What else is in the book, “A Plague of Dreams”? I assume you read the first story, for FREE. (if you didn’t, you missed a great opportunity, I mean, it’s FREE for gosh sakes)
Would you like excerpts of some of the other stories in the book?
Oh yes, please, that’d be ever so delightful! — is what I’m imagining you saying to yourself at this point.
BUT FIRST, like with any good program, let me forestall your enthusiasm, make it simmer by giving you a short synopsis, from an interview done of me by the great Lorna Suzuki on her blog.
It’s a collection of ten stories, of varying lengths, genres and styles. They vary from fantasy, to science fiction, to crime thriller, to paranormal adventure. And of course humor. You’ll find things like…
– A dragon with an identity crisis
– An accountant that runs into a three-headed dog, (or maybe the dog runs into him)
– A refugee spaceship that might not be enough to save mankind
– A lottery winner that finds his life turning into a nightmare when he finds a hidden room
– A TV psychic that is drawn against his will into demonic evil
Five of the stories have my illustrations. So that’s added value right there!
And now, on to the excerpts (I know, I know, I can hardly contain my excitement! – is what I imagine you imagining I am imagining you saying):
The Veil (an excerpt)
He checked into what used to be the Ramada and now was some vanilla-name chain that instantly left your head even if you were standing in front of the damn sign.
He didn’t get the celebrity treatment from the manager. The manager was local born, who unfortunately remembered past events, and was therefore looking down his nose at him. Banyan figured he’d been given the worst room on purpose. The heater kept shorting out. The view was the dumpster.
Before he could finally go to sleep, he had to make a promise to the three people who had died in the room.
In the morning, Jack called for a rental car to be dropped off in the check-in turnaround and dropped off three letters to be mailed at the front desk. There was a new shift desk manager, so he took the opportunity to have his stuff moved to a better room. She gave him an odd look when he said he wanted to see the room first. “They’re pretty much all the same,” she said.
He picked one with a great view, and close to the front desk. Which is the opposite sort of room chosen by people contemplating suicide. After a couple of minutes, he was satisfied.
On the way out, he grabbed some drive-through window fast food at one of those vampiric chain joints that camp out close to hotels, hoping to siphon off some weary traveler business. There was less chance of being recognized in the drive-through. Ironic, considering his agent was constantly trying to make him a recognizable household name.
True Dragon (an excerpt)
She awoke mid-flight. Her instincts kept her aloft. There was a drag, a weight on her shoulders as she flew. She turned her neck around and saw a tiny Elf secured in a leather harness. The Elven woman grinned back fiercely, her auburn hair streaming behind her in the wind.
“Onward, Fergillius! Speed thee safely! They are close behind!” She was shouting into the wind of their passage. Her bodice was of golden fabric with metal threads crisscrossing in a tight pattern. The setting sun with its pink light highlighted her tiny form.
Arianwen, or maybe Fergillius, heaved her mighty shoulders and allowed the membranes to trap huge gulps of the wind and swim faster in the fluid that other creatures merely breathed. The exhilaration was the adrenaline that pumped her heart even faster. When she turned back around, she finally saw what was chasing them.
Three huge black wind drakes were closing in. Atop each was a pale slug of a storm wizard. In this light, they looked translucent. Their segmented thoraxes shone with an internal glow: their organs were charging up.
“Keep low!” Arianwen yelled.
The elf burrowed closer into the dragon.
A thick cord of lightning shot over them, just as the dragon dropped towards the forest.
Panic Tower (an excerpt)
He had more money than he’d ever dreamed of, if he’d been dreaming about money, which, let’s face it, we all do. He bought the place after it was put up for sale, which was ironically, or at least coincidentally the same day Jonah was reading in the paper about Balanchek’s funeral. He was clueless to any connection, and he had his own worries. He had to get an accountant to keep track of his money, and a lawyer to keep track of his accountant. Unfortunately there is no one that keeps track of lawyers, except other lawyers, and that’s like asking one rat to set a trap for his brother rat.
The mansion. Here goes: It was a sprawling affair. There were pools, and gardens, and tennis courts, of course. There were mother-in-law cottages and brother-in-law cottages and what have you. There were terra cotta accents, tile roofs and shiny metal-ridged roofs. The visual style of the place was so jumbled, you’d swear the architect was on drugs. What the hell, he probably was on drugs. There’s more than one way to pay for things, if you’re a big time drug dealer. Sometimes people will just do you favors, so they don’t have to be buried alive in a tar pit. People are like that around powerful, dangerous people. They become very accommodating.
The place did have a little too much of everything: decorative cupolas, and plantation balconies, and dormer windows and solid walls of glass or stone. There were also two ornamental towers. They weren’t even symmetrical. One was open and exposed, with a staircase that wound around and around with windows at irregular intervals that spiraled up along with the staircase so you could stop and look at the estate from various points of view. The other tower, on the other hand, had no windows at all, and was constructed of large stones carefully fit together. Rifkin called it the silo, because, well, he had to call it something.
Amber (an excerpt)
My parents died on the imploding clods of Earth. I didn’t witness it, not exactly.
The ship managed to travel outside the escape zone. From that distance, when the planet collapsed in on itself, cities were tiny specks of light, winking out.
My imagination filled in the blanks. In my mind I saw them torn, crushed, and vaporized. But the implosion of an entire planet holds its own peculiar majesty. Transfixed, I watched the visual spectacle unfold. I probably should have been lamenting the massive loss of life. Instead my mind was obsessively calculating the far-flung mathematics of implosion physics on a planetary scale. Others on the ship wailed and wept for their dead. But as for me, I was quiet as graves.
As we scuttled away from the debris, blue light from the exhaust fires bounced against the whitened dust cloud and made me think irrationally, of Christmas lights and dirty snowballs. Around me, people collapsed in grief. But I tentatively put my hand on the viewport and imagined I could touch the swirl of beautiful debris as it drifted by.
The grey entrails of the moon encircled the planet’s corpse, adding to the vortex of the debris cloud. The ink of space became a sterile backdrop to the remains of the once brilliant blue marble.
Pepe, the Club-footed Elephant (an excerpt)
Pepe entered the murky hut, and was surprised to see two red, beady eyes glowing in the darkness. There were loud sniffing and snuffling noises around Pepe’s feet, and a particularly long amount of time on the clubfoot. Pepe was unsure whether to be frightened, embarrassed, or amused.
“Well…that’s going to have to come off, then” announced the gruff voice.
Aghast, Pepe exclaimed, “but it has been part of me for as long as I can remember! Oh, woe is me…isn’t there some other treatment?”
Silence…then a rattling around in the dark room of things metal, or glass, or rock.
“Well, there is something else you can do…but it is only for the most desperate.”
Pepe wondered to himself how much more desperate of a treatment it could be, since amputation seemed drastic enough.
The Ritual (an excerpt)
The Gods must have invisibly taken him by the hand and directed him. Was the fabric of his destiny already measured or had his life been a crucible of difficult choices he had been forced to make that could not be undone? Even if he could have chosen differently, would it have made any change?
He could have died on those early streets of starvation, or else he might have managed to overcome and become a merchant and lived in a grand home. Instead he became high priest. Was it the plans of the Gods or the unweaving of those plans by chaos?
Useless thoughts like these batted at his brain, like agitated moths. He pushed them away with some effort. He reminded himself that the people were dying. This pilgrimage was crucial. The wayward meanderings of his destiny were not.