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Fantasy & Science Fiction reading magazine Executive Editor - Laurence O’Bryan Editor-in-Chief - Tanja Slijepčević Graphic Designer - Mirna Gilman Ranogajec

Produced by BooksGoSocial 5 Dame Lane Dublin 2 BooksGoSocial.com Admin@booksgosocial.com

https://bgsauthors.com

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Table of contents 04

EDITOR’S LETTER

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ARTICLES What Was Once Science Fiction and Is Now Science Fact by Mikkell Khan History, Fantasy, and Food by Assaph Mehr Science Fiction by Phill Featherstone

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33 SHORT BOOK EXCERPTS 34 37 44 44 50 56 62 65 69 74

A whimsical story by Breakfield and Burkey Excerpt from Shifted: Shifter Academy (Siren Prophecy #1) by Tricia Barr, Alessandra Jay, Joanna Reeder,Jesse Booth, and Angel Leya When the Gods came to us Book III: the Darkenss within the Light A story from the World of Excelsior by George Sirois Dreams Jay Allan Storey Dark Karma: Sword of Vengeance by Laura Simmons Love’s Frozen Kiss by Tabetha Waite Wagon Train to the Stars by Mary Karpin The Honorable Judge Hovrel: Executing Justice in the UnderWorld by Debra Dugger Sophia by R. S. Correa

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Editors Lettter

You are very welcome to our Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine ‘18! From mind-bending science fiction recommendations, magical fantasies, engaging short stories and excerpts, we have an eclectic mix of out-of-this-world reads for you! And if you look carefully, you’ll find a couple of free books around the magazine. We start with short stories - Authors Breakfield and Burkley bring us the story of the Dragon and the Butterfly. Author Jay Storey shares Dreams with us, and questions what would happen if reincarnation was possible.

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Any fans of the Twilight Zone out there? Author Jameson Tucker shares how Twilight Zone influenced his writing, and pop culture in general. Tabetha Waite brings us to Winter Wonderland with Love’s Frozen Kiss, and sprinkes a little romance to this magical story. If you love science fiction, it’s very likely you have some level of appreciation of Gene Roddenberry - the father of Star Trek. Mary Karpin definitely has in her article Wagon Train to the Stars. What was science fiction then, and now is a science fact? Author Mikkell K. Khan explores the ideas of authors whose visions came to life. And of course, don’t forget to check out our book recommendations, from dragons and elves to new planets and ways of life - there is something for everyone. This and much more in our new Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine! And if you have any ideas for articles or things you would like to see covered in our magazines, let me know. Tanja Slijepcevic Editor in Chief Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine 2018

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Richard Johnson embarks upon a soaring and treacherous journey through space and time to discover a terrible truth-mankind is being slowly and systematically exterminated. Available on Amazon!

Douglas Oliver’s ancestors were genetically engineered to be perfect soldiers for the Imperial armies. The Empire has been gone for 3000 years but it’s legacy remains.

Available on Amazon! 6

Fifteen-year-old Rosa doesn't see dead people...She hears them & talks to them. When she agrees to help King Tut's ghost find his lost queen & clear his family's name, she doesn't count on falling for him. Available on Amazon!

Thanks to extensive brain implants, space cadet Dom Tessier enjoys a perfect memory. In another year he's to be fully transformed, and join the world-wide technocracy. He and his girlfriend Astra Allison practice telepathy together, and attain new heights. Available on Amazon!


Humans are blissfully ignorant of Terra’s past inhabitants But they want it back! http://myBook.to/RosinantiSeries From Book 1: The Rosinanti Dragons are no more. Since their extinction nearly one thousand years ago these primal powerhouses have fallen into the obscurity of history’s forgotten lore. In that time, humans have come to dominate the world of Terra, peacefully ignorant to one horrifying truth: ancient evil stirs around them, waiting to reclaim its lost world.

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Valley Fever by C J Bahr

A devastating earthquake that rocked Southern California turns Jill Cassidy’s life upside down, but the quake is nothing compared to what looms on the horizon. Jill embarks on a dangerous journey through a world of elves and monsters she had no idea existed. Elf-prince Alden watched in horror as one of his own people released the Kolgardi, a hive intelligent race of monsters. Now the ancient evil roams free, feeding on humans and gaining in strength. Together, with a cynical reporter, Thomas Rainer, the unlikely trio stands together, determined to stop the Kolgardi and save mankind from extinction. “Gripping from the first chapter! I wish I could give this book ten stars! Valley Fever hooked me from the beginning and never let go. I am an avid reader of Fantasy and Paranormal genres, so I was pleasantly surprised by its original and a totally new take on the Fae. Sprinkle in some well-developed characters ( Jill, Alden, Thomas, and Kyran), the Fae, the Kolgardi, suspense and jaw-dropping twists and turns—this book was a stunner. I look forward to reading more from C.J. Bahr.”

Home World by Bonnie Milani

In the ruins of Waikiki reluctant prince Jezekiah Van Buren must save Earth – Home World to her star-flung children – from yet another interstellar war. To do so he may have to sacrifice not just his life, but the only woman he’s ever loved. Unless, of course, she kills him first. “Excellent story I couldn’t put it down! ...The characters were quite complex and I found myself rooting for different ones at different times. I also found myself completely enthralled in the political chess moves throughout the story. The final scene will make you wish there were more pages to turn.” – By JDon “This sci-fi book is absolutely awesome!... The characters are believable, all the way down to the precise Hawaiian slang, that made me grin at times. This is definitely a book anyone would be interested in reading. It has it all and then some. The action and intrigue never end.” – By C M Andersonon 8


Jackson Armstrong is blessed with an extraordinary memory and a young son who loves him. He is also cursed with a compulsion to gamble that has cost him nearly everything. Available on Amazon!

Zarronian warrior Valan Eirikson refuses to accept a Wrothian female as his mate until the Council threatens to relieve him of his starship command. Angry, he raids the Wrothian home planet, captures a female and bonds with her.

Available on Amazon!

It remained undisturbed, nearly forgotten by history, hidden away in the ruins of an abandoned fortress. The enchantments within its iron slumbered, its secrets protected by silence. Until someone discovered how to ring the Bell, other secrets would remain safe. Available on Amazon!

Available on Amazon!

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Mindclone: A Cyber Consciousness Novel by David T. Wolf

Science writer Marc Gregorio volunteers to have his brain scanned via an experimental technique. The surprising result: a self-aware digital copy of Marc. Human in every way except physically, the entity loves the woman Marc met just before being scanned. Frustrated by his limitations, he settles for applying his vast mental skills to unearthing terrorist plots and Wall Street chicanery. But his good deeds catch the eye of a military contractor who will stop at nothing to control this powerful new technology. Without a body, how will the entity save himself and the world from a terrible fate? “Believable, well-developed characters in an ingenious blend of neuroscience, technology, romance and more… If the mind could live on after the body dies…what would this mean for the future of humanity, of religious belief...of travel to the stars?” “I love this book! The writing is skillful and empathic, the pace swift, the characters thoroughly engaging…the plot gripping in the extreme.”

Ward by Kyle Waller

Abandon all hope.Those unwise insurrectionists and their families who elected for prison or are deemed unworthy of a quick death are condemned to The Ward, the former capital-city-converted-city-prison of Sacramento, California. Cannibal Vikings, a Roman-inspired death cult, and a paranoid Mafia Syndicate, wage an ever-cascading campaign of annihilation against one another. To escape, Tango Primary Five and the Angel of Death are left with no alternative: Unite The Ward... Or choose a side. “Far from just another dystopia, Ward creates an immersive universe of inviting darkness. The action packed pages will easily grip your attention. Ward is more than simply an introduction to a dystopian universe, it is an immersion. Even if at times, you resurface to reality for some fresh air, something keeps pulling you back to the remaining pages.” There is something reminiscent of such classic stories as Mad Max or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, but with a strong smell of freshness in the air.” 10


They're cursed to become heroes‌ or monsters. Alex is haunted by the childhood memory of the slaughter of his mother by one of the Sundered, a man driven mad by the use of tainted magic.

Fifteen-year-old Abigail Crumble was never much for talking about love and marriage and other such nonsense - no matter how often her boy obsessed best friend pestered her to do so.

Available on Amazon!

Available on Amazon!

A coming of age, epic adventure reminiscent of The Shannara Chronicles. Six teens, at odds with each other, their goals uncertain, set out on a life-altering quest across a harsh and unforgiving continent.

Like many young men, Alexis dreams of adventure and being an adventurer, a Viking or a Pirate, or maybe just your movie-style heroic action man saving the Western world. Available on Amazon!

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NanoMorphosis by Marla L. Anderson Two extraordinary dreams. Two ambitious men. One woman caught in the middle. Earth is depleted and terrorized by an alien race. One man pushes to expand beyond the solar system, while another works in secret to re-engineer humans themselves. The rivalry of these two men will threaten the future of all mankind. Adventure, romance, and aliens come together in a page turner you won’t want to end. “Well-paced throughout, effectively addressing the dangers of nanobots, for instance, without losing sight of the controversies surrounding space travel. The story offers much excitement... A thoroughly creative tale ...” - Kirkus Reviews “Anderson’s debut tackles human nature through a science fiction lens ... Anderson ably explores the worst elements of human nature—while still leaving hope for the future.” – Booklife

The Gapcai Effect by W.S. Jenkins Space scientist Toba Antanari, of the interstellar civilization GAPCAI, has always had an obsession with reaching another star that supports humanoid life. After discovering the planet Earth when streaming data begins to return from probes that tracked the life of every human since the year 1637, he eventually learns how to traverse the vast expanse of space. He possesses the means to bring order to a promising but increasingly chaotic civilization with the assistance of his GAPCAI technology. But alas, the implementation of his plans sets off a chain of events he never could have imagined. “I really loved the premise of this book! What if there is another humanoid race in a distant galaxy that has solved all our problems with A.I. and technology? That is the question that The Gapcai Effect poses for us. It was a fantastic read because this is something happening now in our own world. I was waiting for something go wrong and boy did things go wrong. “ 12


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Helio Apotheosis Part 1: The Scorched Third by Luke Woodruff A man must rediscover his identity and purpose in a land scorched by God himself. The final battle between angels and demons has begun. A man, lying on his back in the dust, wakes up, opens his eyes, and sees above him a brown sky. He discovers that his surroundings, baked dry, are unfamiliar to him. Equally unknown are the details of his past. He does not know how he came to this desiccated locale. Thus, his journey for knowledge, understanding, and perspective begins. In time, he will come to realize his world confronts him with challenges, and he will begin to see that his enemies are both internal and external. The adventure that follows will prove to test his character to lengths he never thought possible. With the help of his angel and his God, will he overcome his enemies without and within.

Dragonfriend by Marc Secchia Stabbed. Burned by a dragon. Abandoned for the windrocs to pick over. The traitor Ra’aba tried to silence Hualiama forever. But he reckoned without the courage of a girl who refused to die. Only an extraordinary friendship will save Hualiama’s beloved kingdom of Fra’anior and restore the King to the Onyx Throne. Flicker, the valiant dragonet. Hualiama, a foundling, adopted into the royal family. The power of a friendship which paid the ultimate price. “Beautiful. Enchanting. Hilarious. Tragic. Touching. Empowering.” - Carrie Slager, via The Mad Reviewer

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Power’s Wrath by Stephen Shortall Are some sins too great to be forgiven? Screenia is plunged into disarray when its ruler is assassinated by a powerful unknown entity. Korin, the unwilling new king, wrestles with his fears and desires, maneuvered into leading the kingdom into a counterattack he doesn’t support. Calthus, an aging advisor and sorcerer, knows the true danger facing Screenia’s army, that an ancient evil, the Bo’Rai, is stirring again.Beset by mysterious attackers, the army advances. Calthus grows more powerful but the soul-destroying sins of his past come back to haunt him. Are his crimes too great for atonement? “Conflict, deceit, schemes, and politics mesh to form a kingdom on the verge of war, but there is something bigger afoot. Stephen Shortall possesses a wonderful descriptive voice that allows the reader to clearly visualize the vivid scenes and complex characters. A large cast is easily handled with no two characters being the same, each is unique and driven by their own desires and motivations. Growth and development of key characters run parallel, if not central to the finely designed tale. This is one book you won’t want to put down. With such a rich and vibrant environment and magnificent world building, it can seem as real, if not more so than your everyday existence. Action-packed, riveting, and immersive, Power’s Wrath was a truly amazing read, and a strong first book in what looks to be a very interesting and exciting series” - K.J. Simmill - Good Reads

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articles

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Into The Zone... by Jameson Tucker

You’re traveling alone down a dark and deserted country road late at night; suddenly, up ahead, a signpost: You are about to enter a place of sight and sound and imagination just around the bend from the light of day, you are about to enter... Yep, that’s the place, all right. I’ve always been a huge fan of the old Twilight Zone, that elusively strange nether-realm we’re about to blunder our way into now. I’m talking about the original, black-andwhite sixties one, of course. Seriously, aliens and time-travel and other dimensions just around the proverbial bend, oftentimes presented to us from a slightly unexpected, mind-expandingly different perspective than we were normally maybe used to thinking in, and pretty much always accompanied by the illustrious Mr. Serling himself offering up his uniquely profound commentary on it all from some nearby shadowy corner of the TV screen... I mean, wow. It’s hard to look at anything in that vast ocean of pop-culture flotsam that surrounds us now without seeing some glimmer of an influence from those long-ago teleplays of the bizarre, be it directly or indirectly or otherwise.

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I know I was certainly influenced by it all, and still very much am. And it wasn’t just entertainment, mind you, though it was very much that, too; rather, it was a profoundly different way of looking at that sometimes seemingly mundane world around us, a world that maybe, just maybe was potentially a whole lot different than we were being led to believe that it was. Just beyond those nearby shadows? There could just maybe be a whole other world lurking just beyond them, maybe something impossibly wondrous, true, but maybe something dark and scary, too. Step inadvertently through an imaginary, unseen door hidden somewhere in the dark of your bedroom at night? You might just never be seen again, and people do reportedly disappear all the time, after all. And that curious light you saw in the hazy nighttime sky from your backyard the other night? It might just have been a plane and nothing more, true enough, or it might, maybe have been something altogether different... And if it was, then what? Maybe it really was something carrying non-human visitors from afar, or from another dimension even, maybe they’re still here even now, or maybe they always have been, maybe they’re even living next door or posing as government G-men or working with them maybe, or against them as the case may be, maybe... The Twilight Zone never did give us any actual, definitive answers to any of that, of course, nor should it have. What it did do, in my humble opinion mind you, is to give us a whole lot of questions to think about, questions we still seem to be exploring our way around quite a bit to this very day. It’s been said that true wisdom begins with ignorance, and I believe that’s true, meaning (in part) that we should ask the questions before

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presuming to have the right answers, on any of it. Which is precisely what I’m endeavoring to do with the whole Cosmical Pub series overall, to explore the questions, particularly some of the more seemingly bizarre ones, and then piece together any prospective answers to it all from there. And are there in fact any actual answers at the end of that endlessly twisting maze, to any of it? I’m sure of it; maybe not to all of it, mind you, but there are answers to some of it, sure enough, and I expect to be exploring some of them more fully in the Cosmical Tales yet to come. It’s been said that the truth is out there, and some of it at least I wholeheartedly believe is within our reach at that: Who are we, what are we, why are we here and is someone or something really watching us from just the other side of the wherever? Inquiring minds like mine want to know, or as much as is reasonably possible, at any rate, and hopefully it’s a (potentially) mind-opening ride we can all take together, and of course have ourselves a little muchneeded fun along the way, too. Personally, I like to believe that’s the way Rod himself would have wanted it, and hopefully still does, wherever he is now. And, so, consider if you will this last little parting missive du jour... Stay tuned! Jameson Tucker is the author of the Cosmical Pub series, the second book of which, Last-Call Limbo, is available now. Find it here!

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What Was Once Science Fiction and Is Now Science Fact By Mikkell Khan

From the time of the Renaissance and even before, humankind has been trying to predict what the future has to bring. Persons like Leonardo da Vinci and Jules Verne–these are just two examples of brilliant thinkers whose idea were way ahead of the time. What was once science fiction has now been incorporated in our everyday reality. Here are a few of the technologies we know, recognize and use today that were once assumed to be just a product of one’s imagination. Perhaps we can thank them for influencing the idea of making it science fact.

Star Wars in the Real World

Laser guns = Star Wars–every science fiction fan will make the association. The first film aired in 1977 and at the time, the laser gun was a completely fictional thing. Not anymore! 21


Meet Laser Avenger, also known as AN/TWQ-1. The laser-based air defense system can easily cut through artillery shells. It was developed by Boeing and the first successful testing of the system took place in 2007. Thirty years after the world began its Star Wars craze, laser weaponry finally became a reality. Laser weaponry is still in the early stages of development but evidence suggests that various countries are working in this direction. According to some reports, China has already put together a prototype that can instantly carbonize human tissue. Russia is also joining the race and its first laser weapon development attempts date back to the 1980s. There’s no official information about just how successful Russian scientists have been as of now.

Upgrade My Limbs

Martin Caidin’s Cyborg from 1972 is the most notable example of a science fiction work featuring bionic limbs. We’ve also seen numerous movies in which protagonists get a replacement for a lost limb or they become nearly robotized. Medicine has advanced so much over the past few decades that bionic limbs are already here to stay. In 2006, Claudia Mitchell became the first woman to receive a bionic arm. Only three people had the procedure performed before her. All parts of the device can be controlled by thought, making the climb incredibly useful and capable of fine movement. Bionic eyes and bionic spines are also being manufactured by medical tech companies. The first experimental bionic eye implant was put on a blind patient in 2012 and it featured a silicon chip attached to the back

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of the patient’s eye. Through electronic pulses, the chip enables patients to see what’s right in front of their eyes.

Let’s Print a House or a Weapon!

3D printing also ranks among the technologies that have picked up a lot of speed after an initial appearance in the Star Trek series.

Today, 3D printers can be used to manufacture nearly anything–from musical instruments to automobile parts. Some have even managed to “print” working guns, prosthetics, camera lenses and medical devices. The history of 3D printing began in the 1970s when additive layering was used for the first time to put together three-dimensional objects. The most popular 3D printing method that’s still used today, fused deposition modeling, came into existence in 1989. A number of 3D printing companies emerged in the 1990s and the first affordable desktop 3D printer hit the market in 2005. This was the time when commercial 3D printers became available at a price under 10,000 dollars. While the technology is still relatively new, the appliances are becoming more readily available and they’re having a huge impact on the manufacturing industry. Lightweight and durable, 3D parts, supplies and prototypes are reducing the cost of production and they’re enabling a lot of flexibility in fields that previously relied on a strictly defined supply.

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The Virtual Reality of It All

Remember Total Recall? How about The Matrix or Ready Player One? All of these classics feature enhanced or virtual reality that keeps people from seeing the real world and experiencing an entirely new one. Virtual reality is already here and luckily, its applications so far have been far less evil than what was portrayed in the movies. Games are an obvious choice when it comes to VR applications but they’re not the only thing that the technology has enhanced. Various types of training, psychotherapy, educational tours, virtual military boot camps and battlefield simulators all make it possible to learn and gain new experiences in a safe environment. VR can even allow people with paraplegia and other individuals dealing with serious medical conditions to experience the world in a whole new way. These aren’t the only science fiction imaginary technologies that humankind has managed to bring to the real world. The real-time audio translation was once just a figment of an author’s imagination. It made its appearance in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Today, multiple smartphone apps enable this possibility. Hoverboards. Robotic vacuum cleaners, air touch technology and humanoids are here to make our lives easier. Who knows what else the future has to hold?

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Mikkell Khan–a creator of worlds and devoted fantasy/sci-fi fan–is a published author who loves telling a good story. As his favorite genres suggest, most of his work focuses on the fantasy and sci-fi realms. Mikkell aspires in crafting a powerful, unforgettable plot for the reader. “I believe in giving my audience a thrilling, emotional, and intelligent experience in my projects,” Mikkell said when asked about his motto. A daring experimenter, Mikkell has even crossed into genres like romance to explore the power of words and the scope of his imagination. Mikkell is inspired by authors like George R. R. Martin, J. R. R. Tolkien and Douglas Adams and his favorite books include Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Lord of the Rings, The Harry Potter Series, and Constitution. Some of Mikkell’s most prominent published works include the Enixar Series (The Sorcerer’s Conquest and The Solitude of Sin) and nonfiction, Shortcuts to Inner Peace and Wellness: Tips for Finding Balance in Everyday Life. To find out more, check Mikkell’s Amazon author profile, his website and his Facebook page.

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History, Fantasy, and Food By Assaph Mehr Take one of the greatest empires the world has ever seen. At its peak it controlled vast swathes of land and many different cultures – including their associated cuisines. But what happens when you add a fantastical element to the mix? As anyone who read my short stories or novels knows, though they’re set in a fantasy world the background cultural tapestry is based on the culture of ancient Rome. To give this world authenticity and richness I do a lot of research into ancient daily lives. This, of course, covers food. My protagonist, cheapskate that he is, never passes on the opportunity for a free meal. And when invited to a feast, he very naturally notes what delicacies were served – delivered in his somewhat deadpan tone. Since this is the season to be silly, with many of us planning our Saturnalia (or other) celebratory dinners, it all leads us to the meat of this article (pun intended). Namely, Fantastic Beasts and How to Cook

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Them. The world of Egretia, being based on ancient Rome and Greece, hosts some mythological beasts. Apicius et al already mentions dishes with ingredients that may sound strange to us. Patina is a Roman dish, somewhere between an omelette and custard. Asparagus and quails may sound like reasonable toppings, but how many of us would join the phenomenal general and gourmand Lucullus when he dined on jellyfish patina? Or will join my protagonist when he has his favourite, childhood-memories-inducing, brains-andpine-nuts sausage? Drizzled with fish-sauce, of course. I always wanted to explore the production of Roman fish sauce – or garum – and, luckily, in the course of one adventure it so transpired that Felix had to visit just such a factory. Garum, for the uninitiated, is made from salt-fermented fishguts. As one modern recreator described it, the smell is akin to nasal napalm. Yet the Romans used it as we use ketchup, sprinkled liberally on everything. I sometimes think that writing is just my excuse to study about a period in history I love, from the olfactory-safe haven of my study. But that is all historically accurate, and doesn’t cover the fantasy side of things. Some authors like GRRM take the same approach, with page after page describing soups and chowders. Some leave it as a footnote (gagh is best served fresh). Not I! I love to explore food, both historical and fantastical. Given that the Romans also had a very practical outlook on life, we can ask what do you do with a captured gryphon? Why, you pit it against a bestiarius in the circus arena, naturally! The crowds were well pleased. It was a show to remember for years to come. Of course, once the beast was slain, there was this huge carcass to 27


dispose of. Enter Felix again, with his epicurean tendencies. For reasons we shall not go into here, he required some of the tail feathers and a sample of internal organs from the gryphon. Being a tad loose in the morals department he ended up conning his way into the governor’s kitchens to gain access to the beast. He got what he wanted, but that cost him assisting the cook in the preparation of that night’s feast. Which featured, you guessed it, the unique delicacy of gryphon meat: The cook walked in after the beast, carrying his knives, and a train of slaves followed carrying plates. He proceeded to carve out bits of both the bird and animal parts and lay them on the plates. The first plate went to Aulus Paulinus who, after the briefest moment of apprehension, smiled and tasted the meats. He looked pleased, and raised a toast to his guests. I was certain some hapless slave had been force-fed this meat before it got to us, though, just to make sure that the cook and I had indeed removed all traces of poison. Our turn came, as well, and a slave girl put down the plate with cuts of meat before us. While my little charmed wine had done the trick and the beast was well roasted, I have to say that the lion part was a bit gamy and the bird parts, while nice, tasted remarkably like chicken. ________________________________________ I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into my feverish mind with its fetish for fantastic feasts. The above excerpt is from Murder In Absentia. While In Numina has more traditional delicacies (such as oysters with cinnamon), I promise fantasy food will always be prominent in the novels’ backdrops.

For those looking for some more resources, there’s Prof Elliots YouTube series on Fantastic Feasts and Where to Find Them (my personal favourite, naturally, is the episode on home-made garum), as well as Crystal King’s (author of Feast of Sorrows) blog on Roman-era cookery. If you’re looking for to recreate anything at home, I suggest perhaps not starting with a gryphon. They are notoriously hard to catch, and - as Felix notes - not all that exciting once roasted. (Plus, you don’t want to tackle all those raving Griffindor fans.) You can, however, start by preparing that all-important condiment garum. I’ve made a recipe available here. You owe it to yourself to check it out. I’d love to hear what your favourite fantasy food is! Visit me at my website (egretia. com) for short stories, novels, and – of course – historical and fantastical food. 28


Science Fiction by Phill Featherstone The word ‘science’ comes from the Greek for knowledge. For many millennia there was no such thing as science. Well actually there was, but they called it ‘magic’. Witches, wizards, witch-doctors, seers claimed special knowledge of plants, diseases, the movement of the stars and so on, hidden from the rest. Sometimes the magician was the tribal leader, but often he/she was a background figure, a Gandalf, treated with a mixture of fear and respect. The separation between science and magic began in the West in the 16th century. Men like John Dee (featured in my novel The God Jar, out next spring) pursued a heady mixture of religion, magic and the new science (sometimes called ‘metaphysics’). Dee spent years of his life on ‘alchemy’, from which we get the word ‘chemistry’, in his case trying to turn lead into gold. Gradually enquiry and knowledge expanded and brought with it new opportunities for the story teller. There had been tales with features of what we might call science fiction from as early as the 2nd century, and some of the tales in The Arabian Nights contain elements such as time travel or visits to strange worlds.

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However, the first work that may be regarded as true science fiction was Somnium, written by Johannes Kepler (a ‘scientist’ and astrologer) around 1625, which depicts a journey to the Moon and describes the Earth’s motion as seen from there. The 1700s saw the emergence of the novel as a literary form, and two hundred years ago this year, in 1818, Mary Shelley produced what many still regard as a cornerstone of the science fiction genre, her masterpiece – Frankenstein. It was the start of a rich vein of works which have science at their core but also frequently take in fantasy, horror, adventure, and at their best have something to say about the human condition. Frankenstein dealt with what is (currently) impossible, the manufacture of human life, and paid little attention to scientific accuracy. How Frankenstein creates his monster is vague, relying on thunder-storms and the new toy, electricity. Jules Verne, who it can be argued was the first great exponent of the genre, was on the other hand noted for his scientific accuracy, his attention to detail and his sensitivity to what might happen in the future. This is especially true of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which foretells the nuclear submarine. H G Wells was the first writer in the English language to work with what are now considered the stock-in-trade of science fiction: time travel, alien invasion, biological engineering, invisibility. He was not only a gifted writer of fiction, but also a thinker and philosopher who predicted such advances as air and space travel, television and nuclear weapons.

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Rapid advances in science in the 20th Century were paralleled by an explosion of science fiction and the huge popularity of the genre. The growth of the film industry, and of television, provided both a ready

market and a stimulus. Science fiction now rides high. It is extremely popular, and at its best breaks from strict genre boundaries to talk to us about constants such as love and hate, courage and cowardice, power and impotence, faithfulness and betrayal. The brilliant Hunger Games trilogy is a wonderful example of this, as well as illustrating how science fiction can enrich other genres such as YA. We are now in a period where it’s almost impossible not to write science fiction. When I wrote my novel Paradise Girl, I set out to tell a story about a girl left entirely alone, wanting to explore the effect this had on her psychology. It was only when it was done that I realised that 31


in taking as the reason for her isolation a world-wide plague which had wiped out almost everyone else, I’d produced something with a strong science fiction thread. It’s interesting that as I moved on to the sequel (Aftershocks, due out in January) the science has become an even more important element. What of the future? Well, there seems no end to the public appetite for superheroes, aliens, inter-galactic warfare and the rest, all fed by a stream of movie blockbusters, which given the quality of CGI are now amazing in their visual impact. Where does this leave the novel? My answer is, in a very healthy state, and not just as a feeder to the movie industry. The novel can go places even the most lavish movie can’t, and it has the advantage of requiring the consumer/reader to visualise and imagine, rather than handing everything to them on a plate. As to where the genre goes, it goes wherever the mind does. Thanks to Books Go Social for this celebration of science fiction. Long may both last. Phill was born and brought up in West Yorkshire. He took a degree in English and worked as a teacher before starting his own publishing company. Following the sale of this to Bloomsbury in 2008 he began writing fiction. Phill has written three novels: the very successful ‘Paradise Girl’, which came out in 2017 and has just gone to a second edition, to be followed in January by the sequel ‘Aftershocks’. His third novel, ‘The God Jar’ is due in the Spring. Go to https://tinyurl.com/y95z25f5 for ‘Paradise Girl’ and to keep up with his other books go to www.phillfeatherstone.net

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short stories

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A whimsical story by Breakfield and Burkey Jacob smiled and softly stated, “My mother once told me a story when I was growing up that somehow seems appropriate now.

The story of the Dragon and the Butterfly It seems there was this dragon who wandered the hills, the lakes, and forests in his realm. One day he journeyed to the edge of the known forest and looked out over the grassland savanna that reached out farther than he could see. In all directions, from his vantage point, all he could see was an endless expanse of grasslands. He wondered if he had reached the end of the habitable world, for who or what could possibly live where there were no hills, lakes, or forest. The Dragon’s musings were interrupted when he saw the most beautiful flying creature he had ever seen. He wanted to know that the creature was, so he called out. “What are you called, flying creature? Where do you come from? I have never seen anything like you, with such delicate wings and brilliant colors, in any part of my realm!” The flying creature softly answered, “I am Butterfly who has lost my way, kind creature. I was flying with my kind as we raced to see the ends of

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the earth. Then I looked back, and none were with me. Now I fear that I am lost. But tell me, what are you? What manner of creature are you?” The Dragon was pleased to introduce himself and announced, “I am the Dragon, of course! I too can fly, but you fly so effortlessly and have so many splendid colors that shimmer in the sunlight. You are so unique, I was hoping to know you better.” Butterfly lamented, “I am lost! Don’t you understand? I need to return to where I came from! Can you tell me where I am and how to get home, Dragon?” He puzzled a moment in search of an answer and finally responded, “Why, little Butterfly, you are here. Here is an important location, because you are with me. “As for how to return, I don’t know of any other place except in my realm. I have seen hills, lakes, and forests, but until today, I did not know of this savanna or that you have come from another land. You are here and now with me. I would offer to be your friend.” Butterfly began to cry and lamented, “I don’t know where to find my kind! It is different for you since you have others of your kind. You would never be lonely like me!” Dragon hung his head down and offered, “Butterfly, I have no other of my kind in this realm. I am strong and can fly, but I have no one to be my friend. That is why I offered to be your friend, so that I might have finally found a friend! “There is so much to see and show in my realm, but I have no one to share with. Having a beautiful butterfly as a friend would be a wonderful gift for one such as I.” Butterfly gently settled onto the nose of Dragon and stopped crying. She softly asked, “You have no friends? And I have lost all my friends! What if we became friends, and we show each other a land not seen by the other? Perhaps we could find your kind and maybe help find mine. Even if we don’t find those that are lost, we would have each other, yes? Will you be my friend, Dragon?” Dragon was so happy that his scales bristled across his large frame like 35


rolling waves heading into shore. Butterfly was startled at the movement as she was pushed into the air. She flew circles a short distance up and slightly back from her new friend. Dragon then unfurled his wings, bowed in respect, and, while smiling, happily offered, “It would be an honor and delight to be your friend, my dear Butterfly! “There is so much I would share with you! Come see my realm and know you are always safe with your dragon. And, because we are now friends, I shed a dragon tear for you that will give you the strength to keep up with me in our flight. But if you grow tired, simply ride next to my ear so we can whisper to each other and tell our secrets.” Butterfly smiled and suggested, “Then show me your realm, and we will always be together.” Butterfly and Dragon soared together, exploring the wonders of the realm, and life was good for them both. They remained the best of friends and confidants for decades. Jacob stopped the tale to study Petra in silence. After a few moments Jacob took her hand into his and asked, “Butterfly, will you be my friend? I would very much like to have you in my realm, and it would give me great joy to have you join me.” Rox Burkey writes, with her co-author Charles Breakfield, the award-winning Enigma Series and short stories in multiple genres. Rox also conducts live DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) Texas radio interviews with authors, which are posted on their website, www.enigmaseries.com. Their professional careers are focused on technology which contributes to their writing styles and support for other authors in commentaries and various workshops. Rox leverages her expertise in customer experience for marketing of this dynamic co-author team. As the instigator for their fictional writing partnership, speaking engagements, many formal technology papers, white papers, and leads the efforts in conveying their experiences as Indie Authors to the planet at large. You can reach her directly at Authors@EnigmaSeries.com and learn even more.

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WHAT WOULD YOU GIVE UP FOR IMMORTALITY? More seductive than sex. More addictive than any drug. More precious than gold. And one man is willing to sacrifice it all to get it! Available on Amazon

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America's game... A global spectacle of triumph and anguish. A grand pageant of violence and drama. And now with its first female superstar...a spectacular experiment that may change the world! Available on Amazon!

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Excerpt from Shifted: Shifter Academy (Siren Prophecy #1)

by Tricia Barr, Alessandra Jay, Joanna Reeder, Jesse Booth, and Angel Leya “I’m sure everything will be okay,” Kenzie reassured Myreen as the two walked back from the party. “I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve argued with my mom and Gram, and it always turns out alright.” Myreen had tried to enjoy the party, but she spent the whole time wrangling a giant knot of stress in her gut. Her mom hadn’t even called or texted her, which was incredibly uncharacteristic of her. Even when Myreen was at school, her mom would text her at least once to check in. Had she broken her mother’s heart? Sent her into a nervous breakdown? Myreen was dreading going home, and she was grateful that Kenzie had offered to accompany her. She really needed that support right now. “I hope so,” Myreen said. “My mom and I have never fought like this. I’ve never even talked back to her before. I know it’s a silly thing for a teenager, but she’s kinda my best friend—besides you, of course.” “I don’t think that’s silly at all,” Kenzie said. “I think it’s kinda sweet, actually. I wish I could say that about my mom. I mean, I love her, but I wouldn’t call us ‘friends’.” They continued walking in silence for a

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moment, and then Kenzie added, “I’ll stick around as long as you want me to. Or, I can leave right away to give you guys time to talk. Whatever you want.” “Thanks, Kenz,” Myreen said, managing a half-smile. Myreen’s house was in sight, and the stress knot constricted even tighter. She had no idea what to expect, and part of her hoped that they could just go back to the way things were. She’d rather have a happy relationship with her mom, even if it was shrouded in secrecy. As they got closer, Myreen saw there was something amiss. The front door was wide open. Her mom never left the door open after nightfall; as soon as the sun went down, she would turn the deadbolt. The stress knot flared with a wave of panic, and Myreen picked up the pace, her brisk walk quickly turning into a run. “What’s wrong?” Kenzie asked, running behind her. “I hope nothing,” Myreen said as they made it to the door. Nothing in the house was out of place, everything was just as it had been when she left. “Mom?” Myreen called out. No answer. Myreen made her way across the small living room to the last place she had seen her mom—the kitchen. “Mom?” she called out again, receiving the same empty silence in reply. “Myreen, something about this doesn’t feel right,” Kenzie said, hovering in the doorway and looking around. “We should go.” Myreen didn’t have time to wonder at the curious caution of her usually reckless friend. “I have to find my mom,” Myreen said, as if the idea of leaving her house was ridiculous. She stamped into the kitchen, then froze. Lying on the floor, pale blue eyes open wide and beautiful face fixed in 40


anguish, was her mother. Myreen dropped to the floor, her hands fumbling, finding their way to her mother’s face. “Mom? Mom!” she yelled, trying to shake her mother awake. Her mom’s body was cold and unresponsive. Remembering from movies she’d seen, Myreen pressed her index and middle fingers to her mom’s neck under her jaw, feeling around for a pulse. But there was none. “Oh no!” Kenzie gasped as she came into the room behind her. “Call 9-1-1!” Myreen shrieked, then turned her mother’s head the other way to search for a pulse on the other side of her neck. But as she did, her fingers ran into an angry red bite mark. A dry bite mark. No blood. With a bite this deep, there should be blood everywhere, shouldn’t there? Panic spiked in her chest as she tried to comprehend what was happening. Something had bit her mom! But what? How could a bite hurt her this badly? Badly enough to… No, she couldn’t be dead. She just couldn’t! Myreen’s head was a din of white noise as she fought the heavy sob that threatened to constrict her chest. But she couldn’t cry. Crying would mean admitting defeat, facing the reality that her mother was… She was vaguely aware of the sound of Kenzie dialing on her phone as she paced nervously around the kitchen, and of the sound of heavy feet coming in through the front door. A large hand landed on Myreen’s shoulder, and she sucked in a breath and spun her head around. “You have to come with me right now,” said a man she had never seen before. His build was threatening enough. He could have easily attacked her mom. She jerked her shoulder away from his hand. “Who are you? Did you 41


hurt my mom?” she accused with a tremulous voice, her mind a clashing storm of sorrow, anger and paranoia. “No, but if we don’t leave now, the ones who did will get you, too,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere with you,” she protested, lips twitching between a sneer and a pout. Don’t cry, don’t cry! “If you don’t, you will die,” he said. “Please, we don’t have much time.” He held out a strong hand. “If I wanted to kill you, don’t you think I would have already done so? I am not your enemy.” Myreen looked up at Kenzie, who was staring at the stranger with intense eyes, holding her phone to a deaf ear. “Please,” the man urged once more, and Myreen heard sincerity and desperation in his voice. Her mother was dead. Someone or something had killed her. And Myreen believed this man when he said she was in danger of being next. She didn’t have a lot of options. Stay here and wait for the cops to arrive—and risk whatever fate awaited her if the murderer returned— or take a leap of faith and trust this man, who seemed to genuinely want to help her. Without a word, she reluctantly accepted the man’s hand. He pulled her to her feet, and together she and Kenzie followed him briskly out of the house, Myreen’s legs jumping ahead of her body as if whatever had attacked her mom was going to jump out at her at any second. He charged toward a sleek black camaro parked along the curb and opened the back door. Trepidation rooted her to the sidewalk at the thought of getting in this stranger’s car, but she couldn’t find her voice. “You never said anything about getting into a car,” Kenzie said, voicing Myreen’s thoughts for her. “We have to get off the streets,” he said, holding the door open. “We’re too exposed here.” 42


“Then we can go to my house,” Kenzie said. “It’s just down the street.” She pointed in that direction. “It’s too close.” The man shook his head. “They will follow Myreen’s scent there.” “Follow her scent?” Kenzie said. “Are you talking about what I think you’re talking about?” He cut a narrowed gaze at Kenzie. “I’ll explain everything, but we have to get to a safe place first.” His broad shoulders bristled with urgency. “Please, they may already be on to us.” Myreen passed a hesitant look to Kenzie. “I’m not leaving your side,” Kenzie promised, taking her hand and squeezing it firmly.

The Shifter Academy authors are a coalition of five bestselling and awardwinning paranormal romance and supernatural suspense authors, working together to bring you an incredible shared shifter world. Their first book, Shifted, is scheduled to release January 8, 2018, and a new book will come out every six months after! But you can get a sneak peek with the prequel novella, Shifting Winds, free when you sign up for the Shifter Academy newsletter: www.theShifterAcademy.com http://books2read.com/shifted https://www.facebook.com/ShifterAcademy/ https://twitter.com/ShifterAcademy https://www.instagram.com/shifteracademy/

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WHEN THE GODS CAME TO US BOOK III: THE DARKNESS WITHIN THE LIGHT A story from the World of Excelsior by George Sirois It had been too long since we saw the stars. The clouds covered our planet, allowing only enough of the sun to provide daylight. But while we were still granted enough sunlight to differentiate what was night and what was day, we were also given the dark gray blanket of mist enveloping what was once a paradise, unending thunder and lightning heard and seen across our home planet now known as Denab IV. Thankfully, the ground beneath us was no longer shifting. We remember the days when we were all part of one united land mass, discovering our purpose in life while the stars twinkled above us every second of our lives. It was no matter whether the sky was its translucent dark blue during the day or black at night, we knew there was a guiding force above us that wanted nothing more than for us to thrive and cultivate this planet into the paradise our maker had intended.

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But then, the blinding light touched down from above. And with that light came the darkness that fell over our souls. The stars faded from sight, and the mass of land we knew as Edenaria was split apart into ten separate lands that drifted away from each other, isolating the different classes of men, women, and children that collectively called themselves Denarians. As we continued to float along the rough waters, our minds were filled with stories of those no longer beside us. The tales of the scaly-skinned lifeforms that rose from the oceans and evolved into men and women of equal size and proportions of those who dominated the land. The report of the merciless domination of the country now calling itself Krephthera by those lifeforms. The horror of their deeds so great that the land from whence they came was now dubbed “The Cruel Nation.� Their acceptance of the name and the dubbing of themselves as Krunations. And the naming of the smaller lands that stayed grouped together in an otherwise isolated area of the planet, surrounded by nothing else but water. The name given to them was simply The Lost Islands. That was what we now called home. This particular day was louder than usual, with the crashing of thunder shaking through us. We saw two men walking together in the open field. Both kept their eyes to the sky, asking each other questions about what was happening beyond the clouds, but they were too far away for us to decipher what they said. Whatever their conversation, it ended when a bright bolt of lightning touched down between the two men, splitting the ground beneath them. It was not as large as the energy bolt that divided our nations, but it was brighter, more concentrated, and when it struck, the ground began to shake as it had before.

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“We have to take shelter,” we heard one of them say. This was a strong-looking young man who ran toward us with such speed, it was difficult for his friend to catch him. “Abrattus, wait for me!” the slower of the two yelled. “Hurry, Candassus!” Abrattus answered. This man was in less ideal shape than the other, with smaller shoulders and a softer mid-section. And while Abrattus had smooth skin that matched that of the Denarians living on the land, and eyes as purple as the sky once was, Candassus’ skin was green and scaly, like the lifeforms described to us that evolved from the water, his eyes a bright yellow with a thick black line down the middle. We watched them seek shelter from the lightning, and we saw Abrattus turn back and grab Candassus by the hand, helping him to safety. These two races had been at odds since they first saw each other, and here were a Denarian and a Krunation standing side-by-side as friends, one assisting the other. The two men looked back toward the sky, and a blinding ray of light broke through the clouds. Both Candassus and Abrattus averted their eyes from the powerful force that shot from the sky and struck the area where the lightning had previously hit. We watched with wonder as an object began to manifest from the ground, the bright light shining down and feeding it, pulling it from the split in the earth. As this unknown form rose, we saw more details begin to form. We saw a black handle, with a jewel of pulsating energy emanating from its end. The light continued to pull this object upwards, and as the light began to dim, we saw it for ourselves. It was a sword. A magnificent-looking sword, with a gleaming silver

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blade and golden cross guard. A wave of energy shot from the jewel at the end and draped over Candassus, who looked at it with eyes filled with desire. “Beautiful,” we heard Candassus say as he slowly walked toward the sword. “Candassus, what are you doing?” Abrattus yelled after his friend, who by now began running to the sword. “It wants me,” Candassus said. He reached out to touch the handle. “Do not touch it, Candassus!” we heard Abrattus warn. We wanted to say the same, but we knew he could not hear us. He stepped forward to physically stop Candassus, but another quick burst of energy from the sword knocked the stronger Denarian off his feet. Candassus looked back toward Abrattus and, for a moment, seemed to have overcome his sudden urge to touch what had just risen from the ground. But before he could walk back to his friend, another wave of energy struck the Krunation. His eyes grew glassy, and he turned back to the prize waiting for him to collect. Candassus’ fingers touched the sword, and suddenly his body was covered with the blinding light from the jewel. A deep hum filled the air, followed by painful screams. We watched Abrattus stand and run to his friend, and we saw the energy from the sword tighten its grip on Candassus. The Krunation stood helpless, crying out in utter pain, and we watched his muscles tighten, then expand. We watched him increase in size and grow taller. We heard his screams grow deeper, his voice changing with his appearance.

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And then, as suddenly as it started, it ended. Candassus dropped to the ground, the only sign of movement coming from involuntary twitches in his newly-formed muscles. We watched with anticipation and fear as Abrattus approached his fallen friend. We heard him ask, “Candassus? Are you alright?” Candassus’ mouth did not move, but a voice escaped his lips. A voice that was not his own. “Yesssss.” But then we watched Candassus’ newly-enlarged hand reach out and grab Abrattus by the throat. The Krunation slowly rose from the ground, his paralyzing grip keeping the Denarian from escaping. “Your friend is no more!” A different voice spoke from Candassus’ lips, a raspy, sinister voice that cut through the air. “Just as your pathetic race and the god that you serve will be no more!” We saw the Krunation’s hand glow with energy that seeped into Abrattus. He convulsed in pain, unable to cry out as he held his own hands in front of his face. To his horror, and to ours, his hands began to disintegrate, turning into ash and falling from his body. His arms quickly followed, as did his feet and legs. Candassus - or the energy that transformed him - continued to hold onto the neck of his Denarian comrade, taunting him as his body dissolved into nothing. “You will all suffer this fate, Denarian! Your existence has served only one purpose: to die at the hands of the Krunations. And your god, Excelsior, has created this world so he may use it as his eternal resting place! From this moment on, you will know only one god, and that is I! That god is Tornatrax!”

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The voice of Tornatrax shook the ground and Abrattus’ ashy remains slipped through the Krunation God’s fingers. We watched him look at his hands, marveling at his physique, and then up at the gray, starless sky. In the distance, we saw a burst of light similar to the one that heralded his arrival. He unleashed a deafening roar and pulled his sword from the ground. “Let us end this, Excelsior!” Tornatrax bellowed. “This planet, this star system, will be mine to control!” We watched Tornatrax, the Krunation god now in human form, run toward the light in the distance. George Sirois has yearned to be a storyteller all his life, no matter the medium. That drive first led him to drawing his own characters while in grade school, and then – when his skills never advanced beyond the most primitive sketches – writing about them in various short stories and screenplays before moving on to novels such as “Excelsior,” “Ever Upward: Part Two in The Excelsior Journey,” and the five-part serial “From Parts Unknown.” He is the host and producer of the podcast “Excelsior Journeys,” and was named President of the Missouri Writers Guild in 2017. He is also the narrator of several audiobooks, short stories, poems, novellas, and internal business presentations. After living in New York City and Richmond, Virginia, George, his wife & daughter, and their two dogs now happily call St. Louis, Missouri their home. www.hesgotit.com www.facebook.com/excelsiorbooks www.twitter.com/georgesirois excelsiorjourneys.podbean.com

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Dreams Jay Allan Storey Day 36:

The light has been extinguished from the room that smells. Shadows slide across the hard surface of the floor like the water rippling on the rain-soaked ground outside. The odour entices me out of my hole, as it does the others. I do not know from what place these words have come. I broadcast this futile account into the ether knowing that none are out there to hear. I cannot speak. I communicate instinctively, producing pheromones to which the others respond, and responding in kind to those that they produce. The vibrations of the giant ones have subsided – for now. The scent of food is irresistible. It stimulates my antennae and I am compelled to take action; my instincts have crossed the tripping point between fear and the drive for nourishment. Not waiting for the others, I venture out from the crack under the wall and scurry across the tiles toward sustenance and continued existence. Life is a featureless chain of light and dark, of eating and hiding, of sleep and sexual activity, of brainless response to simple stimuli. I do not ask the meaning of my existence – I simply continue. 50


My antennae detect sustenance ahead, and I devour a crumb of life-giving nutrient. Others have followed and crowd around me, grinding legs and clicking mandibles, battling for access. I am young and strong. I hold my ground easily and eat my fill. The room floods with light. Panicking, I turn and hunt for the nearest wall. I find it and run for my life. The tremors of the giant ones shake the ground beneath me; their shadows fly above my exoskeleton. An enormous mass strikes the floor beside me, crushing one of the others. A deluge of pheromones from his liquefied body flood my antennae. The rush of wind from the impact pitches me closer to the wall. I slide through a crack and to safety. Back at the nest I plant my seed widely to insure the survival of my progeny. Day 45:

I do not remember when the dreams began. I do know that at first they were completely incomprehensible – huge slabs of colour, drifting shapes of unknown form and function, smells of fear and death, monstrous beings with no connection to my current form, but whom I somehow recognized. As the dreams continued, a form began to coalesce, like clouds blown into a familiar shape. Fragments of understanding emerged and disappeared again like one of our number squeezing into a crack in the wall. I wondered if any of the others had such dreams. Even if I could I would not speak to them. They are loathsome, as I am loathsome. We are all loathsome, but like all God’s creatures we have a purpose.

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Day 57:

Yet again I venture into the room that smells. I eat my fill, undisturbed by the swarming of the others. Again a blinding light pervades the room and a giant one thunders toward me. The floor quakes beneath my feet. I feel a massive impact very close and realize that one of my legs has been torn off. I continue my rush for the wall, escape, and nurse my wound. The dreams have evolved, and are now more vivid and distinct. In them, I walk on two legs instead of six. I am infinitely larger than my current form. I am surrounded by the odour of disintegration and decay. I meet with others like myself. Events proceed. We part. Day 72:

I limp across the tiles toward sustenance. Others have reached it ahead of me. They crowd around the nourishment, blocking access. With my crippled leg, it is difficult to push them aside and get my share. I am forced to settle for the dregs that the stronger have left behind. Again I dream, and the dream settles more clearly into focus. I awaken on a large, soft cushion – a bed. I am a giant one. I ride in a huge machine to a building. I no longer fear the light; my senses are dominated by sight rather than smell. I am male. I meet with other giant ones – people. The people I meet are old, much older than me. We talk. We part. I smile. Day 99:

I am no longer able to plant my seed. Others, younger and stronger, have driven me away and taken my place. The dreams continue with yet more clarity. I work in a building crowded with old people. I wear a white smock. My superiors call me an orderly. I am paid to take care of the residents. Instead I talk to them and they give me money. If they refuse, I have other options.

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Day 175:

The room that smells has been poisoned. Many of the others are dead. I have been spared, but I am seriously weakened and sick. I escape to the outside. I successfully dodge predators on land and in the sky, scurry through mud and oil-slicked water, and avoid being crushed by the impossibly huge behemoths that roll along the ground. I and the other survivors follow an odour trail to another building. We infest a hole in the wall near another room that smells. There is no sign of the poison. Others have already established a nest there. We battle and kill most of them; the rest are driven away. I survive, but I am exhausted and injured. We live for another day. In another dream I am again a giant one – a man. I work in a nursing home looking after aged people. The paint on the walls is chipped and peeling. The rooms smell of death. The mottled skin of the residents hangs from their bones like rotting cords. Their hollow eyes blink with fear. Unknown to my superiors I tell them lies and convince them to give me their money. Sometimes I steal their belongings. It is so easy. My victims are too old and confused to understand. I am young and strong. If they resist, and have anything of value, they get my special gift – a double dose of purloined morphine. Security is slack. No questions are asked. I take what I want. Day 201:

In a new dream I meet an ancient man, a resident in the home. I plan to separate him from his money, but realize he has nothing to steal. His hair and skin are wasted but his eyes are sharp and clear. He acts as if he knows me. He explains that he is a Buddhist. He prattles on about reincarnation, and what he calls Samsara; how life forms struggle through an endless cycle of death and rebirth until they reach Nirvana – enlightenment. I laugh in his face.

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Day 234:

There are too many of us; the room that smells cannot provide food for all. The stronger of the others begin to devour the weaker. I am not that weak – at least not yet. Again I dream of the old Buddhist man. Though he has nothing of value, I am somehow drawn to him. He knows what I am, but he does not care. He beckons to me, and I notice that he is drinking water from a silver cup. He tells me again about Samsara; how the cycle of birth and death is powered by Karma: that a person’s future life is determined by past and present actions. At each rebirth, if a man has progressed in his enlightenment he will emerge as a superior being and continue on the path to Nirvana, when the cycle will finally cease. If the man has regressed, he will be reborn as an inferior being and the cycle will continue. Again I laugh. He looks at me strangely. He becomes weary and appears to doze off. I steal the silver cup and run away. Day 371:

The current food source has been exhausted. We must find a new one or we will die. Several times already one of the others has tried to devour me. I dreamed again; my memory is finally complete. In the dream, the authorities learn of my crimes – my thefts from the residents of the home and my easing of some of them into the next world. At my murder trial I spot the old Buddhist man sitting in the crowd. I am sentenced to death. The old man visits me on death row. He says nothing of my crimes, my treachery, even my theft of the silver cup. He merely places a withered hand on my shoulder and explains that rebirth as an inferior being should not be looked upon as punishment – only as an invitation to try again. The old man appears again at my execution. His face is immobile as they strap me to the gurney and insert the lethal IV lines. I seek him 54


out just before they fasten the blindfold. He nods at me with kindness and smiles. Day 402:

A group of us have escaped to another building. There are no smells; there is no sustenance here. I am old, crippled and tired. The younger of the others surround me. I can hear them scratching toward me in the shadows. I no longer have the strength to fight them off. The cycle of birth and death continues. I can see now what I was. I can see now what I was. I can see now what I was. Unexpectedly, I understand the meaning of my existence. Jay Allan Storey has travelled the world, passing through many places in the news today, including Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and the Swat valley in Pakistan. He has worked at an amazing variety of jobs, from cab driver to land surveyor to accordion salesman to software developer. Jay is the author of four novels, and a number of short stories. A new novel is in the works for 2018. His stories always skirt close to the edge of believability (but hopefully never cross over). He is attracted to characters who are able to break out of their stereotypes and transform themselves. He loves both reading and writing, both listening to and playing music, and working with animals. He’s crazy for any activity relating to the water, including swimming, surfing, wind-surfing, sailing, snorkelling, and scuba diving. Find out more about Jay here. His writing here.

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Dark Karma: Sword of Vengeance by Laura Simmons “You’re on trial for the murder of Nina Perotti. You slashed her throat when you caught her engaged in sexual intercourse with Elliott Greenwood. We have everything captured on video, and we will display to the jury and those assembled, your undeniable guilt,” he commanded. What the hell? She would never cheat, and certainly not with Elliott. She hates him. Is the government filming private things you do in your own home now…? Luke thought, when the lights dimmed and he watched the unthinkable. The screen showed Nina and Elliott making love in her bed. Luke walked in on them and pulled Elliott off of Nina, beating him unconscious and throwing him out the front door. Next, the video showed Nina crying and pleading for Luke’s forgiveness, and him pretending to forgive her long enough to get her into a position where he could slash her throat. He was nauseous after watching the video. Seeing her body entwined with Elliott’s, the rapturous look on her face and enthusiastic participation, and the damning footage of him slitting her throat was 56


painful to watch. His heart was breaking even though he knew it was a lie. He had to wake up, he was convinced that he was in the throes of a vicious nightmare, probably a dream within a dream ... I’m going to wake up and Nina will be alive and loving me. Maybe I should try clicking my feet together. I’m not wearing ruby slippers, but here goes ... he clicked his bare heels together in desperation, hoping to wake up or find himself home ... nothing ... Am I in a coma? Do I have a brain tumor? Judge Matthews looked at the jury and said, “What’s the verdict?” “GUILTY!” the jury said in unison. “Luke Decker, you are sentenced to death by guillotine. Your execution is scheduled for tomorrow morning at six a.m. Do you have any special requests for your last meal?” Judge Matthews asked. “No,” Luke replied, cold as a stone. “Your last meal will be served at eight tonight. You can eat it, or not. NEXT,” he roared. The three cops escorted Luke back to his cell ... Perhaps if I die in this nightmare, I’ll wake up in bed with Nina wrapped around me. If this isn’t a dream then I’d rather be dead. When he arrived back at his cell, bugs were crawling around in the dirt again. It appeared to him that they were placed there on purpose. Unable to stop thinking about Nina having sex with Elliott, he was stomping them to death and cussing like a sailor before Potbelly finished locking him in. ***** When Nina returned to her physical body, she was so distraught that she swallowed a sleeping pill. She rarely took any type of medication, but these capsules were a godsend tonight. Fifteen minutes later she was out like a light and dreaming about Luke ... She is standing inside Luke’s cell. He is sitting on a dirt floor with his

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head in his hands and a tray of half-eaten, cold food next to him. “Luke! I finally found you!” she says, rushing over to him, taking his hands in hers. He stares at her in bewilderment and touches her cheek. “Nina ...what are you doing here, are you a ghost?” “No. I’ve been trying to find you on the astral. What is this place?” “I wish I knew, love. I’m in jail for allegedly killing you. I saw you dead, your throat was slit and I touched your blood. The police arrested me for your murder. I’m supposed to die tomorrow, by guillotine. This is some warped dream I can’t escape from. I don’t know what to believe... Did you have sex with Elliott?” “What? No, never! I swear to you that is the truth. Why would you think such a thing?” she asked. “They made me watch a video of you and Elliott having sex, and me killing you. I didn’t believe it, but I wanted to be sure.” “I’ve never cheated on you, I never will. I love you, Luke. I don’t want anyone else, ever,” she swore. “Sweetheart, you’re fading, please don’t go. Take me with you!” he panicked, gripping her hand as she gradually became transparent. “I can’t, something won’t let me. I’ll find my way back to you, I promise!” she cried and woke up in her bed, the warmth and feel of his hand lingering on hers … “NO!” she screamed, and succumbed to a fit of tears, punching her pillow over and over without mercy. “So close, I was so close. I’ve got to get back; they’re going to kill him!” Objects went flying around the room while her anguish poured out. She continued her hysterical meltdown until exhaustion overtook her and she fell into a deep and dreamless slumber.

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***** “Why didn’t she take me with her? Was she real or my imagination?” Luke whispered in the darkness now that she was gone. Inhaling deeply, he could smell her scent; a refreshing honeysuckle fragrance she often sprayed in her hair. He didn’t like feeling helpless and there was nothing he could do but hope that by dying tomorrow, he would be pushed back to reality as he once knew it. He didn’t recall falling asleep and awakened with a start when he heard Potbelly unlocking the cell, proclaiming, “It’s a good day for justice. Time’s up, Decker.” Potbelly was followed by the same three identical looking officers who escorted him yesterday. Luke got up from the floor taking his time and stretching. He wasn’t afraid of dying, and hoped beyond measure that it would reunite him with Nina, wherever she might be. He stood still while they shackled him. They walked in silence to an outside courtyard; the guillotine was straight ahead on a raised platform. A lively crowd was assembled and chanting repeatedly, “JUSTICE! JUSTICE!” Five other people were standing in line waiting for their beheading; three men and two women... I wonder if they’re falsely accused too. He was standing at the end of the line, a security gate banged closed behind him. “What are you convicted of?” the young, skinny man standing in front of him asked, he couldn’t have been more than twenty-five years old. He had curly brown hair, freckles, and soft blue eyes. “Murder, but I didn’t do it. She was ... is my woman,” Luke replied. “Same here. Only it wasn’t my woman I was charged with killing, it

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was my sister, and I swear on the Holy Bible that I didn’t do it,” the man declared. “We were close; she was the only family I had left.” “I believe you. What is this crazy place?” Luke asked. “I don’t know. She was staying at my apartment because her boyfriend beat her up and threw her out. I woke up one morning, went into her room and found her dead. The police stormed my house and said I poisoned her; I was forced to watch their fabricated video showing how I did it. I hope this is a bad dream and once they chop off my head I’ll wake up back home,” he said with a heavy sigh. “Me too. We’re in the same boat, and right now it’s sinking. Good luck to you, I hope you wake up in a better place,” Luke said. “Thanks, you too,” he replied. Their attention was diverted when Judge Matthews began to speak, sounding like an Evangelical preacher, “Good morning. Today we will see justice served for the poor souls we lost because of these six wretched murderers. Let them burn in Hell for eternity. Commence with the beheadings!” One by one, each person stepped up to the guillotine to meet their fate, and the crowd cheered as each head rolled downhill and into a large container. The bodies were dragged away and thrown in a pile. Despite the many times Luke had looked death in the eye remaining calm and in control, this time he was petrified. He was sweating profusely, his heart beating rapidly because his gut was telling him that the worst was yet to come. His heart sank when he watched his new acquaintance lose his head ... How did we get here? Maybe I really do have a brain tumor. Now it was his turn. He walked to the guillotine and placed his head on the chopping block.

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Laura Simmons grew up in northern Virginia and spent most of her career working for various Department of Defense contractors in the Washington, DC area. She has a fascination with all things metaphysical. She enjoys adult coloring books, writing, jigsaw puzzles, bowling, vacationing at the beach with her husband, and studying tarot cards and other types of divination systems. Find out more about her here and about her writing here.

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Love’s Frozen Kiss by Tabetha Waite

His green eyes widened at the sight before him. A woman in a long, white fur cloak, almost ethereal in appearance, was standing in the small clearing that he had just passed. He blinked, knowing that she had not been there a moment before. So where had she come from? Her flowing, ice blonde hair nearly reached the snow at her feet, and her eyes were so blue that he could surely drown in their depths. Her skin was pale, but not unhealthy. In truth, it rather glowed with a brilliant light, as if she grew out of the winter forest around her. He swallowed, finding that his throat had suddenly gone dry. He slowly lowered his weapon. “Who are you?” he whispered, entranced. Her full lips curved upward at the corners. “I am known as Eira.” His gaze didn’t waver from her face. He couldn’t seem to tear himself away.

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“What are you doing in the forest?”She didn’t answer, merely continued to smile at him. Her cheeks grew pink, either with embarrassment or the cold, but she didn’t seem to notice. “I have not seen you here before.” Prince Vale blinked once more. Her image appeared to waver before him. He had to imagine it was merely the swirl of white around him that was playing tricks on his mind. “I come from Andalusian. I shot a stag and followed its trail here.” Her eyes turned sad, and there was a pang in his midsection. “The animal you seek is just beyond that glade.” She pointed beyond him. “It has breathed its last. I felt its pain, which is what drew me into the forest.” She eyed his bow and arrow, and his grip tightened on the quiver. Never before had he felt guilt for providing for his people, but he perceived that she was judging his actions. He felt the need to explain, “I don’t kill for sport. I do what I must.” “I understand your reasons, hunter. I sense the purity in your heart.” She turned, as if to leave and he took a step forward, loathe for her to go. “Where do you call home, Eira?” Her gaze turned haunted, so melancholy that Prince Vale’s chest constricted with a foreign emotion. “I belong to the land now.” A gust of icy wind and her long hair flew out behind her. The snow engulfed her, and when it settled, she was gone. “Wait!” When he ran to where she had been standing, there were no footsteps. It was as if she had never been there at all. ***

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Tabetha Waite is the multi-award winning author of the historical romance, Ways of Love series. She is a certified PAN member of the RWA. She makes her home in Missouri with her husband and two daughters, and loves to hear from her readers! Tabetha’s website. Find her books here.

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“WAGON TRAIN TO THE STARS” by Mary Karpin

This was Gene Roddenberry’s original concept pitch for his tv series STAR TREK that premiered in the USA in 1966. Roddenberry wanted people of the world to get along, to realize they had more in common than they realized. Hence the TV series set in the future with a multi-racial, multi-gender, even a non-human character, all working together for a common purpose. The network bosses were so upset that Leonard Nimoy’s character Spock had pointed ears, that they missed Roddenberry’s casting of Lieutenant Uhura as a bridge officer! Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), didn’t think much of her role in the series until she was attending a dinner honouring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the off season. Dr. King surprised her by personally thanking her for her portrayal of a black woman in a role of authority a rarity at the time.

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Back to Leonard Nimoy’s character of Spock, half Vulcan, half human science officer, first officer of the crew. The television executives were so certain his character with pointed ears was a horrible mistake, they airbrushed the ears off all promotional materials. When Roddenberry, and the audience complained, the buck got passed so many times it wore out! In fact, they almost fired the artist who retouched the photos! Spock - and his ears - remained! Roddenbery wanted all world powers represented in his show. However, when he realized he forgot the Russians in the first season, he created Ensign Chekov who came aboard as navigator in the second season. STAR TREK even had the first televised interracial kiss between Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) and Captain Kirk (William Shatner). This time the sponsors objected. The South would be horrified, boycott the show along with their products. Roddenberry decided to consult his actors on the matter. William Shatner was asked if he had a problem with the scene. His response Problem? I’m kissing a beautiful woman! How is that a problem? They shot the scene. It was included in the show. No problem - everybody accepted it. Some TV stations got letters but the boycotts the sponsors feared never materialized. Gene Roddenberry wanted a show that would demonstrate humanity at its best, where our similarities mattered more than our differences. A final testament.

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When the second STAR TREK series, THE NEXT GENERATION, was launched Whoopi Goldberg wanted to be a part of the show. The staff didn’t know how or what a star like Whoopi Goldberg could bring to this sci-fi world. Roddenbery spoke to her. She explained she wanted to give back. Growing up she watched his first series where she saw the Lieutenant Uhura character and thought that could be her! Now that she was grown and in the business - Whoopi wanted to be part of that universe. So Roddenbery invented the character of Guina - just for her. Guina - the wise bartender of Ten Forward bar on the ship Enterprise. Gene Roddenberry whose career began with writing westerns during the contentious Cold War era, envisioned STAR TREK as a better more positive world. Gene Roddenberry did, in my humble opinion, achieve his objective of showing that all humanity is capable of good. Enjoying a second career as an author of both fiction and nonfiction, Mary G. Karpin uses her background in science, participant in People to People Ambassador program to China, and specialist in teaching the disabled (Hearing and Language impaired) to craft her work. When asked where her stories come from, she replies - “They just appear full grown inspired by a particular incident or news item. As a Native New Yorker, I am surrounded by drama of present day and the past. I can walk down a street and see the storefront of a former speakeasy, a row of tenements from the pages of old newspapers, and of course, visit numerous museums. New York’s past tickles my creativity and compels me to develop a theme - either in fiction or as a teaching aide for others with similar interests.

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“Fiction is my latest passion when I can travel back in time and visit a world inhabited by exciting characters such as those in 1924 New York - the setting for Past is Prologue and One Went Missing, the first two books in my James Nathaniel Walker series, an historical crime fiction series.” Her debut nonfiction book: The Constitution of the United States of America: Clear and Simple, introduces readers to the essence of this historic document, using her skills as a former educator to rephrase it’s passages for clearing understanding.Previously, Ms. Karpin published To Thine Own Self, a novel inspired by her insider’s look at what it means to be a teacher in the New York City school system.

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The Honorable Judge Hovrel: Executing Justice in the UnderWorld by Debra Dugger

Judge Hovrel scanned the courtroom as he exited his back chambers to preside over his first case of the morning: an assault charge, levied against the corpse-eater, Eurynomos, who was accused of attacking his keeper in the Morton Town Cemetery last week. The Judge stifled a groan when he spied Stella Grub, the court reporter for the Dismal Daily, seated just behind the defendant’s table. It appeared he now had the distraction of an ugly she-demon in his courtroom, alongside the corpse-eater. It was days like these that Hovrel regretted his decision to continue his judicial career after he died and descended to the UnderWorld last year. Noticing the Judge’s entrance, the bailiff quickly bellowed out, “All rise for the Honorable Judge Hovrel,” and the gray-glowing ghost audience jumped obediently to their feet. With a sigh, the judge floated his way to his bench at the front of the courtroom, reciting the usual, “You may all be seated,” before he sank down onto his chair behind the podium. While the audience settled back into their seats, Hovrel glanced at the defendant and grimaced. The least they could have done is clean

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the corpse-eater up before bringing him to court. The judge could smell the stench of dead flesh wafting off the defendant, even from where he was seated. He wrinkled his nose and stared at the defense attorney sitting next to Eurynomos, wondering if the lawyer had lost his sense of smell. How else could he sit there so placidly next to that malodorous cloud of filth? As if the wretched odor in his courtroom wasn’t horrible enough on its own, the defendant was wearing a ratty fur coat that the judge was certain hid all types of vermin. There were even tiny phantom horseflies circling the corpse-eater’s head, like a swarm of gnats over a garbage can. Swallowing down his disgust, Hovrel motioned to the defense attorney--a short weaselly specter with greasy black hair in a pinstripe suit—who immediately rose from his chair and began the proceedings. “Your Honor, the defendant would like to enter a plea of guilty, as charged,” the defense attorney stated. No long, drawn-out case then, the judge thought with an inner sigh of relief. “However,” the lawyer continued, sweeping his hand toward his client, “there were mitigating circumstances to this incident which we would like to present to the court before a sentence is determined. May I approach the bench to offer an explanation for the assault?” Hovrel looked at the prosecutor’s table to see if they would object and noticed the head prosecutor hadn’t bothered to attend the hearing today. He must have known about the guilty plea and instead sent his assistant: a half-skeleton, half-ghoul creature commonly known here in the UnderWorld as a Bone Demon, but officially called a Skeletal. “Does the prosecution accept the plea of guilty?” the Judge asked the prosecutor’s assistant with dread. Bone Demons were known to shriek and wail when they were unhappy with how a case was proceeding. Fortunately, the Skeletal nodded its approval, so peace and calm would

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remain in the courtroom today. Another lucky break, thought Hovrel, as he turned back to the defense attorney. “You may approach the bench and plead your case for leniency then.” The defense attorney strode to the front of the courtroom to address the judge. “Your Honor, the handler assigned to Eurynomos the day of the incident was not his usual handler, who would have known better than to interrupt Eurynomos while he was feeding. The corpse on which my client was dining that day was unusually fresh and the flesh was so juicy that my client’s judgement was momentarily impaired.” The lawyer then paused and looked back at his grubby client. “And while the defendant does not deny he bit his handler’s hand in the heat of the moment, he also exercised considerable self-restraint when he bit off only one finger and, even that, was just a pinkie finger.” The defense attorney waggled his little finger in front of Hovrel’s face for emphasis before continuing, “We request this all be taken into account when you decide his sentence, Your Honor.” Ordinarily, Judge Hovrel would return to his chambers to deliberate before issuing his sentence, but the noxious stink of death and decay brought upon him a sense of urgency. He paused a moment to reflect on the case. It was true that the handler was inexperienced with corpseeaters and obviously wasn’t trained properly for his job; yet it was also true he should have known better than to place his hand in the way of a ravenous corpse-eater during his twice-monthly feeding at a graveyard. And, while an assault with injuries was a serious offense, the lost member was just a pinkie finger, not a whole hand. And being one of the walking dead--whose bodies tended to fall apart eventually anyway--the victim probably wouldn’t miss his finger any more than any other body part he’s likely already lost to decay.

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So Hovrel decided to go easy on Eurynomos this time around, but also to give him a firm warning to never let this sort of thing happen again. His decision made, Judge Hovrel banged his gavel to draw the court’s attention and said, “Will the defendant please rise for his sentence?” and immediately regretted that request after Eurynomos stood up, scattering his ghostly horseflies around the courtroom and startling a small zombified mouse to run out of his fur coat and down the aisle toward the bailiff. Waving away a particularly aggressive fly now buzzing around his bench, Judge Hovrel continued, “One month of house arrest, with no visit to a cemetery during that time.” Eurynomos began to growl, so Hovrel grabbed his gavel and banged it down twice to silence him. “Consider yourself fortunate that I’m in a generous mood,” he told the creature sternly. “I don’t want to see you in this courtroom again. Bear that in mind the next time you are set free in the living realm to dine on your favorite delicacy. If you repeat this offense, I will not be as magnanimous the second time. Is that clear?” Eurynomos merely glowered at the Judge, but the defense attorney immediately jumped up and exclaimed for him, “Very clear, Your Honor! Very clear indeed!” “Good,” Hovrel said, ignoring the angry corpse feeder, who had begun to growl again, except this time at his lawyer. Hovrel turned and addressed the Bailiff. “Please escort the defendant out of the courthouse. And while you’re at it, call for an exterminator to get rid of these flies and that mouse before my next case.” With a final bang of his gavel, Hovrel floated out of his chair to return to his back chambers, thinking it just might be time he considered a new career.

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Debra L. Dugger has worked in the biotechnology business for over 20 years and, as a departure from penning dry science reports, decided to try her hand at weaving bizarre stories about the afterlife. Chicago-born and a loyal Cub fan, Debra currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. When she’s not working on goofy paranormal tales, she spends her time assisting her wood-carving husband with his art shows, using her poor art skills to create ugly metal jewelry and torturing herself with unhealthy, highly addictive time-management computer games. Find out more about Debra here.

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Sophia by R. S. Correa

He stands by the driveway watching her fly to the crest of the roof. How beautiful! She gracefully alights on the peak. Her wings fold away and meld into her back, leaving her perfect skin unmarred. The delightful curves, the angelic face, the long slender legs, perfect lips, and flashing fierce green eyes that have always made his heart stop. This time is no exception. Sophia Maria Santori is exquisite! A voice comes from the earbud of his walkie-talkie. “Sir, I believe I’ve found her. She’s in Yokohama.” “Thank you.” As she scans the grounds outside her estate, the limo pulls up next to him. He crushes out his cigarette, and tosses the butt under a bush. “Mistress, the car is ready.” She glides down to the limo, and as her wings fold away, he hands over her blouse. “Thank you, Francois. So kind of you.” She flashes that heart melting smile of hers. 74


“My pleasure.” He feels warm all over. Francois holds the door for Sophie as she slips into the backseat of the limo, and he slides in beside her. “Mistress, I believe one of our scouts has found her.” “Oh? That’s good news. You smell like smoke, Francois.” He bites his lip and makes a face. Damn. “I’m trying to quit. Sorry about that. Anyway, she’s in Yokohama, and I believe I can get you close enough to sense her.” “Excellent. You’re one of the few people I can always rely on. Thank you.” Her gaze stays on him. Francois feels the intensity of those deep green eyes, and the butterflies they still stir inside him. After five hundred years she still makes him feel like a schoolboy. He recalls the briefing his intelligence chief gave him that morning. “The Kenji clan has been watching us and knows she is missing.” He gets a can of beer from the limo’s fridge and takes a sip. Francois looks out the window at the passing landscape as he tells her, “The clan seeks her. They plan to use Adriana to get control of your Japanese holdings and drive you back to Australia.” “Well, that’s not going to happen, we’ll find her first.” “Yes, that we will Mistress.” For several minutes they drive on in silence. Despite the stoic expression on his face deep inside Francois feels all this is his fault. He led the pack on the moon run. It was his responsibility to watch over them all, especially the pups. And somehow, though she was twenty one when she was bitten, Adriana, in wolf form, is a pup. It was her first moon run, and perhaps because she was a hybrid, something so totally new, he didn’t think he needed to watch her as closely as he should. She was with young Jacob, and they were thick as 75


thieves. The pair went everywhere together. So he assumed she would follow Jacob on the run home. In his two thousand years he had never been so wrong. The limo speeds down the highway towards Yokohama. Soon the light from the city can be seen in the distance. As the kilometers are rapidly traversed Francois slips deep into his own thoughts. His mind drifts back to the day he found her. Francois was looking for a place to hide. It had been four days since he had deserted from the French army. It was early morning and the rain had stopped when he came upon the ruined estate and moved toward the smoldering barn. He remembered this place, his battalion had looted it just days ago. The French soldiers had raped and killed the old woman that lived there. That’s what solidified his resolve to desert. They found no one else, just a recently dug grave with a wooden marker. Hanging on the marker was a tiny silver chain, like a babies necklace. One of the French soldiers took the necklace and put it in his pack. That night he killed that soldier, took the silver chain, and left. As he moved toward the barn he looked for the grave. Francois was thinking that if he returned the silver chain it would be absolution for some of his sins. That’s when he saw her. Lying on the mound of a new grave was the bedraggled form of a teenage girl. He went to see if she was still alive. The limp form was barely breathing. She was covered in mud, and her rich clothes were soiled and tattered. Her hands were bleeding from deep scratches, her fingernails were broken and encrusted with mud. Francois surmised she had dug the new grave with her bare hands.

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This waif of a girl had dug the second grave in the mud next to the first, buried whoever occupied it, then collapsed on the mound. His thoughts are interrupted by the voice in his earbud. After confirming the message he says, “Teams three and six will meet us at the highway exit. Gregory believes he’s spotted her near Kyoto street. And Bernadette wants you to know the pups are sleeping.” “Do we know which of the pups bit her?” “Yes Mistress. As we suspected, it was young Jacob.” Sophie thinks a moment then instructs him, “Francois, be sure the doctor examines him. We need to know how this happened.” “Yes Mistress.” he is silent for a moment then says, “She’ll be okay. I’m sure of it.” Sophie nods. As the limo speeds on, Francois sinks back into his memories. For a week he nursed her back from deaths door. He hunted, brought water, cooked, and fed her. He even found clothes that fit her in the burned ruin of the manor house. He cleaned her, dressed her and kept her warm. By the end of the week she was no longer feverish and could walk. But she didn’t speak, she just stared at the graves and wept. The beginning of the next week he found the body of the old woman and buried her beside the other graves, that’s when she uttered her first words, “Rest well Adriana, Elaina, Mama, ill join you shortly.” Try as hard as he could for the next few days she would say no more. The nights of the moon were drawing near and he had to warn her. “I am Francois Pierre Barteau. I am cursed, I am loup garou,” he told her. “I am a werewolf. Soon the moon will rise and I must hunt, must kill. I fear I will hurt you so I must prepare you, protect you.” She just looked at him with eyes that pled, Please, end my misery. For the next two days Francois gathered chains, spikes and tools. 77


He had her help him spike the chains to the barns massive studs. They hammered shackles to the chains, then he tested their strength. Francois showed her how to bolt the shackles closed around his wrists, ankles and neck. As the first full moon of the month started to rise he shackled himself and waited for the change. The first night she was terrified by the beast he became, cowering in a corner of the barn as he howled and raged. The second night she seemed to be studying him, she seemed to be fascinated, almost hypnotized. But the third night changed his life forever. After watching him for an hour she threw herself at him shouting, “I am Contessa Sophia Maria Santori, bury me beside my beloved!” Then she offered up her throat. The wolf leapt back from the sudden “attack”, then prepared to respond. The man trapped within shouted, “No! Not this one! Not her!” That’s when he realized he loved her. His human mind fought the wolf, and they wrestled mightily. In this fight he did something he had only heard was possible, he forced the change. As the wolf became Francois, seeing anger in her green eyes, he passed out having one last thought before he slept, Sophia! When he woke she slapped him shouting, “What’s wrong with you? Why didn’t you kill me? Why didn’t you free me?” Then she broke down in tears. “Why do I have to suffer, why am I alive?” He held her close as she wept. How do I make her want to live? Francois asked himself. Then he had an idea, I’ll take her to the ancient one, the wise one. Certainly he will know what to do. The next day he stole two horses from the French cavalry, and brought them back to the barn. He loaded up some supplies, clothes and bedrolls. He had to tie her up, and keep her tied to the horse for the first

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week of their journey. She kept trying to runaway, so he had to keep her trussed to a tree at night. Then, in the middle of the trip he had to find a place for them to hole up during the nights of the moon. After forty five days on the road Sophia and Francois arrived at the ruins near The Acropolis in Athens. As he led her into the ruins the ancient one greeted them from the shadows. The old Greek led them down into the catacombs, as he did he said, “Hello Francois, why do you bring her to me?” “Bastian, I bring you …” “I know who you bring old friend, my question is why do you bring her to me?” “Help me restore her will to live, please,” he begged. They entered a chamber and the ancient greek walked up to her. Sophie shied away from him but he placed his hands on her face and looked into her eyes. They spoke quietly for hours. Bastian kept her gaze locked to his. Suddenly she offered up her throat and he bit deeply into it, draining her blood. “NO!” Francois shouted as he tried to run to her aid. Bastian held up his hand and Francois found himself frozen. Though he turned he could not move, even the wolf was not strong enough to overcome the ancients power. The ancient greek slashed his wrist and dripped his blood into her mouth. As he did he said to Francois, “Hold her, never leave her. Let your face be the first she sees when she awakens. You two have a destiny, you will travel far. There will be much sorrow, but she will find what she seeks.”

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As Francois knelt beside her, taking her into his arms Bastian placed his hand on Francois’ shoulder and continued, “Teach her to feed without killing. It is the killing that leads to the darkness, that leads to Nosferatu. Do not let her go that way, do not fail her. She will love you, but not like you love her. Do not let that bring darkness into your heart my friend.” Lastly the ancient one told Francois, “There are clothes befitting her station in the next chamber. There are jewels, gold and silver as well. Take what you need. Your first journey is to the Japans, seek the son of the little flower.” The limo moves off the highway into the city, and as it does, four black SUVs join it. Francois is pulled back to the present by several radio transmissions. Once he has confirmed them all Francois touches Sophie’s arm and tells her, “The security teams have joined us.” She nods acknowledgement. Gregory’s voice crackles out of the transceiver speaker, “She’s in an alley two blocks from Second Street off of Kyoto,” Gregory says over the speaker. “She appears to have a child with her. It looks like a team of Kenji assassins are moving in on her.” Francois crushes his can and drops it in the trash. Balling his fist, he grits his teeth and sets his jaw. “Roger scout six.” “How long until we get there?” Sophie asks. “Depending on traffic, fifteen to twenty minutes,” he replies. “Too long!” Sophie removes her coat, opens the sunroof, and spreads her wings. When she does, her blouse is ripped to shreds, and she leaps into the night sky. “No! Sophie, it’s too dangerous!” But it’s too late, she has flown off. Grabbing a radio, he shouts “Pull over, pull over!” As the five cars pull 80


to the edge, of the road he instructs, “Philippe, Gaston, Miguel, Louis, Janet, Charles you’re with me. Force the change. Lawrence, proceed with the rest. Join us as soon as you can!” He is out of his clothes and opening the limo door as the change starts. By the time his foot hits the pavement, he is in wolf form. Francois sprints down to the sidewalk leading the others into downtown Yokohama. The denizens of Yokohama’s nightlife are terrified as they are bowled over by seven massive European gray wolves. The people are so shocked that almost none of them notice the Katanas and automatic weapons that are strapped to the great predators. In desperation, Francois charges along the sidewalks toward Kyoto street. I have to reach her in time. He looks up and sees her hovering for a moment near an office building. She’s at least three blocks away. As she starts to dive, he shouts out Sophia! but all that comes out of the wolf ’s mouth is, “Aaaooooooo!” And the howl of the wolf reverberates through the streets of Yokohama. R.S. Correa was raised in Los Angeles, California in the 1950s and 1960s. I graduated from Eagle Rock High School in June 1970 and entered the US Army in December of the same year. I’ve had a number of poems published in various publications. He has four children, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. He has recently released his first novel, Rapier, a SciFi adventure. The story is set in the late twenty fourth century shortly after the genetics war. Currently, he is working on Razor, the sequel to Rapier and The Young Kathy Masters Chronicles, a prequel to the series that takes place in Australia.

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Your Secret Library - Fantasy & Science Fiction 2018 Edition!  

You are very welcome to our Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine ‘18! I’m sure we have all been wondering the same thing: what will we do wit...

Your Secret Library - Fantasy & Science Fiction 2018 Edition!  

You are very welcome to our Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine ‘18! I’m sure we have all been wondering the same thing: what will we do wit...