Monday, 30 December 2013

Part 1 of The Deadlands: Episode 1 Released

I uploaded the first two scenes/segments of the serial story, The Deadlands: Episode 1, I'm working on to Wattpad earlier. It's not a complete episode, but what I uploaded are two scenes/segments I'm rather happy with currently. At least the first segment. I'll upload the rest of the episode by next Monday hopefully. Also, you should be aware that it's very much a work in progress and that I'm a pantster by nature with just the ending in mind. Plus it's being written as I upload parts.

The picture . . . don't be mislead by it. It's essentially a dark fantasy, post-apocalyptic story that's gritty and adult in nature with some heavy themes explored. Basically, a man finds a girl who's alone and she's been taken advantage of. He decides to try and get her home. When he reaches the settlement, he becomes embroiled in the settlement's conflicts. Things such as racism, crime and power struggles. The guns are simply on the cover to try and give the impression of a post-apocalyptic, lawless land. They possibly don't get the right impression across, but I honestly have no artistic skill when designing covers and I have no money to spend unfortunately, so I had to try and make the best of photos I could find where I was free to use them without attribution.

The Deadlands

That's the link to the story. If you read it, I hope you enjoy it and thanks. Also, if you enjoy it, can leave feedback, vote (provided it deserves the vote) and spread the word, I'd really appreciate it.

Feedback wise, I don't want to make major content changes to parts already uploaded unless it's really needed, because I don't want readers to read a part, read a later part and then find inconsistencies. They might have to read the whole thing again to understand things. So, any content feedback and thoughts along those lines will be used to shape future parts. Technical feedback, however, or just letting me know if you enjoyed/disliked the story? That's definitely more than welcome.

If you do like what you read, you can find my short stories for sale at Amazon UK and Amazon US. Personally, I'd recommend Gus, though it's short. I think I have a lot to say about people and society in general with that story. I keep thinking of the phrasing of the first sentence in that story, but everything else I'm more than happy with.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

A Christmas Drabble

A drabble, of 98 words, where a dog finds a new home, primarily written to test the waters on Wattpad. A drabble itself is defined as being a piece of writing of 100 words or less. And I got the idea of just quickly writing something up after seeing a post by Frenchie, a friend on Goodreads and Facebook, where she posted her own drabble. So, even though it was inadvertent, thanks for giving me the idea. :) I figured it'd be a good way to test the water a bit and get people exposed to my writing rather than waiting for a longer work. Also posting it here though as it's obviously not something I want to do anything with.

My Wattpad profile, by the way, can be found at:

Hope you enjoy it. (Please don't forget that my short story, Gus, is free on Amazon until the 28th.)

A Christmas Drabble

Snow falls. A dog, lame-legged, lies on a street corner. Fur partly snow-white. He looks up at passers-by with black eyes and feasts upon scraps. Either ignored or treated abhorrently by tormentors, he wishes for company. Someone to care for him.

Before Christmas Eve’s end, a father and his daughter pass him by, the daughter’s face red and showing disappointment. They walk by, but stop. The daughter’s face lights up, tugs on her father’s sleeve, points.

The father sighs, but smiles slightly, shaking his head. He kneels beside the dog, says, “Hungry?” and ruffles the dog’s fur.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Book Review: Sweet Violent Femmes, by Holly M. Kothe (Short Story Collection)

I just finished reading Sweet Violent Femmes, a short story collection by Holly M. Kothe, an indie author. There are four stories in the collection and they each share a common theme, which the title alludes to, though the stories and characters themselves are quite different aside from said shared theme. Overall, I enjoyed the read, but while each story was well-written, I felt that the last two stories were the strongest, though the first would have been very strong if one little thing had been added in my view.

First up, there’s The Glass Room. It’s a story set in Paris and without going into spoiler territory, it’s essentially one continuous scene where girls are assembled in a glass room, while clients view them and then pay the owners of the establishment to be ‘serviced’. As you can imagine, the story touches on what it’s like to be in that line of business, with the emphasis on what might be felt if they’re abused at the hands of the clients. I liked the emphasis on how greed can affect people and how the rich can get away with things because . . . well, they have money. It’s true to life, sadly.

For me, the reason it’s not as strong as it could be is because there was only really a sentence or two that explained how the main character ended up working in the place. You can draw your own conclusions easily enough. The ending to the story is quite well deserved too.

The next story, Tethered, was not really for me unfortunately. That’s not the story’s fault. Basically, it’s a surreal story with a supernatural element where a woman tries to piece together what happened to her. I can’t really give more details than that sadly, with it being the type of story that’s quite easy to spoil. Again though, it did end on a good note.

Seeing Black, the third story, was really quite good. The only downside for me was that when a particular character was mentioned, it was pretty obvious what would happen. It was just the ‘how’ that was in question. The story itself is about an emotionally damaged woman who’s trying to cope with a breakup that has scarred her. I won’t get into further details than that.

The final story, Feminist Theory, didn’t have the same problem. It kept me guessing right to the end as to who would be on the main character’s hit list. Actually, that’s incorrect. Essentially, the story is about the interaction between a doctor and his ‘patient’. Obviously, the greater story is unravelled through the narrative. That’s just the basics. I knew the doctor was the one on the main character’s hit list, but I didn’t know why until the end, nor did I know who he actually was (in terms of the story that the main character tells the doctor). I rather enjoyed this one at any rate.

Overall, all of the stories were well-written as to be expected from Holly, because I’d previously read one of her short stories published online. They all share the common theme of females getting vengeance on males who’ve wronged them and in closing, I would definitely recommend that people give the stories a try. The only thing is that the stories are definitely not suitable for children etc. and some adults might balk at the content as well. Let’s just say that no punches are pulled, which is how it should be when telling the sort of stories that these are, as you need represent the situations accurately for them to have the necessary impact. 

The story can be found here:

Friday, 6 December 2013

Writing Update & Why Episodic Stories?

I just wanted to leave an update here on my writing. Previously, I'd talked about showing my writing today. While it could still happen, the possibility is very slim. Currently, I have 1,130 words written in rough form and as I expect it to be short story length ('episode 1' of a new project), I hope it won't  take too long at all to write and then edit once it's written and I'm happy with the content. The editing, as long as I'm happy with the content, really doesn't take long. It might go against what others say about writing, but I write pretty clean rough drafts at least far as grammar and spelling mistakes are concerned.

This brings me to the good news. I'm going to be working hard, non-stop, to get this project out the door even if I'm not fully happy with it (please keep reading here before you throw up your hands in anger and think I'm another self-publisher who doesn't care about their work's quality). I'm unemployed, so I can spend pretty much the entire day writing and editing. Now that I've definitely realised that I can't keep on like this and be too much of a perfectionist if I want to have a writing career and earn a living, because believe me when I say my financial situation is dire and that I've been depressed of late, you can expect stories to be released from me regularly. Best of all? They'll be free, at least until the story's completed. At that point, I'll likely take the stories down a few days after or just leave a few sample episodes up. The only thing that'll hold me back from writing and editing is playing the odd game likely in the evening, reading and reviewing one book which I've promised to do, and spending time with my dad (watching Netflix as it's pretty much the only thing we do as sad as that sounds) as he's not well of late.

So, the free writing I'm going to be letting people read and what did I mean by 'episode 1' and 'episodic stories'? As well as 'please keep reading here before assuming the worst'?

First up, episodic writing. Think of episodic/serial stories as being like a TV show. You get a chunk of a story, then you get some more of the story a few days later. As I believe I'm a short story specialist, writing stories like they're a TV show will work out well for me I think (don't assume this means cliffhangers every 'episode', though some may have a cliffhanger). What it'll allow me to do is tell self-contained stories, while adding to the overall story arc with each episode as characters and events carry over. It should be a tight way of telling a story too, with plenty of individual ones, without needing a thick tome to do it. Now, before I continue, I've been looking into serial/episodic writing, in particular the writing of Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant and David Wright, and from what I can make out, they like to leave cliffhangers at the end of a season and episode to entice you to read the next book. While that may work for them, it's not something I have any interest in doing. Despite needing all the help I can get financially speaking, I'm not going to compromise my values and attempt to get every penny that I can out of people (I'm not saying they do that, by the way, but it's just that if I did that, that's how I'd feel). So, when I say a story is complete, there may be the odd question that people have but the story arc for that particular book/story will be complete. That doesn't mean I won't be able to do a 'second season' if I want to, but it does mean that if you only want to read the one story, I want you to be able to read it and not feel like you have to read the next story. In other words, you'll feel like you've spent your time well with a story because there was a satisfying ending. It also means that I don't have to feel pressured to deliver a sequel.

Now, time-frame for each episode to be delivered? I want to say episodes published weekly, but I'm not going to. To avoid disappointment, I'm going to say that I could release more than one episode a week or it could take me longer than a week to deliver an episode (they'll be of varying length at the end of the day and I may get stuck etc.). Also, I have a few ideas for stories at the minute, so it is possible that I'll be posting episodes of different stories online before one entire story is complete.

Right, so aside from thinking I could do a good job with episodic writing, why have I chosen to go this route? And this comes back to what I said above about reading the entire thing (as long winded as it is). I self-edit everything these days, started with Gus (which didn't turn out bad at all I reckon), and I don't have beta-readers because no-one here is able to help me with my writing. I could ask writer friends, I guess, but I don't like bothering people. By writing episodic stories and making them freely available for people to read, I can post work I'm not 100% sure about and get feedback on it without feeling bad because I've not asked anyone to give me feedback or to pay to read it. In a way, look at it as a collaborative effort between me and you, potential readers, as well. While I have specific aims with the stories I write and may not listen to feedback, it doesn't hurt to give it and it might alert me to things I need to change before I start charging. Also, if people tell me that they want specific things in and I can include it without compromising what I want for a story? Then I'll be most happy to do so. In addition, I'll be able to read feedback and possibly use it to shape the direction of future episodes for any given story. I probably won't change the content of a 'published' episode, unless there's a good reason for it, but I can definitely take on board what people say for episodes that are to be written.

Now, you might be wondering why I've chosen to make my writing free until it's completed if I really need the money. You're quite right to ask the question of 'if I can read his writing for free, why should I pay for it once it's done?' The answer is simple. I know people will read my work without paying and possibly steal it, but I'm also going to hope that there are people out there who will do the right thing and pay for something they've enjoyed, assuming that people do like my writing. I'll also be counting on others to spread the word about my episodic stories (once I've started to release them, and again, I expect to release the first one soon), because to be frank, I have no ability to make others aware of my writing. My sales have been around 11 - 13 sales across both short stories that I've published in the 8 - 9 months since I first started publishing. So, the way I look at it, I've got nothing to lose posting my work for free and it's the only way I know of to make aware of my writing because I don't think people are as likely to turn their noses up at free writing. Besides, doing what I was doing even while I was posting on Facebook and such, didn't really do much to help me out anyway.

Now, as for where I'll be posting these episodes, they'll be posted on my blog here (also on Goodreads because my blog posts are automatically posted there and apologies in advance if the formatting is screwed up there) and I've decided that I'm going to try and make use of Wattpad. In all honesty, Wattpad seems suited to episodic writing, so it might be best to read my writing there. I'll give links when the time comes anyway.

And before I end this rather long-winded post, I wanted to quickly talk about the story I'm working on at the minute (currently called The Deadlands). A preview if you will. Basically, it's set in a world that's quite barren after an event had caused many people to die. Creatures roam the land and there is magic involved. At least that's the current plan anyway, which could change, but just know that it's about a post-apocalyptic world and you won't be disappointed. It's quite similar to our own world too in terms of having gas stations, computers etc., though those things would be rather minimal in a post-apocalyptic world even if they still exist. Basically, it's our world but it's not. It gives me creative license with things. It will also be adult in nature due to the content and the focus, right now, will be on people, relationships etc. and power struggles. The creatures and such, again right now, I'm not planning on having a big part in it. Currently, I'm planning on limiting the focus to a shanty town out in the middle of nowhere which is basically a place where trouble is brewing under the surface.

So, in closing, look for the first episode to be made freely available in the near future (again, I'm not too bothered about showing something that's not 100% perfect with not charging people money and I will fix things up before I do if there are issues), and please do support me by spreading the word.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Book Recommendation: Sweet Violent Femmes, by Holly Kothe

I just wanted to make a quick blog post about a new book by an online friend of mine and fellow indie author. However, before I do, I should hopefully have some news this week or next about a free episodic story I'll be hosting on my blog, with a view to sell it later once it's complete. The episodic nature of it will allow me to get feedback as I write (think of it like a tv season).

I just need to decide on what I want to write first, really, and hopefully I'll have it worked out and post by the end of next Friday. It's not a definite date, but it's what I'm hoping for. When I do write the episodic story though, the quality might not be as high as it could be, though I'll make every effort to ensure it is. I'm not too concerned about it though, as I'm not asking money for it and I'll fix it up before selling. (I wouldn't expect major content changes to have been made when I charge for it, just technical changes for the most part, though feedback may shape the direction future episodes go in, though I may not take the feedback on board. It depends really on whether I feel the feedback fits and such, because if I think it does and I think I can do what people suggest, I have no qualms about listening to what people say because you are, afterall, my readers yet it'll be my story at the same time.)

So, the book recommendation for tonight is Sweet Violent Femmes, by Holly Kothe. You can order a print version at and the Kindle version at

It's a collection of short stories. Before I end this post, I should quickly say that I've not read this short story collection, but I have read a short story by this author before and I found it quite enjoyable, called The Poe Toaster, which can be found for free online at:

Give it a go if you want to see what her writing's like, before spending money on her short story collection. The only reason I haven't read it is simply because of my financial situation currently. And by all accounts, it seems like she's done a good job with the short story collection, going off the reviews.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Book Recommendation: The Perfect Player

Before getting to the book recommendation, I want to quickly say that I'm sorry I didn't keep the writing updates up. I wasn't too well for the last portion of October, the page views weren't occurring (so I didn't see much point in continuing the updates), and I wasn't really happy with the writing I was doing. I don't know what I'm going to do with Shifters yet. I wanted to stay positive, but as I'd worked on it for months, maybe it's time I throw in the towel for at least a bit with that project.

This brings me to a writing update for people who may be interested. I am finding that I've got my enthusiasm back for writing now and I'm hoping to have a free excerpt of my work posted soon, to keep people happy until I actually publish something else.

So, book recommendation:

I want to recommend The Perfect Player, by Devon Winterson, who is a good online friend of mine and I line edited her book. It's a dark fantasy novel. While I won't write a review, because it wouldn't be proper with having a hand in the book (as much as I'd like to), I do want to say that it's a really good story and the ending did touch me. As it's hard to touch me with pretty much anything, it's a rare feat and should say a lot about the book's quality. I say that as someone who's totally unbiased and such.

It's also her first novel, and she does need all the support she can get as do other authors, especially self-published ones.

The link to her book can be found here:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

And if you want to sample some of her other writing that's free, here are the relevant links:

Open Your Heart to Chance (This I do definitely recommend. It touched me like The Perfect Player did.)

The Deeper the Lust, The Sweeter the Flesh (Don't be put off by the title here. It's likely not what you're thinking.)

The free books can also be found on Smashwords, I believe, if you'd rather not get them from Goodreads.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Mailing List

Amusing. I've gone a long time without any blog posts and I now have two in one day. Anyway, I just wanted to leave one last, quick post up because I just created a Mailchimp account, so I now have a mailing list for you to sign up for if you wish, which can be found at, so that you get informed of any new book releases. If you click the link, the only thing that's asked for on the form for you to fill in is your email.

You have my word that any email you receive from me will only be to do with new releases. One email for each release, that's it. They may or may not be frequent, depending on how often I publish. Going off my current record, you'd likely receive one every three months. ;) But hopefully I'll fix that. The daily writing updates I'm going to be providing will be a start towards doing that.

Also, while I'm talking about the mailing list and new releases:

My current thinking is that when I release a story/collection over 7,500 words, I'll be selling it cheaper than I will a few days after release. That will allow you, if you're subscribed to the mailing list or follow me elsewhere (though I have to warn that I haven't posted on Twitter for some time and I'm not sure if I will again), to get the stories cheaper than others will as a way of saying thanks for being an early purchaser (I'd like to say I'd sell each new release at £0.77/$0.99 for the first few days and I did in fact say that before editing it, but I think it's best I don't make any promises on price points). As an aside, if you utilise facebook, you're probably best liking my author page there. 

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Writing process insight + old abandoned project

Today, I thought I'd write up a blog post explaining my writing process, why I abandon a lot of projects and why it takes me a long time to publish new work. The abandoning is the reason I simply don't talk about works in progress anymore. Or rather, give plot details. I don't want people disappointed when I fail to finish something. However, I also wanted to write this blog post to show a rough draft of an abandoned project, warts and all (with scenes ending abruptly and unpolished), which I've pulled some concepts from that form the basis of the current story I'm working on. I'm finally starting to feel it now, though the writing is not at the level I want it to be at yet in what I've currently written. Anyway, while you read the rough draft, hopefully it's obvious why I abandoned it. Certain elements didn't feel like they worked, and as a result, you may as well say the story would require an entire rewrite from a content perspective. Nor did it feel like there was anything going for it, above it being a simple creature feature, which doesn't interest me too much.

So, before showing the rough draft in its entirety (it was not finished), my writing process, as I explained in the afterword for The Dead Should Stay Dead, if you picked it up, is very chaotic. I don't plan at all. I like to see where things go, though I start with a very basic idea. Normally, when I start a story, I get so far into it and I find that it doesn't work at a certain point. This leads to me restarting the project over, because I don't see the point in finishing something if it's going to be entirely rewritten from a content perspective anyway. However, like I said above, I normally take some parts and concepts from each version and apply them to the one I'm currently working on. This is a process that's continued until I start 'feeling it'. Hence the length of time it takes me to write these things, and I don't use beta readers these days, plus I edit everything myself now. Same with the covers. And to think some people say writing is easy and not hard work. But yes, another reason things take a long time is because I care a lot about my work and I wouldn't publish something I feel is subpar. It's not fair on readers and, to be frank, I wouldn't want to anyway. As the rough draft shows below, I could have quite easily finished it and published it after some polishing, but I didn't. 

So, this brings me to the rough draft. It is nearly 4,000 words and unedited, nor is it finished. However, like I mentioned above, I've culled certain elements from it for the project I'm finally feeling. I think, if I can get the writing of a very high quality, it has the potential to be very powerful if I do it right, given the themes I'm working with, despite the harsh length when it comes to the word count (probably novelette size, 7,500 - 17,500 words).

Below is the rough draft. Again, the story that I'll eventually publish will only feature a few similarities. If you do read the story I'm working on when it's published, called Shifters, then you should be able to spot the elements I've taken from here. I should, however, warn that it is quite gruesome in places, though I'm not sure the desired effect has been gained due to the rough quality of the writing.


Can you run from fate and your past? I think not.

The Murder
Sheriff Ted Perkins had received the radio message a short while ago. And it was only now when [DL1] he pulled up outside ol’ Bobby’s trailer that he realised his deputy hadn’t been lying that it was a damned grisly scene. His car’s headlights highlighting every bit of blood spatter on the white trailer and on the ground, never mind ol’ Bobby’s corpse itself, as night’s darkness began to shroud the surrounding desert.
He got out of the car and slammed the door shut, hitched his gray pants up and straightened his hat, with cowboy spurs making a noise, before walking over to his deputies and the grisly scene. “Shit, you certainly weren’t lyin’.”
“No boss. Haven’t the foggiest what killed him,” said Deputy Rainer, the second oldest on the police of Cougar’s Run. The other deputy, Lenin, was younger and wet behind the ears.
“Can’t say I do either, Rainer.” Sheriff Perkins knelt in front of the corpse, slumped against the trailer with his tilted to the right, and examined every gruesome detail. Ol’ Bobby’s throat had been bitten, and the skin spat out onto the ground it looked like. His white vest, where it wasn’t covered in blood or torn, was dirtied. The blood itself stemming from the throat wound and the claw marks on his chest and face. “Like some wild animal savaged him, though I ain’t sure what could have done it. Looks like no coyote attack to be sure.”
Sheriff Perkins looked to his deputies and they shrugged, as perplexed as he was. “We have an army boy up at Carl’s Beer and Grill, don’t we?”
“Believe so, boss,” said Lenin. “One of those who likes to keep to himself, though. A drifter.”
“He’d have tracking skills,” said Perkins. “I’ll have a word with him. I can be persuasive.”
“What’re we meant to do with the corpse?” asked Rainer.
“Get him taken away, but keep the murder on the quiet. Don’t want to scare everyone by telling ‘em there’s a murderous animal of unknown origin on the loose. I’ll meet you both back ‘ere.”
“Right you are, boss.”
“See you boys in a bit. I’ll be bringing soldier boy back ‘ere no matter what.” With that, Perkins went back to his car, opened the door and got in with a slight moan as he felt the ache of arthritis in his aging hips. If there was one thing he could do without at his age and health, it was a hunt through the harsh desert of California. That is beside the fact that they were hunting god knows what, judging by the claw marks and the size of the killer’s teeth/mouth.
As he drove away to Carl’s Beer and Grill though, there was one thing he looked forward to. Meeting the army boy, who he’d not had the pleasure of meeting yet. An older relative had been the in the army.

The Reluctant Drifter

The drifter, known as Johnny Demore, washed the glasses and plates. It was quite the step down from being in the army, but he preferred it honestly, and while he didn’t earn a wage from Carl, he did have a free room up top and free meals for helping out around the place. He couldn’t ask for more than that really. Food may not have been too tasty, but it was better than eating out of trash cans, which is what he’d have to resort to if he wasn’t kept. And he was basically a free employee for Carl, so it worked out both ways.
In the background, country and western music blared as it so often did. The current words being sung were ‘Oh yeah, baby, we’re going to party tonight like we’ve never partied before!’ Johnny couldn’t say he cared much for the music but it was either that or listen to the chatter of patrons or the staff. To that, he preferred the music. Sometimes, people would try to be his friend, but he wanted none of it. Ever since Afghanistan, he’d wanted no contact if he could avoid it. He plain and simply didn’t feel a part of the world anymore and he was quite content to mind his own.
Over the past few days while he’d been here, one woman had been trying to attract his attention. She was pretty, usually wearing loose fitting t-shirts and jeans, with long brown hair. Tonight was no different, because as he cleaned a glass behind the bar, he noticed her looking over at him with her legs crossed on the stool she sat on. Her elbow resting on the counter. He did his best to keep his head down, because getting romantically involved when he was as fucked up as he was didn’t appeal.
The establishment itself was unusually quiet though. He could only sum it up as being thanks to the recent murder that had taken place on the outskirts of the small town of Cougar’s Run. Apparently, an animal had committed said murder. Coyote or something, Sheriff . . . Sheriff Perkins had said.
And on cue, as he thought about the sheriff, the door opened with a whoosh of chill air and in he walked. Perkins looked around and stopped when his eyes landed on Johnny. Johnny returned the look, wondering what the hell Perkins wanted. “Sheriff.” Johnny nodded, still cleaning the glass behind the counter.
“You’re the army boy, right?” asked Perkins, moseying on over.
“Not anymore.” Johnny placed the glass and cloth down.
“Don’t give me that bullshit, son.  Once you’ve been in the army and seen action, you’ll always be in it. And you’ll always keep that patriotic shit about never leaving behind one of our own with you.”
“If you say so and I’m not your son.”
Perkins rested his hands on the counter, removed his hat and eyed Johnny. “I do. My dear ol’ dad was in the army. So I know what I’m talking about. And no, you ain’t my son, but you’re young enough to be and I reckon I have the wisdom of age over you.”
“Whatever. You just here to talk me to death or do you actually want something?”
“Yup, I want something alright. You.”
“Me? Good luck with that, because I haven’t done anything wrong. Now, do y—”
“I ain’t said you did something wrong. I need your help with something, assuming you got some survival skills and you ain’t rusty.”
“And if I refuse to help?”
“Listen, I’m guessing you and I speak the same language, son. If you refuse, I’ll gently escort you to my car and if you resist, I’ll charge you with resisting arrest or assaulting a police officer. It may not be fair, but you ain’t in the city anymore. Out ‘ere, only what I say matters. So, makes no odds to me how we do this, but you’re helping me one way or another.”
“Fine.” He was dressed for the occasion, so he didn’t see any need to prolong the agony. “After you.” He walked left the counter, lifted the bar flap and walked over to the sheriff.
“Good choice, son.” The sheriff grabbed his hat, slipped back onto his head.
It was then that Carl appeared from the kitchen, white apron dirty, and stopped them from leaving. “Where you going?” His face was portly and his head bald headed.
“Out. I’ll be back later, I guess?” Johnny looked to Perkins.
“You can’t go. What am I supposed to do while you’re gone and the customers start pouring in?”
Perkins answered. “That look like my problem, Carl? It ain’t, so find a way to manage.”
“You think that shiny badge gives you the right to just order folk around?”
“Nope, but it sure gives me the right to arrest anyone giving me or my deputies a hard time.”
“You wouldn’t.”
“Try me, Carl.”
“Go on, get out.”
Perkins nodded, smiled slightly. “A pleasure as always, Carl.”
They exited the building and left the grumbling Carl behind. Perkins spoke, “Your name’s Johhny, right, son?”
“That’s right.”
Perkins nodded. “Seems he’s become friendlier since you started staying there. You must be rubbing off on him.”
Johnny cracked a smile for what felt like the first time in his life. “He’s normally friendlier than that.”
“That so? I’d like to see him in his friendlier moods.” Perkins opened his cruiser’s door. “Get in the front with me.”
“All right.” Johnny went around the other side of the car and before getting in, he took one last look at Carl’s Beer and Grill, the neon lettering standing out as dusk began to give way to full dark. The words ‘Carl’s’ and ‘and’ were blue, while ‘Beer’ and ‘Grill’ were red. To the left of the establishment’s name was a mug of beer, glittering around the edges. With a sigh, he got into the car.
Perkins started the engine and Johnny noticed him look over towards his seat belt. “Always good to see someone fasten their seatbelt.” He started away then onto the barren road. “You heard about ‘em animal attacks, right?”
“Yeah. No bodies found afterwards?”
“Yup. Another’s disappeared. Ol’ Bobby just a ways down the road. Ain’t got no idea what could carry a full grown man off with no tracks, other than the animal’s large paws.”
“Strange. And let me guess, you want me to help find it?”
“Yup. Need your tracking expertise.”
“I assume I’ll get a gun?”
“Sure you will. I have me two deputies waiting at the scene.”
Johnny nodded slightly and looked out of the window, noticing the odd tumbleweed pass fly past. He hadn’t held a gun for a year and he hadn’t wanted to again. He wanted nothing more to do with death and its instruments, having become well acquainted with them back in Afghanistan.
“You served in Afghanistan, right?”
“I did, though I’m not going to talk about it.”
Perkins glanced at Johnny, before returning his gaze to the road. “Fair enough. I respect your privacy. Must be some horrible shit you saw out there to make you as messed up as you are though.”
Why couldn’t people just mind their own? And by whose definition was he messed up by? The old man’s car? Maybe the sheriff’s the one that’s messed up? Perhaps Johnny saw so clearly what people were capable of now that he simply wanted nothing to do with own kind? All of those thoughts mixed in with a reluctance to get close to anyone else and with guilt. Getting close to others and seeing them die had an effect on a man, so that they never wanted to lose a cherished one again. “I’m not messed up.”
“All right. You know, I’ve seen my fair share of shit too.”
“This the part where you claim to have insight into what I’ve been through. Truth is you don’t. Everyone claims that.” Johnny looked at Perkins, not removing his eyes. “You ever seen a child brainwashed into strapping a bomb to them, all in the name of religion, and walking into a crowded area before committing suicide, so he could be with his brothers and his god? The kid probably no more than eleven.”
Perkins glanced at Johnny, shook his head. “No . . . Point taken.”
Johnny nodded, looking back out of the window. “Truth is, I’ve seen what people are capable of and I simply want nothing to do with the world these days. That’s all. It’s all fine and dandy you getting me to help you find whatever’s killing folk, but don’t expect me to give much of a damn.”
“Fair enough.”
Fair enough? Good. Perkins would shut up now, mind his own, and give up the therapy and psycho-analysis bull shit now. But the worst part of it was that what he just said wasn’t the conversation killer he liked to use. No, that was something else, something that made him loathe himself and what gave him a guilty conscience.
And from that point on, they sat in silence until they arrived at their destination.

Margie & Carl

Margie Parson wandered over to the counter in Carl’s Beer and Grill. “Carl, what do you think the sheriff wanted with him?” She’d watched him ever since he came into town and started staying above the establishment. It was rare to ever hear a peep from him, but she felt drawn to him and couldn’t explain why. Sure, he was a cute guy, but it was more than. He seemed than most and he was like a puzzle box waiting to be unravelled. It wasn’t like she wanted to rip his clothes either. The attraction wasn’t like that, but she simply wanted to get to know him. She hoped he’d be safe, so that she might get the chance to solve the puzzle of Johnny Demore. And with the establishment being quiet, she thought now was the best time to quickly probe Carl.
Carl frowned and looked up, hands rested on the counter. “How the fuck am I supposed to know that, Margie? All I know is Perkins thought it’s all right to leave me short-handed and not even feel sorry about it. But I’m sure your boy toy will be fine.”
“He’s not my boy toy. And don’t you care about him at all?”
“Oh I care about him all right. I care about his safety because I need his help in keeping the place running.”

Hunting the Beast

Johnny and Perkins pulled up outside the trailer, one other police jeep present. The two deputies outside, sat on the trailer’s steps by the front door. Johnny exited the sheriff’s jeep as did the sheriff, the sight of the blood covered trailer hitting him full force as he gazed at it, mouth agape. Memories of Afghanistan flooded back, the sights of blood stained walls riddled with bullet holes vivid. Bodies in front of them and the screams of the dying rung in his ears as plain as the day he first heard them, their arms outstretched as they sought aid in their time of dying. Hoping for someone to ease their suffering or hoping someone could stop them from dying.
He shook his head, approached.
“’Bout time you showed up, boss,” said the older looking deputy.
“Well, we’re here now.” Perkins looked at Johnny. “This ‘ere,” he pointed at Lenin, “is Deputy Lenin. He’s young and wet behind the ears, but he’s dependable. Just . . . make sure you keep him in front of you.”
Johnny laughed quietly.
“Hey, I’m no coward.”
“I’m just teasing you, Lenin.” Perkins looked to the older deputy. “And this ‘ere is Deputy Rainer. My oldest man and very dependable. Ain’t got the skill set you have, I’m sure, but he’s good enough.”
Johnny nodded to them both. He looked around the area, seeing the blood covering the floor as well and looking at the door torn off its hinges. “There was a struggle inside?”
“Yup, whoever took ol’ Bob made a right mess in there. I’m guessing it attacked him inside and brought him out ‘ere after he’d given up fighting. Don’t ask me what could have done it.”
“No animal that I know of could tear the door from its hinges and enter the trailer.” With that, he made to enter the trailer itself. “Excuse me.”
The deputies looked to Perkins who nodded. They moved to the side and Johnny walked up the steps. The sight greeting him was one of a wreck. Clothes were strewn everywhere with the odd spatter of blood, the back windows were smashed and the drawers from the cupboard were on the floor. The television set, small and dinky, destroyed and smoking.
He examined the blue carpet. A long, brown hair could be seen. He picked it up and studied it. “Well, there’s a hair at least. But I doubt we have a grisly around here. And coyotes sure as hell couldn’t do this.”
The deputies stood in the doorway nodded their head. Perkins said, “Agreed. That’s why I want to go and hunt it down. You seen enough in ‘ere?”
Johnny stood and nodded slightly. “Yes, but why not call in help?”
“It’d take a while and we’ve had two disappearances in two days. Ain’t wanting there to be another. Besides, as we ain’t sure what’s done this, I’m not sure I want a lot of publicity around ‘ere. We kinda like our town nice and quiet.”
“I can understand that.” Johnny pushed his way through them again to the outside. “You got the guns and everything we’ll need? If I can find a track.”
“Sure have. And you’ll be able to find the thing’s tracks all right. We saw them out there, but we don’t want to be tracking it when we’re not too skilled. Besides, we thought you’d be handy to have around.”
Johnny nodded again. “I guess I am. We going on foot?”
“No, you’ll hop in the back of my jeep and we’ll drive along the desert nice and slow like, so you can keep your eyes on the tracks.”
“All right.” With that, Johnny walked around, taking care not to disturb any tracks. And sure enough, he saw some. Something stood upright must have made the tracks, though the tracks looked like they were made by paws. “It walks upright.” Johnny shook his head, perplexed. “All right, let’s get the show underway?”
“Yup, we’re just wasting time ‘ere.”
The deputies, Perkins and Johnny got into their cars and began the hunt, taking it nice and slow with Johnny looking at the tracks as they drove over the rugged, desert countryside.


The tracks eventually led them to a cave, where the mountains lay.  It was at their foot, thankfully, and Perkins had spoken about how relieved he was, complaining about how his arthritis would have made it hard going up a mountain. And besides, they didn’t have the equipment to go scaling mountains anyway. The cave and mountains themselves were a ways away from the small town of Cougar’s Run. They were positively out in the middle of nowhere and Cougar’s Run, with a population of only around one hundred to two hundred by Johnny’s estimation, was already in the middle of nowhere.
They slammed the doors shut and each picked up a flashlight and shotgun. “Well shit, I never thought I’d be entering a cave at my age. I’m liable to have a heart attack if anything comes at me in there.”
“You just keep at back, boss.”
Perkins looked at Lenin. “And let you go in front? I may as well just have my heart attack out ‘ere, right now.”
“You’ll be fine,” said Johnny. He pointed the flashlight into the cave’s pitch black mouth, loaded shotgun held in his other hand, muzzle pointing down.
“You see anything?” asked Rainer.
“No. Just darkness. Looks like we’re going to have to go in.”
“Just my luck. I should have retired when my wife starting nagging me to.”
“No point dwelling on that now. I’ll lead,” said Johnny. Flashlight held beside the shotgun, which was pointed in front now, he cautiously walked into the cave. The occasional of bats could be heard from within and the police followed him in, close behind.
The sound of boots walking on the hard cave floor echoed ever so slightly, the drip of water from stalactites and the bats’ noises drowning it out. The walls, with the exception of the odd gap, were barren and bland as expected. The cave’s winding path narrow. There were no off-shoots for them to explore, just one long path.
A screech sounded and a few bats suddenly flew right past them. Johnny glanced behind him, seeing that Rainer and Lenin had been startled a bit, but it was Perkins that worried him slightly, though he didn’t much care happened. It was just that there was safety in numbers and he was holding his chest, like the living daylights had been scared right out of him and he was feeling a heart attack coming on as he panted.
“Jesus,” said Perkins, quietly.
Johnny held his hand up to his mouth, signalling for Perkins to be quiet.
It was then that he heard a gnawing sound and what distinctly sounded like the crack of bones coming from up ahead. Reluctantly, Johnny shone the torch’s light down the cave tunnel and what he saw was a naked man – dirtied and bloodied – with short, brown hair, crouched over the corpse of the man who he assumed had been the one to go missing. His body was basically disembowelled and what the naked man gnawed on was an arm, skin completely gone with the bone exposed halfway up.
The naked man turned his head as the torch hit the back wall of the cave room, just in front of him. His eyes were savage, flesh dangling down from his lips. An inhuman scream erupted from him and hair began to grow all over his body, just like his nails extended, as he leapt up and charged towards them.
Johnny wasted no time in pointing the shotgun at the man and pulling the trigger, the force of the kickback knocking him back slightly and making his arms ache. The naked man flew back and hit the wall hard, his chest now a bloody mess. His growing nails and hair seemed stuck, in mid-transformation into whatever it was he was turning into. He gurgled blood and his entire body shook.
With the others approaching close behind, mouths agape, Johnny approached. He stepped over the bloody corpse of the man they had sought; the corpse of the other man who’d went missing in a corner.
The naked man tried to force out some words. “You’ll . . .  You’ll regret . . . this.” He started to laugh madly.
“Sure we will.” Johnny pumped the shotgun, aimed it at the man’s head and fired. The man’s head exploded and Johnny’s face was showered with blood, as was his clothing. Johnny pumped the shotgun again, aimed it at the man’s chest—
“He’s dead!” yelled Perkins, placing a firm hand on Johnny’s shoulder.
Johnny turned around, eyes wild. Perkins stumbled backwards, and Johnny shook his head slightly, disbelieving that he nearly struck Perkins. “Sorry . . .”
“It’s all right,” said Perkins, and his deputies surrounded him on either side. “Jesus, what the hell was this fuck? Hair suddenly growing and nails lengthening. Eating another man. He couldn’t have made those paw prints, could he?”
Johnny wiped his hands on his shirt, but it was no good. He looked to Perkins. “If he could turn so hairy and grow fingernails that long in such a short amount of time, I’d say it’s possible he could have been the one responsible for the paw prints.” He shook his head again. “Werewolves. . . . All of that shit could be true.”
Johnny noticed Rainer move to inspect the corpse by the wall, also half-eaten. “Well, what do we do now? The freak’s dead and so are these two.”
“I didn’t like the warning he gave,” said Lenin.
“Most likely just empty threats.”
 “Possibly,” said Johnny. “Look, we want to scare everyone, telling them about this freak? I say we leave him here, possibly take the corpses back.”
“Good idea. We’ll do that.”
“All right. The bar will be about ready to close, but I reckon we might be able to convince Carl to let us get a few drinks to celebrate and relax. I know I sure as hell could use it.”
“Sounds like a plan, right boys?”
“Yeah,” said the deputies in unison.