COLLABTHOLOGY: KINDLE OF THE DEAD is a taster/promo Kindle book thing (e-book! that's it) brought to YOU by the chumps I'm writing Collaboration of the Dead with (to recap, there're a whole bunch of writers who're doing a couple of chapters - in a random order - to write a zombie novel, and so far it's looking ACE). This e-book contains the first 5 chapters, plus a ton of short horror stories by collab (and non-collab) writers. Get it HERE! Unfortunately, I was too busy to get a story sorted for inclusion, but I did make the nifty logo ;)
TALES FROM THE VOID is now available to buy HERE! And here's a juicy excerpt from my story in it, 'MIDNIGHT IN A SMALL TOWN':
Reggie Jones had suffered the double indignity of premature grey hair, and early-onset male pattern baldness, reducing his once-lustrous curls to a ponytail and a ring of hair around the top of his ears. To the casual onlooker, it would appear that Reggie Jones had realized he could still grow some hair and thought, 'Do you know what? I'm going to make the most of it'. As a style, it was as unsuitable as calling a middle-class white boy from California 'Reginald'.
Small, round glasses constantly roosted on the edge of his nose, giving him an air of 'casual librarian', whilst a scruffy shirt and trousers hid both his paunch and meticulous desire for neatness and order. Since he was by no means an unattractive man, Reggie knew his occupation wrong-footed many female acquaintances. Reggie Jones was the county coroner, and he loved his job.
“I can't wait to see this deer!” He grinned at Earl. “But why's it here?”
Earl strode towards his friend, and then shook his hand. “I didn't have any room at the surgery, and I wanted to keep it in as complete a condition as possible for you to examine,” Earl explained, leading Reggie around the back of Hannon's Family Butchers. “Bill had plenty of room in his meat locker, and I reasoned that as long as I kept the deer covered up, there wouldn't be any risk of contamination.”
“Did you tell him that?”
“No. I just said me and the boys needed somewhere to store our kill from this morning for a couple of hours, and he didn't mind.”
“What didn't I mind?” Bill stood by the open back door, the remnants of a hand-rolled cigarette in his mouth.
“Just telling Reggie what a pal you are, Bill--letting me store some meat here.”
“Hey, no problem.” Bill spat the cigarette out and crushed it underfoot, and then lead the two other men inside. “Say, Earl, you've got the be the only vet I know who likes killing animals as much as saving 'em.” Bill chuckled, unlocking the large door to the cold storage.
“How many vets do you know?”
“Just you,” the butcher said, grinning. He swung the door open and flicked a switch.
Harsh fluorescents buzzed into life and bathed hanging slabs of meat in light, their surfaces caked in red frost. The deer--safely wrapped in a green, plastic bodybag--hung at the back of the walk-in refrigerator, surrounded by empty hooks.
“Give me a hand pulling it down, Earl,” Jones said, pushing his glasses further up on his nose. Earl stepped closer, and together the two men grabbed the bag. It immediately sprang to life--wicked, black hooks slicing out from inside of the bag, revealing both a tumorous growth and the dead eyes of the deer itself.
“Fuck!” Bill pinballed off slabs of meat as he staggered backwards out of the meat locker.
“I thought you said it was dead!” Jones shouted at Earl, fighting the animal's kicking legs whilst simultaneously trying to dodge insectile claws which slashed through the bag.
“It was! You can see the bullet hole where Hank put one through its brain! Dammit--” Earl let go of the struggling corpse, then dashed from the room.
He returned a moment later with his hunting rifle--to find Jones standing back and watching the creature as it buckled and writhed, bleating tonelessly and shrilly.
Earl aimed at the beast's head and fired a single, devastating shot. Pieces of the animal's skull exploded through the back of the bodybag, showering blood and bone across the back wall of the meat locker. Jones held his hands up to his ears and swore profusely.
As the animal continued to jerk and scream, Earl realized he'd shot the wrong part. He raised the rifle and fired directly into the black mass inside of its body. The deer and the black organism jerked once, twice--and then slumped inside the remains of the bodybag, fully dead once more.
“Christ on a bike!” Jones half-laughed. “I have never seen anything like that before in my life!” Making noises of relief, he tried to lift the carcass off the hook. Earl slung his gun over his shoulder and helped his friend, mindful of the black liquid that oozed inside the tattered bag.
They lifted the body together and carried it out of the shop via the back door. Bill followed them, his face pale. Wringing his hands, he said, “What was that? What happened?”
“I had to kill it again,” Earl said, lifting up and locking the back panel to the pick-up.
“Why the hell--”“Oh, and you might want to wear gloves next time you go in the fridge,” Jones added, sliding into the truck's passenger seat. “It made a bit of a mess.”