Friday, April 30, 2021

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for May 1, 2021


It's time for the latest weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general, season 4 of The Handmaid's Tale, The Nevers, Shadow and Bone, Mortal Kombat, Yasuke, Stowaway, Doctor Who past and future, Things Heard and Seen, a third Worldcon bid for 2023, Disney's continuing failure to pay writers and much more.

Speculative fiction in general:
Film and TV:
Comments on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general (spoilers)
Comments on The Nevers
Comments on Shadow and Bone:

Comments on Mortal Kombat
Comments on Stowaway:
Writing, publishing and promotion:



Classics reviews:

Con and event reports:
Science and technology:

Free online fiction:
Trailers and videos: 


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for April 2021


Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie and small press authors newly published this month, though some March books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, dystopian fiction, Cyberpunk, Steampunk, gothic horror, vampires, werewolves, dragons, demons, aliens, ghosts, superheroes, time travel, global warming, voodoo, space explorers, wizards, cyborg detectives, crime-busting witches, crime-busting psychics, paradox twins and much more.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

The Red Man and Others by Angeline B. Adams and Remco van StratenThe Red Man and Others by Angeline B. Adams and Remco van Straten:

Teenage con-artist Sebastien and sell-sword Kaila get even with a cult, while Ymke learns what true strength is. As the women find each other, the boy finds sainthood.

Three journeys of self-discovery; three stories of loss, love and adventure:

In a divided city, the small but tough sell-sword Kaila and the teenage con-artist Sebastien don their disguises and play their parts to get their own back on a religious cult.

In the war-torn north of Cruoningha, Ymke and her father live in exile. When her father rescues a giant warrior, Ymke learns that strength is not a matter of muscle alone, and that sometimes the price of hiding is too great.

As Sebastien is elevated to sainthood on the rock of Otasfaust, the Kaila and Ymke find each other, and a new purpose for their talents.

The paperback edition is expanded from the digital edition, and features additional art, flash fic and an interview.

Coyle and Fang: Curse of Shadows by Robert Adauto IIICoyle and Fang: Curse of Shadows by Robert Adauto III:

Sherlyn Coyle is left for dead by her murderous ex-fiance, known around the world as "The Ripper". Using her brilliant crime-solving skills to become a detective, she plans to bring him to justice. But the year is 1892 in a male-dominated world and the odds are pitted against her.

Fang, a lab-created vampire assassin, has just broken out of her cell and she's looking for the man who put her there. But the ghost of her dead sister turns her in a different direction, one that requires her to seek help in the form of a brilliant detective.

Together they learn an ancient book, The Curse of Shadows, has been stolen by an evil genius; Moreci, the same man who helped create Fang. Can Coyle and Fang trust each other enough to find and stop Moreci from killing tens of thousands?

Set in an alternative steampunk history, Coyle and Fang: Curse of Shadows is the first installment of a series. Each book is packed with rich characters, intrigue and so much action, you won't want to put the book down.

Warrior's Reign by Emma AlisynWarrior's Reign by Emma Alisyn:

Redemption. Assassination. A bond forged under dark fire.

Reign Obe’shan is hot headed. Infuriating. Ambitious—

—unfailingly loyal and willing to maim, kill, or die for duty.

Reign's boss, Imperial royal warrior Vykhan loves her in secret, concealing his identity. Dark secrets shadow his steps, and despite his vow to protect her from a distance, his past threatens to ensnare them both.

He fears if he unleashes his inner beast it will have no mercy, not even for his fated mate.

But to block an enemy from claiming her—body and life—he has no choice but to let his dark side reign.

Warrior’s Reign is a sci fi alien fantasy romance for readers who love adventure, enemies and friends to lovers, fated mates, royal intrigue and steamy, edgy chemistry. Standalone, Book 6 in the Warrior of Yedahn series.

Tossing Dice by A.E. BransonTossing Dice by A.E. Branson:

Humanity has divided into two factions: the Elite ruling class that demands all persons submit to biotechnical enhancements, and the opponents driven underground because they desire to retain their individuality.

When an Intellectual Militant Prototype, known by the acronym IMP, decides to desert the Elite forces that created him, he gambles there is one logical choice on where to go. As a soldier genetically engineered to be a physically superior man, he isn’t readily received by his former enemies. But there are those willing to wager he can tip the odds in their favor to end a decades-long war.

His new life brings the IMP closer to his own humanity, but he also discovers an incredible secret that could end this conflict. And if the Elite find out about it, mankind may lose its last chance for survival.

Asylum by Lindsay BurokerAsylum by Lindsay Buroker:

A young woman with cybernetic upgrades, Mari Moonrazor has decided to flee the restrictive machine-worshipping cult she was raised in. She longs to know what it’s like to live among normal humans and experience simple biological pleasures like consuming alcohol, kissing a boy, and—most importantly—eating chocolate.

But her mother, the infamous astroshaman leader Kyla Moonrazor, is determined to get her back, even if it means sending a bounty hunter after her.

Mari’s only hope for freedom is to be granted asylum from the leaders of the powerful Star Kingdom. First, she must prove that she has knowledge and resources she can offer them. Second, she has to earn their trust.

This all would have been easier if her people hadn’t bombed their planet…


Asylum is a stand-alone novel in the Star Kingdom universe. It introduces new heroes, but old fans will enjoy visits with Casmir, Kim, Qin, Laser, Oku, and other favorites from the original series.

Kingdoms at War by Lindsay BurokerKingdoms at War by Lindsay Buroker:

As a cartography student, Jak has always dreamed of finding the lost dragon gate and exploring and mapping distant worlds.

Developing magical powers and becoming a powerful wizard? Not a chance.

Wizards are cruel and inhumane, warring with each other from their great sky cities and keeping most of humanity enslaved. Jak wants nothing to do with them.

But when he and his archaeologist mother unearth the gate, they attract the attention of the very wizards they sought to avoid. Even more troubling, Jak starts developing magical powers of his own, powers that could rival those of the great rulers.

Fate may have given him the opportunity to change the world.

But the wizard rulers don’t like change, and when they detect threats, they send their elite assassins to eliminate them.

If Jak can’t unlock the power of the gate, and the powers within himself, the world will remain enslaved forever.

The Paradox Twins by Joshua ChaplinskyThe Paradox Twins by Joshua Chaplinsky:

The Paradox Twins is a copyright infringing biographical collage that exists on the Internet, pieced together by an unknown auteur.

Named for the famous thought experiment, it concerns estranged twin brothers who reunite at their father's funeral to discover they no longer look alike. Haunted by the past (and possibly the future), they move into their father's house to settle his affairs, only to reignite old rivalries and uncover long-hidden secrets, most of which involve the young woman who lives next door.

An epistolary work comprised of excerpts from various memoirs, novels, screenplay adaptations, and documents of public record, The Paradox Twins is an experimental, sci-fi ghost story about the scariest, most unknowable quantity there is-family.

Still of the Night by Cerise ColeStill of the Night by Cerise Cole:

he seals are cracking. Hell will follow after, and I'm caught in the middle.

Everyone says I'm cursed. My father would've used the word evil. That's his excuse for being so strict, at any rate. Little does he know how right he is. I might look like a good girl on the outside, but deep down I'm really not.

I carry the mark on my hand to prove it.

But being good means not getting in trouble at school or he'll take it out on me. I am barely allowed to hang out with my friends, and they're starting to resent it. The safe and stable life I've been forced into is falling apart.

Then my stepbrother moves in.

Suddenly, being good doesn't seem so important. He makes friends with the local bad boys, and being around them feels like exactly where I belong. The problem is that Dad is having none of it. They're trouble, I'm supposed to be good, and the only one suffering here is me.

I'm going to have to choose what matters most. Is it the years I've spent with my best friend? The boyfriend who's my escape from this insanity? Or maybe it's the three guys who finally make me feel alive - even with all the secrets they keep.

Secrets that I'm stuck in the middle of.
Secrets that prove I'm so much worse than I thought.
Secrets that are tied directly to the scar on my hand.

Supernova by C. GockelSupernova by C. Gockel:

The final chapter in the Archangel Project Series.

Beyond the borders of known space a Dark Fleet is gathering...

Volka, 6T9, Carl Sagan, and their band of sentient faster-than-light ships are charged with finding the Dark's forces. But the enemy is closer than they realize, and the Dark's next strike will be sooner than they think.

When the attack comes our heroes will be forced to evolve once more. Volka has become a true telepath. To fight the Dark, she must become a true leader as well. 6T9 is capable of destruction with a machine's lack of remorse. He must learn when to stay his hand...not just to save humanity, but to keep the woman he loves.

They must succeed, because the Dark has been evolving too. Carefully. Methodically. And it will stop at nothing short of the extinction of the human race.

Hex, Drugs and Rock and Roll by Lily Harper HartHex, Drugs and Rock and Roll by Lily Harper Hart:

There’s a dark shadow hanging over the French Quarter, and Ofelia Archer is constantly looking over her shoulder because of it, waiting for the enemy to strike. While searching for one enemy, however, she finds another.

On what was supposed to be a relaxing day on the riverwalk, a knife-wielding man tries to take out a street performer and chaos ensues. Ofelia manages to disarm the assailant, but when he’s being loaded into a police cruiser he explodes – literally – releasing a wave of magic that knocks down everybody in Jackson Square.

Upon waking up, Ofelia is convinced it was some sort of surgical attack. When some of the people present at the event start tracking her down with murder on their minds, she becomes more convinced than ever that she was right.

Tourists, police officers, and locals are becoming possessed. The one thing they all seem to have in common is a need to track down Ofelia … and end her.

Zacharias Sully vowed to protect Ofelia no matter what. The odds this time feel longer than ever.

Ofelia and Sully are a team. Working together, they must find a hidden enemy while another stalks their every move. It’s going to take both of them together to come out safely on the other side.

What’s waiting for them there might be even more terrifying.

Legend of the Easter Dragon by Kelsey HodgeLegend of the Easter Dragon by Kelsey Hodge:


Secrets and ancient prophecies are all make-believe, right?

I’m nobody special, just your average person looking forward to the one day a year I get to spend with my best friend. Suddenly, when fairytales and prophecies storm into my life, everything changes... quite literally.


Some secrets are necessary when the truth is unbelievable.

Alwyn’s always been special to me, but there are things I keep hidden from him. Revelations that are too unbelievable for the human world. When my best friend is suddenly thrust into my world, the truth must be told, and our friendship and future change in ways I never expected—but always secretly hoped for.

The Grissom Contention by Julia HuniThe Grissom Contention by Julia Huni:

Honor and glory await those who graduate from the Explorer Academy. Or so she’s been told...

Fresh from the mission to Earth, Siti Kassis, daughter of the "Hero of Darenti Four," enrolls in the Colonial Explorer Corps academy--the same academy where her father was the captain of the grav-ball team, and still holds flight records for the extreme piloting competitions. As the daughter of a revered alum, she's expected to lead the legacy students to victory in every training scenario and game.

But Siti wants to prove her own worth. Shunned by the other legacies when she refuses to play by their unfair rules, she joins a band of misfits for her class's most arduous trial: Prime Survival Week.

When Siti and her friends discover they've been dropped into PSW with no supplies, no rules, and no end, will they figure out how to survive? Or will they devise a plan to win?

Tropical Punch by S.C. JensenTropical Punch by S.C. Jensen:

Strippers, Drugs, and Headless Corpses…

All in a day’s work for Bubbles Marlowe, HoloCity’s only cyborg detective.

What do an anti-tech cult, a deadly new street drug, and the corrupt Chief of Police have in common?

It’s a question Bubbles can’t afford to ask. Last time she got curious it cost her job, a limb, and almost her life.

She vows to stay out of police business. But with a newly minted cybernetic enhancement, a semi-legal P.I. licence, and a knack for asking the wrong kind of questions…

Vows are made to be broken.

But as the body count stacks up, Bubbles realizes she’s made a terrible mistake.

Can she figure out who is behind the murders before she loses her head?

If you love glitter, grit, and hard-boiled badassery, you’ll love this new take on the classic detective novel because it's got non-stop action, lots of laughs, and a sassy robotic pig.

God King Rising by Jeffrey L. KohanekGod King Rising by Jeffrey L. Kohanek:

Two queens.

One rules by fear, her citizens laboring to fund the lavish lifestyle of the wizard class. The other believes in justice and compassion, earning her the love of her subjects...and the enmity of her wizard peers.

Both will die.

In one wizardom, a secret rebellion brews. A hero to the people rises, fueled by a mysterious sorcerer's blood magic. But at what cost?

Conspiracies and assassins lurk in every shadow, threatening the throne of another nation. The scheming wizard behind it will stop at nothing to claim the crown. Yet, even he is a pawn.

What force is behind it all? What is their endgame?

Blood Debt by Erme LanderBlood Debt by Erme Lander:

“It’s not a nervous tick Gavin. If this gets out I could kill someone.”

Addicted to the drugs she is taking to suppress her changing abilities, Mika is readying herself to take over the position of Court Medici when she hears her sons have arrived at the border between the two countries and are asking for her. They are strangers, she’s not met them since she gave them up as babies thirteen years ago and they have their own problems. Her only hope - and theirs - lies in the changer community in the mountains.

Mika - nothing more than a fifteen year old girl who has lost her twin brother. The circumstances leading to her arranged marriage and the unwanted discovery that she can change her skin.

The Medici Chronicles follows Mika through nearly twenty years of her life as she disguises herself as a boy to survive, learns to become a Medici and struggles to find where she belongs.

The events in Blood Debt happen about three years after those in Medici of Ackbarr.

A Little Slice of Death by Amanda M. LeeA Little Slice of Death by Amanda M. Lee:

Stormy Morgan thought coming home to Shadow Hills would break her. Instead, she’s found strength, and only part of it is because she’s discovered that she’s a witch. Now, with her great-grandmother coming to town, she’s finally in line for some answers. Now she just has to solve a pesky little murder before she’s free to cast and curse.

Following their first date, a quiet outing for pizza and romance, Stormy and her boyfriend Hunter Ryan discover that the owner Giovanni Rossi was gunned down in his parking lot sometime during the overnight hours. To make matters worse, Stormy believes she dreamed of the murder before finding out about it, which throws everybody for a loop.

Even though Hunter would prefer Stormy focus on her great-grandmother, he’s resigned to the fact that she can’t turn away from the investigation. Together, they start digging … and discover some disturbing clues involving various community members.

Stormy’s magic is evolving, almost on a daily basis, and it’s only outpaced by her curiosity. Once faced with a mystery, she can’t look away, and those who love her most will be dragged along for the ride.

Strap in, because as Stormy learns more about what she can do – with a little help from the Winchesters from Hemlock Cove – she’ll become a force to be reckoned with. She just has to survive long enough to reach her full potential … and that’s easier said than done.

Too Good to Be True by M.T. McGuireToo Good To Be True by M.T. McGuire:

A job that calls for a hero. But they're busy.

When The Pan of Hamgee encounters some mudlarkers trying to land a box on the banks of the River Dang he is happy to help. Having accepted a share of the contents as a reward he cannot believe his luck. It contains one of the most expensive delicacies available in K’Barth, Goojan spiced sausage. If he can sell it, the sausage might spell the end of his troubles. On the other hand, knowing his luck, it could bring a whole load more.

Written in British English with a dash of light swearing. Suitable for any reader of any age from 10 up - younger readers who have read all the Harry Potter books without any worries will be fine with the Hamgeean Misfit stories.

Imperial Recruit by Terry MixonImperial Recruit by Terry Mixon:

Andrea Tolliver—a genetically designed human from the Singularity—has finally earned a spot in the Imperial Marines. If she makes it through training, she’ll earn citizenship.

If not—well, best not to think about that.

With ruthless enemies willing to do anything to stop her, she’ll need all the help she can get to survive. Even with friends working from the shadows to keep her safe, will that be enough to keep her alive?

The Emissary by G.J. OgdenThe Emissary by G.J. Ogden:

Space is cold. But the heart of an Omega Captain is colder still

The Sa’Nerra were close to defeat, then everything changed. Armed with a unique neural weapon, the merciless alien warriors turned Fleet crew against their own. Entire warships went rogue. Suspicion and fear ran riot. Surrender seemed like the only option.

But Captain Lucas Sterling knows that in the fight against the Sa’Nerra there is only victory or death.

Sterling is an Omega Captain. His rank and his command of the Fleet Marauder Invictus were both won in a depraved and monstrous trial of grit and determination.

Sterling will do anything to ensure the Sa’Nerra do not prevail. Even if that means killing Fleet crew that have been “turned”. Even if that means killing the people he loves.

But the neural control weapon is not the only danger Fleet faces. Deep inside the Void the aliens are building a super-weapon. Sterling and his crew must destroy it at all costs.

Back on Earth, the United Governments are desperate for peace. Then after fifty years without a single word of contact between the two races, the Sa’Nerra finally send an emissary.

But the belligerent alien race sent an emissary of war, not peace.

The fate of humanity now lies in the hands of Captain Sterling and the Omega officers of the Invictus. But victory is only possible if he is willing to do anything it takes to win.

The Report of Mr. Charles Aalmers by Matthew Pungitore The Report of Mr. Charles Aalmers and Other Stories by Matthew Pungitore:

In "The Report of Mr. Charles Aalmers," Matthew Pungitore crafts a spine-chilling story about a surreal chain of maddening events surrounding a historian and his beloved friend. Encounter a lurid report written in a disturbing manuscript found in a Gothic crypt guarded by strange rumors and an indescribable being. Additionally, this anthology includes many more thrilling yarns most grotesque, most sublime, wonderfully Gothic, charmingly dreamy, and certainly weird: "Black Torque Demon," "Dubhdris Abbey," "Fetch of Prismatic Froth," "Grumocruth," "Idyll For An Allhallowtide Masque And Romance," "Jade Gorget Hex," "O Tumult Unearthly," "Platinoid Pearl Rapture," "Ultramundane Numina in the Forbidden Tomb," and "Zynzblazoth."

Eyes of Tomorrow by Glynn StewartEyes of Tomorrow by Glynn Stewart:

An ancient power unleashed from its prison.
Fleets summoned by oaths old and new alike.
A rising tide of war that may consume the galaxy!

Captain Morgan Casimir’s mission to stop a war has ended in a nightmare. In the heart of an ignored nebula, trapped behind a ring of newborn stars, she has awoken a creature of another time: the horde of biological starships who call themselves the Infinite.

Fifty thousand years ago, the Infinite drove the galaxy’s Alavan Precursors to a grave mistake that destroyed all that was. Unleashed once more by the very people Morgan Casimir sought to stop, the Infinite now threaten an entirely new era. The only thing standing in their way is a fragile alliance of old enemies, determined to keep them contained in the Astoroko Nebula.

But when that ancient prison fails, the galaxy must stand together—or watch the beginning of a golden age dissolve into apocalypse…

Cursed Demon by Brogan ThomasCursed Demon by Brogan Thomas:

In this world...

...being human is a death sentence.

Surrounded by powerful and dangerous creatures, Emma relies on her demon master for his protection. She has spent her whole life trying to keep out of trouble and stay in his good graces.

But when a freak accident causes her to stumble upon a restricted building, she makes a shocking discovery, a rare female wolf shifter.

Determined to help the wolf shifter escape and find her pack, Emma is forced to flee the demon's estate…all the while dreading the reaction of her demon master once he finds out. But he’s the least of her problems. She soon finds herself in the crosshairs of a less-than-grateful elite hellhound.

Accused of crimes she didn’t commit and kidnapped by the infuriated hellhound, Emma’s only solace is in the fact that she’s immune to magic. But immunity to magic, as she finds out, can be both a blessing and a curse…

Tempest in the Tea Leaves by Kari Lee TownsendTempest on the Tea Leaves by Kari Lee Townsend:

In the fortune telling business there are a lot of pretenders, but Sunshine Meadows is the real deal—and her predictions can be lethally accurate…

Leaving the Big Apple for the quaint town of Divinity, New York, Sunny is determined to make it on her own as a psychic. With an ancient Victorian house as her place of business, Sunny uses various psychic methods to aid the town’s residents. But when she uses tea leaves to give a reading for a frazzled librarian, what she finds at the bottom of the cup is anything but helpful. Sunny informs the police of her deadly vision, but her warning is too late. And with hard-nosed, ruggedly handsome Detective Mitch Stone denying her abilities and naming her prime suspect, the situation is dire. Now Sunny has to use her visions to clear her name, before the killer can put an end to the psychic’s.

SpiceFire 3: The Temple of Andromeda by B.J. WestSpliceFire 3: The Temple of Andromeda by B.J. West:

Spider King barely knows anything about the mysterious programmer known only as St. Jude,” except that she pays well and keeps her cards well-hidden. That’s understandable considering she’s hiding from Richard Newbridge, a cold-blooded industrialist bent on killing her for stealing priceless secrets.

Once again, she comes to the Gordian Net for help, but this time it’s a job so dangerous that no amount of money seems enough to take it on. She is asking them to break her father, a top-level computer scientist, out of the most secure prison on the planet.

Are Spider, Nishi, and Elegua in over their heads this time?

Carrie Anne's World by Mark WhitewayCarrie Anne's World by Mark Whiteway:

Mike O'Keefe arrives on the paradise island of Koh Tao only to be caught up in a terrorist attack by a radical environmental group. In a recurring dream, he encounters a mysterious young girl on a beach who cannot remember her past. She writes a message in the sand, 6 = 3, and begs him to help her find the "Saelak". Dismissing the experience as the product of a fevered imagination, he settles into life on the island. But when the environmental threat ramps up and elements of his dream world begin bleeding into reality, Mike is propelled on a journey across time and space that must end in the destruction or salvation of Humanity.

Bayou Whispers by R.B. WoodBayou Whispers by R.B. Wood:

Bayou Whispers, the latest thriller from horror writer R.B. Wood, is the story of no-nonsense New Orleans native, Jeannine LaRue, the sole survivor of her family after the devastation brought on by Hurricane Katrina. In the aftermath of the storm, she believed she'd been saved, but soon found herself held hostage and sexually exploited, rescued months later by sheriff’s deputy Curtis Jones.

Twelve years after Katrina, Jeannine is a new attorney who returns to New Orleans to save her old friend Curtis Jones—now a local thief and trafficker of stolen goods—after he is arrested for the murder of Jeannine’s captors, whose bodies have recently been found. But Jeannine discovers more than she bargained for when she uncovers a family history of dark voodoo magic and an unholy alliance with an ancient evil Haitian god.

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Bayou Whispers by R.B. Wood

Release date: April 29, 2021
Subgenre: Horror thriller

About Bayou Whispers:


Bayou Whispers, the latest thriller from horror writer R.B. Wood is the story of no-nonsense New Orleans native, Jeannine LaRue, the sole survivor of her family after the devastation brought on by Hurricane Katrina. In the aftermath of the storm, she believed she'd been saved, but soon found herself held hostage and sexually exploited, rescued months later by sheriff’s deputy Curtis Jones. 


Twelve years after Katrina, Jeannine is a new attorney who returns to New Orleans to save her old friend Curtis Jones—now a local thief and trafficker of stolen goods—after he is arrested for the murder of Jeannine’s captors, whose bodies have recently been found. But Jeannine discovers more than she bargained for when she uncovers a family history of dark voodoo magic and an unholy alliance with an ancient evil Haitian god. 





31 October 2005

Orleans Parish, Louisiana


On Halloween night that year, no little ghosts or goblins wandered the streets in search of candy. No laughter rang out in what was left of the Lower 9th Ward neighborhood. Two months after Katrina had ravaged this place, it still resembled a war zone, covered in debris and stagnant pools of foul-smelling water from the levee breach.

As midnight approached, a young teenager—naked, dirty, covered in mosquito bites, and with a nasty leg wound wrapped in crusted-over grey rags—stumbled from a copse of trees. She was thin, so very thin, weighing barely eighty pounds.

The muddy and cracked streets before her sat dark and empty; human detritus littered the roads and yards, and the skeletons of ruined homes bore unintelligible spray paint that looked more like the desperate scratching of a fluorescent wild beast than symbols from a nameless insurance company or traumatized recovery workers.

It was a city of the dead, a city of the damned.

Right foot, left foot drag. One step at a time. The pain didn’t matter. It can’t matter.

Jeannine had been walking for what felt like forever, almost in a trance, placing one bloody foot in front of the other. Moving forward was the only thing that mattered.

Keep moving. Those white guys might be following. Keep moving.

Right foot, left foot drag.

She walked through glass and rusted nails, around junked appliances and damp, moldy couches. A dog barked once in the distance.

A patrol car sat watch at the end of the street, engine idling. Jeannine approached, fear causing each step to hesitate. The light of a burning cigarette brightened as the occupant of the vehicle, still in shadow, took a long drag.

“Help,” croaked Jeannine. Her voice strained, rough. Insects chirped. Frogs called to their mates. No one heard her.

Right foot, left foot drag.

The person in the car took another pull, a dot of orange light flaring, then fading.

“Help!” she called, louder this time. The insects and the frogs stopped. The patrol car’s dome light winked on as the door opened.

Jeannine screamed.

She screamed as the cop ran toward her. She screamed as the cop took off his own shirt to wrap around her. She screamed as the cop carried her to the car.

“Jesus H. Christ! Randy, call for an ambulance!” yelled the cop.       

The cop’s partner, still inside the car, got on the radio.

Jeannine continued to scream until her vocal cords tore. She tasted blood.

“You’re safe, honey,” said the cop for the seventh time. Jeannine finally heard him.





About R.B. Wood:


Author biography: R. B. Wood is a recent MFA graduate of Emerson College and a writer of speculative and dark thrillers. Mr. Wood recently has appeared in Crystal Lake Publishing’s Shallow Water’s anthology, as well as online via SickLit Magazine &, and in the award-winning anthology “Offbeat: Nine Spins on Song” from Wicked Ink Books.  Along with his writing passion, R. B. is the host of The Word Count Podcast—a show of original flash fiction.


R. B. currently lives in Boston with his partner Tina, a multitude of cats, and various other critters that visit from time to time.