Christmas Takeover 25 Pt 1: Chris Miller: Naughty Claus

Merry Christmas… from my family to you. Today, since it is such a special day, I offer you TWO Christmas Takeover stories from TWO really awesome authors with a lot of talent. This first one, Naughty Claus, is from Chris Miller.


Naughty Claus

A Story by Chris Miller
2,267 words

Caleb’s mother kissed him goodnight as his father stood by his bedside, beaming a smile of pride.

“Good night, baby,” his mother said as she rose next to his father.

“You go on to sleep right away now, you hear?” his father said, a humorous look on his face, his finger waving. “Santa’s going to be along any time now, and if you’re awake, well…”

He trailed off, shrugging.

“I know, I know,” Caleb said, nodding furiously, a deadly serious look upon his face. “If we’re awake on Christmas Eve, Santa won’t leave us any presents!”

“That’s right, pal!” his father said, giving him an affectionate squeeze on his shoulder. “Now, off to sleep.”

As his mother reached for the lamp next to his bed, Caleb asked, “You have to make sure Rachel goes to sleep, too! Tell her she can’t get up like she does all the—”

“Yes, yes,” his father placated him, waving his hands before him like a pair of palm branches. “We’re going to her next, don’t you worry.”

Caleb smiled—relieved now—and pulled his comforter up to his chin as the light was switched off. The soft glow of the moon filtered in through the crusted snow and ice outside his window causing shadows to dance across his walls. He could imagine Santa out there now, riding his sleigh, slipping down chimney’s and delivering joy the world over. At eight years old, Caleb had already begun to hear the awful rumors that Santa Claus wasn’t actually real, but he dismissed these claims outright. His parents had never lied to him, he was sure of it, and they said Santa was a real as they were. So, he had to be real.

He closed his eyes against the glow of the moon, his face nearly split in half with a smile as he heard his parents saying good night to his sister Rachel. He hoped she would listen and not get up. It would ruin everything if Santa didn’t leave them any presents because she broke the rules about getting to bed on Christmas Eve.

The door to Rachel’s room shut in the hallway with a quiet click, and Caleb peeked one eye open just a sliver. His own door hung open a quarter of the way, and he could see his mother coming down the hall, his father close behind.

“Finally,” his father was saying, a long sigh chasing the word. “Now we can get a fucking drink.”

“Richard!” his mother said, spinning around to face him. “Caleb might still be awake.”

“Are you kidding me?” his dad said. “Janie, honey, that boy’s so terrified of Santa not stopping by, he probably knocked himself out with a hammer as soon as we left the room, for Christ’s sake.”

“Well,” his mother said, resigning to his reasoning, “maybe you’re right.”

Caleb kept his body still in the dark room, his right eye the only giveaway that he was awake as he watched his parents interacting in the hall outside his door.

“You’re goddamn right I’m right,” his dad said. “So, let’s get those drinks, what do you say? Then I’ll show you why they call me Big Dick.”

Caleb’s mom was laughing softly now, her hand on his dad’s chest.

“Oh, I have an inkling as to why the call you that. Maybe, if you’re really nice, I’ll show you why I’m so…anal.”

Now they were both laughing as they moved on past the door and down the stairs.

“Ooh, you’re so naughty!” Caleb heard his dad say as their footfalls descended the stairs.

He had no idea what they were talking about. He’d heard his dad’s friends call him Dick plenty of times. Dick was short for Richard, after all. That’s what his mom had told him. And he had some faint memory of his father griping at his mother about how anal she was with the ‘damn hangers’. But what was shocking were the dirty words his dad had said. He’d never heard him talk like that before. Caleb had heard those words at school from some of the older kids, but never from his parents. Did they know those were bad words?

He didn’t know, but decided he’d let them know after presents and breakfast tomorrow. He didn’t want his dad to get in trouble for saying bad words.

Caleb rolled over and went to sleep. He dreamt of presents.


The white light reflecting off snow-covered rooftops lighted on his face and woke Caleb. He sat up in bed, rubbing his eyes and sluffing off sleep. Little crusty particles fell from the corners of his eyes as he did—eye-boogers is what these were called by the other kids at school—and then he was swinging his feet off the bed. He checked his clock and saw it was 7 A.M. Time to get up, get his sister, and get to opening presents. He couldn’t wait to see what Santa had brought them in the night. He’d awoke at one point in the night and thought he’d heard Santa down there, though he couldn’t be sure. Santa had seemed to be grunting loudly and making sharp “Ah-ah!” sounds now and then. It had almost sounded like two people, but Caleb knew Santa worked alone. He hadn’t wanted to make Santa angry, so he’d forced himself back to sleep.

He rushed down the hall and flung open Rachel’s door to wake her up. But she was already standing there, rubbing her eyes.

“Is it time for presents?” she asked through a yawn.

“Yeah! Come on!”

They both rushed down the hall and descended the stairs, their footfalls thumping loudly as they went. Their excited breathing heaved in and out loudly as they went.

“Mom!” Caleb cried out as they neared the ground floor. “Dad! Come on, let’s see what Santa—”

He stopped. Rachel was a second behind him and she ran face first into his back, right between his shoulders, causing him to stumble into the living room another step before righting himself. Then she was frozen next to him. Their jaws were twin, gaping yaws, reaching nearly to their waists. At least it felt like it. Caleb couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He was at first terrified, finding such a sight in his dad’s chair by the Christmas tree. But his fear quickly diminished as his young brain soaked in and began to process the information.

It was Santa Claus. He was sitting there in his big red suit, his white beard spilling down over his chest in wavy disregard. He held the glass of milk Caleb and Rachel had set out with the cookies before bed, and Santa was dunking a chocolate chip cookie into the glass. As he stuffed the dripping cookie into his mouth, his eyes flicked up as if he were only now noticing them, even though they’d been bounding loudly and shouting as they’d come down the stairs.

He took a big bite.

“Hey there, kiddies!” Santa said in a jolly tone, bits of cookie visible in his open mouth, his cheeks rosy with good cheer. “Caught me getting my snack!”

“Wh-wha—” was all Caleb could muster. Rachel continued reaching for the floor with her chin.

“You kids were my last stop of the night, and I thought I’d rest up a bit before heading back to the Pole,” Santa went on, taking another bite and eliminating the cookie. “Fine cookies, these are, I sure do appreciate you kids leaving these out for me!”

Caleb continued to stare in amazement, searching for his voice. Finally, he found it.

“Y-you’re really here?” he said in a wavering voice.

“Ho-ho-ho!” Santa bellowed gleefully, throwing his head back in laughter. “You see me sitting here, don’t ya?”

His voice was deep but soft, almost gentle. The voice of a loving grandfather. The light spilled in behind Santa, the white sheen of sunlight partially silhouetting him.

“Don’t snow much around here,” Santa went on absently. “It’s always nice to have a white Christmas, don’t ya think, kiddies?”

There were more ‘ho-ho-hos’ of laughter as Caleb and Rachel inched into the room. Where were their parents? How had they not heard all this commotion? Caleb wanted them to see Santa here, too. He couldn’t wait to tell the older kids at school about this. Their lies about Santa not being real were totally bogus, and he meant to set them straight.

“Snow is beautiful,” Rachel said through her missing teeth. It came out Snow is bootifall.

“It sure is, little lady,” Santa said smiling and leaning forward in the chair. “You should see my house, snow as faaaaar as the eye can see. You’re both welcome to visit any time. Mrs. Claus makes the best hot chocolate you ever did taste. You kiddies like hot chocolate?”

They both nodded emphatically, their eyes bright and wide.

“I’ll bet you do, ho-ho-ho!”

Then Santa’s cheery-red face grew serious.

“Have you kiddies been nice?” he asked in a flat tone. “Or have you been naughty?”

“Nice!” the both exclaimed in unison. Caleb’s breath had caught in his throat.

Now the smile returned to Santa’s face.

“Good!” he boomed cheerfully. “Well then, what say you open your presents, eh? I’ve got a few doozies here just for you!”

Caleb and Rachel both cracked smiles so wide it hurt, but they didn’t fight them. They ran towards the tree and Santa in the chair as he pulled a large red bag out from beside him and sat it down before them. He pulled out four presents, two for each of them. The paper they were wrapped in were bright, dazzling shades of red and blue and silver, with glittery bows adorning them all.

“Now, open these here first,” Santa said, handing over a pair of presents.

They tore into them with fury. Paper flew through the air like confetti and rained down all around them. Santa sat there, laughing loudly as ripped open the boxes.

Caleb had a Batman LEGO set he’d asked for specifically in the letter he’d written to Santa. His jaw fell open and he said ‘thank you’ somewhere in the neighborhood of forty-seven times within the space of two seconds.

Santa laughed all the more. “You’re welcome, Caleb!”

Rachel got the precise American Girl doll she’d asked for and similarly shared her thanks.

“Alright, kiddies,” Santa went on, handing over the other two presents. “These here are the big ones! You didn’t ask for them, but I sure think you need them.”

Confetti littered the air once more. Caleb noticed this new present was much heavier than the one with the LEGO set. He’d had to leave it on the floor instead of his lap, but that didn’t matter. He wondered what it could be as he got the bow and paper out of the way and tore open the box at the same time Rachel opened hers.

They both froze, the excited smiles still adorning their faces, but beginning to melt away like ice in rising temperatures. What Caleb was seeing simply couldn’t be. Santa had been right, he had not asked for this. But he hadn’t wanted it either. He couldn’t imagine how Santa could possibly think he needed this.

Rachel began screaming, the high-pitched shrill only a six-year-old girl can achieve. Caleb felt a similar sound building up from his stomach. Santa was laughing somewhere before them, though Caleb could not wrench his eyes away from the terrible present in front of him.

Their parents’s severed heads stared out at them from the boxes, eyes glazed and gray, tongues lolling out hideously. Blood smattered the inside of the boxes and there was an acrid odor now smarting Caleb’s nostrils.

Rachel was up and running for their parents’s bedroom. He was aware of the absurdity of this, as if there were anything in there that could do them any good, but Caleb found himself right on her heels all the same.

“Found ‘em being naughty, ho-ho-ho!” Santa boomed from behind them as they fled. “Ain’t that nice?”

Fresh guffaws of laughter issued from Santa as they burst into their parents’s room. Fresh screams of horror exploded from the children as they took in the sight.

Their parents’s bodies were on the bed, naked, their mother’s bent over on hands and knees. Their father’s headless corpse was locked in place behind her, his lap against her butt, hands gripped in a tight lock on her hips.

Blood was everywhere. It looked as though it had been slung about in strings and ropes, and it looked as though a bucket of the stuff had been dumped all over his parents and their bed.

Caleb and Rachel turned back out of their parents’s room and stopped as they saw Santa stalking towards them. He held something at his side, but Caleb couldn’t tell what it was at first with the light of the icy morning spilling in behind the jolly fat man.

“Naughty, naughty, naughty!” Santa said, chuckling all the way. “You know, it’s my job to check who’s been naughty or nice!”

Caleb couldn’t move. Couldn’t breathe. Rachel seemed to be similarly transfixed.

Santa moved in closer, revealing what was in his hand. A large, red axe.

It dripped with blood.

“And let me tell you,” Santa said, all cheer draining from his face and voice alike, “You’ve all been naughty little fuckers!”

Their screams lasted only a moment.

Chris Miller is a native Texan who has been writing from an early age, but only started publishing in 2017. Since the release of his first novel, A Murder of Saints, he has released a novella – Trespass – another novel – The Hard Goodbye – a single short story – Flushed – and has been inducted into multiple anthologies, including the acclaimed And Hell Followed from Death’s Head Press, where his story “Behind Blue Eyes” appears alongside stories from Wrath James White, Jeff Strand, and The Sisters of Slaughter, just to name a few. He has another new novel coming soon, the first part of a trilogy of horror, and will be featured in more anthologies throughout the year. He is happily married to the love of his life, Aliana, and they have three beautiful children.

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: James Watts

Meghan: Hi, James. Welcome to the annual Halloween Extravaganza. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

James Watts: I am a 42-year-old father of one son. Bailey. He just turned 21 this year. I play a little trombone and love video games. RPGs are my fav as well as survival horror. The Legend of Zelda is my all-time top fav. I am a random person with a random sense of humor. I enjoy bowling, shooting pool, fishing, camping, baseball, and working with wood. I love Mexican and Italian foods the most and have a major sweet tooth. I also believe in having strong family bonds and honoring your family in whatever you choose to do. I love most types of music, my top favs being Rock, Heavy Rock, Alternative, Jazz, and classic rock. Movies: horror, sci-fi, fantasy, animated(anime), comedy, and westerns.

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

James Watts: I play trombone (badly), I write my stories by the seat of my pants, I talk to my pets in baby talk, I have enjoyed a few soft rock songs, and when I was 12 I kissed a girl… and I liked it.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

James Watts: It was a Hardy Boys mystery, but I cannot recall which case it was.

Meghan: What are you reading now?

James Watts: The Pleasure Hunt by Jacob Floyd.

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

James Watts: Peter Pan

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write?

James Watts: After Reading King‘s The Stand.

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

James Watts: Alone in my room.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

James Watts: Music. I must have music that matches the mood of the genre I am writing in.

Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

James Watts: Saying goodbye to a cherished character.

Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?

James Watts: Fallen, a short story in the anthology And Hell Followed from Death’s Head Press.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you?

James Watts: The Stand, The Shining, Phantoms, 1984, Swan Song, and Boy’s Life

Meghan: Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

James Watts: King, Poe, Koontz, McCammon, Saul, Pendleton.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

James Watts: Strong characterization and a solid plot. The story should be as a real as it can be no matter how far-flung it may be.

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character?

James Watts: Any number of things. I never outline so my stories just happen as I go along and my characters grow naturally.

Meghan: How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

James Watts: I give them authentic dialogue and backstories. Or as authentic as I can.

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover?

James Watts: I can be. I am a book cover lover. I am generally first drawn to a book by the cover art.

Meghan: To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

James Watts: As much as I can be.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

James Watts: Do not rush it. Pace it and let the story tell itself.

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

James Watts: The death of Roy Sanders.

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

James Watts: No zombies or vampires so far. Seriously, though, I do try and use things that are not overdone and mix it up a little.

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

James Watts: Very, as it is part of the lure. Pretty hard, because you want to choose the best one to attract readers. I will get an image and research that image until I think I have and then start rolling the title over in my head, changing it just a little each time.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

James Watts: I write horror. The horror fan. Family bonds are important.

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

James Watts: Really have not had to cut much out… yet. But the longer my books get, I know some stuff will be cut.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk?”

James Watts: Misguided Faith. It is not complete, yet, but is waiting for me to breathe some life into it.

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

James Watts: A novel based on my short story Fallen and my short story Deranged Innocence.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

James Watts: Goodreads ** Facebook

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

James Watts: All I can really think to say is that I love all of my fans, present and future. It is for you that I strive to be the best I can be.

James Watts was born in Birmingham, Alabama in March of 1976. Growing up in the small town of West Jefferson, Alabama, Watts spent his days lost in his vivid imagination. At age 10, he discovered the Hardy Boys mystery series and fell in love with reading. By Age 12, the discovery of Stephen King‘s The Stand gave life to his need to write, to tell stories that he hoped the world would love. It would take twenty years of rejections and working low paying jobs, and going through two divorces, before he would see the publication of his horror novel Them through Fear Front Publishing. James Watts currently resides in West Jefferson, Alabama and has one 19 year old son, Bailey Watts.

Them

In the small town of Maple Grove, Alabama, an ancient evil resurfaces to claim its right to life and the human race be damned.

When Ray Sanders returned to Maple Grove to attend his mother’s funeral, he never planned to have to overcome all of his insecurities in order to save the town from an evil as old as time itself. For over a hundred years, the town of Maple Grove has suffered from the deranged minds and unquenchable hunger of parasitic creatures not of our Earth. Once before in a sacrifice of blood, the forces from beyond were locked away presumably forever. Now they have returned, hungering for their chance to evolve. It will be up to Ray Sanders, his cousin Roy, and a woman either them recall to stop this evolution and prevent the reign of these ageless creatures before their evil can spread.

19 Gates to Hell

From the darkest places imaginable, both outside and inside the mind, comes 19 tales that will drag you into places you never dreamed of seeing, not even in your worst nightmares.Come along as these tales open up 19 gates into hell and experience the supernatural, the darkness of night, and the unimaginable like never before.

And Hell Followed

Seventeen authors re-imagine the biblical apocalypse and all the hell that follows in sixteen horrifying tales. What if the prophecies of Revelation hit today? What sort of craziness and evil would ensue? With this list of excellent authors contributing, it’s sure to be a Hell of a read! 

Featuring:
Wrath James White – Horse
Sam West – The Whore of Babylon
The Sisters of Slaughter (Michelle Garza & Melissa Lason) – Godless World
Jeff Strand – Outpouring
K. Trap Jones – Ham & Pudge
C. Derick Miller – Hell Paso
Christine Morgan – Censered
Patrick C. Harrison III – The Old Man & the Lamb
John Wayne Comunale – Apocalypse… Meh
Cody Higgins – The Unveiling
Delphine Quinn – Six Degrees of Separation
James Watts – Fallen
Wile E. Young – The Day & the Hour
Chris Miller – Behind Blue Eyes
Mark Deloy – Cult of the Angel Eaters
Richard Raven – Mark of the Beast

Shopping List 3

By popular demand, the third volume in our bestselling anthology series, twenty-one spine-chilling, terrifyingly creepy tales of terror by a bunch of the best independent horror authors writing today! 

Featured:
Richard Farren Barber – Black Light
Mark Thomas – A Boy & His Turtle
Jeremy Thompson – An Opening
Steve Stark – Angel of Mercy
Jeremy Wagner – Dead Half
James Watts – Deranged Innocence
Kevin McHugh – First Do No Harm
Brian McGowan – Gotta Have Heart
Mark Deloy – Island Food
Jason Gehlert – Beaver’s Claw
J.N. Cameron – A Night Ride Through the Desert
Nick Swain – Recess for Billy
Nick Manzolillo – Saltwater Fish Tank
Dhinoj Dings – The Body Parts Gang
Richard Raven – The Butcher’s Return
Megan E. Morales – The Dead Boys

The Big Book of Bootleg Horror 4

Welcome to Volume Four of our best-selling horror anthology, featuring tales of terror and dark, slithering things to chill the marrow and keep even the most resolute of horror fans awake in the small hours of the night when the inherently evil and deliciously malevolent come out to explore our earthly realm

Featuring:
Erin Lee – Patient Virtues
Thomas S. Gunther – The Butcher Knife Kid
Shea Herlihy-Abba – If You Want To
Richard Raven – The Final Iniquity
Josh Darling – Moxie Proxy
J.J. Smith – Inhuman Exposure
Shawn Chang – Painsteakingly
Bill Evans – Poppo
J. Snow – The Theory of Divine Inventions
Tim J. Finn – The Last Wolf Pack Leader
James Watts – Scarlet Frost
David Clark – Unholy Trinity
Danae Wulfe – The Fisherman’s Wife
Kane Gordon – The Heads of Corpses
Shane Porteous – Torn Apart by a Toothpick
Feind Gottes – Inhuman Nature
Patrick Winters – Tempt Me Not

Halloween Extravaganza: Chris Miller: Halloween in the Bible Belt

Halloween in the Bible Belt, circa late 1980s through the 90s (and beyond):

I have a single memory of going trick-r-treating as a child. I know, that’s odd, even for folks who grew up in rural East Texas like I did. Every year I would see hundreds of kids out in their costumes of ghouls and devils and vampires and other various monstrosities, all carrying a bag or a bucket or a tub of some kind to store their candied spoils. And even with my single memory of trick-r-treating, I was never with any of those other kids. Not the ones going door to door, holding their containers out and open with a cheery, “Trick-r-Treat!” coming from them in a totally jarring contrast to the looks of their costumes. Not me. Not in my family, or in the families of any of the other people I knew growing up.

None of them?

That’s right. None. You see, when I was old enough to start school, I wasn’t put into public school. Public schools produced nothing but drug addicts and sex fiends, or so I had been informed in my upbringing. Teachers were active agents of the “enemy” (I always deduced this enemy must be the devil, though he was never specifically named), trying to dissuade children from any thoughts of higher powers or deity of any kind. So, when I started school, I was put into a private Christian school. Now, you might be thinking that even in a private school, there’s lots of kids and lots of different points of view, lots of diversity. But that wasn’t the case at Victory Baptist Academy. I think there were a total of around 15 students there, and that included Kindergarten through 12th grade. 15 kids. And about six of those were the children of the principal (a Baptist pastor), and one of the supervisors (we didn’t really have teachers, just workbooks we studied from and took tests from, and when we had questions, the supervisors would help us out).

I attended this school from Kindergarten through second grade. It was then that the school shut down due to lack of funds (the church that ran it couldn’t afford to keep it going any longer), and then I homeschooled my third-grade year. VBA reopened and I went to 4th grade and the start of 5th there once more, but they again ran into financial difficulty and had to shut down again. I finished out 5th grade homeschooling and spent 6th going to the home of a parent who wanted to homeschool, and we had a total of four students. So it wasn’t until 7th grade that my parents finally succumbed (claiming I was a monster of a student at home…utter nonsense to anyone who knows me 😉 ) and sent me to public school where I actually started meeting kids and people who were living their lives very differently from my family and who had some radically different points of view.

So, what does any of this have to do with Halloween?

I’m glad you asked.

As I was growing up, anytime “the devil’s birthday” came around (I have no idea how anyone ever came to this idiotic conclusion, but it was a standard mantra in our circles), we would typically attend what was called a “Harvest Festival” either at the church we attended or at the private Christian school I was in at the time. They had booths where you could bob for apples or toss ping pong balls into cups to win a goldfish or some candy, other various fair-style games. Candy and prizes. And we all dressed up as various Bible characters. NO ONE was to dress up as an evil monster. That would offend the Holy Spirit…or something.

It was like that every year. I can’t remember a time I didn’t want to get into one of the cool Jason or Michael Myers costumes I’d see in Wal-Mart (I’d never been allowed to watch any of those movies or horror movies of any kind, so I had no idea what they were about other than the looked really cool), but if I even asked I was met with the “I’m so disappointed you would want to do that” treatment from my parents. Like I had asked to smear turds on Billy Graham’s face or something. It was absurd.

BUT… it was my childhood. Yet, I DO have one memory of going trick-r-treating, and I didn’t achieve it by sneaking away with friends or anything. My dad took me. Me and my sister. I’m not even sure how it happened, but I was young enough I wasn’t in school yet, so perhaps they hadn’t gone fully into the “Halloween is bad, m’kay?” mentality at that time. But in any case, I did go the once.

I was Superman. I still couldn’t be a ghoul or a goblin, but Superman was cool enough. My dad made up this little trailer that could attach to the back of our four-wheeler, and me in my Superman getup and my sister in pillow case with eye-holes meant to make her look like Casper the friendly ghost loaded up in the trailer and my dad fired up the quad.

I need to pause here just a moment and explain the topography of where I grew up. We lived LITERALLY 15 miles from ANYTHING. There were four towns near us, and we managed to land right smack in the middle of all of them. Last house at the dead end of a black top county road, at least after my grandfather passed and my grandmother moved away. Our house was over a mile back into the woods from the highway, and there were maybe a dozen homes or so back in there.

So, we got rolling, my sister and I bouncing around in the trailer behind the four-wheeler, and we started making stops. Now, I’d seen other kids doing this around town when we’d be in town for church or events or visiting friends. I was anticipating getting all kinds of candy and was even practicing my “trick-r-treat!” for when we got to the doors and held out our bags like tiny little addicts.

The first three houses we stopped at were vacant. Nobody home, no answers to the door. Bummer. So, on we went down this old blacktop road, the rumble of the quad’s engine dancing and echoing through the pines and oaks all around us. We found a house with some lights on and pulled in. An old lady answered and was shocked to find there were kids out trick-r-treating way back on this country road. She looked a little embarrassed when she said, “I-I don’t have any candy set out… let me see if I can scrounge something up.”

She went to work hunting for something to give us, finally returning with a fistful of Werther’s Originals butterscotch candies for us. Woohoo. On to the next place.

Several other houses were likewise unoccupied that night, and in total, we scored candy from three houses. And only ONE of those actually had some candy out and ready for kids such as us. And this was the last one we stopped at.

We rode back a little lackluster as my sister and I looked over our meager spoils. It wasn’t much. Hardly enough to cover the bottom of the bag. But it was something. I had gotten to go trick-r-treating with my dad, and I had something to show for it, even if it was only a little. I remember looking forward to the next year where I was going to figure out a way to get my parents to take us to one of the towns we lived near and go trick-r-treating with some large groups of kids and REALLY make out like bandits. I would work on my parents through the next 365 days and I’d get to dress up like one of those really cool horror movie baddies I saw at the store and I’d get so much candy I’d make myself sick eating it.

I remember all of this, can remember the smile that was on my face as we pulled into the dirt track driveway of our home at the end of the county road, the one I was still sporting when we came inside and showed my mom what we’d gotten while we were out.

There was always next year.

Only, there wasn’t. Not for me. The next year and all the ones that followed were “Harvest Festivals” where we got plenty of candy but could only dress as Bible characters or—maybe—a decent superhero like Superman (since he’s a lot like Jesus…or something). I can remember too being able to look out the windows of the churches where these “festivals” took place and seeing all the kids going door to door with their cool costumes and getting candy and not having to settle down but getting to run and jump and skip and have such a great time…

It’s sad. There’s no big reveal here at the end, nothing we’ve been building towards where you see I finally got to take part in an ages-old tradition with all my peers. Nothing. Even when I was older and in public school, I still wasn’t allowed to partake in any of the school’s Halloween festivities. When I was told to write a paper about my favorite memories of Halloween, I had to sum it up with a single sentence: my family doesn’t celebrate Halloween. When my teacher saw this, her face scrunched, and I thought for a moment she might cry as she looked at me with sympathy oozing out of her by the gallon.

She gave my single sentence essay a 100. God bless her.

But that’s why we have kids, right? So we can do better than the generation before us did, to put the world into the hands of people who are better equipped than we are and who will make the world a better place than it was when we handed it over to them. And that’s what I’m doing. Halloween is a BIG event for us every year in our household and we trick-r-treat and we decorate and have a huge cauldron of candy we set out for other trick-r-treaters (our street alone gets between 700 and 1000 visitors every Halloween). My wife makes kick-ass margaritas and we watch Halloween (1978) and its sequels and anything else filled with flesh and blood until we can’t stay awake anymore. And my kids get to dress up as they like. Funnily enough, they’ve never chosen a ghoul or a goblin or a monster. Not yet. We’ve been princesses and superheroes and animals, but no monsters. But I’m working towards that. Maybe I’m trying to relive my childhood through my kids vicariously. I can own that. And, is it really so wrong if we do? When we miss something in our own lives, we really build it up in our heads as to what it was supposed to have been, and because of this we’re more equipped to orchestrate it for others later on. To really go all out.

I’m sad I didn’t get to experience these things when I was growing up, but the way my children get to experience them with my wife and I, that’s priceless. Their faces, their excitement, their copious amounts of candy, all of it. Knowing they are getting more than I did lets me know I’m doing something right.

And because of that, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Chris Miller is a native Texan who has been writing from an early age, but only started publishing in 2017. Since the release of his first novel, A Murder of Saints, he has released a novella – Trespass – another novel – The Hard Goodbye – a single short story – Flushed – and has been inducted into multiple anthologies, including the acclaimed And Hell Followed from Death’s Head Press, where his story “Behind Blue Eyes” appears alongside stories from Wrath James White, Jeff Strand, and The Sisters of Slaughter, just to name a few. He has another new novel coming soon, the first part of a trilogy of horror, and will be featured in more anthologies throughout the year. He is happily married to the love of his life, Aliana, and they have three beautiful children.

A Murder of Saints

Sophie Fields is a little girl tortured by her memories of Damien Smith, a much-loved and respected church elder with a secret lust for the unmentionable. After his misdeeds are covered up by church leaders, she climbs to the roof of her house and jumps to her death, right in front of her shocked brother, Charlie.

Twenty years later, detective Harry Fletcher is still haunted by the personal demons associated with the church cover-up. After losing his faith, his wife, and now his partner, Fletcher learns that Charlie Fields has come back to town with one mission: to kill everyone responsible for his sister’s death. It is Fletcher’s job to track and stop the crazed killer. But as it becomes clear who the main targets are, Fletcher finds himself in the midst of a moral quagmire. Although he sees justice in Charlie’s crusade, the killer seems to be taking out others not responsible for his family’s destruction. As Fletcher and his new partner battle each other in a test of ideology and limits of the law, the real demons show up and change everything.

The Hard Goodbye

As the old axiom goes, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

John Savage realized that too late. 

Following the biggest job of their lives, John and his small crew think they’ve got it made. But a lawyer, a junkie, a crooked cop, Savage and his girlfriend have unknowingly opened Pandora’s Box. And they won’t know it until it’s too late. As the brutally tortured bodies of their partners come to light, tensions rise all the way to the screaming, chaotic conclusion of this bloody crime thriller. 

High risk brings high reward, but the safe bet is usually the smartest. Stick to the plan, or get ready for the hard goodbye.

Trespass

An adrenaline pumping, nerve wracking, intense thiller that will leave you breathless. Frank took his son hunting and what was supposed to be a pleasant time of bonding turned into an absolute nightmare. Out in the middle of nowhere, on their own property, They stumble upon a group of trespassers trying to get rid of a secret so damning they’re willing to kill anyone that sees it. Get ready for a relentless page turner as Frank dares to fend off the assailants, while racing to get his son help before he bleeds to death.Chris Miller tells a story that any father could relate to. Trespass has what it takes to be a thriller best seller.

Flushed

You’ve had a bad day before. We all have.
But Marty is in a whole other level of shit.
Literally.

Following a drunken night of sex with the office secretary, Marty’s guts are rebelling after his personal hangover remedy, nachos with jalapenos and hot sauce.

Marty has to go. And he’s got to get across the office to do so. Standing in his way are Nikki, the secretary from the night prior, Brad, the vape enthusiast douche, and possibly even his boss. The office door is always open, after all.

Join Marty on his trek, like a vulgar Lord of the Rings. The distance may be shorter, but the stakes are just as high.

The Damned Place

A small town with dark secrets. A house hidden in the woods that holds horrors unimaginable. Four friends on summer break fighting off a group of bullies dead set on ruining their summer of fun. The little town of Winnsboro has buried its secrets beneath years of history and faded memories. But, it’s about to be unearthed releasing ancient creatures as a budding psychopath blooms Will they survive what comes for them and possibly the world or will The Damned Place end it all?

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Chris Miller

Meghan: Hi, Chris. Welcome to my Halloween Extravaganza. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Chris Miller: Well, I’m 36 years old, so in the final year of my mid-thirties (it’s all downhill from here, I’m told). I work for a water well company my father started the year I was born as my day job, but by night—and Saturday mornings—I write books! I’m married with three beautiful kids and we live East Texas.

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

Chris Miller: I’m a major softy is one thing. I think a good gin is the height of perfection for liquor. I really despise all political parties and the candidates they put forth. I’m deeply religious (Catholic). And I cannot stand to see—much less even touch—wet paper, specifically paper napkins, straw covers, tissues that have gotten moist somehow… I can’t deal.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

Chris Miller: I read a lot of Hardy Boys mysteries as a kid, and eventually got into R.L. Stine’s Fear Street and Goosebumps books, but the first adult novel I read was The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. Man, I loved that book!

Meghan: What are you reading now?

Chris Miller: Stinger by Robert R. McCammon. Very good so far, as is all of McCammon’s work. Phenomenal writer.

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

Chris Miller: A little gem called Letters Written in White by my friend Kathryn Perez. She’s local too, lives in my hometown. Terrific little book. Tore my heart from behind my meat shirt and made me weep. Not suspense, not horror, not thriller. Just a well written drama with some strong elements of romance. And I loved it.

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?

Chris Miller: I’ve always liked telling stories, and I get really animated when I do. Like idiotically so. And I would tend to embellish a lot, and it just made more sense to start telling fictional stories. First thing I wrote was an unofficial sequel to the Narnia series which would ignore everything after the first one. But it sucked hard and fast and I didn’t make it ten pages. But I was only about ten at the time. At 18 I wrote a short story. That was my first real and complete story I’d written. I’ve been on and off since then, and really got serious about it about 5 years ago, and I write as much as I can every week.

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

Chris Miller: I don’t know if it’s special, but it’s where I normally write, which is my front living room where my iMac is. I’ve done it at work as well when things are slow enough, but that’s rare and there’s always distractions and interruptions. It’s nice and quiet at my desk at home.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Chris Miller: I prefer to write with a glass of gin and soda with lime in front of me. I just sip it when I slow down for a bit or rest my fingers. But when it isn’t there, I feel naked, and only my wife and satanic perverts want to see me naked. Actually, not even sure my wife does. Coffee is a good substitute for this.

Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Chris Miller: I wrote a story called “In The House”, which is in the anthology Killers Inside. I was writing about a home invasion, which is the scariest thing in the world to me. But as I was writing, I realized that one of the villains was going to rape and brutalize the mother of the home. I don’t write extreme horror, so I wanted to insinuate as much as possible without flat out saying what was happening, you know, let the reader fill in the gaps. But in parts it just wasn’t possible. After the scene was done, I felt almost sick. I can’t think of a more humiliating and horrible thing a person could do to another person. But the story is king, and drives all the action and terror that follows. But I had to stop writing on that story for the rest of the day and go shower.

Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?

Chris Miller: The Damned Place, which was published earlier this year. I’m REALLY proud of that book. And it’s my longest one at this time.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Chris Miller: IT has been a great inspiration for me, especially in character development. The Hunt for Red October and plenty of other suspense books have inspired me to achieve a fever pitch of suspense on the page. There’s nothing better. Stephen King, Dean Koontz (his pacing in the old days, Holy Mother, was that incredible!), Robert McCammon, Jonathan Janz, Brian Keene, Ray Garton (who gave a blurb for the cover of my second novel, The Hard Goodbye), Josh Malerman, Caroline Kepnes, and a thousand others have all been big influences on my personal style.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

Chris Miller: Good characters. They’re more important than the plot. You can take a ho-hum idea, but if you have great characters, you could very well have a great book. Of course, ideally, you’ll have great characters and a great story as well.

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Chris Miller: Realism. Flaws. Insight into why they are the way they are. You can even love the vilest of villains if they’re properly drawn and developed. That’s a total must.

Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Chris Miller: Harry Fletcher and Jim Dalton are both pretty good candidates, but if I had to pick just one, probably Harry.

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Chris Miller: A bad cover sucks. I don’t let it be my deciding factor, but it’s sure nice to not cringe when you look at a book. So far, I’ve been very involved in all my covers, going back and forth with the designer and what I wanted until we finally saw it materialize. Who knows if that will continue, but so far that’s been the case.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

Chris Miller: A LOT. I’ve learned about shaping worlds and characters and learned how to listen to them and let THEM tell the story. Follow their lead. I’ve also learned a lot on the technical side of things as well as marketing and networking.

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Chris Miller: The rape scene from “In the House”. It just hurt.

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Chris Miller: The level of suspense and intensity to the stories. I’ve figured out how to really ratchet up the tension and take things to a really explosive, satisfying climax. Even some of the best out there seem to miss this mark sometimes. It was another of the myriad reasons I started writing myself, because this is what I wanted to read, and no one out there was doing it quite the way I wanted it done. So I’m filling that void.

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Chris Miller: It’s important. Quite important. Sometimes the title comes more easily than others. Sometimes you write a line in the story and realize you just found your title. Other times it comes to you with the idea for the book. Yet other times, you have several ideas you have to bounce off people. It should convey something about the story, but not give anything away. And when the reader finishes they should ‘get’ why the title is what it is.

Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Chris Miller: A novel. Reason being it just feels good to finish a large scale story, especially when it really comes together and works. I can pump a short story out in an afternoon, and some that I have are in anthologies. I love doing that as well, and I’m proud of my shorts, but I’m even more proud of my longer work.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Chris Miller: I tend to call myself a suspense writer. Most of my short fiction falls into the horror category, and my longer fiction are thrillers, supernatural thriller, hard-boiled crime, and now with The Damned Place a full-blooded horror story. But even with my thrillers, they are written in a horroresque manner of prose. They always brush elbows with horror, even if they’re technically more properly labeled as thrillers. Anyone who loves suspense and can handle some gore should love my work. As for what I want them to take away, more than anything, entertainment. I have some morals weaved into the work and some things to think about for sure, but if I don’t entertain you, I’ve failed. Books should be fun before they’re anything else. And that’s my goal.

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Chris Miller: The original version of A Murder of Saints was actually written to be “Christian Fiction” because it’s inspired around some things that actually happened in a youth group at a church I was going to as a teenager, and dealt with some heavy things. So I didn’t have any coarse language and it had this happy sunny ending. Then I looked at it and said, “That’s shit.” So I fixed it. Chopped out four entire chapters, put a LOT more story into what was left, let the dirty words fly, and made an ending that stays with you long after you finish. It’s the only novel I’ve written that I did such an overhaul on, and I don’t plan to do that again. Don’t need to, either, since I won’t be writing for the CF market directly again. That story may have been set around a church scandal and had some heavy Christian influences and debates in it—I am a Christian, after all—but it really wasn’t that sort of story you’d file in Christian Fiction.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

Chris Miller: I have a fantasy novel finished in first draft, a suspense horror novella finished in first draft, and another suspense novella that is unfinished. I’ll get around to them eventually, I’ve just been so busy with everything else that I haven’t really given them the attention they need. One day they’ll see the light of day.

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

Chris Miller: A lot more horror. I’ve created a universe with all my books where all the characters exist together and sometimes cross over into other stories or are mentioned here and there. I’ve also developed a multi-verse that I plan to explore as these other novels come out and set the stage for what’s to come. And I do plan to write a lengthier comedy. I’ve done two short stories which were comedy, and they were hilarious. I’d like to see if I could manage that with something longer. Maybe a novella.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Chris Miller: You can find me on Facebook or search and add me. If you’re not a creep, I’ll add you. Twitter. Instagram. I have a patreon page as well if anyone would like to support me there. And of course my Amazon page with links to everything I have available.

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

Chris Miller: I just appreciate everyone who reads and gives me a shoutout, letting me know they liked the book. Or that they didn’t. Either way, those reviewers help put the book on the map and help me grow and learn as I navigate my way through this business. God bless all of you!

Chris Miller is a native Texan who has been writing from an early age, but only started publishing in 2017. Since the release of his first novel, A Murder of Saints, he has released a novella – Trespass – another novel – The Hard Goodbye – a single short story – Flushed – and has been inducted into multiple anthologies, including the acclaimed And Hell Followed from Death’s Head Press, where his story “Behind Blue Eyes” appears alongside stories from Wrath James White, Jeff Strand, and The Sisters of Slaughter, just to name a few. He has another new novel coming soon, the first part of a trilogy of horror, and will be featured in more anthologies throughout the year. He is happily married to the love of his life, Aliana, and they have three beautiful children.

A Murder of Saints

Sophie Fields is a little girl tortured by her memories of Damien Smith, a much-loved and respected church elder with a secret lust for the unmentionable. After his misdeeds are covered up by church leaders, she climbs to the roof of her house and jumps to her death, right in front of her shocked brother, Charlie.

Twenty years later, detective Harry Fletcher is still haunted by the personal demons associated with the church cover-up. After losing his faith, his wife, and now his partner, Fletcher learns that Charlie Fields has come back to town with one mission: to kill everyone responsible for his sister’s death. It is Fletcher’s job to track and stop the crazed killer. But as it becomes clear who the main targets are, Fletcher finds himself in the midst of a moral quagmire. Although he sees justice in Charlie’s crusade, the killer seems to be taking out others not responsible for his family’s destruction. As Fletcher and his new partner battle each other in a test of ideology and limits of the law, the real demons show up and change everything.

The Hard Goodbye

As the old axiom goes, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

John Savage realized that too late. 

Following the biggest job of their lives, John and his small crew think they’ve got it made. But a lawyer, a junkie, a crooked cop, Savage and his girlfriend have unknowingly opened Pandora’s Box. And they won’t know it until it’s too late. As the brutally tortured bodies of their partners come to light, tensions rise all the way to the screaming, chaotic conclusion of this bloody crime thriller. 

High risk brings high reward, but the safe bet is usually the smartest. Stick to the plan, or get ready for the hard goodbye.

Trespass

An adrenaline pumping, nerve wracking, intense thiller that will leave you breathless. Frank took his son hunting and what was supposed to be a pleasant time of bonding turned into an absolute nightmare. Out in the middle of nowhere, on their own property, They stumble upon a group of trespassers trying to get rid of a secret so damning they’re willing to kill anyone that sees it. Get ready for a relentless page turner as Frank dares to fend off the assailants, while racing to get his son help before he bleeds to death.Chris Miller tells a story that any father could relate to. Trespass has what it takes to be a thriller best seller.

Flushed

You’ve had a bad day before. We all have.
But Marty is in a whole other level of shit.
Literally.

Following a drunken night of sex with the office secretary, Marty’s guts are rebelling after his personal hangover remedy, nachos with jalapenos and hot sauce.

Marty has to go. And he’s got to get across the office to do so. Standing in his way are Nikki, the secretary from the night prior, Brad, the vape enthusiast douche, and possibly even his boss. The office door is always open, after all.

Join Marty on his trek, like a vulgar Lord of the Rings. The distance may be shorter, but the stakes are just as high.

The Damned Place

A small town with dark secrets. A house hidden in the woods that holds horrors unimaginable. Four friends on summer break fighting off a group of bullies dead set on ruining their summer of fun. The little town of Winnsboro has buried its secrets beneath years of history and faded memories. But, it’s about to be unearthed releasing ancient creatures as a budding psychopath blooms Will they survive what comes for them and possibly the world or will The Damned Place end it all?

Halloween Extravaganza: C. Derick Miller: STORY: Diary of the Wolf

If you have not experienced any of C. Derick Miller’s works, this is a great opportunity to do so. Quite an interesting story indeed.


October 31st, 2019

To the finder of this diary, Happy Halloween! If you’re reading this, then you’ve managed to survive the carnage which will probably be taking place over the next few hours. I am leaving this diary to explain things. A confession, if you will. I seriously doubt I will live long enough to explain it in person. My name is Baxter and I am a werewolf. This is my story.

I figured Central Park would be the best place to finish this entry. When the time comes, there won’t be too many people around for my killing spree, but in this “city that never sleeps”, it’ll be just enough to get the attention of the New York Police Department. They should put an end to this once and for all. Let’s just think of those few, helpless victims as casualties of war. That is the perfect way to describe this curse. The inner beast is winning the battle over my humanity and it’s time to bring in some outside help. I’m sorry this is the way it must be. I’ve found no other solution.

I always wanted to see New York City before I died. It’s everything I ever imagined. Getting off the bus at Port Authority and Times Square was breathtaking. The sounds, the smells, and the fast-paced lives of people fighting for position on the sidewalk were enough to make me want to cry. After diving down the closest subway tunnel, I stood there amongst the locals and observed their frantic way of life from a distance. The ancient scents coming from the tunnels were overpowering, especially to me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t explore them without drawing attention to myself. Instead, I hopped the train two stations down and landed at the gateway of Columbus Circle. If there was a way of avoiding this plan, I could see myself living here forever.

I’m skipping a bit due to excitement and overwhelming awe, not to mention the nostalgia from every television show and movie I’ve seen since childhood. If you, kind reader, are a New Yorker, I’m sure you no longer get this sensation daily. I weep for you. I’m sitting on a bench next to the Alice in Wonderland statue. Even though I am not facing it, I am excited by the sounds of children’s laughter as they climb all over it. There is a cool breeze blowing from the pond nearby and a dozen remote-controlled boats are riding the choppy waters. The scent of money on Park Avenue is what brought me to this exact spot, though. When it all comes to a head, I can only hope I take a few of them out before I’m gunned down like an old west bandit. They’re evil people, more so than I, and a shake-up of their lifestyle is long overdue. Oh, my dearest reader, I pray one of those destined victims isn’t someone near and dear to you. If so, you have my sincerest sympathies.

This all began exactly a year ago just before I separated myself from military service. Still a little on edge from an extensive tour in Afghanistan, I was ordered to live out the remainder of my Army days in the quiet confines of Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Not being the type of person who frequents the bars and malls of the nearby city, I would take long journeys into the Huachuca Mountains to explore ancient caves and abandoned mineshafts. For the sake of my sanity, I would go alone to quiet the nightmares of battle which still haunt me to this day.

A month passed and my wife and two daughters finally arrived at our new home. They were staying with her family in Texas. During my deployment, they preferred the familiarity and comfort of her parent’s home over living alone on the military base and hearing horror stories from returning soldiers. Seeing the truckloads of flag-draped caskets unloaded from cargo planes daily was something my wife and I didn’t want our children to witness. If I hadn’t been so desensitized by the military brainwashing I received during my initial training, it would’ve shaken me as well. In my opinion, the battles of those misguided souls had ended. When their energy reached the unknown of the great beyond, they no longer had to fight against an enemy hidden around every corner. It is a tough life but I somehow survived. God bless those men and women who endure the haunts of battle. It never seems to end, and you can’t run from it.

The more I tried to play the role of ‘father of the year’ while bouncing children on my knees and keeping the lawn looking green, the more I wished for solitude. My thrashing around from night terrors and waking up in pools of sweat was causing a wedge between me and my beloved. There was no way for her to understand what I’d been through and I wasn’t willing to take the time to explain every gory detail. She was better off not knowing. Besides, most of those experiences can’t be put into words easily comprehendible to someone who’s never witnessed a child being blown to pieces by the bomb strapped to his back. How do you tell an angel about the time you forced a bullet into a beautiful, young woman’s head just because your superior officer ordered it? The fact that Heaven will detain me at its gates due to what I’m about to do in this park doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Heaven barred me from entrance long ago because of my wartime actions, I’m certain. No big loss, right?

When I reached the point when I could no longer take any more, I packed a week’s supply of food, a lightweight tent, and disappeared into the wilderness. I told my family it was the only way I could cure myself before I chased them all away forever. My darling wife agreed without argument. It was almost like she was pushing me out of the house. I didn’t pick up on the red flag. I took off into the darkness without a second thought. This journey would soon become the undoing of all I held precious.

On the third night of my sabbatical, a famous Arizona monsoon swept through the mountains. As the trodden pathways became waterfalls, my tent and gear were washed away, and I was forced to seek shelter in one of the abandoned mineshafts which litter the mountainside. That was when our paths first crossed

The largest wolf I’d ever encountered in the wild stood before me in the shaft. He’d obviously had the same idea regarding shelter. He stood his ground at the entrance of the tunnel allowing me no escape. As the seconds ticked by like hours, I mentally pleaded for him to flee in the opposite direction. It was all I could do because I was too frightened to speak. The wolf proved quickly that he couldn’t read minds. Like lightning, he attacked me. As I fought for my life, I began to realize that I was losing the battle. He soon overpowered me, and my struggle and troubles of this world would be nothing but memories in the minds of those unfortunate enough to remember my presence. Suddenly, the fighting stopped. He stared at me with a satisfied grin across his canine face and left the tunnel. As I braved the storm, I bled profusely on the ground, mixing red into the collected puddles of rainwater along the mountain pathway. My vision faded in and out, but I could see his eyes in the darkened distance. I wasn’t sure if he was following to finish the job or escorting me toward my oblivion. Regardless, I lost consciousness near my vehicle parked on a nearby road. I was certain it was the end.

I awoke the next morning in the Huachuca soldiers’ hospital attached to machines forcing life into my tattered body. To the amazement of the medical professionals surrounding me, my wounds had mysteriously healed in the night. There were no signs of the attack or the struggle with the wolf I’d met in the tunnel making the experience seem more like a bad dream than an actual event. I was treated for exposure to the elements and released to return to duty. I headed home.

Over the next few days, I spent every spare moment visiting the campsite but never found any signs of my belongings, blood, or the wolf. Not believing I had imagined it all, I accepted the fact the monsoon had washed it all downhill and I would never receive the answers I sought regarding our fateful meeting. I returned to my home earlier than expected and witnessed what is possibly the worst vision a man can endure. It made the experience of war seem trivial in my already troubled mind.

I stood in the doorway of my bedroom for an eternity before I realized I was no longer a mere human being. I never saw his face as I patiently waited for him to finish what he was doing. With each thrust of his lower body hidden by the blankets, the sanctity of my marriage was erased. Although I couldn’t be seen in the darkness, my vision was becoming clearer as my anger intensified. She gripped the unknown man tighter as her eyes rolled slowly upward into her head. That was the moment when everything disappeared. I have no recollection of the events which followed on that evening other than what I discovered the next morning. The pieces of the puzzle I’d left for myself were easy enough to put together.

I slaughtered the two of them before either knew what happened. The blood-spattered walls led me to believe it wasn’t a gentle passing. Although the man had been mutilated beyond recognition, my wife’s face was still intact. Oddly enough, her frozen expression was one of surprise and it showed none of the pleasure she emoted prior to my initial transformation. I was blanketed with an odd sort of satisfaction until I discovered both my daughters in the next room. Their lifeless bodies showed no signs of struggle as though they’d been taken while sleeping. A single slash to each of their throats and a spray of blood on the nearest wall was all the evidence I needed. My life was forever changed. I grabbed what little clothing and food I could carry and headed once again into the mountains on foot. I knew once the military discovered the horror on Jeffords Street, everyone would be on the lookout. A supernatural fit of rage had reduced me from a decorated soldier to a murderer over the course of one evening. I didn’t even have time to shed a tear for the loss of my loved ones on that fateful day. Almost a year later, I still haven’t.

For weeks, I searched for the wolf who introduced me to this hell and didn’t bother leaving me a copy of the rule book. Changing night after night in the forest, I knew I’d perfected the art of hunting because I never woke feeling hunger. As a matter of fact, I never felt hunger for traditional foods again. My basic human needs were being met upon the arrival of the moon by a monster I couldn’t control. It wasn’t long before the taste of wild game could no longer satisfy the animal who controlled my destiny.

I began waking morning after morning closer to the gates of the military base. Finally, I came to my senses in the living room of an officer’s house surrounded by a horror similar to the one I’d experienced in my own home. Luckily, this man was single and lived alone. He was the only human casualty on that visit, but his rank and stature within the military would bring the authorities down hard and my chances of survival were slim against their numbers and power. For the sake of survival, I ran as far away as I could. I knew my wooded sanctuary would soon be crawling with soldiers in search of the cold-blooded killer who brutally murdered one of their own. I took to the highways, changing my appearance and mannerisms with each town I visited.

I discovered that truck stops were an easy place to obtain what was needed to continue my freedom. During daylight, I made the money necessary for survival by changing tires and other things weary drivers didn’t care to deal with. By night, I preyed on the prostitutes who gathered in the truck yards to make a quick buck from the road barons. These ‘lot lizards’ were easy pickings. Most of them were drifters with little or no family to search for them or provide identification. It was enough to keep me going. No one missed them or inquired regarding their disappearances.

It was the ‘pop’, I believe, which kept me wanting more. There’s really no better way to explain it. The puncture of teeth through skin and into flesh as the majestic, coppery fluid sprays into your awaiting throat…that’s the true joy of murder. I’m not sure if it’s an animalistic pleasure known only to cursed individuals like myself or perhaps repressed, childhood memories of simpler times. I would sit and do the same with fruit from my grandfather’s knife on balmy, summer evenings. Neither of us would speak a word as the unforgiving sun set along the western bank of his favorite fishing spot. No, we would just sit motionless in the near darkness atop a rotting log, devouring apples, and praying for submerged bobbers. I can’t help but wonder if my family ‘popped’ on the night their lives ceased to be. Deep down, I know the true answer but refuse to acknowledge. They all ‘pop’. Every single one.

As the months passed fifty or so miles at a time, I began to realize it was a statistical probability that I would leave a loose end at some point. It was destiny. How long did I really think I could carry on that way without being caught? Were there only so many lucky breaks one man is allowed in a single lifetime? If so, I knew my supply was running dangerously low. I began to tire of hiding and nightly struggles to stay alive. Ultimately, though, was THIS truly living? Never again would I have the comforts of home. Never again would I kiss someone goodnight or hug sleeping children in their warm beds without fear of killing them when the beast turned off sanity’s switch.

As I was sitting in a Flying J waiting room with a dozen or so sleepy truckers, I became overwhelmed by my intense sense of smell. The harsh scent of the road was something I could no longer stomach. The smell of greased wheels and hard days without time for showering was making me weary of my newly adopted lifestyle. My first instinct was to linger in the room until after dark and attempt to take them all on at once. With any luck, one would reveal a hidden weapon and send me down my eternal path to redemption. Snapping out of it, I realized I was selling myself short. I was too good of a person to be remembered as a truck stop murderer. No. If I were to go out by assisted suicide, I had to do it in the most epic way imaginable. As the tired theme song of an overplayed, syndicated television show played through the muffled speaker of the flickering black and white television set, I began to devise my plan for the ending of this story. That is what brought me here. I may not be remembered as someone nice, but I’ll forever be remembered.

The usual fever has begun to set in as the sun disappears behind the apartment buildings of Park Avenue. The steady stream of taxi cabs is slowing as the residents of this great city find their way home to catch tonight’s episode of whatever. Most broadcasts will be interrupted by reports of the terror I’ll cause. Soon, this diary will end and be left for discovery upon this very bench. The lycanthropic curse won’t allow me to write after the transformation. Hell, why would I? The only thing the beast cares for is flesh. The frightened, unarmed victims of Central Park will have no way of stopping me once the moon has risen. Those poor, unfortunate souls. Still, they are necessary – necessary for me to live another day or for my death if the authorities arrive on scene in time to end me. I can only hope the parents of these children playing nearby are responsible enough to take them home soon. If not, they wouldn’t be the first child casualties of this curse. A harsh lesson to learn but one to be forever remembered.

With any luck, they’ll all scream in fear causing my retreat deeper into the park. After all, most people don’t linger here after hours of darkness. Decades of negative media propaganda have stirred fear among the locals regarding the demeanor of Central Park when the sun goes down. I find it calming. Lovers at the beginning of their relationships walking hand in hand without a care to what lies just beyond the tree line will soon find out what really happens when you throw caution carelessly into the wind. Their deaths will be a public service aimed at future victims of purse snatchers and rapists who prey on the weak. Maybe I’ll get lucky and take a few of the criminals out in the process.

I can feel the beast coming forth as I write these final words. To you, the unsuspecting discoverer of this journal, I wish you well. Don’t keep this find to yourself. May you never take for granted your friends and family, for companionship is humanity’s only true treasure. May you cherish each breath entering your body and exhale with renewed life into this unforgiving world. Every sunrise is a new beginning, but each awakening of the moon summons the evil which hides within us all. I’m certain to not be the only one who’s ever possessed this curse. I’m sure I’m not the only one who looks upon the moon with both satisfaction and fear. Take those you consider dearest and hold them tightly. You never know when another one like me will come along. You, too, could unexpectedly become the victim of the beast’s hunger. You never know…

It’s starting…

I can feel it drawing nearer…

I can’t control it…

I can’t…

Good luck…

Happy Hallowe…

Home 1: A Taste of Home

Toby Liberman is nearing the end of his rope. After a fateful confrontation with his wife’s lover, he is chased into the woods only to be discovered by an unidentifiable creature. He is attacked and rendered unconscious. Upon waking at the scene of a gruesome triple homicide, Toby is arrested as the sole suspect and thrown into a jail cell with a strange man that knows way too much about his predicament. The stranger reveals to Toby that he now possesses the curse of the werewolf. Using his new-found strength to flee his captors, Toby begins to discover that things are not what they seem in the sleepy town of Twin Oaks, TX. Now hunted by law enforcement, as well as the town’s gun toting civilians, Toby seeks vengeance against his false accusers and embarks upon a quest to clear his name once and for all.

Home 2: Far from Home

A Curse Beyond Comprehension. A Power Beyond Belief. A Girl Far From Home.Katie Liberman is your typical eighteen-year-old college student…or at least that’s what her family thinks. Picking up five years after the events of A Taste of Home, Katie has dropped out of school and embarked upon a dangerous quest to find Kurt Jimmerson, the New York City attorney responsible for her family’s werewolf curse. Unknown to her, the attorney’s grip on the ‘City That Never Sleeps’ is tighter than imagined and she’ll need any and all help available to be victorious. But… where do you find friends when you’re Far From Home?

Diary of a Gonzo Ghost Hunter

Most people run away from the unknown. Me? I chose to run toward it and never look back. Unaware of the consequences of my actions in small town Texas, I dove deep into paranormal research. It consumed my entire life. Taken from a decade of personal journals and interpreted by Rae Louise, Diary of a Gonzo Ghost Hunter is an extremely honest journey down a road less traveled. What shadows lurk in the darkness outside of bedroom doors? I was determined to find out.

What’s it like to walk in the shoes of a ghost hunter? It’s all here. As someone who lived through what you’re about to experience, it is difficult for me to read. For some, it will be the fuel that drives their curiosity. But for others … let it be a warning. Every step you take toward the dead leads you further from the living.

And Hell Followed: An Anthology

Seventeen authors re-imagine the biblical apocalypse and all the hell that follows in sixteen horrifying tales. What if the prophecies of Revelation hit today? What sort of craziness and evil would ensue? With this list of excellent authors contributing, it’s sure to be a Hell of a read! 

Wrath James White 
Sam West 
The Sisters of Slaughter 
Jeff Strand 
K Trap Jones 
C Derick Miller 
Christine Morgan 
Patrick C. Harrison III 
John Wayne Comunale 
Hyäne Sawbones 
Delphine Quinn 
James Watts 
Wile E. Young 
Chris Miller 
Mark Deloy 
Richard Raven