Friday, 30 December 2011

Thirty Fifth Friday Flash: Santos, The Mermaid, and the Marine Biologist

*** this is a follow up from Gorilla Pequeno,Santos Returns,Mermaid Tale and Santos Vs. The Mermaid

Benson Marine Research Institute

“I don't believe you,” said Margie.

Santos had arranged to arrive with the crate. “Trust me, you want to see this.”

“This better be good, I like to sleep in on a Sunday.”

The delivery truck unloaded the large crate into the Institute's delivery bay and left. They seemed to sense that they weren't carrying around normal cargo.

“I remember from when you worked at the carnival that summer.”

“I can't believe you remember me.”

“You and Maria were inseparable, that's hard to forget.”

“How is she?”

“I would rather not talk about it.”

“Ah, she did have a roaming eye that one. Now open this up please.”

Santos ignored the comment and cracked open the crate, the side panel falling down to reveal a tank and the mermaid inside.

“Holy mackerel!” Margie backed away. “You weren't kidding.”

“We have to help her, she has had a tough time.”

“She looks sick, the water must be warm, I have a tank we can use, wheel her this way.”

Using a hand pump truck Santos followed with the mermaid close behind. The mermaid woke up and thrashed around in the small portable tank.

“Is she dangerous?”

“Yes, I would say so.”

Santos parked the tank next to round and larger tank that was almost crystal clear. As soon as he stopped the mermaid gripped the side of the portable tank and launched herself into the larger tank. Landing with a big splash.

“She's magnificent!” said Margie standing with her face almost pressed against the glass.

“I agree.”

Santos looked at the creature in the eyes, but it did not change, maybe it was too tired, or it didn't see him as a threat anymore.”

“The marine field will be blown apart! This is such a discovery!”

“What will you do with her?”

“Oh my word!” Margie fell back, trying to get away.

“What happened?”

“She changed... changed to look just like my husband!”

“That's her defense mechanism.”

“I wonder if I'm still wrapped up in bed and dreaming all this, this is just too strange.”

“Maybe you should believe that ma'am,” said a new voice.

Santos and Margie turned around swiftly. It was a man in black with dark sunglasses.

“Who are you?”

“Special Division. We will take over from here.”

“The hell you will!” said Margie with hands on her hips.

“You have no choice, step aside.”

The man took one step forward.

“Freeze creep!” said another new voice.

“Jonas! Thank you.”

The man in black took a step back, “This is the not the last you will see of me.”

Margie and Jonas hugged once The Man had left.

“Jonas?” asked Santos.

“Yes, he's my husband, I asked him to come, meeting someone I knew 15 years ago was just too odd for my liking.”

“I don't blame you. He's a Marshall?” There was something not right about the man's qet up. A little too flash for his profession.

The muscular man smiled, “Not exactly, I can do many roles, I'm strippergram, but it's only until I get some proper work.”

“Ah, I get ya.”

Margie was smiling ear to ear, “And he will, he's a really talented guy.”

“He sure saved us a spot of bother! What are you going to do with her?” asked Santos.

“Observe, and study, there must be more of her kind out there somewhere.”

“Keep me posted of any developments.”

“I will, and thanks for thinking of me, this will put the Benson Marine Research Institute on the map.

Monday, 26 December 2011

House of Fear, M is for Monster and PULP! (Summer/Fall 2011) - Short Story Collections Progress Review Part 2

You can find part 1 here

Here's a continuation of the reviews I'm doing of the books I won earlier this year via the #coffinhop and Kamvision review blog. I'm reviewing 3-4 stories of each book per blog post.

I've included website details of the writers where I could find them. I will also be posting the reviews on Goodreads (If you're one of the writers involved and I didn't link you, please let me know and I will).

House of Fear

Driving the Milkway by Weston Ochse

This was more a haunted RV than a haunted house, but a great tale none the less. Weston really plays on the nostalgia factor of what it was like to grow up, how wild our imaginations were (and sometimes still are). It shows us what lengths people will go to keep a friendship alive, a story I won't forget anytime soon.

The Windmill by Rebecca Levene

This is an honest look inside the head of a prisoner, how they feel they did nothing wrong and it's society that is persecuting them. An error he soon pays for, maybe a little too harshly, but that's for you to decide.

Moretta by Garry Kilworth

When and if I reach retirement I hope I have some excitement in my life like the main character does in this story, but maybe not as life threatening. Although the story wasn't particularly frightening it still had a nice charm to it.

M is for Monster

D by John Prescott

This story was quite chilling. Like what a proper movie should be like. Well some of it was predictable, it made up for it with its creepiness.

E by Paul Freeman <- I'm not sure if I've linked to the right Paul Freeman This story was a surprise, you don't get many horror stories (that I have seen) set in South Africa. It shines a light on the seedier side of trade with China. Namely ivory, but unlucky for the poachers and smugglers involved it was cursed. As you can imagine the those involved meet an appropriate sticky ending. It's unfortunate that it isn't true true story, the poachers and the people who trade in it deserve as much punishmet as we can dish out. G by Geoff Nelder

A fresh take on the David and Goliath myth. One that turns the tables on those involved. An interesting concept well executed. And it reminds you there's always at least two sides to every story.

H by Zach Black

This story will make you think twice before talking a walk at night, especially through an old church, not that many people would do that in the first pace. The story could have been a bit tighter, but overall a great tale. And I can relate to the main character, all he wanted to do was go home and get on with his life.

I by Jonathan Green

This story was unexpectedly hot and steamy and have to say Jonathan did a great job of writing from the female POV, although the ladies out there might disagree. A story that explores forbidden desires that most would steer clear of.

PULP! (Summer/Fall 2011)

Darwin's Demons by S C Hayden

Being a fan of the Fortean Times magazine I quite enjoyed this one. A fictional take on a typical article. Sort of like the day in the life of a Cryptozoologist. A must read for mermaid fans.

A Reason for Living by David M DeMar

I loved the banter between the two characters in this, a clash of two different generations and I can definitely relate, it's quite shocking what people call 'music' these days Haha I just made myself sound so old. Even though the probable outcome of the story is revealed early on it was still very enjoyable.

Good Fences Make Good by Chris O'Grady

I enjoyed the story, and even though it had a pulpy feel in some areas it felt out of place in the anthology. The action scenes were great and it shows you no matter how tough you think you are there's always someone out there who could most probably kick your ass without breaking a sweat.

Wonderboy by Charles Martin and Will Weinke

Anne Fredrick is the secret bastard daughter of a superhero, so you can imagine she has some issues. I think Charles and Will did a great job of imagining what it must be like to grow up with a father the whole world loves. A hero with a secret. A secret that takes up the latter half of the story. I appreciate the story is part of a series and I got what the secret it was, I think it could have been executed a bit better, it lacked that punch I was expecting. Not exactly a bad thing, it's all the more reason to find the rest of the series and find out more.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Thirty-Fourth Friday Flash Santos Vs The Mermaid

*** this is a follow up to Gorilla Pequeno/Santos Returns and a mash up with Mermaid Tale

Santos and his agent Winston T. Ford had milked his 15 minutes of fame for all it was worth, it was good while it lasted, but it was over now. His talk show had taken a nose dive, and his reality TV show was canceled after the second season.

He still had a few paid TV appearances from time to time and he got some royalties from the banana dance commercial and his other TV work, but it wasn't enough to pay for his lavish lifestyle and support his daughter.

That night he was playing at a place called Rusty Steve's, it was going to be a mishmash of his banana dance and some standup comedy he had been working on. Santos didn't mind that it was the smallest venue on his brand new tour, it would give him some time to iron out the kinks in his act.

Sitting in the front were his diehard fans that had been following him around in a mini-bus. They had endless questions and some were a bit odd, not that he minded, he loved the support.

Over the years he had become good friend with Winston, and even though he had bigger clients he still took time to come and see some of his shows.

Just before the show was about to start a lot more people crowded into the bar. Many looked like hardened sailors, it made Santos feel uneasy.

The show started and it seemed to be going well at first, but Santos soon realized it was just his fans cheering and clapping, the locals were just glaring at him. After a particularly bad joke even his own fans had a hard time laughing to, the crowd began to chant “Mermaid!” over and over again. Santos and his fans looked around in bewilderment. Rusty Steve himself walked through the crowd calling for quiet.

“What's going on?” asked Santos.

“It's time for the real show to begin.”


“Yes, you're going to be fighting one.”

Winston ran up from the side of the small stage. “Are you insane?”

“No, but the bar is locked, and if the crowd doesn't get what they want, things might get ugly.”

“We'll call the cops!” shouted one of the fans.

Rusty Steve turned to a finely dressed man in the audience. “Good evening police commissioner?”

The man nodded.

“Is this some kind of joke?”

“Not at all, last a minute with the mermaid and I will double your fee.”



Santos shrugged. “Okay, we have a deal!”

“As your agent I strongly advise against it.”

“My daughter's tuition fees are due soon, plus how bad could it be? I grew up in a carnival, I've seen everything.”

“Okay Santos, just be careful.”

Rusty Steve laughed. “Okay, let's get this thing started!”

The crowd cheered and clapped, even some of the fans got caught up in the excitement. The large black curtain behind them dropped to reveal a giant tank. There was a barely discernible human shaped creature lurking in the murky water.

“Just one minute?” Santos gulped.

“Now hop on in there!:

“Don't look at it in the eyes!” shouted one of his fans.

The locals didn't seem to like this and stared her down, the fan stiffly got back into her seat.

“You better survive this, you have a lot more show to attend!”

“I will,” said Santos stripping to his boxers and climbing up the metal ladder.

The creature in tank grew restless and thrashed around, water splashed over the side. Before he could change his mind and talk himself out of it he jumped into the freezing cold water. An overhead spotlight switched on.

The creature was revealed, it really wasn't like anything he had seen before, it had a large pearly-pink tale, and scales that steadily got lighter and smaller as they reached the top of her body, but that's where the beauty stopped, her face was haggard and weather beaten, the skin of her upper body wrinkled, her eyes red, and her teeth sharp and yellow. He scrambled to get out, his short legs spinning wildly, he did his best to look everywhere but in its eyes.

It came at him swiping with its clawed hands, scratching him badly, then it caught his line of sight, and transformed before his very eyes. Transformed into the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. His wife, his cheating ex wife Maria.

A woman he detested more than anything else in the world. Boiling with rage, Santos punched and kicked away, it felt like he connected with the creature's nose, it coiled away from him. It felt good to let go of all the frustration he had been carrying around for the last few years, anger he had kept bottled to protect his daughter and show he was a better person.

The mermaid was far from done, it whipped him with its tail, knocking him against the side of the tank. Santos kicked off the from the side and continued the fight, but he couldn't see anything the water was so bloody, he was sure a good share of it was his own. A bell rang somewhere.

Torn up and bleeding Santos was yanked from the water, he locked eyes with the mermaid again, he thrashed in Steve's grip.

“Whao... calm down there cowboy!”

Santos wriggled himself free of the grip and landed on the stage, he clutched his aching sides and caught his breath. “You people are sick!”

“Good job boy, no one has lasted that long before!”

“Shut up! Forget my fee, this mermaid is mine now, and you will deliver it to an address I give you.”

Rusty Steve laughed, “And why would I do that?”

“Because I'm sure there are plenty of laws against this, and my fans stream my shows live via the Internet.”

“Yes we do,” shouted one of the fans who was holding a camera.

Rusty Steve turned to the police commissioner, The Man shrugged.


Santos was relieved that he had gotten all his frustrations out of his system. He wasn't sure what he was going to do with the mermaid yet, but he was sure he wanted to get it out of there and help it out in some way. Research would have to be done and favours would have to be called in.

Monday, 19 December 2011

A new The Red Stone review.

A new review was posted at last night. And I have to admit it is one of my favourites! Thanks to @gavgates

"This is straight up classic fantasy, Smith has written a brilliant and very engaging introduction into a world that would fit perfectly into a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. The beauty of this novel comes into play through the interactions and the backgrounds of the different races to live on the Kingdom of Melin. Smith has used Giants, trolls, humans and Dragons and took them all from a very unique style of viewpoint where they don't necessarily have to be good or evil just because of what they traditionally are seen as, this, coupled with the brave writing approach of not needing to describe every sword swipe of every battle down to the finest detail makes `the red stone' into a very easy to follow tale.

From the first page in Tennen is a very likeable and obvious focal point throughout even before the introduction of his magical artefact or going into his history before your first encounter with him. Every character you meet from chapter to chapter is genuinely memorable and there are many lovely moments like the meeting of Tennen and Captain Norton who has a large role to play in Tennen's development and both wizards Rimotar and Venten whose opposing personalities work superbly with each other and makes me want to know about each characters back story a lot more than I got to. The real stand out is Berrinn, a Bronze dragon who befriends and builds a very solid human bond with Tennen that steals the story almost on its own.

The book ends on a perfect note and leads into a follow on that I can say with a huge relief I have sitting on my shelf and can't wait to start on next. If you are in any way a fan of classic fantasy then I can't recommend The Red Stone enough."

Story Challenge #55

Using the comment section below write us a story inspired by this image.

Just for fun and there are no limits

Friday, 16 December 2011

Thirty-Third Friday Flash - Raptor

They couldn't get in could they? Not through the solid door, surely? The door shook under another impact. Andy gripped the pick a little harder.

Why did he have to follow the gold rush? He was doing just fine back home, but no he had to let the gold lust get the better of him.

The commotion outside grew louder. They could sense him and they wanted to come in. How much of the rest of camp had been eaten already?

His whole mining shack was shaking under the bombardment, his pots, pans and utensils clanging together. He put his hands over his ears for a few seconds and took a deep breath. A bit calmer, he looked up, there was some morning light shining through his ill repaired roof. Pulling a stool closer he ripped away the roof tiles and made the hole bigger.

The door gave out and two raptors burst into the room. Freezing for a second he stared at the two beasts, their beady eyes were full of hunger, hunger for flesh.

He snatched his nearby satchel and tossed it up through the hole, a moment later he jumped up and scrambled through the hole, but he wasn't fast enough, one of the raptors had caught his ankle.

Andy screamed out in pain, the raptor yanked down hard, trying to pull him back through the hole.

Flailing his arms he grabbed the metal chimney, he held on for his life and kicked away with his free leg. Just when he thought the raptor was going to chew he foot off he managed to kick his way free. He tried not look at his shredded foot, biting back the pain he pulled himself further away from the hole. Before he could even catch his breath the roof began to tremble, the ravenous creatures jumping up at the ceiling.

The sun was just peeking over the hills, blanketing the valley in a golden light, any other day it would have been beautiful, now it was just mocking him. If only Jeb hadn't blasted his way through the rockfall and into the next valley.

Andy slowly made his way to the edge of the roof. He could see Jeb's favourite red hat, it lay a few feet away from his almost totally stripped carcase. Barely keeping down his supper he looked away.

It wasn't the way he wanted to go. Feeling weak from the pain and loss of blood he snatched his satchel and pulled out the bundle of dynamite. Before he could think himself out of it he lit the fuse. Waiting a few seconds, he cursed and rolled off the edge and landed in the midst of the creatures. Like pigs at dinner time they pounced on him.

“Chew on this you filthy varmints!”

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Story Challenge #54

Using the comment section below write us a story inspired by this image.

There are no limits and it is just for fun.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Thirty-Second Friday Flash and #Divinehell - Treachery

Mick and Keith were the best of friends, doing everything together since they were children. Everything from playing video games, stealing sweets to robbing their first bank when they were sixteen.

Mick was more reluctant of the pair and threatened to quit numerous times, but Keith always convinced him to come back. Over the years they had stashed up quite a retirement fund.

Then one day Keith was looking really down.

“What's up?”

“We have been a detriment to society, I'm going to hand myself in, but you can enjoy our ill gotten gains if you like.”

“If you're going, I'm going!” declared Mick.

They walked into the police station together.

“This is your man!” shouted Keith once they were inside.

Mick was stunned to silence as he was cuffed and hauled away, watching in dismay as Keith grinned and rubbed his hands together.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

#Divinehell - Violence

Gertrude loved sales, and nothing annoyed her more than people who tried to stop her. Today there was a sale at her favourite shop Elegant Girl.

After pushing and shoving her way through the masses she spotted a gorgeous coat and ran for it, just missing it. Her rival held and caressed the coat. Raging, Gertrude slammed her trolley into the unsuspecting woman and ripped the coat away. There were gasps and shouts as other customers went to help the stricken woman

A smile plastered across face Gertrude went over to the checkout point with her new coat and other sales items.

Suddenly she felt very hot and flustered.

“Ma'am?” asked the checkout assistant.


Gertrude collapsed to the floor clutching her throat. Her blooding boiling as she burst into flames.


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

#Divinehell - Fraud

Tony smiled as notifications of more payments into his bank account came in, all from OAPs paying a monthly fee for identity theft protection. It made him giddy, it was amazing how gullible people could be. All his brochures and sales pitches were a lie, he did nothing for them, in fact if he wasn't so lazy he would be doing a bit of identity theft himself.

Walking though the park he saw an easy target, an old man feeding some pigeons. Plopping down on the seat, the old man took no notice of him and carried on throwing bread crumbs.

“Fine day today, isn't it?”

“Very much so...” said the man, turning towards him, his face changing into a spitting image of Tony's.

Tony screamed and ran, but not fast enough, the pigeons descended on him. Pecking and tearing at him until there was very little left.

Story Challenge #52

Micro story challenge #52: Using the comment section below write us a story inspired by this image (image via @squidsquirt and @grasscraig)

There are no limits and it's just for fun.

House of Fear, M is for Monster and PULP! (Summer/Fall 2011) - Short Story Collections Progress Review Part 1

I recently won these short story collections via the #coffinhop blog contest and a Kamvison book giveaway.

House of Fear from Kamvison

M is for Monster from Ash Krafton

And PULP! Summer/Fall 2011 and other #coffinhop goodies from Julie Jansen

All wonderful books, and to do the giveaway and the fine people above justice I thought I would do a thorough review of the books. I will try write up a short review of each story, trying my best not to spoil them. I will do 3-4 stories of each book per post. I've also included website details of the writers where I could find them. I will also be posting the reviews on Goodreads (If you're one of the writers involved and I didn't link you, please let me know and I will).

House of Fear:

Objects in Dreams may be Closer than they Appear by Lisa Tuttle:

A case of sometimes it's best not to let your curiosity get the better of you, it could have been a bit tighter, but an interesting tale none the less.

Pied-A-Terre by Stephen Volk

I think Stephen did a great job of writing from a female perspective, and it might make you even more weary when next you go house hunting.

In the Absence of Murdock by Terry Lamsley

Terry has a very old fashioned feel to his writing and checking out his books on Goodreads he's quite the master of the short story. I think lovers of pulp fiction will enjoy this one.

Florrie by Adam L. G. Nevill

As much I liked the other ones so far, I liked this one the most, the transition the story makes from beginning to end is quite remarkable. It will certainly make you think about who lived in a house previously to you.

M is for Monster

(a collection of stories from A to Z, each letter representing a monster)

A by Ash Krafton

A fine little tale that shows you that nature has more ways to fight back than you realize.

B by Andrew Taylor

This story was quite predictable, but nicely written and it's not often you see a banshee is it?

C by D.M. Youngquist

I enjoyed this story quite a lot. A solider on the frontline discovers his family tree is more complicated than he thought and takes on a God...

PULP! Summer/Fall 2011

A Stranger in Ferrview by Frank R Sjodin

With a mysterious space monster and a space hero called into take it down you can really feel the sense of excitement and wonder in this story(told from a young boy's perspective), even thought it was recently written I think it would fit perfectly into a Golden Age Sci-Fi collection.

The Man in the Barn by D.L. Chance

Story has a Men in Black feel to it, but in a good way. It's sort of one of those stories where an alien race warns us that we are on the wrong path, but it has enough of a twist to make it interesting and enjoyable.

Darmok and the Mermaids of the Sea by Ethan Nahte

A hero with strange abilities that can take on pretty much anyone plus the allure of scantly clad women.. There were no surprises in this story, but finely written and a must for sword and sorcery readers.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

#Divinehell - Heresy

Jonas should have just left when he saw the salesman was dressed up as a priest, they gave him the creeps at the best of times, but they were having a 75% off sale, how could he refuse?

“Welcome to the Sixth Circle,” said the man in black rubbing his hands together.

“Sixth Circle?”

“All our jacuzzis are round...”

“Ah, can you point me to your best one?”

“Right this way, care to try it out?”

Jonas wasn't in a hurry. “Try before you buy as they say...”

Jonas stripped to his boxers and jumped in. Within moments the water was boiling. He tried to get out, but the priest slammed the lid shut on him before he could, laughing as he did so.

Monday, 5 December 2011

#Divinehell - Limbo

Rufus was beginning to regret turning away all those missionaries from his door, not as much as he regretted helping his drunk friend move a large fridge up some stairs, but almost.

The successfully lower limbo bars were lined up as far as he could see. Not that you would notice, each one was only an atom lower than the previous one. But he didn't have time to dawdle, the burning sensation that engulfed his body got worse the longer he lingered.

Most of all he wasn't looking forward to the one that was only one atom high.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Thirty-First Friday Flash: Aether Gilileo

(Image Source)

Brünhilda looked down at the landscape as it drifted by down below, the wind blowing through her long gray hair. It felt refreshing.

Her cat Zeplin leaped up onto the rail, Brünhilda swept away her morning coffee just in time.

“Not today my furry little friend!” she said scratching behind his ears. “I would love to stay and chat, but we had better get to work.”

Today, a village just over the mountain was in need of some rain, and it was her job to take it to them.

Plopping behind the controls she guided the ship higher. Her airship's tiny, but powerful motors responding nicely. Zeplin took up the seat next to her, Bob's old spot.

“Things were easier when Bob was around, but I do appreciate your company.. Ah there's a suitable cloud, a bit too large, but we don't have time to mess around.”

Gliding into position above the cloud she pulled the lever beside her seat, the cloud hitcher lowered, a long thin and perforated silver bar that ran along the length of her airship Aether Gilileo.


“Your instincts are correct, we are just about centre.”

Brünhilda pushed a button on top of the lever. Nozzles along the silver bar began to spray a special formula that bonded the cloud to the cloud hitcher, freezing it just enough so that it would stick to the bar. The airship began to sink as the cloud got heavier.

The engines whined and complained under the extra weight. Brünhilda applied more power.

“Come old girl, keep it together!”

Zeplin meowed again.

“Yes, that should do it. Let's go give a little rain to the fine people of Claytonville.”

Brünhilda pushed Aether Gilileo to the limit as she tried to make her deadline. Finally clearing the mountains Brünhilda and her ship ran into a raging storm, which wasn't possible, the area was supposed to be bone dry!

Snatching up her radio she got a hold of Claytonville's mayor's office.

“What is going on Rick?”

“Oh, Brünhilda, I...”

A red light began to flash like crazy, it was the proximity alert, she dropped the radio and yanked on the controls. It wouldn't be good enough, she had to release the cloud.

A large object loomed up in front of them, with the cloud now released they shot up. Aether Gilileo almost shaking apart under all the stress.

Her heart sank as she saw the large logo “Air Corp” brandished across the huge airship she had almost collided with.

She had heard rumours, she had hoped weren't true, of Air Corp expanding into the area. A swarm of flying objects came flying towards them.

“They want to fight do they?”

Brünhilda grabbed her double-barrel shotgun from its holder behind her and raised it to shoulder level, she had never used it, she wasn't even sure it was loaded, but she would use it if she needed to.

It was a swarm of watermelon sized hoverbots. “This is restricted Air Corp airspace. Leave or we will be forced to take further action against you,” said a mechanical voice.

“This is my seeding area, you have no right to steal it!” she shouted back.

“Air Corp legally bought out your contract and license to seed.”

“You did what?” Tears rolled down her eyes. What would Bob think? Their family business just being taken out like that.

She fired. The recoil of the gun sent her flying back into the wood paneling of her ship. One of the bots caught on fire and went crashing down.

The rest of the bots responded quickly and blasted away at Aether Gilileo with their green lasers, parts of the ship were catching on fire.

“I have to fight them off!”

She pulled herself up by the rail and tried to swat the dancing bots with the gun. Getting more and more frustrated that she couldn't hit any of them. Zeplin purred and wrapped himself around her legs.

“You're right it's hopeless,” she placed the gun down. “Alright! Stop! I'm leaving.”

The bots stopped instantly, and then zoomed off again. With the immediate threat gone she went about putting all the fires out, luckily there was no serious damage and most of the fires had been put out by the wind and rain.

Brünhilda sighed and picked up Zeplin. “Come on, I think it's about time we retired.”