Blog Archives

The Gift of the Seer

The Gift of the Seer by [Laugheed, K.B.]When you tire of the overload of digital and technology tools within our 2019 era, K.B. Laugheed’s The Gift of the Seer will expedite time travel back with you, and this author will have you writing with a feathered quill by the end of this literary journey! Put on your cultural anthropologist boots and allow this novel to cleverly weave historical yet fantastical plot elements, interestingly complex characters, and a rugged setting that will definitely transport and immerse readers. You will face cultural nuances, norms, spiritual beliefs, worldviews, philosophies, goals, life lessons, conflicts, natural connections, romances, and myriads of adventures via an Indian perspective. Our protagonist, Katie, provides uncensored reflections and stories spanning from the years 1748-1778. Yet Katie, the book’s protagonist, is not the docile, silent, subjugated, stereotypical, domesticated wife and mother that many heroines from her time era typically portray. Instead, she is a literary and cultural badass-think Katniss from The Hunger Games -but Katie encompasses more maturity, carnal pleasures, and complexities as a woman struggling to survive among different cultures, determined to sustain her love for her husband against all odds, and abandoning the feelings of guilt and condemnation based on her feeling that she’s living a big lie!

In short, adventures, dangers, thrills, and chills will bombard you on every page. Yet instead of feeling defeated and exhausted, you will experience the triumphs and evolution, right alongside Katie, as if you were a passenger in her canoe! The book is brilliant in terms of its vivid, sensory details that paint a no-nonsense picture of life during this era. The characters also conjure feelings of fables and folk tales via the author’s unique, authentic style. At times, I noticed hints of magical realism, which further add pizazz to this riveting book. While there are so many positive qualities about this book, especially the way in which the author develops her vast array of characters and executes her dramatic dialogue, all with cultural relevance and sensitivity, I was a bit overwhelmed with the plethora of social, historical, political, cultural, marital problems and themes that she tries to address all at once. At times it was slightly too ambitious for me to keep track of all the family members, neighbors, friends, and foes. Although they are important, especially to comprehend the larger scope of the historical fiction milieu, some of the symbols were slightly perplexing and some plot events were mentioned but not fully explained.

All in all, because readers can sense the imminent danger on every page, as evident from the great use of foreshadowing and cautionary notes to build suspense throughout the text, as in “til the ocean wave of Colonists comes crashing down upon us—then we will see which of us is right,” We not only learn cultural and historical information through characters with real vulnerability and authenticity, but we also find solace in our own journeys about how to fit into this world and all its challenges! We obtain a true sense of empowerment within this challenging piece of art. Try this time travelling and cultural anthropological plight by K.B. Laugheed in The Gift of the Seer!

Pages: 308 | ASIN: B07L7FHTFC

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Price of Life

Immortals have walked the face of the Earth for over 12,000 years now. For the most part they have lived at peace with humans, taking only what they need to survive. A cross between a vampire and mythical healer, these immortals have the power to heal humans or take their life force, ageing them to death. It is from this feeding of a life force they gain their immortality. Most will only feed off the those that cause harm to the world. However, there are those immortals that believe they are a god race and it is their job to purge the Earth of humans and start over. Price of Life by David Crane is the story of how immortals got to present day and the battle between the two factions over the future of the human race.

The novel reminded me of the Highlander series, there can be only one! But, aside from the beheading to kill an immortal, that is where it ends. The immortals in David Crane’s novel are more like vampires that are sustained by the lifeforce of the world around them. Humans are the “best” quality food, but any living organisms can sustain them. Together they have lived in peace for over 12,000 years. The flashbacks from modern time to tell the story of where each immortal comes from is in-depth. Nonfiction and fiction blend seamlessly in this work. The details about Hitler and the concentration camp will bring you to tears hearing the stories and make you cheer as immortals avenge the death of their families at the hands of the Nazi soldiers. In some novels, flashbacks are too confusing to keep up with, but this is done so well that it is seamless, and you get a full picture. The subplots all tie into the main story line in a way that makes sense. All the lives and stories fit. From early mankind villages, to war torn Europe, to modern America facing many of the challenges we see even still today in the news, it all combines to tell a story that you want to read. The character development is built into the flashbacks and lets the reader really get to know each person involved. There are surprise twists, good is not always nice and on the right side of the law, bad is not always malice. The lines are blurred in a way to a keep the balance in check.

One of my favorite characters is Dina, she is an immortal with a special ability to see the future, it has made her wealthy and she uses her gift to better the world where she can. She saw the horrors of what Hitler would do to the world and she wanted nothing more than to stop it. Her passion is helping people, using her immortality to better the Earth and advance humans, not hold them back. When she has visions of Los Angeles being destroyed and the end of all human life at the hand of immortals, she must figure out how to stop things.

Immortals are left to choose what side they want to be on, they must work together to save the world they helped shape and create. It is a great novel about survival, compassion, history and how it shapes the future. A thrilling novel to see if humans can be saved before they become nothing more than slaves and a food source for the immortals that believe themselves to be gods.

Pages: 318 | ASIN: B00Y424WD6

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Genesis: The Infinity Series Vol. 2

Genesis (The Infinity Series Book 2) by [Westbay, Bellamy]

A genesis is a beginning: a source, a founding moment. Though Bellamy Westbay’s Genesis is the second volume in the Infinity Series, readers will have no doubt that this tome marks a beginning. The odyssey opens with the beguiling Gwen in grave danger. Though angel Alex is the only being, mortal or celestial, who can ultimately save her, the antidote for her current troubles comes from a source seemingly bent on her demise. Follow Alex, Gwen, and Jasper on an epic journey through a bewitching multiverse, one haunted by evil forces, fantastical creatures, and a series of confounding quests.

In this odyssey of good versus evil, of human nature and the divine, Westbay tackles love, lust, and redemption. She also explores motivations more primal: eternal enmity, darkest jealousy, and destructive cunning. Westbay’s storytelling moves at a heady pace, switching between the questing trio and Gwen’s best friend, facing her own predicament. The book is surprisingly sparse in some places—a run-in with an eloquent dragon comes to mind—but delves deeper in others, offering vibrant descriptions of other universes and their inhabitants, including ethereal Callidora and Eva with her siren song. Vivid details aside, the plot is the star of this show and Westbay moves it forward with skill.

And what an intriguing plot it is. Genesis operates where divine beings move among mere mortals. At first I struggled with a Cinnabon-eating angel but I was quickly won over by Alex’s supernatural powers, very human weaknesses, and impressive wingspan. He is simultaneously angsty and arch. For a celestial being and polyglot to boot, he can be frustratingly obtuse: he knows little of human nature and often his epiphanies land with a thud. Even so, he captivates readers as the boulder-smashing, beast-slaying hero of our story.

If Alex is Odysseus on an epic journey and Eva a Siren, Gwen is Helen of Troy. Though not exactly “the face that launched a thousand ships”, Gwen is certainly the being that launched a thousand cherubic fantasies. The amorous undertones in Genesis know no bounds: whilst Gwen clings to life, both the misguided Jasper and the ardent Alex lust after her. Readers feel relief when Gwen revives and apprehension as death draws near. This epic journey is exhilarating and well-told. Westbay is a true storyteller with a gift for weaving familiar themes into a fascinating new world.

Pages: 414 | ASIN: B07DXP2Y8D

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The Truth Won’t Help Them Now – Trailer

It is 1939 when the bullet-riddled body of an accounting clerk from a gambling ship washes up under the Santa Monica pier. As city homicide detectives tenaciously chase down their only clue—a fast, expensive, and very exclusive Bugatti—their investigation leads them into a tangle of competing gangsters all looking to muscle their way to a bigger share of illegal gambling.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles County deputy district attorney Cliff Thoms is leading a special squad searching for a pair of serial killers who have already killed four young women and are on the hunt for more. Thoms, with the help of a self-proclaimed psychic he doesn’t quite trust, risks lives and careers in a desperate gamble to catch his elusive quarry. As the two investigations collide and rush to a deadly conclusion, dirty cops, DAs on the take, mobsters, grieving families, and reformer politicians must attempt to distinguish lies from the truth. Unfortunately, they are all about to discover that even the truth won’t help them now.

In this fast-paced tale of murder and gangland intrigue, a gritty district attorney and a band of detectives set out on a quest to solve two separate crimes amid a corrupted 1939 Los Angeles.

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Mylee in the Mirror

Mylee in the Mirror (Greek Mythology Fantasy Series Book 2) by [Collins, Ellie]

Mylee is experiencing one of the most trying times in her young life. Not only is she watching solemnly as her parents’ marriage hits its rockiest stretch to date, she is unable to convince her mother that she is happier and more productive not being a cheerleader. To top it off, Mylee should be having the time of her life as she seems to have caught the eye of the school’s most desired boy–real homecoming king material. Mylee just can’t seem to catch a break. When her beloved Grammy, her confidante, moves into a new apartment farther from Mylee’s home, the struggle becomes even more real.

Ellie Collins’s second book in her Greek mythology series, Mylee in the Mirror, is a fantastic follow up to her first, Daisy Bold and Beautiful. This young adult fiction series is shaping up to be an artfully designed set of books with well-developed characters and engrossing plot lines. Collins is a master at incorporating current teen culture and dialogue. Her writing flows smoothly, and her characters seems to jump off the page–especially her main characters. Mylee and Ty are an adorable pair and their friendship leaves the reader rooting for them from their very first interaction. Collins seems to have a knack for drawing a thoroughly detestable antagonist. Sam is clearly sketched as the villain, and the dialogue she has given him keeps readers focused on exactly how wonderful Ty is for Mylee–writing perfection.

Collins manages to tap into complex relationships quite easily whether it be the parent-child relationship or the ever-evolving relationships between teen friends. She pinpoints the drama that so easily arises between girls over potential love interests while at the same time highlighting how easily true friends are able to see the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

I am, again, intrigued by Collin’s use of Greek mythology in her plots. She pulls the story of her grandmother’s mirror and the tale of Aphrodite almost effortlessly into what, otherwise, reads as young adult fiction. The fact that Mylee is able to keep her experiences to herself and use what she learns from her encounters with the mirror is a truly unique approach in this genre.

Collins is an author to be watched in the coming years. The ease with which the words flow from her mind to the paper is to be envied indeed. Her writing is phenomenally engaging, and I look forward to seeing more from her series in the future. I highly recommend her writing to any parent of young teens looking to engage their children in well-written and timely books.

Pages: 180 | ASIN: B07JZKV317

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Cascarones

Cascarones by Sylvia Sánchez Garza is a book that feels more like a conversation between friends. Garza follows the life of a Mexican girl living in Texas and straddling the world of her culturally rich family and a whitewashed school she winds up going to in Houston. This isn’t the only aspect of her life that Garza delves into. She also explores the girl’s relationship with family members, her church, family traditions, and general everyday life. The book is a nice collection of individual stories about the same family with the same cast of characters.

This was a nice, easy read. It is simple without being boring. The individual stories make nice bite-size sections. This made it a fun, leisurely read. The book feels light. It doesn’t have that heavy, daunting feeling that some books do.

As previously stated, the book feels like a conversation. It feels like sitting and listening to someone reminisce about their childhood. I prefer first-person writing as a rule, and this book delivers. It makes it feel so much more personal and relatable. Readers will identify with pieces of Suzy’s stories and may see themselves in her experiences. Reading this book felt like getting to know a new friend.

I feel like I got to know the characters better through each story. Each story gave a better feel for the family. Even with short stories that could stand alone, the characters were well developed. It also gave a lot of insight into the culture of Mexican American families. It showed their strength and pride in their clinging to their traditions. There were quite a bit of Spanish words and dialogue in the book. I know very little Spanish and looked up a few words, but the vast majority of the meaning comes out in the context.

My only complaint is that I might have liked the stories better in a different order. I think I would have liked them to be in chronological order rather than jumping back and forth in time. It threw me the first time I realized Suzy was speaking as an adult. It took me a second to understand what was happening since it jumped from her being a kid to having kids, and back to a kid again. I lost my bearings a little but recovered quickly.

Cascarones by Sylvia Sánchez Garza is very well-written. There are very few errors, if any. It had a nice pace and flow. I liked following Suzy navigate between two worlds as she is pulled between her large Mexican family and living in America. It taught me a lot about the Mexican American culture that I didn’t know. I’d like to read more by Garza.

Pages: 162 | ISBN: 1724622889

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Lillee Can Be

Lillee Can Be by [Joseph, Adam Zebediah]
Adam Zebediah Joseph’s Lillee Can Be delivers a sugary sweet children’s book with a punchy, poetic pace and solid sense of cohesion overall. The book focuses on the school and extracurricular lives of two young twins in an unspecified setting, making it an allegory of sorts. Specifically, the twins provide a totally relatable dynamic for any reader with a sibling, as the book directly confronts feelings of inferiority, unequal recognition, and other relevant issues that many children experience.

Likewise, the author is perfectly on trend with the wave of subtle social justice and advocacy messages within children’s and young adult literature currently. For example, Joseph boldly tackles sexism, gender identity, equal pay, and other concepts beyond merely familial themes, yet he does it with humility, honesty, and ease, without any preachy or condescending tones. Although the male character is unnamed, the female character (or mini SHE-RO!) offers an affirmative, fun, feisty, and feminist protagonist for readers to emulate. Lillee, the main character, demonstrates resilience and displays fearless fortitude as she faces gender boundaries and revolutions about our world, social norms, and cultural mores in this vibrant but also bold, bubbly book.

As far as the pros and cons, I love that the book perceptively resonates with girl power. I also applaud how his writing cleverly employs a rhythmical quality that makes you want to sing or rap each page aloud-of course with a fist pump, too! I further appreciate the teachable lessons in this book beyond character education and tolerance, since Adam Zebediah Joseph also cites many careers for young children to pursue. Occupational terms in this book and illustrations make it suitable for a teacher, counselor, parent, or family member and embed superb context clues for the definitions. However, I was a bit dismayed that the male twin character remained nameless throughout the entire piece. This anonymity seemed to counter the equity themes that this book so adamantly advocated. While I also liked the pictures, I wanted a bit more multicultural depictions to truly illuminate the themes that book defends: equality, respect, inclusion, etc.

In sum, this book provides a mirror for young readers to assess not only themselves and their personal relationships around them, but also a path for sociopolitical awareness. Read it yourself to see if a fairy godmother emerges or if other lessons enlighten these characters as they grow and mature. The author shows empathy and wisdom to tackle themes with such poise and poetic power!

Pages: 50 | ASIN: B07F7XCTLV

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Discover Tomorrow – Trailer

He wanted to visit the outer world. To explore what was true? Or to make the truth his reality? He didn’t know if he was thinking wrong or right. False or true. It could only be tested after crossing the LABOON and reaching to the other side, but how? “How is it even possible for such a person like me?” He would often think a person who had a mind filled with only strict satanic rules of the Old Nicks to follow and systems to follow. And what about the wall!! Any person who wants to go outside or wants to come inside had to climb a wall that was much higher than the old world ‘statue of liberty’. And there was only one high gate to the city from where people could enter and leave. Since the establishment of LABOON, nobody from inside has ever successfully made it to the outside world. Sometimes rumors were heard that someone tried to come inside from the outer world but by doing so, they lost their lives. Nobody could cross that high security, and if someone was caught while crossing, he would be thrown to a big ground filled with deadly ants; the ‘little devils’ who would eat him up in a bit of second. Such high ground security with a free hand to kill anything if it’s suspicious. The dust spies spied and recorded every single moment around the wall and in the city. There were robots who would immediately fire and extinguish anything, anytime if it sounded suspicious. They had an eye from every angle. Satan was everywhere. You couldn’t hide, you couldn’t fool them. If you do anything wrong you’ll surely die. Who could dare to pass such a high security gate and a system that catches you, instantly. But….. What if someone from outside comes inside the Satanic city and change the way of living here. The way the people think, the way they see outer world. Alan had these questions in his mind ‘Do aliens or monsters or even other humans really exist outside the wall? Surely, there is life beyond the Satan’s rules.” ‘Don’t know what life it is beyond this box we are living in. Where to find it and how it actually looks like’ He would often think to himself.

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Adventures Set Exclusively in England

Tim Symonds Author Interview

Tim Symonds Author Interview

A Most Diabolical Plot is a collection of six Sherlock Holmes stories that perfectly fit the originals style. What draws you to the Sherlock Holmes mystery novels and their style of storytelling?

I first read the Sherlock Holmes ‘canon’ (the Arthur Conan Doyle originals) when I was at Elizabeth College, a boarding school in the British Crown Dependency of Guernsey, built in 1563. I must have been around 12 years of age. Although this was many decades after Conan Doyle penned his last story, life in a boarding school on a small island off the French coast was recognisably Edwardian in atmosphere. When the prefect or housemaster

Elizabeth College, Guernsey, C.I.

Elizabeth College, Guernsey, C.I.

turned off the dormitory lights and warned us not to talk any more, I retrieved a torch (flashlight) from under the mattress and spent an hour or so with Holmes and Watson while they encountered mastermind criminals (Professor Moriarty) and some downright East End thugs who would kill them as soon as look at them. Perfect escape from the rigours and routine of life at the college. In turn, my full-length novels are adventures equally designed to offer readers hours of sheer escape. ‘Sherlock Holmes And The Case Of The Bulgarian Codex’ takes place deep in the turbulent Balkans, ‘Sherlock Holmes And The Mystery of Einstein’s Daughter’ also takes the resolute investigators into the Balkans – Serbia – via a short stay in Switzerland. ‘Sherlock Holmes And The Sword of Osman’ finds them entering the hurry and scurry and paranoia of magnificent Constantinople in the bizarre last years of the Ottoman Empire and Sultanate. ‘Sherlock Holmes And The Nine-Dragon Sigil’ takes them even further afield, into the mysterious streets and colourful roofs of Peking’s Forbidden City’

What were some sources of inspiration for you while writing the stories in this new collection?

A reader in the United States wrote to me saying he enjoyed reading my novels but how about some more adventures set exclusively in England, with London’s mists, Watson’s Gentlemen’s clubs, 221B, Baker Street and so on? So in ‘A Most Diabolical Plot’ all six adventures take place almost exclusively in England. I describe them in the Introduction as follows:

‘The title story, A Most Diabolical Plot, involves the dastardly Colonel Moran hiding away on the borders of Suffolk and Essex, plotting a grisly death for his arch-enemy Sherlock Holmes. Holmes and Watson criss-cross England during those near-fabled days when Queen Victoria sat on the throne of Britain’s immense Empire, followed by her son Edward V11 and in turn her grandson George V. The spooky The Ghost Of Dorset House takes place in London’s expensive Mayfair district. Die Weisse Frau finds the pair caught up with horses, spies and Zeppelins in the midst of the Great War in the Wiltshire countryside not far from Stonehenge. The Mystery Of The Missing Artefacts opens with Watson a prisoner of war in the Ottoman Sultan’s Palace but moves quickly to the British Museum and the small village of Battle in deepest Sussex. The Pegasus Affair, a story of treachery, begins after Watson finds an envelope on the hall table at his Marylebone Medical Practice containing a cutting from The Eastbourne. The final story, The Captain In The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, is set in an East Anglian university town (possibly Cambridge) and around Apsley House, the great Duke of Wellington’s mansion at Hyde Park Corner.’

You were able to capture Sir Arthur Conan Doyle style of storytelling, but what were some new things you wanted to bring to the genre?

I’m always keen to bring into every one of the adventures just how valuable dear old Dr. John H. Watson is to Holmes’s success. In the original Conan Doyle stories, at best Holmes seems to tolerate his amiable companion while deriding him so often, for example ‘You see, but you do not observe, Watson!’ Five or six years ago I came across a description of a real Englishman I believe is/was the perfect John Watson. I was on a train to London Charing Cross from my home in a valley in deepest East Sussex when I read The Crooked Scythe, an anthology of memories of men and women of a past era—farm labourers, shepherds, horsemen, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, sailors, fisherman, miners, maltsters, domestic servants. The introduction described the author George Ewart Evans as follows: ‘George was in his mid-fifties when I first saw him… upright and vigorous, with an open and friendly manner and a clear, piercing gaze. He looked the part of a countryman, in a tweed jacket, a hat also of tweed, drill trousers, and stout brown shoes. As I grew to know him, I discovered that he was sympathetic and generous with help and encouragement. He was intelligent and shrewd; his judgements, though seldom sharply expressed, were acute and rational. In conversation he was tolerant and unassertive, but it was soon clear he held independent views with firmness and conviction’.’

I’m certain this is how Watson’s many friends at The Traveller’s or the Junior United Services clubs and at the Gatwick races would have viewed him too, a man of gentility albeit of straitened financial means and no property. All of us should have friends who wear stout brown shoes.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have just finished a further quite lengthy short story set in Crete as the First World War approaches. It’s titled ‘The Case of the Seventeenth Monk’. The first chapter is titled ‘A Visitor Arrives at Dr. Watson’s Clinic.’ ‘The Whittington chimes of the grandfather clock flooded along the hallway. It was five o’clock. I was alone in the consulting-room of my medical practice in London’s fashionable Marylebone district. If no further patients came, I could soon stroll to the In and Out Naval and Military Club for Soup of the Day and Whitebait. I walked across to the window and stared out. A light drizzle put me into a contemplative mood. Some months had passed since, to the relief of the criminal underworld, my old friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes retired at the very height of his powers. The decision had taken me utterly by surprise.’

‘The Case Of The Seventeenth Monk’ will appear in the 2019 edition of The MX Book Of New Sherlock Holmes Stories.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

A Most Diabolical Plot: Six Compelling Sherlock Holmes Stories by [Symonds, Tim]In the year 1903 – the exact moment is now lost to history – Sherlock Holmes proclaimed to the world he was quitting England’s Capital to go into retirement on a small, wind-swept farm in the Sussex South Downs. His shocked comrade-in-arms Dr. John H. Watson was later to write, ‘The decision took me utterly by surprise. I thought I had become an institution around Holmes, like his Stradivarius, or the old, oily black clay pipe and his index books.’ Reluctantly Watson wrote up three recent cases yet unpublished and returned to his medical practice. Holmes retirement didn’t last long. Once more his faithful Amanuensis Watson took up his pen – and his Army Service revolver. The result was three more of the most intriguing cases ever undertaken by the famous pair. All six adventures have now been brought together in this special edition.

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Explore the Choice Between Good and Evil

Kathryn Hollingworth Author Interview

Kathryn Hollingworth Author Interview

You Owe Me One spans hundreds of years and follows several characters that are trying to save their souls. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?

Initially I wrote You Owe Me One as a short story, which focuses upon Joe Durrant. Then I began to ask myself how Joe had first encountered the Devil. I thought of the idea of having an antique mirror as a portal and then the character of Charles came into my head. Charles became very real to me and I enjoyed writing about him and his struggles. He was a very modern man, living in an outdated and prejudiced society. I have been to Paris on many occasions, so my inspiration for his travels was inspired by my visits there.

There were several well developed characters in this story. Who was your favorite to write for?

My favorite character is Joe. Although he is impulsive, reckless and quick-tempered, he is strong, brave and immensely kind. He gains maturity in the novel and is always concerned about the welfare of others. These qualities enable him to stand up to Satan.

This is a thought provoking novel that questions Christian ideals. What were some themes that were important for you to explore?

The intention of the novel was to explore the choice between good and evil, rather than to question Christian ideals. Some of the characters are Christians and the tragic events they experience lead them to question their faith. Others, like Desire and Chantelle, have high moral values, but are logical and have no spiritual beliefs. I wanted to represent people with different opinions on religion in my novel.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am working on a fantasy series. I hope that the first book will be available by the end of 2019. It is called Starlight and Sorcery.

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You Owe Me One by [Hollingworth, Kathryn]

Two young men, living separate lives more than a century apart, are hounded by the same dark entity. Against the backdrops of nineteenth century Louisiana and Paris, through to modern day Florida, they each struggle to save their souls and to find love and happiness. This is a story about the battle between good and evil.

“How does it feel to meet your old buddy, head-on near the fires of home?”
I can barely speak. I manage to say something, between bursts of coughing. “So, that’s where I’m going? You’re sending me to Hell?”
“Well, Joe, you do owe me one,” says my old buddy and smiles warmly. Blackness.

“Some people say that the closer you are to God the more the Devil comes after you. Well, that sure is true in my case. Maybe that’s why I’m crouched down at the back of a Baptist church, where there’s a service in full swing, clutching a powerful crossbow I bought at a store with fake ID, because I’m only sixteen. I fully intend to use it; the crossbow I mean.

The Devil must be chuckling with glee if he’s watching me now, for as a child I was as close to God as anyone could be. Two church services on Sunday and Bible Study twice a week was part of my regular routine. Now I can taste bile rising in my mouth, as I hear the cries of hallelujah. In a nearby window I can see a lone vulture swooping down from the sky. As I slowly rise up onto my feet, the outline of the wedding guests comes into view. The floral dresses, fancy hats and corsages, all blend into a garish kaleidoscope of horror. My vision is blurred and I pause for a moment as my lungs seem to constrict, so that it’s getting hard to breathe. My hands shake as I load a bolt into the crossbow and walk up the aisle, and all the while I’m wondering if I am truly Satan’s collaborator.”

I began to ascend the flight of steps which led to Montmartre, eager to disassociate myself from the body lying in the road below. I watched the scene from the top of the steps, afraid that I may have been spotted, although I could see no one nearby. At first the street was quiet and still, as in a time of prayer or of mourning. Then the people came running from all directions. They seemed to descend on him like vultures, their black cloaks flapping like wings, their raucous cries of alarm raking the still air. Many of them had dark eyes, I was sure of that, even at a distance, as they came running towards him through the Parisian streets. They had dark eyes that were shrewd and sharp and keen. Their crow-colored heads glistened in the sunlight. Were they here to help him or to pick his pockets for silver, like the magpies I had seen in the woods around the chateau? But it was too late to help this man. He was already on his way to Hell. They seemed surreal, like visitors from the underworld who had come to claim his soul.

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