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News & Events for C. Dennis Moore

Marvel Collector Corps: Women of Power

Posted 6/28/2016

The new Marvel Collector Corps box came Saturday.  This month's theme was Women of Power which, while cool, it's sort of sad that needs to be a theme all its own. They don't have Men of Power boxes.  No, they have Deadpool boxes and Spider-Man boxes.  So why not a Captain Marvel box or a She-Hulk box?  But I digress.  Couple of cool things this month:

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So first we have this Sean Wilkinson-designed Civil War II #1 variant comic.

Then there's the Squirrel Girl and Tippy Toe Pop! Vinyl Bobblehead figures.

I really like the Spider-Gwen shirt.

Then there are the Captain Marvel and She-Hulk bobblehead minis.

And finally the patch and pin for this month, featuring Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman.

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

Posted 6/27/2016

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

THE VAMPIRES OF GREEN LAKE

CHAPTER EIGHT

 

After Jessi and Alison left for school, Victoria got in the shower, hoping to warm up, claiming her hands and feet felt like they’d been left outside all night. David took the opportunity while she was out of the way to nail her window shut.

He was putting the hammer back into the tool box on the back porch when he got a call from Mrs. Holbrook asking, “Any idea when you might be returning to work?”

“Yeah,” David said, “sorry. It’s been a really rough couple of weeks.”

“No, I know,” she said. “I wasn’t criticizing, I was just asking. I’ve got Mr. Bamber subbing, but I was hoping to give him some idea how long we might need him, instead of calling at the last minute.”

“Oh, no problem,” David said. “We talked to the doctor yesterday, my daughter’s got some type of anemia, but he hasn’t gotten back to tell us how to treat it, plus she’s got a slight infection from some bug bites.”

“Oh, no,” Mrs. Holbrook said. “I hope it’s all nothing serious.”

“Me too,” David said. “But until we find out for sure and he tells us how to treat it, we’re gonna make sure one of us is always here with her. And, well, since my wife works--”

“--where your daughters go to school, it makes sense for you stay.”

“Yeah, pretty much,” David said.

“I understand, believe me. Look, you just do what you need to for your family, and I’ll tell Simon we’ll most likely need him next week, too. And if anything changes…”

“I’ll let you know as soon as I know. I am eager to get back, though,” he sort of lied. “It gets pretty dull around here all day. Not to mention, the sooner I’m back the better it means she’s feeling.”

“Right,” Mrs. Holbrook agreed.

They hung up and David spent the rest of the day watching his daughter rest and trying to convince himself that just because he had seen a werewolf with his own eyes didn’t mean the world was full of folk tales and boogeymen come to life.

Whenever she dozed off on the couch, David felt a moment of panic and stared at her until he saw she was breathing. He hated how helpless he felt, and how blind he’d been to the fact something was going on. No matter what he wanted to admit to himself, the evidence was unmistakable. Victoria was sick, and getting sicker. And whether that meant foul play from some supernatural monster didn’t matter. He had been too distracted and lost in his own head.

But who could blame him? The newspaper today had said Keith Akins, a computer specialist who lived on Jacobs street, had been found dead in his home. Things were going on whether David wanted them to or not.

And he knew if the Bewlay Box, or Devil’s Kiss, as Eve said it was called, had anything to do with it, David had to know. And he had to know how to make it stop, if he could.

Once everyone was home that night, dinner eaten, the girls upstairs, Jessi in the bathroom getting ready for bed, David called Eve to check in and ask the question he’d been putting off asking all day.

“Do you know if this thing, this Devil’s box,” David said, and Eve corrected him on what it was called. “Right, I know, have you seen anything about it that mentions … werewolves?”

God, he hated the way it sounded out loud.

“Um, no,” Eve said, “not specifically. I have found a few that claim to raise demons, if you’d rather that.”

“I’d rather none of them,” David said. “Alright, I was just asking.”

“We should get together some time this weekend, maybe for lunch, and I’ll tell you all about,” Eve said. “This is a fascinating box you’ve found. Wherever it came from.”

“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about,” David said.

“Sure thing.”

“Alright, I’m gonna try to get some sleep. Gotta work tomorrow.”

“Aren’t you still a teacher?” she asked.

That’s right, David realized, he hadn’t really talked to Eve since he started working at the store on the weekends.

“Yeah,” he said. “Also part time in town.”

“Oh, I didn’t know things were so tight around there.”

“Things are fine,” David said. “I have a wicked coke habit.”

“Uh-huh.”

“I’ll talk to you later.”

* * *

Eve hung up her phone and turned back to the book lying open on her desk. She dove headfirst back into her research, losing another hour and a half, when she got the sense she wasn’t alone anymore. Eve stopped and looked up, scanned the room, and saw nothing. She was freaking herself out with this research, but she also couldn’t bring herself to stop. It was all so very very fascinating.

She couldn’t bring herself to put a lot of credence in it, of course. She was an educated woman who spent her time dealing with facts and regulations. There were rules in place in the world and they were there for a reason. Things like this box and what it was for, what it was said to be able to do, none of those things worked in a rational world. They just didn’t.

So when she glanced over her shoulder and saw, emerging from the shadows, hiding in the corner of her office, a man, her first thought was not Vampire, but Intruder.

She leapt up from her desk and scampered around to the other side so it was between her and the man. He took a step forward and the room seemed to darken around her, as if he were draining away all the light.

“I’m calling the police,” she said, grabbing the phone from the desktop and backing away toward the door. “You stay right there, keep away from me, and things will go better for you when they get here.”

Like an animal, he leapt through the air, clawed hands out, mouth open and a roar escaping his throat. Eve noticed his eyes shone red, then she fell backward. Luckily, the fall also put her out of his reach, so he hit the floor and smacked his face. She scrambled back to her feet and tried to run from the room, but a hand grabbed her ankle and Eve went down like a sack of potatoes.

She kicked at his grasp with her free leg and tried to turn herself over onto her back to gain more leverage.

He stared at her, but this wasn’t the stare of a deranged man. This was a mindless beast intent on slaughtering her. And when he opened his mouth, Eve saw the fangs.

No, she told herself. No, that’s not real. It’s not allowed to be real. He’s a sick man, he has a disease and we can help him if we can get through to him. She even thought he looked somewhat familiar, which wasn’t out of the question in a town the size of Green Lake. She could help him, if she could just calm him down.

He reeled her in and lunged to take a bite of her calf, but that free foot kicked and connected with his face, shocking him into letting her go and Eve didn’t waste the opportunity. She was on her feet and running in less than the blink of an eye. She heard him growl. She ducked into the hallway. She heard his feet gain purchase on the floor and the groan of the boards under him. She ran for the kitchen. Where she kept the knives.

His palm slapped the doorway as he stormed out behind her.

She reached the block on her counter. He made a sound like a bark.

She grabbed a handle and yanked. She hurled it behind her. She grabbed another. Did the same. She turned for just a second and saw one of the blades sticking out of his chest. It hadn’t penetrated far, just enough for purchase, but he wasn’t stopping.

He reached her just as she moved in an upward arc with the biggest knife she had and drove up straight into his stomach, lodging it under his ribs.

She would claim self defense and no one would deny it. She would get over the ordeal and emerge stronger, maybe even write a book about her ordeal and become a strong female role model, giving talks all over the country to survivors of domestic abuse.

Then she realized he wasn’t going down. He did stop, she saw that. But he wasn’t going down. Instead he looked at the handle sticking out from his torso and yanked it out. The sound it made when he dislodged the blade from his bone was like nothing she’d ever heard, like the muffled crack of a dried branch.

“Jesus,” she muttered. Then her research into the Devil’s Kiss flooded through her mind and she had a thought. That thought was: Maybe?

Maybe there was something to the box and its legends. And if so, maybe there was something to what she saw in front of her. Surely, she knew, there were some drugs that could have the same effect on a person. But when he opened his mouth and she saw the teeth …

God, she thought. Maybe.

But then her mind worked on that thought and followed it with, yes, maybe, maybe this is true. And if this, then other things too. Maybe. If this can be true, everything can be true. If everything can be true, then faith has a place in the world.

If this thing, then also its counterpart.

She knew right then that this was her turning point, she lived or died by this moment and what happened next. And, with that, she felt herself open up possibility, and with that, something inside her knew, and she called that something Faith, and that Faith told her she had already won--because that is the very meaning of faith, isn’t it?

Eve had nothing within reach, so she used her fingers like she’d seen so many cheap movies do, and formed a cross she held out in front of her.

The vampire flinched and stumbled back for a second, which just strengthened Eve’s resolve. She took a step forward to match its step back, then another, and it followed suit, retreating with its hands up to cover its eyes.

“Get out of my house and don’t ever come back!” she screamed at it, now chasing it down the hall. She thought it was going to crash through the door, but then it veered to the side, into the half-bathroom, and out the window which it had apparently used to get in. It vanished into the darkness and Eve quickly slammed the window shut, then locked it, double-checking to make sure.

She quickly scanned the bathroom, looking for something she could use and decided nail polish and lipstick would work just as well as anything.

She spent the next several minutes making sure every window in the house was shut and locked, then drew crosses on every pain of glass she could find.

Afterward, she tried to call David, but his phone went straight to voicemail and she remembered he’d gone to bed.


She left a message, “David, it attacked me. I saw it. I don’t know what it was. I mean, I do, I know, I saw it, but I can’t believe it. But it didn’t get me. Call me as soon as you get this!”

She then went throughout the house making sure, once more, that every window was locked, every light was on, and she spent the night on her couch with a crucifix, a family heirloom she’d never put much faith in--none, as a matter of fact, before tonight--in one hand, a Bible she had never read in the other, and a broken wooden chair leg from her very expensive dining room set resting across her lap.

 

TO KEEP UP TO DATE ON THIS AND ALL THE OTHER STORIES, SUBSCRIBE TO THE CDM/ANGEL HILL NEWSLETTER AND GET SOME FREE AUDIOBOOKS FOR YOUR TROUBLE.  --CDM.

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

Posted 6/23/2016

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

THE VAMPIRES OF GREEN LAKE

CHAPTER SEVEN

 

When Victoria threw up at breakfast the next morning, David didn’t even need to be asked to stay home with her. He looked at his pale daughter as he called in, apologizing, but saying there wasn’t anything to be done; his daughter was very sick and he needed to be there with her. Once Jessi and Alison had left, David gave Victoria some juice, which seemed to bring her around a little and brighten her up. She still wasn’t in top form, though, so she spent most of the day sprawled on the couch watching “New Girl” and “Portlandia” on Netflix. He, meanwhile, used the time to do some much-needed dusting and sorting of the refrigerator which, he discovered, contained a jar of salsa with a use by date now four months old.

It was all just busy work, but he needed to keep himself moving and keep his mind on something, anything. Because otherwise he’d start to notice how tired Victoria looked, and he’d start to wonder if she’d been up late last night, maybe sneaking out her bedroom window when she felt a change coming on?

No, he knew it was stupid. She hadn’t even been in the vicinity of the Bewlay Box. She’d killed Mick, sure, but that was from across the room with an arrow. She hadn’t actually touched him, so the myth about being scratched or bitten by a werewolf being the thing that transferred the curse didn’t apply.

No, she was just sick. He needed to get those bites looked at. If they’d come from a brown recluse or something worse, she was in deep shit. Of the few symptoms he’d discovered online, fever, convulsions, itching, nausea and pain, Victoria had been displaying all but one. And he didn’t want to wait until she did go into convulsions to finally take her.

So take her, a voice told him. In what car, he asked it. Call a cab, the voice said.

No, another voice replied. It’s not a spider bite. They would have looked a lot worse if they were. Even the mild cases of brown recluse bites he’d seen online looked ten times worst than what Victoria was sporting on her arm. Bug bites, for sure, mosquito bites most likely, but they definitely weren’t spider bites. And whatever was wrong with her stomach, that was a bug. He’d noticed more and more kids absent from the hallways lately, the few times he’d been to work this week. Something was going around, that’s all. Something was always going around.

He made sure she stayed hydrated, and he didn’t allow himself to wonder if there might be a set of wolf prints in the ground outside her bedroom window.

* * *

She was better the next day. Still pale, but she insisted she was ready to go back to school, so Jessi dropped off David at the high school, then took off for Green Lake West with the girls.

He had just entered his classroom, noticed another empty seat, when his phone buzzed. He half expected a message saying another student had died, but it was only Eve urging him to call her as soon as he could.

He excused himself to the teacher’s lounge where he could hear and speak in relative privacy.

“What it is?” he said when she answered.

“Well, I know what it is, at least. Sort of.”

“You do?” he said, suddenly excited, and a little frightened.

“Yeah, it took a lot of time and effort and be glad I’m not charging you by the hour, but I found it, some of it.”

“What is it?” David asked.

“It’s call the Devil’s Kiss.”

“What the fuck?”

“Exactly. It’s supposed to be some kind of ancient tool used in witchcraft rituals.”

“What does it do?”

“That I haven’t discovered yet. I’ll assume whatever it is, though, is something either really bad, really powerful, or both, because there is very very very little information on this box anywhere online. I finally did connect one of the minor glyphs to the name, and then from there dug up a couple of books, really old ones, that mentioned it. You have to go old school to find out anything about this thing, though; the digital age knows almost nothing about it.”

“Well that’s--” was as far as he got when his phone beeped in his ear telling him he had another call. He looked at the screen and saw it was Jessi.

“Hey, I gotta call you back, Jessi’s calling.”

Without waiting for an acknowledgment, he hung up on his cousin and switched over to his wife.

“Hey, what’s up?” he said.

“I’m taking Victoria to the hospital. She passed out when we got to school.”

“I’ll meet you there,” David said before he remembered he didn’t have a car. “Shit. I’ll figure it out. I’ll be there.”

David hung up and went to Mrs. Holbrook’s, the principal’s, office to tell her the news.

“Are you planning on teaching any of your classes any time soon?” she asked.

“Just as soon as life stops kicking me in the nuts,” David said. “Is there a cab company in town that’s fast?”

It was almost forty minutes before he was able to get to the hospital, during which time he realized if he’d started walking the minute he got off the phone with Jessi, he’d have been there much sooner. But he had other concerns now, like his daughter and what was wrong with her.

He found the ER desk and asked a man sitting there where Victoria Reed was. The man looked at a computer screen then told David to go through the double doors to the left and she would be in the third room on the right.

He followed directions and found Jessi sitting in a chair by the wall, while Victoria lay on a paper-sheet-covered exam table.

“What did they say?” he asked when he entered.

Jessi looked up and he saw she had almost been asleep. She sat up straight and looked at Victoria who was awake, but definitely only just barely.

“She has an infection,” Jessi said. “I showed him the bug bites, but he said they’re not bug bites, so he’s running some kind of test and is treating her with antibiotics. That’s about as far as we’ve gotten.”

“Are they keeping her overnight?” David asked.

Jessi shook her head, and it turned out she was right. The doctor returned after thirty more minutes and said, “We’re still waiting on some results, but your daughter is definitely anemic.”

“Is that why she’s so pale lately?”

The doctor nodded, then said, “The bad thing is we can’t treat for anemia until we understand the type of anemia. So we’re still waiting on our test results. We’re going to have to get some more of her medical history.”

The visit took the rest of the day, and eventually Jessi left to pick up Alison from school, then came back and got David and Victoria. They got home and David helped Victoria up to her room where she collapsed in bed and seemed to be sleeping immediately.

A few hours later, after dinner had been fiddled with but not really eaten because none of them had much of an appetite, Jessi said she was going up to take a bath. David cleaned up the kitchen, then checked on Victoria. She was awake, playing a game on her phone. She said she felt better.

“Good. Keep feeling better,” David said, then held up a fist. “Or else.”

She held up her own fist and they looked at each other with squinted eyes before both smiled and blew kisses to each other.

David left, then stopped in Alison’s room to see how her day was and try to get a read on how she was handling things lately.

“I’m fine,” she muttered unconvincingly.

“Uh huh.”

He sat sideways on her bed, then leaned back against the wall.

“What’s up, girl?”

Alison shrugged and said, “Nothing. Really.”

“Worried about your sister?”

“I don’t know. I don’t want her to be sick, of course.”

“Obviously. But it’s just a bug or something. The doctors’ll figure it out.”

“I know,” she said. “I’m not worried about that.”

“Then what’s up?”

She kept her eyes down, staring at the floor.

“Just get scared sometimes at night.”

“Do what? Why?” David asked.

“I just hear noises sometimes and they freak me out. I told myself they were a dream, but…”

“What kind of noises?” he asked, imagining the pop and crack of dislocating bones and shifting skeletal structures as a wolf emerged from the empty skin of his fifteen-year-old daughter.

What Alison said next did not help derail David’s train of thought.

“They remind me of the dog,” Alison said.

“What dog? What, you mean Hanz? God, that’s a deep cut, he’s been dead almost five years. Why that?”

“Just the way he used to eat. Like he’d never done it before.”

“He did go at the food with some gusto,” David said.

“Yeah.”

“So you hear sounds like a dog eating?”

“No,” she shook her head. “It doesn’t sound like that, that’s just what it reminds me of. And then another time I thought she was talking in her sleep.”

“She probably was. What was she saying?”

Alison shook her head and said, “I can’t say, I’ll get in trouble.”

“You’re allowed this time,” David said, now even more curious. Chances were, what Alison heard was Victoria on the phone with a friend late at night. And having gone through the process himself, David was familiar with the way teenagers talked with their friends.

“She said, ’Don’t drain the little bitch dry,’” Alison said. “Only her voice sounded all scratchy and weird.”

Several ideas coalesced in David’s mind and an idea formed, one he fought to deny, but given the last month around the Reed house, one that couldn’t be entirely dismissed as ridiculous.

But scaring his younger daughter even more wasn’t on his agenda tonight, so he shook his head and kissed hers, then said, “I’d be willing to bet pretty much anything you were dreaming.”

“Pretty much anything?”

“Either you were or she was,” he lied. “Coulda been a bad dream she was having because of her fever.”

“Yeah,” Alison said. “That makes sense.”

David stood up and sighed, then said, “How did I get so lucky to have a daughter like you?”

“Just blessed, I guess.”

“That I was. Now I’m gonna get something to drink.”

“You do that.”

“I will,” David said.

“I dare you.”

“Don’t dare me, I’m so gonna get something to drink.”

“Do it, then. See if I care.”

“Oh, you care plenty.”

“Nope.”

“Why do you loathe me?” he asked.

She shrugged and David shook his head and walked out. Downstairs, he pulled the milk jug from the fridge, then dumped it down the sink.

He went upstairs to the bathroom door, knocked lightly, and said, “Jess, I’m gonna run to the store. We’re out of milk.”

“Get some bread too, will you?”

“Okay.”

He bought milk and bread, and garlic. The milk went into the fridge, the bread he left on the counter next to the toaster, and the garlic he took upstairs. Victoria was asleep when he tore off a few cloves and placed them on her windowsill along with a small crucifix he’d taken from his desk drawer, left over from a necklace he had bought for Jessi years ago, then shoved in his desk when the chain broke and he kept promising to get her a new one.

He left her bedroom door opened and when he went to bed he did so only in body. He stayed awake staring out the window for several hours, though, listening, waiting, finally dozing.

He dreamed of hungry dogs.

 

 

TO KEEP UP TO DATE ON THIS AND ALL THE OTHER STORIES, SUBSCRIBE TO THE CDM/ANGEL HILL NEWSLETTER AND GET SOME FREE AUDIOBOOKS FOR YOUR TROUBLE.  --CDM.

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THIS WEEK'S COMICS HAUL, 6/22/16

Posted 6/22/2016

Huge comic haul this week, because last week's shipment didn't come in til this week.  So my daughter got 4, my son got 7, and I amassed 7 as well (9 actually, I'm going to read these new Batman and Detective Comics books, too).  Click on the covers to read along with us.  Here's the haul:

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LOOTCRATE JUNE: DYSTOPIA

Posted 6/21/2016

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not a bad haul in this month's Dystopia-themed LootCrate.  Let's see what we got:

Exclusive RoboCop T-shirt from Grey Matter Art

Fallout 4 Power Armor Dorbz from Funko

Exclusive Terminator 2 Metal Print from Loot Crate Labs

Exclusive Matrix puzzle from Cardinal Games

Exclusive Bioshock Infinite key blank from A Crowded Coop 

 

For a change, there wasn't one single thing in here I couldn't find a use for.  Even the key blank, I'm probably going to have cut for my house key.  The Terminator metal print is already on my wall.  My daughter took the puzzle, and the Dorbz is over there with all the rest of my Dorbz figures.  The shirt, come on, I'm definitely wearing that tomorrow.  Good job, LootCrate people. 

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

Posted 6/20/2016

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

THE VAMPIRES OF GREEN LAKE

CHAPTER SIX

 

David had just entered the school Tuesday morning when his phone rang. He dug it out of his pocket and saw Eve’s name on the screen. He sighed and wanted to ignore it, then he remembered enlisting her help in his search and he answered with hope.

“Hello?”

“It’s me,” she said.

“Yeah,” David said, “I kinda figured. What’s up?”

He wanted her to say she’d discovered what the box was and it was nothing at all important.

“Nothing yet,” she said. “I just wanted to give you the update. Haven’t found anything yet, but the hunt is pretty fun. Stayed up way too late last night. What else can you tell me about it, that might help narrow the search.”

“You know as much as I do,” David lied. “But if there’s nothing out there, there’s nothing out there, right?”

“There’s something out there, all right,” Eve said. “In this day and age, you better believe there’s someone out there who knows what it is. Does it open? Is it made for storage?”

“I have no idea,” David said, then added, “Look, class is starting, I gotta go. Let me know if you do find anything, cool?” What he meant was, don’t bother me unless you have something.

“I’ll find something, don’t you worry about that!” Eve said and laughed.

David shook his head and said, “Cool. Later. Bye.” He hung up and entered his classroom where most of the students were already seated and ready.

Which was very strange, indeed, he thought. He had a moment where he considered pinching himself to see if he was dreaming. These quiet people in their seats were not his usual gaggle of students. No one was wandering around the room, no one was talking, no one was laughing too loudly at the back of the room, and fifty percent of the eyes weren’t turned around or otherwise distracted.

He noticed an empty seat in the row furthest from the door and immediately ran through his mental snapshot of the class to determine who was missing.

“Is Mr. Straus here today?” he asked, thinking maybe the kid was just running late.

No one answered, but a few looked at the floor while the rest stared straight ahead.

“Somebody want to tell me what’s going on?” David asked, setting his things on the desk at the front of the class. “Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?” he joked, then realized no one in this room was old enough to get the reference.

It was obvious something was wrong and that empty desk stood out ominously.

His phone dinged, signally an incoming email. David brought it out and opened the app, wondering if Eve had sent him something and thinking That was quick. But when he saw the name of the sender and the subject line, then opened the email and read the contents, he at least understood why the mood in the room was the way it was.

“I see,” he said, setting his phone down and addressing the class. “Okay, for those of you who don’t know, and by the looks I’m going to say I was the only one who didn’t, it appears we’ve had a loss at the school.”

The email hadn’t gone into too much detail, but the fact was the fact and it was simple enough. Caleb Straus, one of the brightest and most charming kids David had ever taught, had been found dead in his home early this morning.

Fuck, he thought. He had visions of Green Lake in the near future, a deserted ghost town populated by nothing but memories and dust. The email hadn’t been specific on the cause of death, but David was willing to bet his ridiculously small salary it hadn’t been natural causes. He couldn’t help feeling the Bewlay Box had something to do with it. Not just Caleb Straus’s, but all of the other recent deaths in town.

Then a new thought occurred, one more terrifying than anything else yet. If the box really had been somehow responsible for what happened to Mick and Donnie … what if it had done something to him?

He’d made sure not to let it touch him when he moved it, but what if it had, even just for half a second, and he just hadn’t noticed? But Jesus Christ, what if it was true? What if he had taken their curse, either when he killed them or when he found the box? He thought of Victoria. She had killed one of them, too.

It wasn’t true, he told himself. If something had happened to him, was happening to him, Jessi would have noticed him getting out of bed. Hell, she’d have noticed more than that. He explored the details. He woke up in the same state he’d gone to bed. Donnie had said there’d been dreams at first, but all David dreamed about lately was the memory of killing Donnie and burying his body. In his dreams, he looked up from the work and saw the girl in the FRANKIE shirt was watching him.

There would be evidence, he told himself, and he knew that was the truth. Which meant whatever was happening around town, David wasn’t responsible. He kept that thought running through his head all day, but as soon as he got home that evening, thanks again to a ride from Rich, he set his things down by the door and found Jessi in the living room. They’d just got home, too.

“I’ll go out and get something for dinner,” he offered. He ordered a pizza, then said, “It’ll be ready in twenty, I’m gonna go pick it up, otherwise we’ll be waiting an hour.”

Actually, the woman who took his order said ten, but David needed to pad the time; he had a stop to make.

Once he arrived at the Bewlay place--the police tape was still up--he parked and walked directly into the woods where he’d buried the box. He had to make sure it was still there.

He whispered a quick Thank God when he saw it was right where he left it. He just wished that thank you would have made it easier to breathe, but David realized he’d been short of breath most of the day now. It was tension, he knew, building up inside him, and he didn’t know why. The danger was over, right? They were dead.

But no, he told himself. They might be, but something is still out there. Maybe they’d infected someone else without knowing it? That could be. And if that was the case, David knew he was the only one who could find and destroy it.

Why again is that, he tried to argue with himself. Why you?

Because no one else knows, he reminded himself. And they wouldn’t believe you if you tried to tell them. All you can do is keep it to yourself and try to end this for good.

Burn the box, a voice in his head offered.

Would that work? If the box had made the Bewlays into beasts, would burning it destroy that curse? Maybe, he thought. But if the Bewlays had made someone else into a beast, would the box have any effect?

He supposed technically it could, but was a curse once removed as effective?

Only one way to find out, he thought. Burn the fucking thing.

And God knew he wanted to. But looking at it, the mystery was deeper than his desire to see it in flames. For some reason he couldn’t explain, he knew he had to discover its truths before he destroyed it.

Dammit, he thought, and covered it up again. Then he heard something in the woods and he thought for a second Donnie had dug himself out of the ground and come back to finish the job. David turned around, expecting to see the wolf crouching behind him, but he was alone. As far as he could tell, that is.

He got in the car and hurried to Pizza Hut where he welcomed the dim lights and loud music. He paid for his pizzas, a thin crust with pepperoni and pork sausage and a small hand-tossed supreme, and went home.

The night passed quietly. Jessi went to bed earlier than usual while David graded some papers.

That night, Victoria woke them up screaming.

David and Jessi rushed into her room and found her sitting up in bed, back against the wall and legs curled up against her. Her arm was hanging out straight and she was staring at the blood pouring from it.

“Holy shit!” Jessi blurted. “Get a wet towel.”

David ducked out to the bathroom to do as she said and came back a second later to help clean off Victoria’s blood.

“Were you scratching in your sleep?” Jessi asked and Victoria shook her head and said through hitches and sobs, “I don’t know. I just woke up and there was blood.”

“Probably scared the crap out of you, didn’t it?” David said.

Victoria nodded.

“It’s okay,” Jessi said, examining the wounds. “Looks like you just tore them open. We’ll have to cover them up better this time.”

“Are they looking any worse?” David asked.

Jessi looked and said, “No, I don’t think so. Still red and swollen, but that’s to be expected. I don’t think they’re infected, though. But they won’t heal if she keeps scratching them.”

Jessi left and David sat with his daughter, hugging her and rubbing her back. He kissed the top of her head and said, “You’ll be okay, petunia. Just scared yourself, huh?”

Jessi came back with a roll of gauze, cotton balls, and some tape. She put the cotton over the bites, then wrapped the bites and taped it off.

“Too tight?” she asked, and Victoria shook her head. “Good. Remind me tomorrow to take another, better look at them. If they don’t get better soon, we may have to amputate. Or at the very least, make an appointment and let a real doctor see them.”

Victoria nodded. Jessi went back to bed but David lingered a minute.

“You gonna be okay, kid?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she said, and her voice was all gravel and glass.

“Need a drink?”

“I am thirsty,” she said.

“I’ll get you some water. Be right back.”

He brought her a glass and she downed it quickly, then set it aside.

“Want me to leave the light on?”

She nodded, and David was glad to do it.

If he slept at all the rest of the night, it was broken by longer periods of wakefulness and listening to the sounds the house made. And a whole lot of making sure he or Victoria weren’t awake, covered in fur, and stalking the streets of Green Lake.

 

to be continued...

 

 

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CURRENTLY READING (COPYEDITING): SEASON OF THE WITCH, BY CHARLEE JACOB

Posted 6/17/2016

A sultry female voice slipped from a television ad. “Hey, mister… is there a beast inside you?”

A second voice said beneath this, “Compulsion—are you obsessed, do you feel compelled to act out your fiercest fantasies?” 

A sexy third voice dripped honey. “Do you get the night sweats?”

The first voice returned. “Tell us about it. Dark, primitive longings. Let us feed your beast.”  

 
X-IS-THE-DARK
Compulsions: What The Night Is Made Of

 

The ads mysteriously appeared all over town—radio, TV, billboards… Call the number and tell all your depraved desires to the listener. No matter how vile, how disturbing and utterly Hellish your thoughts, X-IS-THE-DARK won’t only listen, but will encourage you to go deeper and maybe even push you over the edge to act upon those heinous urges.

 
necrOmania seXualis:

 

Is it just an urban legend about a horror writer who’d tapped into Hell for inspiration and was herself butchered? Pirsya Profana was a modern myth, a feminist version of Lovecraft’s mad Arab, Alhazred. Now the infamous magazine that documented her trail of horrors is appearing on the shelves of a Podunk convenience store. And when it shows up, it brings only pain and devastation.

The appearance of necrOmania seXualis and X-IS-THE-DARK at the same time is no mere coincidence. Could the ominous black building that burns to the touch, and appeared in town with seemingly no way to get in, be the cause?

Eddie is a police officer pulled into the darkest corners of his town now haunted by horrifying shadows, various cults who accept extreme body modification as part of their initiation. Will he and his D-movie queen girlfriend find out just what is behind all the death and human destruction plaguing their town or will they be sucked further into the black hole of murder, sex and the Season of the Witch.

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THIS WEEK'S DELAYED COMICS HAUL, 6/15/16

Posted 6/15/2016

Strange things afoot today when I went for comics.  Namely, they weren't there!!!  The shipment didn't come in today and won't until next week.  Which means next week I'll have twice as many comics to get.  To make up for it, they're having a 50% off all comics and 40% off all graphic novels sale, so I picked up:

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The X-Men was $1.99 and the Avengers books were $0.99 each, so at half off, I got them for about $3.  The other two books cost about $12.  Not bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, since I'm not reading NEW comics this week, I've moved on to the next book in the Astonishing X-Men series (which cuts off at #30, hence buying that issue #31 today):

Astonishing X-Men Vol. 5: Ghost Box

Collects Astonishing X-Men (2004) #25-30, and Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes #1-2. The X-Men are back to business -- with a new look, a new base of operations, and a mystery to solve that will take them into previously uncharted territory and test them to their core. It all starts on a spaceship hovering 300 hundred feet above the twisted wreckage of Chaparanga Beach. Its sole inhabitant: the mysterious Subject X.
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THE VAMPIRES OF GREEN LAKE, Chapter Five, by C. Dennis Moore

Posted 6/13/2016

AUTHOR'S NOTE:

These chapters are being published as they're written.  Some details are going to change as I work through the story.  For example, in an earlier chapter Victoria is scratching at a bite on her leg.  By the next chapter I realized these needed to be moved to her arm.  None of the changes effect the overall story, they're just minor details in a larger whole, but they could provide some confusing reading for anyone reading along with these installments.  So if you happen to come across little tidbits like that and wonder just what the hell is going on, rest easy, it's all good.  Enjoy:

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

THE VAMPIRES OF GREEN LAKE

CHAPTER FIVE

 

The weekend came and went in a blur for David. He had two shifts at the grocery store, during which he fielded questions from co-workers who wanted to know what it was like to kill someone. He didn’t bother correcting them that he hadn’t actually done the killing, and, when he thought about it, he guessed he had done it. But they didn’t ever need to know about that.

Victoria spent most of the weekend in bed again. She was throwing up and feverish and if she wasn’t better soon, Jessi said she was taking her to the hospital. David hoped she got better quick; they were still down to one car thanks to David having run his into a pole to avoid what turned out to be a werewolf in the middle of the road, and doctor bills on top of trying to find another cheap used car was at the very bottom of his list of things he could handle right now.

Alison had been sleeping with the lights on and the door half open and Jessi told David as long as she was sleeping, what difference did it make. He was dealing, but everything just seemed so out of routine, despite their attempts to reclaim some form of normality as a family. He knew it would all pass, Victoria would get over whatever bug she’d caught and Alison wouldn’t be so afraid anymore. But for now it was just tough.

And then he saw the newspaper on Monday morning, and the article detailing how Chester Fuques had been murdered in his bed. David thought about Lisa Lumley and Harvey Leonard and wondered.

He’d assumed the Bewlays had been responsible for those deaths. Those two had been slaughtered, after all, as if attacked by wild animals. He’d also assumed that, with the brothers in the ground, the killings were over as well.

Something at the back of his mind insisted the strange wooden box was somehow responsible.

He spent his entire free period online, exhausting every search option he could think of until, finally, he put his head in his hands and had to admit the truth: he was getting nowhere. It had been a week and David still knew exactly nothing at all about that box.

He went through the pictures on his phone again, asking it, “What are you?” in his head. A text from Jessi came through. “Damn, should have let Vic stay home again. So far, I have two students out today. Something’s def going around.”

“Hopefully nothing serious,” he wrote back. As he closed her text, he saw Eve’s name, and opened it to remind himself what she’d wanted last. Right, the Bewlays and their taxes. Christ, how had she even found that? Youth councilors weren’t exactly known for their hacking skills.

Then again, he thought…

No. He wasn’t doing it. Eve had a way of burning bridges, and while the one between them wasn’t in ashes just yet, it was pretty damned close. The best way David had found to maintain any sort of civil relationship between the two was simply to stay away. The fewer words out of her mouth, the more chance he could forget the past and, one day, welcome that uppity bitch back into his life.

Still. Maybe. And if something useful came of it, that might go a long way.

Fuck it, he decided, and texted her. He wasn’t quite ready for a real conversation yet. Baby steps.

“Hey. Wanna help me solve a mystery?”

Appeal to her sense of superiority.

He attached one of the pictures of the Bewlay Box.

“What the hell is this?”

He hit SEND, then stuffed the phone into his pocket and went to the men’s room. He was still at the urinal when his phone BE-BOOPED. He finished, flushed, washed his hands, then pulled the phone out on his way back to class, which would be filling up in about ten minutes.

“A MYSTERY!” her text read. “I’m in! Tell me more!”

“Got class,” David wrote back. “Call you later with details.”

“Roger that.”

Christ, he thought. Now I gotta deal with roger that. So stupid.

He forgot to call Eve after school. The boys’ PE teacher, Richard, gave him a ride home and talked about work the entire way and how disrespectful kids were these days.

“Man, when we were their age, we’d have never talked to teachers the way some of these punks talk to us.”

“That’s because teachers back then could hit kids. I had a teacher actually spank me in class once,” David said.

“For what?”

“Who knows? It was maybe second grade. Don’t remember what I did, but I remember what she did. What I wouldn’t give to do that to some of my students some days.”

“Most days,” Richard said.

“That too.”

When he got home, Jessi and the girls were already home. Jessi was on the couch skimming the DVR. He kissed her then set his things down. He went up to check on Victoria who was flat on her back, in bed, looking up at the ceiling.

“What’cha doon?” he asked when he came in.

“Nothing.”

“At all?”

“At all at all,” she said.

“Not up here texting your girlfriend?”

“Don’t have one.”

“Cuz you got no game?”

She chuckled and said, “Shut up.”

She scratched at her arm and David said, “Still bugging you? See what I did there? Play on words. Because bug bite, bugging you. Ha ha.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Let me see.”

She held her arm out and David turned on the light and knelt next to the bed.

“Jesus,” he said. “You scratched right through the skin. It’s bleeding.”

“Won’t stop itching, been driving me crazy ever since we got home.”

David left and went to the bathroom, then returned with an old tube of anti-itch cream and two Band-aids. He kissed her cheek and she said, “I’m tired.”

“Get some rest,” he said. “I’ll come get you when it’s time for dinner.”

She turned over and David left the room. Before he got to Alison’s, his phone rang.

Eve. Shit, he thought. I forgot.

He answered and she immediately asked, “So what am I supposed to be looking for?”

David lowered his voice and ducked into his and Jessi’s room.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know what it is, and no matter where I look or what I try, I can’t find even a scrap of information about that thing.”

“Where did you find it?”

“Just found it,” he said, shrugging even though she couldn’t see it. “And now I just want to know what I found.”

“Did you steal it?”

“Are you serious right now? You think I’m a thief?”

“No,” she said. “But you’re being very vague about all of this and if you expect me to get anywhere, I need to know what I’m looking for.”

“Okay,” he said, “fair enough.” He sat on the edge of the bed and said, “I got it from the Bewlays’ place. Last time I talked to them, one of them said they found it out in the woods and had been trying to figure out what it was. I just thought--”

“If you could finish it for them, you’d have some kind of closure.”

No, he thought.

“Yeah,” he said. “And I couldn’t find anything, so I figured I’d ask the smartest person I know.”

That should sweeten her up some, he thought.

“Do you have it there? I’d have better luck if I could actually look at it. There could be a manufacturer’s name or something on it? Maybe a signature if it’s a one of a kind?”

“I don’t,” he said. “Just the pictures. I left it there, in case it was stolen and the police were looking for it.”

Lie, but who was counting?

“Then I hope you took more pictures than that one,” Eve said. “Because that one gives me nothing to work with.”

“Yeah,” he said, “I have a few more. I’ll send them to you. And, you know, no rush, I was just curious and thought you could probably help me with it.”

“I’ll see what I can find,” Eve said.

“Cool, thanks. I gotta go, just got home and it’s almost time for dinner and I got some grading to do.”

“Cool, Cuz,” Eve said, and David cringed. Don’t ever talk like that again, he thought.

He hung up, then went to say hi to Alison. He didn’t hear anything from Eve until the next morning.

 

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HOUSEQUAKE IS NOW AVAILABLE AT AUDIBLE.COM

Posted 6/12/2016

Oliver Mark has found the perfect house. Old, abandoned, on the outskirts of Angel Hill where no one lives - it's the perfect place for him and his girlfriend to make a life together. But when Oliver breaks into the place to explore his new treasure, he finds himself lost in a maze of confusion and spatial anomaly.

After losing his job and getting kicked out of his friend's house, Oliver just wants a place to build a new life, but this house wasn't constructed using the physical laws we all take for granted. Some rooms are far larger than they should be; one room tricks him into thinking he's outside, and several others make him confront his biggest fears.

Housequake is the latest tale from the most haunted place in America, where nothing Oliver sees can be trusted, and not even an open door offers the hope it once did. As he faces madness, despair, and terror on a level he'd never imagined, he has to focus on just one goal: getting out of the house before he finds himself trapped there forever.

Either way, one thing is certain: Neither Oliver nor the listener will ever look at a closed door the same way again.

Get it in audiobook format here (or in print or ebook format here)

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