Is Paradise Regained? Find out in Jack Flacco’s New Zombie Novel

Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise
What in me is dark
Illumin, what is low raise and support;
That to the highth of this great Argument
I may assert Eternal Providence,
And justifie the wayes of God to men.
–John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 1 (1674 publication)

It’s been a long time since I’ve read my Milton, but I’ll say up-front that I recall no zombies in this English poet’s masterwork of blank verse, “Paradise Lost.”

Which is precisely where Jack Flacco’s latest zombification can come in handy. Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise is the concluding book in Jack’s trilogy. It is also one that I hope those of you interested in speculative fiction writ large, or horror in micro terms, will consider buying. When you do, you can be pretty assured you’ll be supporting a self-publishing small-business owner, father, husband, and cool guy who likes to wax philosophical on his blog about everything from fierce female protagonists to hellacious heroes, vile villains, and freedom f(r)ighters of just about every stripe.

Paradise-hunter Ranger Martin and his motley crew of teens and other dogged dispatchers of the undead are now available through Amazon in ebook form for your Kindle or in paperback.

From what I understand, the novel begins in media res, at gut-level as it were, and will continue to gnash and gnaw its way through you as you travel amid the fast-paced narrative. But don’t take my word for it; Jack has amassed an expert team of reviewers who’ve given their critiques, connectable through the link here.

I can’t wait to read it, and what better time than October? Consider this book happily at the top of my beloved to-be-read pile. Better read than (un)dead, right?

Welcome to 6.66 Days of Thrilling Fiction! Day 1: A Bit of Michael Myers Style Ultra-Violence

It’s Like a Pulp Magazine . . . But Not!

It’s Amazeous! Stupendillant! Brilling! W to-the-Ow!

It’s 6.66 days of Thrilling Fiction!!!!

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars. But in ourselves, that we are underlings.–Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare

Hello. First, you all have my husband to thank (or condemn!) for spurring me to be bold with my writing creativity of late. That and a recent re-watching and -appraisal of some of the “Halloween” franchise movies.Halloween Series Wiki

This is my attempt at a longer fan-fiction piece, with tinges of horror, and, as such, inaugurates the 6.66 days of Thrilling Fiction I hope to bring you.

Any feedback is appreciated, as ever; especially on this one, as the movie timelines are conflicting at times. It does not even attempt to take into consideration any “Halloween”-centered novelizations or fan fiction, or, for that matter, any fan videos outside the purview of the several canonical movies with which most people are familiar.

So, anyway, without further ado, on this (fictional character and slasher-man, a.k.a. The Shape), Michael Myers’ 58th birthday: today is his story.

And tomorrow, another’s.


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The horror, the horror!

Thorny issue

Those thorny writer types!

Yes, my (writing) roots are showing AND I’m as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs (I know, I tote that one out a lot).

That is to say, I’ve been crafting a lot of horror or otherwise dark short stories lately (read on to learn about a writing competition now in the judging phase). I’m working on a science fiction one now with a lesbian couple and involving ants, as well as a fan fiction horror short inspired by Halloween. That’s all my internal editor will permit me to speak of just yet.

On another riff, I love this time of year. I’m not going to mention pumpkin lattes, because I’m not even hip enough to be a hipster at this point (and I’ve certainly no desire to be one). I will, however, mention Dairy Queen’s pumpkin blizzards. Or ginger snaps in something pumpkin-y. I will mention the glorious sea change, a seasonal shimmy of leaves, chemically induced, especially along the lovely mountainsides here in the Northern hemisphere. Cuddling with your special someone, even if it’s bound tightly within a cover and consists of sharp-edged pages.

Indeed, it was in the 40s here overnight and is slated to be in the 60s today. Autumn has sprung!

Finally, I will direct you to a horror writing contest that is going on now. I might or might not have a story or two entered. It will be held the ENTIRE month of October, if I understand the rules correctly, with 2 groups of stories (first round) released every other day, so Oct. 1, Oct. 3, Oct. 5, and so on. I dedicated my long morning to reading both groups, and geez, Louise. I can promise you one thing: you will enjoy, if not adore, at least one of these stories and discover an author (right now, an anonymous one) to follow. The stories are classified as horror, though some fit that only marginally, and so are friendly to those fond of speculative fiction as a widespread, wickedly pointing, fleshy bits hanging off the end umbrella (I’m thinking Sylvester McGory, fellow DW fans).

So, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, thriller, true crime, horror, applelutely fabulousand, hell, even romance readers . . . come one, come all: The PseudoPod flash fiction writing contest is live, now (I believe you’ll want to navigate, with your new log-in, to the forum called The Arcade; the contest is called Flash Fiction Contest IV – Pseudopod). You’ll have to set up a free account if you wish to vote, however; voting for each set of two groups (18 groups total) will last only 7 days each time and you can vote for up to 3 stories per group.

Anyway, enjoy your week—wherever you are in the world right now, whomever with—and make it applelutely fabulous (couldn’t resist a terrible parting pun, sorry)!

Undelivered Valentines: A Serial Story

As Halloween 2014 drags its bloated, or soon-to-be-bloated, body nearer, of course I thought it appropriate for a love story of a different kind. I’m splitting the skull of this story into three pieces, for your (I hope) ease of reading and enjoyment. Comments and referrals are always appreciated. 🙂


 

_Ghost_ photo

Image from Ghost Study.

Undelivered Valentines: Part I

by Leigh Ward-Smith

An icepick of a shriek rocked me free from my tendrily bedsheets. As I bolted out, almost tripping on their thin cotton arms, I was just able to clap eyes on the garish red numbers: 2:59.

“Em, what’s wrong?” floated out of me before I even felt my toes scuff the frayed, but dense, carpet in the hallway outside her room. It was an inky Indiana night, sticky as a state fair cotton-candy funnel cake.

The hallway light I’d brushed on my way past threw an elongated white triangle onto the dark floor that slunk up the side of the bed.

“Th-th-there,” she pointed toward the closet, her arm board-stiff.

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Art Effects: Flash Fiction for Grammar Ghoul Challenge #2

FrancisBacon-Pope Innocent X

“Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X” (1953) by Irish artist Francis Bacon.

“It’s by Francis Bacon,” Mialy pointed to the violet hologram and elevated her voice, “ ’cept for the shrieking, of course. That’s a modern addition.”

“Wait! The Francis Bacon? The one who invented everybody’s favorite sizzly meat that almost nobody is able to get their hands on anymore?” Joba snickered. “He sure did a lot of wildly different stuff in his lifetime.”

The screaming subsided as Joba spoke, but the New Memphis Art Museum & Distillery hum-spun sound within its walls, smothering the tortured yells for the next patrons.

The building itself had been dubbed “acoustically perfect” through stringent certification channels. One’s ears could only be thankful the hologram of Munch’s famous disconcerting painting was housed in a faraway room.

“No, goofball. It’s some other Bacon according to Teacher Farflung’s notes.” Mialy moved her neck from side to side and it cracked as she attempted to get the implant into better position. “I told you, you should have gotten the neural implant at the door. Teach will not be pleased, if it’s monitoring this field trip out there somewhere.”

Mialy thumbed over a shoulder, causing mauve hair to swing a seeming pendulum behind her head.

“Ayieargggggggggghhhhhhhh!”

“Hmm. I thought they were supposed to be motion- and heat-sensitive to a particular genetic pattern,” Joba muttered.

“Oww, that chair guy is giving me such a hunormous head-ouch,” she typed hurriedly onto the tablet, afraid the wailing would start up again at random.

Joba nodded. “Or maybe it’s the imp. I’ve heard of brains that reject the injection . . . “

“Nah.” She interrupted. “Just listen! Whadda you figure’s his problem?”

“Access your hoytay-toytay mind-friend, why don’t you? Harness alllll the benefits of your tech,” he mimicked the booming voice in the jingle for TechUnique Products. Mind-fiend is more like it, Joba thought.

Mialy nearly shouted again. “I know, but I wanted to figure it out myself. Art’s effect is personal, y’know. Some people get pain from art, especially this holo-painting. Some reap pleasure. Some get both. Art’s supposed to provoke, amiright?”

“Yeah, but with the whole pain/pleasure thing, art reminds me of drugs.”

“Uh, well, yeah, I guess it’s like those drugs that mold to a person’s genetic contours. Personalized psychotropics.”

Joba fiddled with his tablet. “Howya access the data on, um, what’d you say the artist’s name was again? Franks’N Bacon?”

Snickers seemed to trigger another blood-in-a-centrifuge moment courtesy of the now-popping hologram.

“Arrgggghhhhhhhhuuuuuhhhieeeeeee.”

“You know,” Mialy made a tunnel of her fist to amplify her voice, “I think the screams are changing. You hear it? But why?”

“Just a bug in the programming,” Joba offered.

“Anyway, let’s get going. We’ve got lots of art to partake of today, my lady.” He pulled Mialy gently by the hand and past the room sensors that guided the advanced acoustics of the 19th and 20th Century Modern Art pavilion of the museum.

*****

In an interior room adjacent to the artwork informally called “Screaming Pope,” two people are at work.

“Ay, Segala, you can go easy on the audio now,” Rayson shouted to his colleague from well across the room.

“It’s no use,” she called back, letting the arm drop to the side of the chair.

“Damn. That’s the sixth audio to crap out this week, and it’s only Wednesday.”

She shook her head slowly. “I know, tell me about it. Hope we don’t get a lecture from Kathy. She’s a beast when it comes to protocols.”

Segala tugged on the straps, but nothing gave.

“Ray, can you help me get the electric nails out? It looks like I accidentally blew a vein. Don’t slip on her hair . . . anyway, we’ll have to pick up another volunteer on the way back from the DR.”

“Yup, I sure hope the next one holds up longer, for both our sakes. And is less messy. You just never can tell by looking when you’re gonna get a spurter.”

“Yeah, and it seemed like those last patrons were beginning to suspect . . .” Segala’s voice trailed off.

The wet echo of a thump came, and then only a prolonged squeal-screech of a cart on wheels. As the two left the room, a resonant door slammed behind them, complemented by a piping up of hidden music, which was believed to encourage employee tranquility.

“I think to myself/what a wonderful world” serenaded the duo down the hallway, although neither had a clue who the singer was.

Terminal House: Flash Fiction

Photo copyright Björn Rudberg.

Photo copyright Björn Rudberg. Björn is also an amazing poet and fiction writer.

Terminal House

WORD COUNT: 183 words

GENRE: Paranormal, horror

If Megan Beuchanan had been the type of person to take the figurative temperature of a potential home, she’d have discovered the Turner House was zero at the bone.

Clinging to the cusp of the ravine, every bit the Victorian-era vulture, the now-dilapidated residence was everything the single mother sought: cheap.

It also, then, wouldn’t have come as such a shock when daughter Ava found the small sachet of letters stuck behind a swatch of old wallpaper in her closet. The letters spoke with the ghost-tongue of long-lost lives and lovers. Thomas would come back for Gladys, somehow. His illness—and confinement in the Turner pest house—would be only temporary. She was to pay no mind to the purported mystique of the manor. Indian haints* did not roam the grounds, nor could they be heard screeching as the diseased husks of their bodies were rolled into the waiting arms of Brine River below.

If only Megan could have steeled her psyche for the night Chief Swift-as-Hare John Harris’s smallpox-addled corpse came calling. Ready to reclaim the feathers of his people’s whisked-away souls.

THE END

*A Southern United States (dialectical) word meaning ghost, specter, or spirit.


This flash fiction is humbly submitted for Rochelle’s weekly Friday Fictioneers photo-prompt challenge, though it comes in a bit too long (as usual). If you enjoy writing or reading (or both), I encourage you to take part with your own story or to follow along by absorbing the brilliant fiction out there in Rochelle’s quadrant of the WordPress-iverse. Cheers!