From the Gateway of Madness (a short story)

The pop machine on Capitol Hill in Seattle was a mystery. It stood, covered in layers of graffiti, on the corner of John Street and 10th Avenue East. The locksmith company behind it provided electricity for the machine, though they had no clue who was restocking it or why.

For twenty years it provided refreshing cold soda to anyone willing to pay the insignificant price of 75 cents.

Numerous locals tried to find out who was behind the landmark’s peculiar existence. They’d convinced nearby shops and apartment buildings to let them look through their grainy security footage in hopes of catching a glimpse of the person or people restocking the machine. It was good fun. There was even a popular blog on it and a Facebook fan page. They simply wanted to solve the mystery, but at the same time, they didn’t.

What no one knew was that the soda machine wasn’t the quaint feature story they thought it was. It was no machine. It was a Gateway.

On a nipping, foggy November night, a cloaked figure pushed a dolly cart stacked with boxes of soda pop. Despite the cracks and debris on the ground, the dolly moved with impossible silence and grace. The figure walked with confidence knowing the Master would stop the security cameras from recording his image. For fifteen years now, the Master had protected him from all manner of exposure.

The Gateway glowed, its yellow light setting the fog around it ablaze. Beads of slimy condensation seeped from its rusted edges. For a moment it flickered, the yellow light pulsating a caustic green.

He grinned. The Master was almost ready. The Gateway would soon be primed for his arrival.

The figure placed his hand against the lock on the Gateway door and squeezed his eyes shut. A buzzing sensation crawled across his skin. The door clicked and swung open.

A wave of misty, subzero air enveloped him. The taste of death and chaos came with it, metallic and pungent on his tongue. When the mist faded, he began his work. Instead of metal ramps or guides to keep the pop in place, the innards of the machine were quite organic and stretched farther back than the machine could physically allow. Ropes of narrow gray tentacles wiggled, their sharp tips gravitating towards the open door.

Slowly, carefully, the figure handed the tentacles cans of soda. They wrapped tightly around the aluminum vessels and pulled them back into their squirming depths where they’d keep them chilled and ready. Multiple soft tisssc noises cut through the silence as the tentacles pierced the cans with their single, needle-like tooth, and injected a seed.

Soon the figure completed his work. The dolly contained nothing more than empty cardboard boxes. November was a hard time for the Gateway to gain tributes. In the summer, it had to be restocked multiple times a week. In the cold months a fraction of the number of people were interested in it. What made things trickier was that not everyone who drank was proper tribute. Thus the process of gaining enough had taken many years.

A low rumble came from deep within the Gateway.

The tentacle mass stilled. Then, in unison, parted to reveal the eye of a behemoth, so large the figure knew it had to be the Master’s. Not reptilian nor mammal, but something entirely different. It was set deep in a scaly socket. Acidic green light emanated from it. It blinked.

He had never seen the Master before, lurking in the other plane. Primal fear took hold of his body. His heart hammered in his chest.

Suddenly he remembered. It was as though he’d woken up from a dream. A very long dream. His name was Bryan Warren. He lived in Seattle his whole life. He had a wife, Diane, and child, Abbie. They were dead. Abbie loved going to the mystery pop machine. Diane took her there one day. They became casualties in a gang related shooting.

Bryan, fueled by rage, grief, and alcohol, came to loop a chain around the machine and tear it down forever.

But the Master stopped him.

It cooed sweet things to him. Showed every carnal pleasure and power he could imagine. Promised him he could have his family back if only he served. He couldn’t resist the temptation. As his resolve caved, a retro frosty can of Dr. Pepper popped out of the machine. Bryan drank and became a slave.

That was fifteen years ago.

Bryan then realized why the Master showed himself. It had come to collect.

“No,” he choked. “No, I don’t want this! Please, don’t!”

He gathered enough will to stumble back. With lightning speed, the tentacles shot from the Gateway and wrapped around his ankles. Their grasp was as hard and cold as ice. Bryan’s fingernails peeled back and bled as he grabbed at the sidewalk to try and pull himself free.

Somehow, he’d always known, but the Master stopped him from thinking of it. He was the last tribute. He was the waypoint for the plane of madness to enter a new, untainted realm. He’d helped it put its seed in the world for two decades, and now it was ready to reap what it had sowed.

The air quivered with an electric charge. Bryan tilted his head and saw the sky split open.

The Master had arrived.


Ok, time for some context! I was in the ER waiting room (don’t worry, everyone is okay) when I picked up the Seattle Times and read this news article about a pop machine on Cap hill that has been putting out mysterious pop for 20 years. I was talking to a friend about how crazy it was, and he suggested I write a story. So, instead of messing around on my phone, I started this story and finished it later. Of course, I couldn’t pass up photoshopping the actual mystery machine into a creepy, Cthulhu-y masterpiece to go with. :) Hope you enjoyed!

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The Author Games: Jason Bovberg


jasonbovbergWho are you and what do you write?
Hey, I’m Jason Bovberg, and what I’m doing with my Blood trilogy (Blood Red, Draw Blood, and the forthcoming Blood Dawn) is telling an urgent, real-time apocalyptic-horror tale from several different perspectives. Blood Red is told from the point of view of Rachel, a 19-year-old girl who’s barely hanging on to her sanity in the real world, let alone a new world populated by weirdly and slowly reanimating “corpses.” (This ain’t a zombie story; it’s altogether stranger.) Draw Blood is told from the perspective of her father, so we see the same event through new, more mature eyes as things get more and more aggressively weird. And Blood Dawn, which I’m currently finishing up, finishes the story from the point of view of someone who was “infected” in Draw Blood, wrapping up the story in a storm of blood, bone, and otherworldly chaos. It’s a hell of a lot of gory fun.

I’m fascinated by the notion of “perspective,” and I really wanted to play with that in the Blood trilogy. The whole endeavor is partially inspired by the original idea for the movie Cloverfield and its planned sequels. Those further tales would have told the story of the same invasion from the perspective of various cameras around New York City. I LOVE that idea, so I stole it. Sorta.

Beyond my horror novels, I’ve also written a nostalgic ‘50s noir in the tradition of Chandler, Hammett, Cain, and Prather called The Naked Dame. It’s another book in which I play with voice, somewhat more playfully. I loved writing that book and could see returning to the genre.

You versus Norm Partridge in a fight to the death. Who would win?
So you heard about Portland? Yeah, it was at the World Horror Convention last year. I took issue with the fact that Norm was the Guest of Honor in my place, so that Saturday afternoon I challenged him to a fistfight at the entrance to the dealer’s room. It was ugly. No one has heard from Norm since.


Looking back on the terrible things you’ve done to your characters, or the cruel backstories you’ve given them, if there was one sentence you could say to them, what would it be?
I have no regrets about what I’ve put you through, because you are far, far stronger now than when we met—well, except for the dead among you, sure, but even you played your noble part in the narrative, so you should feel an enormous degree of pride.


Go back to the moment you finished writing your first-ever novel. Doesn’t matter if it has been published, self-published, or lost forever to the depths of My Documents. What did it feel like to write those last words?
In my case, it was something like a relieved “FINALLY!” because it took me quite a while to graduate to long-form writing from short story writing. Back then, the notion of penning a 100,000-word tome was beyond comprehension, and in fact it took a couple of awkward “practice” novels to get there—as well as a period of close to a decade. (Those practice novels shall remain permanently drawered. One of them, in fact, was frightfully close to porn. Hey, writers use all kinds of crutches to keep the works moving, right?)

You’re at the grocery store when you spot a bleary eyed woman with a shopping cart full of cake mix and rat poison. What is she about to do, and more importantly, why?
The woman had a tic on the side of her face, and at first I thought she was winking at me. Walking the other direction down the aisle, I avoided eye contact. I strode past the sugar, past the flour. I nonchalantly grabbed a packet of baking powder off the shelf. In the convex mirror at the back of the store, I saw her in the distance, turning back to peer at me, her face distorted, her body elephantine. Stop it! I thought. I walked along the back of the store, whistling softly, while she checked out. Glancing down the center aisle, I caught one more flash of a grin, of her eyes turning toward me, dark and quick. In a moment, I watched her leave the store, walking crookedly, with her purchase. She had the money now, and my directions. I just hoped she would spell my daughter’s name right on the cake.

Describe, in vivid detail, a child’s reaction to their parent stating, “Santa isn’t real, Billy, but the monster under your bed certainly is.”
Smiling, Mommy closes the door, and I watch her shadow retreat in the gap between the wood and floor. I think she even laughs a little, the sound drifting away like wind chimes. Did she really just say that about Santa? It doesn’t make sense. I crawl back into the corner of my bed, staring at the edge, pulling the covers up. Whatever is down there seems to yank back at the sheets. Mommy can’t be right! The tree is all lit up downstairs, and the milk and cookies are out, and in the morning Santa will have left his presents. All of them, everything I’ve always wanted. Something grunts under the bed, and I shut my eyes. No! It’s not fair. My heartbeat is racing, and I can’t stop myself from shivering. I curl myself in a ball and scream inside. Something cracks. After a long moment, I open my eyes. The creature is peering over the edge of the bed, locking its eyes with mine. It wears a coal-stained red cap, slimy and flat, and its face is grimy as if with grease. Its face is plump, it mouth curled up in a rictus grin, revealing sharp teeth. Its eyes gleam. It pulls a great bag from beneath the bed and lifts it to its shoulder. Its voice is full of cinders. “Merry Christmas Billy.”

Write 3 steps on how to be Jason Bovberg.
1) Acquire an obsessive-compulsive collector mentality
2) Find terrific pleasure in the dark and weird
3) Shave your head, and begin typing

Last Words
You feel your life force fading. You have only moments left. You look up into the cloudy sky, raise your fist and yell, “(Your epic last words here)”.
“I know you’re an author, too, you bastard, so tell me: What part did I serve in the narrative?”

Jason made it through The Author Games and lives another day. Check out his official website, www.jasonbovberg.comFacebook, Goodreads, and Twitter!

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Preview of ANAMNESIS

ANAMNESIS will be up for preorder soon, but I can’t resist giving you guys a sneak peek first!


When Ethan Knight wakes up on Alki Beach in Seattle, he has no memory of the last four years, and only fragments of his early life. Disoriented and experiencing drug withdrawal, he quickly finds himself assimilated into a life of crime. Unable to go to the police for help, Ethan abandons any hope of remembering his past.

Now, seven years later, a dangerous drug arrives on the streets that interferes with the brain’s ability to record memories. When affluent campaign manager Olivia Holloway shows up on Ethan’s doorstep claiming she’s losing time like he did, he realizes that with her help, he may finally unravel the mystery that has long plagued him.

As Ethan and Olivia embark on a fast-paced journey to reclaim their minds, they expose a complex web of greed, corruption, and sex that is far more twisted than either anticipated.

Chapter 1

The concrete wall sent a bitter chill through my jacket, but I leaned on it anyway. I was tired. An hour gone and not a single hit. I took a drag on my cigarette—fucking tobacco tax was almost bad enough to make me quit—and savored the nicotine. I blew a smoke ring. It hung in the air, gray and thick, before disappearing into the night. Even if I didn’t make another sale, at least I had a nice smoke.

Christmas lights set the street ablaze even though it was only the end of November. The Westlake Center tree lighting was yesterday, and the thing towered in front of the mall entrance. Hordes of people posed for photos in front of it, giant overpriced coffees in hand. It was hard to believe people came to Seattle from around the state just for the tree.

“Hey, E!”

Skid emerged from the crowd to my left. His baggy pants dragged on the ground, the hems muddy and ratted. A navy blue knitted hat was pulled low over his forehead. Despite being a street kid, homeless since I met him, he always had a goofy smile on his face and an attitude that didn’t match his circumstances. I had at least ten years on him but we got along.

“What’s up?”

Skid leaned on the wall next to me. The passing crowd gave us an extra breadth. Two shady guys loitering was scary business. “Got someone for ya. Looking to get some rope.”

“He at the spot?”


“Been a slow night, thanks.” I tossed my cigarette on the ground and crushed it with my heel. “Come on. I’ll give you your cut after. Then I gotta bounce.”

We crossed the intersection and walked to the alley where Skid’s guy waited behind an overfilled dumpster. He was exactly what I expected. Beady eyes set deep in their sockets, greasy skin. Dressed nice enough to look respectable at first glance, maybe even good if you were drunk. I fucking hated these guys.

Skid hung back while I handled the guy, keeping watch.

“What do you need?” I asked.

He shifted, glanced down the alley. “Uh, roofies I guess? Two of them?”

“Two huh?” I shoved my hands in my pockets and grinned. The guy was a dabbler. Easy money. “Forty bucks.”

“That seems like a lot. Google said they’d be less.” When he frowned, his nostrils flared wide. I gave him the silent treatment and, as dabblers do, he reached into his wallet and took out four crumpled tens.

I plucked them from his grubby fingers and handed him two small plastic baggies from my jacket. “Best there is.”

The second he had the packages he hightailed it back to the main street. I had to take advantage of a guy like that. They were bastards, nasty and despicable. I wasn’t supposed to care about what I sold, who I sold it to, or what would happen after. All these years in the game, I still did. Maybe it was because I still believed this life wasn’t mine. That one of these days, I’d remember. I’d remember everything. And get out.

Skid wandered back to me and we headed farther down the alley where it exited on the other end of the block. The smell of fresh bread from the sub shop nearby mingled with trash. My stomach rumbled. Fuck I was hungry.

The cash from the rope was still in my hand. I gave thirty bucks to Skid and pocketed the rest.

“Shit, E, thanks. That’s a lot.”

“Don’t worry about it. You’re a good steerer,” I told him. “Call it a Christmas bon—”

A woman in a short pink cocktail dress rounded the corner into the alley and slammed into me. She stumbled backward then fell on her ass on the sidewalk. People navigated around her, going out of their way not to look at the scene.

“Jesus, watch where you’re going lady,” I snapped. My voice faltered once I got a good look at her.

She’d been in the dress more than a day. The rumpled fabric had a dried stain down the front and flecks of something dark across the hem. There was a sweaty sheen to her skin and her hair flew in all directions. She was on a bender. I’d seen it before. Good girls got bored, maybe had an addiction in the past. They squeezed into a little number from the back of the closet. Had a nice little breakdown with lots of booze, sex, and drugs. I bet she had a gaggle of friends at a bar somewhere who wondered where she’d gone off to. No doubt they were sending text messages furiously, asking if she’d hooked up with someone.

Then I saw bruises on her neck. Her knees were scraped and bloodied. Makeup was smudged around her eyes and mouth.

She got to her feet. The heel on her right shoe was missing, setting her stance off kilter. She pushed past me and continued down the alley.

“E, should we do something?” Skid’s nose and eyebrows scrunched together.

Doing something meant sticking around, and sticking around was dangerous. You didn’t hang around the last place you sold. But the look of concern on Skid’s face made me go against my gut.

“Hey, lady,” I called out. “Are you okay? You need something?”

She stopped, already twenty feet away, and turned around. “I need somewhere to hide and something to put me to sleep.” She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, then reached into the purse dangling from her elbow. “I have money. I’ll give you everything I have. I don’t have much time. They’re looking for me.”

“Who’s looking for you? The cops?” I used my arm to gently push Skid back. “Get out of here, now.”

Skid nodded and booked it out of the alley without question. He disappeared into the crowd.

“Please,” she begged. “I’m going to wake up soon and I won’t know where I am.”
Someone had taken a sledgehammer to my chest. My heartbeat came to a stop then raced so hard I felt my pulse throbbing in my ears. The bottomless panic in her eyes tore through me. The dark voids of my memory spilled into the foreground of my mind.

I won’t know where I am.

My mouth went dry. Any thoughts of running disappeared. “What do you mean?”

“I-I don’t know exactly. They took me and did things to me. I escaped, but I know they’ll find me. I’m remembering things. I remember more every time and—”

“Who took you?” I interrupted. I closed the distance between us and grabbed her shoulders. “What are you talking about?”

Suddenly her body tensed. Her chin tilted up and she scanned her surroundings.

Something shifted in her. She brought her hand to her neck and felt the plum colored bruises. She winced and swayed. I tightened my grip on her to keep her upright.

“Where am I?” Her voice was hoarse. She slapped my hands off her and took a wobbly step back. “Who are you?”

The world was expanding and it hurt my brain. She was acting like I did seven years ago when I woke up from my missing time. I was totally alone, the chaotic storm of consciousness fighting to make sense of where I was, who I was.

And with no results. It had been years since I’d fully given up hope of discovering who I was. Years since I stopped looking for answers, since I let the streets suck me under.

“Tell me what happened to you.” I demanded. “Were you drugged? How much time have you lost?”

“No. No! I don’t know why I’m here.” Her confusion veered into hysteria. “I don’t know how I got here! What did you do to me?”

Tires screeched at the head of the alley closest to us as a black town car came to a halt. Two men sprang out of the back seat and ran straight for us. The dim amber streetlight cast ugly shadows on their faces. Once they entered the cover of the alley, one reached into his suit jacket. I knew that motion. He was going for a gun.

The woman burst into tears. I took her hand and tried to pull her into a run. I wasn’t letting her go. I couldn’t. “Move, dammit! Come on!”

She took two steps, then her knees buckled and she crumpled to the dirty ground. Her breaths were short and frantic. The two men were seconds away.

Every part of me screamed not to let go. She knew something. She’d help me. She was my only chance.

A bullet pinged off the dumpster beside me.

What good were answers if I was dead?

I let go of her and ran.

ANAMNESIS will be available for preorder in late August.

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The Author Games: Nicholas Sansbury Smith


Who are you and what do you write?nick
Nicholas Sansbury Smith, but I go by Nick. I write science fiction, thrillers and pretty much anything having to do with the end of the world. The apocalypse fascinates me and writing about it allows me to explore what characters would do in desperate and horrifying times. My goal with any story is to make it unique and add a twist so it stands out in the crowded field of apocalyptic books. When I’m not writing, I’m usually doing something to get the adrenaline flowing: triathlons, running, biking, swimming, kayaking, hiking, etc. Whatever gets the heart rate up. I do have a weakness for sweets and animals.

You versus your choice of author or fictional character in a fight to the death. Who would win?
Oh cool! This is one of those two authors enter Thunderdome, but only one author leaves situations? I choose…

George R.R Martin.


For the watch, and for all of my friends who want him to finish book 6.
Pretty sure I would win, because even if George could wield an Axe, there is no way in hell he could catch me. I picture this match going down a lot like the match between Red Viper and The Mountain in Game of Thrones. Here’s a link if you don’t remember it. So I guess that means, in the end, I would actually die. Serves me right for being cocky.
My final words as my head’s exploding would be, “FINISH your damn books dude!”

Looking back on the terrible things you’ve done to your characters, or the cruel backstories you’ve given them, if there was one sentence you could say to them, what would it be?
“What in the hell drove you to touch the glowing blue Orbs?”


What’s the first story you can ever remember writing? Dig deep. We’re talking grade school here if there were any!
Believe it or not, it wasn’t scifi. The first real story was about a pair of twins named Alex and John that were living during the Civil War. Alex went off to fight for the Union Army, but John couldn’t fight due to a crippled leg. While his brother was gone, John befriended several local Cheyenne Indians. Long story short, Alex was injured in the war and was reassigned to fight with the Union Army in Colorado. He was part of the Sand Creek Massacre where the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians were slaughtered by Union troops. Unbeknownst to Alex, his brother was with his Cheyenne friends in the village of 700 the day of the Union Army attack. Told from two POVs, this was my first story showing the horror of war. In this case, two twin brothers on separate sides.Age

It’s a frigid winter day and you’re driving along the highway. You notice an unusual shape, the size of a truck, lodged in the snow. It is shrouded in steam; it appears to be melting the snow around it. As you slow down to get a better look, your heart stops as you realize it is some kind of alien spaceship. A portal in the vessel appears to be open, though you don’t see any movement inside or around it. What’s your move?
Will eased his car to a stop and rolled down the window. A frozen gust of wind blasted into the vehicle, but the bite of cold air wasn’t the reason he was shaking. The center of the cigar shaped spaceship protruding from a bank of snow at a forty-five degree angle was pulsating. The central rectangular door glowed red like a portal to hell.

Will grabbed the door handle and stepped out onto the highway for a better look. Seeing the empty road sent another chill up his legs. Alone, and freezing, Will turned back to the car when a voice he didn’t recognize surfaced in his mind. The dialect was unknown to him, but somewhere deep inside his brain it sounded oddly familiar. A realization hit him with the force of the gusting wind and the clicks of the foreign language suddenly made complete sense.

Come home, Will. Come back to us.

“Well, I told you this was a bad idea!” Describe, in vivid detail, the idea your friend said was a baaaad idea.
“We’re here now, Tim. There’s no turning back,” Rodney said. He craned his neck and looked at his best friend. Tim’s face was contorted into a mask of horror in the shifting glow of their single flashlight.

“Got it? No turning back…” Rodney’s voice trailed off as he grabbed the door handle. They had trekked through the damp, dark passages of the abandoned Soviet bunker for hours now, and according to the map Rodney had found, they were at the final compartment. He drew in a breath that smelled like rotting fruit and formaldehyde.

“Man, I don’t know about thi—s,” Tim whispered.

Rodney handed him the flashlight. “Dude, chill out. No one’s been down here forever.” He twisted the handle and tugged at the steel door. The base dragged across the concrete floor as the door opened for the first time in decades.

The light from Tim’s flashlight danced across the interior of the room filled with lab equipment, but Rodney wasn’t looking at the broken vials, ancient computer equipment or the gurneys draped with black sheets. His gaze was locked on the base of the inside of the door that he held open with one hand. In the weak glow from Tim’s beam, Rodney saw scratch marks crawling up the steel. Whatever animal had made them had been desperate to get out of this place.

“Rod, I think we should—” Tim began to say.

A faint whispering in what sounded a lot like Latin cut him off. Rodney’s heart pounded when he saw the distorted shadows jerking and twisting from the corner of the room. It was then he realized there was a reason this place had been sealed off. No one was supposed to find it…

Write 3 steps on how to be Nicholas Sansbury Smith.
1. Play hard, but work harder.
2. Trust your mind and ignore most of the Gollum voices.
3. Never give up in anything you do.

Last Words
You feel your life force fading. You have only moments left. You look up into the cloudy sky, raise your fist and yell, “Screw you guys, I’m going home!”

Nicholas made it through The Author Games and lives another day. Check out his Official Website, Facebook, or tweet him @greatwaveink!

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The Author Games: Kenny Soward


Who are you and what do you write?
I’m Kenny Soward, and I write epic fantasy with a steampunk edge. I also dabble my toes in the horror genre on occasion.


You versus a young Stephen King in a fight to the death. Who would win?
I would beat Stephen King senseless with the icepacks I use to cool my joints after my daily runs. Although, he could invoke a demon car … it would be a good fight.

The antagonist from your most recent work shows up on your doorstep. What are they going to do to you?
Fill me full of a green slime called “churn” and sell me to the Machine Gods.

What’s the first story you can ever remember writing? Dig deep. We’re talking grade school here if there were any!
It was about a (KY) backwoods witch named Kizzy Lee. She’s still around haunting the woods with her trailer park magic.


Describe, in vivid detail, what someone just said to get this response: “You should know that people ‘round here don’t take kindly to that kind of insinuating.”
I confronted the devil worshipping hillbilly in his cluttered front yard.

“That’s right,” I said. “Sally Sue followed you, Jasper. Watched you and your bat-shit crazy brothers drag her body down through the woods just a hootin’ and hollerin’ the whole time. And then, before you weighed her down with stones and dumped her in the pond, you held her corpse up and danced with it. Took turns with it. Like some redneck Dancing with the Stars. Well, you won’t be dancing much longer.” I slowly reached back for the pistol I had tucked into my belt.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah,” I choked. “That was my sister you fucks killed.”

Jasper nervously scratched at the scruff around his neck with one hand while his other hand drifted back mirroring my movement. “You should know that people ‘round here don’t take kindly to that kind of insinuating.”

You find yourself trapped in an inescapable room with four other people from differing backgrounds. You spot a man with a rainbow Mohawk and a tracksuit. What’s his backstory?

And he had exactly fifty-nine seconds left to live, unless he …

“Hey,” I said to the man with the rainbow Mohawk and tracksuit. He looked disheveled, as did we all, and his eyes darted around with nervous ticks. I pegged him right away. “You running with the Unicorns?”

His eyes ticked to me. He nodded. “Yeah. For about two years.”

“Your bum stuffed with rainbow dust?”

He nodded again. “In a little balloon. Just got off the stellar transport when I felt a prick on my neck. Then everything went black.”

“Well, you’ve got exactly fifty-nine seconds to shit out that rainbow dust and get me high so I can powder port us out of here before this chamber fills with skin-dissolving gas.”

He looked at me doubtfully. “You can powder port?”

I smiled and tapped my temple where the special gland rested just beneath my skull bone. Of course I could.

Write 3 steps on how to be Kenny Soward.
Try to be kind.
Try to be funny.
Follow the lead of successful people.

Last Words
You feel your life force fading. You have only moments left. You look up into the cloudy sky, raise your fist and yell, “I ordered stuffed crust, damn you!”

Kenny survived The Author Games and lives another day. Check him out on Facebook or his Official Website!

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The Lake – Entry 6

The Lake is a supplemental serial novella to the Anisakis Nova series by Eloise J. Knapp. It comes after the events of Pulse: Genesis and Pulse: Retaliation and sets the stage for Pulse 3.


The first tendrils of baby kale sprouted up in the hoop houses today. Linda planted pak choi, too, which was sprouting. All of them seem delicate and insubstantial. It’s hard to believe it could produce enough food to make a difference. I’m still used to the idea of an unlimited food supply from the grocery store. I find myself craving something and my brain says, go to the store, and then I realize there are no stores anymore. This puts everything into perspective. Even when we were getting all our food from rations back in the cities, I was removed from it all. Knowing we have only as much food as we brought, can hunt, fish, or gather puts a lot of stress on everyone’s mind.

It’s getting colder. Jim said it can snow up to two feet here in the winter. I have a stack of printed instructions on how to build a fireplace and chimney for log cabins in addition to my other book. We’ve all reviewed it and are gathering the right shaped stones for the job. Work on that starts tomorrow.

The food we brought is becoming scarce. Magnus is concerned we’ve been overfishing the lake so we’ve reduced it. Beth stretches each catch out by making huge batches of fish broth flavored with wild thyme and one or two cans of vegetables. You’re lucky if you get a fleck of trout. Cat harvested all the cattails from around the lake. The root system is safe to eat. We get that in the stew sometimes.

For breakfast we eat whatever berries are left mixed into oatmeal. There are still six or seven tubs of dry oats left. Every morning we drink cupfuls of tea made of fresh rosehips and pine needles. It’s actually very good. The kids have a mile perimeter they wander and always bring back enough for the next day.

Anthony spotted deer on one of his hikes and declared it would be a good time to start hunting. He plans on taking what ammo we have to try and get a few. If we dry the meat it’ll help out during winter.

Every day I think about Chelsea. I think about how she said this was going to be hard, much harder than I thought. She was right. There are too many mouths to feed, too many people looking for direction. My life before this doesn’t seem like my own.

I do what I can. I keep a smile on my face and work my fingers to the bone so they have someone to look up to. God that sounds vain. Like I’m some shining example they should look up to. If they knew how often I wanted to drive down the mountain and see what civilization was like, if maybe the uninfected regained control, they wouldn’t like me so much.

We saw a plane fly overhead today, that’s what makes me bring it up. It’s been so long since we’ve been here without any sign of life from the outside.

It was a jet, like a military one. Everyone saw it. There was an open conversation between everyone about it. The final decision was that it didn’t indicate anything one way or another and we’d keep pressing forward at The Lake.

That night I had a dream. Beth opened the lid to one of her big pots of fish stew. Swimming around in the broth were hundreds of tiny worms. They climbed over the rim and onto the table. No one moved. They stood there like statues and let the worms crawl into their mouths and noses. I tried to shake them, to get them to move, and no one would.

The worms got me last.

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Custom and Premade Covers for Indie Authors

Eloise Knapp Design

Z-Risen: Poisoned Earth ebook cover

Recent custom cover I did for Timothy W. Long’s Z-Risen: Poisoned Earth.

Some of you might know I’m a designer in addition to being an author. Design is something I’ve been passionate about even before writing. So far, I’ve done all 5 of my own covers and enjoy working with other authors and sometimes publishers to create custom covers. In fact, I’ve done enough of them I decided to offer my services officially.

While my custom covers range in the $100 – $400 range, I know people (especially indie authors) are working with a tight budget. As a way of honing my skills and keeping my creativity flowing, I make premade covers to my liking and offer them for cheap on my website. I put time, effort, and love into each of the covers and would be proud to have them represent my own writing.

I hate the idea of slapping text onto a barely edited stock image, so all premade covers contain numerous elements that make them truly unique. My specialty is post-apocalyptic and horror, but I’m also into urban fantasy and fiction, too. I even have a few romance-y and traditional fantasy themed premade covers available. 


Feel free to visit my website Eloise Knapp Design to take a look at other custom covers, the design process, and anything else you could imagine. Here’s a few words from authors I’ve worked with before.


CRASH DIVE, by Craig DiLouie

CRASH DIVE, by Craig DiLouie

“I’m an author who has been traditionally published by publishers both large and small, but wanted to do a solo self-publishing project. Eloise Knapp supported the development of this project with a stunning cover design. She brought an immediate understanding of publishing, such as the need for the cover to look good both visually large and small. She produced quality work and accepted client direction in a working relationship that was open, professional and helpful. The price was extremely economical, with no hidden fees–in fact, Eloise figured out a way to save me stock photo costs. The final product is stunning; the cover has received a lot of compliments and, I believe, contributed to good sales. One may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but it certain helps to have a great one! I’m happy to recommend Eloise is a go-to resource for publishers and authors looking for professional, high-quality, economical art design.”
– Craig DiLouie, author of SUFFER THE CHILDREN

DEEP FREEZE, by Jacqueline Druga

DEEP FREEZE, by Jacqueline Druga

“Ask and you shall receive. Eloise Knapp delivers exactly what I want each and every time, from book covers to posters. She is amazing. Not only is she talented, she is efficient and fast. Her covers are gripping, professional and the best ‘first’ line of sales for any author. They are attention grabbers. I like that she has the ability to ‘grasp’ what I see as an author and I look forward to working with her on many more. It is my hope, that when I become super successful, that I can have her redo all of my covers. Which is a lot. Thanks El, for the great work.”
– Jacqueline Druga, author of PROTOCOL ONE and CONTAGIOUS

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