Tag Archives: short story

Horror Special: TV Apocalypse

My worst nightmare … TV Apocalypse… Shudders….

Anyway – today I have a short read in need of your help to push it through the Kindle Scout program (which apparently doesn’t involve abseiling or tying knots). Check out Kathleen Rovner and her apocalypse…

 

Mondays are hard enough for stay-at-home mom Daisy Danner. But this one is the worst: the world became a nightmare overnight, families being torn apart under an eerie attack. With her husband, Justin, missing and physical issues of her own, Daisy may have to raise her kids alone in this menacing new world. Even if Justin returns, he may be dangerous. The world outside is falling apart, and Daisy may be too. Can she hold it together to keep danger away from her family? Or will it all be too much?

 

You can find out more and read reviews over here:  https://pukahworks.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/book-review-tv-apocalypse/

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The Simulations

Check out this excerpt from sci-fi The Simulations by John Forelli.

Back through the purring Mainframe I go, exiting the cool, dark trappings of Server Room 42 for the stale monotony of the rest of the office. My eyes take a minute to adjust to the overlit swath of cubicles stretching before me like a maze to be solved.

Something Bob said echoes in my mind. In my head I repeat it. ‘Reality is what you make it.’ If my reality is to be an endless line of reformatting requests, then perhaps I should make some good of it. And so I proceed quickly through the maze of cubicles as the corners of corporate tedium trace my path on either side. I walk past the company’s receptionist in the foyer. She’s not the one I want, and she’s probably too occupied with an episode of The Office anyway.

Through the door and into the elevator I go, nervously tapping my foot as the floors tick past. 9…8…7…

What should I say? It’s not like me to be so spontaneous, but Bob’s speech was strangely inspirational. I can feel butterflies beating against the walls of my stomach in time with my heart against my chest. They’re playing a symphony of apprehension in time with the elevator’s metronome. 6…5…4…

In my mind I go over what I’ll say. ‘Delilah, if we’re both going to be working here, maybe we should get to know each other better. I was wondering if you’d like to get a coffee one day after work?’ In my heart it’s the apex of romance. In my head it’s the apex of anti-climax. 3…2…1.

The doors open and the lobby is bathed in the natural light utterly lacking upstairs. The rays shine through the windows opposite Delilah’s reception desk. The revolving door refracts the light into a twirling, glowing symphony that lights the desk as though it’s heaven.

Delilah stands there, and my heart jumps for a split second when I think about how perfectly romantic the moment is.

Then I see the man standing there facing her, his facial hair coarse and obscene next to her smooth, dimpled cheeks. He stands there like an oaf, hands in his pockets as Delilah reaches over the reception desk to kiss him. She reaches up with her left hand to touch the scruff and that’s when I see it: a diamond ring, glinting in the sunlight and blinding me with jealousy and disappointment.

The elevator doors close, confining me in blank sterility under sickening artificial light. I was right. The moment was perfectly romantic. It just wasn’t mine.

Download the story HERE


Santa Claus Drives a Spaceship (Part Two)

Here’s part two of Santa Claus Drives a Spaceship…


 

Santa’s Spaceship

The stars we see twinkling in the night sky are other Suns like ours, and they are far away. The nearest is the Alpha Centauri binary (binary means there are two) star system, and it is 4.2 light years away. The distances between stars is measured in light-years, a light-year is the distance light travels in one year. Light moves fast, its speed is 186,000 miles per second, so in 4.2 years it will have traveled a long distance.

The space between the stars is mostly empty, and so there is no friction and a spaceship could in theory move so fast that it could travel the large distances in reasonable times. But it so happens that the amount of fuel and the time required to move that fast are both so large, that this does not work. But there is another way.

The very great scientist Professor Albert Einstein discovered a way to travel between stars in a reasonable time. He called his discovery Time Contraction. It turns out that if a spaceship goes fast enough, as it approaches the speed of light then time slows down for it, time passes slower for it. As the spaceship approaches the speed of light time is said to contract, that is it slows down for the ship and people in it. Since time has slowed down for Santa Claus in his spaceship, he has time to visit all the children. Professor Einstein’s discoveries are so wonderful (he discovered and gave us atomic energy as well as interstellar space flight) that I will show you a picture of him, here it is.

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Professor Albert Einstein

 In order to reach light speed Santa’s spaceship must accelerate rapidly for some time (but not so rapidly as to possibly harm him and his Elf helpers). To do this requires a lot of energy, so much that ordinary chemical fueled rockets will not work. After thinking about this for a while, Santa had a brilliant idea; why not use atomic energy to propel the spaceship? Santa knows that atomic reactions supply much more energy than chemical reactions, about a million times more, and so atomic energy would do the job; but where to get the atomic reactor to supply the atomic energy?

It turned out there was a U.S. Navy surplus reactor available that would do the job. The Navy had a two stage liquid sodium to water uranium powered reactor that used to propel an atomic submarine, but the submarine was taken out of service. When the Navy learned that Santa Claus needed the reactor to help bring children Christmas gifts across the universe, they gave the reactor to him.

On the submarine the reactor’s heat generated high pressure steam that by going through a turbine (a turbine has blades something like a fan) turned the turbine’s blades that then turned the submarine’s propellers, but now in Santa’s spaceship the reactor’s high pressure steam jets out into space from the rear of Santa’s spaceship, propelling it like a rocket to near light speed.

Santa still has his sleigh and reindeer, he takes them with him on the spaceship, and when the ship arrives off they go! (there is a picture of Santa, sleigh and reindeer at the rear of this ebook). The spaceship ensures that every little boy and girl will get a visit from Santa, no matter where they are. The movie ET (Extra Terrestrial) told about a space alien named ET who visited Earth and made friends here with a little boy, before he returned home. ET asked me to say hello for him to all you boys and girls on Earth, and I told him, “Why not say it yourself?” and he said OK. ET cannot say hello to you in person, but here is a picture of him saying hello to you.

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Hello boys and girls of Earth, I am ET and I send you my best wishes for a very Merry Christmas.

 

I know that ET does not look like us, but he is a very nice and friendly person. If you have ouchies he heals them with his glowing fingertip. Just because someone does not look just like us, is no reason we cannot be good friends, boys and girls please remember that. ET tells me he is planning a return visit to Earth soon, and maybe you will see him.

My job is to help Santa with his spaceship, and I have to go now. It has been very nice telling you about Santa Claus and his spaceship, I enjoyed it and I hope you did too.

Goodbye and a very Merry Christmas to you personally!

 

Phillip Duke Ph.D. Author

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Hi boys and girls, my sack is full of goodies for you, and I will be there soon!

 

I have written and published several ebooks that you might like to read. One ebook is about Interstellar Space Flight, snd its title is “Interstellar Space Flight Is Not So Difficult.” If you are interested in flying you will like “Principles Of Flight” and if you play Chess I have an ebook for you titled “Chess Theory.” If you like reading Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson detective mystery stories, I have written several. All my ebooks are listed, briefly described and linked on my website Philduke.weebly.com. The website has five ebook Carousels, come visit and spin them!

If for any reason you want to read a specific ebook of mine but there is a problem with purchasing it, just email me the ebook’s title, and I will send the ebook to you. My email address is drpduke@wmconnect.com and you are invited to email me anytime. Some ebook covers are shown below.

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Detective Sherlock Holmes And Doctor James Watson.

 

I close with a picture of Santa Claus, who says good-bye for now, and a very Merry Christmas to you!

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Big thanks to Phillip Duke and a Merry Christmas to him too!


Santa Claus Drives a Spaceship

Is your tree up yet? Are you getting in the festive spirit? Well I’ve got something to help. Author Phillip Duke has written a short Christmas story especially for Limelight which is guaranteed to get you in the mood for Christmas, whatever galaxy you’re in…

 

Santa’s Spaceship A Christmas Story

By

Phillip Duke Ph.D.

Copyright Phillip Duke Ph.D. all rights reserved.

With 1362 words and 10 illustrations.

 

Introduction

In the old days when the universe was seen as being much smaller, Santa Claus could get around very well with a sleigh pulled by his seven energetic and strong reindeer named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph. Here is a picture of Santa’s original eight Reindeer, Rudolf joined them later.

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Santa’s Reindeer.

 

Now that the universe is known to be much bigger, Santa Claus still is able to get around with his sleigh and reindeer here on Earth, but how about all the other children? How about the children on other worlds in our star cluster we call “The Milky Way?” They want Christmas presents too, and Santa has to give them a visit as well as all the children here on Earth. And, how about the children in other star clusters, called galaxies? They want Santa to come but they are very far away. Here is a picture of a distant star galaxy where many children are eagerly awaiting a visit from Santa Claus.

Even though the children on other worlds are very far away in space, Santa Claus is very resourceful, and he designed a spaceship so he can go and visit them. Santa’s Elves built the spaceship under his direction, in the giant workshop where the Christmas toys are made. Santa’s spaceship employs the latest spaceship technology, and with it he can visit children all over the universe in just one night. How is it possible, you ask, for Santa to go so far in just one night’s time?

I will tell you how it is possible, by telling you how Santa’s spaceship works. It may be a little hard for you to understand everything I say, but that is OK, you do not have to understand it, you just have to know that it works, and by using it Santa Claus will visit every child in the universe this coming Christmas eve.

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Santa Claus says “Hi! I am coming to visit you soon!”

Tune in tomorrow to read all about Santa’s spaceship.

More About Phillip Duke: Philduke.weebly.com


The Wounded Warrior

Another new release this month. Have a look at The Wounded Warrior by Billy Whitefox.

 

The Wounded Warrior is a short story written by author and military veteran Tim Thomas. It is a short story adaptation of the origins of the river cane flute and the healing powers of flute medicine told to him by traditional river cane flute maker, Native American Music Award Winner (2005 Flutist of the Year) and Storyteller Billy Whitefox, a Creek Indian of Northwest Florida

Download from Amazon now.


Conquering Your Goliaths

It’s been a quiet week so far, but I have an interview from Kathryn Elizabeth Jones to entertain you. Kathryn is talking about her book Conquering Your Goliaths. Enjoy!

Virginia Bean is your leading character, can you tell us about her?

Virginia is a single woman, in her mid-thirties, who has just lost her job. She is somewhat preoccupied with the finer things of life, (how she looks, what she drives, etc.) and only begins to ‘see’ as she begins her journey with God and David’s five stones which represent listening, trust, optimism, tenacity and constancy.

What is Goliath?

Goliath in the story represents the Goliath of old who faces small David on the battlefield. David has gathered the five stones (mentioned above) from a small streambed, and has placed them in his pouch. With his sling and stones he is now ready to face the mammoth Goliath. It is interesting that David might have only picked up one stone, because all it took in the end was one stone to defeat Goliath. But in David’s life, as in our own, our faith might need a little work, and thus, the five stones to prepare an individual to defeat his/her goliath.

Where is this story set?

The story is set in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Not much goes on there, however, but Idaho is Ms. Virginia Bean’s home. She is not going to move away; and with the five stones in which she later receives from God, Virginia is indeed happy she stuck this one out.

Are there any other characters you can tell us about?

Virginia meets with God, and though this might have been a frightening experience for her, she soon discovers the kindness of God’s heart, and how much He wants for her. She is never alone, even when she believes herself to be. When she meets Paul, all of Virginia’s problems are suddenly amplified, but the journey doesn’t end for Ms. Virginia Bean, and she discovers that great friends are merely God’s way of keeping her on the path.

Can you share your favourite passage from the book?

Sure. “It is time,” (the stone) said, “for you to return to God.”

A shaft of sunlight came through the window at just that moment and Virginia knew that the words were not only real, but true. They rested in her heart and spoke to her about her potential as a pure daughter of the birthright.

Conquering Your Goliaths has been described as a self-help book described as fiction. What can readers learn from this story?

They will learn that conquering any goliath takes time and effort, but that none of it has to be done forever alone. God is there, He loves each of his children, and He will help them. All we need to do is ask, listen to His direction, trust in His words, remain optimistic even when life gets dark, keep going and never forget that He is walking beside us.

Conquering Your Goliaths is a Christian parable, is this a book specifically for Christians or is this a story for people from all faiths?

The book is for Christians primarily, and for those open to hearing God.

This book has incredible reviews, what would you say are the main selling points of this story?

The book is short (just over 100 pages), but is packed with powerful truths to help an individual with his/her walk with God. We should not be afraid of God, rather, we should see Him as our greatest friend, for He loves us without fail, He never sleeps, and He never goes on vacation. He is always there for each of us.

And finally what is next for Kathryn Elizabeth Jones?

My next book is planned for release a year from now. The title, Heaven 24/7, will share how to live on this earth, and, at the same time, reach for the stars. It will be a compilation of modern day parables showing faith in God and living according to our birthright.

You can download Conquering Your Goliaths from Amazon


Family

Last promotion for Halloween and it’s another one of mine. Here’s an exclusive from my short story Family, which is part of the Reacher series. This book sits between The Running Game and Border Lines, but you can read it without worry about spoilers. So far in the series I haven’t written a lot about the world outside of London, but Family is a good taste of what’s to come.

If you like crazy cannibals then you will love this! Oh and it’s FREE!

John pulled off the motorway sharply. The landscape slowly opened up and a large square building awaited them. There were petrol pumps outside and an empty car park surrounding the structure. A spattering of white lights lit up the entrance to the building, but otherwise the place looked deserted.

“Let’s make this quick,” Charlie said. “I don’t want to hang around here any longer than we need to.”

They pulled up at the pumps. As John opened the door another light inside the service station came on. An old man sat in a small checkout booth watching them through the protection of a glass screen. Rachel could just about make out his cold beady eyes in the early morning light. His thick white beard hid his other features, making him ageless.

Another man came out of the main entrance. He was younger, a tall man with broad shoulders and a vague look about him ­­­­­­­­­­– clearly the muscle of the setup, with very little else going on behind the eyes. He carried an automatic rifle casually, as though just having it was enough to ward people away, and wore an armoured vest, but it was too small for him so he had to leave it open.

“They look nervous,” Charlie said. “I guess they’ve been having some trouble. I’ll go tell him we come in peace and everything should be fine.”

With difficulty he got out of the car. Charlie had been stabbed in the back, causing severe nerve damage to his spine and legs. He walked with a crutch and when people saw him approaching they assumed he was harmless. Nobody would have suspected that he had powers. And if he pronounced his limp all the more it just added to his disguise.

John’s focus intensified, concentrating on the men watching his brother. He was wound tight, ready to strike in a heartbeat if he needed to.

“What do you think will happen?” Rachel murmured.

“Charlie will convince them we’re not going to rob them and they’ll let us in.”

“Is it always this hostile?”

“Sometimes. Winter makes people nervous and irrational. Don’t worry we’ve got this covered.”

“Is it so important we go inside?”

“We need fuel and supplies,” John stated, still concentrating on his brother.

John and Charlie were both so casual. Was this what life outside of the city was like? Neither man seemed affected by the fear that Rachel was choking on. Something didn’t settle well with her and she couldn’t work out if she was just being paranoid. She thought back to the burnt out car, the clothes strewn over the road, and she shuddered.

“I’m going to listen,” she told John. Before he could object she was already out of the car.

Charlie could move things with his mind, but Rachel had her own talents. She focussed her energy and slipped casually out of the vehicle. She moved behind Charlie, quickly catching up with him. Even he didn’t notice she was there. You can’t see me, you can’t see me. The mantra repeated on a loop, making her invisible to the men around her.

The old man in the booth had stood up, his hands were concealed, likely holding a weapon just in case. Charlie made sure his hands were visible. He smiled – not arrogantly or confidently – just another man appreciating the difficult situation and respecting it. The old man matched the expression. Nobody even looked Rachel’s way.

“Stocks are low,” the old man said. “Things don’t come cheap.”

“I appreciate that Sir, times are hard. As I said we need supplies for the winter. We’ll pay whatever the asking price is. No haggling, we’ve got a long journey ahead, we just want to get going.”

The old man considered it. He cast his eye over at his guard and then nodded.

“This place had a lot of trouble?”

“Trouble?”

“The security,” Charlie said. “Couple of winters ago we were up this way, roads are looking a lot emptier now. Saw a burnt out car a mile out.”

“Times are hard as you say,” the old man explained. “Got to keep our wits about us.”

“Well you’ll get no trouble off us. All right if I tell my brother to fill up while I pick up supplies?”

The man nodded his head. The guard made no effort to move. He would watch John and make sure the fuel pumps were safe. Fuel was a commodity people couldn’t waste anymore. Charlie gestured to his brother that they were good to go and headed into the service station. Rachel followed a few inches behind.

The door to the building was heavy, reinforced with steel and able to be barricaded from the inside. There had been windows in the original building, but they had long since been boarded up, barred like the door. The electric ran off a turbine in the wasteland at the back of the building and the lights fizzed into life as Charlie entered, working off a motion sensor to conserve energy. Charlie waited until the door closed and turned to Rachel.

“What are you doing?” He wasn’t mad, if anything he was amused.

“Things don’t feel right,” she said. “Those guys out there…”

“They’re taking precautions. Look it’s a tense world out in the wild, you’ve just got to see it from their point of view. I mean we show up, with John who is the epitome of violence, they’re bound to be worried. But we’ll give them a fair price, no trouble and everything will run smoothly. Don’t worry about it. Hey, there’s a cafe on the left, go grab something to eat.”

“I thought we weren’t staying long,” she said.

Charlie put his hand on her shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “If there is trouble they’ll put up the barricade. We’ll be safe inside. This is a business Rach’, they need our custom as much as we need their supplies. They’ll take care of us.”

She stared at him, still unconvinced.

“We won’t let anything happen to you, I promise. Go get a coffee and relax.”

He hobbled to the right, towards a kiosk selling basic food and supplies. The old man from the front was already opening up the shop, lifting the grates over the secured shelves for Charlie.

A part of Rachel wanted to follow Charlie, but she didn’t. He was right, she needed to relax. Charlie and John lived their lives on the road, if they said there was nothing to worry about then she could ignore the unsettling churning in her stomach. This was all new to her, it made sense that she didn’t feel safe. A couple of minutes with a hot drink and full belly would clear her head.

She pushed open the door to the cafeteria and stopped in her tracks. The room was gloomy. The lighting sparse, part of the original design before the windows had been boarded up. There were booths along three walls, the fourth reserved for a self-serve buffet table, manned by an enormous woman slouching at her till counter, a cigarette poking from her chapped lips spilling ash onto her dirty apron.

There were others in the cafe; a group of three men talking loudly at the far corner of the room. They looked like experienced labourers, possibly farmers trying their hand at something new while the ground was too hard to work. At the far wall two other men huddled over a teapot, barely moving in the bleak light. She could see they were well dressed, possibly travelling from one city to another and stopping off for safety. Then near the door to the toilets a mother sat opposite her two young children, all eyes fixed on their untouched plates of toast.

As Rachel stepped inside the group of men stopped talking and the whole diner fell into a tense silence. She wanted to make herself invisible, but it would be too hard now. They were watching her closely, shaking their attention would take a lot of power and she wasn’t even sure she could do it now they knew she was there. Her powers were a type of deception and manipulation, if the truth was glaringly obvious it would be impossible to conceal. She swallowed her nerves and headed for the sanctuary of the buffet counter, after all she was just another diner seeking sanctuary for a few minutes.

Taking a battered plastic tray, she ran it along the buffet table. There were assorted pans of tinned foods, beans, canned meats and corn. The contents were stewed to thick pastes of salt and preservatives, but it was the most appetising sight Rachel had seen in as long as she could remember. Her stomach growled and before she could stop herself she had a full steaming plate. She filled a cup of thick coffee from a dirty jug and scoped several heaped spoonfuls of sugar into it.

Two worn hands rested against the table beside her. “What’s a pretty thing like you doing in a place like this?”

The man leaning over her had been cajoled into breaking away from his pack. He was probably not thirty yet but his skin was already thick and leathery, his hair thinning at the front and greying on the sides. He was wearing a thermal jumper over a pair of filthy jeans and smelt of smoke and oil. He grinned at her, exposing two rows of decaying broken teeth.

“By the looks of it I’m attracting unwanted attention,” she replied, moving away.

He reached out to touch her and stop her from moving. She lashed around as his fingers brushed her arm. Don’t! The words shrieked in her mind. It was enough. He backed away, a glint of fear and confusion in his eye. He didn’t understand what had happened but he was scared. The other men jeered at him, but he wouldn’t go after her again.

Rachel ignored them all and took her tray to the fat woman at the counter. She was cackling along with the other men, spreading ash everywhere. Her grotesque fingers punched numbers into the till and she coughed out the price of the food. Rachel wasn’t sure if it was an expensive meal or not. She handed over the cash without thinking about it and winced as the fat woman stuffed it between her sweaty breasts.

“Enjoy,” she snorted, still cackling maniacally.

There were plenty of tables to sit at. Rachel chose one far away from everyone. She sat so she could keep an eye on the room and watch the door. The group of men laughed again, the bellowing sound making the room feel claustrophobic. When Rachel looked she saw they were all armed. If they were supposed to be the protection they were all done for.

Rachel put her first spoonful of food in her mouth, savouring the odd taste and texture. Her eyes drifted around the other customers. The two men, isolated by themselves had barely moved since she arrived. Rachel noticed their hands were squeezed together tightly. It was bold to be so open in public. The state had outlawed homosexuality, along with religion, women’s liberties and free speech. Rachel could appreciate not wanting to hide your true self, but sometimes that was the difference between life and death. One of the men looked at her. His face was bruised and swelling fast. His wide eyes seemed to scream at her in panic. It was then she noticed his partner – his lover – and the pallid lifelessness of his skin. Her stomach lurched.

The fat woman slowly lifted herself to her swollen feet and waded across the dining room. She leaned over to the group of men and gestured to the rusted clock on the stained wall. Whatever she meant the men groaned and waved her way, but it was clear they respected her – or at the very least were intimidated by her. As she shuffled away, heading towards the toilet, Rachel felt a hunger rise within the men.

 

Find out what happens and download the book for FREE


The Bachelor

Today I’ve been interviewing Matthew Drzymala and talking about his novella The Bachelor. Here’s what he has to say.

Let’s start off talking about Bumpkinton Tales. What is Bumpkinton?

 

Bumpkinton is a curiosity. It doesn’t appear on any maps, nor have most people heard of it. In fact, if you were to look on a map all you would find is a blank space where the village should be. Unless you live there or live in the nearby village of Eppforth, it’s almost always stumbled upon by day-trippers looking for anywhere but Bumpkinton.

 

The village is made up of a colourful cast of characters, ranging from the everyday person like you and me, to the randomly bizarre like Amelia Goose and Artichoke Caruthers.

 

 

Is this placed based on anywhere in particular? As an English author (and English interviewer) I think most people this side of the water probably know or have driven through a similar village, but can you explain a bit more about it for our overseas audience?

 

Bumpkinton isn’t based on any place in particular. The story behind Bumpkinton is a fluke really. I attended two writing classes and wrote some pretty dark stories. I was writing about assassins and psychopathic killers most weeks. Bumpkinton came about because for the final piece of work I was mentally tired. I couldn’t write another dark thriller, so I just decided to write something fluffy and light and Bumpkinton grew from there.

 

I’d like to think Bumpkinton is accessible to readers from overseas too. The humour is quite British but they are a light read that I think could be picked up by a reader from abroad looking for a silly English tale with a colourful cast of characters. I’ve never lived in a village so I am not writing from experience and I hope that that opens it up to those who have never lived in or ever been to one. I also hope that people who do live in villages find moments that make them think “Oh, that happens at our village hall!”.

 

 

The Bachelor is the second book of this series. Can you tell us a little bit about the other books?

 

Of course. I have three stories in total, but I count The Bachelor as the second. This is because it is a novella. The first novella is called Bittersweet and charts the story of Venetia and Timothy Ashurst. They are outsiders with a connection to the village and when Venetia stumbles upon an old photograph of her Grandpa who lived in the village as a young man, it ignites her dream to move to Bumpkinton and re-open the shop that her family once owed.

 

However, this is met with fierce opposition by the village busybody, Amelia Goose who has her own particular set of issues and doesn’t take kindly to ‘Townies‘.

 

The other story is just a short story. I released Bittersweet on 21st December 2013 so I wrote a very short Christmas tie-in. I tend to count the novella’s as my main stories and the shorts just as tie ins. Hence that is why I count The Bachelor as the second story in the main Bumpkinton Tales.

 

 

The Bachelor focuses on Fenton a ladies man who is spoken for. He sounds like a bit of a bad guy – is he or is he just misunderstood?

 

Personally, I think he is just very misunderstood. I wanted the reader to dislike him for being a bit of a greasy letch, but I gave him some backstory as to why he is like he is. I wanted to give him some heart and I hope he isn’t too disliked. He is a handsome man and he knows it, which doesn’t make his womanising right, but deep down he’s a good man.

 

He’s a bit cheesy and hopefully I managed to make people laugh at him for being a bit of a fool, but a rather handsome fool.

 

 

 

Obviously being a ladies man Fenton must be meeting a lot of the opposite sex, are there any interesting women in particular?

 

There are a number of ladies who are desperate for Fenton to choose them at the Singles Night. Two teachers, Fiona Little and Tamara Copeland vie for his affections and aren’t afraid to show their dislike for each other while Henrietta Plonk, a girl who works in the grocers, firmly believes she’s the woman for him, albeit being far too young for him.

Fenton just laps up the attention, sneaking off to see his secret lady while having no problem with attending the singles night to indulge in his favourite hobby of flirting.

 

 

What about the other characters of the book? Who is your favourite?

 

I would have to say Father Whitworth O’Grady. He appears as a major character in every story. However, don’t worry if you’re not a religious person, the stories are not based around the church. He is just a pure joy to write and when I write his parts, the words just flow so easily. He tries so hard to bring the community together but most of the time things go wrong and the finger is firmly pointed at him.

 

I think he’s loosely based upon myself, or his sense of humour and lack of patience at times is anyway. There was a comedy show in the 1990’s called Father Ted about priests. I wanted to make sure that Father O’Grady was nothing like him. I try and make him funny and at times, un-priest-like but not to the extent where he is badmouthing the church.

 

He is a deeply religious man, but sometimes doesn’t have the patience to put up with his moaning parishioners.

 

There’s also Erica Templeton and Spencer Levine who also have their own little story-thread in The Bachelor. I liked writing them, especially Erica. She’s a sweetheart.

 

 

Are there going to be more Bumpkinton Tales?

 

There sure are. I have a third novella almost finished but I have since decided I *may* make this into a novel. I need to strip it back and restart it and see what I can do with it. It’s a storyline I like and has my favourite title of the series so far, however, that shall not be revealed for some time yet.

 

 

Do you have a favourite part of the book or a scene you would like to share with us?

 

My favourite part of The Bachelor is a random piece of babbling from Father O’Grady when he is challenged about why he has a photograph of himself in biking leathers and huge sideburns on the mantelpiece:

Fenton smirked as he noticed a photograph of his brother from when he had been going through his sideburn phase.

“Taking a peep at old Ma and Pa, are we?” said Whitworth as he entered the room.

“I’m more interested in the ones where you appear to have dead ferrets stuck to the side of your head.”

“Oh come now brother, I look brilliant in those.” Whitworth scowled. “That’s when I had the bike and the leathers. The Rebel Priest, they called me. I sent shockwaves through this sleepy hollow when I arrived. ‘Who’s that guy?’ they’d say. ‘That’s Father Whitworth O’Grady,’ they’d reply. ‘He’s a priest, but he’s different. He’s a rebel priest. He’ll absolve you of your sins then ride the devil’s highway on his afternoon off.’”

 

I just love that bit of dialogue between Fenton and Whitworth. It’s something that was written in the first draft and never changed through the numerous re-writes.

 

And finally what is next for Matthew Drzymala?

 

I have another Bumpkinton Christmas short story out on 12th December 2014 called Albert’s Christmas. This story centres around the village tramp Albert Scatterhorn. We’ve only seen random glimpses of him so far with no real explanation as to why he’s there. I delve into that a little with this years story, but not too much. I have a future story for Albert that reveals all, but he has a sad past, that’s for sure.

 

I’m also considering a collection of children’s short stories as well as working on next years main Bumpkinton Tale. Whether it will end up a novel or a novella, I won’t know for another 8 or 9 months yet.

 

You can find out more about Matthew and all his books here: http://matthewdrzymala.com/


Safe Haven

Safe Haven is a story set before The Running Game. I wrote the story after I published The Running Game as a sort of companion piece, but it is also a great introduction to the feel of the series. This story is available for free from most online retailers including Amazon so if you like what you read please give the full story a go – I promise you won’t be disappointed. And don’t forget you can leave comments and feedback at the bottom of the page.

 

The world was white. So white the dark night couldn’t penetrate the layers of snow suffocating the surrounding forest. Each breath Isobel managed to push out crystallised in the air around her small mouth, sparkling under the moonlight. She pushed forward, the snow swallowing her legs to the knees in hungry gulps. Her hands and feet were numb but her thighs burned furiously with each agonising step.

It was late and she was so very tired. The last night was spent in the back of their Landrover, fighting for space on the backseat with her little sister while their Dad kept watch. It had been a cold, broken night, but Isobel would give anything to be back there now. Anything not to be walking through Red Forest in the middle of December.

She sniffed and looked behind her. Rachel was only six, three years younger than Isobel but at that moment it felt like there was a lifetime between them. Rachel didn’t understand why they were in the middle of the wilderness. She had no idea why they had to leave their mother. She had slept through their uncle running into the cottage, screaming that the army was coming. She had no idea of the danger they were in. Isobel stared at her sister as she struggled in the snow and envied every tiny, oblivious step she took.

Rachel fell and started to cry. She was sobbing for their mum, looking around the expanse of nothing for her. But Isobel knew they would never see their mother again. She took a strong heavy breath, close to tears herself. She wanted to move to help her sister but her legs refused to go back, not after the effort they had put into going forwards.

Instead she called out. “Dad!”

He was ahead of them, scoping out the safety of the forest. When he saw Rachel he hurried back, covering the ground in five easy strides. Despite the cold and fatigue Isobel broke a smile. Her father was the greatest man, he could still do anything in her eyes. Despite the snow sticking to his beard, the creases in his weather worn face, he was still her hero. He lifted Rachel effortlessly into his large arms, brushing the snow from her hair. And that’s when the gunfire started.

“Run! Isobel run!” He screamed.

He grabbed her coat as he ran past, but she stayed, looking through the trees at the erupting lights, as though the night sky had sunk to the earth.

“Isobel!” Her father shouted and she came to her senses.

They were coming! She started to run. Her feet leapt into her father’s footsteps, following his shadow as he weaved through the trees. The foliage became denser, the snow thinner. She found her feet striking firming soil, frozen dirt and icy puddles. She leapt over a ditch and her father caught her. His hand pulled her close and they huddled together into a dug out burrow off the path.

“We need to work together,” he whispered, so softly Isobel thought she was imagining them. “We’re not here,” he told them both. “Say it with me girls. We’re not here.”

Isobel closed her eyes, sinking into the warmth of her father’s wax coat. She reached for her sister’s hand and concentrated. “We’re not here,” she repeated. “We’re not here.” Over and over she focussed on the words, hearing the echo in the baritone voice of her father and the small squeak of her sister.

Time started to twist, the cold subsided and she felt herself floating against the body of her father. The explosions around her, the shouting, the danger, all started to melt away. But the power running over her wasn’t hers, it didn’t even belong to her father. The dominant voice inside her head became her sister’s, small and yet entirely commanding. She focused on it, echoing it as best she could and then she felt herself merge into nothing.

How long had they stayed like that? Isobel had no idea, but when her father broke free of their spell the militia had gone, leaving a stunned silence in their wake. The surrounding trees were torn apart with gunshot. Pieces of bark and bullet shells scattered the ground around them. It had been ferocious whatever had come their way.

“Daddy,” Rachel asked sleepily. “What’s going on?”

Isobel waited. She’d asked the question herself the night before, but she was sure her father wasn’t about to repeat his answer. How could he tell a six year old the truth? That they were caught in the middle of a civil war, insurgents and militia intent on claiming land that never belonged to them? How could he explain to her that these men didn’t care who got caught in the crossfire? That this wasn’t a fight for freedom, or liberty or any sense of lost righteousness? That this was about control and power? How could he tell his youngest daughter that she had never been in more danger, because if they found out what she was, what all three of them were, both sides would lock them away and do all kinds of experiments on them?

“We’re playing a game,” he said, stroking his younger daughter’s hair, while at the same time squeezing Isobel’s hand. “It’s called the Running Game. We have to run and hide, concentrate on not getting caught. Wherever we go, whatever we do we keep moving, counting the exits, planning our escape routes so nobody can ever find us.”

“It sounds like a stupid game,” Rachel said.

Their dad laughed softly. “It does, but you get a prize if you play it well.”

“What prize?”

“You get to live Rachel. You get to grow up, to keep running. You have to keep running baby. Always be ready to run because they’ll always be coming for you. Whatever happens, they’ll always be coming for you.”

“When will they stop Dad?” Isobel asked.

Her father held Rachel close, as though he were protecting her from the next confession.

“They’ll never stop,” he said. “Right now we need to rest. The secret to winning the game is knowing when to run and when to wait. You’re tired. You’ve done so well today. Try to sleep now, we’ll try to get out of the forest in a few hours.”

Rachel was asleep in moments and Isobel had a suspicion her father had put her to sleep using his powers. She snored quietly, looking almost peaceful.

“There’s a lot of ground to cover,” he said to Isobel. “We’re going to make our way south, to S’aven. There’s a man there. A priest called Father Darcy. He’s an old friend. We can trust him. He’ll help hide us until all this is over.”

Isobel nodded, understanding these were instructions, not reassurances. She rolled the name in her head; Father Darcy. She had to remember it.

“Your sister, her powers…” he shook his head and sighed. “If they find her it will be bad for all Reachers.” He turned to her, his eyes warming. “If they find either of you, it will be bad honey. You’re so young, this isn’t the life I wanted for you. You need to be strong now sweetheart, you need to look after your sister. I wouldn’t trust her to anyone else.” He pushed the hair from her face. “My beautiful girl, look at you, you’re so grown up already. You make me and your mum so proud.”

She felt a lump swell in her throat.

“Whatever happens you look after your sister. Can you do that Isobel?”

Her father was a good man and she would have done anything to make him happy. She stared into his dark blue eyes and the look he gave her betrayed everything that was about to come – his death, their journey, her future.

“Can you do that Isobel?”

Would he have asked if he had honestly known what it would mean – what she would do to keep her sister safe?

“Isobel?”

 

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