Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Post-turkey hangover cure! Stephen Kozeniewski's excerpt BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS

    No doubt you're still feeling more stuffed than the bird you'd gobbled up on Thanksgiving day but I have the perfect cure for your post-turkey blues. A few of my incredibly talented author friends have offered to take over my blog until after the new year so that I could get book 2 ready for the editor. Tonight, I am featuring one of those authors. Friends, it is my distinct honor to introduce you to, drum roll, please ... the one, the only, Stephen 'Koz' Kozeniewski!!
    Koz is serving up a tasty sampling of his mind-blowing novel, Billy and the Cloneasaurus. Just in case the title alone didn't provoke you to pull up Amazon to order your very own, right this second,[http://www.amzn.com/B00L7RXG6U] I have lots more to whet your appetite. Let's start with the synopsis: 
            Six billion identical clones make up the entire population of Earth, and William 790-6 (57th Iteration) is exactly like everybody else. In his one year of life he will toil in suburban mediocrity and spend as much cash as possible in order to please his corporate masters. When 790’s first birthday (and scheduled execution) finally rolls around, a freak accident  
   spares his life. 

        Living past his expiration date changes 790 profoundly. Unlike other clones he becomes capable of questioning the futility of his own existence. Seeking answers in the wilderness, he discovers a windmill with some very strange occupants, including a freakish, dinosaur-like monstrosity. Which is especially strange since every animal on earth is supposed to be extinct… 
Dark, haunting, and blisteringly satirical, BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS is the story of one “man’s” attempt to finally become an individual in a world of copies.

Did I mention you can purchase it here: http://www.amzn.com/B00L7RXG6U/ ?  Now,let's get to the excerpt ... 
The Whirling Fan of Death abruptly stopped spinning the instant it struck William 789-6’s abdomen.  The chalky-white, pain-wracked face of 789 stared at them accusingly for about fifteen seconds before he finally succumbed to blood loss.  (Intestinal loss was also, no doubt, a contributing factor to the poor clone’s death.)

William 64-6, the slurry machine operator, clad in a white plastic apron and all-encompassing goggles whistled archly and said, “Well, that’s never happened before.”
William 790-6 reached up and tugged on his shirt collar.  He cleared his throat, not really knowing what else to do.  64 didn’t make a move and seemed to be waiting for 790 to prompt him.  It was typical clone behavior, but, of course, that meant that 790’s own inclination was also to not move, but to wait for someone else to prompt him.  With an exhausted sigh, 790 gestured at the remaining half of 789 still stuck in the slurry machine.
“Why don’t you, uh, reach in and see if you can clear the, uh, obstruction?”
64, the operator, scratched his chin lightly with the back of his fingernails.  It was a mannerism that 790 cultivated, too, of course.  All the clones could read one another like books.  It was just like looking in the mirror.  This particular maneuver appeared to indicate a gentle disinterest, but in fact, would be expressed in words as, “Heck no, not in a million billion frickin’ years.”
Finally, 64 spoke.
“Well, I ain’t sticking my hand in there.”
Then he stared at 790 expectantly.  Briefly, 64 glanced down at his watch.
“Almost quittin’ time,” he commented, as Williams the world over did at around this time every day.
790 sighed, defeated.  There was nothing for it.  He was the next in line for the sluicer, after all.  If he lost his hand removing the jam, it just meant one hand less that the machine would have to process in a moment.  Heck, 64 probably wouldn’t have minded if he just jumped in and processed himself along with the top half of 789.  Somehow, though, that would have lacked dignity, and William clones were nothing if not concerned about their dignities.
“All right, let’s have a look,” 790 said, moving towards the clear plastic tube in the center of the room.
He rolled up his sleeves and prepared to plunge his arm down into the grimacing cloaca of the machine.
Please be sure to follow my buddy, Koz, in addition to buying his books. He's an all-around great guy with one heck of a sense of humor. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


    I'll bet that title caught your attention! Sometimes, after a deeply involved story, like Serial, it feels a little like going through the grieving process after those dreaded words, 'The End' march across the screen. With the recent publication of my debut novel, Journal of the Undead: Littleville Uprising, I haven't had much time to mourn; however, I do feel that I have neglected my blog just a little. 
    Now seemed like a good time to get everyone caught up on what has been going on over here, in my neck of the woods ... as I mentioned, book one in my Journal of the Undead series has been published and is available for purchase. [US: http://t.co/KMQsT1li4V UK: http://t.co/KMQsT1li4V CANADA: http://goo.gl/jxXhMV]
Additionally, I am having an online book launch party. The state might be virtual but I can assure you, the prizes are very real! All you need is internet connection and a Facebook account to join the fun. Simply click this link, https://www.facebook.com/events/394886604000526/ hit "join" and on November 30th return to that link so that you can participate right from your home. Heck, you can even wear your pajamas! 
    As if that wasn't enough, I have even more big news. I have been granted the opportunity to spotlight three of my favorite Indie Authors throughout the next few weeks. Stephen Kozeniewski, Shana Festa and V.J. Prucha will all have excerpts from their books posted on my blog. This will serve two purposes. One, it will help me immensely as I am preparing my next book for publication. I will be able to focus on that without worry that I am neglecting my blog. Two, it will provide you, the reader, with some interesting new stories to read. I can assure you, I have hand picked three distinctly different voices to tempt you while I am preparing your next horrific treat. 
    And last, but never least, I still have posts from the Zombie Response Team's blog. The ZRT is awesome and they let me go ahead and submit enough posts to last until March of 2015 ahead of time. That way I can still contribute to ZRT without having to worry about missing a beat. Speaking of, I have my November 10th's post right here: http://zombieresponseteam.net/introduction-at-hells-gates-a-horror-anthology
If you haven't checked out the ZRT yet, now is a great time to connect with an awesome group of people. 
    As for me, I shall bid you all a good night. Try to sleep now, while you can, because soon there will be a brand new nightmare to torment you! Sleep well, my friends. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Serial- The Grand Finale

Seth stuffed the slip of paper in the front pocket of his jeans before flushing an empty toilet and stepping out of the bathroom. With Melanie home, he figured she’d most likely be monitoring his every move. How do I keep her from noticing that I’ve left, he wondered. As his brain churned with possibilities, he was disrupted by a high-pitched scream.
            “Sorry, Mel! I thought I’d changed my ringtone,” Seth shouted as he ran to his phone.
            “It’s mine, actually. I did it as a prank to tease the ladies at work.” She replied, laughing as she responded to her text.
A repetitive stream of screams followed as text messages were exchanged. Baffled, Seth shook his head and retreated to his writing room to work, and think. After the fifteenth scream, his nerves were frazzled.
            “Okay, I get it! The ringtone is annoying. Please turn it off!” he bellowed. “I’m trying to work!”
            “What crawled up your butt and died? I’m the one who’s sick, remember?”
Squelching the overwhelming urge to strangle her, he shuffled out of his office, smiling. He planted a kiss on her cheek and half-heartedly apologized.
            “I should be taking care of you … that’s what you’d do for me. How about a nice bowl of soup and a cup of hot tea— extra honey and lemon?”
Pleased that he was making amends, Melanie smiled and nodded.
            “That sounds lovely, sweetheart. Thank you.”
Seth gave a mockingly grandiose bow before disappearing into the kitchen. With less than an hour to go until he was supposed to meet Kim, he needed to act fast. Mel can’t know what I’m up to … I need to be certain that she won’t interfere. While the kettle simmered, he looked around to see what might help him.
            “How ‘bout I bring you some Nyquil so you can get some rest, Mel?” He called from the kitchen.
            “No, it’s too early for Nyquil, Hon, but thanks. I’ll wait until bedtime for that.”
Damn! What am I supposed to do now? Hmm … wait a sec. Benadryl, yes! That will work. He opened the capsules and dumped the powder into her tea then masked it with an overload of honey and lemon. More went into her soup until she had enough medication in there to sedate an elephant. Seth only hoped that the medication would take effect fast enough to get out on time. Her items were loaded onto a tray with extra napkins, and a bottle of multi-symptom cold syrup.
    Smiling, Melanie took a sip of her tea. Her nose wrinkled slightly and she coughed but she swallowed. She tried to put the tray aside but Seth wouldn’t let her. Using the same routine she always used on him, he insisted that she needed plenty of fluids to kick whatever bug was running rampant in her system. Her own words, coming back at her, added insult to injury, especially when everything seemed to taste funny. When she commented, Seth was prepared.
            “Babe, I’m sure it’s just because you’re sick. You know how you always get that icky taste in your mouth when you’re sick. C’mon now, be a good girl. Drink all your tea and eat your soup first and I’ll give you a little treat. Okay? I just want my baby to feel better.”
The last sentence was uttered in baby speak, the kind of voice that made Seth want to gag but he was running out of time. Once every last drop was gone, Melanie handed over her tray. He sprinted off to get the treat he’d promised. In the small refrigerator in his office, he’d been storing a gift he’d won at Melanie’s last work Christmas party: chocolate liqueur bottles filled with an assortment of alcohol. He unwrapped two in her favorite flavors and brought them out. She’d practically inhaled them so all he had to do was wait until it to kicked in. Within the hour, Melanie was completely unconscious. He knew because he’d alluded to certain acts he’d like her to perform and she did not respond. He pulled the covers over her, set the home security alarm, and jumped into his vehicle.
            “Damn! I’m late,” he growled as he dialed the phone. “C’mon Kim, please answer... please!”
Angela heard the thud of his footsteps. Every time she heard him descending the stairs her heart fluttered like a fly trapped in a spider’s web. Each step closer could be heralding of her death. He flicked on the light leaving her temporarily blinded but she did her best not to let her terror show.
            “Well, Angela, I hate to say it but it seems there is very little drive to find you at all, let alone alive. I’ve had my ear to the ground, so to speak, but there’s nothing brewing. Sounds to me like your friends have given you up for dead. I want to remind them that you’re still around because, personally, I think it is a shame that they’ve just moved on and forgot all about you.”
            “What if they’ve figured out that you’re the guilty one? Obviously, they’d be keeping you in the dark. I wouldn’t count my friends out. Kim wouldn’t—”
            “Wake up and smell the coffee,” he interrupted. “No one is coming for you. I’m the only one who cares that you’re here!”
He stalked to his workbench and fumbled with some of his tools. Against her will, Angela could feel the salt sting of tears welling in her eyes. She’d vowed to remain strong but the prospect of being hacked to bits was drawing closer to a reality. Please, someone find me, she silently pleaded. A series of clicks preceded a strange hissing sound that seemed amplified in the tiny room. Straining against the restraints, Angela lifted her head only to see him heating a blade in the flame of a kitchen blowtorch.
            “I’ll warn you now; the blade is so hot that as it slices through your flesh, you’ll hear it sizzle like a fajita. Every time I go to Chili’s I think of the many pets I’ve had in this room. It makes my mouth water every time I think about it.”
            “I wish you’d let me help you,” Angela pleaded. “If you leave me unharmed I can testify that you’re not of sound mind. I mean, clearly, you need some psychiatric help.”
            “Nice try,” he scoffed, dropping the blade to address her claim. “I do not need help. What I do need is to get on with my work. After that crack … perhaps I should stop and have a little snack first before I really get to work on you. I’ll need to grab a platter but don’t worry, Angela.  I’ll be back.”
Seth had raced across town but managed to get stuck behind every single slow driver along the way. By the time he pulled into the lot where he was supposed to meet Kim, it was empty. He slammed the gear shift into park and hopped out, hoping to spot his friend nearby. Frustration and worry over Kim’s safety gnawed at Seth’s insides as his inner voice launched a tirade. Damn, she’d be stubborn enough to go off and embark on her plan without me. I sent her a text that was running late. Why couldn’t she just wait a few more minutes? He jogged up one street and down another but there was still no sign of her. Seeing no other choice, Seth cupped his hands around his mouth.
            “KIM!” He screamed at the top of his voice. “KI-IM!”
His shouts echoed up and down the street. Just as he was about to yell again his pocket vibrated. Crap, I’ll bet Melanie woke up, he thought while reaching for his phone. The message read, ‘Are you nuts? Shut up and get back in your car before you ruin everything. The phone number wasn’t Kim’s. In fact, it wasn’t a number Seth recognized at all. His mind reeled, wondering who had messaged him. He looked around one more time before retreating to the safety of his vehicle. Jamming the key into the ignition, he started the engine and backed out of the lot.
            “For a writer, you are dumber than a bag of rocks, Seth. Geez, why not hire a skywriter next time to broadcast it some more? Maybe, take out a billboard. Good thing I anticipated your lack of street smarts. Drive to the end of the block and hang a right.”
Seth had nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard a voice and then a head popped up from the back seat.
            “Holy crap, Kim! Where the hell did you come from?”
            “Did you really think I was stupid enough to drive my car out here? Whose car is this? I’ve never seen you drive this before.”
            “I took Melanie’s car. Bill knows my car. He followed me when I left the coffee shop.”
            “Damn, that’s not good.” Kim muttered. “I wonder how deep this perversion of power runs.”
Seth tried to pry for more information but Kim was lost in thought. When they reached a secluded neighborhood, she ordered her chauffeur to turn around at the cul-de-sac and park on the street in front of the second house.
            “Where are we?”
            “Really? You don’t know whose house this is?” She asked.
            “Oh God, is it Bill’s house? I really don’t want it to be him.”
            “No, it’s not Bill’s house … it’s much, much, worse. It’s Agent Dictator’s house. This house that we’re parked in front of belongs to some friends of mine: Daryl and Beth Dixon. Dick lives over there," She said, pointing. "I want you to go knock on Dick’s door. Tell him you had dropped in to visit your friends, they weren’t home and now your car won’t start. I need him distracted so I can get inside. I believe Angela is still alive and we’re going to save her!”
Despite Seth’s belief that her plan was foolhardy and dangerous, he understood her passion. He, too, believed Angela was still alive but letting Kim fall into a killer’s hands seemed too dangerous.
            “Kim … why in God’s name, would I let you go into the house of a killer? Not that I don’t think you can take care of yourself but let’s think this through for a second. One, I’m guessing Dick already knows that you and his neighbors are friends. If I show up at his house, he’s going to suspect something is up. Two, even though Dick isn’t a prime physical specimen, I am pretty sure he could overpower you. This is not a sexist statement. He towers over you, sweetie. Yes, you’re a total badass but he’s got the weight and the reach to take you down. So, let’s revise your plan just a little. You go to the door and I’ll break in. It makes sense. Besides, if Angela is in there but injured she’ll need to be carried. I should do that.”
            “Why? Because you’re a man?” Kim snapped.
            “The fact that I’m a man is only relevant because I am taller and I have more muscle mass that you do. Besides, I can’t bear the thought of you getting trapped in there. You’re young, beautiful, and you have so much to live for. If I live, my wife is going to kill me anyway. I doped her with Benadryl so I could get out of the house without her knowing.”
Seth chuckled, hoping to lighten the mood and to his relief, Kim joined him. She agreed to his modified plan with the understanding that if Agent Dictator grew suspicious she was to call 911 immediately. Kim handed him a pair of latex gloves and waited as he pulled on his black, hooded sweatshirt.
    The sun was dipping below the horizon as Seth ducked behind a cluster of trees and cut through some back yards to the hedges surrounding the agent’s property. Taking a deep breath, Kim walked to Dick’s front door and rang the bell.
Angela groaned when her captor returned. She’d assumed he was going to fix a sandwich or something while he was upstairs but, instead, he brought down an empty platter. The pungent scent of charcoal clung to his clothes. It was then that she realized his ‘little snack’ was going to come from her own body. To torment her further, he stood over her, sharpening his knives. Again, the blowtorch’s hiss filled her ears. The sound seemed to grow louder and louder until she was ready to scream.
    BZZZZZ, BZZZZZZ, BZZZZZ, a new sound drowned out the flame’s whirring. She craned her neck to see what he was doing. With the touch of a button, a monitor came to life. A blurry figure was standing close to the camera. Each time the specter-like figure raised his or her hand, the buzzing sound repeated. Her captor muttered an oath before jamming a rag into her mouth and slapping a layer of duct tape over the gag. Angela’s heart sank. She wouldn’t be able to scream for help. As he stomped upstairs to answer the bell, Angela’s will to live slowly withered. It’s no use. No one is going to save you. The cavalry isn’t going to swoop in at the last second and rescue you. What makes you think you’re different? You’re going to end up just like the rest of his victims, the devil on her shoulder insisted.
Seth peered from behind the shrubbery waiting for Kim to walk past with Dick by her side. The eerie feeling that someone was watching him made his skin crawl. Every rustle of wind through the leaves or snap of a twig from the neighbor’s cat prowling for prey made Seth jump. I can’t believe I’m doing this. What was I thinking? I must have lost my mind, he silently berated himself as he crouched down lower. Kim walked by, chatting with Dick. That was his cue to get moving. With his heart in his throat, Seth sprinted to the back door. He froze for a second to look around. He was certain he’d heard footfalls behind him.
            “Here goes nothing,” he muttered.
His latex gloved hand reached out for the door knob. A searing pain hit his temple then everything went black.
    Angela could hear dull thuds and a strange scratching sound. To her, it sounded like a body being dragged across the floor. The terror had reached a fever pitch unlike anything she’d ever experienced. She’d always been a fan of horror movies but the fear of being butchered alive had overwhelmed her. It had always been easy to say ‘it’s just a movie’ before but this time she’d landed in a real life horror and there was no director to shout, ‘cut’ before the bad guy came back.
    When he did return, Angela’s captor was laughing. The cruel, heartless, sound made her stomach turn. He was accompanied by more of the same dragging, scraping sound.
            “Well, my dear, it appears I was wrong. Someone did miss you. She tried to pretend that she was having car trouble. Pathetic, really.” He sneered.
A moment later, he threw Kim’s body down onto the stained cot where he’d slaughtered Jill. Angela tried to scream but her gag kept her quiet. The gash on Kim’s forehead had unleashed a river of blood. Though she tried to remind herself that head wounds bled worse than any other, Angela feared for her dear friend’s life. She thrashed against her restraints praying for a miracle but doubting that it would come. Within seconds, Kim was tied to the cot, he was gloating, and Angela’s face was streaked with tears.  
            “What are you crying about? You should be glad. Now you won’t die alone. Funny thing is, I had planned to pin the guilt on Kim but she gift-wrapped a patsy for me. She arrived in …” he had to pause he was laughing so hard. “She came in Melanie’s vehicle which means Seth is going to rot in prison. Well, he’ll rot until they fry his ass. Thank you, sweetheart.”
He leaned down and kissed Kim’s bloody cheek then licked his lips. A deranged smile split his face. He seemed so gleeful that he practically skipped to his workbench and for the third time the torch was lit.
            “This time,” he sang, “there will be no interruptions. Now, I can ensure my work will carry on after Seth is behind bars.”
Agent Dictator turned with his knife raised high. Laughing manically, he stepped toward Angela. Drool poured from his gaping mouth and dribbled down his chin. In his mind, he was already tasting the succulent flesh of the ladies who had always snubbed him. Mock me, will you? Just as the blade came closer Angela closed her eyes.
Certain she must be dead; Angela breathed a sigh of relief. At least it didn’t hurt, she’d silently consoled herself. While she didn’t feel pain, there was a heavy weight pressing down on her chest. Her ears felt like they needed to pop; enveloped in a high pitched whine. Only when she felt something shaking her did she open her eyes. A bright light blinded her at first but there were faces hovering over her.
            “Angela! Can you hear me? Can you speak?” One of the shadowy faces asked.
Her ears popped and the muffled silence gave way to shouts and frantic voices barking into radios.
            “Angela, can you hear me?” The voice seemed to be two hundred decibels too loud.
The weight on her arms and legs lifted and only then did she recognize the voice. Bewildered, she looked around and the crime scene investigators were milling around. Bill was standing over her, smiling. He took off his jacket and wrapped it around her. Kim was being patched up by the EMTs and so was Seth. Dick was cuffed: both hands and feet, to the litter as they wheeled him out. Bill helped Angela sit up and she threw her arms around him, pulling him into a bear hug.
            “Thank you,” she sobbed. “I was beginning to think … I-I was so af-f-f- afraid I was going
            “Shhh, it’s all over now. You’re safe. Kim and Seth will be just fine. I figure the minor injuries they’ve sustained will be punishment enough for ignoring my orders to leave this to the professionals. Dick got Kim, slammed her head against the hood of the car while he was supposedly helping her get the engine running. I guess I was a little overzealous when I took Seth out. I cracked him upside the head with a pretty heavy branch. We’d been watching Agent Dick for some time now and I couldn’t have Seth messing up our investigation. I had a suspicion you were here but I couldn’t get anything solid until we saw him dragging Kim back inside but we can give you all the details later. For now, we need to take you over to the hospital to get checked out and then I’ll need a statement from you, okay?”
    The ‘Angels of Death’ and Seth were big news over the next few months. They made the rounds of nightly news interviews, local paper features, and even talk shows. To protect his friends from legal ramifications, Bill stretched the truth and said that Kim and Seth were part of the sting. The media circus following Agent Dictator’s trial was the truth behind made-for-TV, late night movies ‘based on a true story’.
    Months later, Seth received a letter with the state penitentiary return address on the envelope. Inside, he found a letter from Dick Dictator asking him to visit. Melanie flatly refused to hear any discussion on the subject but, eventually, the curiosity had gotten the better of him.  After the scanning and instructions on what would and would not be permitted inside the visiting room, Seth was led to a bank of phones with bulletproof glass between him and the prisoners. Dick took his seat and lifted the phone. He motioned for Seth to do the same.
            “Hello, Seth. I wanted to see how dedicated you are to your craft. I have a great idea for a story … you should write about me!”

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Serial- Part 48

Seth tucked the envelope into his pocket and cruised home. For some reason, just having her note made him feel like a secret agent. Double oh seven, he chuckled to himself. More like double-oh-crap … I’m being followed. He glanced at his rearview mirror every few seconds but the same, non-descript dark SUV was still on his tail. Do I take them on a wild goose chase or just drive straight home? Seth’s imagination ran wild with a vast array of scenarios. The one that frightened him the most was that he might lead the killer straight to his home and that he’d harm Melanie. Instead of taking the road to his house, he veered off onto the highway. Still, the vehicle followed and Seth decided to really put his theory to the test. He got off on the next exit and headed back in the direction he’d come. Just before he took the turn that would bring him back to the coffee shop, the flashing lights came on and a police siren followed. Sonofa— a steady stream of curses flew from his mouth until a uniformed officer was standing beside Seth’s window. Another body stepped up from behind the first man; it was Bill.
            “What the hell are you doing, Seth?”
            “What am I doing? What are you doing? I thought the damned murderer was chasing me for crying out loud. I didn’t want to drive home because I didn’t want to lead him to Melanie.”
To Seth’s surprise, Bill started to laugh. The unexpected reaction made his blood boil.
            “I’d like to know what the hell is so funny!” Seth snapped.
            “I’m sorry, man,” Bill sputtered between gasps. “Here we are following you because you’re behaving suspiciously and you’re running from us to protect your wife. It just sounds like the plot of a crappy detective novel.”
            “Yeah, flipping hilarious. So, what made you follow me and not Kim? I thought you told me Agent Dictator said she was a suspect.”
            “What makes you think we didn’t? Not that you deserve an explanation but my partner followed her back to the morgue. Personally, I don’t want to think she’s guilty but we still have to follow every possibility. Unfortunately, she also had the means and a motive. The tracers on her phone showed she was in contact with you. Now, I don’t think you’re the killer either but if she’s sending you out to do her bidding perhaps you’re going to be the patsy. There’s always a chance you’re in cahoots but I’d like to think I can read people and I just don’t see you as the serial killer type. Either way, do yourself a favor and stay out of this, Seth. I mean it! Now go home and stay there.”
            “Wait a sec … you sent your partner to follow Kim? How do we know he’s not the killer?”
            “I’m gonna forget you ever said that, Seth, because my partner is the only person on this planet that I trust. He’s seen me through two divorces, the death of my parents, heck; I can’t even count the number of times I crashed on his sofa. He’s the most loyal person I know and, hands-down the best cop so don’t even think about trash-talking him. Are we clear?”
Seth muttered an apology but he had serious doubts about the partner he’d never met. After being dismissed with ‘just a warning’, Seth set off for home once he was certain he was no longer being followed. He was surprised to see Melanie’s car already parked in the garage. Fearing the worst, he raced inside only to see Mel curled up on the sofa with Malachi.
            “What’s wrong, babe? Why are home so early? Are you sick? Is everything alright?”
            “I think I caught the flu or whatever it is. Everyone in the office has been sick so I guess it’s my turn. My body can’t decide if it’s hot or cold. My face is on fire but I can’t stop shivering. Don’t even get me started on what happened when I tried to eat one of the doughnuts Evelyn brought in. Let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty.”
Seth brushed a kiss across Mel’s forehead but she was neither warm nor clammy. It all seemed oddly suspicious that she was home. For a brief moment, he almost forgot about the message Kim had left for him. He slipped into the bathroom and opened the envelope.
    Kim’s instructions were brief. She’d given him directions to a location and what time to meet her but she had not provided any other information. Maybe I should do what Bill says, his inner voice of reason insisted.
**Please return Monday, November 10th for the exciting conclusion to Serial**

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Serial- Part 47

Kim’s eyes sparkled with pure mischief.
            “Nope, and neither are you.”
            “Can I ask you a serious question, Kim?” She nodded so Seth continued. “Do you think it’s him? I mean, do you think Bill is the killer?”
            “I hope not.”
She sipped at her coffee and tried not to think about the danger they’d invited into their lives.  Seth’s attempt to steer their benign small talk back to Kim’s plan was shut down at every turn. Maybe she’s decided to do as Bill said and let the professionals handle it, he thought. At least I won’t end up in the doghouse with Mel … but what about Angela? I'd feel bad for bailing on her. He was still pondering his concerns when Kim stood and dropped a couple of dollars on the table.
            “Shhh, outside,” Kim hissed through her teeth.
Nodding, Seth dropped his own tip on the table and followed Kim outside. He expected her to stop but she walked straight to her car, never looking back. He called out to her but Kim continued on, as if she didn't hear him. Less than a second later, Seth’s cell phone buzzed in his pocket. The text message, again, was from Kim:
            See the envelope on your front passenger seat. Plan is enclosed.
Before his brain wrapped itself around what she’d said, a second text came through.
            P.S.  There’s a serial killer on the loose. You really should lock your car doors!!
            P.P.S.  DUH!
Seth laughed but the realization that she’d been inside his car was disturbing. What if she was actually here before me and she’d been waiting in the parking lot the whole time. There could be anything inside my car right now, his inner voice panicked.
    He stopped for a moment and pretended to tie his shoe, even though they were still tied. From that angle he could see under the vehicle. Nothing was leaking and no one was hidden underneath. Before climbing into the driver’s seat, he peered into the back to make sure no one was inside. Whew! Seth reached for the envelope on the adjacent and his phone buzzed again. Another text from Kim:
            Not now! Drive home and then open it! If you still want to join me you’ll follow the directions exactly. Hopefully, I’ll see you later. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Serial- Part 46

Seth pinched himself to make sure he was really awake before he checked his phone again. Kim’s message to meet him was still there. Now what, he asked himself. What if she’s the killer? What if she’s in cahoots with someone else and they’re both the killer? Or, what if she needs help because she suspects she’s next on the killer’s list? Maybe she found a clue and she needs help freeing Angela.
            “Maybe,” Seth announced out loud in a booming voice. “Maybe I should stop being such a sissy and go find out. She asked to meet in a public place and in broad daylight, for crying out loud!”
Malachi looked up at him with his head cocked to the side, in puzzlement. Seth was rewarded with a sloppy kiss when he knelt down to pet his pup.
            “You always know how to make me feel better, Kai. Who’s my good boy?”
Seth responded to the text message, agreeing to meet her in an hour. Then he marched to the shower, bound and determined to ‘man up’ and, if nothing else, to prove he wasn’t too afraid to go. He dressed quickly but spent a few extra minutes playing with Malachi before departing. If something does happen, at least Malachi will know how much I love him … the big lug. Just thinking about his dog strengthened Seth’s will to survive whatever was waiting for him at the coffee shop.
    He arrived twenty minutes early and was pleased to see he had gotten there before Kim. Two seconds later, she walked in behind him.
            “You’re early,” she stated matter-of-factly.
            “Yes, and so are you.”
Awkward smiles were exchanged in silence. They each placed separate orders at the counter, closely watching what was being poured into their cups before taking a seat near the back corner.  Seth took a sip as he waited for Kim to speak.
            “I really hope I haven’t made a mistake by asking you here. The thing is, while I’m not entirely positive, I might have a lead as to where Angela might be and if I don’t try I’ll never forgive myself. And before you say it, yes, I realize Angela might already be dead but she would have gone after me. I just … I can’t do it alone.”
            “Oh man, Mel is going to be so pissed at me! You do realize, I might have to crash on your couch for a few weeks but, okay, I’m in. What’s the plan?”
Seth had been focused so intently on Kim’s face that he hadn’t noticed someone stirring behind them. Just as Kim leaned in to divulge her plan, a male frame sporting a black leather jacket stepped up to their table.
            “The plan is to let the police handle it,” Bill barked. “How did I know? Are you two crazy? Please, leave this to trained professionals, okay? I mean, really, what were you going to do, march up to the suspect’s home, bang on the door, and demand to search for your friend? I know how much Angela means to you but you’re not thinking this through. Every day I dread the thought of finding Angela chopped to bits but what you two are planning is just foolish. Promise me you’ll stay out of it. Go back to your daily routines and forget whatever scheme you have rattling around in your thick heads. If I have to, I’ll slap you both with an obstruction of justice charge and you’ll be sitting in jail until we catch the bastard who took Angela. Got it?”
    With all the enthusiasm of a child opening tube-socks on Christmas morning, both Kim and Seth agreed. Nodding, Bill turned and left the two to enjoy their beverages. Once they were sure he’d gone and no one else was watching them, Seth looked Kim directly in the eyes and spoke.
            “You’re not going to listen, are you?”

Monday, November 3, 2014

Serial- Part 45

    By the time he’d finished the story about how Marie and Jill had mistakenly fallen into his clutches, Angela’s eyes were misty. Those poor women, they did absolutely nothing yet they ended up hacked to bits because he was overwhelmed by his own guilt and rage, Angela thought. He knew it was wrong but he thinks it was worse that he went against his own rules— the freak! Her heart ached for the torture they’d endured but also feared for her own safety. He was staring at her like a starving man at a buffet. She’d seen his victims in the morgue. Everyone knew he was eating select cuts from his captives. To her surprise, he rose and headed for the door.
            “You look tired … you should get some sleep. Tomorrow will be a big day for both of us and I want you to get your beauty rest. Good night.”
Before Angela could say a word, the lights clicked off and she with swallowed up in complete darkness. The door closed but she had no way of knowing if he had left or if he was plotting to end her life right then. A moment later she heard his footfalls heading upstairs. Alone in the dark, her tears flowed freely until her body succumbed to the exhaustion and slept.
Seth felt the weight of another body pressing down on his chest. A sleepy smile tugged at his lips; believing Melanie was feeling frisky the rest of his body responded. That is, until a stinging slap connected with his cheek. Shocked, his eyes snapped open but it wasn’t Mel straddling his chest. Kim hovered over him with a butcher knife pressed to his throat. One hand held the knife in place while the other rose as she placed her index finger to her lips.
            “Shhh,” she hissed.
Without moving his head, he looked to his left but Melanie was gone. Oh God, what did she do to Mel? Seth’s heart hammered out a quick staccato beat. Before he could attempt to ask, his wife’s head appeared just behind Kim’s.
            “See, I told you he was a dedicated husband … never suspected me for a second. He probably didn’t suspect you either, Kim.”
Melanie and Kim’s laughter mingled like a sitcom laugh-track making Seth’s head spin. He squeezed his eyes closed in a childlike attempt to shut out the unpleasantness.
            “I sure hope I wasn’t a suspect,” a deeper voice uttered.
Against his will, Seth’s one eye opened just a slit to see who else was there to torment him.  To mock him, Bill winked before speaking again.
            “I know who you wanted to pin this one on … somebody’s jealous ole Dick is puttin’ the moves on his wife, huh? Can’t say I blame you.”
            “Well, I can!” Agent Dictator bellowed. “What on Earth have you ever done to deserve a woman like Melanie? You ignore her and spend all your time at the morgue. I’d keep her safe and spend every spare minute with her, unlike you. Even your dog likes me better because I give him delicious little treats.”
What the hell? Why are all these people in my bedroom? Who let them in? Seth’s inner voice screamed in protest. Knife at his throat or not, he was going to set the record straight but just then, Seth’s least favorite FBI agent leaned over and kissed Melanie’s cheek, making her giggle like a lovesick teenager. For good measure, Kim pressed harder on the blade over Seth’s throat so that he wouldn’t move.
            “Don’t do anything stupid, Seth. I like you but I can’t have you ruining our plan,” Kim ordered.
            “How could you do this?” Seth moaned. “What about Angela? She was your partner.”
            “What do you mean … was?” Angela entered the room and knelt down beside the bed. “I’m perfectly fine but I’m afraid you’re in trouble. He wants to punish you.”
Seth’s stomach heaved as he started to hyperventilate.
            “Why would anyone want to kill me?” He whimpered.
            “Because you still haven’t finished your damn novel,” his agent Ethan’s voice growled in Seth’s ear. “It’s time to go. Did you hear me? I said it’s time for me to go.”
Seth woke with a start. Sweat poured down his neck as his chest heaved.
            “Sorry to wake you, babe.” Mel cooed before placing a kiss on his cheek. “It’s time for me to go … to work. I was thinking about picking up Chinese takeout for dinner. Is that okay?”
Still unable to speak, Seth nodded. His eyes darted around the room scanning for would be killers. Mel blew him a kiss before leaving.  Malachi jumped onto the bed and gave his startled human a kiss. It was that moment of normalcy that calmed his jagged nerves. Seth let out a sigh of relief as he eased back onto his pillow. From his nightstand, the vibrating rumble of his cell phone broke the calm. He rolled over to look at the screen:
            Missed Message: 1

            Kim Miller: I need to see you but not alone. Meet me at the coffee shop.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Serial- Part 44

Angela’s eyes turned cold as ice as she glared daggers at her captor. His conceited chuckle was one breath away from sounding a cartoonish villain. She could almost imagine him twirling a moustache and uttering, ‘”Mwahaha”.
            “It makes me sick to think I ever held even the remotest professional respect for you. You’re toying with people’s lives as if they mean nothing at all, and for what? An ego trip? Tell me why … why would you do something like this?” She demanded.
            “I don’t think anyone in your position ought to be casting aspersions on my character. I told you before; my work is a public service.”
            “What, your thinning the heard because of overpopulation? How does murder make you a public servant? Seriously, I really want to know. I want to understand what happened to you. Since you said I’ve done nothing to deserve this fate, don’t you think you own me the courtesy of an explanation? I’d always considered you a friend.”
            “Even a killer’s heart can ache, Angela, and if it makes you feel any better, my heart will ache when I have to kill you. But I swear to you, I won’t mangle you like the others. Your death will be quick and as painless as possible.”
            “You didn’t answer my question,” she retorted. “Why? What is it that makes you think you’re providing a service?”
His initial instinct was to turn and leave but she’d struck a chord in him. His original purpose, his cause, had been tainted. The only way he’d find peace now was to tell her the truth. If she understands, he thought, if I can convince her, it will be absolution. He needed to cleanse his conscience for what he’d done to Marie and Jill. They were never part of his plan.
            “Since we have some time to kill, no pun intended, I shall tell you. On one condition though, you are to keep silent until I am finished. Got it?”
Fighting against the restraints, Angela tried to raise her hand— like a school girl needing to ask a question.
            “Are you trying to raise your hand?” His amusement made his words sound hiccup-like as he tried not to laugh.
She nodded and he realized she was obeying his order.
            “Do you need to use the lavatory? No? Do you want to ask me a question?”
Her nod showed she was playing by his rules and he was pleased.
            “Go ahead then,” he replied.
            “What if I have a question along the way? Should I just raise my hand so that I’m not interrupting you?”
With his ego filled, he agreed that if she needed something clarified in his story she had permission to raise her hand. He promised to keep a close watch on Angela’s hand since, being restrained meant she had little movement. He took a deep breath and began his story.
            “Well, perhaps it is just my upbringing but over the years I have grown so disgusted with people. They’re rude and cruel to their fellow man— or, fellow women, as the case may be. They’ve developed a sense of entitlement, as if the world and everyone in it owes them something. They whine when they don’t get what they want and trash others who are more deserving. This is what happens when parents substitute material possessions for love … you get generations obsessed with having everything. Last year’s model is thrown away because they want the brand-shiny-new one that has come out as the ‘it’ thing.  The selfish bastards won't even donate it to someone who might need it. Nope, they throw it away. This is what happens when everyone earns a trophy and little league teams don’t keep score. These horrid, wretched, husks of a human is what evolves when children aren’t taught to respect others. They don’t share, they don’t care, and they have no idea how to survive without mommy and daddy footing the bill. This is what comes of having no discipline and letting children do whatever they want, whenever they want. The child grows and ages but never becomes an adult. They’re just as bratty as a two-year-old at twenty-two or forty-two. They need a reality check. I provide that.”
    Angela’s jaw gaped open but no words escaped. She was stunned by what she’d heard. While there was no disputing that there are people like that in the world, she had a hard time accepting that there were so many that a vigilante needed to step in and rid the world of them in one fell swoop. Not only that, she wondered what some of those people had done to earn their spot under his blade. She tried to fit the missing pieces together but there were parts of the full picture missing. She fought against the restraints to lift her hand for a question. He granted her permission to ask, curious what was swirling around in her brain.
            “Okay, I can see why Trevor, and even Kendra, fit into your … um, qualifications but what about those two girls before me? What did Marie and Jill do?”
Angela could see his shoulders sag and a soft sigh escaped his lips. If I didn’t know better, I’d think it was remorse, she thought. He paced back and forth for a moment, debating how to explain the flies in his ointment.
            “Well, they weren’t meant to be involved but sometimes fate takes a hand. Yes, I can see from the expression on your face you don’t believe me but their situation was something I had not planned for.”
***Please return Monday, November 3rd for the next installment of SERIAL***