Microfiction #writephoto: White death

This short story is for Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt. It is inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales photo prompt which inspired this story.

twilight

June snow filled every hollow. The world was a ghost; fruit hung frozen on the trees. But we’d been here before, no need to panic. Provision had been made and there were enough reserves to get us through. A few days, the weather people said, and the sun would be back, the snow a memory. They were right in a way. About the sun and the snow.

It was Billy, my kid brother, who discovered the real killer. Well, around here, it was Billy. No doubt the world was crawling with scientists who discovered it before and better than Billy, but thanks to him, we suspected something and took precautions. He was fishing in the lake. Broke the film of ice and sat there, wrapped up in his winter coat like a trapper in the frozen north. A bit of cold didn’t bother Billy. What did bother him was what he saw wriggling in the black water. Not fish, nothing he’d ever seen before. He dipped a can in the water and brought some of them home. By the time he got to the house they’d all but disappeared. Like Alka Seltzer, Billy said. All we could see was a mass of filaments like white hairs and they were getting fainter.

“Whatever it was, it’s dissolving,” Dad said and went to pour the water down the sink. Billy stopped him.

“They’re not dissolving,” he said. “They’re getting longer and thinner. Soon we won’t be able to see them, but they’ll still be there. Miles and miles of the fuckers.”

“Billy!” Dad snapped. “Go wash your mouth out!”

Billy might be only a kid, but he’s the smartest one in our family.

“I don’t think we should drink the water any more, Dad. Not until we know what that stuff is.”

So we stocked up on bottled water, a whole lake of it, and eked it out while there were people dying all around us, white tendrils crawling all over them.

The sun’s back now and the snow’s all gone. The government says they’re putting stuff in the water supply to kill off the aliens. But we’re holding on a while longer. There’s snow forecast again next week. Dad’s going into town to the supermarket. Everywhere’s very quiet. Doesn’t seem to be anyone around. There should still be plenty of bottled water left.

 

If you want to know what happens next, read on.

Free books from best-selling author

As you probably all know, since I’ve been shouting about it enough, Finch Books ha been running a promotion on The Pathfinders series. It’s five days since the BookBub feature, which sent the first volume, Abomination, to number one in the US and Australia in Teen Science Fiction and Teen Time Travel and Adventure categories, where Hunger Games and Harry Potter hang out. The glory lasted two whole days before the big boys and girls took the top place back again, but it was a big wonderful experience.

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It has been my theory (not original) that you absolutely have to pay for advertising if you want to sell your book. No matter how good it is, if it isn’t visible, nobody except family and friends will buy it. One of the democratising effects of self-publishing has been to give readers a stupifyingly huge choice of books, available in one click, as they say. How do you wade through 30 million plus books? Short answer—you don’t. You skip through the tiny sample Amazon gives you easy access to.

The whole of The Pathfinders series has been available since last September. The first volume, despite a clutch of excellent reviews, attractive cover and a proper publisher behind it, was lingering in the doldrums, and the sequels hadn’t taken off at all. Finch Books was going through a very rocky and doubtful start, which put marketing on hold. It looks as though the teething problems are over and we’re back with a vengeance.

Advertising put Abomination up there on the front page, and with a bit of luck it will hang about a while among the first pages where it is likely to be noticed by a casual browser. The sequels have started selling too, which is wonderful. Advertising is essential, but reviews are a must too, which brings me to the point of this post. If you have read Abomination and enjoyed it, I’m offering review copies of the second and third volumes. Please get in touch through the contact form with your email address and I’ll send you one (epub or pdf).

Meanwhile, the promotion continues if you’re keen to get into the series.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Aus

Amazon Ca

The Burnt Man

This is a scene from Abomination which just about fits Sacha Black’s writing prompt: Burnt Edges.

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The man with the single, raging red eye and half his face burned away pointed, and the ramshackle barrier of upturned sofas and bed frames burst into flame. Maria Dolores screamed and covered her face, as tribesmen leapt into action, whooping with the pent up excitement of years of captivity, imprisoned by the biting cold and the devastation beyond the fragile walls of the mall.

Knives and bludgeons flailed, cutting down anyone stupid or slow enough to be hanging around in their path—stray children, the last of the old folks. Maria Dolores ripped the holy medal from around her neck and flung it with a stream of high-pitched invective into the flames. There was no hope now. Humanity had fled and He had come to take its place.

Cover reveal: Devastation

You probably already know that writing poetry and pieces of short fiction is not the be all and end all of my existence as a writer. I write novels too. They are unashamedly escapist, with elements of magic, fantasy and mythology, romance and humour, probably because that is how I would like life to be. The characters are young, full of energy, not little plaster saints, opinionated and courageous. I’ve come to like them as if they were not just my spiritual children, but flesh and blood.

The first series, The Green Woman, starts in a miserable, grey dystopia, violent and oppressive. You’d hardly expect it to be like Disney World, would you? It’s the story of Deborah’s journey to find herself, her mother and save the bit of the world that actually wants to be saved from itself. It ends in…well, you have to read the story to find out where it ends. Or if it even does.

The second series, The Pathfinders, is very different. Carla and Tully are caught in the Apocalypse. The story isn’t post-apocalyptic—the world is teetering on the brink waiting for the final act. Wormholes that loop through time and space run through the story like garlands on a Christmas tree but without the joyful connotations. Things travel through the wormholes, and most of them you wouldn’t want to meet, not even if you had a few anti-tank missiles handy.

The first volume, Abomination, was published in March by Finch Books. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. You’ll see why you should be preparing your plan B for the apocalypse right now.

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I have just received the cover art for the second volume, so I’ll post it here. If you thought things couldn’t get any worse than the Abomination, I’m afraid you’re in for a shock. Or maybe just a pleasant surprise. There are people like you, I know.

Devastation

Devastation will be available on early download from June 22. That gives you plenty of time to read Abomination first. If you like having the bejaysus scared out of you, of course. I’ve been told I write good horror stories. If you can stand the pace, you should look into this series.

You can find links, blurbs and extracts from all the novels here, or sign up for news about further publications here.

Microfiction: Augurs

This is a photo I used the other day and the more I look at it the creepier it gets. I’m using it to illustrate a 99 word self-indulgence—my treat for finishing the first round of edits for the last volume of The Pathfinders.

1024px-Cloud-to-ground_lightning2_-_NOAA

Nobody believed the augurs. The ravens flocked and wheeled but eventually flew with their steady, powerful wing beats to a place of safety. Every bird in the city followed in their wake. Every stray cat and every fox slunk into the green refuge beyond the city borders.

Not even when the crimson mouths smiled across the night sky did the people look up from their partying or their solid sleep. No one noticed the blackness that was not cloud boiling up from horizon to horizon. Only when the lips parted and spewed white fiery death did the laughter stop.

For more horrors,  click on the links.

Amazon US

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