Through Thom Tinted Lenses

October 28, 2013

RED RIDER EXCERPT

Filed under: Uncategorized — Thom Reese @ 7:32 pm
Tags: ,

IN THIS POST:

A Quick Introduction

Red Rider Excerpt

What’s Happening with Thom?

 

A quick introduction:

Today, I’m featuring an excerpt from THE RED RIDER by Randall Allen Dunn. Randall is a dear friend and fellow author. We spent many hours together reading each other’s manuscripts, offering feedback and encouragement. This, before either of us managed to get much of anything published. He read some of my early – mostly dreadful – attempts, and gave me feedback on the initial draft of what was to become my first published novel, THE DEMON BAQASH. As you’ll see, Randall loves the action genre. A fan of James Bond, Batman, Star Trek, and Indiana Jones, he’s always looking to instill his work with adventure and infinite possibilities. You can see his work at his website, www.CharacterEnt.com, or contact him atRandall@CharacterEnt.com.  And now, an excerpt from, THE RED RIDER.

 

 

THE RED RIDER

by

Randall Allen Dunn

Copyright 2013 by Randall Allen Dunn

 

EXCERPT:

MY DISCOVERY

CHAPTER 23.

 

I flicked out one of Pierre’s blades and sliced into the side of a pig standing in front of me. It squealed in pain and ran to the other side of the pen.

The wolves jerked their heads toward the commotion as the pigs started to rush back and forth, thumping and sliding against one another. I cut into another one, encouraging their panic. Two wolves sniffed the air, perhaps smelling the flow of animal blood.

I rose, my cloak billowing up from my shoulders as I raised the crossbow. The wolves gaped along with Favreau and his daughter, as I rushed between the pigs to the gate. I kicked up at the top bar, flinging rainwater from it as it flipped open. The pigs spilled out of the pen and darted back and forth across the clearing, slipping and stumbling in terror and confusion.

The wolves continued to stare as I marched out of the pen and fired my crossbow at the nearest brown beast. It fell to the ground hard.

The others snarled and charged, struggling for traction.

“Get inside,” I ordered Favreau.

“Who are you?”

“Get inside!” I stepped sideways, angling to face the next approaching wolf. The others closed in, eyeing me warily. I pulled back twice on the crossbow’s lever, firing one bolt into the first animal’s gut, the other into its paw. My racing pulse had thrown off my aim, but at least I wounded it.

I moved in a curving path between the pigs as they skidded through the muddy grass. The other wolves circled around me, arching their necks to peer over the pigs as they tried to get at me. Between the misty haze and the wild flurry of pigs, I couldn’t tell whether there were three wolves or two. My heart was racing too fast and the pigs were rushing too quickly for me to tell. The wolves ignored Favreau and his daughter, focusing on me as he scuttled her into the house and shut the door. That was all that mattered.

The wolves bared their teeth, dripping with saliva. I registered three of them surrounding me, a gray one to my left, brown to my right, and black behind me. The rain had played tricks on my eyes. What seemed like a perfect hit on the second wolf must have only grazed him.

Two of them charged from either side. I whirled to fire a bolt into the gray one’s stomach as it leaped at me. It spun and rolled aside, howling, while I dropped backward to the ground and planted my elbows in the mud. Then I kicked at a squealing pig as it scurried in front of me and thrust it at the attacking brown wolf.

The startled pig knocked it a short distance away, stopping him for a second. Long enough for me to roll to one side and fire a bolt behind me, into his companion. Then to fire two more into the brown wolf as it bore down on me, dropping it to the puddle-soaked field. I scrambled to my feet. Three bolts left.

The gray wolf struggled to its feet and turned to lunge. I fired once, keeping my final bolts in reserve. It spun to the ground as the black wolf struggled to rise and sprang at me. Another bolt finished it as the gray wolf reared back to lunge again. I tugged back on the lever, sinking my last bolt into its heart.

It fell in a heap and lay still.

I stood in the quiet. Chest heaving in the drizzling rain. Waiting for my pulse and heartbeat to slow, while the remaining pigs squealed and ran in circles through the clearing. My hands shook. I took deep breaths, ordering my arms and shoulders to relax. I reached into my pouch for another round of bolts and started loading them into the top slot, one by one, in case there were more of them.

More of them …

I turned back to the clearing, where the first gray wolf had fallen. The grass there was matted down a little, where the wolf had lain. But it was now gone.

The rain wasn’t playing tricks on my eyes. Four wolves came from the forest, but after I struck down the first one, four wolves remained. Only one of the wolves was gray. The first wolf, the one Favreau shot with his musket. It had risen to join the others and attack me again.

The wolf nearest to me – the one I shot four times – groaned and rolled to its side. Then it rose and shook its head to recover. I watched, crossbow ready, as it studied its wounded paw, from which a bolt still protruded. Two similar bolts remained embedded in its stomach. It lifted the paw to its teeth, bit hard on the bolt, and tugged, nearly dislodging it.

Then the creature set its paw down and reached for the bolt with its other paw. I gaped as it wrapped its claws around the bolt to seize a firm hold, the way a human would – and pulled it out.

It dropped the bloody bolt to the ground and turned to me as I tried to comprehend its impossible feat.

Crimson whinnied from his hiding place in the stable behind me and burst into the clearing. He pounded toward me at full gallop. I grabbed onto his saddle as the wolf’s jaws opened to chomp at my legs. Crimson whisked me away and raced into the woods, as I hung on with one foot in the stirrup. Behind me, three other wolves rose in similar fashion, grinning and showing little signs of the battle.

Crimson knew when to run.

 

WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH THOM?

It’s been a while since I’ve given an update here so I suppose now would be as good a time as any. It’s been a busy year for me in terms of audio dramas. As some of you may know, my wife, Kathy, and I used to produce a weekly audio drama radio program titled, 21st Century Audio Theatre. Two CD sets of audio dramas from the show were released this year and are available in travel centers (such as Travel America) throughout the country. As well, our publisher asked for a three CD set of all-new audio dramas to be released in December. We’re currently in the final week of post production. These are filled with quirky, slightly creepy, stories from me, and fantastic music from my very talented wife, Kathy. They sound awesome!

As well, I’ve just finished work on an expanded version of my novel, THE EMPTY. I’m very excited about this as I’d been forced to subtract material from the book to meet the original publisher’s word count maximum. The new version will be released in spring 2014 and is the story I’d originally intended to tell.

For those of you waiting on the next Huntington novel, it is coming. My progress was slowed due to other projects, but the a new Huntington novel, A SAVAGE DISTANCE, will be released by mid 2014  and, I believe, will prove to be the best of the series – thus far.

 I hope you’ve enjoyed the excerpt from  THE RED RIDER. I’ll be back soon!!

 

Thom Reese is the author of CHASING KELVIN, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS, and THE EMPTY, along with three audio drama Cd sets, SHORT STORY COLLECTION, MARC HUNTINGTON ADVENTURES, and, DANTE’S WIR & OTHER STRANGE TALES. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

Purchase Thom Reese novels at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_10?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=thom+reese&sprefix=thom+reese%2Caps%2C464

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2013 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Copyright 2012 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

Advertisements

February 19, 2013

UNDER THE DOME: THE BOOK & THE SERIES by Thom Reese

CBS has announced Under the Dome, a new television series based on the Stephen King book of the same title. I’m very excited – and a little worried – about this one. At roughly eleven hundred pages, and with a hefty cast of characters, the book offers enough source material to fuel at least three televised seasons, perhaps more if CBS holds to the thirteen episode season utilized in season one. But, before I get into the series, let’s take a quick look at the book itself.

THE BOOK: I’ll be blunt; this novel is easily one of King’s best. Not an easy task thirty odd years into a career. As a writer, and as an avid reader, I find it fascinating that at nearly eleven hundred pages Under the Dome never slows down, never becomes dull, there’s no filler or long sections of description devoid of plot or tension. This is all forward momentum. Every page belongs in the book. True, that is not always the case with King. He’s been known to meander in the midst of a tale. Not here. And despite any minor missteps along his lengthy career, Stephen King is one of the most talented writers of this generation. He would have succeeded no matter what his chosen genre.

THE PLOT: A small town in Maine – Who knew?! – is suddenly and completely isolated from the outside world by an invisible dome. Nothing can get in or out, not even aircraft from above. Bombs explode upon impacting the dome, cars crash into it, the townspeople are trapped. What follows can best be described as Lord of the Flies meets The Stand. Lord of the Flies because we now have an isolated microcosm of society where all of the old rules quickly fall away and anarchy rises. The Stand, because, well, it has that epic King feel. That apocalyptic flavor, those unforgettable and well fleshed out characters. And, as with most of King’s work, it’s the characters that bring the story to realization. King is a master at breathing life into his cast, making them more than just plot devices, but allowing them to breathe, to love, to hurt, to hope. He brings us, the readers, into their souls and then sends us away screaming as the characters encounter horrors beyond any known in the natural world.

THE TELEVISION SERIES: This is an ambitious project. Originally slated for cable network, Showtime, CBS snatched it up as their own. (CBS owns Showtime.) Word is that with the success of cable dramas such as The Walking Dead and Homeland, CBS wanted to get in the game of outside-of-the-box programming. Stephen King is involved as an executive producer, Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment is at the helm. Brian K. Vaughn (Lost) will also serve as an executive producer.  Niels Arden Oplev (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) is slated to direct the first episode. It seems a solid cast is being collected, no household names, but familiar faces with solid track records. (Dean Norris (Breaking Bad) as “Big Jim” Rennie, Mike Vogel (Cloverfield) as Dale Barbara, Britt Robertson (The Secret Circle) as Angie McCain)

The show will launch June 24 on CBS with a thirteen episode season but CBS has already committed to additional seasons – expect a cliffhanger ending in episode thirteen. This is a great opportunity for CBS which is known primarily for crime dramas. My only hope is that the network will give the creative team the latitude needed to make this the spectacular series that it can be. How do they do that? Here are a few thoughts:

Stick to the Book: Yes. I understand that in different mediums there are different rules. Ideas that work on the printed page don’t always translate well on the screen. That said, take a page from the Game of Thrones playbook. The HBO series Game of Thrones is based on George R. R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire book series. The cast is huge, the scope enormous. Everything that happens in the books can in no way be put to screen. Budgetary and practical matters simply make it impossible. That said, Game of Thrones stays true to the source material. Season one was very close to the book, season two a little less so, but, and this is important, it stayed true to the spirit of the books. Some minor changes were made, some characters combined, some plot threads deleted, some added. But in the end, it all came together to tell essentially the same story. There were no major deviations, nothing that would make a diehard fan fret or curse. Under the Dome has fantastic source material, and, far fewer challenges than Game of Thrones which films on three different continents and has a cast as large as some graduating classes. There’s no reason to stray too far.

Do not make it episodic: Broadcast networks have a long history of episodic television. At its core this is fine. This is the structure on which TV was built. It’s what we’ve all known since childhood. Though there might be some longstanding story arches, each episode tells a complete story, with a clear ending right before the credits role. This model has been broken by shows such as Breaking Bad, Homeland, Dexter, The Walking Dead. In these, each episode is more akin to a chapter in a greater work. It allows for much more depth both in plotting and characterization, and is the direction in which quality television is headed. Under the Dome is based on a novel.  It has a wonderful weave of subplots and rich characters. In this, the producers have been handed a gift. I hope they treat it as such.

Keep the seasons short: Broadcast networks usually order about twenty-six episodes per season while cable networks cut that in half. Most of the best dramas on television have twelve or thirteen episode seasons. Stick with what works. I believe the shorter season allows for more attention to be given to each episode. The overall burden is less, the schedule a bit more forgiving. Season one will have only thirteen episodes, my vote is that they stay with this formula.

Keep Stephen King involved: It’s his original work. It’s his original vision. He’s one of the bestselling authors of our time. Keep him close, follow his lead.

As for me, I’ll be watching on June 24. Hopeful, but cautious. This series has great potential. I sincerely hope it attains this.

What’s happening with Thom?

A quick update on my recent activities: I’m writing furiously on my third Huntington novel, tentatively titled, A SAVAGE DISTANCE. It picks up soon after the events of CHASING KELVIN and will be released later this year.

My primary publisher, Speaking Volumes, has announced the release of two CD sets of my audio dramas, one within the next few weeks and the other this summer. These are full-cast, fully produced, modern-day audio dramas with sound effects, original music, and contemporary themes. I wrote and directed each while my talented wife, Kathy, wrote and performed the scores for each episode as well as engineered the project. We co-produced. The first CD set will contain six stand-alone stories, the second will be Marc Huntington Adventures. (The stand-alone stories are found in short story format in my book, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER & MADNESS. The Huntington dramas are streamlined versions of  DEAD MAN’S FIRE and CHASING KELVIN.) These are a lot of fun, I’m very proud of them, and I think you’ll enjoy them. (Okay, yes, I am a bit biased, but I stand by my statement none-the-less!)

Thom Reese is the author of CHASING KELVIN, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATRE. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published for download by Speaking Volumes and two  CD collections of these are set for release in 2012. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

Purchase Thom Reese novels at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_10?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=thom+reese&sprefix=thom+reese%2Caps%2C464

CHECK OUT THE NEW AUDIO DRAMA RELEASES AT:  http://speakingvolumes.us/detail.asp?pid=837

Copyright 2012 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

 

December 11, 2012

THE WALKING DEAD PHENOMENON: What broadcast networks Can Learn from Cable Dramas by Thom Reese

Filed under: entertainment,horror,media,television — Thom Reese @ 9:52 am
Tags: , ,

Most of you know me as an author and a book lover. Which I am. But, at the heart of this is the fact that I’m a lover of stories. I love fiction. I love tales. Drama, whether grounded in worlds real or imagined enthrall me. All this to say that in addition to books, I love stories told on the screen as well. And as such, I’m very excited about some changes in the television landscape.

I love it when something defies all conventions and expectations. Four years ago when I first learned that The Walking Dead – a comic book series about zombies – was to be launched by AMC as a weekly series, I was excited that something this far outside of the box would make it onto the schedule. Everything went against conventional wisdom. Genre television shows as a rule tend to struggle. There have been exceptions through the years. Star Trek the Next Generation was a huge success, though the original Star Trek series struggled through its entire run and was cancelled after three seasons. Dark Shadows was a hit back in the sixties, but it wasn’t until recently with True Blood that another horror television show has truly succeeded. And True Blood’s numbers, while good, are not earth-shattering.

Enter The Walking Dead. A weekly zombie gore-fest based on a comic book series. It’s not just a hit. It’s a phenomenon. The Walking Dead has done something that no cable television show has ever done before. Not The Sopranos. Not Dexter, Breaking Bad, none of them. The Walking Dead is beating its broadcast competition. There’s a common misconception that, as a rule, cable television is beating broadcast television. After all, cable has most of the cool, trendy shows, the water cooler shows that everyone talks about the next day at work. But, in reality, cable numbers are usually well below broadcast numbers. A cable hit such as Dexter or Homeland might land two million viewers where a broadcast episode of NCIS reaches 12-14 million. Part of this stems from the simple fact that nearly every household in the country has access to broadcast TV while only about 70% of households get cable or satellite.

All the more amazing, that The Walking Dead can now boast 15.2 million viewers.

Look at that number again: 15.2 million.

The Walking Dead has done what no other show has done before by becoming the first ever cable television show to beat every other show in the prime 18-49 age demographic.

A zombie show.

Based on a comic book series.

Why?

I believe the answer is quite simple. It’s a quality show.

As are many other cable dramas. The most talked about dramas on television are all aired on cable networks: Breaking Bad, Homeland, Game of Thrones, Dexter, Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Sons of Anarchy.

What do these shows all have in common?

Many people will jump to the obvious differences between broadcast and cable. On cable television there can be more violence. Profanity is allowed as is nudity. But while these things may appeal to many viewers, in truth, they’re only icing. Very few people return to a show week after week just so they can hear profanity, or catch a glimpse of a breast, or see blood and gore. People don’t watch The Walking Dead because of the gore. In fact, many people watch it in spite of the gore. Viewers don’t tune in to Dexter to see dismemberment, or to game of Thrones simply to see the occasional breast.

They come back because these are quality dramas.

So, what’s different about these shows? What separates them from their broadcast counterparts?

First, let’s look at the broadcast drama paradigm. With only a handful of exceptions, broadcast dramas fall into three categories: crime, medical, and legal. Most series are episodic in nature. As in, the story is introduced and brought to conclusion all in the space of a single episode. There might be some lingering plot arcs that carry through a season, but the primary plot line of each episode is closed in forty-two minutes of actual story.

Not so in these quality cable dramas. There is no set paradigm.  These hits are not traditional in nature. These are not variations on CSI or Law and Order. The Mentalist would never be considered by Showtime or HBO. HBO’s Game of Thrones, based on George R. R. Martin’s amazing book series, A Song of Ice and Fire, is a fantasy series – and quite possibly the best series currently on television. Dexter and Breaking Bad both have criminals as their lead characters. Homeland is about terrorism. Mad Men about  an advertising agency.  Sons of Anarchy about bikers.

At common among these programs: Well-developed characters, complex plotting that spreads a single story arc over an entire season or more, and quality acting and production. Game of Thrones is shot on three different continents using real castles and scenery. It looks more like a movie than it does a television show. The Walking Dead has makeup and effects every bit as good as those seen in many horror films. The characters in these shows live and breathe. We, the viewers, want to know what happens to them, how and if they’ll survive.

This brings me back to The Walking Dead. It really isn’t a show about zombies. It’s a show about people. Zombies are the backdrop. It could have just as easily been a post nuclear war setting, an alien invasion, Nazis – anything. The show is about the people. The characters ring true. The viewers come back each week to see if their favorite character survives. And yes, in these quality dramas, central characters can die. It’s not like the broadcast model where everything essentially remains static throughout an entire season with only the season finale to eliminate characters for the next season – the elimination usually having more to do with contract issues than with anything truly plot related. The people in these shows, whether human, alien, hero or villain, are well developed. Characters die or change drastically as a result of events. The scripts are strong, allowing characters to grow and change.

The broadcast networks need to look seriously at the cable drama world. I’m sure there’s quite a bit of head scratching going on in network conference rooms right now. How could a cable zombie show beat us? We’re the major leagues. Who are these upstarts and who do they think they are? But what they need to realize is that now that the viewing public has been exposed to high quality stories in a televised format, they won’t be satisfied with the standard fare. My prediction is that we’ll soon see other cable shows beating their broadcast counterparts. And as this becomes more common, the big four will be forced to adapt. And as they adapt, we’ll see a higher caliber of drama coming to the broadcast airwaves. I look forward to it.

A side note: CBS has announced that it will be producing a television series based on Stephen King’s novel, Under the Dome. Showtime was originally slated to carry the project but CBS snatched it up. (CBS owns Showtime.) My understanding is that the move was made in response to the success of shows such as The Walking Dead. Maybe they’re starting to get the hint. My only hope is that they do the series justice. I loved the book and feel much more comfortable with it in the hands of Showtime than CBS. I hope CBS proves my concern to be unnecessary.

 

Thom Reese is the author of CHASING KELVIN, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATRE. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published for download by Speaking Volumes. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

Purchase Thom Reese novels at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_10?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=thom+reese&sprefix=thom+reese%2Caps%2C464

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2012 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

October 9, 2012

THE EMPTY BY THOM REESE CHAPTERS 1 & 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Thom Reese @ 4:21 am

Part One

The Molts

One

 

1897

Dolnaraq was only eight winters into existence, but knew the

smell of prey. Oh, and he loved prey. Loved the hunt. Loved the

kill. But this prey would be different. This prey would not warm

his belly. His teeth wouldn’t penetrate this flesh. The animal’s

blood would not dribble down his chin and onto his chest. No,

this one was reserved for quite a different purpose, something

nearly divine in scope and meaning. “Do you smell him?” whispered

Dolnaraq as he drew in a long, sweet breath.

Tresset nodded, though the young male wore a curious expression.

“Yes. To the east. Maybe over that next rise.”

“We must be quiet,” whispered Dolnaraq as he moved in the

direction of the scent.

“Dolnaraq,” whispered Tresset. “Are you sure?”

Only two winters Dolnaraq’s senior, Tresset liked to assume

superiority over his younger friend, over any who would let him,

really. He would organize hunting parties with the young of the

pack and direct their movements, deciding who should flank a

beast and who should charge, which of them should scout ahead

and which should ideally strike the killing blow. But this hunt

belonged to Dolnaraq. He’d contemplated it for many weeks, determining

which type of creature to seek, imagining what that

animal might add to him. He’d thought of how proud his father

would be when he first saw Dolnaraq anew. For Dolnaraq would

have done what even his father feared to do. Oh yes, father would

be proud. He also knew his mother would squeal like a baby pig.

But that was what mothers did. She would adjust. She would one

day approve. She would be forced to concede that Dolnaraq was

no longer a pup, but had entered a state of maturity, which deserved

respect and maybe even awe.

Dolnaraq paused, gazing at Tresset. “Am I sure?” he asked

in response to the question posed him.

“It is a major step. One best come to with the counsel of your

father.”

Dolnaraq scoffed. “You never get counsel.” He lifted his head

again, sniffing at the air. “The scent grows weak. We must hunt

before the creature finds its hole.” Dolnaraq moved slowly toward

the small snow-covered rise, and then glanced back at Tresset.

“Do you come or stay? Either way, I go.”

Tresset hesitated for only a moment, then nodded and went

to march past Dolnaraq as if to take the lead.

“No,” said Dolnaraq, holding out his arm to block Tresset’s

way. “This one is mine. I’ll lead.”

Tresset paused, narrowed his eyes, and looked to contemplate

the request. Like all reyaqc, the youth’s eyes were as mother’s

milk, devoid of all color except for the tiny black dot of a pupil

at the center. Even so, this one had a dark intensity in his gaze

that sometimes caused even adult members of the pack to pause.

It went beyond the physical appearance of the eyes to whatever

lay within. Unremarkable, yet anything but, Tresset Bremu was

a strange one. But for all that, in this instance he gave a slow deliberate

nod, allowing his younger companion to pass, taking the

lead in this most precarious hunt.

Dolnaraq sighed within. He was glad the older youth accompanied

him. For all his bluster, this was a frightening thing

he meant to do, and having a companion beside him would bolster

his resolve.

Both youth were accomplished hunters. Their pack was nomadic,

living beyond the confines of the civilized world—of the

human world. Like the prey they fed upon, they moved with the

seasons, for the most part staying well hidden within forested areas.

The land they inhabited was known by humans as Siberia, it

was late in the nineteenth century, though Dolnaraq knew none

of this, nor did he care. He often wondered though, why the pack

did not move further and further south until they’d left this bitter

cold land behind. But Dolnaraq’s father insisted the more

comfortable climes were fully inhabited by humans and that

the reyaqc

should fear unnecessary contact with these similar

but very dangerous people. Humans are a superstitious breed,

and could never understand the needs and drives of the reyaqc.

Dolnaraq did not care for humans. There was a need for

them, yes. The reyaqc would always need to dwell within hunting

distance of their towns and villages. But, nothing more than

that. Just within hunting distance. Dolnaraq despised those reyaqc

who called themselves gypsies, wearing human clothing,

singing human songs, living in traveling caravans that skirted

the borders of human civilizations. Most humans thought these

gypsies strange, often believing them to have occult powers. But

they believed them to be human. The majority of gypsies were

human to be sure, but they often traveled in the same caravans

as their reyaqc cousins. Dolnaraq couldn’t understand why a reyaqc

would feign humanity, no matter how similar in appearance.

Dolnaraq was reyaqc, and he was about to become even more so.

They were over the rise now, gazing down into a small icy

field. Dolnaraq saw it—the fox. His prey. Oh, how that shiny red

coat gleamed. He could imagine that fur covering his own skin.

How silky it must feel. Those eyes, so bright, so intelligent. And

the teeth. Dolnaraq wanted the teeth as his own.

The two young reyaqc were silent, communicating now only

through hand signals. Dolnaraq indicated that Tresset should circle

around to his left. He saw his companion’s expression tighten

at the instruction—Tresset liked giving the orders—but still he

moved accordingly.

Dolnaraq proceeded slowly, never allowing his quarry to

leave his direct line of sight. He was upwind of the fox. The sly

creature would not smell him. All he needed was to remain silent

and invisible. He wondered if the fox would hear his heart beating.

It seemed to be pounding so hard that surly every creature in

the forest would hear its thump. He needed to calm himself. He

knew that. But Dolnaraq had been dreaming of this moment for

so many weeks now. How could he possibly hope to remain calm?

And frightened.

Dolnaraq would never admit this to Tresset, but he was terrified.

Yes, he wanted this—more than anything—but if something

were to happen, if Tresset stepped on a brittle stick and scared

the thing away, well, Dolnaraq would be relieved. He would feel

cheated and relieved at the same time. He’d be angry at Tresset,

but thankful too. This was a huge step, and Dolnaraq wasn’t yet

all that huge.

Stop it, he thought. If he remained this distracted he’d scare

the fox away himself and then Tresset would accuse him of doing

it on purpose.

He was almost there now.

Just a little closer.

Just a little closer.

As Dolnaraq was about to lunge, the fox sensed him and

bolted to the left. But, Tresset was there. It scurried right, but

found Dolnaraq. It slipped under a fallen branch and then into

some low brush, but both of the young reyaqc appeared, cornering

it, driving it into their grasps. Dolnaraq lunged but lost his

footing on a small patch of ice. Still, he caught a fleeting grasp

of the tail, slowing the fox enough for Tresset to snatch it in mid

leap. The creature struggled and snapped, piercing Tresset’s right

earlobe and drawing a surprising amount of blood. It wriggled

and wormed, its sleek legs pumping frantically against Tresset’s

bare thighs, leaving scarlet ribbons across his legs. But still the

young reyaqc pressed the thing close to his chest, using his forearm

and elbow to trap it against his body, while squeezing its

jaws shut with both hands.

“Dolnaraq, hurry! I’ve got him!”

Dolnaraq moved forward, but slowly. Did he really want this?

There was still time. He hadn’t done anything yet.

“Dolnaraq! I can’t hold him forever!”

He had to do this. He had come too far. What would Tresset

say if he backed out now? He would be an outcast. The others

would never respect one who boasted of great things and fled the

very same when opportunity appeared. This was his hunt. His

time. There might be no other.

Dolnaraq moved on instinct alone. Almost mechanically, he

scooted forward on the cold uneven ground, extending his right

hand as if to pet the fox. The frightened creature enhanced its

struggles, bobbing forward and back, whimpering, pedaling its

feet as if running, though Tresset had adjusted so that the paws

now found only air.

“Slowly,” cautioned Tresset. “Not too much. Not too fast.

Once you begin, there’s no need to rush.”

The fox’s hair was slick to the touch, and cold, much colder

than Dolnaraq would have assumed. But his skin was cold too.

The Siberian climate was not a gentle one for any of its many inhabitants.

Dolnaraq’s palm now held the back of the creature’s

neck. The time was at hand yet still Dolnaraq hesitated. Maybe

this wasn’t right for him. Maybe he was too young. Maybe…

The fox broke free of Tresset’s grasp. Dolnaraq’s reaction

was immediate. The bed of tiny pin-like spines emerged from

his palm, penetrating the fox’s neck at the base of the skull. The

connection was made. The world stood still.

Dolnaraq did not feel himself tumbling over as he drew the

fox close to his breast. He didn’t feel the jagged branch slice him

just above his left elbow. He didn’t hear Tresset’s continued warnings

to be slow, to only take a small amount during this first connection.

No, all Dolnaraq knew was the essence of the fox as it

coursed through his shivering form. He felt fire in his veins and

knew that certainly his limbs must be about to burst open. He

heard the echoing chime in his head, bouncing from one side to

10 The Empty

the other behind his eyes, muddling his thoughts, obstructing all

else. He felt his muscles twitch and cramp and felt his stomach

wretch, emptying its sparse contents onto the whimpering and

terrified fox. He felt every fabric of his person stretch and separate

and then pull together, before stretching yet again and again.

He seemed to be twirling around, around, and yet he was certain

that he remained still. He felt Tresset’s pull as his friend sought

to disengage him from the beast, but he clung closer. The fox was

his. The fox was him. He felt the creature swoon, its heartbeat

slow. He felt its breath grow shallow. He knew what this meant.

He knew he had taken too much. He also knew he would never

stop. The fox was him. The fox was him.

Then Dolnaraq knew nothing at all. Only cold, dark nothing.

Two

Dolnaraq awoke two days later, feeling strange—not himself.

His arms jerked when he tried to wipe his eyes, causing him to

strike the side of his own face. Every muscle seemed bound up

in balls. His legs did not want to extend, his stomach was tight

and gurgling. And his vision was strange—somehow the colors

had become less vibrant, the images less true.

“So, you’ve decided to become a molt.” It was his father’s

voice, from somewhere just behind him. The voice was as it always

had been, but the tone was unfamiliar. Dolnaraq couldn’t

tell if it was anger, sorrow, or maybe even disbelief.

A molt? His father had called him a molt. The term referred

to reyaqc who, in addition to drawing essence from humans, drew

from animals as well, shedding some of their more human-like

characteristics in favor of those of the animal. A molt. Yes. The

fox. Dolnaraq vaguely remembered the hunt, the chase, the experience.

Had he done it? Had he been successful? Had he truly

drawn from the fox? He lifted his quivering arm to before his eyes.

Where was the fur? Where was the sleek coat he’d envisioned?

He rolled his head in the direction of his father’s voice. “The

fox?”

His father moved forward. His skin and hair were darker than

Dolnaraq was accustomed to seeing on him. A band of gypsies

had recently settled in the area and many of the pack had drawn

essence from these dark strangers, causing their own tones to

gradually darken as well. “Yes, the fox,” said his father. “It is dead.”

Dead! No. He’d taken too much. When first drawing from

a creature one must proceed slowly, taking small amounts of

essence over several days. If too much is taken and the animal

perishes, then another must be found—another of quite similar

essence. Otherwise the reyaqc may become ill, the two essences

not complementing one another, but rather battling for primacy.

Dolnaraq sought to find his voice. It came in a harsh whisper.

“Dead. But, have I…?”

“Changed? Yes, boy, you’ve changed.” Dolnaraq’s father closed

his eyes, drew a long breath. “Why?”

“To be strong, Father. To be a great hunter.” And then, after

a pause. “To make you proud.”

“Make me proud! How could you imagine this would make

me proud?”

Dolnaraq had no words, no response. His young mind could

not fathom the reasoning behind his father’s question. Of course

the elder reyaqc should be proud. Dolnaraq had shown courage.

He’d taken risk in order to better himself. Why would a father

not be proud?

Dolnaraq watched through unfamiliar eyes as his father drew

closer yet. “Boy, have you never wondered why I have not become

a molt, why so few of our pack have done so?”

Dolnaraq had assumed it was because his father and the others

were too afraid to take such a bold step, but not feeling comfortable

with this response, he remained silent.

“The reasons are many,” began his father when Dolnaraq

failed to respond. “There are risks in the way of the molt.”

“Then, you were afraid,” said Dolnaraq before he could stop

himself from doing so.

“No,” sighed his father. “Not afraid as you see it. The advantages

of animal essence can be either great or minimal. Yes, you

may acquire the hunting skills or the superior sense of hearing

or smell. But you also may degrade your intellect, or you may become

more rash and violent or more skittish and fearful. Your

appearance will change making it more difficult for you to blend

with humans.”

“Why would I want to blend with humans? They stink.”

Dolnaraq’s father offered a momentary grin. “Yes, their odor

can be off-putting. But we need their essence. We need to hunt

among them. Like it or not, we depend on the humans for our

survival.”

“You’re a human lover!” screamed Dolnaraq. He had expected

his father to praise him, to tell him how brave he had been, to say

that he wished he had the same courage as his young son. But,

all he had done was to belittle Dolnaraq, making him feel foolish.

“You’re a human lover and a coward.” Dolnaraq attempted

to rise from the cave floor, but found he was unable to lift himself

from his bed of straw.

His father watched his pathetic struggle for a few moments,

and then said. “No boy, I am neither. The humans are not so despicable

as you might think. And I am neither enthralled by them

nor a coward, as you claim. But neither am I your father. Not any

longer. You may rest here until you’ve regained your strength,

and then you must find dwelling of your own.”

This was the last conversation the two would have, though the

young reyaqc did hear his father weeping in long, guttural sobs

from beyond the cave entrance and long into the night.

 

Dolnaraq found his feet. He was now able to hobble unsteadily

about the cave. His head still ached and his stomach would not yet

tolerate food, but at least he was able to move about. Though, why

he’d want to, he didn’t know. His father had an old, palm-sized

mirror he’d acquired from a human some years prior. Dolnaraq

had taken this and viewed his image. He had changed, yes. But

not as he had hoped. His nose was now dark, but still shaped

as before with no other fox-like characteristic. His left ear was

somewhat elongated and random shoots of red fur protruded

from it. His left eye—though still milky white—had widened in

comparison to his right. And, within his mouth, one long canine

tooth had grown—again, on the left—and protruded stupidly

from between his lips making it impossible for him to shut his

mouth completely. This also caused some difficulty in speech.

The fingers

on his left hand were shortened and clumsy, and his

left leg felt twitchy and uncontrollable. He had no sleek beautiful

coat as he had imagined. His senses of smell and hearing had not

been enhanced. All in all, he’d become a useless freak. As such,

he’d determined never to exit this cave again. What possible use

could there be for one such as he?

His father had ordered him to leave, but his mother would

care for him, he was sure. And if not his own mother; if she fell

sway to the same repulsion as his father, then one of the other

females father kept, one of the childless ones would certainly

show pity on this freak.

Pity. That was all he was worth—someone’s pity.

Dolnaraq rolled over in the hay weeping. It was not supposed

to be like this. He was supposed to be stronger, more able. He was

supposed to be admired not pitied. Maybe he should die. Maybe

he should refuse all food, take no essence whether human or animal,

and allow himself to waste away. It would be painful, yes,

but not so long lasting. He was already weakened, in need of essence.

The process of becoming a molt had drained his system.

In many ways he was already depleted. Surly, it would be a simple

thing to die. Then his father would truly weep. He would realize

what his rejection had done and he would fall to his knees in anguish.

Perhaps he’d even take his own life. This thought heartened

Dolnaraq. He only wished he could be alive to witness it. Maybe

he could hold his breath, pretend to be dead, make his father realize

how wrong he’d been, then Dolnaraq could “awaken.” His

father would be so thankful Dolnaraq was alive that he would

hug him and care for him.

Or maybe he would curse him. Maybe he would rather that

Dolnaraq did perish. Then he wouldn’t have the embarrassment

of a freakish pup.

Nothing made sense. Nothing was right.

But then came the raid. And everything changed.

The pack from the north attacked on the night of the small

est moon. The minimal light granted them cover as they swept in

from three different points of attack. Reyaqc packs attack one another

for various reasons—food stores, supplies, better positioning

relative to humans and prey, sometimes to replenish their stock

of females and youth, or other times simply out of pure savagery.

The commotion began well after sundown. Shouts and footfalls

as reyaqc raced back and forth about the clearing, growls and

shrieks, the sounds of struggle, the gasps of the dying. Dolnaraq

knew the sound of a raid. There had been many in his short lifetime.

This was part of the reyaqc life. He also knew that even a

pup such as he was expected to defend the pack. If he was old

enough to hunt, he was old enough to fight.

Dolnaraq closed his eyes. It would be an easy thing to simply

lay here and allow one of the raiders to come by and kill him.

There would be no prolonged starvation, no pleas from his mother

to reconsider. What of the others? What of his mother? Already

he could see the females gathering armfuls of food and supplies

and carrying them further back into the depths of the cave. The

females were doing their part. Dolnaraq should do his. Perhaps he

would die in battle. Then his father would be forced to be proud.

Yes. Die in battle. Die a hero. Maybe even a freak could be a hero.

It was not an easy task to rise from his bed as his muscles

curled into tight balls of pain. But Dolnaraq used the cave wall

for support and gradually attained an upright position. The first

steps were particularly painful, but with each his muscles seemed

to loosen. He hobbled some, his left leg remaining numb and

twitchy, but he found he could move about in a slow uneven gait.

The scene beyond the cave was a mass of confusion. The

northern pack had seemingly swept in from all sides, catching

Dolnaraq’s clan off guard. Already, bodies littered the cold snowy

ground, many slashed open with entrails leaving streaks of red

upon the pristine white. To his left a young female was thrown

harshly against an ancient oak. Her head made a sharp cracking

sound with each of three successive strikes. When she finally fell

limp, the northern reyaqc bent to clutch her right ankle and then

dragged her into the darkness. Directly ahead, two northern reyaqc—

both molts—descended upon Mynig, the pack chieftain.

These reyaqc had the sharp claws of mountain cats. Mynig did

not cry out, nor attempt to flee. Rather, he bit and clawed until

finally succumbing in a heap on the bloodied snow.

Most of the northern reyaqc were molts. But not molts such as

Dolnaraq had become. These were fierce creatures, many with full

long canines and razor-sharp claws. How had they done this? Why

had they become amazing while Dolnaraq had become foolish?

He knew the answer to this.

In these more savage packs, those who did not achieve some

level of strength or usefulness were simply slain and then consumed

by the pack. In this way, at least, they contributed something

to the well-being of the many. If Dolnaraq were found by

these, he would be murdered. He’d be devoured. Dolnaraq now

realized he didn’t want to die, that whatever he had become, he

still had reason to go on. But could he? Could he go on? The pack

was under siege and Dolnaraq was still weak and uncoordinated

from his ordeal.

Two reyaqc fell before Dolnaraq, scraping and clawing, causing

the young pup to scurry to his right. All about him were

scenes of carnage—limbs severed, throats bitten and ripped.

Dolnaraq’s pack was not large, only comprising some forty members.

Dolnaraq knew each corpse by name. He had spent hours

with each dying soul. An older reyaqc, Narmon, called out from

where he lay on the icy ground. There was a gash in his side,

and he was trying to force his innards back to within his body.

“Dolnaraq!” he cried in a raspy croak. “Help me to put myself

back together! Help me put these in!”

Dolnaraq stood horrified. What was he to do? Narmon was

obviously beyond repair. How could he possibly expect young

Dolnaraq to fix him?

“Dolnaraq, please!” croaked Narmon one last time. But

Dolnaraq fled with a quick hobble. Still, he seemed unable to outdistance

the carnage. Everywhere, he saw those he’d known for

the entirety of his existence falling to this superior force. There

was nothing he could do, no direction he could turn.

“Amazing.”

The voice came from behind Dolnaraq. He spun around.

Tresset stood before two males who were breathing their final

breaths.

“Amazing,” repeated Tresset, a broad grin on his pale round

face, a look of shear awe in his milky eyes. “Can you see the strategy,

Dolnaraq? Can you see how they swept in from the east,

forcing our pack to retreat west? Then waves two and three, from

the west and north, encircled us, cornered us against the caves.

We were pathetic, with no plan, no countermeasures. But, these!

These were magnificent. Our entire pack will have fallen within

thirty minutes. It’s amazing.”

The youth was enthralled, hypnotized by the battle. But

he was also correct in his assessment. Dolnaraq could see that

now. His own pack was doomed. Even now, they were down to

less than half the number of the invaders. The only hope was retreat.

It was not brave to die for dying’s sake, for this would only

bring a greater victory to one’s opponent. No. It was time to flee.

Dolnaraq didn’t know if this was logic speaking, or shear cowardice.

But he knew it was right, that it was necessary.

“Tresset,” he called. “Tresset, come. We must flee. Our pack

has fallen. Come. Now.”

“Do you see the discipline?” asked his friend. “Do you see it?

Even those few who have fallen do so with grace, with superiority.”

“Tresset, please. We need to go.”

It was then that a large bear-like reyaqc fell upon Tresset.

The youth went down with a panicked yelp, but no serious injury

had yet been inflicted. Dolnaraq had no time to think, which was

well, because had he had that opportunity he surely wouldn’t have

leapt upon the brute, sinking his one long canine into the thing’s

neck, clamping it there, pressing it deeper, deeper. Dolnaraq felt

the things talons as it dug into his side. He released his hold, but

the brute of a molt did no such thing. Now Dolnaraq was on the

ground. Those claws raking at him. His own blood splayed across

his foe’s gnarled face.

Another joined the fray. At first Dolnaraq thought it might be

Tresset, but the other youth was still on the ground, having scooted

to the side after Dolnaraq had fallen upon the molt. Whoever

it was, he’d somehow pressed himself between Dolnaraq and the

other, and was now grappling with the larger reyaqc. Despite the

molt’s injury to the neck, it was still a lopsided battle, and the

outcome predetermined. The molt would be the victor.

Dolnaraq moved to renew his attack but the other shouted

at him. “Dolnaraq! No! Flee into the forest! Flee!”

It was his father’s voice. And it was soon forever silenced.

PURCHASE THE EMPTY TODAY AT http://www.amazon.com/Empty-Thom-Reese/dp/1603183620/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1346163124&sr=1-1&keywords=the+empty+by+thom+reese

Thom Reese is the author of CHASING KELVIN, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATRE. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published for download by Speaking Volumes. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

Check out the first Huntington adventure, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, at http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320244/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335623524&sr=1-1

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2012 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

August 9, 2012

THE DEMON BAQASH CHAPTER 1 BY THOM REESE

Filed under: books,horror,Thriller — Thom Reese @ 4:12 am
Tags: , ,

Here’s a little treat for you. I thought you might enjoy reading the first chapter of my supernatural thriller, THE DEMON BAQASH. I hope you enjoy!

THE DEMON BAQASH

CHAPTER ONE

                       

Kim Troxel’s sleep was restless, punctuated with bizarre half-dreams and images. There was a dark figure, not a man, something different, with wings – six of them – moving independently, like tentacles slithering, reaching, grabbing. The creature had four faces, each directed to a different point. One laughed, while another cried. One ranted, the last smirked. Even through the mist of dream, Kim felt tense, felt her stomach twist, her skin go cold. The faces were not right. A hollow moldy cheek opposite a chubby infantile counterpart. A large uneven eye adjacent a torn and empty socket. The man-thing was somewhere else, someplace far away.

So very close.

A fire crackled and glowed. The smell of burning flesh assailed Kim’s nostrils. The non-man was before her now, grinning, though, in truth, Kim could make out none of the features. But they were familiar, so familiar. Yet… faded, incomplete. The man, the thing, entity – whatever! – it was holding a phone – handing it to her.

Kim’s eyes fluttered as she rolled over to face the annoyance. “Alright, alright. I’m coming.” She stretched, extending her arm as if she could will it to be longer. Why did the phone have to be onTrent’s side of the bed when he was never home from work untilthree A.M.? “Uhuggh, hello,” she managed in a drymidnightgrowl.

“Good morning, Kim.”

“Trent?”

“I’ve got a surprise for you.”

Kim squinted at the blurry alarm clock. Why did it seem the numerals faded as if fleeing some unseen menace?

“Trent, what time is it?”

“Late, Kim. Terribly late. But, someone is coming to see you.”

#

The deliveryman was tall. Taller even than the six-foot sixTrent. Pro basketball tall. Wide-shouldered and statuesque. Kim fumbled to wipe the sleep from her eyes, attempting to bring the face into focus. Somehow it seemed the man had multiple features, each fading and then reemerging in subtle parody of itself. He seemed so inconsequential, as if he might simply evaporate on the cool evening breeze. Kim blinked again and then again. The man was solid. Of course he was solid. How could he be otherwise? Strangely, at the sight of him, Kim felt a warm rush, a kind of electric hum or vibration, both comforting and unnerving, familiar yet alien. It was almost sexual but simultaneously horrifying. Strange. Why should she feel anything at all?

Something in this man’s face was familiar. Intimately so. But how? She’d never seen him before. One would remember a six-foot eight-inch deliveryman with deep multi-colored eyes.

“Mrs. Troxel?”

The strangely accented voice brought Kim back around. “Yes. I’m sorry. I’m still half asleep.”

“Undoubtedly,” he agreed. “I assume your husband informed you of this delivery.”

“He did,” she said, rubbing her eyes. “It’s just late.” Then, pausing, she ventured, “And since when are deliveries made at this hour?”

The man smiled. It was somehow inviting, beckoning her to come to him, to wrap her arms about him, to engulf him and…

What was she thinking?

“Distributions of the highest priority can be delivered around the clock, ma’am.” He extended the clipboard for her to sign. Those strange eyes – so knowing, as if he knew her every impulse.

Kim’s mind was fuzzy, unclear, still flirting with those horrible dreams. How was it that this man’s face seemed so ill-defined? She closed her eyes tight, and then opened them wide. She was simply tired. His face was fine. Wacky dreams.

“Would you care to come in?” she asked.

#

“Reggie,” said Kim to her live-in brother-in-law. “What’s that?”

The sound of someone shaking the front door flooded the tiny home. Kim and Reggie were seated at a table in the small, sparsely decorated kitchen, sipping a sweet herbal tea as Kim jotted ideas for a new poem. Writing poetry normally comforted her, separated her from the day-to-day drudge. But tonight her thoughts were scattered, her lines lacked meter, her meaning remained unclear. The deliveryman had left only fifteen minutes prior –three A.M.– and Kim had decided against climbing back into the oh-so-inviting bed. Now, she felt this might have been a mistake.

Reggie brushed his dark matted bangs from his eyes. “It’sTrent, I think. The door must be stuck again. He sounds kinda excited. Maybe he needs to use the bathroom.” Turning toward the door Reggie hollered, “I’m coming,Trent. I’m coming.” He rose gracelessly from the chair, his pear-like form sluggish as he hiked his lagging pajama bottoms with his left hand. “That door needs a new handle. It needs a new handle.”

Kim took another sip of tea. Reggie was probably right. It most likely wasTrent, but Kim doubted his urgency had anything to do with bodily functions. The pounding and shaking of the door sounded like someone panicked.

Four faces.

Panicked.

Six wings.

Themidnightfog cleared from Kim’s brain like the lingering sound of a marching band. Something was wrong. Terribly wrong.

“HeyTrent,” said Reggie as he pulled the door open with a forceful twist and a sharp tug. “We’ve got some tea. I can fix you some tea. It’s good. You can go to the bathroom first. I’ll just start…”

“Kimmie,” saidTrentas he brushed roughly past his brother causing the smaller man to shuffle backward, nearly tripping over a nearby crate.

Four faces.

“Trent?” Kim nearly screamed at the sight of him. His sandy red hair was disheveled, his face flushed and sweaty, his right hand was wrapped in something red, and his eyes.Trenthad strange eyes to begin with, one green, one blue. But this. There was something inTrent’s dual-colored eyes. Something she’d never seen, not when he was dismissed from the church in disgrace, not even when he’d watched Ashley emerge red and slimy from her body. It was fear. Real fear. Deep down in the soul fear. The kind one expected to find in the eyes of a man who’d just learned that the cancer had spread, that he had five weeks to live. “Trent, what happened?”

Six wings.

“Extraordinary,” he muttered, then paused as if somewhere between bewildered and flustered. “No, horrifying,” he added, wiping a hand on his corduroy leg. “Yes, horrifying is better. Did he come here?”

Kim stared up into her husband’s face and saw tears. “Trent, what happened?”

“Was he here, Goober?” asked Trent, using the pet name he’d given Kim when she’d been pregnant and craving peanuts. “I tried to call. Couldn’t get through. He was here. Of course, he was here.”

“Who, Trent? What’s this about?”

It was then thatTrentnoticed the boxes, twenty-seven of them, coarse wooden crates crowded into each corner, behind and under the not-quite-antique furniture, in the open closet, besideTrent’s upright bass. HowTrenthad missed them was beyond her. But undoubtedly he had. There he stood, jaw prepped to catch flies, golf ball eyes, and his head cocked like a cocker spaniel. If it hadn’t been so tragic, it would have been hysterical.

Kim stepped forward, embraced her husband in a fierce hug, brushed her lips wistfully across his, and then buried her head in his chest. The strangest, most horrifying thought came to her then.

Four faces.

Six wings.

Kim Troxel began to cry.

To purchase THE DEMON BAQASH, go to

http://www.amazon.com/The-Demon-Baqash-ebook/dp/B004J4X3NO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1344513555&sr=1-1&keywords=the+demon+baqash

Thom Reese is the author of CHASING KELVIN, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATRE. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published for download by Speaking Volumes. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

Check out my new thriller, CHASING KELVIN, at: http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Kelvin-ebook/dp/B008FRA2YY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1341060846&sr=1-1&keywords=chasing+kelvin

Check out the first Huntington adventure, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, at http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320244/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335623524&sr=1-1

LEARN THE SECRET of a strange race known as THE EMPTY at http://www.amazon.com/The-Empty-ebook/dp/B006UN0LJ6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1342274358&sr=1-1&keywords=the+empty+by+thom+reese

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2012 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

July 30, 2012

CAN BFF’S CHANGE THE WORLD? BY THOM REESE

I don’t expect wide-ranging moral change to sweep the world in my lifetime. I, for instance, don’t expect to see the end of war while I still walk the earth. There are still enough small-minded leaders that believe international disputes should be settled the same way they are in the schoolyard – with the biggest muscles and by the meanest bullies – for that to happen. The same with racism. Even this month, a Mississippi congregation refused to allow a couple to marry in their church because they were African American. In my mind that’s criminal, immoral, bigoted, and infuriating. The church should lose its tax exempt status, the pastor should be fired, the denomination brought to task. Plop these idiots in a Tardis and deposit them in the 1700s where they belong. Unacceptable!

As well, there’s still child abuse, drug addiction, political stupidity, dictators, nuclear threats, religious oppression, and any number of social and political ills.

As much as I’d like to believe otherwise, these elements still exist in our “sophisticated” and “advanced” society.

I suppose we’re not quite as advanced as we’d like to believe.

That said, the only way any of these things can be changed is if we collectively seek change.

And not only seek it, but expect it, demand it. Let’s not get starry-eyed, and please, don’t reserve a hall for the victory celebration. It will take years, likely generation, to overcome most of these ills. But as the world grows smaller due to near-continuous technological leaps, so can time condense.

And thus change can accelerate.

Just as a trip across the Atlantic now takes hours instead of weeks (as it did just over a century ago), so can ideas spread and take root much quicker than ever before. We, as a society, are in constant communication with one another through texting, the internet, and even old school technology such as television and movies. (Yes, television is now old school.) I have Facebook “friends” on nearly every continent. My ideas and concerns can be discussed by people around the globe within seconds of my posting a blog.

And I’m a person of no significant influence.

Think of the power for social and moral progress if like minded people make a commitment for change.

What would happen if we actively spoke out, each in our own forums, each in our own voices, against the issues that concern us, and – possibly even more importantly – in favor of those things we see as bettering society? True, different people have differing beliefs. What one person sees as a problem another might see as a solution. Just look at the current political landscape for daily examples. But there are things that the vast majority of us can agree upon, and yet the problems still exist.

My point is this: Just as a small independent film such as Paranormal Activity became a sensation based almost exclusively on grassroots, internet-based, word-of-mouth promotion, so can the societal issues that concern us be addressed by those same means. In the past, the power to change rested in elected officials and media professionals, people on the national and international stage. But now, through social networking and ever-increasing technological opportunities, we, the everyday Joes and Janes, have the opportunity to speak out and make a difference. We can have a voice equal to or greater than those in the seats of power.

We just have to be willing to use it.

If you’re passionate about something, post blogs, share news stories and thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, create Facebook groups of like-minded people. Combine with the rest of us to diminish the absurdity that still surrounds us.

We have the engine for change. We just need to use it for more than “poking” and “friending.”

 

AND NOW…

I’M VERY PROUD AND EXCITED ABOUT MY NEW THRILLER, CHASING KELVIN And would love for you all to give it a read.

Marc and Dana Huntington are back in an adventure that that will forever change their lives and rock them to the very core.

Government officials assassinated all about the globe. Seemingly unconnected terrorist attacks shake four continents. Former Delta Force commander Marc (Hunt) Huntington and his wife, ex British intelligence officer Dana, are thrust into the fray when they uncover a terrorist plot onboard a speeding train – a plot that might originate at the highest levels of U.S. government. Savagely attacked, Dana is caught in a web of conspiracy as an unwilling pawn. Hunt races against time to find the elusive cure to a deadly militarized bacterium before tens of thousands perish. What is the connection to the dozens of comatose forms secreted away in a concealed Swiss retreat? Is there a link to the Huntington’s bizarre find in the Amazon Jungle some months before? Will Dana escape nearly certain death?

Filled with breathtaking suspense and nonstop danger, this is a thriller you won’t put down until you’ve turned the final shocking page.

Check it out at: http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Kelvin-ebook/dp/B008FRA2YY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1341060846&sr=1-1&keywords=chasing+kelvin

Thom Reese is the author of CHASING KELVIN, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATRE. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published for download by Speaking Volumes. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

Check out the first Huntington adventure, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, at http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320244/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335623524&sr=1-1

LEARN THE SECRET of a strange race known as THE EMPTY at http://www.amazon.com/The-Empty-ebook/dp/B006UN0LJ6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1342274358&sr=1-1&keywords=the+empty+by+thom+reese

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2012 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

 

July 22, 2012

LAUNDRY LIST OF BAD BEHAVIOR BY THOM REESE

Filed under: books,culture,entertainment — Thom Reese @ 4:29 am
Tags: , , ,

We are proud. We are strong. We overcome. We give to charity, help the poor, and stand up for the rights of the downtrodden. And then in our spare time we act like the same dumb beasts we’ve been since time eternal. Do you doubt me? If so, I invite you to scan this list of poor behavior and count how many you’ve encountered – or performed – this past week. No condemnation. Just fun. Let’s have a look.

Ignoring the person one’s with in favor of the much more interesting smart phone: How many times have you sat with someone – completely ignored – as they stare fixedly at their phone, texting, facebooking, tweeting, Googling, or any other number of ings?

Riding a 25 MPH scooter on a 45 MPH street: Honestly, stay to the side where you belong. That thing is not a Harley and you’re going to cause an accident as everyone tries to maneuver around you.

Pants hanging down to south of the equator: I’ve thought of this phenomenon for some time now and have determined that the only possible explanation is some sort of severe brain damage early in life. Really, does anyone actually think it’s cool to flash soiled boxers at the world? Besides, it makes these fools walk like penguins.

Ridiculous public displays of affection: We get it, you’re in love. Many of us are as well. But please, keep your tongue in your own mouth until you get home.

Texting while driving: Ah yes, back to our buddy the smart phone. This decade’s number one BFF. Trust me, the phone will not be offended if you set it down while you’re driving. In fact, the Surgeon General has determined that slamming into the back of an eighteen wheeler while texting can be hazardous to your health.

…And texting in a movie theater: No, this isn’t potentially lethal, but that constant glow is very annoying to the people sitting close by and likely to cause disruption of your service as the guy sitting behind you grinds your phone into the floor with his heel.

Racism: Really. If you’re still basing your impressions of a person on skin color, go back to where you belong and tell the 1950s I said hello when you get there. Time to move on, people. Expand your thinking. Finally pursue that GED. Join the human race. Buy a smart phone. That way some aspect of you will display intelligence.

Public smoking (cigar, cigarette, etc.): Let’s be honest. These things smell like burning, sweaty, fungus-laden gym socks. Even short exposure will cause the repugnant odor to stick to hair, clothes, everything in the room, and linger for hours. If you’re so unconcerned about your own health as to cling to this harmful and outdated habit, at least have the decency to keep it to yourself.

Companies that hire telephone customer service reps with English as a twenty-second language: “Hello! Hello! I can’t understand a word you’re saying. What? Sway the bull? Oh! Pay in full. Yes, yes, I will sway the bull.” Really? Give me that smart phone. I’ll pay online while navigating the freeway.

Overly aggressive drivers: I’m sorry. I didn’t realize how rude I was by activating my turn signal with the expectation that someone – anyone! – would allow me to merge. My fault. Next time I’ll make the entire twenty mile trip in the right lane just so I don’t inconvenience my fellow drivers.

The sock gremlin: I don’t know who this guy is, but he really gets on my nerves.

People with bad breath that insist on standing two inches from ones face: Unless you’re my wife, take a couple of steps back. I’ll hear you just fine.

Automated answering systems that initiate a fifteen minute gauntlet before a person can connect with a live customer service representative to ask a simple question: Whoever sets these things up should be forced to utilize the system for every call they make. Yes, including personal calls. “If you’d like to speak with your mother, press one. To reimburse your mother for years of frustration and financial difficulty, press two, to leave a belated Mother’s Day greeting press…”

Drunk drivers: If you want to have a good time, fine, that’s your right. Just don’t get behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Having an extended conversation with the grocery checker while a line of seventeen people waits: Step aside. Have a conversation with your smart phone. It’s lonely.

People who have nothing to say but just won’t shut up: No offence, but no one cares how you treat your laundry, where you bought your pants, or how you organize your closet. Buy a dog. Give it a smart phone.

People who write obnoxious blogs: Um… Oops!

 

AND NOW AN ANNOUNCEMENT!!

I’M VERY PROUD TO ANNOUNCE THE RELEASE OF MY NEW THRILLER, CHASING KELVIN!

Marc and Dana Huntington are back in an adventure that that will forever change their lives and rock them to the very core.

Government officials assassinated all about the globe. Seemingly unconnected terrorist attacks shake four continents. Former Delta Force commander Marc (Hunt) Huntington and his wife, ex British intelligence officer Dana, are thrust into the fray when they uncover a terrorist plot onboard a speeding train – a plot that might originate at the highest levels of U.S. government. Savagely attacked, Dana is caught in a web of conspiracy as an unwilling pawn. Hunt races against time to find the elusive cure to a deadly militarized bacterium before tens of thousands perish. What is the connection to the dozens of comatose forms secreted away in a concealed Swiss retreat? Is there a link to the Huntington’s bizarre find in the Amazon Jungle some months before? Will Dana escape nearly certain death?

Filled with breathtaking suspense and nonstop danger, this is a thriller you won’t put down until you’ve turned the final shocking page.

Check it out at: http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Kelvin-ebook/dp/B008FRA2YY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1341060846&sr=1-1&keywords=chasing+kelvin

Thom Reese is the author of CHASING KELVIN, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATRE. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published for download by Speaking Volumes. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

Check out the first Huntington adventure, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, at http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320244/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335623524&sr=1-1

LEARN THE SECRET of a strange race known as THE EMPTY at http://www.amazon.com/The-Empty-ebook/dp/B006UN0LJ6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1342274358&sr=1-1&keywords=the+empty+by+thom+reese

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2012 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

July 14, 2012

WHO I DON’T WANT FOR PRESIDENT by Thom Reese

Filed under: books,Politically correct,politics — Thom Reese @ 6:39 am
Tags: , ,

I don’t want the person with the lightest skin or the darkest skin – I could care less about skin as long as it’s a thick enough skin for the job.

I don’t necessarily want a Republican; I don’t necessarily want a Democrat.

I don’t want a conservative, I don’t want a liberal, but would be open to a person willing to look beyond broad labels and rhetoric to honestly examine each issue with the best interest of the people in mind.

I don’t want the best public speaker.

I don’t want the most polished image.

I don’t want the candidate with the most scathing campaign ads.

I don’t want the candidate who raises the most money.

I don’t want a candidate beholden to special interest groups.

I don’t want the candidate with the best speechwriter.

I don’t want the candidate that’s most photogenic.

I don’t want the candidate with the most Washington experience.

I don’t want an outsider claiming to save us all from entrenched bureaucrats.

I don’t want the person with the most electable running mate.

I don’t want the person the media loves.

I don’t want the person the media hates.

I definitely DON’T want the best politician.

I DO want the best president. Black, white, male, female, left, right, I want someone who can look beyond his/her own political career, beyond the party lines, beyond financial supporters, and make the tough decisions to the best of his/her ability with the best interests of this country as the single guiding force.

No, I’m not so naïve as to expect this person to actually exist, but I’m not so jaded as to give up hope.

On second thought, maybe I am naïve enough to want just a small miracle.

INTRODUCING My new thriller, CHASING KELVIN!

Marc and Dana Huntington are back in an adventure that that will forever change their lives and rock them to the very core.

Government officials assassinated all about the globe. Seemingly unconnected terrorist attacks shake four continents. Former Delta Force commander Marc (Hunt) Huntington and his wife, ex British intelligence officer Dana, are thrust into the fray when they uncover a terrorist plot onboard a speeding train – a plot that might originate at the highest levels of U.S. government. Savagely attacked, Dana is caught in a web of conspiracy as an unwilling pawn. Hunt races against time to find the elusive cure to a deadly militarized bacterium before tens of thousands perish. What is the connection to the dozens of comatose forms secreted away in a concealed Swiss retreat? Is there a link to the Huntington’s bizarre find in the Amazon Jungle some months before? Will Dana escape nearly certain death?

Filled with breathtaking suspense and nonstop danger, this is a thriller you won’t put down until you’ve turned the final shocking page.

Check it out at: http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Kelvin-ebook/dp/B008FRA2YY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1341060846&sr=1-1&keywords=chasing+kelvin

Thom Reese is the author of CHASING KELVIN, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATRE. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published for download by Speaking Volumes. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

Check out the first Huntington adventure, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, at http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320244/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335623524&sr=1-1

LEARN THE SECRET of a strange race known as THE EMPTY at http://www.amazon.com/The-Empty-ebook/dp/B006UN0LJ6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1342274358&sr=1-1&keywords=the+empty+by+thom+reese

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2012 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

July 4, 2012

AN INTERVIEW WITH MARC & DANA HUNTINGTON

Filed under: Adventure,books,entertainment,Thriller — Thom Reese @ 5:26 am
Tags: , , ,

To celebrate the release of my new thriller, CHASING KELVIN, I’m featuring an interview with Marc and Dana Huntington, the stars of my novels, CHASING KELVIN and DEAD MAN’S FIRE.

THOM: Welcome Marc and Dana. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules for this interview. I know you’re in the midst of the events chronicled in CHASING KELVIN.

DANA: Yes, we are. Things have not gone too terribly well to this point.

THOM: Well, I hope things all work out in the end.

HUNT: You wrote the book, you should know.

THOM: Very true. And I’m not telling.  So, Hunt, why don’t you begin by telling our readers a little about yourselves?

HUNT: Yeah. I guess the first thing they need to know is that Dana and I are recovery specialists.

THOM: And what exactly is a recovery specialist?

DANA: We make our living by recovering people and things that have gone missing.

HUNT: We get paid with reward money. Say, someone’s kidnapped a senator’s daughter…

DANA: Or a sheik’s wife.

HUNT: We locate and recover that person and collect the reward.

DANA: Or perhaps an ancient artifact or a famous painting is stolen. We recover those valuable items. Our adventures take us all about the globe. Quite fascinating, really. There’s always plenty of danger, twists and turns, intrigue.

THOM: So, what are your backgrounds? How did you come to be recovery specialists?

DANA: I’m former MI-6.

HUNT: That’s like the British CIA. Think of Dana as computer genius meets James Bond. Talented woman – and beautiful.

THOM: And, Dana, why did you leave MI-6?

DANA: That bit’s rather dodgy. I made the mistake of falling in love with and marrying an international criminal I’d been assigned to monitor. Things didn’t go well for me at MI-6 after that.

THOM: I’m sure we’ll learn more about that at a later date. Hunt, what’s your background?

HUNT: Delta Force. Special Ops. Things went sideways during what was to be my last mission in Iraq. Some of my men died. So did a child. An explosion damaged the left side of my face and caused memory loss. It all came down on me. My poor choices, my irresponsibility. I wound up with a dishonorable discharge. Thanks for asking, by the way.

THOM: Your exploits have been recorded in two books so far, DEAD MAN’S FIRE and CHASING KELVIN. Tell us about those adventures.

HUNT: Well, we were awesome.

DANA: I believe he’d like more specifics, dear.

HUNT: Right, right. DEAD MAN’S FIRE is set in the Amazon Rainforest. Very cool place. But it rains a lot.

DANA: A young paleontologist went missing after a major discovery.

HUNT: It seems there were multiple factions, all interested in this discovery. Some were willing to do just about anything to get their hands on it.

DANA: It was quite a romp. Mysterious ancient writings, dozens of comatose bodies hidden in a cave, gun fights, chases, deceptions, it was all quite thrilling really.

HUNT: And, who was it in the middle of it all? Oh, yeah, your ex-husband.

DANA: Well, I think that’s enough about DEAD MAN’S FIRE.

THOM: Fair enough. Would one of you like to tell us about CHASING KELVIN?

DANA: Certainly. We were on a cross country train, tracking a jewel thief named Kelvin Donnelley. He’d stolen a valuable diamond. We were about to recover it when Hunt discovered a terrorist plot onboard. Things went very poorly after that.

HUNT: The terrorist made their play. Dana was…

DANA: Don’t give too much away, dear.

HUNT: Okay. Well, something serious happened concerning Dana. It sent me chasing across the country as coordinated terrorist attacks took place around the globe. The death toll is still mounting and every discovery leads me to another mystery. Government officials are compromised; the situation continues to get worse. And Dana’s caught in the middle of this… situation.

THOM: I think you’ve told us plenty. Thank you both for sharing with us. I appreciate your candor.

Check out CHASING KELVIN at http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Kelvin-ebook/dp/B008FRA2YY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1341060846&sr=1-1&keywords=chasing+kelvin

And DEAD MAN’S FIRE AT  http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320244/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335623524&sr=1-1

Thom Reese is the author of DEAD MAN’S FIRE, CHASING KELVIN, THE DEMON BAQASH, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATRE. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

CHECK OUT MY SUPERNATURAL THRILLER, THE DEMON BAQASH, AT: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Baqash-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309526541&sr=8-1

READ THE 1ST CHAPTER OF THE DEMON BAQASH: http://demonbaqash.wordpress.com/

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2012 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

March 8, 2012

DEAD MAN’S FIRE Chapter 1

Filed under: Book Reviews,books,entertainment,publishing — Thom Reese @ 5:44 am
Tags: , ,

In today’s blog I’ve posted Chapter 1 of my first Marc Huntington thriller, Dead Man’s Fire, which is now available. I hope you enjoy.

 

DEAD MAN’S FIRE

 

Chapter 1

 

Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Boarding the yacht wasn’t the problem. Boarding without detection, sneaking below deck, stealing the priceless Cobra of Cyrus, then fleeing undetected, that was the problem. Recovery specialist, Marc Huntington – Hunt, to those who knew him well – rose quietly out of the cool, dark water and ascended three steps up the dive ladder located at the aft of the seventy-six foot motor yacht named The Lady of the Cape. Dana, his wife and partner, would remain in their rented, much smaller, craft unless needed. I.e., unless Hunt was discovered. Hunt was hoping Dana could stay off of the yacht for this particular operation.

“Do be careful,” she’d said in that irresistible British lilt of hers. “I don’t fancy a ruckus. We do have dinner reservations at ten.”

Hunt had chuckled. “No ruckus. I promise. Heaven help me if I ruin our dinner plans.”

“It’s at De Kelder!” laughed Dana with mock indignation. “The waiting list is a week at best.”

“I’m a Midwest boy. You sure we can’t just catch a burger?”

“Oh, you are horrible,” she’d laughed, smacking him lightly on the rump as he’d prepared to enter the water.

“I do what I can,” smiled Hunt.

“Love you,” she’d said with a peck to his cheek.

“Love you too,” he’d said before finding her lips with his own.

Baruti and Abri Lekota, the owners of this floating Shangri-La, were attending a dinner engagement on another yacht docked roughly a quarter of a mile distant in another birth at the Algoa Bay Yacht Club. They were not due back for at least two hours. Unfortunately, this did not mean that the craft was unattended. Based on his research, Hunt knew that two guards were to be stationed, one fore and one aft. He also knew that they were rarely at their appointed stations. Often the two simply lounged on the forward deck, playing poker, and scoping out bikinis on neighboring vessels. Fortunately, this was the case as Hunt peered onto the bare deck, illuminated now only by the sliver of a moon. Even so, Hunt needed to act with care. The guards, seemingly lackluster or not, were former military and heavily armed. Being spotted could have deadly consequences.

Though the Lekota’s were quite wealthy, and the yacht well stocked with fineries, until now, it had not housed a rare artifact worth millions. Hunt had been surprised that they’d not increased security all the more since taking hold of the piece. Surprised, but not disappointed. From what Hunt had read Baruti Lekota was a man whose ego was so large as to dismiss any thought that someone could possibly have the gall to come aboard and take his property.

Hunt was fine with taking the man down a notch or two.

Besides, the cobra wasn’t even his property. It had been stolen some six weeks prior from Sir Edmond Graham Foliar of Cheshire England. The authorities had been unsuccessful in locating the relic, and so Sir Foliar had offered a generous reward. Hunt wanted the reward money, and had subsequently tracked the cobra to this yacht. Nice and neat, the way he liked it. Now all he needed to do was secure the prize and slip off the boat without being detected.

The plan was for Dana to motor over to the yacht and chat up the guards with nonsense about being a tourist on holiday in Port Elizabeth. Her rather colorful east London accent and bubbly personality would likely entertain them while Hunt slipped aboard and made off with the treasure undetected.

That was the theory at least.

Dana considered the plan simplistic and droll. This, thought Hunt, was how Dana saw most of his plans. But, simplicity, he had learned, was a considerable weapon. An overly complicated plan made improvisation difficult when everything went deep south. And, in truth, that was where most plans went. Anyone with field experience knew that a plan was merely a starting point; ingenuity, decisiveness, and quick action brought you home alive.

It was mid-evening, eight pm local time, and Hunt’s body clock had still not clicked over from Pacific Time U.S. But the water was cool, the breeze refreshing, and he was counting on an adrenaline kick to see him through. Truly, it wasn’t so much the jetlag that got him as it was the idiot medication he took to stave the ferocious migraine headaches that had plagued him since the explosion on that final day in Iraq.

Hunt’s gut tightened as he heard the single outboard engine approaching from the east, and then the subtle swish of water against fiberglass as Dana cut the engine and coasted lazily toward The Lady of the Cape. It was show time and that meant nearly anything could happen. “Hallo! Do either of you gentle-men speak English?” he heard Dana say. They both did. Hunt and Dana had done their research. Though, IsiXhosa was the most common language, English was used in international trade, and most of the wealthy – and their hired help – knew the language fairly well.

“I speak English,” shouted one of the guards. It was the guard on the star-board side, the heavier and, most likely, less agile of the two.

“I’m a bit befuddled,” said Dana. “Just in from out of town and all that.” Hunt smiled. She was playing up her cockney accent, drawing on her east London roots in an attempt to entertain the two. Her colorful vernacular was a treat, and it was one of the things Hunt loved about her, but, having attended Cambridge University on scholarship and then going through intense language and speech training with MI6, Dana could turn it on and off at will, often times distancing herself from her working class upbringing with precise and delicate verbiage. Queen’s English, she called it.

This was not one of those times.

“Blimey!” she said with ludicrous verve. “Do you blokes ‘ave a zoo in Port Elizabeth? I just love a good zoo. An‟ fish „n chips! All this water, you’d think there’d be bleedin’ fish „n chips on every corner.”

Liza Doolittle, eat your heart out.

Suppressing a chuckle, Hunt crept up the ladder and onto the deck.

“Bugger this! The wind’s kicking up,” chimed Dana. “Does the wind al-ways knock you about so?”

Five quick steps across the gently rolling deck and Hunt made the descending stairwell. Having memorized the floor plan and casually interviewed several close friends of the couple, Hunt knew exactly where to go. Once below, there was a small foyer-like area, followed by a hatch leading to the engine room. Hunt marched through this and to yet another hatch leading into the lush cabin, which could also be accessed from the forward side via a winding staircase. The room was spacious enough as far as cabins went: wood paneled walls, lush red carpeting, a Monet hanging above the headboard of the bed. But, like all offshore accommodations, it felt tight and ill-fitted to the unaccustomed. There was a queen sized bed directly before him now, a sink and a three sided closet to his right. Hunt made his way to the closet, opened it, and then knelt before the gunmetal gray safe on the floor.

Quickly, he removed a small leather case from his watertight backpack and, laying it on the carpeted floor, withdrew an E500XT electric lock pick, two picking needles, three tension tools, and a hex wrench. He could hear the two guards laughing at Dana from above – probably ogling her as well; the daughter of a British father and Vietnamese mother, her stunning Euro-Asian features, clear blue-violet eyes, silky black hair, and athletic physique, made her quite appealing to behold.

As a former Delta Force operative, Hunt had been a master lock pick, able to breach nearly any lock in under a minute, but his frequent headaches brought about by the bomb blast now made it difficult for him to concentrate on some-thing so detailed. In truth, with his considerable combat experience, Hunt would likely have been the better choice for taking out the guards should there be the need, leaving the lock picking in Dana’s expert hands, but he’d been bullheaded about it and so here he was.

Taking a long cleansing breath, Hunt narrowed his gaze, attempting to maintain focus. He nearly had it. Just a little twist and…

No.

Even with electronic equipment, he had trouble with the task. This wouldn’t have happened before Iraq.

Virtually nothing was the same as before Iraq.

Hunt angled his head so that his right ear – his only functioning ear – was toward the hatch. He could still hear the voices from above and forward, but had he just heard something aft, a subtle thump perhaps? He paused, listened, waited another moment longer. No. Nothing. Not at the moment at least.

Returning his attention to the safe, he adjusted the E500XT, and then paused. There it was again. Someone was approaching from the engine room. It was then that the figure appeared in the hatchway.

“Oh, bloody hell,” whispered the man, who, like Hunt, was wearing a drip-ping wetsuit. “This is just brilliant.”

No obvious weapon, casual stance, an easy grin, Hunt’s gut told him this man was not an immediate threat. Still, he rose to meet the man face-to-face, legs spread wide, slightly crouched at the waist, ready to spring. Gut instinct or no, he had to be prepared for the unexpected.

“Who are you?” asked Hunt, whispering as well. “You’re not on Lekota’s staff.” Still he scanned the man for sign of a weapon, while keeping a close watch on the intruder’s hands and eyes, the two most obvious tells of an impending attack.

The intruder chuckled. “Great. A yank. Well, genius, it appears that I – like you – am here for the Cobra of Cyrus. Dated 500 BCE, or so I’m told. Worth more than a shilling or two as well.”

Though tensed, and prepared for action, Hunt had to smile. “Perfect,” he said. “A thief.”

The man shrugged. “I prefer to think of myself as a liberator of fine property.” His sharp devilish eyebrows furrowed just then. It seemed he’d just had his first good look at Hunt. “My God, man. What happened to your face?”

Hunt shrugged. “Suicide bomber. Iraq. Things could have gone better that day.”

“Bloody well right they could have,” said the man, who, unlike Hunt, had not the slightest hint of disfigurement. He was perhaps thirty-five, lean, not as muscular as Hunt, but firm none-the-less. He had deep-set chocolate brown eyes positioned below two expressive black brows. His still-wet hair was jet black. Not a silver streak to be found. His mouth was broad, and seemed to seek occasion to offer a perpetual grin. “So, how are we going to handle this?” he asked, inclining his head toward the safe. “Mind if I have a crack. Seems the lock’s giving you a bit of a hitch.”

Hunt smiled. “Not a chance, buddy. I’m here first.”

“Well, yes, of course you were. But, you see, this isn’t grammar school. You can’t call dibs.”

It was then that both men heard running footsteps from above. “Great! You alerted the guards,” hissed Hunt.

“Me? I could hear you clattering about in here all the way from Wilshire.”

“Sounds like they split up. One coming from the fore, the other aft.”

“I’ll deal with the fore,” smiled the intruder. “As it seems you’re the bigger aft!”

Hunt groaned. The man’s humor was worse than his own. He might find he liked this guy. Without another word, Hunt moved to beside the engine room hatch. Yes, there was definitely someone coming. The guard had slowed some, apparently now deciding that stealth would serve him well. Hiding just within a small alcove adjacent the spiral stairs, the Brit had flattened himself against the wood paneled bulkhead, tensed and ready to spring. Hunt made eye contact. Both men nodded, grinned, and then it began.

Hunt had drawn the heavier of the guards – the one he’d assumed to be rather out of shape and less the threat for it. A quick roundhouse kick to the gut, an uppercut to the jaw, and the man dropped his weapon, a 9 mm Heckler & Koch MP5, a rather nasty weapon for routine security, thought Hunt. But, before Hunt could land another blow, two massive fists hammered down on the back of his neck. The man was much faster – much stronger – than anticipated.

Hunt fell to his knees, and continued directly into a roll, not allowing his opponent to land another blow. The weapon was only perhaps four feet distant, lying on the carpeting at the foot of the bed. But before Hunt could wrap his fingers about it, the guard’s booted right foot connected squarely just below his left ribcage.

Hunt tumbled to his right, arms instinctively cradling his belly as his face struck a bedpost.

Just then, the other guard careened into Hunt’s opponent, apparently tossed by the British thief. Impressive. It seemed the man had skills.

Still cradling his side with his right arm, Hunt rose unsteadily to his feet, ducked a rather vicious blow from the smaller guard, and was grabbed from behind by the larger man.

Hunt slammed an elbow into the man’s gut, twisted, pulled, and flipped the burly man over his right shoulder, sending him somersaulting onto the corner of the bed, where he bounced once and then tumbled sideways onto the floor with a prolonged grunt. Before he could lift his head or gain his bearings, the man was zapped with a Taser. Hunt glanced quickly around for the second guard only to find that he was already down, apparently tased as well.

Grinning, Hunt nodded at his wife – who still held the Taser – just as the thief said, “Dana?”

Dana’s eyes went wide. “Jonathan?”

“Wait,” said Hunt. “You know her?”

“Of course, I know her,” said the other. “Do you?”

“Yes!”

“Who are you?” asked both men simultaneously.

“I’m her husband,” answered both.

Hunt’s gaze slid from Dana to the thief and back again. “I think I’m missing something here.”

“I’m her husband,” repeated the man. “Who the bleeding hell are you?”

One of the guards quivered, jerked, and shuddered at Hunt’s feet. He ignored the man. “Dana?”

“Well, Jonathan’s an ex-husband, really,” she said with a bit of a huff.

“No, not exactly,” said the man called Jonathan as he gently ran his finger-tips across a rather large lump developing on his left temple.

“Fine points,” shrugged Dana.

“Okay, wait a minute,” said Hunt as he stepped squarely between the two. “This guy…”

“Jonathan,” said the man. “Jonathan Thorpe. Pleased to meet you.” Thorpe extended his hand, a gesture Hunt ignored.

“Okay, Thorpe here. You’re married to him?”

“Not any longer.”

“Again,” said Thorpe. “That’s not entirely…”

“We’re done, Jonathan. Bloody well deal with it,” snapped Dana. Thorpe held up his hands in a sign of surrender and backed up a step as Hunt faced Dana directly.

“So are you divorced or aren’t you?” asked Hunt.

“I’m legally married to you,” was her rather evasive response.

Hunt glared at her, a piercing pain developing in his gut. “And, yet you felt no compulsion to tell me that you’d been married before, that you may or may not be divorced?”

“It’s complicated.”

“That’s the best you can do – complicated?”

“Blimey, Hunt, what do you expect me to say?”

“Well, the truth comes to mind.”

The larger of the two guards groaned, shifted a bit, and made a feeble move toward his Heckler & Koch. Annoyed, Hunt gave him a swift kick to the gut and tossed the gun onto the bed.

“It happened while I was with MI6,” said Dana. “There are security issues, classified events and whatnot.”

“Security issues about your marriage? Dana, I’ve rolled with your cloak and dagger MI6 baggage until now, but do you really expect me to believe that you were forbidden to tell me about a previous marriage?”

“Hunt, can we please…” But, Dana never finished the sentence, for it was then that her eyes went wide. The argument had lasted less than a minute, but that was all the distraction Thorpe had needed to open the safe and retrieve the prize. Now he stood, the guard’s Heckler & Koch in his right hand, and the magnificent Cobra of Cyrus cradled under his left arm, its stunning ruby eyes glinting in the subtle artificial light and its silver coils seemingly wrapped around Thorpe’s forearm.

“Really, Jonathan? A gun? We both know you won’t shoot,” said Dana with a rather dramatic roll of the eyes.

“Oh, no. You, my dearest, I would never harm. But my replacement… Well, sorry chap. You seem like a good enough sort, but all’s fair and all that rot. Nothing personal.”

“Oh, it’s personal,” groused Hunt. “It doesn’t get much more personal.”

“Hmph,” shrugged Thorpe with a cheeky grin. “Well, yes, I suppose you’re right. But, as for now, I bid you adieu. And as for Frankenstein here, really, she is out of your league, man. You’ve got to know that.”

With that, he slowly crossed to the spiral staircase, being careful to keep the gun trained on Hunt even as he backed up the rounded stairs and out of sight.

When Hunt finally made the deck, he was just in time to see Thorpe pulling away in a dual engine speedboat. With a broad grin and an affable wave, the thief shouted, “Call me, dearest. We’ve loads of catching up.”

Hunt kicked a nearby torpedo buoy as he stared grimly at the retreating boat. Jonathan Thorpe had stolen the Cobra of Cyrus right from before his eyes. If only that had been the worst event of the day.

TO ORDER DEAD MAN’S FIRE CLICK http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320244/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1331211836&sr=8-4

Thom Reese is the author of DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS, and THE EMPTY. The second Marc Huntington novel, CHASING KELVIN, is due for release this spring. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

CHECK OUT MY SUPERNATURAL THRILLER, THE DEMON BAQASH, AT: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Baqash-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309526541&sr=8-1

READ THE 1ST CHAPTER OF THE DEMON BAQASH: http://demonbaqash.wordpress.com/

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2012 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.