Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Specter of Death- Part 5

Kim settled most of her friends either into her guest rooms or on the pull-out sofas, all except John. He’d made a reservation at the Holiday Inn and saw no reason to cram onto a sofa or chair when he had a perfectly comfortable king sized bed waiting for him. His vow to be a better friend was all but forgotten the moment he climbed into his cab.
     Bill had staggered to one of the bedrooms in the hopes of gaining a few hours of sleep before his trek home. Angela and Gillian were still trying to convince the other to take the second guest room when Kim shuffled off to bed. She set her alarm and hoped coffee would be enough to get her through the next few days.
     She closed her eyes and was whisked away to a day long-past and a time in her youth where the cares of her current life were unable to be imagined. Instead, her days were filled with classes and evenings spent with friends or at parties near campus.  In that omniscient way of dreams, she was both young but retained her memories of days gone by and found herself in a familiar setting. Kim’s memory screamed to wake, for fear of further pain, but her dream-self continued down the familiar street. Using every ounce of strength, she struggled to keep a younger Seth steady as they walked back to their apartment building. He and Billy shared a room two doors down from her, Gillian, and Angela. They’d all been to the bar, blowing off steam from exams when Seth’s behavior warranted ejection from the establishment— a surprising turn of events given the regular clientele was riotous on a good night. Rather than ruin the evening for everyone, Kim had volunteered to walk him home. Wake up screamed her inner voice but the dream girl continued on her way, drunken friend in tow. The memory jumped ahead to the part she wished to avoid.
            “I’m sorry I ruined your night,” Seth slurred. “I could’ve made it home alright but I was glad to have you for company. Look, I know you’re involved with … aw, hell.”
Before she realized it, Seth had pulled her close and his lips pressed against hers, gentle at first then more demanding. The kiss had stunned her in the dream just as it had in real life. The room spun and he pulled away just long enough to whisper in her ear.
            “I shall tuck away this moment in my heart to mend the break … as you will never be mine to have and hold.”
His gentle hand caressed her cheek as he stumbled into the apartment and immediately passed out on the sofa. When Kim awoke, a single tear cooled the cheek where, in the dream, his hand had been.
            “Damned writers! Even piss drunk they can manipulate words to haunt us in our dreams.” She sighed and wiped the moisture from her eyes.
Knowing she’d get no more sleep, Kim hauled her weary body from the comfort of her bed and decided to tiptoe to the kitchen for a cup of tea. She took great care in turning the door knob to not make any noise that might wake her guests. Her footfalls soft as a whisper, she crept to the kitchen only to find everyone else seated at the table with steaming mugs of coffee.
            “I see I’m not the only one who couldn’t sleep,” she yawned and smiled at her friends.
While it was no surprise that they’d all had a dream about their dear departed friend, the fact that their dreams were all from different times of that same exact day sent up waving red flags.
            “I think we’re reaching,” Bill muttered as he downed the last dregs of his coffee. “Just because we all had a dream from the same day over a decade ago doesn’t mean it’s a sign. It means that we each had a significant encounter with Seth on that day. For example, that was the day we went for our first tattoos.” He rolled up his sleeve to show off his ink. “See, no other-worldly symbols or messages from the grave. Just a normal tat. Seth’s didn’t look anything like mine either.”
            “But what if the significance is his tattoo?” Gillian interrupted.
            “It could be,” Angela agreed. “Kim, you can check tomorrow when you— wait, make that in a few hours when you go to work. Sorry, we’ve kept you up.”
            “Not at all, I wouldn’t have slept anyway. I have too much on my mind. In addition to Seth, I’ve got a slew of other deaths of mysterious means. Speaking of, I’d better get ready. I have a feeling it is going to be a long day.”
By 9:03AM, Kim was already wishing she’d called in sick. Kenj filled her in and none of it was good news. While she was gone, another body had been discovered. Initially, there were no markings on the body but just like Seth’s, it appeared later.
            “As for Candace Malone, her wound has sealed just like his too. None of this makes any sense,” said Kenji.
            “No, it sure as hell doesn’t.”
Startled, both Kim and Kenj turned toward the voice. Detective McDonald hovered in the doorway, shaking her head.
            “I’m sorry about your friend, Kim” Marie continued. “Please tell me you know what’s going on and what these damn symbols mean. He was your friend so I’m counting on you. We need answers.”
            “We’re working on that.”
            “We? Oh God, we who?”
            “There was a group of us, old college buddies. We’re trying to figure out what the symbols mean. Apparently, they were on the cover of his book … Specter of Death. As for more, we’re working on it.”            
             “Please, I’m begging you. Work faster!”

***Part 6 of Specter of Death will be available Tuesday, April 6th but be sure to pop in tomorrow for a special surprise. Yes, it is April Fool's Day but no, it is not a prank. I have a treat, rather than a trick, planned for you, my loyal readers. Until tomorrow ....

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Specter of Death - Part 4

            “Well? Don’t leave me hanging. Where? What is it?” Kim demanded.
            “Believe it or not, I think I saw it in Seth’s last book,” Bill replied. “Hang on a sec and let me pull up the e-reader app on my phone. Okay, yeah … here it is. His most recent book, Specter of Death has it on the front cover.”
The entire group leaned in to look at the tiny screen and gasped. The mysterious symbol carved into Seth’s chest, right over his heart, looked almost identical to the images on the cover of his novel.
            “I feel like a jerk for admitting this but,” John paused and shifted in his seat before continuing his confession. “I’ve never read a single one of Seth’s books. I’m such a shitty friend. He would come to our gigs and post on all of his social media sites to promote my band and I never once reciprocated. I just, I wish I’d been a better friend to him … hell, to all of you.” Wringing his hands, John stood and looked each of his friends in the eye. “Starting right now, I am going to be a friend like Seth was. He was the guy who always had your back and who supported whatever you wanted to do because it was important to you. Seth, wherever you are, I just want you to know how much I miss you and how sorry I am that I wasn’t there for you when you needed me. I’ll never make that mistake again; I swear!”
     John wiped the tears from his eyes and accepted hugs all around as he struggled to regain his composure.
            “Look,” Angela chimed in. “You can’t beat yourself up, John. Sometimes life just gets in the way and we get busy. It doesn’t mean I don’t think about all of you and I am sure you do the same. If you really want to do right by Seth, let’s do what we can to help Kim figure out what happened to him.”
            “That’s good idea,” Gillian agreed. “Why don’t we all start with Seth’s book. If the symbol has anything to do with what happened then, maybe, there’s a hint in the book. I read it when it first came out but now that I know what happened to him maybe there’s something I missed, you know? I looked at it as my friend’s horror novel before but now, maybe, there's something that can help us puzzle out what happened to him." 
             “Good idea. I have to head back to the university tomorrow and teach but I’ll be back on Friday night. While I’m gone I’ll see what I can find out on campus. Between the library and students looking for extra credit, maybe I can unearth something that will help too. If any of you need anything or you find something useful, don’t hesitate to call me.” Billy added. “We should probably get some sleep. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day for all of us.”
***Be sure to return Tuesday, March 31st for the next installment of Specter of Death! Better yet, why not sing up for email alerts so you never miss a post?***

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Specter of Death- Part 3

     Sensing an icy chill from the table, Missy, the waitress backed away slowly with the promise that she’d come back a little later. Sadness permeated the room so thick that the entire tabled feared it would swallow them whole. The old friends looked at each other, hurts of their loss mirrored in the eyes of those at the table. Billy rose and excused himself though no one seemed to notice. They were each lost in the turmoil of emotions. Moments later, Billy returned with a pitcher and glasses for everyone.        
            “Let’s raise a glass to our friend, Seth. He left us too soon and with so much unsaid but we will never forget him. I’d like to think a small part of his unbridled and creative spirit resides in all of us. Most likely, if he was here right now he’d tell me to shut and drink already.”
            “Yeah, he would have, Billy,” Angela’s voice broke and she dabbed her eyes but a feeble laugh still bubbled through the hurt.  “Remember that time …”
Just one utterance of ‘Remember that time’ was enough to unleash the flood gates. Through tears, sniffles, and a great deal of happy memories, those who knew Seth best celebrated his life and his passion. Outrageous stories of college antics and fond memories tumbled out until it almost felt as if their friend was right there with them.
            “Not to bring everyone down but,” Gillian interrupted. “How did he die? Kim, how did you find out?”
            “He ended up on my table.” Kim replied. “We’ve had a rash of murders here lately but … I don’t know how Seth got involved in all of this but there is definitely something not right about what happened to him. Look, I can’t discuss a case out in public like this. After we eat, why don’t you all come back to my place but, for now … let’s talk about something else.”
            “You know, I never got a chance to congratulate you, Kim. You made it; you became an MDI. We’re so proud of you!” Angela chimed in, doing her best to change the subject in case someone was listening. “We all, sort of, lost track of each other a few years after graduation. What’s everyone been up to?”
Kim gave her old roommate a smile and nodded to show her gratitude. She was always able to jump in when I needed her help. I guess some things never change no matter how long it’s been. It was a relief to change the subject so fast especially since Kim knew they’d have plenty of time later to discuss the gruesome details of Seth’s death. 
     They were pleased to learn that most of the ambitions they'd had while in school had become reality. John, in addition to his thriving dental practice, still played gigs on the weekends with his band. Angela’s photographs graced the covers of magazines all over the world and celebrities begged for her to do their photo shoots. As if raising a family wasn’t enough, Gillian put her psychology degree to good use. She counseled at a woman’s shelter for victims of abuse. Even Seth had managed to live his dream as a published author, though it was short lived, but Billy was the one that got the biggest reaction from the table.
            “Wait a minute. Professor at our old Alma Matter? Get outta here!” John quipped. “You’re pulling my leg, right?”
            “No! Why does everyone always say that?” Billy sighed then pulled out his phone. “Look, here’s the website and here’s my department and … there I am! See? Why is that so hard to believe?”
            “Probably because of all the trouble you and Seth caused on campus,” Angela managed to say through her laughter. “Good thing Dean Newhouse retired. He never would have agreed to hire you.”
            “Perhaps we should clue your students in on what you did to poor Professor Chan,” Kim added. “And don’t even think about trying to blame it all on Seth. We know you were just as guilty.”
The laughter and teasing continued until the check arrived. Unlike the old days, there was no playful banter about who was going to pay. They were too anxious to get out of there and discuss what happened to their old friend.
     In the comfort of her own home, Kim was able to freely discuss the details she’d held back in the restaurant. She explained about the murders and the mutilations on the victim’s bodies.
            “I know this is going to sound crazy but I swear; I am telling you the truth. When I saw Seth’s body, there was some kind of symbol carved into his flesh on the left side, just over his heart. It was a fresh, very raw, and bloody wound. We got called out to another crime scene but hours later when we came back, not only was the wound closed, it looked like he had been branded … years ago. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
            “What did the symbol look like?” the others asked.
            “I saved before and after pictures on my phone,” she muttered as she scrolled through her album to show them. “Here’s the before and here it is a few hour hours later.”
They passed around her phone; each looked at the images with an uncomfortable fascination— wanting to look away but unable to do so
             “Oh my God! I think I’ve seen this somewhere before!”
**Be sure to return Tuesday, March 24th for the next installment of Specter of Death! Better yet, why not sign up for email alerts so you never miss a post?**

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Specter of Death- Part 2

     To Kim’s despair, the newly-found body matched the mysterious scenes they’d come to expect. By the time she, Kenj, and Marie arrived at the swanky townhouse, it was clear that the latest dead body had been more than a domestic squabble. The sophomoric cracks and laughter by the department’s first responders ended the second Detective Marie McDonald crossed the threshold. The silence, cold and awkward, made Kim and her new partner fidget.
            “Well, don’t stop the party on my account.” Marie’s eyes locked on each and every person in the room. “I assume, you know, since you’re all having such a great time that you have the killer locked up and a full confession on file, right? Line up the shots; first round is on me, guys. Oh … what’s that? We still have no clue who’s responsible. Then what in the bloody hell are you all laughing about?
Workers scattered. Even those who had been working diligently avoided making eye contact. Marie sighed, took a huge gulp of her lukewarm coffee, and then pulled on a pair of latex gloves. Kim and Kenj had donned their protective gear before they crouched beside the body across from a pair of EMTs.
            “What have got?” Kim asked as she took a clipboard from the uniformed officer beside her.
            “We responded to a domestic disturbance call. The neighbor said they’d been screaming over there for a while and they ignored her when she pounded on the walls. By the time we got here, the front window was busted out and we could see signs of a struggle. No one answered when we knocked but I heard a noise coming from inside. I shouted through the window but I didn’t hear anything else. So, my partner and I entered and that’s when we found the victim, Candace Malone. It appears that whoever did this probably escaped through the back door in the basement.”
Kim nodded and pulled the sheet back on the victim. She handed the clipboard to Kenj and she rattled off Ms. Malone’s details.
            “Let’s see,” Kenj muttered. “Candace Christine Malone, age: thirty-one. According to her neighbor, she recently separated from her fiancĂ©e, Jordan Greenberg.”
            “That’s one nosy neighbor,” Kim commented with an eye roll. “Did she mention if Candace was seeing someone new?”
            “Funny you should ask,” a nearby officer interjected. “We asked her the same thing and she was offended. Said, quote, ‘I don’t meddle in other people’s affairs.’ Can you believe that?”
A ripple effect of stifled chuckles spread through the room. While Kim waited for Kenj to take more crime scene photos, she jotted initial impressions down on her notebook. Subject found face down, arms outstretched. Fingers bloody and nails recently torn from thumb, forefinger, and middle finger on right hand (that manicure looks too expensive for her to have left it like that.) Looks like she was struggling with her attacker check for blood or tissue of the attacker under her nails. Repeated blows to the head, blood matted in her hair. Left strap of camisole top was cut, the material isn’t frayed on the ends to indicate a tear. Incision through left Achilles tendon— someone didn’t want her to be able to run. Clean line, definitely a very sharp knife, or even a scalpel.
            “I’m all finished, Ms. Miller. Should we roll her over,” Kenj asked.
            “Oh God! I know I haven’t been getting much sleep lately but please tell me I don’t look that old. Please, call me Kim.”
     With Detective McDonald’s help, they rolled the body over. A collective gasp permeated the room. Candace Malone’s face was a riot of lacerations, hash-marked into her face. The severed tip of her nose wobbled on the floor beside her like a broken dreidel. Her once-perfect smile had been shattered. The pictures of her, smiling back through the many frames in the living room, bore proof of extensive orthodontics as a child. Chips and splinters were all that remained of those thousands of dollars in dental work.
            “Oh my God, what’s that?”Kenj asked then pointed to the bloody symbol carved above Candace’s heart.
            “Yeah, I meant to ask you about that,” Kim replied. “Seth, I mean, the male victim from yesterday had that same mark and yet you didn’t note it on any of the intake forms.”
            “I swear there was nothing there,” Kenj gasped. “There’s no way I could miss something like that!”
            “Well, I’ve got a body back at the morgue that says differently.”
Kenj’s face paled to the color of skim milk, doubt in her ability had already seized her heart. Her pulse thudded in her ears and she gulped.
            “She’s telling the truth, Kim,” Det. Marie McDonald confirmed. “I checked those bodies and there was nothing like this on them.”
Kim’s forehead knitted together as her mouth pursed. Even if I doubted the new girl, there is no way I’d dream of second-guessing Marie.
            “Well, Detective, why don’t you ride back with us to the morgue to see the body? I’ve got photos and he’s bearing the same mark.”
They allowed the EMTs to transport Candace Malone to the morgue while Kim, Marie, and Kenj, went ahead. Once there, Kim pulled Seth’s body from the drawer and uncovered the left side of his chest. The fresh, bloody, symbol that had been there just a few hours earlier had morphed into a sealed brand.
            “What the hell?” Kim gasped and pointed at the mark. “This looked just like Candace Malone’s before Kenj showed up and now it looks like someone branded him years ago.”
The other two stared at her, unsure how to respond. Kim ripped off her glove and booted up her computer. She clacked on the keyboard for a moment then called her colleagues over to join her.
            “Here, this is the video feed. Surveillance cameras are always on in here. Look, there’s the time stamp and everything.”
The three women gaped at the video in wonderment, baffled by what their eyes had seen.
            “I have a suggestion,” Marie said, finally breaking the silence. “It might go against procedure but what if you gather all of the external information today but leave the rest of the autopsy and extraction of internal organs until tomorrow? Is there any way you can leave the body in full view of the camera? Then we can see if anything happens to Candace Malone’s wound.”
Kim nodded, words seemed to elude her as her brain still tried to wrap itself around what had happened to Seth’s body. She looked down at her old friend through a shrink-wrap of unshed tears. With a sigh, Kim averted her eyes and blinked until the moisture redistributed. I’ve got too much work to mourn now but … An alert on Kim’s phone interrupted her thoughts, followed by another, and another.
            “I’m sorry. Excuse me for just a sec,” Kim announced.
She pulled her phone from her pocket. Her old friends, Angela, Gillian, Billy, and John had all responded. Wow, that was quick! She thought, silently. They’ll all  be here, tomorrow. She responded en masse, Can’t thank you enough! I’ll meet you at Joe’s Bar & Grille at the corner of 5th and Vine tomorrow at 6pm. I’ll explain everything then. P.S. the 1st round is on me.
While she and Kenj worked, Detective McDonald asked questions. The three bounced ideas off of each other until Marie was called to another crime scene. After she left, Kim started packing up and wiping down the room. Wringing her hands, she looked at her new colleague.
            “I’m sorry about earlier. I-I shouldn’t have accused you like that—”
            “Please, don’t give it a second thought,” Kenj interrupted. “Given what you’d seen, I can’t blame you. To show you there’s no hard feelings, what do you say we go grab a drink … or several?”
      Kim laughed. “I would love to, thanks.”
Together they rode to a newer establishment across town, at Kenj’s recommendation. Behind the bar, one of the EMTs supplementing his income, smiled and waved.
            “Well, holy shit! The angels of death actually have a social life. Who would’ve thought? Let me guess … two Bloody Marys?”
            “Cute,” Kim laughed. “How about something a little less … healthy? I’m not in the mood for tomato juice.”
            “Fear not,” he replied. “I have something perfect for you. My treat.” He busied himself mixing then brought the two cocktails over, personally. The tall glasses were filled to the brim with a dark, almost black, liquid. His chest puffed out as he placed them in front of the ladies. “Just for you, it’s called Black Death.”
Kim rolled her eyes and Kenj groaned. “Do we even want to know what’s in it?”
After the second refill, Kenj felt they’d bonded enough to ask. “That man, Seth, you knew him, didn’t you?”
Kim nodded and tried to choke back the tears once again.
            “I won’t say anything, I promise. I’ll just follow your lead. If you want me to work on him, or if you want me to stay away from him, it’s your call. Same goes for if you want to talk about it. I won’t bring it up again but I’m here if you need someone to talk to.”
            “I appreciate that, Kenj, more than you know. I do have one favor to ask. Tomorrow, some of our friends … people Seth and I hung around with will be coming into town. I’d like to duck out a little early tomorrow if you don’t mind holding down the fort.”
            “No problem. I’m glad to help”
The next day, the wound on Candace Malone closed on its own and resembled a brand instead of a fresh injury. The case had gone from frustrating to mind-boggling. With no clue how such a phenomenon was possible and no leads, time seemed to come to a standstill. Kim kept one eye on the clock, both excited and saddened that she’d see her old friends soon.
            “Why don’t you go ahead and call it a day, Kim? I can handle things here for now and I already left a message with Detective McDonald’s office that I was on call tonight if anything should happen.
Relieved, Kim accepted her offer and bolted out the door. While she showered and changed, she tried to figure out how to break the bad news to her friends. Though they’d all seemed to drift apart as they entered the world of grownups, they’d been so close in college. Losing Seth would be devastating for all of them.
     She reached Joe’s by five-thirty and reserved a table for five. I wonder how much they’ve changed in the past eight years. Will I still recognize them? She glanced at her reflection in the window and tried to determine how much she’d changed in appearance too.
The hostess seated her at a corner table with a clear view of the main entrance. Kim’s foot tapped along to the song blasting through the old jukebox. Her friends entered moments later and waved. Upon escorting the four remaining in the party to Kim’s table, the hostess took their drink orders and promised that their waitress would be there momentarily.
            “I’m so glad you all are here, and so quickly too. It’s been too long.” Kim said as she hugged her friends.
            “Shouldn’t we wait for Seth,” Billy asked. “I guess some things never change. I swear; that guy will be late to his own funeral.”
The table erupted into laughter, all except Kim.
            “Kim? Sweetie, are you okay? You look like you just saw a ghost,” Angela asked as she grasped Kim’s hand.
            “Yeah, I’m okay.” Kim lied as she forced a wan smile to tug at her lips. “Seth is actually the reason I asked you to come. He’s …”  Against her will, her voice broke. She took a deep breath and tried again. A single tear slid down her cheek. “H-He’s gone. They found his body last night and … I didn’t even know he’d moved back here. When I saw him there, I had to let you know but I didn’t want to do it in an email or over the phone.”
The earlier laughter died and the table stared at her with wide eyes and gaping mouths forming a perfect O. The shock left them all speechless.
            “So, can I start anyone off with some appetizers,” the waitress sing-songed, oblivious to the collective anguish of the table. “We have some happy hour specials if you order now.”
*** Please return, Tuesday, March 17th for the next installment of Specter of Death***

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Specter of Death- Part 1

The eerie organ tones of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor filled the room. Groaning, Kim rolled over and reached for her cell phone.
            “Children of the night,” she yawned. “What music they make … but I wish they’d give me a damn night off already.”
She answered the call, aware that she was needed at a crime scene. Coffee awaited— with the promise of chasing away the cobwebs as she tried to read her hurried scrawl. Oh God, what does this say? She blinked three times in rapid succession and tried once more. Sycamore Street, that’s it. Man, I need sleep. Her thoughts churned in a desperate attempt to keep her awake as she drove across town. How many bodies have we found this week? Feels like five hundred, she decided and sighed.
Once at the scene, she pulled on her white lab coat with her credentials pinned to the lapel and her latex gloves.  
            “Whatcha got for me, boys?” She asked, fighting back the urge to yawn.
            “How do you do it? Do you just roll out of bed looking gorgeous? I look like something the cat dragged in but you’re bright eyed and refreshed,” Detective McDonald teased. “That’s just not human!”
            “Welcome to the glamorous life of an MDI,” Kim laughed. “And you know you’re full of it, Marie. I look like I could be an extra for The Walking Dead just like everyone else here. We’re all exhausted. You guys need to catch our killer soon.”
Kim circled the room with Detective McDonald for the broad stroked that had already been obtained from the investigation. Together, they applied trained eyes to search for anything the first officers on the scene might have missed.
            “It looks like the same M.O. from the others … except this time there are two bodies. Look, we’ve got another forensic specialist here on loan from Springfield. This came from the mayor. Everyone knows you’re the best at what you do but you can’t keep running at this pace. What if we let her do the crime scenes? It’ll appease the powers that be but I want you examining the bodies. They’ll keep ‘til morning. Go ahead and get some rest, Kim. You deserve it!”
Unsure whether to be grateful or hurt, Kim’s head cocked to one side with her jaw slackened and drooped into a wide O. She wanted to object but her body took over; in autopilot she nodded her head, shook the detective’s hand, and shuffled back to her car. The ride home was a blur but she crawled back into her bed and slept like the dead until late morning.
Still on autopilot until she reached the morgue, Kim felt comforted by the chemical smell of the outer hall. She shielded her eyes from the harsh glare of high wattage fluorescent bulbs and pulled on her gear: protective goggles, apron, mask, and gloves. As per the transfer sheet, two bodies waited in the cold drawers for her investigation.
            “Two-fer Tuesday,” she muttered. “Let’s see what secrets you two are hiding.”
She wheeled both bodies out from storage. The first one she uncovered had met with the business end of an ax right through her pretty, blonde, skull. The weapon remained exactly where the killer had implanted it. No prints on the handle, she observed before scribbling that information on her chart. No ligature marks, no contusions, no needle tracks, nothing but a big ole ax wedged into her brain. She continued looking for any other signs of assault but there was nothing else.
            “Let’s see what your friend has for me,” she told the woman before throwing back the sheet covering the second victim.  “Oh God! No, it can’t be.”
Kim took a step and sat down. She pulled away the mask so she could breathe and took a few sips of water.
            “Oh, Seth. What did you get yourself into?”
She rushed to her computer and typed out a quick email:
I know it’s been a while but I need to see you. It’s an emergency. I can’t go into it over email so let’s plan to get together ASAP.
She scrolled through her contacts list and selected Billy, Angela, John, and Gillian. Please don’t let me down, her heart pleaded. She’d just hit send when a knock at the door distracted her thoughts. A woman she’d never met slipped through the door and smiled.
            “Hi, sorry to interrupt. I’ve been assigned to help lighten your work load. It’s an honor to be working with you.” The woman crossed the room and extended her hand to Kim. “My name is Kenj. Look, I’m not trying to take over or anything. I’m just learning the ropes but I wanted to learn from the best. Thank you so much for agreeing to let me help. Just between us girls, I had no idea my uncle was going to meddle but I won’t deny that I wanted to be on your team. I’m sorry that he was so pushy about it.”
            “Your uncle is the mayor,” Kim gasped. “And you told him you wanted to work with me because I’m the best? Maybe I should be thanking you.”
A second knock on the door interrupted their meeting. Detective McDonald strolled in with an extra large coffee and an even larger file tucked under her arm.

            “Oh, I see you two have met. Good thing because we’re going to need as many eyes on this as we can. We just found another body.”

**Do to the demands of publishing, I will need to cut back the posting of each edition to one per week. If I can throw in an extra one, I certainly will but I have delayed in getting you all a new story for far too long. Please, return next Tuesday, March 10th, for the next installment. Here and there in between the story, I may include promotions and other fun insights so please be sure to sign up for email announcements so you don't miss out! Thank you!**

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Reporting live from: AT HELL'S GATES

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a hoax. Do not attempt to adjust your screen. The images you see before you are genuine and have not been enhanced. In short, the danger is real and the phenomenon known simply as AT HELL’S GATES is sweeping the nation …

For those of you just tuning in, we are taking an in depth look at the horror anthologies At Hell’s Gates.  On September 21, 2014, a group of horror authors banded together in the hopes of giving back to the brave service men and women who willingly put their lives on the line to protect our freedom. With 100% of the proceeds going to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (https://www.fallenheroesfund.org/) the contributing authors set out to publish top notch horror stories for a worthy cause. The initial wave went out in September but this group did not sit back and relax. It was back to the grindstone to prepare for VOLUME 2, Origins of Evil.

The palpable sense of dread may seem familiar but this time things are a bit … different. Fresher. Newer. As though just recently born. Contributing author, S.G. Lee is live on site to give us a behind-the-scenes look at this growing epidemic called, At Hell’s Gates.
            S.G:  Thanks for joining us. I’m coming to you live from The Gates and it is one helluva sight! The pungent stench of decaying flesh, fire, and brimstone are thick in the air while every form of terror imaginable plays out in skillfully crafted vignettes straight from some of the darkest minds in horror. They’ve dug into the deepest pits of their worst nightmares to bring you a collection worthy of honoring our military’s men and women. For those of you who haven’t yet experienced the nightmare, buckle up! This is going to be a ride you’ll never forget.

While Volume 1 relied heavily on influences from zombie apocalypse novels previously written by the authors, Volume 2 brought something entirely different. The theme, Origins of Evil, delved into the starting point— the very root and beginning of all things horrifying. As if that wasn’t enough to make you shun sleep for the rest of your natural life, there’s more. Thanks to the tireless efforts of so many caring authors, more volumes are on the way. Why? Because those who have served, or are currently serving in the military deserve it! So, if you haven’t checked out Volumes 1&2, don’t delay. Not only are you rewarded with superb horror stories for a great price, your money goes to a truly worthy cause. Together, we can make a difference for many who’ve been to the gates of hell and back. Buy it for friends, family, or for yourself … you won’t be sorry! 

At Hell’s Gates – Volume 1

At Hell’s Gates – Volume 2