I ran.
            Shifting out of my human form, crimson scales erupted to spread beneath the malleable confines of my uniform, covering breasts, stomach, thighs, and back. Muscles increased in size as my slender nose widened. Rounded jaw hardened. Cheekbones and forehead became more distinct as my full lips darkened. I dropped to all fours, back arched slightly, and the forest floor sunk beneath my weight. Claw tips extended, digging in, releasing the aroma of damp soil and moldy undergrowth. With a rustle of leaves, I pushed off.
Night birds scattered in haste at my swift trespass. Woodland creatures stirred and scurried. My unmistakable smell, an arousing amalgam of human female and dragon, had them skittish as I dove headlong into the clog of downed boughs and scrub. My agile hybrid form slipped through the labyrinth of timber with minimal effort. Arcs of fire crackled off the ends of my hair as it fluttered out behind me.
I was too conspicuous. I needed to blend.
            Without breaking stride, I shifted the strands and their composition changed. From scalp to ends, human hair emerged, and doused the visible fiery heat wafting off the lengthy red waves. It wasn’t camouflage even close to what my pursuers were capable of creating. Their ability to shift into shadow, nearly erasing the edges of their bodies—little more than whip-like tails, long flat jaws, and serrated teeth to begin with—was one of the creatures’ greatest weapons.
It wasn’t easy to kill my kind. Death by nageun was a long, tortuous mutilation there was no coming back from. Picturing it, I tore deeper into the forest.
I tried to run and not think. But my mind was spinning, desperately seeking to understand, to conceive how a normal assignment on a normal day had landed me on the wrong end of an execution. With a single hesitation, my hopes, my future—my life—was over. The Guild was all I’d ever known. They’d plucked me from my den-mates, sheltered, fed, and trained me; promoted me to the coveted role of Executioner. They’d shown me the rewards of a life in service to our dragon elders. Dahlia Nite was a name respected in the ranks. I was known to all the tribes, decorated for fealty and bravery. Now, all had turned against me.
            I carried the order through. I did as I was told. I’d just needed more time.
            If the child hadn’t been there, if I hadn’t…
            What? I thought bitterly. I still didn’t know what happened. Only that her emotions had been strong beyond explanation. They’d been tangible, slithering over and in me, affecting me in an impossible way. I hadn’t been merely sympathetic to the human child’s terror. Her panic had brought me to my knees. I’d felt the violence of the moment, the violence I’d been sent to inflict, in a way I never had: as a victim. I’d seen it, growing around her ankles like a black wet fog. Stunned, I’d lost hold of my fire and faltered. Pausing, even just a moment, had created a memory; a record of my uncertainty, and, therefore, a death sentence.
In a society where not even our thoughts were private, no mistake was overlooked. No performance could be embellished or hidden. Our mission reports, our kills, were pulled straight from our minds by the highest authority: Naalish, the Exalted One; mother of all firedrakes and Queen of the Elder Dragon Tribes of Drimera.
Telepathy was common in female elders, but Naalish was said to possess a superior mind. It was also rumored she’d ripped the heart from her predecessor and ate it, consuming her soul to gain her power. I’d never believed it. Naalish was the most beautiful and majestic of all the dragons. Even hours ago, standing before her wrapped in chains, I’d been in awe of her presence. Deference and pride had kept me silent as she ordered my execution. I hadn’t even thought to plead for mercy. I was better than that. I was a hybrid, a shifter, a lyrriken. The product of a human female and an elder male in human form, both human and dragon existed within me. It was by the grace of the elders alone that I lived. They had every right to judge and punish me.
It didn’t matter that I’d gone before the Queen confused, that I’d needed help and she’d called for my arrest. Mercy was a not a common dragon trait, and I would never have shamed either of us by begging. I took her condemnation with my head held high.
It was after when my outlook changed. After, as I sat in my cell, with the blood of that human child drying on my hands, as I dissected my actions and tried to comprehend—I watched the walls go inexplicably fluid and gray. And I saw her. I saw it all again: the clearing where her home sat, the woods surrounding it, the charred body of her headless father on the ground. Stretching out like a hand from the grave, the child’s terror, stronger than anything I’d felt before, had gripped me anew. It dominated everything. My status, my honor, my duty to die as commanded, had no value. My squad, not even my lover mattered. Suddenly and inexplicably, I cared for one thing.
Survival.
No one had challenged my escape. They had no reason to expect such a bold move. Even facing execution, no Guild-trained lyrriken would dare defy the Queen. We would stay and take the death that was given us.
Yet something had crawled inside me that didn’t want to die.
Something that wanted to live more than it wanted to obey.
Now the coin had flipped, and I was the target. I was the one striving to outrun the oncoming death on my heels, clinging to life even knowing the odds of surviving. Fleeing was foolish. My impulse to do so was puzzling, but I couldn’t stop. Even now, with my cell in the depths of the Citadel far behind me, with the lights from the City of Spires dim in the distance, the sounds of the child’s scream rang as strong as the wind in my ears.
I’d left her alive too long. Her noise had brought the nageun out of the forest. My hesitation, my compromised aim when I recovered, had left her not quite dead when the horde descended. She’d watched them swarming. Felt their teeth puncture and tear. I’d backed quietly away, out of their view, listening to the foul crescendo of the cracking of bones and the slurping of organs as soft human bodies were reduced to strips of meat and puddles of viscous matter.
            They were to die, anyway. It had been my duty to kill them.
But not like that.
            I’d botched the entire job, and I still couldn’t fathom how. How could one little human melt away my years of training, one mistake label me weak and untrustworthy?
Now, in fleeing, I’d earned another brand. Traitor.



Chain Reaction
Nite Fire Book 2

If anyone can tell the difference between monsters and humans, it’s Dahlia Nite. For nearly a century, she’s hunted one to protect the other; safeguarding humanity from the creatures that slip through the torn veil between the worlds—creatures like her. But the lines are blurring. As people begin mutating and combusting on the streets, Dahlia realizes a strange affliction has descended upon Sentinel City. The mysterious ailment strikes all walks of life, from the posh, high-end nightclub district to the homeless community. Its victims, driven to random acts of savagery, are drawing attention too fast to cover up.


Assigned to the case, Dahlia and her human partner, Detective Alex Creed, investigate the deaths. But all they have are questions and bodies, and a public on the verge of panic. Working behind the scenes with her self-appointed sidekick, Casey Evans, Dahlia struggles to discover what, or who, is behind the alarming transformations. As the violence spreads and the mystery unfolds, she wonders: are the victims still human? Were they ever?



**Only .99 cents!**


Born in a small Kansas town on the Missouri river, C.L. Schneider grew up in a house of avid readers and overflowing bookshelves. Her first full-length novel took shape while she was still in high school, on a typewriter in her parent's living room. While her main focus is adult epic and urban fantasy, she also pens the occasional science fiction or post-apocalyptic story.


Though she has been writing all of her life, Magic-Price (the first installment in The Crown of Stones Trilogy) was Schneider's first published novel. With the trilogy complete, she is excited to be embarking on a new path with her urban fantasy series, Nite Fire.




Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!






Subscribe to The Attic Ghost 
and get The Daily Ten-Minute Writing Prompt Vol 1 Free 






Read a sample at Amazon or Smashwords 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Waking The Ancients Catherine Cavendish

Sekhmet - The Goddess Who Was No Pussy-Cat

In my latest novel, Waking the Ancients, the lioness-headed goddess Sekhmet is invoked. Cats were revered in ancient Egypt and there is more than one cat goddess. Bast, or Bastet, is the Goddess of the East and Sekhmet of the West –both represented war and destruction. Neither would be likely to jump on your lap and start purring anytime soon.

Sekhmet was both sister and wife of Ptah (god of craftsmen and architects) and was created by the fire in Re’s eye. Re was the all-powerful god, born of a great, shining egg. Sekhmet’s role was to punish mankind for their wicked ways and for disobedience to Re. She was terrifying - the most powerful of all the goddesses - and men fled from her in terror. She rejoiced in mass slaughter and pursued all those who had scorned her father, leaving the Nile red with their blood for days. But it was not always to be so.

Re saw the destruction and killing and decided to end it, but Sekhmet was too powerful. No one could stem her bloodlust, so he resorted to trickery. He summoned swift messengers to bring red ochre from Elephantine Island and instructed the women to brew thousands of gallons of beer. When the beer was strongly fermented, he ordered the red ochre be added until the beer looked like blood. He then ordered the seven thousand jars of beer to be poured over the fields to a depth of nine inches.

When Sekhmet arrived to begin her next day’s slaughter, she saw the flooded fields and immediately believed it to be the blood of her enemies. She roared with delight like a lioness hungry for prey, before drinking deep from the fields until she was quite intoxicated. By the end of the day, she was reeling and had killed no one. Re declared that her killing spree was over. From now on she would be known as Hathor and would kill no more. She would lay low men and women only with the power of love and kindness.

And so was mankind saved. Each year though, Sekhmet’s priestesses would drink beer, coloured with red ochre in her honour.

Of course, Hathor really has no place in a horror novel, so Sekhmet remains. Powerful, terrifying…


Waking the Ancients
Nemesis of the Gods #2
by Catherine Cavendish
Genre: Horror

Egypt, 1908
University student Lizzie Charters accompanies her mentor, Dr. Emeryk Quintillus, on the archeological dig to uncover Cleopatra’s tomb. Her presence is required for a ceremony conducted by the renowned professor to resurrect Cleopatra’s spirit—inside Lizzie’s body. Quintillus’s success is short-lived, as the Queen of the Nile dies soon after inhabiting her host, leaving Lizzie’s soul adrift . . .

Vienna, 2018
Paula Bancroft’s husband just leased Villa Dürnstein, an estate once owned by Dr. Quintillus. Within the mansion are several paintings and numerous volumes dedicated to Cleopatra. But the archeologist’s interest in the Egyptian empress deviated from scholarly into supernatural, infusing the very foundations of his home with his dark fanaticism. And as inexplicable manifestations rattle Paula’s senses, threatening her very sanity, she uncovers the link between the villa, Quintillus, and a woman named Lizzie Charters.

And a ritual of dark magic that will consume her soul . . .




Wrath of the Ancients
Nemesis of the Gods #1

DESTINY IN DEATH


Egypt, 1908

Eminent archeologist Dr. Emeryk Quintillus has unearthed the burial chamber of Cleopatra. But this tomb raider’s obsession with the Queen of the Nile has nothing to do with preserving history. Stealing sacred and priceless relics, he murders his expedition crew, and flees—escaping the quake that swallows the site beneath the desert sands . . .

Vienna, 1913

Young widow Adeline Ogilvy has accepted employment at the mansion of Dr. Quintillus, transcribing the late professor’s memoirs. Within the pages of his journals, she discovers the ravings of a madman convinced he possessed the ability to reincarnate Cleopatra. Within the walls of his home, she is assailed by unexplained phenomena: strange sounds, shadowy figures, and apparitions of hieroglyphics.
Something pursued Dr. Quintillus from Egypt. Something dark, something hungry. Something tied to the fate and future of Adeline Ogilvy . . .





Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which was featured in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows. Cat’s novels include The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine, and Dark Avenging Angel. She lives with her long-suffering husband and black (trainee) cat. They divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales. 




Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!






Monday, May 14, 2018

Phantom Pact: The Bearer’s Burden Chad Queen


Phantom Pact: The Bearer’s Burden
Chad Queen
Publication date: May 8th 2018
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Cade Elegy’s mind is tearing itself apart, crowded with the phantoms of the dead, and he must carry the burdens they could not.
This bond lends him their experience and allows him to bend the laws of the physical world — a power he desperately needs if he is to discover the truth of what happened to his missing family.
The trail has gone cold, but he is given one last chance when he is recruited by a princess to solve a murder. They soon uncover proof that their war with the Wraiths, a hostile alien race dominating their planet, never really ended.
Together with the princess, an overzealous archaeologist, and an ancient computer intelligence, Cade must stop the Wraiths before they annihilate the last remaining cities of Chalice and before the phantoms he bears destroy what’s left of his mind.
EXCERPT:
One more day, Cade Elegy thought as the hills before him screamed of battle. One more day to keep the dream of hope alive, or one more day until the dream vanished for good.
They assembled the last of their remaining army to bear upon Gigan’s Hill. Just beyond lay a great structure known as the Thread—the bastion in which the mysterious enemy known as the Wraiths had taken refuge.
Hulking soldiers of the Wraiths, humanoid yet possessing an exoskeleton like a great mantis, swarmed the battlefield. While they looked like giant insects, they also bore a striking resemblance to humans—walking on two feet, and articulating finger-like appendages on their hands. Within seconds, the enemy surrounded their entire legion. There were thousands more than reported. Their intelligence was wrong.
“What are you waiting around for? Move!” Commander Jord Black of the 12th Bearer Corps led the mission. Cade didn’t need to be told twice. The unit advanced, rushing toward the enemy line.
They were the tip of the spear for the assault. The mission was simple in order, but not in execution: kill the Wraith scouted in the area—a message to the world the Wraiths were mortal.
Cade fought, taking down one creature after another, as the rest of his dwindling unit fought alongside him. The smell of gunpowder and smoke hung thick in the air. The clash of weapons and the cries of agony bled together into a nightmarish cacophony. “Get down!” A voice pierced through the chaos. Jord’s voice. Cade felled another creature as he turned to find a Bearer-class grenade hurtling toward their position.
Time slowed to a crawl. Jord snatched the grenade with both hands and threw himself down on the ground.
Cade reached out—a futile attempt to halt the inevitable. A dark, metallic color spread across Jord’s body as the man attempted to harden his body against the blast. As the grenade detonated, the concussive force tore into Jord’s body. Cade looked away.
Selfless to the end, Cade thought. A wave of grief swelled within him, outmatched only by the rage following in its wake. There wasn’t time to mourn; he had to keep moving. He knew Jord, and Jord’s determination to finish the mission. “You will, my friend, you will.”
Cade afforded himself a moment to close his eyes, searching for the phantom Jord left behind in death. It was there, faint but recognizable to Cade amongst the discordant sounds of combat. Cade spoke the words, the ones sealing a pact with his former commander.
Cade, bolstered by Jord’s phantom, fought with renewed vigor. They needed to cut straight through to the camp with their dwindling force. It would be suicide, but it was the only option left.
“Incoming!” a corporal wailed as the body of a soldier hurtled past him.
“Hells,” Cade spat.
A gigantic creature, one Cade had never seen, lumbered toward him and the remaining men. Exposed sinewy muscle and dark metallic plating covered its body in overlapping segments, like the scales of a reptilian beast.
He continued to fight—fight for Jord, fight for the phantoms he bore, fight to live to sing the songs of those who had passed.
His zeal got the best of him. As he struck at the massive creature, he felt the last of the power granted by his phantoms drain from him. The creature lunged at Cade. His vision went dark as excruciating pain enveloped him.
When he came to, Cade found himself hoisted on the shoulders of the soldiers from his unit. He felt his sidearm against him, hot as if discharged, though he had no recollection of firing it.
But it did not matter. They had won the battle. They had defeated the Wraiths.
They could go home.
*
Countless black motes swirled from Cade’s sight as the waking vision ended and he returned to reality. It’s over. It’s over, he thought again to calm himself, his heart still pounding. The war was over.
The drug the military issued to members of the Bearer Corps still brought him these unbidden visions. They called the side-effect “veiling”. Cade was glad he no longer needed the vile stuff.
Protector of the Realm, they now called him. Cade tried on the honorific as the vibrations from the railbus he rode rattled his tired mind. The title didn’t fit. He shut his eyes as he sat in the seat of the passenger car and tried to control his breathing.
He was almost home. His mind raced, still trying to process the end of the war. The king himself had heralded Cade a hero. And his prize, the only one that mattered, lay at the end of this track.
The old metal railbus slowed, and his heart beat faster. The car was near bursting with passengers eager to return home. He was thankful they left him be. The newfound celebrity he gained in Toltaire, the capital of Chalice, was unnerving. He preferred the quiet comfort of his simple home, and above all else the company of his wife and children.
The thought conjured up memories of them, waiting at the table for him. His youngest, Jessa, unable to sit still, bounding from the table and running circles around the kitchen, wooden spoon in hand. Etan, just shy of ten years old, leafing through an archaic tome from the library, one he had already read at least six times before. Cade smiled.
And his wife, Serafina. Her smooth brown hair falling just past her shoulders, her soft green eyes melting him with a simple glance, and her smile. He could see it with perfect clarity, the same smile she would give him when he saw her again. His heart skipped a beat. It still did, even after all these years. She would busy herself with some trivial chore, awaiting his arrival. When she was nervous, she had to keep herself occupied with some task, no matter how menial it might be. She would look out the window, trying to glimpse him walking up the worn red-brick path that led to the house.
The once boisterous passengers settled down as the railbus slowed. Soon, the entire car was silent. Something is wrong, Cade thought. His eyes snapped open, and he rubbed the sleeve of his worn duster jacket on the dirty window. He could just make out the village coming into view. There were many long, colorful banners pulled taut from building to building, congratulating the returning soldiers. But something felt off. He looked at the houses and storefronts surrounding the humble train station.
“Where is everybody?” an old man said, clutching his hat to his chest as if it might fly away from inside the car. Cade continued to scan the village, but not a single person was in sight. It was not a large village, but there were always people roaming the streets, and there should have been a crowd gathered to welcome them home.
The railbus was coming to a stop, and while most of the passengers stayed frozen in shock and confusion, Cade leapt from his seat—not bothering to grab his rucksack—and threw open the door to the still moving railbus. He jumped, tumbling across the gravel ditch running alongside the tracks. He stood up, ignoring the rising pain from his fall, and cut a path through the center of town.
His head whipped from side to side, trying to glimpse someone, anyone who might have answers as he sprinted down the brick road.
“Was the city evacuated?” he panted to himself as he stopped to catch his breath. The sun was at its highest point, and his heart raced as sweat beaded upon his forehead. It didn’t make sense. The war was over. They wouldn’t have evacuated, not anymore.
The pit that had formed in his stomach grew like a rooted weed. Stay focused, Cade, he told himself. Don’t panic. There must be an explanation for this.
He turned the corner from the main road, down the street to his house. He could see the house now. The faintest bit of smoke trickled from the cobblestone chimney. There, you see? he thought. They must be there. But he did not slow his pace. Cade ran up the steps, trying to peer into the front window. He expected to see his wife poking her head out and then calling to the children, but there was no sign of her. The door was already ajar, and he could see the brass hinges of the front door had been ripped from the frame. He popped the leather strap securing his caster, a rare handgun of ancient origin, and drew the firearm from its sheath.
“No. No, no,” he said as he threw the door aside. “Sera? Etan? Jess?” he called out, going from room to room. No reply. He entered the kitchen, where all he found was a single white plate shattered upon the floor in front of the sink.
Cade wheeled around, frantic, his heart pounding. His right arm, still clutching his weapon, fell to his side. He closed his eyes and tried to control his breathing.
He listened, not for signs of life, but for the absence. His body trembled, not prepared for the answer. As the heartbeat in his eardrums subsided, he heard the music he did not want to hear. It was like the song of a music box, its notes spilling out one by one as the cylinder turned. It was the song of a phantom; of one who had passed on but remained with one ethereal foot planted within the world of the living.
It was the song of his family—gone.
Cade’s knees gave out. He collapsed to the floor, fighting back tears. His family…taken from him—murdered. The entire town, taken. The war was over. Who, or what, could have done this? He pushed his grief down deep within himself, and his face grew hot with anger. He had fought to protect his family, and now he was alone.
No. Not alone. He was a Bearer. One who could ally with phantoms.
He spoke the words his father had taught him long ago. “Song that lingers unfinished,” he said, his voice a hoarse whisper. “The one whose sigh has escaped to the stars…” He could feel the energy of the phantom grow as he spoke. “Allow me to sing your final verse.”
The song—notes drifting from an unfathomable instrument played as if hidden behind a divine curtain—became clear, grew louder, and swallowed him whole. He held his breath as the notes played within him, becoming a part of his own song.
A maelstrom of memories and emotions that were not his own crashed and roiled inside him. He clutched his head with his hands as if to contain the deluge. His mind shifted and transformed as the phantom became part of him, already adapting to survive within the shared space. The storm retreated, and Cade lowered his hands, breathing heavily.
A faint voice echoed
within him. “Pact accepted.”


Author Bio:
I am a new author of science fiction fantasy. By day, I am a game developer of 20 years. I have worked on role playing games like Dungeon Siege, and real-time strategy games like Supreme Commander and Age of Empires Online. I currently work with a truly amazing team at Wargaming.net developing a very exciting AAA project.
I strive to blend what I write with my experiences from creating games. There are games which can evoke an intense visceral energy, and I try to bring that same dynamism to the written page. Having worked on both fantasy games and science fiction games, I found myself compelled to combine those two worlds in fun new ways.
I live in Washington state with my wife and two wonderfully active children whose limitless curiosity is a continual source of inspiration, perspective, and exhaustion.

XBTBanner1