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News & Events for C. Dennis Moore

SKETCHBOX JULY 2016

Posted 7/28/2016

SketchBox came yesterday, and my daughter got the following:

Wolff's Graphite Set ($13): This month is all about SKETCHING!  We included a full set of sketching pencils from Wolff's.  It includes 6 pencils, a broad carbon stick, their eraser, and a sharpener.  It's one of the best value sketching sets out there and with its convenient tin you can take it anywhere.

Tombow Mono Zero Eraser ($6.29):  Protect your work and erase only what you need with a high-quality, precision eraser that won't damage your paper.

Cretacolor Megagraphite Pop Pencil ($2.50): This pencil is a BIG deal.  The Megagraphite pencil from Cretacolor has a polished black extra-wide 10mm diameter body and 6mm HB lead.

Cretacolor Water-Soluble Graphite HB & 8B ($2.00 each): Did you get our water brush last month?  These pencils can be blended with water to create unique effects and transparent graphite washes.  We included the HB and 8B so you could gegt a real feel for the possibilities of these unique pencils.

 

Also, this month's inspiration art comes from roger LaDouceur:

"I was fortunate to have great art teachers growing up in MA.  They taught my a wide array of styles and forms of media.  It is because of their teachings that I was selected into the Illustrator/Draftsman rate in the US Navy.  After completing my service i turned my artistic passion toward tattooing.  I served a three year apprenticeship and worked in several studios up and down the east coast.  In 2006 I opened Star City tattoos in Roanoke, VA.  I paint in oil, acrylic, pastels, but enjoy colored pencil the most.  Using multiple forms of media has nurtured my need for artistic growth.   Every day that I am able to open my eyes is an opportunity to push a little harder into the areas of art that I have yet to uncover.  I am thankful for the little box of joy that shows up on my doorstep at the beginning of each month.  I know that I will be off on another artistic adventures as soon as my SketchBox arrives."

Follow Roger on Instagram @roger4202.

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THIS WEEK'S COMICS HAUL: 7/27/16

Posted 7/27/2016

Well, with the announcement Hastings was closing, I suspected something like this might happen.  Of the 17 new books that came out this week, we got FIVE--and one of those (Squadron Supreme) was actually a book from last week that Hastings just got in this week.  My son got none (he should have got 4), my daughter got 3 (should have been 5), and I got 2 (should have been 8).  Click the covers to read along with us.  Here's the mini-haul:

      

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THE POWER & THE GRAVY NOW AVAILABLE ON AUDIO.

Posted 7/26/2016

THE POWER & THE GRAVY AUDIOBOOK!

This is a very old book, going back to 1995 and the days of the DIY chapbooks we used to print off my old Brother word processor. I've known these guys longer than I've had kids and [they] taught me more in those early days of my own writing than I could ever repay. So to celebrate my two best friends, I wanted to finally let this collection be seen the way it never could in 1995. I hope you like it. And if not, well, I hope they like it at least. Most of the works here are pretty old, but I think they still hold up pretty well.

This collection includes poems as well as short stories.

Of course, if you'd like to get a free copy, you can do so by subscribing to the Angel Hill Newsletter here.  

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FIRESTORM FRIDAY!

Posted 7/22/2016

It's Firestorm Friday, y'all!  I just got a slew of excellent back issues--and get 'em while I can, I guess, with Hastings having just announced they're closing!--and wanted to show them off.  I've recently become pretty obsessed with these back issues, especially from the 70s and 80s, and these Firestorm books have some super groovy covers.  If you're unfamiliar with the character, you can read about him here (his history is too long and complicated to get into here), but first, dig these books!

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

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LOOT CRATE JULY 2016: FUTURE!

Posted 7/21/2016

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  LOOOOOTCRATE!  This month's theme: Future.

First we got this Exclusive Rick and Morty tee from Loot Crate Labs.

Then an Exclusive Futurama "Planet Express" ship model from QMX.

Next an Exclusive Star trek Dedication Plaque replaice decal from BD&A.

Then another exclusive, this time a 3" Mega Man red variant figure from Kidrobot.

And finally an Exclusive Valiant Comics' 4001 AD #1 variant cover.

Also, I know I don't usually include the pins that come in the crate, but I really really dig this month's pin, so yeah, I'm posting that here, too.  Overall, I can't say this is the most exciting crate yet--I'm not a Mega Man fan and have seen maybe two dozen episodes of "Futurama", tops, but, hey, they're not all winners.  And that's not to say this box is crap; that space ship model is really pretty awesome in real life.  And I can always use more cool shirts.  So now the waiting game to see what next month's theme is begins ...

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THIS WEEK'S COMICS HAUL, 7/20/16 (and then some):

Posted 7/20/2016

Man, it's been a weird few weeks for comics.  The last few comics hauls I've posted have been the things that came out that week that my kids and I read, but it's not necessarily everything we GOT.  Hastings, where we get our comics, recently filed bankruptcy and is waiting to hear word if they've found a new buyer, and until then I think they're cutting back on the comics they order.  So some weeks we may get NO comics, then the next week is a week and a half shipment.  And even when those shipments do come in, I'm seeing more and more titles that aren't showing up anymore at all--I've got to order my daughter's ADVENTURE TIME and REGULAR SHOW either from Amazon or MyComicShop.com, or get them digitally from Comixology.  This weeks's shipment was a little light as well, but the bulk of what we needed was there.  So for real, these are the books we actually HAVE to read from the past three weeks or so.  Click the covers to get the digital copies and read along with us.  My daughter has ONE, my son has four.  The rest are mine:

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

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THIS WEEK'S COMICS HAUL, 7/6/16

Posted 7/6/2016

Did you go get your new comics today?  If not, WHY not?  It's new comic day!!!

Here are a few recommendations according to me and my kids.  My son has 4 you should read, my daughter has 5, and there are 8 I think you should read.  Click the covers to read these along with us digitally:

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

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CURRENTLY READING: END OF WATCH, by Stephen King

Posted 7/5/2016

THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
The spectacular finale to the New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with Mr. Mercedes (winner of the Edgar Award) and Finders Keepers—In End of Watch, the diabolical “Mercedes Killer” drives his enemies to suicide, and if Bill Hodges and Holly Gibney don’t figure out a way to stop him, they’ll be victims themselves.

In Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, something has awakened. Something evil. Brady Hartsfield, perpetrator of the Mercedes Massacre, where eight people were killed and many more were badly injured, has been in the clinic for five years, in a vegetative state. According to his doctors, anything approaching a complete recovery is unlikely. But behind the drool and stare, Brady is awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room.

Retired police detective Bill Hodges, the unlikely hero of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers, now runs an investigation agency with his partner, Holly Gibney—the woman who delivered the blow to Hartsfield’s head that put him on the brain injury ward. When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city.

In End of Watch, Stephen King brings the Hodges trilogy to a sublimely terrifying conclusion, combining the detective fiction of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers with the heart-pounding, supernatural suspense that has been his bestselling trademark. The result is an unnerving look at human vulnerability and chilling suspense. No one does it better than King.

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THE VAMPIRES OF GREEN LAKE, Chapter Nine, by C. Dennis Moore

Posted 7/4/2016

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

THE VAMPIRES OF GREEN LAKE

CHAPTER NINE

 

David had to show up for his shift at Cleo’s. He wished it were otherwise, but he’d missed enough work lately already, and Jessi was staying home with the girls. Eve must have been staking him out, though, because he hadn’t gotten halfway to the entrance from his car when she appeared, calling, “David Reed, what the hell did you get me into?”

David stopped, looked her up and down, confused, then said, “Huh? What are you talking about?”

“Did you not see the fifty missed calls from me last night and this morning?”

David frowned, pulled out his phone, saw five missed calls from Eve.

“You mean the five? No, I’m sorry, I didn’t even think to look this morning, I was trying to get ready for work. What’s up?”

Eve pulled him close and moved over out of the way of traffic, then lowered her voice and said, “Other than being attacked last night by what I can only describe as a freaking vampire? Or someone who really really thought he was a vampire? If this has anything to do with that box you’ve got me spending every waking minute on--”

“First of all,” David said, “I didn’t ask you to spend every waking minute on it. I just asked you to see if you could find out anything because I couldn’t. I didn’t say make it your part time job.”

“Fine,” Eve agreed. “But obviously if I find something interesting I’m going to spend time on it.”

David nodded.

“But what the hell is this thing?”

“I have no idea,” David said. “Other than what you’ve told me which is that it’s somehow related to witchcraft and something about raising demons.”

“And you have no idea why some lunatic would break into my house and attack me?”

“How the hell would I know? You work with kids who do stupid shit all the time, don’t you? You sure it wasn’t one of them?”

“Since it was an older man with a beard, I’d say no.”

“So what do you want me to do about it?” David asked.

Eve stopped, considering this, then said, “I really don’t know. I just thought you should know. If it’s got anything to do with that box, and you’re somehow connected to it … I just thought you should know.”

“Thanks for the warning?” David said, still trying desperately to sound somewhat removed from what Eve was telling him. He checked the time on his phone, then said, “Shit, I gotta get inside, I’ll call you on my break or something.”

“I need sleep so bad right now,” Eve said.

“You do that,” David said. “Call you later.”

* * *

He spent the next few hours trying to concentrate on work, alternately being distracted by Ashley, who looked stunning beyond belief and who didn’t know David existed--and that was probably best, he thought, considering he was probably twice her age--and trying to block out what Eve had just told him.

He wanted to get the details from her as soon as he could, but in the meantime, he was really just trying to convince himself she was mistaken.

Because it was one thing to take superstitious precautions like garlic and crucifixes on the windowsills. It was another thing entirely, David thought, to start sharpening stakes.

Werewolves were one thing, vampires did not fit into David’s equation of real life.

Just calm down, he told himself as he refilled the skim milk shelves. Keep alert. Something is coming, something big is going to happen. I can feel it in my bones. Just keep an eye out and be ready for it.

But how did he know that? Or was it just fear playing with him? Had paranoia gotten the better of him?

He tried to look at this logically. He may have overreacted with the garlic on Victoria’s window, but in the end, who did it hurt? It wasn’t like he hadn’t seen hundreds of movies where the signs are clear to anyone who sees them, but the characters deny any possibility of such a thing. And he’d already seen a wolf emerging from the body of one of his best friends, so David knew there was more to the world than what the news reported. But still … damn … he wanted to believe he was just taking unnecessary precautions and the doctor would call back with a treatment plan. That’s the world David wanted to live in.

And the more he thought about it, the more sure he was that that world had never existed, and he hated the Bewlays for opening his eyes.

David called Eve on his break and said, “I’m sorry about earlier, I was just trying to get clocked in. So what happened last night?”

Eve told him and when she was finished, David said, “And you’re sure it wasn’t like a former client, or whatever you call them?”

“Don’t. I know what I saw. Can I ask, why did you ask me about werewolves?”

“I don’t know,” David lied. “I just thought about that name, Devil’s Kiss, and it kept feeling familiar, but I thought it had something to do with werewolves.”

“Well,” Eve said, “it’s funny you should mention that, because I did find something.”

Shit, David thought. Here it is, here’s the proof and the box turned the Bewlays into werewolves just by being around it and something’s going to happen to me or Victoria because of what happened with them. The curse jumped from them to us. I know it.

“What?” he asked, feeling all the air leaving his lungs with that one word.

Eve told him what she had found and David suddenly realized that, until that very moment, he had never even begun to understand the meaning of the concept behind the word “panic”.

The entire world fell out from beneath his feet and he found himself floating away, weightless and unattached into space where there was nothing solid to grab hold of and no one to hear him scream ever again.

“Shit,” he said. “My break’s over, I gotta get back to work. Where you gonna be when I get off work tonight?”

“I’ll be right here at home,” she said. “It’s fortified with crosses and holy water at every entrance. I’ll be here til daylight tomorrow, thank you very much.”

“Meet me at the cemetery in West,” David said. “I get off at two.”

“Fuck you,” Eve replied.

“It’s not late. There’ll still be plenty of daylight left. We’ll be fine. I’m going with or without you, but I’d really feel better with you there, too.”

“Because you need someone who runs slower than you?”

“That’s exactly right,” David said. “No, come on. I need to see something, but I can’t do it alone, not if I want to get out of there before dark. Please, Eve. We’ll go first thing, earlier if I can sneak out of here before two. Just come with me. I’d do it for you.”

“Do not try to play the guilt card with me,” Eve said.

“I’m just saying,” David said. “I would for you.”

“You’ve barely spoken to me in a year, until now when you need something. Don’t think for a second you would do anything like this for me just because it’s family.”

“I’m not saying we don’t have our issues, but at the end of the day, we are family and there’s no one else I’d trust me. Seriously, I gotta get back to work, they watch our breaks like crazy here, but I’ll call you when I get off. Just please consider it. I’m going with or without you. I’d feel safer if you were there, though.”

He said goodbye and slid the phone back into his pocket, then went back to the dairy cooler and broke down a pallet of eggs to restock out on the floor.

* * *

Instead of calling, David texted Eve when he left Cleo’s Market at 1:00--he didn’t take a lunch that day, and used the last hour of his shift to do just that--and said he was on his way. That way, it would take some effort on her part to say no as opposed to saying it when he called.

And if she did bother texting a reply in the negative, he’d say he didn’t see it until he got there. When he pulled up outside her house, he turned off the car and went to the door. He needed to see more of what she’d told him earlier.

He knocked on her door, but she didn’t answer. He knocked again. He texted HERE. He finally called. When she answered, she whispers, “Hello?”

“I’m outside,” David said. “Open the door.”

“How do I know it’s you?”

“Christ. Just open the door. I want you to show me what you mentioned earlier before we go. Hurry up.”

“How do I know it’s you?” she asked again.

“What, you want proof? Other than you hear my voice, or can look out the window and see me?”

“How do I know you weren’t turned?”

“Oh, my God,” David said. “I’ve just spent the morning in a cooler stocking milk shelves for just barely above minimum wage, and this is the conversation you want to have? Open the fucking door, Eve.”

“If you attack me, I’ve got a wooden stake.”

“Fine,” he said, “whatever.”

The line went dead and a second later the door clicked and a crack appeared as it swung open on its own, just an inch or so.

“Am I coming in?” he asked the empty space on the other side.

“If you’re a vampire you can’t come in without being invited,” Eve said from the shadows inside.

David opened the door and stepped into the house, closing it behind him.

“Happy now?” he asked Eve who stood a few feet to the side clutching what looked to David like a broken chair leg. He couldn’t tell if the look on her face was relief or not.

“She me what you mentioned earlier,” he said. She turned and led him into the house where her computer and books had been set up in the living room. “Why’s all this stuff out here?”

“More exits,” she said. “In case something gets in.”

“I thought it couldn’t come in unless it was invited.”

“Obviously that part of the legend isn’t true; it got in last night.”

“Right,” he said. “I forgot.”

“It’s in there,” she said, pointing to a book lying open on the couch. “I highlighted it.”

David sat down and picked up the book, then began reading the bright pink-marked passage.

“According to many cultures, especially the Greeks, a person could become vrykolakas, an undead creature that feeds on blood, by living a sacrilegious life, being buried in unconsecrated ground, or being excommunicated. It is also believed a werewolf would become a very powerful vampire after being killed in its wolf form.”

He closed the book and sat for several seconds repeating that last sentence to himself a few times before he stood up and said, “We have to go.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Eve said. “I’m safe here, I’m staying right here.”

“Safe?” David asked. “It got in here once already. You think you’d be safer here by yourself than somewhere else with me?”

“If you plan on going to the cemetery, then yes, I totally do think that.”

“You won’t be safe until its dead. And I need your help to do that. So pretty please with sugar on it, get in the fucking car and come on.”

Eve sighed, then looked outside.

“Still plenty of daylight,” David said. “We’ll be done before it gets dark.”

“I never should have agreed to look into that thing for you.”

“But you did, and it’s probably saved both our lives because now we know what we’re looking for.”

“You know who it is?”

“Did you think I was just gonna wander the cemetery until I saw a suspicious looking plot?”

“Who is it?”

“I’ll tell you on the way,” David said.

On cue, because David knew there was nothing in the world Eve hated more than not knowing something someone else knew, she said, “Okay. But we’re out of there and somewhere safe well before the sun goes down.”

“Fine by me,” David said.

* * *

In the car, he told her everything he knew for sure. He told her about wrecking his car, he told her about the night time visits, the certainty he was being stalked, and how he’d at first thought it was one of the carnies passing through town. He told her about how he’d tried to have the Bewlays make a silver bullet, and how it hadn’t been Mick Bewlay that broke into his house and attacked, but a huge wolf-like beast that walked on two legs until Victoria had shot it full of arrows. He told her that, by the time the police showed up, the beast had turned back into Mick. He told her about finding Donnie at the Bewlay place, and how he’d started turning until David killed him too, then buried the body in the woods.

He told her about finding the box, the Devil’s Kiss, and hiding it in the woods, but making sure not to touch the thing, just in case it transferred its curse with contact.

Then he told her, “If it’s true what you found, about werewolves becoming vampires when they die, then we know just where we have to look.”

“Jesus,” Eve said, slapping her forehead. “No wonder!”

“What?”

“I thought he looked familiar! When he attacked me last night. God, I knew I knew that face!”

“So it was Mick?”

She nodded.

They were at the cemetery then, and David led her to Mick’s grave.

“Looks intact,” David said. “How does he get out, I wonder.”

David drove the shovel into the ground and Eve said, “What are you doing?”

“Making sure he’s dead.”

“It’s still daylight. You want to get arrested?”

“Right,” David agreed. “Then we have to come back when it’s dark.”

“Says you!”

“He already came after you once,” David said. “You think he won’t do it again?”

“I’ve prepared, I’m ready this time.”

“Or we end him today, before he can come after either of us again.”

“This is ridiculous,” Eve said. “I’m standing in a cemetery, seriously considering this.”

“I’ve got a wife and two daughters to protect. Do you honestly think I’m not going to do this, with or without you?”

“But if we come back after dark, he can wake up and kill us both.”

“You’ll be standing over the coffin before I open it. You’ll have this,” he said, holding out the shovel.

“And what’s that gonna do?”

“A lot, if I sharpen the tip. You’ll be out of reach and ready to kill him if he so much as twitches. He won’t have a chance to get out.”

Eve paced once around the grave, then said, “In movies, they can hypnotize you with their eyes.”

“In movies, they have to be invited in. He didn’t last night.”

She chewed a thumbnail, meanwhile David felt the anticipation swelling in his chest like a balloon, ready to burst any second, waiting desperately for this to be finished.

“What time did it show up last night?”

Eve thought about this, then said, “Must have been close to midnight. Maybe a little before?”

“So we’ll come back just before sunset. We’ll watch the place until the sun goes down, then come inside as soon as it’s dark, before he has a chance to get out.”

“You’re a lunatic.”

David shrugged.

“Fine,” Eve sighed. “I’ll be backup. But if there’s even a hint of fact to anything that’s happened in the last twenty-four hours, I don’t want anything to do with getting close to that thing. Much less touching it. God, I can still feel it clawing at me.”

She shivered.

* * *

He drove her home and dropped her off, then returned to his own house where he kissed and hugged his wife and daughters, knowing in his heart just how far south all of this could go at any moment. He had no idea what he was doing, let alone experience doing it.

When he was in Victoria’s room, he noticed her bow resting against the wall by her closet. He wanted to mention it, but didn’t want to make her think about that night.

“You look better,” he said instead.

She shrugged.

“You feeling any better?”

She shrugged again.

“Ready to go back to school Monday?”

Another shrug.

“What’s up, girl? Talk.”

“I don’t know,” she said. “I just feel weird.”

“How so?”

She shook her head. “It’s hard to explain.”

“Try?”

“Just weird,” was all she could come up with.

David kissed the top of her head and hugged her and said, “You’ll be feeling better before you know it. You’ll see.”

And that was all the reassurance he needed that he was doing the right thing.

They had an early dinner, David making tacos, then he quickly cleaned up and told Jessi, “I’m going over to Eve’s for a bit, she’s got some stuff for me to look at.”

“What stuff?”

“Just some research I asked her to do for me. A thing I found over at the trailer.”

“What trailer?”

Shit, he realized he hadn’t told her he’d been there since the attack.

“The guys’ trailer. I went by to pick up some movies I’d loaned them a while back. I figured they weren’t gonna be watching them, obviously.”

“So leave them, you don’t need to be going over there.”

God, why couldn’t he learn to keep his mouth shut? He was doing so good lately, too. They hadn’t argued in a while.

“What did you find that you had to have the cousin you hate look it up for you?”

“I don’t hate her,” David said. “She’s an uppity bitch sometimes who thinks she’s better than everyone because she has an education and wears nice clothes to work. But I don’t hate her.”

“Well, it just sounds awful convenient is all,” Jessi said.

“What does?”

“Are you seeing someone else?”

David couldn’t help but explode in laughter.

“I assure you,” he said after catching his breath, “I’m not. I’m heading to my cousin’s. You’re free to call her yourself and verify. Trust me, she wouldn’t lie for me if I paid her, which I haven’t. What would even make that thought enter your mind?”

“You’re just distant lately. Withdrawn. That’s not like you.”

“That’s exactly like me lately,” David said. “My two best friends are dead, Jess. One of them broke into our house. Our daughter killed him. What about any of that should make me open and outgoing? I’ve got things I’m dealing with, like a major, drastic shift in the structure of my life. But the last thing I would add to the already-chaotic mess lately is another woman.”

She stood against the wall with her arms folded.

“So how come you haven’t mentioned this mysterious find to me before?”

“I guess I didn’t think about it. She’s always been a research junkie, it’s like crack to her, so she was my first thought. Hey, I never mentioned Larry the janitor’s prosthetic arm, either, but if you want to come to school with me this week, you can see it.”

Okay, so a quick vision of Ashley smiling flashed through his head right then, but other than that, he hadn’t thought of another woman in a very long time.

He glanced out the window and saw the hour was getting late. He told Eve they’d get there before the sun went down. If he didn’t hurry, she was going to back out.

“I’ll tell you all about it when I get back. I can’t yet; I don’t know what she found, that’s why I’m going. I love you, I’ll be back in a bit.”

He kissed her and walked out the door before she had a chance to continue.

Eve got in the car with a lot less fuss than last time, but there was no denying how much she didn’t want to be there. She wore a green turtleneck with a large gold crucifix around her neck. David wanted to laugh at her, but how could he when he envied her preparedness so much? What had he done? He suddenly felt very naked and unprotected.

“Sorry it’s so late,” he said. “Jessi didn’t want me to come.”

“That makes two of us,” Eve said. “Does she know what’s happening?”

“Shit no,” David said. “If she did, she would never have let me out of the house at all. Best she doesn’t find out at all, and if she has to, I’d rather it be afterward.”

They arrived at the cemetery and parked across the street, then sat watching the place. Just before the sun disappeared behind the horizon, they got out of the car and went around to get the shovel and a flashlight.

“I thought you were going to sharpen that!” Eve said, staring at the factory-rounded tip of the handle.

“I didn’t have time, alright?” David said. “I’ll take care of it. Let me do the digging, then we’ll snap it in half so it’s sharp.”

“And short,” Eve argued.

“So I’ll hold the shovel and you open the coffin.”

“Right,” Eve said. “That’s gonna happen.”

“Alright then. Come on.”

The Green Lake Cemetery was surrounded by trees, but no fence, so it was nothing to enter the grounds even after hours. They took up a spot among the trees, out of sight, but where they could watch Mick Bewlay’s grave until dark to make sure nothing came out of it. When the sun had finally set, they dashed across the grounds to the spot.

David began digging furiously at first, then slowly with less energy, and finally with weak arms and a back covered in sweat.

“Holy shit,” he said. “This always looks so effortless in movies. You take over.”

“Not happening,” Eve said. “I’m not getting any closer to it than I have to.”

“Fuck.”

It took nearly three hours and David kept expecting a gnarled grey hand to reach up out of the dirt and grab his ankle, but those bites on Victoria drove him forward every time he thought he had reached his limit. He was doing this less for himself and more for his wife and daughters, the only thing in the world that would give him the strength to face what he’d had to face the past few weeks.

And then he struck metal.

He looked up at Eve who stared down at him with wide eyes.

“Give me that,” she said, holding out her hand for the shovel.

He broke it over his knee, leaving a splintered tip that just might be sharp enough, he thought, then handed it up to her.

David knelt down and started clearing the dirt away from the top of the coffin.

“Something doesn’t feel right here,” Eve said from above.

“We’re just checking,” David said. “If it looks like he obviously hasn’t been out, then we cover him up and go home.”

“No, not that,” Eve said. “Something’s missing here. If this is true, he’s a vampire, then why did the dirt look like it hadn’t been touched?”

“I don’t know. Don’t they, like, turn to mist or something and that’s how they get out?”

“Don’t be stupid,” Eve said. “People don’t turn to mist.”

“They can come back from the dead and feed on human blood, but turning into mist is stupid?”

“It’s not that, anyway,” Eve said. “I just mean … let’s look at the logic. I drove that thing away last night with a cross. So we know the faith angle works. But if that’s true, then how does a vampire exist on hallowed ground? Cemetery’s are holy places. They wouldn’t be able to get out. I mean … right?”

“You’re asking me this now?” David said. “Really? How the hell do I know?”

“Because you’re not stupid?” Eve said. “I know you don’t think much of me, but I’ve always known you were a very smart man, so just think it through.”

“I never said I don’t think much of you, Eve,” David said.

“Then why don’t you like me?”

“Holy Christ. Really? Now?” He held up his hands in defeat.

“I’m just saying,” she continued. “What if he is a vampire, but he can’t get out because we’re on hallowed ground. Are we letting him out by digging him up?”

“According to you, he’s already been out.”

“According to you, they were both werewolves.”

“According to you, it was Mick who attacked you.”

“That was before I knew they were both werewolves and both were dead.”

“Christ,” David said and opened the coffin lid. The flashlight beam revealed Mick Bewlay, sunken cheeks, eyes closed.

“Look,” Eve said, pointing to the interior of the coffin lid with the shovel. David noticed it looked tattered and ripped to shreds.

“Shit,” David said, moving the beam back to Mick’s face just as his eyes flew open and a sound like Tom Waits gargling sandpaper and glass escaped his throat. His mouth opened revealing two sharp teeth among a lifetime of cigarettes and coffee, and David snatched the shovel out of Eve’s hand before she could protest, then drove it deep into Mick’s chest.

Mick howled and thrashed, but it was clear this creature hadn’t been out of its coffin, hadn’t had a chance to feed, and was weak and powerless.

David straddled the lower half of the coffin lid and felt Mick’s leg kicking under him, but unable to do any damage.

All this time, he thought, he’s been under here alone in the dark, trying to get out.

Whether it was the metal of the coffin or, like Eve said, the hallowed ground, Mick had not been attacking Victoria.

“Jesus,” David said.

“What? Is he getting out?”

“No. He hasn’t, and he won’t. But it wasn’t him, anyway. He’s buried here. Donnie’s buried in the woods.”

David stood up and watched Mick breathe his last garbled breath and finally lie back dead, for good this time--he hoped--before pulling the shovel handle free, tossing it out of the hole, and closing the lid. He climbed out of the hole and said, “Dammit. It’s not Mick. We have to get to where I buried Donnie.”

“We have to cover up this hole.”

“We don’t have time!”

“And if we leave him uncovered, what’s to say he won’t get out, too?”

David dropped into the hole again and opened the box, looking at the corpse. He had to make sure there was no returning. He grabbed the shovel again, turned it around, and placed the blade against Mick’s neck. His hands were slicked with gore from the handle. He gripped it tight, then used his foot to shove it down, into Mick’s neck. He pried and stamped until he broke through and Mick was decapitated.

“Will that do?” he asked, panting and trying to fight back a wave of vomit.

Eve stood there speechless and David took that as a yes, then pulled the shovel free and closed the coffin again.

“We’re wasting time. My daughters, my wife, are out there unprotected. You want to stay here and keep watch, go ahead. I’m out.”

“Wait,” Eve said. “We’re just going to leave him here? Someone’s going to find this in the morning.”

“Who gives a shit? I have bigger issues right now.”

“Desecrating a corpse is a felony in Kansas. That’s jail time.”

“They’re my fingerprints,” David said, “not yours. If it’s jail versus a dead wife and kids, that’s not even a question. You coming or staying?”

He drove the shovel handle into the pile of dirt, coating the end and turning it to mud. Then he carried it back to the car, tossed it into the back, and got in.

Eve followed.

He headed for home. Stopping to see if Donnie was still in the woods was a waste of time. If Jessi and the girls were safe, he’d wait until daylight, then go dig up Donnie’s body, vampire or no, and cut off his head.

* * *

“Why don’t you like me?” Eve asked as David sped through Green Lake, heading for the back road he called home.

“The fuck?” he asked, not bothering to look at her.

“You don’t have to act surprised,” she said, “it’s not like I don’t know. And if this is my last night on earth, I think I deserve to know why my cousin, who used to talk to me all the time about everything, suddenly one day wanted nothing to do with me.”

“You really want to know?” David asked. He did a slingshot stop at a stop sign, then took a left when he was sure nothing was coming.

“I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t.”

“Alright,” David said. “You asked. Salvation Army.”

“The what?” Eve said, confused.

“Salvation Army. Remember when you and Brian were splitting up and you used to tell me all about how he was so mean to you?”

“Of course. He treated me inhuman.”

“You guys fought. That wasn’t treating you inhuman. You just didn’t want to accept that this guy who’d been there so long was suddenly no longer interested in kissing your ass.”

“And that’s why you stopped talking to me?”

“No, I stopped talking to you because you weren’t interested in hearing the truth. You used to go on and on about how miserable you were and how you needed to get out of there and get your own place but, since you weren’t working at the time, you couldn’t afford it. And do you remember my advice?”

“No,” Eve said, grabbing onto the door handle to keep from flying into the middle of the car when David took a right turn too fast, too sharp.

“I told you if it was so important, you could get a temporary room at the Salvation Army. And do you remember what you said?’

She didn’t reply, and that was answer enough.

“You said to me, ’I’m an educated professional. I’m not going to the Salvation Army.’”

She still didn’t answer. He glanced over, Eve shrugged.

“You didn’t have a job, Eve. You weren’t a professional anything, and at the end of your rope with few options, you can either climb or let go. No one would have thought less of you for seeking help. But you’ve had this better than everyone attitude ever since you graduated college. Truth is, though, you’re no better than anyone else in this town, degree or not. In fact, lots of people have degrees and are working jobs they’re way overqualified for. The guy who hands out samples at the store has a degree in journalism, but this was the job he was able to get. And he took it because that’s reality. People do what needs to be done in order to survive, but you had this notion that because you had big dreams you were somehow above it all. And what happened? You moved into the spare bedroom and kept living with him for how many more months? And you were miserable the entire time.”

David shook his head, getting himself worked up and trying to stay focused on what he was doing.

“Doesn’t matter,” he said. “What’s done is done. I just didn’t like your attitude, and sometimes I still don’t, but none of that has any bearing on right now.”

“I don’t think I’m better than everyone else,” Eve muttered.

“Eve, you’re my cousin and I love you, but tonight really isn’t about you.”

He swung the car up into his driveway and skidded to a halt in the gravel. He looked up at the house, expecting to get a sense from it, but all was quiet. He took the shovel from the rear of the car and opened the front door. If anything was here, he wanted to get as close as he could without alerting it. And if nothing was here, he didn’t want to wake anyone.

He crept up the stairs, Eve on his tail close enough he could have sent her tumbling down simply with an elbow.

The house didn’t just feel quiet, it felt too quiet. It felt purposely quiet. Something was here, he knew it. He made out the closed bedroom doors and that somehow seemed wrong, too.

Dread worked its way up his throat while sweat soaked his back. His eyes were on Victoria’s door, knowing if Donnie was here, that’s where he’d be. There was no other option. The signs had been obvious from the start, now that he considered it.

He had just reached her door and readying himself to throw it open when a scream behind him got his attention. David turned, startled, and tried to sort out in his head if that had been Alison or Jessi.

The sounds of a struggle in the dark, something fell over and shattered. His bedroom. Jessi. Had Victoria merely been a distraction the whole time to keep David from protecting the real target?

He ran down the hall and threw himself against the door, bursting it open, flipping on the light. There it stood in all its dead glory, the vampire. But not Donnie.

Caleb Straus, the student who’d been murdered last week, stood over the bed, grasping at Jessi who fought him off with fists and feet, trying to climb out to the floor.

When the light came on, they both looked over in shock and David said, “Get the fuck off of her!” and swung the blade end of the shovel like a bat right into Caleb’s face. His former student flew back, into a dresser, sending their bedroom television to the floor.

“What the hell?” Jessi asked, but David ignored her.

Caleb was on his feet before David could reach him. He hissed and David had time to think How cliché, before the mouth was coming right for his throat. He tried to duck out of reach and ended up falling instead. On his way down, he saw Eve standing in the doorway. Before Caleb could go for the kill, David managed to kick out with his feet and knock the vampire off balance. Eve backed up to keep Caleb from grabbing her on his way down. Jessi had managed to get out of bed.

“What the hell is going on?” she shrieked.

David scampered to his feet again and swung the shovel again, this time bringing it down like a hammer on Caleb’s back. He did it again, then a third time before Eve said from the hallway, “Stop beating him and kill it already!”

David glanced up at her, then looked at his wife, terrified, in shock, and turned the shovel over and drove the broken handle down into Caleb Straus’s back, hoping he had pierced the heart.

The vampire gave a jerk with its limbs. Its head twisted to the right, contorting an a difficult angle, and blood spewed from its mouth.

David stood over it and kicked it in the head, then turned to his wife.

“You okay?” he asked. “Are you bit?”

“What the holy hell is happening?”

She looked over at Eve in the doorway, then to her husband.

“David?” Eve asked.

“It’s okay,” he said to Jessi. “I got here. I’m sorry, I’ll tell you everything. I’m just so glad I was on time.”

“David?” Eve asked again.

“No really,” Jessi said. “What the holy hell?”

“David?” Eve said a third time and David finally looked and asked, “What?”

“He can’t be the only one.”

“What?”

“This was your student, right? He just died last week? How? How did he died?”

David looked down at the body and the pieces clicked into place as he understood what Eve was getting at.

“The girls!” David said and took off out into the hall. Alison’s room was first and he threw open the door, then rushed in and attacked the creature bending over her, making those sounds with its mouth. He shoved it off her and it fell across her bed. He grabbed it by the neck and yanked it back, tossing it to the floor where the surprised creature looked up with blood smeared across its face and confusion shining in its eyes.

“David,” Eve said from the doorway. He looked over just in time to see her tossing him the shovel. David snatched it out of the air and drove it into the vampire’s chest. He didn’t know who this one was, but it didn’t take a lot to figure out it was probably one of the other recently murdered Green Lake residents he’d seen in the paper, Chester Fuques, perhaps.

The thing thrashed wildly as David stood over it, holding it down with all his weight as the blade of the shovel dug into his palm, but he refused to relax until it was dead for good.

Jessi picked up Alison and shook her until the girl opened her eyes and looked around, asking, “Was I having a bad dream again?”

David saw Alison was awake and breathing, so he left Jessi to tend to her while he checked on Victoria.

He found exactly what he’d expected to find, what he would have found sooner if Caleb hadn’t scared his wife and made her scream.

Donnie Bewlay, naked and covered in filth, stood in the center of the room, clutching Victoria to him like a doll, one arm raised and pressed to his mouth just on the median cubital vein in her arm. Her head lolled to the side and the rest of her hung limply in Donnie’s arm.

“No!” David screamed and ran across the room, trying to tear his daughter from the monster’s grasp, but Donnie was strong with her blood in him, and his grip was like a vice. David rained blows against Donnie’s head with his fist, desperate to tear the leech off her, but his teeth were sunk in deep and the pressure from his sucking mouth kept the two of them glued together.

Donnie let go of Victoria’s arm and it remained attached to his mouth while he shoved David backward, hard into the wall. David hit his head, but fought against passing out and stumbled to his feet.

He needed the shovel again, but the way Donnie held Victoria to him, he didn’t see how he could kill the man again without stabbing his daughter.

“Let her go, you hillbilly motherfucker!” David yelled, returning to the fight with more punches to the oblivious vampire.

Out the corner of his eye, David saw Victoria’s bow and arrows leaning against the wall where they’d been since she killed Donnie’s brother. He grabbed a handful of arrows and shoved three of them into the side of Donnie’s neck, pushing, forcing them through until they came out the other side, blood spurting and spilling like red tar to paint the bedroom. Donnie made a noise like a grunt and his arms fell to his sides. Victoria slumped to the floor like a rag doll and David saw Eve swoop in to pull the girl to safety.

David yanked the arrows from Donnie’s throat. The vampire looked him in the eye and David didn’t see an ounce of recognition. He wondered how much of his former friend was still in there. Then he looked at his daughter and decided it didn’t matter. He shoved Donnie backwards and made him tumble across the bed where David straddled him and brought the arrows down and up and down and up and down again repeatedly, stabbing the vampire over and over, in his face, through the eyes, his neck, his chest.

Someone was screaming in the room and David realized it was him.

He stabbed the vampire in the mouth. He yanked the arrows out. He stabbed the vampire in the cheek, then yanked the arrows out. He stabbed the vampire in the heart.

He fell backward, slid to the floor exhausted, panting, sweat-covered and crying.

“Motherfucker!” he rasped. “Stay away from my family, you piece of shit.”

He lay there for several minutes, trying to catch his breath and wanting to make sure Donnie didn’t get up again.

Eventually he heard something from somewhere outside himself and David fought against his fugue to come back to reality. Sobbing. Someone was sobbing. Someone, the voice sounded familiar. A girl. Victoria?

He took a deep breath and woke up, staring around wildly, trying to find his place in the world again, then saw a dark shape.

In the hall, partially blocked by the doorway, but there was someone on the floor, and they were shaking.

He climbed to his feet, glancing back only briefly to make sure Donnie hadn’t stirred.

The body lay there, naked and spilling dark blood all over everything from all the places he’d stabbed it. S’what you deserve, he thought, for coming after my family.

He went out to the hall and knelt beside his wife, wanting to see Victoria and make sure she was okay.

He leaned down and kissed the top of his daughter’s head.

“Gonna be okay now,” he murmured, still trying to catch his breath.

Jessi was sobbing, that’s what he’d heard. Who could blame her after what she’d just seen? She must be terrified, panicking.

He put a hand on her back and said, “We’re okay now, babe.”

She shoved him away and David, surprised, toppled backwards and fell on his ass.

“Don’t you touch us,” Jessi seethed.

“What?” David asked. “I took care of it, Jess. I saved us.”

“You stupid shit!”

“I know,” he said. “I should have warned you, but I didn’t know for sure, and if I didn’t have proof, you’d have said I was stupid anyway.”

“David,” Eve said from across the hall. “You need to see.”

“Huh?” he asked, looking up at his cousin who stood pressed against the wall as if trying to disappear into it. Then he looked at his wife, and his daughter. And he noticed what he hadn’t before.

Victoria wasn’t passed out. Her skin looked like chalk, pale and dull. Her face rested against Jessi’s shoulder, but there was no life in it.

“No,” David said. “No, Victoria wake up. Wake up, babe.” He tried to shake her, but Jessi pushed him away again.

“Victoria,” he said louder. “Wake up, girl. Come on.”

She didn’t move.

He sat there until he lost track, until he lost all feeling in his legs from kneeling on them, trying to make his daughter wake up, until he lost the sense of which crying voice was coming from whom as he and Jessi and Alison shook with the idea this was their new reality.

Jessi sat there, crying and rocking their dead daughter back and forth.

At some point David looked around and Eve was gone. He would need to check on her later. He would be able to dig the holes, but when it came to cutting off Victoria’s head, he was going to need her help.

 

 

To be continued in THE GHOSTS OF GREEN LAKE.

TO KEEP UP TO DATE ON THIS AND ALL THE OTHER STORIES, LIKE WHEN WILL THE COMPLETE, EDITED AND REVISED EDITION OF THIS STORY BE PUBLISHED,  SUBSCRIBE TO THE CDM/ANGEL HILL NEWSLETTER AND GET SOME FREE AUDIOBOOKS FOR YOUR TROUBLE.  --CDM.

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SKETCHBOX JULY, featuring Kyana

Posted 6/30/2016

This month's SketchBox came yesterday.  And I'm not sure I'm getting my money's worth with this thing.  Hmm...  The inventory card that came this time also had the prices listed and, according to this list I paid $31 for $28 worth of stuff.  Sure, $3 shipping, but these things are supposed to be great deals.  The LootCrate and Marvel Collector Corps boxes cost as much as the shirts that come in them alone, plus you get all the other great stuff.

But, it's for my daughter, and she's worth it.  So this box came with:

3 Van Gogh Watercolors ($4.80 each): Van Gogh watercolors are brilliant, intense, and very transparent.  Every color in the line features the highest degree of lightfastness, ensuring that your work displays the same color decades later as it did on the day you painted it.  Due to the purity of the colors, Van Gogh Watercolors are extremely easy to mix and wash to create the subtlest of differences in shade.

Princeton Bamboo Brush Round #4 ($6.15): Princeton Round Bamboo Watercolor Brushes are made with natural hair, and are used for watercolor, Sumi painting, calligraphy, and sketching.

2 loose Daler Rawley Watercolor Postcards ($1.00 each): A professional-quality, acid-free paper that offers excellent absorption and color rendering.  the paper is mouldmade from 100% cotton fibers.  The perfect gift to send to friends and family.

SketchBox Signature Water Brush ($5.50): Our very own water brush!  This round medium sized brush is versatile and allows you toi precisely control the flow of water.

 

And this month's featured artist, Kyana, had this to say:

"I am a 22-year-old artist living in Phoenix, Arizona.  Art has always been a passion for me since I was a child, and I've never for a minute second-guessed my dedication to drawing and painting.  After the military I went on to become an animation student, and I feel like I'm really following my dreams, which has always been important to me!  when I'm spending time on homework I am sketching monsters and creatures from my dreams and imagination.  My favorite medium would have to be ink, because it can be intensely bold and makes colors jump off the page.  A close second is watercolor because it was easy for me to learn and I love how beautifully the paint can flow onto paper.  The one piece of advice that has stuck with me and always comes back is something my art teacher told me before I graduated high school and that was 'Be the sponge.  Soak up as much knowledge and inspiration as you can and always be a curious artist.'  I love that."

Follow Kyana on Instagram @cryptiicink or go to Artofcrypticink.com.

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