Flash Fic Challenge – She Broke Gods

Another challenge, and another nasty piece of work. I’ve just started reading In Sunlight Or In Shadows, Lawrence Block’s story collection inspired by Edward Hopper, and I can’t help but feel that influenced this story, a story of revenge from an unexpected place. Possible trigger warning – so, so violent. She Broke Gods It was funny what having a shitty childhood could teach you. Playing dead, for instance. Bryn was great at it. Or, in this particular instance, playing drugged. She acted unconscious as they accidentally on purpose groped her while picking her up and putting her in the shitty car, that stank of old cigarettes and fast food wrappers jammed under the seats, with the smallest hint of vomit. By her count, there were currently...

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Flash Fic Challenge – Discount Skin Ticket

So, here’s the latest flash fic challenge, and her’es my story. A very blink and you’ll never see it tip of the hat to Clive Barker. Discount Skin Ticket It looked like a place made of nightmares. Everything your parents warned you about; every desolate parking garage; every unlit alley in the bad part of town; every abandoned tenement crime scene. It was all those things, and everything unspeakable, unknowable, and chilling, rolled into what looked like an empty carnival funhouse. Only empty buildings didn’t thrum with energy you could feel like heavy bass lines thudding through the floor. Simon cut around the back, and thought he could feel something shimmer around him, like heat, only different somehow. He could taste copper in his...

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New flash fic, and new interview!

Friday is busy for some reason, so here you go. Got a flash fic at Lex’s (warning: kind of depressing), and an interview up at Nicki’s. Hopefully not depressing, but I suppose that depends on your point of view.

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New Year, New Flash Fic, New Soundtrack …

I have a NYE’s themed flash fic set in the Infected universe! Right here. And I have the soundtrack Scott put together, in hopes of impressing Roan. Old School Punk Party from notmanos on 8tracks...

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A snippet of the work in progress Holden sequel …

I’m still working on the Holden sequel, which is too damn long. So I thought I’d treat everyone curious about it to updates and snippets. Such as this one. I will give you no context. This is simply a random part. Sorry, but I think it’s more fun that way.This bit has Roan and Chai in it, with a cameo by a couple of hockey players. ** “Roan!” Grey exclaimed, sounding remarkably like an excited little kid. And unlike an excited little kid, Grey grabbed Roan in a bear hug and lifted him off his feet. He even shook him around a bit, like he was no more than a rag doll. Roan looked both amused and slightly ruffled at this. “Put him down before you hurt him, you big oaf,” Scott said, with weary affection. That alone told Chai Grey had done...

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Andy’s Best Albums of 2016 Playlist Roundup

Andy's Best Albums of The Year 2016 Playlist from notmanos on 8tracks Radio. I know it seems a little early for a best records of the year compilation, but these last couple of months of terrible 2016 have been dedicated to distracting myself from thinking about reality. And what better solace is there than music? More than a few great musicians died this year too, which seemed like adding insult to injury. (David Bowie, as usual, knew exactly when to go. That bastard! Always ahead of the rest of us. If someone told me he was The Master, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.) But, putting Bowie’s prescience aside, it actually was a pretty good year for music. A lot of people released good albums, and some even released great albums. In no particular...

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Free flash fic! And a contest!

You have to vote to win. Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Heartifact guest post

This is a book written to help very worthy causes. Please support it! HEARTIFACT IS OUT on NOVEMBER 24TH! Join me in welcoming Ash to my blog today with his newest novella, Heartifact! Ash advocates for abused youth and the net proceeds of this book benefit those youth in three countries. Thank you for supporting this novella! And don’t forget to scroll down and enter the giveaway! Net proceeds benefit the The Trevor Project in the US, le Refuge in France, and Arcigay in Italy Heartifact is available from Men Over the Rainbow, Amazon, Amazon UK, All Romance eBooks, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords WRITING THE ANTI-ANXIETY DUDE A special thanks to Andrea for hosting me today. It’s great to be here! If you’ve read Andrea’s books, you know she has writing...

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Josh’s Work Diary, Continued

N.B.: I meant to have this up by Halloween, but it wasn’t a great writing week for me. Sorry it’s late! October 30th 11:23 Cindy, the woman who does the late shift – the one before my overnight hell shift – came back at this absurd time, because she forgot her phone. Normally this type of thing wouldn’t bother me – except how do you forget your phone, right? But the thing was, while she was telling me this story that I honestly didn’t care about, a zombie came in. It wasn’t a really gnarly one with bits falling off, it was a pretty fresh one, but still, clearly a zombie. To start with, zombies are always vaguely bluish, grayish, or a sort of ashy brown, depending on their original skin color. Their lips are whitish, grayish, or black,...

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In time for Halloween … an MST3K marathon!

It’s no secret I am a big fan of horror movies, horror novels … horror. I love it, and could discuss it in great length and detail. In fact, I have before, and that includes previously listing movies I think you should watch for Halloween. This time, I decided to do something different – namely, I’m moving my annual MST3K – another thing I unabashedly love – Turkey Day marathon to now. Let’s call this an MST3K Candy Day marathon, and make a new tradition, of terrible horror movies that MST3K has made fun of over the years. Think there aren’t that many? Au contraire! MST3K covered quite a few horror movies in their time. All terrible in their own unique ways, and in several similar ones. You can find these all playing online, but it would be...

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Josh’s Work Diary of the Damned, Part 2

Josh’s work is never done. (And, super subtle plug – the collection is still on sale …) ** October 5th, 11:11 PM The night’s first zombie, wearing the tattered remains of a Free Mustache Rides t-shirt. No one could have been deliberately buried in such a thing, right? I assume he was a frat boy who died during a keg stand and was hastily buried by his panicky brothers, who ran home and concocted some sort of missing person story. I’ve decided his name must be Cody, because they’re usually named Cody. 11: 20 I think I have a pitch script here. Accidentally killed frat brother comes back from the dead to enact revenge on his faithless brothers during pledge week. I’d call it All Frat Boys Go To Hell. The hero would be the gay college...

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New! Josh’s Diary of the Damned

Josh Caplan, clerk at the Quik-Mart convenience store and lead of the Josh of the Damned series, doesn’t look forward to Halloween. If you think it’s related to his job selling snacks to monsters, you’d be wrong. Here now are some never before seen work diaries of Josh, and his overnight gig, as clerk to alternate dimension monsters and regular old humans alike. (And, if you don’t have the Josh of the Damned series, they’re all on sale this month at Riptide.) ** October 1st, 11 PM Arrived at work to find the Sloshy machine had backed up, and there was a small pool of Orangawesome syrup by the magazine rack. I wish when I was applying for this job, Mr. Kwan would have mentioned how much mopping I was going to have to do. I hate mopping. I...

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Flash Fiction Challenge – Mad Monster Sleep Over

So in this random challenge, I got whodunnit and creature feature, and I let my weirdest impulses take over. Leading to this … ** Mad Monster Sleep Over It was the Swamp Monster that found Doctor Herring’s body in the kitchen. Or at least his torso. It was assumed he’d need it to survive. There were several problems, all of which were tricky indeed. Gathering the suspects, for example. It was a class reunion weekend, if you accepted the meaning of class could be stretched to accommodate a reunion of monsters created both deliberately and accidentally by the old Academy of Psychical Research. Portsmouth. Of course the building had burned down in the great escape of ’75, but there was a spooky mansion down the road that more than fit their needs. Yes, it...

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Infected: Holden has a release date!

It’s September 20th. Click for more details.

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Infected: Holden cover reveal!

I could have – and probably should have – done something special, or at least wait until the buy link was active, but screw it. I’m bypassing the middlemen and passing the savings on to you. Just promise me you’ll buy it when it’s out, and we’re all good. And, with no further ado, the cover –

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Even More Stupid Questions With The Infected Cast

Today’s stupid question – If you could live within one fictional universe, what would it be? Roan: Star Trek. Dylan: Um, hmm … tough one. I’m torn between Doctor Who and Harry Potter … let’s go Harry Potter. It’d be great to throw spells around. It’d certainly make doing the laundry a lot easier. Holden: Mad Max. (Why?) I’d be a great killer of warlords. Paris: Ooh … I’m trying to think of a sexy one, and it just brings to mind that there aren’t a lot of sexy alternate worlds, are there? What about Cowboy Bebop? That seems like it’d be fun. Grey: Slap Shot. (Not sure that counts.) Fine, what did Roan pick? Trek? Fine, yeah, I’ll go with him. We can be roommates. Oh, hey, can I be a Klingon? Fiona: Wow, this is a tricky one. How...

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A Story of the Infected Universe – Pride, Part 2

Considering all the awfulness that has happened since I wrote the first part of this story, I just wanted to write something nice. So that’s all this is. Something nice. ** Weirdly enough, Roan thought he could get into this, especially if a mosh pit formed. He was hoping maybe he could create one if nothing else. He ended up talking to some guys with Mohawks and band t-shirts, and they discussed music for a bit, especially the local scene. They were all despairing the upswing in twee bands, and were probably too down to start a mosh pit. Also, the music playing right now was dance music, as Holden had said, and it was impossible to mosh to that. Roan enjoyed this, until he realized he was at least ten years older than these guys, and he got depressed....

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In time for Pride month – A Story From The Infected Universe: Pride

Consider this a “lost” chapter of the Infected Holiday Special – this isn’t technically a holiday. But it’s enough of an occasion that it’s worth mentioning. Roan’s first trip to a Pride Parade. Whether he likes it or not. ** Roan couldn’t believe what he had been reduced to. “I am not doing this,” he insisted, for what felt like the hundredth time. Dylan sighed, and opened his car door. “You are. Now get out.” With a dramatic groan, Roan got out of the car. They were in a parking garage, ground level, so it wasn’t a huge walk from there to the street. There were steady streams of people moving down the sidewalk, and Roan started popping peppermints to combat the overwhelming scent of so many people. He could...

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Rainbow Snippet – From Infected: Holden #2 (WIP)

I don’t actually know what the title of this one is going to be, as I haven’t officially titled it yet. (Titles are the hardest thing for me.) But here’s a preview. ** Holden scoffed, mainly at his holier than thou tone. “You are aware that the only two people in the world who give a shit that he’s dead are in this room? We’re it. Burn may have been street, but he was a bottom feeder, and you’re not gonna find a lot of people mourning him. There’s probably already a line forming to take his place. “ Kevin’s dark glare continued, but he looked away after a moment, and ran a hand over his face, the only acknowledgement from Kevin that Holden was correct. *** Read more Rainbow snippets here: Rainbow Snippets on Facebook ...

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Flash fiction challenge – They Fight Crime

So this is this week’s writing challenge, and when I first got it, I wasn’t sure there was anything here. Now, I know it’s the start of a much longer story.   ** Coy was disappointed, but not surprised, to wake up with a knife at his throat. Looming over him like a pissed off lover was a skreak, with bad breath and even worse teeth. “Where is it?” the skreak hissed.   Coy looked up into his gray streaked blue eyes, and wondered if his patchy green hair was a fashion choice or a symptom. It was really hard to tell the difference in today’s world. “Where is what? A toothbrush?”   The blade pressed deeper into his throat. Luckily – or unluckily, depending on how things went – it wasn’t very sharp. “You’re magic....

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Flash Fiction Challenge – Green

Another Flash Fiction Challenge, this one involving random photos. I pulled up this one, and the end result is a story that’s a little paranormal, and a little superhero. Green They called themselves the Four Horsemen, even though there were only three of them. Whether they were the real ones or weren’t was up for debate. The one who called himself War showed up in our city on an overcast night, the full moon bright, although the strange fireball that announced his appearance made it seem dim by comparison. He appeared to be just a man, almost skeletally thin and gangly, his skin like toughened leather stretched over a skeleton. He wore a long coat that flapped like broken wings and a wide brimmed hat that hid his face in shadows, although his eyes had...

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Stupid Questions With The Infected Cast, Part 1

Okay, this seemed like a fun idea at the time. Ask some of my Infected characters stupid question. Some took to it better than others. P.S.: I was going to do multiple questions, but since no one could just answer the damn question succinctly, I will spread these out until release day. (May 17th!) 1, If you could be any kind of animal, what kind of animal would you be? Note: Humans and big cats don’t count for this question. Roan: How is that fair? I mean, my answer’s built right in. Fine, I’ll be a honey badger then. People will leave me alone, right? Holden: What the fuck kind of question is that? Can I be mythical? (No.) Okay, platypus then. Or vampire bat. Maybe a wolverine. This is harder than I thought. It’d be much easier if I could just say...

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Art for my story in the SPN Case Fic Mini-Bang 2016 – Drown With Me

Art for my story in the SPN Case Fic Mini-Bang 2016 – Drown With Me

The theme was monsters, and I decided to do it as a writing exercise. It was a lot of fun! Kudos to the artist, deanwingedchester, for her work. The kelpie is amazing! (And if you’d like to read the story, you will find it...

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Flash Fiction Challenge – Seven Days of Fang (Two Stories For The Price of One)

So, the latest fic challenge is here, and I randomly got the title Seven Days of Fang. I actually had two ideas for this. One which I thought was obvious, the other which was really weird, but I ran out of room to explore. So here’s both. Pick your favorite if you have one. Seven Days of Fang – Story 1 Ultimately, no one was sure how it happened. There were lots of theories, from genetically modified crops to terrorist action to global warming, but there’s no answers as of yet. What happened was every human in the world woke up one day turned into animals. There was no rhyme or reason to any of the changes. The President woke up a hamster, while the Vice President woke up a musk ox. Families all became different animals entirely, including some...

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Infected Holiday Special cover reveal! And pre-order link!

I’m just going to admit it: I love writing anything set in my Infected universe. The universe is very close to our own, with subtle and not so subtle differences, (That whole cat virus thing? And cults dedicated to it? Not subtle. Although an argument can be made for the cults ….) But more to the point, I love the characters. There are way, way more than I anticipated when I started writing it. I thought there’d be this small core group, but the world expanded, and suddenly I had a boatload of lovable and not quite lovable weirdoes. If there’s any overall theme to Infected as a whole, it’s that we’re all weirdoes, and it’s okay. Although some people are just weirder others. (And that’s okay too.) Somehow that all leads us to the upcoming Infected...

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New Infected: Holden chapter!

So The Infected Holiday Special isn’t out until May 17th, and Infected: Holden isn’t out until fall. But I did start writing the next Holden book, and this is the first chapter of it. It’s not edited, but there are no spoilers for Infected: Holden. It’s just Holden acting as a P.I. on a case that just irritates him. Grumpy Holden is fun Holden. ** 1- A Guide To Men Holden had always been very proud of the fact that he didn’t give a shit about fashion. He was happy whenever he could subvert a shitty stereotype. Which was why it was annoying him that he was so bothered by his wardrobe. He prided himself on dressing to fit the role, whatever the role was, from cheap ass street hooker to classy, expensive dom. But dressing down to blend...

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New flash fic!

Over on Lex Chase’s site! The title pretty much says it all: Karma

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Infected Holiday Flash Fic – Hannukah 2: The Reckoning

Hanukkah 2: The Reckoning (There is a story in the upcoming Infected Holiday Special entitled Hanukkah. So calling it #2 and giving it a nonsensical sub-tile felt appropriate.And minor spoilers if you haven’t read Infected: Epitaph yet. ) ** Roan had a feeling Dylan was up to something. He just had no idea he’d spring it on him at the gallery. Dyl had a two week showing at the Lohmann-Chang Gallery, a small but apparently super hip place in downtown Vancouver. It struck them both that Dylan was an odd choice for the showing at the middle and end of December, but since when did any hipster place have a sense of sentimentality? So Dylan’s paintings of bleeding machines, colorful, geometric abstracts, and isolated, painted body parts – all...

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Infected: Epitaph just won a Rainbow Award!

And I may need to go lay down for a bit. What a fantastic list of authors to be included in. Yes, I know the grammar’s wrong, I don’t care right now. Too thrilled. See?

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My Best Albums of the Year Mix

It’s all over the place, and long and weird. Which probably isn’t a shock to anyone. Andy's Best Albums of '15 Mix from notmanos on 8tracks Radio.

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Infected Holiday Flash Fic – Throwaways

How does Holden spend the holiday, now that Roan has moved? Now you know. ** Throwaways Holden had been hoping global warming would eventually give Seattle a warm November, but no luck this year. He sunk deeper into his bomber jacket and felt like an idiot. He needed a more stylish warm weather jacket, but what was that? They probably existed, but he had no idea where to look for them. Once a peasant, always a peasant, he supposed. He wished gay boys were just born with a fashion guide in their hand, like some assholes seemed to think, but he supposed he and Roan – especially Roan – were living proof that this was not true. The boulevard was as close to deserted as it ever got, because most people were home, dealing with the bullshit holiday that was...

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Free flash fic, part 2!

And here’s a little horror tale about Home …

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Free flash fic, part 1!

I did a thing, with a bunch of other authors. My story is of a weird apocalypse. (But check out the other stories on the site! The one with the robot is aces.) When The Rains Came

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Flash Fic – The International House of Cthulhu

The International House of Cthulhu Yap – Where Your Opinion Is Our Business     Where’s My Husband? – 1 Star   We got a Groupon and went to this restaurant. It was under lit, and the music seemed to be this weird chanting, like that ‘90’s Gregorian stuff, but less musical. The waiters wore black hoods, so we couldn’t tell them apart, and the menus seemed to be bleeding. My husband ordered the Chef’s Special, and while we were waiting for our bottle of Screaming Stars zinfandel, tentacles came out of nowhere and dragged my husband to the kitchen! When I asked about it, I was informed it was part of the Chef’s Special. By the time I finished, he still wasn’t back. It’s been two weeks. The maitre’d hung up on me when I called to...

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Some Halloween viewing recommendations

For Halloween, I usually put out a list of movies, but I’m repeating myself and decided to do a little something different this year. I was going to recommend a Hannibal TV series viewing party, where you’d just watch all the episodes. I don’t know if they’re all available legally online, but you can get the DVDs that are out and watch those. I recommend every single episode, because even the ones that don’t cohere completely are a visual feast for the eyes. The cinematography is top notch. And I’m completely in the tank for the new Ash Vs The Evil Dead series, sight unseen. But there is another series that has been on the air for coming on eleven seasons (no, really, that’s a fucking ridiculous amount of time), Supernatural. It’s been on way too...

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Flash Fic Challenge – Rage Walks Beside Me

The challenge is here, and I picked the title by zer_netmouse. I may do this again. ** Rage Walks Beside Me I found him at Jimmy’s Pub, blood still on his knuckles from the fight he got into in the alley. He was slugging back rotgut like there was a drinking contest and he was twenty minutes late. He didn’t notice me come in. No one did. I was another loser in a sea of them, washed up on this pitiful shore until the tide went out or I passed out, whichever came first. He was tall and wide, a refrigerator stuffed in human skin, hard fat giving him a gut that was the only soft line on him. He was a man used to getting away with things. His life had been as brutal and violent as he was now, and nearly as ugly. You could have felt sorry for him, if he didn’t...

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Flash Fic Challenge – The End’s Girlfriend

  Latest challenge here. This one is really short, but I had to do something with this title. The End’s Girlfriend The hardest part about the end of the world? Explaining to my friends that my girlfriend had to do it. It wasn’t her fault, was it? The angel Gabriel turned out to be Gabrielle, which wasn’t a shock considering how sexist the Bible was. It got a lot of other stuff wrong too, but that’s not the point. I was kind of surprised, being an atheist, that my cool chick girlfriend with the short green hair and combat boots was also the Angel of the Apocalypse. Once I got over the disbelief factor, and ascertained that she was not crazy, it was totally cool. Okay, not the explaining to friends thing. That sucked. Oh, and the whole world ending...

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Supernatural: The End, Part 11 (The Actual End)

  11 – Back In Black Sam looked out at the pond, and tried to remember when he had ever seen this place. When he was five maybe? He was standing on a back porch that looked kind of rickety, but you couldn’t argue with the view. A placid blue-gray oval of water, a couple of ducks bobbing on the surface, with scattered clots of willows and aspens arranged around the perimeter. This was some hunter’s home, wasn’t it? A friend of their dad’s. Sam couldn’t recall any of the finer details, just this peaceful view, which was so unlike the motels and truck stops and other random places that made up his scattered childhood. “Hey Sammy,” Dean said. He turned to find Dean standing there, but he knew somehow this was Dean and yet not Dean. What was...

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Supernatural: The End, Part 10

  10 – Misfits and Mistakes (Falling, falling forever -)   Dean had had just about enough of waking up in pools of blood. If only he could stop it. When he had the strength to move, he pushed himself off the floor, and felt his gut tear. He gasped and put a hand to his stomach, only to feel warm blood gushing out of him. He wasn’t sure if it was a gunshot wound or a stab wound; it was an opening that was making his blood drain out. He sat back against the wall, putting pressure on the wound, until he got an idea of where he was. He was back at Bobby’s place, which was good, because he had buttloads of first aid stuff, but he was in Bobby’s study, which didn’t have that kind of thing. Had booze, though. He managed to reach one of Bobby’s...

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Supernatural: The End, Part 9

  9 – Pushing The River Dean regained consciousness running.   Which would seem impossible, but he had no memory of anything before he suddenly found himself running through a forest, jumping over fallen logs and swerving to avoid trees. He had the sense something big and bad was after him, and had been after him for a very long time. His lungs were burning, and his knee was starting to ache. He had a handgun in his right hand, and when he turned to look back at what exactly was following him, he saw nothing but darkness. Darkness that was corrosive, eating the woods at it progressed, flowing like water and washing away everything in its path. He emptied the gun into it, but it did nothing. Reality was simply being erased, and why did he think shooting...

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Supernatural: The End, Part 8

  8 – Drown With Me Sam knew he had to pick both the time and space where he deployed the Belial artifact carefully. He would be damning a particular spot to constant death. Nothing would ever grow there again. But it was better a mile of land died than the whole planet, so certain sacrifices had to be made.   He figured out the best bet was Oak Grove Cemetery, on the far outskirts of town. It was near an industrial area that was pretty well contaminated anyway, and the cemetery itself had gone to seed. It was mostly just a hang out spot for bored Goth teens. They’d probably find everything being mysteriously dead around it a huge turn on. On his way there Sam stopped to see if anything worked on the Darkness. It was a big fat no on rock salt and...

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Supernatural: The End, Part 7

  7 – Bear Away Crowley tried to remember the last time he was in London. Was it ’82? Something like that. The Thatcher years had been a real boom time for him, as people couldn’t sell their souls fast enough. Since these things were cyclical, he was pretty sure the city was ripe for harvesting, as he had a feeling the new boss was going to be great for business. You could smell desperation in the air. Well, mostly it was smoke at the moment, because half the city was on fire. London wasn’t alone in having Great Fire number two, as most major cities worldwide were burning. Governments had been overthrown, the economy had broken wide open, and everything was burning. Humans were not coping well with their new reality, which would also be damn good...

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Supernatural: The End, Part 6

  6 – Dam That River Sam knew he was taking as long as humanly possible to secure the Book of the Damned in the forbidden vault. But he also had no desire to move any faster. In fact, he wished he could stop time completely. Because Cas was eager to get this whole Ascension thing started, and seemed to either not notice or just ignore the fact that Dean’s time as a Human could now be counted in minutes. Sam guessed that if he were alive, his anxiety about this would be in the stratosphere, but at the moment it had a weird removed quality to it. He could see his anxiety, examine it from all angles, and yet could neither dismiss it or experience it entirely. He was starting to feel death in bits and pieces, even if it couldn’t fully commit. This was...

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Supernatural: The End, Part 5

  5 – This Corrosion “Find another way,” Sam said, still steaming mad at Cas. But why? Dean knew that getting Death involved in any of this was all his fault. “That isn’t happening.”   But Dean, after his initial shock, realized that it didn’t scare him as much as it should have. In a way, this reeked of inevitability. He was always very good at killing. Seemed he was born to it. “What if you killed me, taking the mantle back?” Dean asked. He could see Sam’s reaction out of the corner of his eye, and it was exactly what he expected. Cas shook his head. “You’d have to fully take the mantle first. Believe me, I looked for a loophole.” “This is crazy,” Sam said. “If I’m Death, I can bring everyone back to life,...

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Supernatural: The End, Part 4

  4 – Diamond Dogs There was little doubt that things were as bad as they had ever been. But Crowley wasn’t sure what to do about any of it.   Hell was a little chaotic, because panic was slowly but surely leaking out into the demon population. It was hard to say if the lack of death or the reemergence of the Darkness was the more bothersome thing, because they both had some solid negatives. None of this was a win for demon kind. It wasn’t a win for anyone, except maybe some Humans who really wanted to live forever, no matter how shitty the world was. He was pouring himself a drink in his throne room when he sensed the angelic incursion, and he turned to find Castiel standing there. Somehow he was not surprised. Two of his largest demon guards...

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Supernatural: The End, Part 3

  3 – Witching Hour Metatron couldn’t believe those shaved apes did it.   He knew it was within the realm of possibility that they would destroy the world, and in fact it was a guarantee they would at some point – most evolved races ran into that problem at a certain point. But the thought that the Winchesters would? Crazy. They were so stupid! Did they not think that maybe the Mark of Cain existed for a reason beyond the obvious? He knew Castiel was out of the loop, because obvs, but it was hilarious to think those buffoons could accomplish anything. They weren’t good more than they were lucky, and they had a habit of picking good allies. While Cas was pathetic, he did have his moments, and Crowley was quite possibly the cleverest demon he had ever...

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Supernatural: The End, part 2

  2 – Game of Thorns Crowley could not recall a time when he was so furious. You’d think, in all his years, from mortal to King of Hell, he’d have gotten this enraged. But oh no. What a mother did to her children.   While that witch bitch somehow froze him, powerless, to the spot, he wasn’t really as powerless as she thought. As Castiel was growling like a pit bull and bleeding from the eyes, bearing down on him with an angel blade, Crowley summoned minions to put space between him and the rabid angel. A couple died, sure, but one of the smart ones brought some holy oil, and now they had Castiel confined to a circle, which he kept trying to get out of, as mindlessly as a rat in a cage. He was still snarling, still crying tears of blood, and still...

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If You Don’t Like The Ending, Write Your Own – Supernatural Fan Fic, Part 1

  So, Supernatural has limped to a close, and once again, I find myself underwhelmed, and a little upset. Yes, the show has been on way too long, but it can be a whole lot better than it is. So, between more “serious” writing, I decided to write my own fanfic, fixing the problem, and giving everyone an idea how I’d end Supernatural. You probably don’t care. But if you do, here it is. (Yes, these aren’t my characters, no ownership intended, it’s fanfic, you know the drill.)  (Season ten spoilers, obviously.) ** 1 – The Beginning of the End Even before he fully regained consciousness, Dean knew something was wrong. The hell of it was, he didn’t know what. He wasn’t in pain, which was the first thing he noticed. If...

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Hop Against Homophobia, Bi-, and Transphobia 2015

Hop Against Homophobia, Bi-, and Transphobia 2015

The hop has come around again, and I am forced to ask why is this still a thing? (For more about this day, please go here: http://dayagainsthomophobia.org/) Seriously, homophobia is the stupidest thing ever, and that goes for biphobia and transphobia as well. What are you scared of, exactly? Afraid you’ll catch it, and suddenly think boys or girls are the best thing ever? Or that you’re trapped in the wrong body? These things aren’t communicable. Your kids can’t “catch it” by simply acknowledging that these things exist in the world. In many ways, society has been moving forwards in leaps and bounds, but yet there are still pockets of ignorance and resistance that seem to be becoming more intractable as things get better elsewhere. Why? There’s...

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New Roan flash fic!

Not here, but at the DSP site.

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Flash Fiction Challenge – Aftermath

The latest challenge , and I got Buffy The Vampire Slayer meets Mad Max. Can you say hell yes? I know I did. ** Aftermath The weirdest thing? Vampires smelled like hamburgers. No one knew why, or if they did, they hadn’t shared. And not good hamburgers either, but ones just starting to turn, ones with wilted, slimy lettuce and mayo this side of rancid. Pretty disgusting, especially when a bunch of them were together in an enclosed space. Not that the human in the carbon fiber net smelled any better. It was a feral kid, one from the wastes, so covered in grime and with a matted tangle of wild hair it could have been a girl or a boy. Raven had tried talking to it, but it just whimpered. Finally, they were moved from the total darkness of the back of the van,...

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Flash Fic Challenge – Past Prologue

.The latest writing challenge I used Pavowski’s opening line, for my sci-fi/cyberpunk throwback. Past Prologue I had hoped that my past had forgotten me… right up until the moment they kicked the door in. I rolled out of bed, blaster in my hand, and fired even as I dropped to the floor and hid behind the frame. Green bolts lit up the room like a disco, dissolving furniture and leaving huge holes in the wall. “I’m wanted alive, you stupid fucks,” I yelled, shooting back. Well, assuming the original wanted call was still ongoing. Maybe something had changed in the interim. My assailants wore the concealing black armor of the UPF, meaning they were kind of out of their jurisdiction … maybe. The laws were pretty loose on Gaora, which was why I’d been...

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Flash Fiction – Pure Filth

Although it was a genuine writing challenge, I just wanted to write something with as many curse words as possible in the smallest amount of space. This has no redeeming qualities. ** “What kind of fucknuggets did people used to be?” Roman asked, scratching his head. They’d been hard at work unearthing artifacts of the early twenty first century, and this was one of the most startling yet. It was right up there with that woman famous for her gigantic ass on a show that was purported to be reality. “I don’t know,” Audra admitted. “This fucking Clean Reader app supposedly sanitized books for motherfuckers who couldn’t take one fucking bad word or dick-punching anatomical terms.” ““What the fuck ..? What kind of dick...

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Everybody Hates Monday – A Microfic

This was a writing challenge, to a write a story of one hundred words or less. Here’s mine. ** Everybody Hates Monday When the ground shook, Luis thought it was an earthquake. But once the explosions started, he realized something else was going on. He joined many of his office mates crowding up to the twelfth floor windows, looking out on the city. A huge red alien octopus looking thing had squashed the Tacoma Dome, and was slapping fighter jets out of the sky like flies. “Who had giant aliens in the apocalypse pool?” he asked, hoping it was no one. Not that it mattered. He doubted he’d be around long enough to pay off on...

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Flash Fic Challenge – Dark at Heart

This was the latest writing challenge, latest writing challenge, and I got Harry Potter meets True Detective. Well, I tried. ** Dark at Heart The letters burned green in the air, hovering over the charred corpse like a video advertisement. Her partner, Burdett, sighed, impatiently shifting his weight foot to foot. “So, is it?” Katya’s green eyes finally glanced away from the mystic sigils only she could see, the scar on her cheek tingling with residue magic. “No, Holt, people routinely burst into flames in meat freezers. Of course it was done by him. Or his people. The magic’s so similar it’s kind of hard to tell.” He groaned and turned away, heading for the open door crisscrossed by crime scene tape. They’d turned off the freezer, but there was...

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Holden, Part 3

3 – Krill Holden was in the shower, pondering whether he should use the fruity smelling conditioner or the one that smelled a bit like bad aftershave – for some stupid reason, all “men’s conditioner” was a variation of bad aftershave – when his phone hummed and jittered on the sink. Because of its proximity to the porcelain, it made much more noise than he anticipated, and was kind of startling. Still, he conditioned his hair, mixing both kinds together, because what was he, an animal? He wasn’t risking split ends due to a text. When he got out of the shower, he checked his phone, and saw that he was indeed texted an address from an unknown number. Towel around his waist and still dripping, he went to the living room so he could check the...

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Holden continues, Part 2

As a New Year’s treat, here’s part 2 of the Holden story. Mostly set up, but I hope it pays off … 2 – Part Man/Part Negative Space Holden headed home to take a shower and wash the blood and fear stink off of him. Other people’s fear stink was always the worst, as it seemed to cling to you like cigarette smoke. Still, he had this good peppermint goat’s milk soap that seemed to obliterate any scent, no matter how tenacious. Even hockey stink, which he knew was difficult to get rid of at the best of times. Afterward, he slipped into his velvet “lounging pants” (pyjama pants, but that seemed too immature), and poured himself a big tumbler full of gin, which he threw a lemon wedge in for vitamins. (He could just about hear...

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Flash fic – At The End Of The Tunnel

More Twitter fun: @FrogCroakley @aspeed Your standing challenge is now “the girl who could only see trains”. the story must also contain a tame bat. Here’s the result: It figured that the first day of his new job, his car wouldn’t start. On the bright side, it gave Jeremy the chance to worry about how he was going to get to work, rather than obsesses over whether or not he’d make a fool of himself in front of his new boss. He wasn’t too far from the train station, so he caught a lift with a grumpy neighbor. Something about the station looked run down, gone to seed. Then again, when was the last time he’d caught the train? University, probably. Seemed like a lifetime ago. He went up to the ticket booth, digging out his wallet, and said,...

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A little holiday treat – Merry Christmas, Roan

If you know anything about Roan, you probably know he’s not big on holidays. Which is probably why I’m putting together a collection of Infected shorts based around holidays. He may hate them, but he keeps running up against them again and again. This one concerns him and Dylan at Christmas, a holiday that neither particularly look forward to. But it’s good to have friends. ** Merry Christmas, Roan Roan was taking a long, hot bath, when he thought he heard voices downstairs. Now Dylan was up, he knew that simply because he could smell his heavenly huevos rancheros cooking, and also he wasn’t in bed when he woke up. But Roan assumed Dylan was alone. It was technically Christmas Eve, though. Had his sister Sheba come over? Dylan normally told...

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Flash fic – Crabby

This one came from a request on Twitter: @FrogCroakley – @aspeed will you do me a 200 one about a man with crab DNA struggling to make it as a con artist in future las vegas? Okay. It’s actually a bit over 200 words, and the bizarre thing? I could have kept going. ** Crabby Carver looked out at the heat waves rising from the asphalt, and wondered how anything human ever survived such heat. Even in the walkway suspended between Shell’s Tropicana Casino and the Hallburton Mayfair Hotel, you could feel just a bit of the heat bleeding in through the plasteel. The air conditioning was fighting a losing battle when the sun was out. A couple of pasty, overweight tourists trundled past him, and he pulled his baseball cap low over his eyes, even though he...

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Flash Fic Challenge – Murderer’s Corps

Another random title challenge random title challenge, and I came up with Murderer’s Corps. Any relation to any other super powered group is coincidental. Murderer’s Corps Cariad knew something had gone wrong when she heard a high pitched shriek that could only be Ko getting caught off guard. “Is there a situation?” she asked. Delphi came over the comm.. “Blockhead showed up. Wasn’t he supposed to be in jail or dead or something?” Cariad sighed. Blockhead – well, he called himself Hardhead, but somehow that was even worse – was one of those super strong guys who was also really brutal and really dumb. He gave all the super strong blockheads a bad name. “I’ll fry the son of a bitch.” Tomas said, with his usual homicidal...

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Flash Fic Challenge – Seasons Greetings From R’lyeh

This time the challenge was seasonal horror, which is a specialty of mine (please search for Jingle Hell on this site, the first of my holiday horror stories). But this one took a weird turn, and it might be a dark comedy? At least at the end. Don’t know if it works, but if you know what R’lyeh refers to, you can probably see this one coming. Seasons Greetings From R’lyeh When Ben first heard the noise downstairs, he thought it was Santa Claus. Until he remembered that Santa Claus didn’t exist. It had to be a burglar. Never mind that he lived in a gated community, and it was specifically advertised as being more crime free than those other neighborhoods. Nowhere was safe nowadays, was it? He grabbed his gun from the drawer of his nightstand and...

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Chapter 1 of the untitled Holden spin-off

Maybe you know by now that I’m working on an Infected Holden spin-off. I have no idea what the title will be (Infected: Holden makes sense in one respect, but not in another), but I do have a first chapter I thought I’d share with you. Holden is a very different beast than Holden, as you surely know, and any story told from his point of view is going to be different. Perhaps this chapter is a good representation of that. As you can see, he’s going soft. *cough (*Using sarcasm online. Always a tricky proposition.) 1 – Blood, Muscles, Bone His cell phone hummed in his pocket, and Holden answered it without looking. It could only be Otter. “It’s him,” he said, and hung up. Holden pocketed his phone, and pulled the black leather gimp mask...

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My Ficathon Into A Bar entry – Singularities

I used to write a bit of fanfic, and when I heard this was going on, I figured what the hell, might be fun to do a bit of ficcing again. Their page is here, and my assignment was to have Captain Jack (from Doctor Who and Torchwood) and Commandant Grayza (from Farscape) run into each other in a bar. From there, the story was mine. So this is the result. (And Grayza’s exile is actually a reference mostly to the post-Peacekeeper Wars comics. I’m just assuming that’s in canon.) ** Title: Singularities Author: AndreaSpeed Prompt: Captain Jack Harkness goes into a bar and meets… Grayza (Farscape)! Fandoms: Farscape (TV), Doctor Who (TV), Torchwood (TV) Word count: 12,833 Rating/Contents: PG – Some bad language. No warnings...

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The First Chapter of Infected: Epitaph

The First Chapter of Infected: Epitaph

Out November 18th! While it wasn’t the first time Roan had been at Gracie’s diner at one in the morning, it was the first time he’d been here with Dee. Roan had been at Panic, trying to make up with Dylan for a fight they’d had earlier (over Roan sleeping in the cage, of course, a common thing to fight about nowadays), when Dee called him and asked to meet at the all-night diner. He sounded so oddly subdued and distracted that Roan agreed. He wondered if Dee and Luke had finally broken up for good. When he arrived, he found Dee at a back corner table, alone with a cup of diesel-grade coffee and a picked-at slice of apple pie. On closer inspection, Roan realized Dee hadn’t eaten any of it, simply autopsied it with his fork, leaving a jumble of innards...

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Flash Fic Challenge – The Sensorians

Flash Fic Challenge – The Sensorians

So, this is a weird one. Chuck Wendig just issued a writing challenge centered around bizarre stock photos. And this just came to me as soon as I saw this photo. Make of it what you will. The Sensorians (Open on the Channel Eleven News, already in progress): Blandly handsome anchor: – the puppy was saved. In spite of that, there were no survivors. (Cuts to camera two) Anchor: And now, onto our lifestyle report with Ladonna Merton. Today, she looks at a fad that’s sweeping the nation. Ladonna? (Cut to camera three, and Ladonna Merton. She is acceptably, vaguely ethnic, although really she looks pretty white. She has her hair excruciatingly styled in a painful updo.) Ladonna: Thanks, Tom. Do you remember the Zone Diet? What about the Paleo Diet? Now...

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Infected short: Saint Patrick’s Lament

Just a couple of things, as a bit of background. I’m putting together a collection of holiday related Infected universe set shorts. Why? Because it struck me as a kind of funny idea, as holidays don’t really mean a lot to Roan or his friends. But in the course of writing these, I have discovered there are things I actually want to say. Be it ruminations on them themselves, as characters, background info, or small moments that never made it to the novels but feel like missing scenes. Which brings me to Connor Monaghan, Roan’s tragic, bad boyfriend. For a man who’s never technically showed up in any of the Infected novels (a dream sequence doesn’t count), he plays a huge part. Roan did love the guy, and yet Roan also left him shortly...

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Flash Fiction – No Exit

This was inspired by the latest Chuck Wendig writing challenge, but those stories were supposed to be horror, and this deviates from that. It’s just me being silly with the idea of a disease caused apocalypse … and the disease is pretty underwhelming. (If the title doesn’t make sense to you, Google Jean-Paul Sartre.) ** No Exit We knew the disease had reached our shores when the news anchor on channel five just gave up, mid human interest story. He was talking about an otter that had befriended a goat, when he suddenly glared at the teleprompter like it was insulting his mother, and slumped back in his chair. “Whatever, I don’t fucking care anymore,” he said, as the adorable footage played on in a small square to the left of his well...

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Flash fic challenge – Important!!! Please Read!!!

I should say that the title of the story of this fiction challenge is Important!!! Please Read!!!, as it’s based on spam. I tried. Much like actual spam, the punctuation is deliberately hit and miss. ** Important!!! Please Read!!! Do you want a longer, harder cock? A cock as hard as stone, a cock that would plunge through the earth’s surface like a missile, a cock that throbs like a second heart, a cock that is damned and howls with the names of the Old Ones, hard as a soulless homunculus, one that screams into the void and is answered by the Nameless Horror that lurks in the shadows behind your eyes, waiting to pounce, waiting to corrupt you, to enfold you in its long, hard cock, and fuck the world, fuck the universe back into void and shadows, fuck the...

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New flash fic challenge – Rapture

This is the latest flash fic challenge from Chuck Wendig. And here’s my story. Thanks to CDNWMN for the sentence. ** Rapture Demons and angels are sometimes hard to differentiate, and they are even harder to kill. I know this the hard way. I fired off the last round of silver buckshot before slamming the door. Salt and silver nitrate were fixed to the floor by glue, but that would be a minor inconvenience for the big boys. Even the sacred symbol made of iron nails hammered into the ceiling wouldn’t hold them back for long. This was it. I retreated behind the overturned sofa, where I had piled up all my ammo. I broke open the shotgun as I sat down, and loaded the chambers with the hybrid shells I’d invented. They contained silver shavings, iron...

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Infected: A Day In The Life

Infected: A Day In The Life

I was kind of curious to check in with Dropkick, one of Roan’s few cop buddies, and see how she saw Roan. So here’s a story that does just that. ** Not for the first time, Darinda Murphy was sure that she was married to a crazy person. If the alarm clock was on her side of the bed, she’d have probably have had it tuned to the Mexican pop station, because it was the type of music that annoyed her enough to wake her up, but didn’t annoy her enough to make her homicidal. (That would be the country station.) But it was on Kim’s side of the bed, since Darinda had broken the last two clocks (the second time was an accident, but Kim didn’t believe her), and she kept it tuned to NPR. Their low voices and dry subjects threatened to put Darinda back to...

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Infected: Devil’s Night, Part 2

Infected: Devil’s Night, Part 2

  The story concludes here. But it could always go on, I know … * Another thing that sucked about hunting big cats in the city? The noise level. Roan could hear everything around him, from the music leaking from Panic to the music thudding from car stereos jacked up to weaponized levels, to conversations on the street to revving motors at red lights, to the audio cues from electronic street signs. It was easy to get distracted by this discordant symphony of noise, but it didn’t have the built in, inherent danger of scents. That’s where the real danger was.   His sense of smell was better than his hearing (although his hearing was a bit better than the average human –lucky him) by far. He was a legal bloodhound, after all. But what absolutely...

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Infected: Devil’s Night, Part 1

Infected: Devil’s Night, Part 1

Yes! So, I got a mad posh to offer another free Infected story, this time taking place on Halloween. Only it became a longer one than I expected. So here’s part one of Devil’s Night.   ** Infected: Devil’s Night       Sometimes, Roan was genuinely horrified at how geeky he was. At least he wasn’t alone.   Panic was having a big Halloween party, and it fell on one of Dylan’s work nights, so of course he was going to do it up big. He wanted Roan there, and he knew he’d have to be in costume too.   He grumped about it, but the truth was, Halloween was probably the only holiday Roan genuinely liked. When he was a kid, he loved dressing up, and most of all he loved free candy. What kid didn’t?t He didn’t...

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Flash Fiction Challenge – Interstitial Eschaton

I know, another story? But yes, another. Here was the challenge,and the title I ended up with was Interstitial Eschaton. This is the story that resulted out of me puzzling out that title. ** Interstitial Eschaton From a distance, the body floating in the water looked like a log. It was impossible to say how long it had been there. It was face down (mercifully), but as swollen and discolored as you might expect, its arms missing and ragged strips of fabric trailing from its shoulder sockets like streamers. Jace used an oar to push it away from the boat, even though it could be nothing but a smelly and gross distraction. She had nothing to fear from its diseased flesh. She was immune from the virus that had wiped out about two-thirds of America. She had no idea...

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Flash Fic Challenge – Shades of Blue

Latest flash fic challenge, and this resulted. I’m not quite sure why this story happened the way it did. Hmm. Whoever knows? ** Shades of Blue He was a vision, a bronze god with a chest like sculpted gold. His torso was a vee, tapering down to a slender waist and a firmly muscled stomach, his hipbones visible but not prominent. Cullen found this god on Grindr, and miraculously was able to come over to his place. He lived in a condo on the East side, not cheap, and his décor looked like it came wholesale from a mid-range catalog. The Adonis, who said his name was Gavin, was honestly a five in the face. He had a rugged jaw, but it didn’t quite fit with the rest of his visage, from his small nose to his sunken eyes. His haircut was trendy, short, and...

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Flash Fic Challenge – Breathing Around Our Abandon

New Chuck Wendig writing challenge, new fiction. I’m not going to lie to you, this is super depressing. But it’s what came to me. Breathing Around Our Abandon Ultimately, we don’t know what caused it. Communication had been spotty at best for the three days before, blamed on an increase in sunspot activity as well as a variety of disruptions to the electrical grid. From the viewing ports at the base, we could make out the red algae bloom that took up a good third of the Pacific Ocean. It was actually kind of pretty, if you didn’t think about what it meant. The same was true of the hurricanes along the Eastern seaboard. We knew tensions were high. Hell, the moonbase was staffed by Steve, a Canadian; Kathleen, an American; and Ivan, a Russian,...

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A Roan & Dylan short – Art, Interrupted

Just a brief, fluffy story, but I felt it’s the least I owe everyone. ** Roan put his finger against the plastic fishbowl, wondering if the big goldfish inside would see it. He wasn’t going to tap it, because that seemed cruel, and non-humans had to stick together, right? Unless one was dinner, but that was another story. Besides, if Dyl had his way, he’d be the first vegetarian lion in existence. (Possibly also the last.) Dylan pulled out one of the red leather stools and sat beside him. “We’re not so bored we’re taunting the fish, are we?” For whatever reason, the goldfish and its habitat were planted on the bar of this art gallery/bar. It wasn’t a part of the exhibition; it was just the pet of the gallery. Or more...

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Flash Fiction Challenge – Shotgun Bastards

So,there’s another challenge, this time involving a random title. I got Shotgun Bastards, and not only did this make me very happy, I want to write a whole bunch of stories with “Bastards” at the end. A bit violent, if you didn’t guess. ** Shotgun Bastards The first shot cut Morris in half, his upper half flying backwards, while his lower half just fell over, like crutches kicked from a lame boy’s hands. Scarlet swung the shotgun around and levelled it at Tony, who was just pulling out his .45. She shot him in the neck, and the spray of lead all but decapitated him, his head exploding like an overripe melon, his neck reduced to sinewy shreds. He was long dead before the rest of his body slumped to the floor. Scarlet knew these...

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Pub Crawl – A Roan & Paris Short

Since Infected: Epitaph has been pushed back a couple months to accommodate the new publisher, I’ve decided to put out some shorts as an apology to fans. There should be a free downloadable short coming soon, but until then, I’ll be posting short ones on the website. Consider them “cut scenes”, lost moments between mysteries. The first is all about Roan and Paris … and Randi? ** “How did you blackmail me into this again?” Roan asked. Paris gave him his most charming grin, which was powerful enough to persuade a dead man to come back to life. “Blackmail is such an ugly word,” Paris replied, putting his arms around him and resting his chin on Roan’s shoulder, so he could look at Roan in the mirror. “I encouraged you to go...

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Flash Fic Challenge – 25 Minutes Into the Future

Another writing challenge, and this is my odd response. There were too many good photos to just pick one, so I picked a few. Hope you enjoy my brief dip into sketch comedy. ** 25 Minutes Into the Future *computer boots up, ad starts to play* V/O (Cheerful, male): Unsure of what to do with your excess cloned Hitlers? At Hitler University, we train your Hitler to do many time consuming chores, giving you more time to enjoy the good life! Send us your uncoordinated, megalomaniac Hitlers, and we’ll send them back to you gifted in the art of lawnmower repair or kitchen maintenance! There’s no reason to junk your Hitler when we can turn them into productive members of society. Click on the link below for more information! * ad fades out, new ad fades in ...

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Flash Fic Challenge, Big Bad

Chuck Wendig had another flash fic challenge, and this is my addition to it. A little story about a werewolf, and a surprising weakness. ** Big, Bad Fear smelled like honeyed wine. Carlo followed its bright, intoxicating trail through the dark woods, running so fast it felt like his paws barely touched the ground. Up ahead he could hear the helpless cries of his prey, hopelessly trying to escape. Up ahead, he saw a squat square building that reeked of rotten, moldering wood. Did they think that was enough to save them? He charged towards the flimsy door, and flung himself at it with all his strength … … and rebounded off of it as he heard a sickening crack, and felt a lightning bolt of pain strike deep inside his skull. He landed on all fours and shook his...

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Another brief bit of Infected: Paris …

This time, as requested, with Paris in it. But it’s short … ** “I’m about done with that Bruen book you brought me,” Paris said, around a mouthful of breakfast croissant. Paris still ate like a feral cat, like he was afraid someone was going to rip it away at any second, and Roan didn’t begrudge him that at all. There had been times in his life when he was that hungry. “When I started reading it, I wondered how anyone could write a book with so few words, y’know. I mean, he hardly describes much of anything, does he? But then at some point I got sucked in. He can say a lot with a little.” Roan smiled. That’s what he always thought about Bruen. “A good way to put it. He has a lot of the terse machismo of Hemingway without a lot of the...

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Another little snippet of Infected: Paris

Roan is really good at being an asshole. (Posted unedited, without total context.) ** Roan dropped his phone back in his pocket, but didn’t say anything until he joined George in his office and closed the door. “Why the act? You know exactly who I am.” He scoffed as he retreated behind his desk. It looked like a big box warehouse special, a cheap metal desk with a couple of nicks and dents in it. There were some papers piled on one side, a computer monitor and keyboard, a phone, nothing else. The walls were surprisingly bare, with his just his framed detective license on it. “Sorry guy, I don’t know every private detective in town.” Roan sighed, doing his best to rein in his temper. But the urge to growl was almost overwhelming. “If...

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Flash Fic Challenge – Kill It In The Morning

Latest flash fiction challenge involved pulling up a random song title and writing a story with that title. I shuffled my iPod and used the first song that came up. It was this one. A story of post-apocalyptic revenge. ** Kill It In The Morning It was almost impossible to tell which was worse: the noise or the smell. In reality, it was a false choice, because long enough exposure kind of deadened you to both, But Amira found them both excruciating. The smell seemed to get everywhere, it just parked in your nose and refused to go away, and there was no air freshener in the world strong enough to cover it. Not even the scent of freshly made coffee. Right now the noise was mainly coming from the basement, as Edgar pounded on the door, occasionally yelling. She...

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Valentine’s freebie!

A short set in the Josh of the Damned universe. But, sorry, no yeti this time out.

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New Flash Fic Challenge – Creme De Nepenthe

New flash fic challenge, this one concerning the invention of a drink. So here’s my drink, and the story to go with it. ** Crème de Nepenthe 1 jigger of water from the river Lethe 2 Niobe’s tears One shot of milk from a golden cow One hair of the Minotaur 2 drops of Proteus’s blood Splash of absinthe Pinch of regret ** It had taken Martin what felt like seven years to find the place. And the terrible thing was it could have actually taken seven years. It wouldn’t be Purgatory if the time wasn’t all kinds of fucked up. How he’d ended up here was a mystery to him. He was from a good Christian family! Okay, so maybe he could be kind of a jackass, that didn’t mean he should end up here, a place that was neither heaven nor hell. But clearly very...

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Flash Fiction Challenge – Wolf and Fox

Yep, another challenge, this time a “fairy tales remix”. So here’s the fairy tale of the wolf and the fox, told after the zombie apocalypse. ** Wolf & Fox “This better pay off, squirt,” Wolf said, yanking his leash hard. “It ain’t ending well for you if you keep leading me to empty houses.” Fox tugged at the leather dog collar Wolf made him wear. He could have just cuffed him or something, but oh no, he wanted this extra bit of humiliation. Wolf was a total fuckhead. Wolf didn’t need any of this. Not only would three of Fox make one of Wolf, but he was about two hundred pounds of solid muscle. Before Z-Day, he was probably some gym bunny ‘roidhead, who still managed somehow to keep from turning to complete jelly when his...

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Flash Fiction Challenge – Bottom Fishing

There’s a new flash fiction challenge, and here’s the result. I hope the title makes sense at the end. ** Bottom Fishing If you had asked Ben before it happened, he would have said living in a trailer park was the lowest thing possible. But dying in a trailer park? Holy shit, who knew there was a false bottom on the bottom of the barrel? Worse still, he seemed stuck here. Crammed in the Sunny Acres Trailer Park as some kind of half-assed ghost, wedged between worlds like an empty beer can jammed in a door. What had he done to deserve this? Actually, come to think of it, he deserved worse, as hard as it was to imagine anything worse than this. Sure, he’d been a cop, and he put some bad guys away, but … he was kind of a bad guy himself. He...

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A holiday flash fic – The Christmas Visitor

Keep in mind, I’m a terribly cynical person. Happy holidays. ** The sound of the bells was the only warning we had. “Get down,” Momma whispered, tightening her grip on her shotgun. She peered over the back of the couch. The chimney was shut, and we piled up stuff in it so it would be impossible to open. Well, impossible for a normal person. Momma didn’t think it would be good enough. We heard dull thuds against the flue, and a weird growl, kinda like what I imagined a dragon would sound like, if they were real. Dust flew, and the pile collapsed. There was a boom, and the chimney exploded near the bottom, sending fragments of bricks and junk flying all over the room. “Ho ho ho!” The Santa Claus monster roared. He was big and red, eyes and hair as...

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A snippet of Infected: Paris ….

Just to prove I am indeed working on it. Keep in mind, this is unedited, so there may be errors. You’ll have to forgive me for them. ** Roan was aware of a minor headache just starting to bloom when there was a knock at his door. He wasn’t expecting anyone, but he never expected anyone. He wasn’t much for entertaining. Roan opened the door, hoping for the UPS guy (he wasn’t Paris hot, but he was pretty easy on the eyes as long as you didn’t look down at his knobby knees), but it was Dee, dressed down in civilian clothes for once, in jeans and a red plaid shirt. “I thought grunge was dead,” Roan said. Dee frowned at him. “You’d know more about that than me. C’mon, get your coat, we’re going out.” “You remember we broke up,...

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Flash Fic Challenge – 200 Words, Part 3

Here’s the details. And here are the bits. First bit, by Meagan Wilson and the second half by napmonkey. Pasted below. ** (Meagan Wilson) “Yes, this penthouse view is quite breathtaking,” I turned to the luscious blonde before me, “but not nearly as lovely as—” A thunder clap, and then I was standing in a small, glowing circle, surrounded by a gaggle of chanting fools in robes. ”Oh great Sorasel im Palat, lord of fire and darkness, fell devourer of the innocent, conqueror of—” Arcane symbols covered the speaker’s robes, nearly obscuring the heavy crimson fabric. “Yes, yes, get on with it.” I gestured with my gin martini. He paused, then finished in a post-pubescent squeak, “We invoke thy true name and bid thee do our will.” “Oh...

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Flash Fic Challenge Round Robin, Part 2

This fiction challenge continues , and here’s my continuation of Liz Neering’s start, titled Devil’s Night. (First half pasted on. My part continues after the stars.)   Devil’s Night   Isa stood in the deer blind, the tip of her rifle pointed through the narrow slat out towards the forest beyond. To her teammate she looked like a stranger, a bundle of cold-weather clothing with only a thin strip of brown skin showing between scarf and snow goggles. The brown strip turned to face him, black eyes a shadow behind polarized plastic. “I fucking hate these sneaking missions,” she said. “I just want to shoot something. I don’t think that’s a lot to ask.” Tyler snorted. Behind the heavy fur lining of his coat, he...

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A bit of an Infected flash fic – Tanksgiving

Nope, not a typo. Happy Thanksgiving, American readers. ** “Tell me again why we’re doing this,” Roan asked, as he set up the dining room table. They’d just bought it at a thrift store yesterday, and Roan had to shift the couches, chairs, and end table in the living room to make room for it. Dylan sighed at him before turning away to pull the lasagna out of the oven. “Because you’ve never had a proper Thanksgiving, and I wanted to give you one.” “See, that’s where you’re wrong. I’ve had a couple of “proper” Thanksgivings, and that’s why I hate it so much.” Roan shook out the green tablecloth Dylan had dug up somewhere, because even though he thought it was silly, he knew he had to play along, or there would be hell to pay. “See,...

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A free read -Night of the Leaper

Set in the Josh of the Damned universe. Poor Josh …

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Flash fic challenge – 200 Words

Okay, new flash fic challenge, involving writing the start of a story alone, clocking in at 200 words. Here’s mine. ** The explosion made theground rock like a ship on a storm tossed sea. Kira covered her head as flaming debris rained down.“Well, that could have gone better.” “Was there an outcome where this wasn’t a certainty?” Dana replied. Kira thought a thousand different curse words at the AI companion implanted in her brain. Not that Dana would care either way, as it may have been an artificial intelligence, but it’s emotional understanding was limited. Kira jumped up to her feet and looked around, surveying the damage. Futureshock’s cybertech lab was now a hole in the ground, covered with a smattering of smoldering rubble....

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Flash Fic – Eyes Without A Face

New flash fic challenge, and I sprung off of Rebecca Douglass’s opening line. Because how could I not? (Please note – no relation to the French horror film or the Billy Idol song.)     Eyes Without A Face “Harold! Harold! Hurry, the eyes are back and they’re in the pantry!” Harold groaned as he levered himself out of his cozy armchair, and walked towards the closet to retrieve his golf club. He and Randy had gotten a great deal on the house. It was good sized, with a big garden for Randy to work in, and a nice distance from the nearest neighbors. Not that he expected any harassment, but you never knew. After all, Randy found “qweer” (sic) spray painted on the door of his last apartment, and he lived in downtown Chicago. But – and...

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The first bit of my Nanowrimo story, I Left My Heart On Omicron Ceti 3

Be warned, it’s unedited. So sorry if there are typos I missed.   **     Iwan couldn’t decide if his luck had turned for the better, or if it had remained at its typical worst.   Iwan had worked in the Galactic Force’s front office for six years. He’d joined the GF in the hopes of being one of those swoopy, sex magnetic space pilots who traveled the universe and scored with every attractive being from here to the Crab Nebula. There was one teeny tiny problem: Iwan was terrified of flying. Both in atmosphere and outside it, even as a passenger. The only way he got on the ship that took him from Earth to the GF training facility in orbit was some pills given to him by the Docbot. Now, some of those space jocks took pills, but not ones...

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Flash Fiction Challenge – The Secret Rebellion

Yep, another one. And a brief tale of science fiction/horror. ** The Secret Rebellion Serai waited while Commander Garrand and his thugs forced open the airlock of her ship, the Shadowstar. It was no match for a Confederacy battle cruiser and they all knew it, so she had no choice but to surrender. Gerrand took his time boarding the ship, because he was a raging asshole. She scanned her readouts to find out what size boarding party he had and counting him, there were seven. That seemed excessive considering it was just her and her service bot aboard. Well, that they knew of. Boots clunked heavily on the deck plating as Gerrand and his blue uniformed hit squad marched to her cockpit. “I see working for the so called “rebellion” hasn’t made you any...

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Flash fic challenge – Labyrinthine Sailor

New Chuck Wendig challenge. New weird story. Although, I kind of want to see where this one goes from here …. Labyrinthine Sailor The bar was as inexplicable inside as it had been on the outside. The tables and chairs seemed to grow up from a floor of living wood, which on first blush was impossible. There was a tree and there was wood, but you couldn’t have it processed and unprocessed at the same time. Except here, where the floor looked smoothed and planed, and yet a fingernail scratch brought sap to the surface, and the bartenders had to trim back rogue branches between rounds. The wood even felt somewhat lukewarm, bringing to mind body heat, which was why Mallory was reluctant to sit down. If it was still alive, could it feel? It was a creepy thought....

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Another Flash Fic Challenge

Another flash fic challenge, and a story I always wanted to write. Who survives a slasher film? Let’s flip the script … **   Slashfic   As soon as Eric scrambled in, Lissa slammed the door shut, and Alex shoved over a bookcase in front of it, a makeshift barricade that probably wouldn’t last for long. “Holy shit,” Eric said, standing in the middle of the room and panting. His tank top was wet with blood, and he still had the meat cleaver in his hand. “What the fuck kinda party is this?” It was New Year’s Eve, and for a few moments there, it actually seemed like maybe, for once, things would be okay. Yeah, Brittany was one of the school’s “mean girls”, a cheerleader with more power than...

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Yep, another flash fic ….

Same challenge as before, but this super weird title was just too good to pass up. Weird, weird, weird. But short.       The Hand the Snake Laughed “The hand,” the snake laughed. “Is ours, always ours.” The lizard listened, and looked at its front foot, as if it was a puzzle she could solve. “You have no hands,” she said. The snake flicked its tongue at its rapt audience, snuggling in to the cozy indent on the hood of the ’87 Chevy, so rusted and sand weathered its color was hard to determine. “We all have hands. They’re in our minds. Holding us down, holding us back.” There were so oohs amongst the audience, mainly small mammals and arachnids who found the snake deep. The lizard was...

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Hey, who wants a recipe?

Hey, who wants a recipe?

I don’t cook a lot – hardly ever, really – but I thought, in advance of my birthday, I’d make myself a cake. But honestly, I didn’t want cake. I wanted an ice cream sundae pie. Those don’t exist? Well, maybe they do, but not around here, so I made my own. They’re simple to make, and you can vary the recipe by what you like. But here’s the basics. Step one – Crust. With a little melted butter and many crumbs, you can make your own. You can crush cookies – chocolate, chocolate chip, vanilla wafers, gingersnaps, graham crackers – whatever you like, and make your own. Or, you can skip it and go to the straightforward pre-made, store bought crust. Your choice. Just make sure it’s a kind you like....

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Flash Fic Challenge – A Suicide of Glass

Another flash fic challenge, another short. This one is a bit of a downer, I freely admit that. ** A Suicide of Glass When the rains first came, no one could quite believe it. The clouds got a lot of attention, as they were a rich, brilliant blue, more intense than the sky, and there was a lot of speculation as to what they could have meant. If they were pollution, part of a study on the drought, cloud seeding, stuff of that nature. The truly crazy settled on aliens or some kind of government experiment, but you couldn’t go down those rabbit holes for long. The crazy seemed contagious, like a virus made of a corrupt idea, damaged DNA just replicating itself over and over again. There wasn’t time to do a proper study, not before it started to rain. From inside,...

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Infected: Revolution, part 13

Infected: Revolution, part 13

13 – Sea Legs   Holden sometimes wondered if Newt made up his own language.   It seemed that way. Decoding his text messages took a great deal of doing, so much that, if he was in trouble and sent out an emergency text, Holden probably wouldn’t figure it out until it was too late. He was really going to have to work out a signal with him. Instead of a safe word, a safe set of numerals. 9-1-1 seemed obvious.   From what he finally pieced together, phones weren’t allowed in the compound, but he snuck one in. Holden knew better than to inquire how. Being a former drug mule, Newt knew everything there was to know about smuggling things past guards, and Holden slept fine not knowing a single one of them. He was going to keep it that...

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Books in order

I get asked this quite a bit, and so I regularly feel I should put out the list for new readers. Infected series: Book 1: Infected: Prey Book 2: Infected: Bloodlines Book 3: Infected: Life After Death Book 4: Infected: Freefall Book 5: Infected: Shift Book 6: Infected: Lesser Evils Book 7: Infected: Undertow Josh of the Damned series: Story 1: Pretty Monsters Story 2: Peek-A-Boo Story 3: Josh of the Damned Triple Feature #1 Story 4: Night of the Dust Bunnies Story 5: Josh of the Damned Triple Feature #2: The Final Checkout

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Want to hear me read some of my own writing poorly?

Here you go. A part of the mustache rampage segment from Josh of the Damned Triple Feature #1. (You will have to download it. Sorry!) josh3

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Flash Fic Challenge – Noise

Yep, another fic challenge fic challenge. Here’s the result.   **   Noise       The fourth blow of the sledgehammer put a hole in the wall big enough to shove a pony through. After that, tearing down the rest of the wall was a piece of cake. Zach stopped for a beer, and to wipe off the sweat and drywall dust. Taking down a house always seemed slower than it should have been. Really he should have just hopped in his truck and floored it. He’d have brought the house down in much less time, and with minimal effort on his part. Of course, there was a chance he’d destroy his truck in the process, but he was insured, and he could always claim it was an accident. But insurance agents were notorious pains in the asses, and he’d...

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Infected: Revolution, part 12

Infected: Revolution, part 12

12 – High and Dry     When Dylan got out of the shower and heard the doorbell, his stomach sank, as he feared it was the press again. Apparently you could say “No comment” or “Contact our lawyer” all you wanted, they never gave up. But when he glanced out the window and saw a couple of cars, he recognized one as looking very much like the car Fiona had rented. It could possibly be her.   So he pulled on a pair of loose yoga pants and went downstairs to see for himself. Glancing out the peephole, he didn’t see Fiona, he saw a broad torso swathed in a tight Kelly green t-shirt. Even though it was all he could see, there was really only one person that could belong to. He threw open the locks, and found it was indeed Grey, flanked by Fiona,...

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Infected: Revolution, Part 11

Infected: Revolution, Part 11

11 – Love Is The Devil   When Shep first called him and told him that Roan had been shot, Dylan’s stomach just plummeted, and it felt like it never stopped falling. But there was so much noise in the background of Shep’s call that on the way to the hospital, he decided to listen to a news radio station, and that’s when the details were filled in, and peace slowly overcame him. So Roan got shot stopping some crazy asshole with a gun? Okay. That wasn’t his self-destructive impulses taking over, that was just Roan being Roan. What Dylan had learned was, it was a type. The people who ran into burning buildings to rescue people, who ran into collapsing buildings … you couldn’t really be taught to fight your own natural instincts...

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Flash Fiction Challenge – Mr. Fix-It

Yep, another challenge, another flash fix. Enjoy!   **     Mr. Fix-It     “Hull breach in sector 8-A,” the computer reported in its calm voice, as tremors shook the space station like a rattle. Elon scrambled onto his feet, and was helped by Slo-Mo, the station robot. Slo-Mo  – called Slom by Elon, since Slo-Mo was not only an incorrect designation, but also a little bit racist – was a Mark IX design, meaning he looked almost human, but not quite. Hair couldn’t be replicated in a useful way, so rather than deal with that, the top of his head was covered with a chromed tritanium plate that looked like the sleekest of safety helmets, and it could in fact take a metric ton of impact with no appreciable damage. Although hidden beneath a...

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Flash Fic Challenge – Haunted

I decided to do another one. Here it is. ** Haunted There was something like a muffled scream as the man opened the door. He turned to look at her and smiled. “See? Haunted, like I told you. This house eats the unwary.” Elana smiled weakly, wondering if he was trying to scare her. It was such a lame thing it was hard to imagine, but maybe that worked for him. “I doubt a house can eat anything, Mister … what did you say your name was again?” He held the door open for her, continuing to smile that creepy smile that never reached his eyes. “Smith. John Smith.” “Okay.” If that was his actual name, then her name was Amanda Huggenkiss, but she wasn’t about to point that out. No, she was here for a tour of the house with the creepy old man....

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Flash Fic Challenge – The End Is The Beginning

Yep, another Chuck Wendig fash fic challenge, another quick fic. This one involves global warming and the supernatural. Enjoy! ** I waited for the acid rain to stop before I ventured out of the armored ground transport, and only then did I start carving the symbols into the earth. The worst part was using my own blood to make them, but hey, the stuff in the corpse wouldn’t work. I knew that from hard experience. Once I was done, I popped the vehicle’s trunk, and lugged out the corpse, which I dropped on the ground and dragged to the center of the circle. At least it was a thin dude, body ravaged by UV radiation caused growths, as unattractive as a fresh corpse can get, but light. I painted the summoning symbol on his forehead in my blood, and only then...

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Flash Fic Writing Challenge – The Blade

Chuck Wendig’s latest flash fiction challenge is to combine two types of shows/styles into one story. Here’s my entry – Game of Thrones meets Breaking Bad.   ** The Blade   Merwyn had just come out of the forest when she heard the raised voices, and saw the mill was on fire.   Plumes of black smoke rose from the white building, and around it she saw the black clad bannermen of Prince Roald. Most weren’t wearing much in the way of armor, probably because sheer numbers dictated they would win any battle. She was not surprised that Roald’s Chief of the Guards, Sir Eoif, started down the dirt path towards her, two of his lesser men trailing behind his horse. They were both big and well fed, and one had a nose that made her think...

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From the Goodreads M/M Group Love Is Always Write event – Soulmates

From the Goodreads M/M Group Love Is Always Write event – Soulmates

Original link is here. ** SOULMATES by: Andrea Speed Sometimes, when the power filled him, it was better than sex could ever hope to be. The electricity surged through him, nearly lethal but not at all painful. It was a rush that made his heart pound furiously in his ears and made heat pool in his chest as he tasted metal; it felt like he was made of nothing but pure incandescent radiance. Oh, he could hear the screams around him, feel the alternate powers whipsawing through the air, but he was too incandescent to care. The poor Ravenhurst coven. To think they could stand in his way was laughable. Damian made short work of them, spells like curses flying from his lips as he used a dagger to slit the throat of the warrior mage trying to put a suppression spell on...

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Goodread M/M Group Story, from the Hot Summer Days event – My Bloody Valentine

Goodread M/M Group Story, from the Hot Summer Days event – My Bloody Valentine

The original topic post is here … but for those who can’t read it for a variety of reasons, here it is below. ** MY BLOODY VALENTINE by Andrea Speed   “Isn’t this how every bad horror movie ever made starts?” Cody asked, shining his flashlight on the door of the house. It made the aging crime scene tape glow yellow, like a neon string. Drew gave him an elbow in the side, gently so he didn’t actually hurt him. Cody returned it, smirking at him in that way that made Drew both want to punch him and kiss him at the same time. “Hey, this was your idea.” “You’re the one who wanted me to take you somewhere quiet,” Cody replied, tearing away the tape and opening the dusty door. Drew hissed, a kind of surprised, negative noise, but he...

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New release, and a free read!

New release, and a free read!

First up, Dreamspinner’s Make A Play anthology is out today! You could buy the whole package, or just my story separately. Thunderballs – Luke Diaz signs up for an adult dodgeball league out of morbid curiosity and a love for a crazy movie. After all, sports aren’t his thing. Then attraction to the team captain, Shane Kinrade, keeps him from ducking out of tryouts, and Luke discovers he’s actually rather good at hitting where he aims. Along with his newfound ability, Luke considers the charming team captain to be right up his alley and luckily, Shane shares his interest. Also, my Love Has No Boundaries story, Cartoon Logic, is now available as a download in multiple formats. So read...

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Free read! And blog hop winner!

As part of Dreamspinner’s six year anniversary, I have a free flash fic up, with Roan and Dylan. And the winner of the blog hop is Trix! I have emailed her. Congratultions, and thanks everyone for reading!

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Infected: Revolution, part 10

Infected: Revolution, part 10

10 –The Temptation of Saint Anthony Roan knew he had entertained many stupid ideas in his life, up to and including trying Taco Bell food once. But this may have well been the very stupidest. “The guy with the pickled brain?” Roan repeated, just in case Holden forgot what he’d told him previously. “The guy whose mind goes in and out like a shitty cell phone? That guy?” “I know,” Holden admitted. They were sitting at one of the outside tables at Hey Cupcake, taking advantage of a slightly overcast but not rainy day. No one else was currently at the other outside tables, meaning they had much more privacy than they would have inside the bakery. “I’m not claiming this doesn’t come without risk. But Newt could get in easily, and ferret out what...

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Flash fic – This Town Is Dead

Yep, Chuck Wendig’s challenging people again … ** I lit a cigarette beside the smoldering pile of wreckage that used to be Los Angeles, and wondered if this qualified as irony, or just a variation on a theme. It wasn’t like I could actually breathe in more smoke, even if I was smoking the largest cigarette in the known universe. I stared at it, the huge crater that used to be one of the largest cities in America, and tried to wrap my head around the idea of it. How could a city so large just be erased, like a dirty word on a chalkboard? The Monitors blamed terrorists, but if being a detective had taught me anything, it was you never believe the official story. And there was no way in hell terrorists could’ve gotten a hold of something with so much...

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Want a free read?

One of my Love Has No Boundaries stories is up early, for your reading pleasure. It’s a comedic one I’m very proud of, called Cartoon Logic. Check it out.

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9 – Strange Beast Holden wondered if he had inherited Roan’s self-destructive streak as well as his detective job. Was that a per-requisite he’d been unaware of? When Scott texted him his hotel name and room number, along with a request to come by, Holden figured he’d go there and let him know that maybe they should stop this, whatever the hell this was. But as soon as he was in the door, Scott basically tackled him with one of his overwhelming kisses, the kind that made him feel like Scott was trying to consume him in some way. But Scott was also shirtless, and pressed him up against the door, and how could Holden not respond to that? Once again, Holden found himself surprised by his own libido, while Scott wasn’t surprised at all. They couldn’t get...

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Closet Capers is out today!

Closet Capers is out today!

If you’re subscribed to my newsletter, then you know this, but I’m very proud of my story in this anthology, Tempest For A Tea Cup. It’s frothier and lighter than most of my stories, and stars two fisted, hard drinking private dick Jake Falconer, and his on-again, off-again (but now on) boyfriend, Officer Kyle Gomez, supposedly the soberest and most uncorrupted cop in all of Echo City. If you read my novella The Little Death, you’ll recognize them, but you don’t need to have done so to get this story. It’s not a sequel, just a parallel story. And to tease it a little more, I’ll give you a little sample of the story: ** As a private detective, I was used to pretty trouble stumbling through my door. But adorable trouble?...

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New Roan flash fic now up!

And remember, 20 %  of every purchase made today through Dreamspinner goes to GLSEN.Day of Silence

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Infected: Revolution, Part 8

Infected: Revolution, Part 8

8 – When It Happens Roan wondered anew why he was doing this as he stood in his backyard, shirtless, holding his hand up to block the sun so Dylan could take a picture of it. Correction: block the vague glow coming from the cloud patch where the sun was hiding. It had been sunny when they started, but true to the Seattle cliché, the sun was covered by clouds within ten minutes, and now the wind was picking up and getting chillier. In fact, Roan was now kind of cold, and wishing he could put his shirt on. But Dyl was taking pictures of isolated and close up body parts for an art project he was working on. Roan had to be shirtless, because he’d taken pictures of his shoulder blade, his back, and at least one of his torso tattoos. “Can we wrap this up...

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Free read!

A new Josh of the Damned story is up. There’s kind of a tie-in with Easter … kind of … Night of the Leaper

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Flash Fic Challenge – They Fight Crime!

Yep, another Wendig challenge, and too good to resist, as it’s tied to the amazing They Fight Crime! site. Here’s what the site came up with for me. **   Time To Kill **     Caitlin wrinkled her nose in disgust. There was no fucking way Tony expected her to work on a fucking eight year old Kia. Fucking piece of shit car. She wanted to take it out behind the garage and shoot it point blank in the radiator.   “I’m taking my break,” she said, wiping her hands on a greasy rag and throwing it at the turd colored Kia She didn’t care if Tony heard her or not, she went right into the back, and grabbed her coat before retreating to the bathroom. Only there did she pull out her phone and check on her traps.   The Headhunter...

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Flash Fic Challenge – The Empire Strikes Bus

There’s little excuse for that pun, except it perfectly describes this silly entry in Chuck Wendig’s latest flash fiction challenge. Very short, very silly.   ***   The Empire Strikes Bus       It had been a relatively quiet day on bus 535 when Destruxtor The Galactic Emperor suddenly teleported into the aisle. He laughed triumphantly, helmeted head cast up towards the ceiling, a blinking blue locket held tightly in his gauntlet clad hands. “It works! It is the Dafraxian Nexus!” He laughed again, earning dirty looks from many of the passengers around him.   “Tone it down, will ya buddy?” A weary man in a worn denim jacket snapped.   “Did you pay the fare?” the bus driver asked, staring at the man in his...

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Infected: Revolution, Part 7

Infected: Revolution, Part 7

N.B.: There is actually a chapter that goes before this, but I skipped it, because of massive spoilers about the potential end of the Infected series (or Roan’s storyline at least). Sorry, but you’ll probably have to wait until it’s published to see it. *** 7 – South Paw Holden imagined that, if anyone knew his closest confidant was a leather daddy, it wouldn’t have surprised them nearly as much as the fact that the leather daddy’s day job was social worker. Ahmed was just one of those weird dudes – like Roan, like Dylan – who thought if they could help people, they should. Which is how Holden came to know him in the first place. He used to work for this non-profit organization that helped street kids, and he came up to...

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Dev, A Visitor’s Guide, Part 4

Dev, A Visitor’s Guide, Part 4

  Food, Drink, Holidays, & Culture Having a unique cross-section of beings in Dev, you will find all sorts of food and drink, perhaps more diverse than even your world, whatever that may be. From flesh for zombies and yetis, blood for vampires, vegetables and vegetation for our lizard friends, and all sorts of refuse for our werewolf brothers. Eating your fellow citizens is punished by banishment to the yeti zones, unless you’re a yeti, and then you have to face the Cursers.   There are not many holidays, but there is the three day Bacchus festival, held in what humans would call spring. During these days, there is a celebration involving much food and drink, as well as the occasional orgy. (But it’s all very tastefully done.) While a feast...

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Dev, A Visitor’s Guide, Part 3

Dev, A Visitor’s Guide, Part 3

Religion & Magic Since Dev was established and is still currently overseen by a god, Medusa, it’s almost funny how little merit religion is given in this world. We have a god, we know she exists, and we know, if we sufficiently anger her, there will be grave consequences. (Those rumors of a previous city have also claimed the cataclysm that wiped it out was simply Medusa’s way of cleaning the slate and starting over with a more peaceful society, but, as before, there is no proof of this.) Medusa requires nothing from her people, save for a few rules that are the bedrock of our peaceful world. There are statues to her, but small, as she herself finds them gaudy. She requires no worship, and anyone who speaks in her name finds themselves regretting it...

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Dev, A Visitor’s Guide, Part 2

Dev, A Visitor’s Guide, Part 2

The World Building Blog Hop continues …. History & Politics     While home to a diverse group of beings, Dev’s history is remarkably peaceful. Founded by a god looking to create a containment area for her mentally imbalanced sisters, it soon became a haven for other creatures looking for a place to stay. There are rumors that there was a city before Nightshade, full of warring creatures, wiped out completely in a massive cataclysm, but there’s no legitimate proof of this. Ruins have been uncovered, but their meaning is unclear.   The political system of Dev is an unusual one. Since the city of Nightshade is divided between clusters of competing groups (werewolf gangs such as the Dogpack and its rival, the Dogpound; the Vampire’s...

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World Building Blog Hop, Day 1 – Dev, A Visitor’s Guide

World Building Blog Hop, Day 1 – Dev, A Visitor’s Guide

Welcome to the Worldbuilding Blogfest! Links for more wonderful worldbuilding can be found here: World Building Ahoy. Ever wonder about the world on the other side of the hell portal in the Josh of the Damned universe? Here’s the beginning of a comprehensive look at a place you’d never want to visit. ** Welcome to Dev. We hope you enjoy a stay in our world, although please be sure you made out a will and have your affairs in order if you’re a human being. It is not advised you come here without a chaperon, unless you’re suicidal. Geography & Climate The climate is much like you’d find on Earth. A mix of sunny days and rain, with the occasional rain of toads, which usually only occurs in what humans would call the fall. The weather is...

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I’m up for some LR Cafe’s Best of 2012 Awards! Also, a snippet of Josh of the Damned.

Woohoo! I should crib for the Colbert Report and have a regular “who’s honoring me/who’s ignoring me” section. Anyhow, I’m up for some awards in the Best Paranormal/Fantasy Book, Best Series, and Best GBLT Author categories! The book that got the nod was the Josh of the Damned Triple Feature. As such, I thought I’d give you a tease for the book. What most people call a hellish shift, Josh Caplan calls a normal evening. After all, he works nights at a convenience store beside the mouth of hell, selling snacks to zombies and lizard men. And in this bit, Josh and his vampire boyfriend Colin are on the roof, and Colin lets Josh know something about himself that he never knew. While danger gets oddly closer …   ** Colin...

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Infected: Revolution, Part 6

6 – The Gloaming Dylan hated to leave Roan in such a state, but once he’d called Holden, he went straight up to bed. Roan said he had a migraine coming on, and Dylan could almost believe it, except his face was pale, and his lips bloodlessly white. It wasn’t a migraine – those didn’t make him pale. It was pain, pure and simple, probably from his partial transformation. Why didn’t Roan want to admit that? Maybe because he was a macho asshole, or maybe because he didn’t want him to worry, but of course it was too late for that. He was already worrying, and he didn’t leave for work. He just sat on the edge of the bed and put a hand on Roan’s forehead. He wasn’t concerned about waking him, because he took a handful of pain pills and knocked...

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Infected: Revolution, Part 5

5 – Matador Holden found himself slumped in a back booth of the Sheridan Hotel’s bar, looking down into his watered down scotch, and wondering why he ever thought he could go mainstream.   Seriously, he wasn’t cut out for this. Yeah, he was getting older, and he was past hustler prime (which was twenty three, if he was doing the math right – everything afterwards was all downhill), but he wasn’t exactly cut out for normal life. Whatever that was.   Maybe it was just the horrible day making everything worse, but he felt like finding an abandoned building and taking a pipe to everything he could possibly smash. He didn’t expect the stupid asshole protestors to affect him as much as they did, but somehow they got under his skin....

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The first chapter of Infected: Lesser Evils … Part 1

The first chapter of Infected: Lesser Evils … Part 1

1- Gimme Shelter Roan knew he should never have taken Nadia Rubin’s case the moment he took it. She couldn’t afford him, she’d know he was taking pity on her and would probably resent it, and it wasn’t his usual thing anyways. She was asking him to be a bodyguard as much as a detective, and that really wasn’t his thing. Still, how did you turn down a fellow infected? Especially when they were being threatened by another infected. It almost felt like a duty. What she was, was a waitress who wasn’t wearing enough makeup to cover all the broken blood vessels beneath her eyes, indications of past beatings. She was a cougar strain, in the midst of a divorce from her abusive husband, Mike Oliver, who’d been threatening her. The problem was, the threats...

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Want to see the cover to Infected: lesser Evils ..?

Want to see the cover to Infected: lesser Evils ..?

  Here it is! The book will be available for purchase October 5th.  

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Infected: Revolution, Part 4

Infected: Revolution, Part 4

4 – Zero Dark Thirty Roan honestly forgot how much pain he lived with on a constant basis until he didn’t have it anymore. Only then did he understand his constant pill popping wasn’t solely an emotional crutch. Mostly, but not all. He straddled his bike and was preparing to leave when Gareth came jogging up to him, gun slung over his back. “Hey, Roan, I was wondering if I could ask you a favor,” he began, his voice going up at the end, making it sound like a question. It wasn’t, but it almost sounded like it.   “You can ask,” he replied, trying not to get his hopes up. The sky behind Gareth’s head had a strange cast to it, an opalescent sheen on pinkish-white, and he knew it was the pain meds. He tried not to give it...

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Infected: Revolution, Part 3

3 – Dead City The fact that there was no immediate response was either a good sign or an incredibly bad one. Roan knew he’d have to investigate further to figure out which one. He’d dislocated his jaw roaring, which he hadn’t realized until he was preparing to talk. He had to grab his lower jaw and forcefully snap it back into place, which hurt like fuck. No matter that he had done it about a hundred times before, he never seemed to get used to it. Roan wondered why he hadn’t by now, and then wondered if he should worry if he ever did. He walked up to the closed front door and knocked on it. “Anyone inside? I’m with the police department.” Absolutely true – he didn’t identify himself as a police officer, he just...

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Chapter 1 of Infected: Shift

Chapter 1 of Infected: Shift

Lost at Birth Roan was so bored he’d decided that Tanning Salon Pervert would be the perfect name for his biography. As he’d flipped through the TV channels last night, the information bar had been visible at the bottom of the screen, and as he surfed past one news magazine program, he saw their episode was titled “Tanning Salon Pervert.” He didn’t watch it—on general principle he refused to watch anything that called itself a news magazine—but the words intrigued him. They sounded wrong in a wonderfully obtuse way, like “peanut butter hut” or “purple elephant pedophile.” Now, he’d never been in a tanning salon, and whether he was a pervert or not was subjective and almost totally hinged on your personal interpretation of the Bible (if...

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Infected: Revolution, Part 2

2- Aegis Dee and Shep arrived about five minutes ahead of the cops, and eight ahead of the press. Since Roan had no idea who called an ambulance, he wondered who tipped them off. Probably Flores. Roan had to wave them away, he didn’t need medical attention, all he needed was a couple of Vicodin, which he washed down with a bottle of water from the car. Some people did need help, mostly mourners who got flustered and overwhelmed after the shooting. Nothing major beyond an asthma attack and heart palpitations, but at least it kept Dee from bugging him. Dylan sat with him in the car for a long moment of quiet, watching as cops, media, protestors, mourners, and his security team jostled and milled about in pseudo-Brownian motion. In a weird bit of irony, Richie...

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First chapter (for a while!) of Infected: Revolution

First chapter (for a while!) of Infected: Revolution

It was going to be a clusterfuck, of that there was no doubt. The only question was how big a clusterfuck. Roan wasn't going to bother the Kims with any of this,and although Randi requested to be kept in the loop, he spared her from this as well. Mainly he kept this between him, Holden, and Fiona, although even that wasn't strictly true. He told Dylan, and even though Scott had been called up to the Vancouver Canucks, Holden had obviously clued him in, as Richie had called Roan to offer his help (along with Jeff's, whom he was going to drag into things whether he wanted to be in it or not). Roan told him it might not be the best idea, as what if he was recognized, but that just made him laugh. Only hard core Falcons fans would know who he was on sight, and the day he was afraid of a bunch of god squad whackadoos (his words) was the day he quit hockey and started selling insurance. If he wasn't up against he would have turned him down, but he knew Richie and Jeff were intimidating looking (a nose broken several times and a scarred face had that effect), and were more than capable of taking care of themselves, so he agreed to let them help. It was weird enough that he was putting together a security detail for a funeral. But life these days was pretty fucking weird.

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Roan’s guide to Valentine’s day

I really wouldn’t follow it. Roan’s Guide to Valentine’s Day on SJD Peterson Blog

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The Infected books, in order

The Infected books, in order

I should have done this a while ago, but I didn’t, because I can be an idiot like that. So these are the published books, in order:   Book 1: Infected: Prey Book 2: Infected: Bloodlines Book 3: Infected: Life After Death Book 4: Infected: Freefall Book 5: Infected: Shift Book 6: Infected: Lesser Evils Book 7: Infected: Undertow Book 7.5: Infected: The Lost Weekend Book 8: Infected: Epitaph   And all releases are, of course, available here:

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Preview of the next Infected story, Infected: Revolution

I’ll get to this one soon, but I still have some other work on the table. Still, just to prove I haven’t forgotten, a teaser. **** 1- Haunt You It was going to be a clusterfuck, of that there was no doubt. The only question was how big a clusterfuck. Roan wasn’t going to bother the Kims with any of this,and although Randi requested to be kept in the loop, he spared her from this as well. Mainly he kept this between him, Holden, and Fiona, although even that wasn’t strictly true. He told Dylan, and even though Scott had been called up to the Vancouver Canucks, Holden had obviously clued him in, as Richie had called Roan to offer his help (along with Jeff’s, whom he was going to drag into things whether he wanted to be in it or...

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New soundtrack!

Because I love making these things. Roan’s Mix #4 from notmanos on...

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Internal Emails of The Damned

Internal Emails of The Damned

For this stop on my Josh of the Damned tour, I have gotten my hands on internal e-mails from Quik-Mart Co. (don't ask how) that suggest Josh's life is about to get even more complicated ... **** For Quik-Mart Industries Internal Review Only! Destroy After Reading!

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Infected: Freefall released today! New soundtrack!

You just knew there was going to be...

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Author’s note ….

Due to some contractual obligations – and the writing of the Infected: Paris prequel (oh yes, that’s happening), there will probably be a longer than average gap between Roan stories. But fear not! This is not the end. Just a brief hiatus until I can get ahead of my deadlines. Thank you for your patience, and for reading. (Infected: Freefall is out November 25th, in ebook and paperback form, in case you need a fix before I return.)

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Voting in the Rainbow Awards Cover Contest continues!

And if you want to continue to show me and Anne Cain a little love for Infected: Bloodlines or Infected: Life After Death, I’d be grateful. http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1427480.html  

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Trick or Treat – The Roan & Paris Halloween short

Available as a download from Dreamspinner Press as part of their “Halloween Howl” promotion, it’s now here, in case you never found it or got a chance to read it. N.B.” For completists, this takes place just before Infected: Prey. ****   ROAN looked at the articulated skeleton on his office door with a frown. “No.” Paris grinned, like he was making a joke. “You are such a stick in the mud. It’s cute!” “We’re a detective agency. We don’t put skeletons on our doors or have bowls of candy on our desks,” Roan exclaimed, aware he was sounding just like an uptight asshole. Gods, shoot him now. “What kind of demented child would go trick or treating at an office park anyway?” Paris plopped down behind...

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Infected: Freefall, out November 25th!

Yaay! A cover and a release date, all at once! What a Happy Halloween for me.

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The cover for Infected: Freefall

No solid release day yet, but a cover exists! And here it is. (Also, note the wrist tattoo.)

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Free Roan & Paris story!

Free lost Roan & Paris story! Dreamspinner Press has an October promotion, “Halloween Howl”, where free stories by many authors are hidden around their site. I contributed a small Roan & Paris story! Where? Well, get the details at Dreamspinner’s page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php

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A new Infected playlist …

… up at Grooveshark. Because Spotify is a bit of poo.  http://grooveshark.com/playlist/Andrea+Speed+s+Infected+Soundtrack+Playlist+number+1/60738645

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Saturday Snark

This is an excerpt from Infected: Prey . Roan’s searching for a teenager who may have ran away from home, and seems to have been obsessed with infecteds, making him concerned he might have run off to the Church of the Divine Transformation. That’s where we are when this snark off begins: ***** As soon as he was done, Paris took his seat, cracked open his soda, and decided to play devil’s advocate. “This is all supposition, you know. Maybe he was a bit obsessed with infecteds, but ran off to join the Hare Krishnas.” “Or the Jehovah’s Witnesses,” Roan replied, playing along. “The Evangelicals.” “The Mormons.” “The Shakers,” Paris insisted, raising his eyebrows in a comic manner. Oh no, he wasn’t laughing now. “The...

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Six Sentence Sunday

This is from The Little Death, a novella due out in October. My homage to Chandler. In this part, Detective Jake Falconer reminisces about his ex. His name was Kyle Gomez, always cute as a kitten in a mitten in his dress blues, his hair as glossy black as fresh tar and his eyes like two melted-down pennies, a coppery kind of brown that I swear seemed to shade darker or lighter depending on his mood. I always said he was too good looking to be a cop, and that was still true. I could get a semi thinking about the hard body beneath that polyester uniform, and the secret tattoo on the inside of his right thigh, the sword with wings that only his lovers ever knew about. Our break up wasn’t great. He said I drank too much, that I had no ambition, and I couldn’t...

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You may notice Freefall and Bloodletting are gone from the archives …

… because I just signed a contract with Dreamspinner to publish them! More details as they arrive.

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Six Sentence Sunday

More teasing of Infected: Paris. And still, it’s just a tease. Once outside, and looking around for security cameras that might have caught incidental footage of the incident, Roan caught a glimpse of the bumper of the car parked in the alley. It was an old car, a 60’s model at least (maybe ‘70’s – truth be told, he didn’t know his cars that well), and the windshield was blocked with cardboard inserts on the inside. Interesting. Usually such things indicated someone was living in a car, or just too cheap to buy a sunshade, but the age of the car and the rust on the bumper seemed to suggest it wasn’t being driven much. Was someone living in the car? If so, if they were here last night, they were in prime position to see someone screwing around...

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Latest Infected soundtrack …

Yes, I know I need to stop making these. But it’s so fun!

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Six Sentence Sunday

Participating again, and this time, it’s the first sentences in the Infected: Prey prequel, Infected: Paris. Roan is working a case, and it’s not exactly a glamorous one.   ****   It was times like these that Roan knew he’d made a big mistake becoming a private detective. Of course it was his fault. He lost his temper at that redneck shitbag, he was  lucky he wasn’t sued and that the Seattle PD didn’t decide to make an example of him. Which was probably why he was back in the PD’s evidence room, looking at a road kill squirrel in a plastic bag.  Even though the bag was sealed,  Roan could still smell the blood, guts, and rot through the supposedly airtight seal. As he rubbed his nose, doing his best not to gag, Kevin Robinson...

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Six Sentence Sunday ….

This is a nifty promotional thingy, so I thought I’d play. Find all the participants here: http://www.sixsunday.com/ My six sentences are from Infected: Life After Death, the latest book. ******* As Roan grasped his upper arm firmly, trying to staunch the flow of blood, he wondered how he‟d gotten himself into this mess. Maybe the problem was this was another male lion, one not inclined to fold, but also, he could smell illness coming off of it—it wasn‟t right in body or mind, and therefore it was not assessing threats correctly. The panicky people didn‟t help either; their fear was sharp in the air, and it was making Roan salivate just as much as the lion growling in the alley. “Roan—” Dylan asked pleadingly, visible in his peripheral...

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Win an e-book copy of Infected: Life After Death!

Check here for details. http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/1255144-e-book-giveaway

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Infected: Life After Death is out today!

And so the second half of the soundtrack is out!

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New soundtrack!

Because Infected: Life After Death finally has a release date, I decided to release the first part of the soundtrack. (You know how I love making these.) The second part will go up about May 16th, day of release of the book. This mix varies between mournful and angry, with a curveball or two thrown in. You know, a couple of stages of...

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Release date!

Infected: Life After Death will be released May 16th!  Blurb follows: In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds. But when your heart is gone, it’s easy to fall into a black hole and never crawl out. Roan has been lost and alone for more than a year, and his best friends think a new case might be just the motivation he needs. Roan forces himself back into the game and discovers a dead man who might not be all that dead, a street hustler that wants to hustle him, and a dominatrix who is well prepared to take Roan’s orders. As Roan claws his way out of the darkness by diving back into his work, he finds himself in a race against...

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Non spoiler tease for Infected: Life After Death

No release date yet, beyond May, but here’s a snippet from the upcoming book. No spoilers, so even if you haven’t read Infected: Prey and Infected: Bloodlines, you can read this, no harm, no foul. Well, there’s some bad language, but you should be used to that from me by now. **** Roan was shaking and feeling both edgy and slightly ill when there was a knock at the door. He was sure he couldn’t do this, but the drugs cast a comforting pall on his panic. He had nothing to worry about. She‟d take one look at the crazy, homeless guy look he currently had going on and run away screaming. Problem solved. Roan opened the door on a short woman wearing a blue, floral-patterned dress and thick, black-rimmed glasses that were endearing in their...

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The latest Redemption Reef chapter is up …

… check it out. http://redemptionreef.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/rr-27-mano-a-mano/

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New Redemption Reef chapter is up …

Right here: http://redemptionreef.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/rr-21-love-shack/

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Latest Redemption Reef post is up …

Right here: http://redemptionreef.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/rr-18-the-reunion/

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Welcome newcomers!

If you are new to my page, hello!  Feel free to look around. Most of it is writing. Speaking of which (what a segue), I have two out in print which you might want to check out if you haven’t already. Infected: Prey, out through Dreamspinner Press (available there and at Amazon, as well as other book retailers), is the beginning of the story for Roan McKichan, a private detective who is a rare “virus child”, someone born infected with the lion strain of a cat virus. He exists in a world much like our own, only with these werecat infecteds, who are hated, feared, and occasionally worshiped, depending on people and circumstances. With his partner, Paris Lehane, and even more rare tiger strain, he tries to get the bottom of a case where it seems...

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My next Redemption Reef post is up …

http://redemptionreef.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/rr-8-the-flynn-supremacy/ Check it out.

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My first chapter on Redemption Reef is up …

http://redemptionreef.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/rr-5-identity-theft/ Check it out, if you’re so inclined.

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New music mix!

New soundtrack. And here’s the sad thing about this “love theme” (with few love songs) mix – I can break them down to specific characters. And if you’d like to know which songs are for which characters, read on. By character: Roan’s songs: Blackest Eyes, Weak and Powerless, 18 Wheels, I Lived My life To Stand In The Shadow of Your Heart, Thugs, Honeythief Paris’s songs: You Were The Last High, Plans, Between The Bars Dylan’s songs: Airport Surroundings, Special, You and Me, Holden’s songs: D Is For Dangerous (although, to be fair, this could apply to Paris as well), Criminal Matt’s song: Prisoner (poor Matt) The starting and ending songs – Julius and Infected, respectively – are general songs...

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A new reader story primer

If you’ve read Infected: Prey and/or Infected: Bloodlines and found my blog, thank you for visiting. Infected started as serial fiction here, and I still continue to write it here. The world is just too much fun to play in, and besides, I’ve expanded it with all these weird characters who are effortless to write. But for those wondering where the fiction here relates to the book, I thought it was about damn time I put up a “primer”. I number the stories as “books”, so Infected and Prey were book #1 & 2, and Infected: Bloodlines is #3. The upcoming Infected: Life After Death will contain books 4 & 5 (Life After Death and Hysteria, respectively). The stories available in the Infected fiction archive start with #6, Freefall. You probably could...

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You may notice Infected: Hysteria missing …

… from the back catalog. That’s because it’s paired up with Infected: Life After Death in the soon to be published book! Well, soon is relative, because I just signed the contract. But I have a trilogy! So thank you, readers, take a bow. I’m indebted to you.

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Want an autographed copy of Infected: Bloodlines?

On December 17th, the day of release, I will be at Dreamspinner’s blog – http://dreamspinnerpress.com/blog/ – hanging around, posting nonsense, probably running a contest for a free e-book or two. But if you buy a paperback copy of Infected: Bloodlines from their store that day, the first 25 people will get an autographed copy. So please stop by, and I will do my best to be entertaining.

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A new music mix …

… ’cause, why not?

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A “lost” chapter from Infected: Prey …

A “lost” chapter from Infected: Prey …

N.B.: This short story is a “lost” chapter of Infected: Prey, which takes place within that story’s time frame, after the episode with Matt Skouris and his stalker (called by him “Rambo”), within the story Prey. So there’s some warning – if you haven’t read it or read that far, there’s a very mild spoiler. ***** Gold For Bread It was after Hipster Doofus’s latest visit to the coffee shop that Matt realized he didn’t want to be a barista anymore. It wasn’t the Hipster’s fault. It was probably a revelation he’d had before and simply forgotten. He wanted to blame the history of drug abuse for his hummingbird attention, but the truth was he’d always had...

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The cover to Infected: Bloodlines …

It releases in December. I’ll let you know the exact date when I know it.

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Win an e-book copy of Infected: Prey!

Go here for details: http://www.ebookaddictreviews.com/2010/09/26/potluck-sunday-win-a-book/ Good luck!

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Great review! And the Rainbow Cover Awards continues …

I got a very nice review from Lambda Literary, which you can check out here: http://www.lambdaliterary.org/reviews/09/18/infected-prey-by-andrea-speed/comment-page-1/#comment-11012 And the Rainbow Cover Awards contest continues, and yes, Infected: Prey is still in it. Go and vote for it if you’re so inclined. http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1123729.html

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Rainbow Awards Cover Contest Continues …

Yaay! Infected: Prey made it to Round two. Go show me and Anne Cain some love and go vote: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1116735.html (You’ll find the book in slot four.) Thanks!

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If I were casting Infected as a movie …

.. or TV show. (Really, I think this was made for the serial format, but what do I know?) I was talking with a friend, and we decided to “cast” this imaginary project. So I thought just for fun I’d share my idea of what it would look like, if I were the god and could make this happen. For whatever reason, I had the hardest time casting the leads. The secondary characters were damn easy, but Roan and Paris? In fact, I haven’t cast Paris at all – my friend suggested a name, so I’ve included him. She didn’t like my idea for Roan, feeling he isn’t big enough, but had no suggestion of her own. So that’s all noted. Here’s my idea (and one of hers): Roan: Holy shit, was this a hard one. I’m still not one...

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Welcome new readers!

Hello! If you’ve reade Infected: Prey and found my blog, thank you for visiting. Infected started as serial fiction here, and I still continue to write it here. The world is just too much fun to play in, and besides, I’ve expanded it with all these weird characters who are effortless to write. But for those wondering where the fiction here relates to the book, I thought it was about damn time I put up a “primer”. I number the stories as “books”, so Infected and Prey were book #1 & 2. The ones coming up in Infected: Bloodlines are #3 & 4 (Life After Death). The stories available in the Infected fiction archive start with #5, Hysteria. You probably could read it with little confusion, although there is a spoiler of sorts...

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Book news!

Dreamspinner Press will be publishing the sequel to Infected: Prey, presumably titled Infected: Bloodlines, by the end of the year. Which is why you will find the stories Bloodlines and Life After Death gone from the archives. (Sorry.) But hopefully you’ll be willing to check out the book. 😀 I’ll be posting more details as they become available. How cool is this? (I’ll go ahead and answer – very cool.)

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Book day!!!!!

The book is out today! Woohoo!!!!!!!!!!!! If the frightening cat didn’t scare you off, it’s available here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_274 The book, not the cat.

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The book cover! And other stuff.

So Infected: Prey has a June 25th release date, and here is the cover: Yes, that’s Roan, as imagined by the cover artist. He’s kind of hot. Love the tight shirt (okay, that’s more Paris than him, but I won’t quibble.) Also, I have a short story in Dreamspinner’s upcoming “Making Contact” science fiction anthology. I think that’s got an August release, but don’t quote me. And, in recognition of all of this, I have another mix collection. Because why...

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New mix, for your listening pleasure …

This is the Panic mix. You’ll have to supply your own shirtless bartenders, though.

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New mix ….

This is Dylan’s mix, and it’s a bit more mellow than most of the previous mixes, reflecting his personality:

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Announcement!

You may notice that Infected and Prey are no longer available in the archives. This is because it’s going to be published! WOOHOO! I’ll give you more details on the published version of Infected: Prey when they become available. But I’d like to thank all my fabulous readers, as you made this possible. Thank you all so very much.

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More noise ….

Roan made a mix CD for the Falcons to listen to, so here it is: It’s noisy, yes, but also surprisingly funny. This probably represents Roan’s sense of humor better than any other mix....

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Another soundtrack!

This is the Holden mix, which is a bit different from the others. Not just because Holden likes himself a bit of emo, but because many of these songs seem to capture specific attitudes and philosophies  of the character. Trying to figure out what applies and what doesn’t may make your head hurt, but that’s Holden in a...

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New mix, for your listening pleasure …

By request, here’s the Paris version of the Infected soundtrack. For everyone who likes to dance, and some who like a little Brit rock....

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Scorched Earth Policy, The End

10 – Ephemera This time the meeting place was at a café downtown, near the art museum. It was a sunny day, but the wind off the water gave everything a slight chill. Still, Frost was sitting at one of the round outdoor tables, in the shade of a multicolored umbrella. He wore sunglasses and a gray fedora along with a heavy dark coat, the kind that might be worn by an old man … or a hit man. It was sometimes a strangely fine line. Z sat down in the chair across from him, suppressing the grimace that her broken rib had threatened to cause, and tried to guess what he was drinking by smell alone. Earl Grey? Frost folded up his newspaper, and said, “You were right about your American. He’s excellent. How much have you coached him?” “Very little. Some...

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Scorched Earth Policy, Part 9

9 – New Orleans Is Sinking Shan wondered how long he could sit here before he could think up an excuse to bust in on Z. She’d hate him for it, but damn it, he just could never reconcile the difference between who she appeared to be and who she actually was. She looked like a kind of average to slightly small woman; in reality, she was more gonzo and hard core violent than any hockey player he had ever met. It was hard to reconcile the two things. His head knew she didn’t need his help ever, but his head was basically broken, so he could expect no help from it at all. But that worked in his favor, right? She’d probably forgive him. He could blame a ton of shit on his brain injury. Shan was searching his pockets for gum when he glanced up and realized...

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Scorched Earth Policy, Part 8

8 – All Come True Besides the ka-bar, she was carrying another weapon: the electronic equivalent of a skeleton key. Only the manager was supposed to have it, but hey, it was a brave new world, was it not? Who was to say she couldn’t be the manager? Okay, so she was as likely to be a manager as a room service tray. But this was all theoretical. No one who looked at her had paid a single bit of attention to her: she was a woman with short hair and a loose, drab wardrobe, her eyes hidden behind dark glasses. She wasn’t particularly attractive, startling, or memorable. She might as well have been wallpaper. All part of the plan, of course. She was nobody, and no one ever remembered a nobody. The hall was empty as she approached, and she hoped that it stayed...

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Scorched Earth Policy, Part 7

7 – Idle Hands Chen wasn’t taking her calls right now. Z got routed to a functionary named McCallum, who had his knickers in a twist over how shot up the guys in the woods were (and they didn’t find their being bound with hockey tape very amusing either). After asking how the Eurotrash dirt bags ended up getting so perforated with bullets, she finally told him, “They got in my way.” Did he think she was out in the woods for fun? He sounded flustered for a moment, but then got back on track with the usual “I don’t know how they do things in MI-6, but -” which she’d heard in some form or another a hundred times. She’d even heard it from MI-6. Shan took the time to change clothes, coming back into the living room wearing jeans not spattered...

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Scorched Earth Policy, Part 6

6 – In Action The first shot pinged off the hood, making both Z and Shan duck behind their open doors. Other shots went wide, although one cracked the windshield with a sound like rime creaking under the heat of the morning sun. “You got a lotta nerve, you stupid bitch!” a man roared from the shack. Shan looked at her across the seat. “A friend of yours?” “People love me,” Z replied, as she fired back blindly with one of the nines. She wasn’t trying to hit anything, just trying to make him stop shooting for a second so she could gauge where he was firing from. “You’re a people person,” Shan agreed. “Can I surrender?” “I’d let ya, but I bet they’ll think it’s a trap.” “What if I swore it wasn’t?” He ducked even lower...

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Scorched Earth Policy, Part 5

5 – Greetings From The Great North Woods In the end, she decided that she could kill in front of Shan, just not in any way that suggested execution style. Which left her with a bit of problem, because these guys just weren’t resisting. But she did agree to keep in touch with Chen, and hadn’t bothered for long enough that CSIS were probably starting to doubt her intentions. At least Shan had some hockey tape in his Jeep. They used it to tape the thugs’ wrists behind their back, and taped their ankles together up to their calves. Just because he was bleeding so much, Shan taped up the bullet wounded knee of the more severely injured guy. Shan advised him to tell the doctors not to just rip it off as they might take skin with it, but for his kind advice...

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Scorched Earth Policy, Part 4

4 – Waiting, Phase One Four Days Earlier It was so weird to see Shan with kids. It was even odder to see that they looked up to him. Z was sitting in what would probably be considered the “cheap seats”, if the Rec Center could be said to have cheap seats. It gave her not only a good look at the skating rink, but at the few people in the seats who were sitting watching, presumably parents and family members ready to take the kids home when this was all over. Z found, even after a short amount of surveillance, that she could pick out different types amongst the people. The “hockey dads” – guys who took it way too fucking seriously – all sat with rigid postures or clenched fists, acting like every kid who stumbled on the ice or took bad...

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Scorched Earth Policy, Part 3

3 – Locked In The Trunk Of A Car Five Days Earlier She ended up meeting Shan at a Tim Horton’s not far from the rec center, after one of his afternoons coaching. His hair was still wet and combed back like he was a villain in an old Miami Vice episode, his face slightly flushed from exertion. It was obvious this gig tired him out and depleted his energy, and yet it was equally clear he got enough joy from it that quitting would rob him of his will to live. Z wondered how long he could keep it up before something had to give. And if you weren’t sitting across from him, where you could see his brain surgery scar peeking out from under his hairline, you’d probably think he was the most normal guy in the universe. He was sitting there, eating a box of sour...

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Scorched Earth Policy, Part 2

2 – Insignificant One Week Earlier This time, the meeting was in a movie theater. It was early on a Tuesday afternoon on a sunny but cool day, and this picture was apparently a flop, which would explain why there was only Sir Randolph Frost sitting in the center of the second topmost row of the otherwise empty theater. Z hadn’t really been expecting to find him eating Junior Mints, but he was. This proved he was an old spymaster: always keep them guessing. She didn’t acknowledge him in any way. She just sat down beside him and put her feet on the seat back in front of her as a loud promo for some network series or another unspooled on the big screen. Never mind that there were only two people in the entire theater, they were going to play this grim...

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Troubleshooter: Scorched Earth Policy, Part 1

(Just a reprint, for those who forgot it.) 1 – Thugs Right now I’m having amnesia and deja vu at the same time. I think I’ve forgotten this before. -Steven Wright Nothing suggested you’d made horrible choices in your life like waking up in the trunk of the car. Z tasted blood in her mouth and her head throbbed like a stubbed toe, and her wrists and ankles ached from where the ties were cutting into her skin. It was stuffy in the trunk, smelled like tires even though they had to take them out to make room for her. She hated that smell; it gave her a headache and a bad taste in the back of her throat. She listened carefully for what seemed like an eternity, but was really just about ten minutes. She didn’t hear anyone, and she guessed...

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A brief interlude – sample chapter from the upcoming “Troubleshooter” story

I will be back to Freefall in no time flat, but as a treat for fans of my first serial, Troubleshooter – all two of you – here’s a sneak preview of what just may be the last Troubleshooter. Untitled at the moment, the Steven Wright quote does have a purpose and reason to be here, I swear. Also, if you’re unfamiliar with Z and Shan, go into the archives and read up on them. (If this makes you at all curious about them and their history.) ****** Right now I’m having amnesia and deja vu at the same time. I think I’ve forgotten this before. -Steven Wright Nothing suggested you’d made horrible choices in your life like waking up in the trunk of the car. Z tasted blood in her mouth and her head throbbed like a stubbed toe, and her...

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Manger Massacre

Too late for Christmas comes this atrocious, abominable tale that shouldn’t be read by anyone with a heart condition, dyspepsia, dropsy, dysplasia of the skull, male pregnancy, headupyourassitis, toffee beak, or anyone who’s had a humorectomy. This is foul, nasty, uncalled for, blasphemous, and anachronistic. So, hope you enjoy. Foul language and violence, as always. If you haven’t turned back by now, it’s too late. __________________ Manger Massacre By Andrea “You’re Just Asking For Trouble” Speed, with Some Dialogue Bits and Other Neat Stuff by Brandon “Yes, She’s Asking For Trouble” Schatz __________________ What has God wrought?” Joseph asked, kicking the head of Melchior closer to its former body....

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Danse Macabre: Sixteen – Don’t Fear The Reaper

Alone With The Dead Danse Macabre by Andrea Speed Sixteen – Don’t Fear The Reaper Gryphon enjoyed a dreamless, untroubled sleep, the kind the dead might enjoy if they actually slept. (Presumably his passengers did, but they didn’t count.) The phone eventually woke him up, but as he groped for it he was dimly aware this was ring five or six. Using all that psychokinetic energy really wiped him out. “ ‘lo?” he mumbled into the receiver, eyes still firmly closed. “Wow Gryphon, you’re still sleeping?” Varner said. “Late night last night?” He rolled over and opened his eyes, looking at the clock. Was it really one in the afternoon? Well, it wasn’t one in the morning. “Sort of. Didn’t really sleep well.” “Ah.” Varner said it in...

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Danse Macabre: Fifteen – Knife

Alone With The Dead Danse Macabre by Andrea Speed Fifteen – Knife Here was a problem that was always a bit of a bitch. They were so energetic now that there was no way Gryphon could even get near a car, not to mention get in one. The wiring wouldn’t so much melt as totally vaporize, and he’d probably cause the windshield to explode. But he’d been hoping to take Harold back to the river, to where he’d dumped his victims, but it was too far to walk. Was it too far to walk to the store? He didn’t think so. So he ended up walking the street with the stiff, seething Harold, who wanted to break away but hadn’t a hope in hell. Ruby had a death grip on him – no pun intended – but Gryphon hadn’t totally ceded control of his own body to her....

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Danse Macabre: Fourteen – The Suffering

Alone With The Dead Danse Macabre by Andrea Speed Fourteen – The Suffering On the way back home – well, his home for now – he stopped to get some fast food, mainly because he felt so tired he wasn’t sure he’d stay awake on the drive. It was kind of pathetic, but what could you do? Apparently threatening to kill someone wasn’t enough to keep him awake anymore. But Gryphon was allowed one of those moments that he’d come to cherish, a moment when his Greek chorus of the damned fell mercifully silent. He got to hear the white noise hum inside his head, the emptiness where thoughts should be. Of course he had none; he felt hollowed out, flushed, wiped clean. The crowds of people who had shared space inside him had carved away pieces of himself...

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Danse Macabre: Thirteen – Gimme Shelter

Alone With The Dead Danse Macabre by Andrea Speed Thirteen – Gimme Shelter “Oh cry me a river, asshole,” Jeff said irritably, shaking his head in disgust. O’Leary continued to do so, although he was struggling to get a hold of himself. He sobbed in a strangled sort of way, like he was trying to physically hold back the tears and failing miserably. He still was refusing to look at him. Maybe a minute passed, the plopping sound of the rain in puddles an oddly appropriate counterpoint to his strange, squished sobs. “I didn’t mean … I panicked …” “I was black, so you fucking shot me!” Jeff snapped, and Gryphon was pretty sure he saw the puddles around them waver in response. He was only a ghost, but that didn’t mean his anger lacked...

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Danse Macabre: Twelve – Killing In The Name Of

Alone With The Dead Danse Macabre by Andrea Speed Twelve – Killing In the Name Of “What do you mean prepare to be disappointed?” O’Leary repeated, parking the SUV parallel to the mouth of the overgrown gravel driveway. Gryphon looked back to see Wax just standing there between the raindrops, like he was waiting for a bus. It made him briefly wonder if a bus of the dead would be any worse than a standard transit bus during rush hour. Probably not. It might actually be more peaceful and smell better. “He’s dead, Cal.” O’Leary glared at him, like he thought he was just saying that to piss him off. “What? No he isn’t.” “I assure you, he is.” Gryphon didn’t stick around to argue with him – he...

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Danse Macabre: Eleven – Exit Does Not Exist

Alone With The Dead Danse Macabre by Andrea Speed Eleven – Exit Does Not Exist One of the cops got into the patrol car, an almost ludicrously small woman with her blonde hair pulled back in a short ponytail, and she glanced back at him through the shatterproof divider as she turned in the front seat. “Were you talking to yourself?” “Yes,” Gryphon replied, not even bothering to be defensive. Either way they thought he was nuts: either he was talking to himself or talking to a ghost, or thinking he was talking to a ghost while talking to himself. There was no way to win. She gave him a funny look, but eventually turned away and got on the radio, which she originally intended to do, ignoring him completely. He liked it that way. He slept again, until...

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Danse Macabre: Ten – Misfits and Mistakes

Alone With The Dead Danse Macabre by Andrea Speed Ten – Misfits and Mistakes “He has a key,” Gryphon repeated, for Varner’s edification. “To the padlock.” Varner gave him a suspicious look. “That’s not just a guess, is it?” “Hey, not bad for a cop,” the ghost said. “Think he can spell his own name too?” Good one, Ray said. Gryphon sighed, and Varner looked over his shoulder, following his gaze, trying to see what he saw. He couldn’t, of course. “No. there’s another victim here, Anna Alvarez. She doesn’t think much of our investigational skills.” “Hey, you’re okay,” Anna said. “It’s the fucking cops that should have found this place three victims ago. What the fuck do we pay taxes for?” She paused briefly....

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Danse Macabre: Nine – Deer Lodge

Alone With The Dead Danse Macabre by Andrea Speed Nine – Deer Lodge It took a while for him to sort through the files, even though he didn’t read them. Gryphon just looked at the photos and waited for the spark of recognition. All the photos fell into one of two categories: casual ones, ones from high school or birthday parties or family gatherings, or mug shots. It was like the yin and yang of life, the up and the down, the people who were victims of random chance and the people who were victims of circumstances. The first one he identified was Sheila, Shelia Colleen Maitland, who was one of the mug shot ones. She was younger, her hair was different, but it was her. Then he identified poor Rita, Margarita Helene Schillenger, caught at someone’s birthday...

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Danse Macabre: Eight – The Dark Side Of The Moon

Alone With The Dead Danse Macabre by Andrea Speed Eight – The Dark Side Of The Moon The ice crunched beneath his feet as Gryphon approached the door, and the air got so cold he could feel his cheeks and nose go numb. The door didn’t want to open, but Ruby telekinetically kicked it open, and they stepped into the lingering illusion of the room. Of course the room was an illusion. In the real world it was as old and desolate as the rest of the house, but as he crossed the threshold, he crossed into someone else’s world. Miraculously, sunlight was pouring through the window, revealing a tidy room with a small, narrow bed in a black metal frame, the covers pulled so tightly across the mattress they looked stapled on. The walls were covered with oatmeal...

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Danse Macabre: Seven – We’re All Gone

Alone With The Dead Danse Macabre by Andrea Speed Seven – We’re All Gone Gryphon came to with a jerk, sort of surprised to find himself sitting up in a car seat, looking out a shattered windshield. Car accident, remember? Hugh prompted. Right. He looked over at O’Leary to find him slumped over the steering wheel. “Cal?” he asked. There was no response. Check his pulse, Hugh instructed. Gryphon rolled his eyes. “I can never find a pulse and you know it.” Fine. Let me take over. That idea was a relief, and he wasn’t sure why. No, scratch that – he knew exactly why. Even he was tired of being in his own skin. “Yeah, fine.” The process of letting the others take over had become easier. It was just like letting go, although of what he...

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Danse Macabre: Six – Ghost Dance

Alone With The Dead Danse Macabre by Andrea Speed Six – Ghost Dance “How do you know about him?” O’Leary asked when he could finally speak. It had taken him several tries to make his mouth work correctly. “Have you been investigating me?” Gryphon scoffed, rubbing his forehead. His head was starting to hurt, but in a weird way that wasn’t entirely unpleasant. “Again, let me take you back to that point where you agreed that I wasn’t a screaming fraud. I’m not. I know about Jeff McCandless because he told me not to trust you. Now, do I hear your version of the story or not?” “I told you to get offa my lawn,” the old dead guy croaked. “We’re not on your lawn,” Gryphon snapped, casting an evil glance at him. “Now knock it...

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Danse Macabre: Five – Vicarious Atonement

Alone With The Dead Danse Macabre by Andrea Speed Five – Vicarious Atonement The morning was gray and gloomy, the storm had moved on but left suffocating humidity behind. The air seemed as thick and saturated as a wet sponge.Gryphon felt exhausted, like he hadn’t slept at all, but that happened a lot. It was like he used so much energy keeping all these people with him, he could never keep up his own energy levels. Either that, or they were draining power from him to feed their honestly formidable psychokinetic powers. Clay had made pancakes and soy bacon for breakfast, which wasn’t as bad as it sounded. Clay made his pancakes with carbonated water, so they weren’t as heavy as some, and instead of syrup he poured loganberry jam on them. Again, not bad....

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Danse Macabre: Four – The Outsider

Alone With The Dead Danse Macabre by Andrea Speed Four – The Outsider Gryphon found himself sitting on a curb, legs splayed out before him on the edge of a city street. He notice stubbed cigarettes in the gutter, crumpled beer cans, a used condom, all the hallmarks of a bad neighborhood or the area in front of a seedy bar. Across the street was the sad sight of a closed down store – what was left of its windows were smashed out; indecipherable graffiti was scrawled on the plywood beneath the frames – but it had a huge cracked parking lot, where discarded fast food wrappers scraped across the asphalt like tumbleweeds. There was a white van in the lot, parked across what had once been one of the traffic lanes, although there was no one else around...

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Danse Macabre: Three – In This Twilight

Alone With The Dead Danse Macabre by Andrea Speed Three – In This Twilight Gryphon faced the girl, aware of a slight white noise hum at the edge of his hearing and a distant feeling that indicated she was a ghost, not a poltergeist. Again, if he knew how these things were decided, he imagined he’d be a very rich man. Or at least one with fewer puzzles making his brain hurt. “Who are you?” She eyed him quite dubiously. “Rita. Are you dead?” “Only partly. Why are you here?” She looked around, blinking at the surroundings as if she’d never quite seen them before. “I was killed, I guess. I don’t know where I am, though. I wasn’t here when … well, last I remember.” “What do you remember?” “I was punched in the head. Or it felt like...

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Danse Macabre: Two – Waking Up With Wolves

Alone With The Dead Danse Macabre by Andrea Speed Two – Waking Up With Wolves “You don’t believe in this, but you want me to find someone anyways?” O’Leary gave him an uncomfortable glare, crossing his arms over his broad chest. “I’m completely fucking desperate, okay? Does that explain things for you?” Gryphon shrugged, sitting back down on the edge of his bed and gesturing for O’Leary to take the chair. He shook his head, turning down the offer to sit. “It helps. So who is it you’re looking for?” He sighed heavily, shoulders sagging. “Approximately ten years ago, a fifteen year old girl, Juliet Saltzman, disappeared while walking home from school. Her backpack was found in a ditch not far from where she was last seen. There was a...

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Danse Macabre: One – Fall To Place

Alone With The Dead Danse Macabre by Andrea Speed One – Fall to Place It was kind of hard to say why, but of all the strange things he had done in his life, this was perhaps the strangest. What? Seriously? Hugh said in his head. Okay, kid, either you haven’t been paying attention, or you’ve lived the most sheltered life in existence, pre-us. I’m votin’ for sheltered, Taneesha said. Me too, Ray agreed. “Would you all stop dog piling on me?” Gryphon snapped, looking out the window at his view. Now there was another concept that would take some getting used to. The whole “ghost hunting” thing with Shane and Clay had been working out surprisingly well. They got some local publicity for the thing they did for the Oregon Historical Society, and...

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Warped: Thirteen – Pain

Warped by Andrea Speed Thirteen – Pain In retrospect, Dar realized that the fact that Khal stabilized so quickly should have been her tip off that something suspicious was going on. After Kvec returned Blue to her tank, he came back for the comatose Khal and carried him back to his room, as no one was sure what else to do with him. The Nyorai simply wasn’t built to take care of injured people, beyond its store of nanites. And poor Kvec got all the shit jobs since he was the strong one that wasn’t squeamish: after taking care of Khal, he was left to drag the bodies of the Tk’Tk’Skree to the airlock so they could be jettisoned out into space. There wasn’t much else they could do with them. In the meantime, she, Gen, and Skr’Takk were debating over...

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Warped: Twelve – Inside Out

Warped by Andrea Speed Twelve – Inside Out He was floating in blissful silence on a serene sea as warm as blood, the song of the Reds reverberating through him as they serenaded each other, sending their songs throughout the ocean that made up the majority of the planet. Behind the lids of his eyes the colors didn’t so much flash as kaleidoscope, one melding into another, the feelings weaving in and out into one melodious song of color. He could feel the tentacles of the tribe on his body, the tips just skating along the surface of his skin, letting their communication smooth over the rough spots in his mind. Khal felt a warm kind of peace, a pooling in the hollow beneath his collarbone, and he wished he could transform, become cartilage and tentacles,...

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Warped: Eleven – Mind Fields

Warped by Andrea Speed Eleven – Mind Fields Sometimes even when you had all the data, it wasn’t enough to help you make sense of things. She had the medical scanners trained on Khal the whole time, and everything they were reporting was, to Dar’s eyes, gibberish. He was having some kind of massive brain seizure, especially concentrated in the areas of the brain which were the “empathy” centers. She had lots of brain energy patterns stored in the database, all personalized for Khal and his unusual brain … and none of them came even close to matching. When things stopped, they almost stopped dead, as if a sudden downpour had given way to an eerie, dry calm. Khal, who was already on his knees, stopped screaming and keeled over, hitting the deck face...

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Warped: Ten – Emotional Rescue

Warped by Andrea Speed Ten – Emotional Rescue The pain in his head was so great he wanted to find a drill and put a new hole in his head, preferably in his right temple, and just drain the pain out. Let out the pressure in a wave of blood and brain matter, ease it to a more tolerable level. Of course Khal wasn’t so gone that he didn’t realize that was insane, but it didn’t make him want to do it any less. It hurt – the pain pulsed like a second heart deep inside his cranium, and he just wanted it to stop. If he carved his own skull open, it would stop. Although, if he stopped focusing on it, it would … well, not stop, but lessen slightly. Maybe. He’d come to understand, with increased close proximity exposure to Skr’Takk, that the strange...

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Warped: Nine – Bug Bomb

Warped by Andrea Speed Nine – Bug Bomb First contact situations were always tricky things. But they got infinitely trickier when the alien you were meeting seemed to think they had met you before … and didn’t like you. Vani felt she had an advantage over everyone here, since she had worked in the MoSys bureaucracy for ten years, and knew the first contact protocols. Only there were several problems: she was never a member of the Diplomatic Corps, so the finer details of it all were lost on her; her Negotiator was a half-sane drug addict, and about as stable as a shuttle with a single working thruster; this race claimed to have met them before and hate them, which was never covered in any of the Protocols she saw; and there was the problem that she worked...

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Warped: Eight – Entomophobia

Warped by Andrea Speed Eight – Entomophobia After discovering blood, no one was actually anxious to enter the station, except for Vani, who went ahead and triggered the inner airlock door. Khal was happy to try and anchor on to her emotional state, as Syshahi just weren’t very emotional ever. It was good, because everybody was freaking; even Kvec was starting to panic, which was weird and unsettling. But finding blood inside an airlock in a strange place – after watching an entire ship get sucked in on itself – was a naturally freaky thing. He was pretty sure he was panicking too, his heart was racing laps around his chest, occasionally kicking at his ribcage like it wanted out. Khal didn’t blame it; out seemed like an ideal place to...

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Warped: Seven – So, Who Are The Proctologists Of This Galaxy?

Warped by Andrea Speed Seven – So, Who Are The Proctologists Of This Galaxy? The coordinates for the area technically didn’t exist, which seemed to be more a theoretical problem than a practical one. Of course the area existed. But it was just beyond what was considered a properly mapped area, so in official techno-speak, it was a “potential territory”, not yet exploited by the system or mass marketers. But on the good chance that that would encourage people to go looking around before they could stake a claim, these “potential territories” were usually flagged as dangerous for some reason. This one actually had a couple of good reasons to be flagged dangerous: it was the home of a blue giant star – lots of radiation, intense heat – and...

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Warped: Six – Gravity

Warped by Andrea Speed Six – Gravity It should have been comforting that he couldn’t sense anyone beyond his team, but it wasn’t. Khal couldn’t shake the feeling that everything here was wrong, beyond the fact that they seemed to be looking at the aftermath of a slaughter. This was all set up so incorrectly he would have thought it was a frame job, only that didn’t really make sense either. For what? And who would do this anyways? MoSys was the governmental version of a sexually transmitted flesh eating disease, but they didn’t kill people without some sort of reason, no matter how meager. The emotions from the others were crowding him, but he did his best to focus on Dar, who was simply feeling curiosity. Gen seemed to be secretly convinced they...

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Warped: Five – You First

Warped by Andrea Speed Five – You First He hated EVA suits.Oh sure, technically they were just a ring of smart metal you snapped around your waist and activated, and it did all the work for you. But it felt slick inside, slimy, like a whole bunch of tiny, damp snakes were using him as a personal waterslide. Disgusting. But Gen knew he really didn’t have a choice in the matter. It wasn’t like he could just walk out the airlock without any protection at all. But while the metal grew along his body, becoming translucent at the top so he could actually see where the fuck he was going, he grumbled, “Dar’s gone crazy, hasn’t she? She’s out of her fucking mind.” “Wouldn’t you be if you had ta babysit a buncha losers?” Bruno replied...

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Warped: Four – Fear of a Black Planet

Warped by Andrea Speed Four – Fear of a Black Planet Much like the Cryers, MoSys had released little information on the gates. In fact, it was a capitol crime to release any less than generic information about the gates, as they were copyrighted and intellectually protected to the point where anybody who ever repaired anything on the gate was subject to mind wiping straight afterward. It’s possible the gates were created by someone in MoSys R& D, who was promptly made to forget they weren’t getting paid royalties for it. Talk about saving money. But the prevalent rumor was this was salvaged alien technology, and it was easy to believe, namely since they’d been around as far as Dar could remember. Not that that was all that long – in a...

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Warped: Three – The Third Sex

Warped by Andrea Speed Three – The Third Sex The entire problem with the universe was it was full of people.They were everywhere, clinging to every rocky outpost nowhere garbage planet, to little ships and decrepit old space stations little better than tin cans. The universe would be a much better place if there were fewer of them – or so Gen honestly thought. As long as they skipped him (or her, whatever the case was at the time). And why had he cast his lot with these losers? It was so many months ago, he could hardly remember. It was just an impulsive decision, a desire to get away from the rehab facility as fast and as soon as possible, and the Nyorai was the only ride out. She had no way of knowing (and he was a she at the time) the class of...

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Warped: Two – The Silence of the Meatbags

Warped by Andrea Speed Two – The Silence of the Meatbags What Kvec didn’t get about the meatbags was the silent hatred. Why didn’t they just say “fuck off” or whatever? Why the stewing? They had so many words at their disposal, so why didn’t they use them? The Nyorai didn’t land; if someone saw the ship, they’d report it for not having a proper beacon, if they didn’t recognize it on sight. So they’d gone down in a shuttle, and now, on their way back, Gen was alone in piloting it. Not that it was that difficult to pilot a shuttle, it was mostly automated anyways, and Dar could always link up to it remotely and fly it if need be. Kvec couldn’t sit up in the pilot or co-pilot seats, as they were made for smaller humanoids, and he knew he’d...

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Warped: One – In Space, No One Can Hear You Complain

Warped by Andrea Speed One – In Space, No One Can Hear You Complain You knew it was a seedy dive when they had a “lost and found” box full of hands just behind the bar. You’d think the cybernetic ones would have some kind of identification chip in them, but perhaps not – perhaps they were bootlegs, or illegally modified. As for the organic ones, those might be harder to trace. The Ignig one was suspended next to the holographic painting, which was now displaying a waterscape that moved with such metronomic precision he was sure he was getting seasick just watching it. The Ignig would never come back for the lost hand, as they could regenerate almost all their lost appendages, which is probably why it was encased in liquid plasticine and hung up...

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Zero Hour: Ten – You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison

Troubleshooter Zero Hour by Andrea Speed Ten – You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison Shan looked a bit shaken after returning from the men’s room, but he just looked at her and nodded, the sign that everything was done. While he had been gone, she’d already snapped some great pictures, including Romano subtly sliding cash to Blunt across the table, trying to buy some of Kristal’s time. Very cute – and wonderfully incriminating. Since she had enough shots, and Shan looked fragile, she figured she should call it. She pulled out her cell phone, punched up the pre-programmed number, and when someone answered, said, “Looks like the party’s over. Wanna pick us up?” After a moment, a voice replied, “On my way.” And that was the...

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Zero Hour: Nine – CandyGram For Mongo

Troubleshooter Zero Hour by Andrea Speed Nine – CandyGram For Mongo The weakest link in the entire plan was in fact the most important player. Wasn’t that always the way?After Anton – still nervous, but professional all the way – left, she called Jody’s place to check up on her and make sure she remembered what she was supposed to do. Jody was hung over and grumpy as hell, and not all that sure about what happened last night and what this was all about. She kept calling her a “cop”, and after the third time, Z stopped correcting her. So what if she thought they were cops? As long as she did her job, who cared? It was all set up for tonight. Jody would meet with her number one fan, and set up a meeting between her and her “manager”....

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Zero Hour: Eight – Spasmolytic

Troubleshooter Zero Hour by Andrea Speed Eight – Spasmolytic Was there anything more fun than spending an evening in a Tim Horton’s with a slightly stoned stripper? If there was, she didn’t want to know about it. Seriously, she didn’t. Coffee just made a drunk person more alert, contrary to mythology – it didn’t sober them up. So she didn’t expect good things from combining a moccahino with whatever pills Jody/Kristal was currently on. She sat across the small plastic table from her, so Shan was closest, although out of the direct line of fire in case she projectile vomited. Jody was loopy and just barely conscious half the time, but this made her far more malleable. She easily agreed to what they wanted her to do, even though they had to...

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Zero Hour: Seven – Somebody to Shove

Troubleshooter Zero Hour by Andrea Speed Seven – Somebody to Shove We have to get out of here,” she told him quietly, keeping her head ducked down like she was looking for a crumb on the wood grain table. Shan looked around, but carefully, trying not to seem too suspicious. “Why? What’s wrong?” “There’s a guy in here who can’t see me. He’ll recognize me and blow the whole deal.” He looked around again, but let his eyes settle on the jailbait twirling around the pole. “Who? Somebody from Vancouver?” “Something like that. I’m sick, and you have to help me outta here.” “Huh?” She glared up at him through her reading glasses, which distorted his face ever so slightly. “My cover story, why you have to get me out of the club now....

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Zero Hour: Six – Yawning or Snarling

Troubleshooter Zero Hour by Andrea Speed Six – Yawning or Snarling Shan was staring, so she grabbed the back of his head and turned his face away before they could notice. “Don’t do that,” she whispered harshly. “What the fuck are we going to do?” he whispered back, starting to look slightly panicked. “We are going to finish our drinks with due haste, and move on to Spank. He’ll probably be here a while, soaking up the atmosphere.” That last bit was sarcastic, and she wasn’t sure if he got it or not, because he was resolutely looking down into his drink, and pretending – badly – not to be nervous. Suddenly he looked at her, eyes narrowing in suspicion. “In due haste? Who in the hell ever says that?” Oh great. He could forget...

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Zero Hour: Five – Not Was

Troubleshooter Zero Hour by Andrea Speed Five – Not Was Inside the smallest bag was a bunch of money, small non-sequential bills gathered into stacks by rubber bands, and a relatively thick portfolio. Shan was too busy looking at the cash to notice the folder. “Whoa,” he said, looking like he wanted to touch it but didn’t dare. “I thought suitcases full of money only existed in movies.” “Don’t be too impressed, there’s a lot of singles in there. It’s just a partial payment of our fee. We’ll get the rest once we complete our objective.” Shan looked at her suspiciously. “Exactly what fee did you quote him?” That made her smirk. Head injury or not, he could catch on quick sometimes. “A special job requires special...

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Zero Hour: Four – The Masochism Tango

Troubleshooter Zero Hour by Andrea Speed Four – The Masochism Tango She should have known that Frost’s wicked sense of humor would come back to bite her on the ass. As soon as Shan felt ready to venture out, they went back to her place to intercept the messenger who’d be returning with their new i.d.‘s, and she sent him to talk to Ms. Gordon down the hall, as the old lady had an obvious crush on Shan (older women loved him – she enjoyed teasing him about that), and she figured she’d take good care of Satan while she was gone. Of course, Shan would probably tell her the cat was named Satin, but that was okay; Satan couldn’t correct her. The courier arrived while he was still gone, and she got the first look at their new identities. Shan was...

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Zero Hour: Three – How Not To Be Seen

Troubleshooter Zero Hour by Andrea Speed Three – How Not To Be Seen She went home and found two recent pictures of her and Shan. Shan was easy to get a photo of, but she avoided cameras as a matter of practicality. Still, she always had one around, just for fake identification purposes. It was always good to have some handy, especially if you needed to change identities in a hurry. She messengered them over to Frost’s hotel, then headed out, driving up to Kamloops, mainly because no one knew her in Kamloops. There she hit the first relatively clean looking strip mall, and had her hair cut in a cheap chain store. She just told the woman she got that she wanted it short, style didn’t matter, and the woman did just that. People often looked a lot like...

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Zero Hour: Two – My Dinner With Seaborg

Troubleshooter Zero Hour by Andrea Speed Two – My Dinner With Seaborg She gave him a skeptical look, folding her hands on top of the file. “I’m not a hit woman. And if I was, I’d charge a hell of a lot more.” “Don’t misunderstand me … what do I call you now?” She shrugged, not sure it mattered. “What do you want to call me? Zed’s fine.” That made him quirk a bushy eyebrow at her, amused and annoyed. “So you go by letters of the alphabet now? That’s … unusual.” “Names don’t mean as much as people think they do. Some of us are never happy with them.” “And some of us are deliberately freaky.” He sat back in his chair with a sigh, and told her, “I’m not asking you to cancel him. What I’m asking you to do is...

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Zero Hour: One – Faithless

Troubleshooter Zero Hour by Andrea Speed One – Faithless Algiers, Algeria – Five Years Ago She didn’t think there were any dead ends around here, and yet she stumbled into one. It figured. Her leg kept wanting to give way, and no amount of willpower was making it obedient. It hurt like fuck, and the fact that was a very large piece of glass still sticking out the side, just an inch and a half below her knee, was only part of the problem. Blood had pooled inside her boots and made a telltale squishing noise as she limped along, while her ribs seemed to grind inside her chest, poking her skin from the inside. At least two broken, as far as she could tell; maybe more, and she could feel blood dripping from her nose like hot snot. But the absolutely...

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Memento Mori: Fourteen – Exit Music From a Film

Alone With the Dead: Memento Mori by Andrea Speed Fourteen – Exit Music From a Film He decided to feign ignorance of Serenity Acres just to see how far it would take him. As it turned out, not very far at all. It didn’t take a genius to figure out he’d gone out to the place he’d asked about earlier in the evening. Not only that, but apparently curiosity got the better of Clay. “After we heard about it – the official statement seems to be a transient accidentally burned it down while squatting in the place, killing himself. Which didn’t make sense, because nobody would go all the way out there to squat, or do anything – nobody hangs around there. It feels off.” Clay’s eyes took on a suspicious glitter, almost amused. “Well, if you...

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Memento Mori: Thirteen – Gravity Gets Things Done

Alone With the Dead: Memento Mori by Andrea Speed Thirteen – Gravity Gets Things Done The ocean was blue-gray, a darker color than the azure sky, which seemed to go on for forever, barely broken up by a smattering of high clouds that looked like a torn layer of cotton gauze. The water lapped gently at the golden shore, splashing down and retreating once more, only to do it again. Gryphon supposed it was pretty, but then again, he supposed it was also the epitome of futility, nature’s version of Sisyphus. In that case, it was a perfect representation of him, wasn’t it? What the hell had he been doing with his life since the dead pulled him back from the brink? He’d been their taxi service, their conduit for revenge, and nothing more. Shouldn’t he...

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Memento Mori: Twelve – Dead By Dawn

Alone With the Dead: Memento Mori by Andrea Speed Twelve – Dead By Dawn It was always odd to be in the back seat of his own mind, watching as others took him over and made his body do things he never commanded it to do, but in this case he was glad. Hugh would probably think he was a big old pussy, but he hated fire; he especially hated when there was a lot of it where it shouldn’t be. Being surrounded by it was enough to bring on a panic attack … if his body was responding to him. Right now, it wasn’t. Right now, he could see Louis looking around in abject shock as the fire licked up the walls, spreading like a living stain, clinging to the ceiling as if in violation of physics, but perhaps the most shocking thing to Louis was that he wasn’t...

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Memento Mori: Eleven – Don’t Save Us From The Flames

Alone With the Dead: Memento Mori by Andrea Speed Eleven – Don’t Save Us From The Flames According to Dante, there were nine levels of hell, which each one very specific in its punishments and the rules for those who would dwell there. Of course he was a fiction writer with a strong sense of Catholicism and an infatuation with a pre-pubescent girl, and Gryphon didn’t believe in any sort of afterlife like heaven or hell – some kind of fabulous or terrifying kingdom where you got to frolic with angels or get anally probed by imps – as it was such fairy tale bullshit he couldn’t believe anyone in their right mind bought for it a second. Still, he did believe there could be types of hell, such as the things Human beings did to one another,...

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Memento Mori: Ten – Wake Up The Dead

Alone With the Dead: Memento Mori by Andrea Speed Ten – Wake Up The Dead Clay did have an answer, as he expected, and he told Shane and Clay he wanted to go there tomorrow. He was lying, of course, but they weren’t to know that. After he got all the information he needed, he asked to be taken back to his motel, as he claimed to be completely shagged out after the whole Laurel Stanhope thing, and subsequent interrogation. No one disbelieved him; the pity was almost palpable. But of course it was a crock of shit. He went back to his room to have a piss, and dig out the money he had hidden in his duffle bag before heading out to the Buick. You can’t possibly be serious, Mr. Aronofsky insisted. “Would you stop saying that? I am. I’m not waiting for this...

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Memento Mori: Nine – Fight the Power

Alone With the Dead: Memento Mori by Andrea Speed Nine – Fight the Power Gryphon noticed something that Ruby hadn’t, or at least that she hadn’t commented on. When the two way mirror fell away, the cops monitoring in the other room jumped up, some reaching instinctively for their weapons, but there were two people standing at the back of the room, looking on in mute horror: Kevin and Rachel. The cops in the now exposed room pulled their service weapons, and Romano barked, “Sit down, now, and stop … whatever the hell you’re doing.” That was when the funniest thing happened: Rachel stood up for him. “You can’t talk to him like. He hasn’t done anything.” Everybody, even Ruby, looked at her in general disbelief. Romano’s blocky shoulders...

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Memento Mori: Eight – Freak Show

Alone With the Dead: Memento Mori by Andrea Speed Eight – Freak Show Gryphon stared at the woman (Laurel; her name was Laurel Stanhope), pretending he didn’t know what she was talking about, but of course he knew. He didn’t want to know, but it was hard to deny. “He did this to you?” “We were the first. He didn’t know what he was doing, but he knows now. He’s coming back. He’s ready this time.” “Ready? For what? To do what?” “Gryphon? Clay said, and touched his shoulder. For some reason, that did it. This fragile reality shattered; whatever the rapport between him and the angry dead were, it just ceased to exist when other people tried to barge into it, and he felt the backlash like a physical thing. It seemed to hit him square in the...

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Memento Mori: Seven – Passive

Alone With the Dead: Memento Mori by Andrea Speed Seven – Passive The first appointment of the evening took them to a pre-fab house at the end of a cul-de-sac in a Portland suburb, right where it slowly gave way to the rural. In the cul-de-sac were perfect lawns and cookie cutter houses, and just beyond it, as if there was some invisible demarcation line, were wide fields and spiky tangles of blackberry bushes, the smell of cow shit faint but quite prevalent in the air when the breeze changed direction. Shane warned him they would refer to him as a “psychic”, as that was the term more people were familiar with – in a supernatural sense – than “agent”, and Gryphon honestly didn’t care. They could call him Patsy the Dog Faced Boy as long...

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Memento Mori: Six – Three Libras

Alone With the Dead: Memento Mori by Andrea Speed Six – Three Libras He actually thought he might make it out. Considering how his life had been running lately, Gryphon had no idea why. It seemed overly optimistic.They were passing by the emergency room, heading towards the lobby where patients in various states of need and impatience sat in hard plastic chairs, when he sensed someone, too late for him to tell Clay to choose another exit. The emergency room’s sickly green and white coloring gave way to a cozy bookshop, the warm white lighting bouncing off shelves of polished mahogany, where books overflowed the shelves in a manner suggesting planned chaos. It was a way to be orderly without actually appearing that way, the devious work of a store owner who...

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Memento Mori: Five – You’d Prefer an Astronaut

Alone With the Dead: Memento Mori by Andrea Speed Five – You’d Prefer an Astronaut The people in the doorway were not ones he expected: they were Shane and Clay, a/k/a Larry and Curly. As usual, it was the hangdog Shane who spoke first. “Uh, hope we’re not disturbing you, Gryphon. We just got to the Red Dog when they were takin’ you away, and -” “No, great, I’m glad you came,” he told them, frantically looking at the i.v. tubes in his arms, trying to figure out how to remove them. Were those really needles under his skin? How could he remove them without bleeding all over the place? Was that the point? “I really need to get out of here.” Don’t do this, Mr. Aronfosky insisted. You’re honestly ill. I told you he has death wish, Hugh...

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Memento Mori: Four – One Armed Scissor

Alone With the Dead: Memento Mori by Andrea Speed Four – One Armed Scissor They were right behind him, and he couldn’t get away.A house materialized in front of him, and Gryphon hastily scrambled up the front porch, yanking open the old door so hard he almost tore it off its hinges. Once inside he slammed it hard, throwing all the bolts and locks, leaning against it in hopes of holding them back. Their steps thudded on the hollow porch, sounding like a rain of boulders, and it seemed like there were hundreds of them after him, thousands. He heard scrabbling beneath the floorboards, skeletal fingers clawing the wood, and he backed up across the empty front room, looking down warily. Sharp, loud booms made him jump, heart leaping up his throat in return,...

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Memento Mori: Three – It’s a Shame About Ray

Alone With the Dead: Memento Mori by Andrea Speed Three – It’s a Shame About Ray The Red Dog was a rather seedy looking all night diner, its neon limbed red sign highlighted by a blue neon clock that you couldn’t actually read until you were in about twenty feet of it. Even then, Gryphon didn’t dare look, as he was afraid to see at what point it would stop. The inside of the diner wasn’t very crowded, with just a few scattered patrons, the décor retro-kitsch under somewhat harsh fluorescents. Formica the color of a smoker’s teeth covered the front counter and the tables in the booths, while red vinyl covered stools and seats with brushed aluminum frames, giving the place some desperately needed color. It smelled strongly of boiled coffee and...

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Memento Mori: Two – I’m With Stupid

 Alone With the Dead: Memento Mori by Andrea Speed Two – I’m With Stupid Gryphon stared back at the man, who looked between the device in his hands and his face with increasing alarm. “What the hell …” The guy at the table, who was leaner and shorter than the other man, held up something that looked like a small portable microphone, and said, “Yeah, we’ve got a definite temperature drop in here, and the ion counter is goin’ nuts over. I think we got more than one …” “What is that thing?” Gryphon asked the guy in front of him. He had ginger colored hair and a matching goatee, making him look like a logger who had embraced the grunge movement and never looked back. The man looked at him once more, and his hazel eyes were wide with...

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Memento Mori: One – Psychopomp and Circumstances

Alone With the Dead: Memento Mori by Andrea Speed One – Psychopomp and Circumstances The first night into his trip, Gryphon realized it was hurricane season in Florida.He was in a bar where they inexplicably had the Weather Channel on the t.v. over the bar, even though the weather outside was pretty typical. But some guy with bad hair and an unfortunate jacket was talking about how Florida hadn’t finished cleaning up from the last hurricane, yet there was another one coming in. It was mutually decided that they would wait until hurricane season was over before going to Florida. Mr. Aronofsky had spent most of his life in Philadelphia, and had no desire to experience a hurricane, and Gryph wasn’t thrilled with the prospect either. He could just imagine...

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Jingle Hell – A Christmas Horror Story

Disclaimer: This is a nasty and disturbed piece of work. If you are disturbed by graphic violence involving beloved Christmas characters, don’t read it. Go read something nice instead. The writer nor the site is responsible for any emotional or mental distress if you read it anyways. (No, the baby Jesus doesn’t kill anyone … that’s the next story, Manger Massacre.) JINGLE HELL The good thing about a hard frost was he didn’t have to worry about dogs digging up the body.It wasn’t that the ground was all that hard, although it could be, especially in the area around the old septic tank, where liquid waste had permeated the ground and made it a swampy, smelly morass during all but the driest days of the year. No, it was the lack of smell...

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Countdown to Zero: Nine – Fade in a Day

TROUBLESHOOTER: Countdown to Zero by Andrea Speed Nine – Fade in a Day She called the police from a public phone several blocks away, disguising her voice and just saying she heard gunshots coming from the Cat Club. When the 911 operator asked for more information, she simply hung up. They would show up or they wouldn’t; either way, it was probably done. She took Shan back to her place, even though it was unlikely the Triad had any interest in cleaning up Fixer’s fuck ups – it just seemed safer, and besides, Shan really didn’t want to go back to his place at the moment. Z realized how truly misanthropic she had become when she realized that it felt weird and wrong to have someone else in her place, even if it was Shan. At least Satan seemed to...

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Countdown to Zero: Eight – Goodbye Sober Day

TROUBLESHOOTER: Countdown to Zero by Andrea Speed Eight – Goodbye Sober Day The good thing about knowing a bouncer wasn’t just that he knew other bouncers, it was that he also knew a lot of bartenders. In spite of the shifts in society, and the shift in the job, people still talked a lot to bartenders, especially the ones who worked until last call. They were like priests, only there was less chance that they would molest you, especially if you were underage. Shan knew this bartender named Malik who worked a real dive called Charlie’s, the type of place where the scum of the earth circled the drain before being actually flushed away. As a result, he was connected to most of the questionable activities in the city, and knew the perfect guy for them:...

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Countdown to Zero: Seven – Digging the Grave

TROUBLESHOOTER: Countdown to Zero by Andrea Speed Seven – Digging the Grave “Why are we all gonna die?” Z asked wearily, hoping he’d finally say something of value.He scoffed, or possibly choked. Seriously, having all that blood run down your throat wasn’t pleasant. “You know why. We were supposed to get the stuff to ‘em by midnight. Maybe the boss can put ‘em off for a while, but nobody fucks with those guys and lives to tell about it.” Now that she knew he was just a junkie lackey, it was easy to interpret his vague language: “the stuff” was drugs, and the “boss” was a dealer, although obviously not a dealer powerful enough to be on his own. The “guys” had to be suppliers, or just bigger dealers that the “boss” wanted to...

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Countdown to Zero: Six – Breaking the Broken

TROUBLESHOOTER: Countdown to Zero by Andrea Speed Six – Breaking the BrokenSometimes playing dumb was the smartest thing you could do. Z dug out her old apartment keys – she’d never gotten rid of the damn things, mainly because she thought they might be useful in keying someone’s car or breaking off in a lock. Now they had another, more active purpose. “Shit!” She exclaimed, then lobbed them over the side of the railing. They hit the courtyard below with a metallic jingle, and she raced down the stairs, cursing quietly under her breath. By the time she hit the ground level, the beaten man looked at her suspiciously, hand hovering near his coat pocket. “Dude, seen my keys?” She asked. He stared through her, as if not comprehending what she...

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Countdown to Zero: Five – Manifest Destiny

TROUBLESHOOTER: Countdown to Zero by Andrea Speed Five – Manifest Density By the time they returned to Shan’s place, the cops had already cleared off, although Gilbert’s apartment was sealed off with police tape. Z stopped by the mailboxes on the inner side of the apartment building to see if she could get a full name, and it paid off: Bennett Gilbert. Now she had two names to run. Once inside his cramped but oddly neat (for a bachelor) place, he said, “So, can I offer you a drink? I have … uh, shit, I don’t know what I have. Lemme check.” “Am I right to guess you want me to stick around?” She sat on the arm of his couch, and looked up at the off white ceiling. Was Gilbert directly overhead? If there was someone in the apartment, she could...

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Countdown to Zero: Four – Territorial Pissings

TROUBLESHOOTER: Countdown to Zero by Andrea Speed Four – Territorial Pissings When they came in, they interrupted a conversation Shan was having with a lean Asian cop, Major’s partner. “ … so small, whenever he went out on the ice, me or LeClare went with him,” Shan was saying. “We were the enforcers.” He looked up, and when he saw it was her, he smiled, “Z! I was wondering where you were.” “Late case,” she said, a vague explanation he knew he’d be content with. The room was small and claustrophobic, nearly filled up by the presence of a cheap metal desk and matching file cabinet, not to mention the two chairs crammed in, and the ill advised fake rubber plant sitting in the far corner. Because Shan and the cop were sitting in the only...

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Countdown to Zero: Three – Enter, Chased By A Bear

TROUBLESHOOTER: Countdown to Zero by Andrea Speed Three – Enter, Chased By A Bear Z hated corporate espionage cases. She especially hated ones where she had to pretend to be a temp. Pretending to be a janitor was much more preferable, as no one in an office ever gave them a second glance. Office peons felt superior to the clean up crew, just like the CEO felt superior to all his workers. It was a nice little tree of ever grown contempt, from the janitors on the bottom to the corporate board at the very top, and everybody hated those above and below them in equal measure. At least it was the class system in action. The client assumed she’d go in as a temp, but she went ahead and pulled out the right colored jumpsuit and pretended to be on the janitorial...

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Countdown to Zero: Two – Optimistic

TROUBLESHOOTER: Countdown to Zero by Andrea Speed Two – Optimistic It was a weird looking bomb. Wasn’t it supposed to have some kind of explosive on it? Well, maybe it did; maybe those canisters were full of plastique or something. Maybe it wasn’t even a real bomb, just something that kind of looked like one. He dialed 911, glad that Canada had that too, and turned on the taps full blast, putting the plug in the sink. What the hell was he doing? Sometimes his mind was even a mystery to him. Even if he picked this guy up and managed not to accidentally kill him while doing so, they wouldn’t get far in the time they had left. And what about the other people in the apartment building? Not to mention all his stuff was downstairs, and he didn’t want to...

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Countdown to Zero: One – Bring on the Flying Monkeys

TROUBLESHOOTER: Countdown to Zero by Andrea Speed One – Bring on the Flying Monkeys He should have known something was wrong the instant he realized his neighbor was blasting Elton John. No one blasted Elton John. Maybe in the ‘70’s, but not nowadays. It was like blasting elevator music, or the “soft rock” they played in the dentist’s office – not only was it not done, it was just fundamentally wrong. Still, Shan basically ignored it as he let himself in his apartment and threw his gear on the couch. He flipped on the light and kicked the door shut as he took his small bag of groceries into his “kitchenette”, which actually seemed to share an awful lot of space with his living room. Not that it mattered; the place was small –...

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Alone With the Dead: One – Rid of Me

It was always disconcerting to wake up and find yourself killing someone. Well, it really wasn’t him doing the killing. Gryphon didn’t even know who this man was, even as he saw his fist blacken his other eye. It took him a moment, but as soon as he heard the voice — his, but not his; too deep, and with an accent even he couldn’t identify (but Taneesha had pegged as “South Side Chicago”, and he had no reason to disbelieve her) — he knew what was going on. “Come on, Frank, make me laugh! Beg forgiveness!” the late Officer Stephen Campbell shouted, grabbing his former partner by the throat and hauling him up to his knees. Steve had taken over his body while he was sleeping. Steve was actually his newest “passenger,” but also his most...

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Troubleshooter – Nine

TROUBLESHOOTER by Andrea Speed Nine “Why are you smiling?” Hilda asked, clearly annoyed. “This isn’t a laughing matter.” “When you get down to it, what is?” Z replied breezily, tapping a couple of keys on her laptop keyboard. “But here’s the biggest joke of all.” She turned the laptop around, and then shoved it towards the Osiris woman and her bodyguards. The blonde eyed her warily before edging closer to have a better look at the screen. She squinted down at it for a moment, the blue-white light reflecting in her slightly bloodshot eyes. She scowled at it, then shifted her gaze towards her. “What the fuck is this?” “It’s a usenet site where hackers are known to gather. There are two guys on it right now who cracked your interface,...

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Troubleshooter – Eight

TROUBLESHOOTER by Andrea Speed Eight She laid her windbreaker on the floor and emptied the contents of the briefcase onto it, and it was surprisingly meager, considering how much this stupid thing had ultimately cost. Once that was done, she gathered the coat into a sort of makeshift bag, and put the slightly mangled suitcase back in the slightly mangled locker. Yes, it would be obvious it had been broken into, but she didn’t care – she just didn’t want to be spotted with the briefcase at the moment. Not until she was ready. Once that was done, she tucked the bolt cutter under her arm, grabbed her “bag”, and headed out the back. It was actually an emergency exit, but it wasn’t hooked up to any alarms. She had already told Shan she’d meet him...

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Troubleshooter – Seven

TROUBLESHOOTER by Andrea Speed Seven She heard the gunshots as she shoved Shan back and took dubious shelter behind a parked car, but in the back of her mind she knew they were wrong – those gunshots didn’t sound right. You could do a lot of things to alter a gunshot: mufflers, silencers (which were not silent, but what else could you say?), alterations of the barrel, even holding a throw pillow in front of the muzzle. But judging from the sound, none of those applied. So what the hell was going on here? She didn’t hear any wasp like noise of bullets whizzing past, nor did she hear thuds of impact or breaking glass. It was quite possible that, even at this proximity, he was a supremely shitty shot. Most people were, no matter how many times they...

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Troubleshooter – Six

TROUBLESHOOTER by Andrea Speed Six Ward’s apartment – if that’s what it was – was horribly sterile, all matte finished wood and beige wall to wall carpeting that should have been an executable offense. But if he was dead, perhaps he deserved it. Blondie kept her distance, not wanting to give Z a chance to capitalize on her obvious inexperience at threatening people with a firearm. She looked more like a machete sort of person anyways. Z figured the time here was hers to waste, so she headed over to their beige striped couch (another crime against decoration – if this was Ward’s home, it looked like a dentist’s office waiting room) and casually threw herself down on it, waiting to get the show on the road. “So why the charade?” She...

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Troubleshooter – Five

TROUBLESHOOTER by Andrea Speed Five Could it be this simple? Z stood on the corner of Perry Street, surveying the block. It was the area connecting the business district to the seedier part of town, and it showed. There wasn’t enough room for a full strip mall, but all the constituent parts were there: clothing chain store, doughnut shop, karate center (why were they always next to the doughnut shop? Was someone trying to send a message?), chain hair salon, two competing fast food joints, and – in a deviation from the norm – a self-storage unit. It still had the fake adobe façade of the Mexican restaurant it used to be, with the second story of huge windows and fake brick looking like it was the top of another building. Some nascent fungal growth...

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Troubleshooter – Four

TROUBLESHOOTER by Andrea Speed Four By the time she reached her apartment, her knee had started to hurt. Well, hurt wasn’t really the term – get stiff was more accurate. The old injury in that knee decided to flare up at the worst times, although it did occur to her that maybe if she didn’t use it to break people’s faces so much, it wouldn’t flare up at all. Her apartment was in a building that used to be an old hotel, converted on the outside to look like just another anonymous, crumbling brick apartment block, while on the inside it still looked like a hotel circa 1950. The halls were long and narrow, red carpeted, the doors oak painted white, the ghosts of old room numbers still visible where the whitewash wasn’t that...

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Troubleshooter – Three

TROUBLESHOOTER by Andrea Speed Three “Bryce had a partner? I had no idea,” she responded coolly, not bothering to turn around. She slipped her hand inside her coat, and listened hard, trying to judge his proximity to her by sound alone. It was difficult, especially considering the couple next door, who sounded like they were filming a porno movie. There was a noise behind her, a small “snick”, and she figured he had pulled out his knife. Guns were noisy, but they were also relatively easy to trace via ballistics now – you had to have lots of money, or be extremely smart (or lucky) to use a gun in a murder that was anything but a drive by nowadays. But knives were low tech and ubiquitous, difficult to trace with such exactitude … and preferred by...

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Troubleshooter – Two

TROUBLESHOOTER by Andrea Speed Two Since he’d forgotten to bring a photo of Bryce, she’d asked him to e-mail her one ASAP. He did, just shortly after she’d run scans of his fingerprints (she pulled three good ones and a partial) into her database. Ward sent a head shot, which figured. Bryce looked just like the inoffensively handsome lead of every other sitcom on a major network: he had swept back light brown hair, as firmly in place as a helmet, evenly spaced Delft blue eyes set apart by the best bobbed nose money could buy, and an eighty thousand watt smile that could probably be seen from low earth orbit. She was nearly blinded by the bright white glow coming off his perfect, immaculately bleached teeth. You couldn’t have built a better...

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Troubleshooter – One

TROUBLESHOOTER by Andrea Speed One Fear did have a smell. It varied from person to person, like sweat, but usual was acrid, heavy with ammonia and vaguely reminiscent of piss, but never quite that bad. It could be dismissed as body odor if you didn’t know what you were smelling. But Stark knew. She was more familiar with the scent of fear than she would ever admit. The man who came into her office stank of fear. He looked like the template for every middle manager who had ever existed: average height, pudgy enough that his rounded belly stretched the material of his button down white shirt, complexion unnaturally pale and blotchy from being under artificial lighting far too long. His hair was thinning at the front, both the color and texture of straw, his...

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