Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Switching Gears, Rebranding, and Moving Forward as an Author

Hey guys!

It's been a hot minute, hasn't it?

A lot has changed in my life the past 5 years. Who's hasn't at this point? World Wide Pandemic, mass hysteria, NETFLIX vs. YouTube streaming services! Panic in the streets over the unavailability of PS5s! Cats and Dogs living together! Twitch streamers! V-Tubers! Genetically modified plant based beef! 

I could go on.

Life is no longer what it was. In many ways, my life is so very much better than it used to be.  And so is the ability of someone to publish and advertise their own books on the internets. 

Over the past 3 years I've been studying my book sales and learning ALOT about self publishing. (I highly recommend you join the 20 books to 50k Facebook group. They're so helpful!)

During this process, I have discovered a few things. 

1.My horror writing is more urban fantasy and paranormal romance, than it is true horror. It took me a bit to accept that. I mean, my WHOLE THING has always been spooky, gore-filled, screaming death, right? Right? Wrong.

When your readers leave reviews like "these horror stories have heart," and "there's a satisfying love story in your vampire book", you have to start paying attention! These are things that people enjoy about my writing. I am going to nurture those aspects. 

2. I'm pretty damn good at writing other genres. And while I absolutely adore horror films, I read more urban fantasy than anything else, on average. I know the tropes. I know the clich├ęs. I am the tall lanky cantankerous wizard in the beat up mismatched VW bug prowling the streets of Chicago. 

Well, that last part not so much, but, I love Dresden Files. So there's that. 

Anyhoo, I've been thinking about things...a lot. 

It's time to move forward. Embrace the better selling genres that I know inside and out, and add my own spin to that crazy wheel of monster love. 

Meaning, I have decided to write one dark paranormal romance vampire trilogy as Cassie Carnage, and I will also be taking up new pen names for the other urban fantasy and paranormal romance genres.  

Why? Because they sell more, and at this time I believe they are easier to break into. The data shows there's more readers to reach.

My goal is to produce as many books in the next 2 years as humanly possible. My goal is 24 books. 12 urban fantasy, 12 paranormal romance, mainly werewolf shifter stuff or the vampire love bites stuff. 

I will on occasion share those books here. I'm sure some of you would be interested. 

Even if you're a dude, I won't judge. Men secretly love shifter + vampire flings. We all know the truth. It's OK. You don't have to hide it. 

I would like to say, I am not abandoning my horror roots. I will be writing horror, but not as a main way to earn an income. It will be fun side projects I do when my brain needs to dump out some creepy shit.

Speaking of creepy shit, I want my fans to know that I am finishing the sea monster trilogy that I started back in 2017. 

The Caddis Initiative ecohorror series has been rebranded as the Screaming Seas Trilogy. I am currently writing Death Tide, book 2, which picks right back up after the last page of The Seas Are Screaming. It ended on a cliff hanger. I own that. I meant to follow up with a sequel shortly after but ended up having a baby instead. And then I had another. So..yeah...

I love my daughter. And my son. And now that I have unlocked the MOM ACHIEVEMENT on my old dusty XBOX I can finish what I started, and excel where I know my talents truly lie, spinning hope-filled supernatural yarns. 

My new pen names will have FB groups and newsletters (if you sign up you will get free books, so I will be sharing that info with you when the time comes!) And I will be focusing most of my time on building their book catalogs on Amazon and other websites. I will occasionally share what I am doing in the other genres on here, as time allows. 

Thanks for sticking with me for all these years. Sorry for being silent while my life and the world went to hell. But, I'm here for the long haul. 

Movie reviews will resume in the future. I watch a lot of horror on my phone now...honestly, if you asked me to watch a film like that 10 years ago I'd have laughed in your face and told you to fuck off. 

Kids man. They change things. They change you. For the better, I might add. 

Anyway, keep up the hope, eyes on the prize, move forward not back, and don't let your past define you. 

That's what I'm doing. See you on the flipside,

Cassie



Thursday, April 7, 2022

Read the first chapter of my vampire book DEVOURED here!

 




Chapter 1 Broken Hearts, Shredded Necks


“I’ll be right back,” Mal said and I nodded and watched him walk away towards the restroom. I was tired and played with the straw in my drink. It just felt like we were going through the motions. Keeping up appearances and nothing more.

We were at a dance club. It was dark, the heavy bass music rumbled through my chest.

He wanted to come here, to celebrate our engagement, and his job promotion.

I thought it was kind of lame, but it was the place we went to on our first date, so I agreed.

Stupid.

So stupid.

I worked at a bar. Why would I want to go to one on my night off?

He left his smart phone on the table. I looked as a text message flashed on the screen and my stomach dropped. It was from Paul. The man he said he wasn’t in contact with anymore. I couldn’t believe what he just texted him. It was so…lude.

Son of a bitch.

He lied.

About everything.

He came back.

Tears blurred my vision when I saw him.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

I threw his phone at him. He saw the message and went pale. I could see it when the flashing moving lights in the club hit his face. He was terrified.

“I know,” I said, voice quavering.

“I can explain.”

“No. You can’t. Because I figured it out. You lied. You’ve been lying to me. For months now. And for what? Huh? I can’t believe I was going to drop everything and move out of state with you. We even bought a house together! What the fuck is wrong with you?

“I’m sorry.” He sounded so afraid, dejected, alarmed. “Please. Forgive me. I’ll do anything. Anything. Just don’t do this. Please.”

 I hated seeing that heartbroken look on his face, but I couldn’t do it anymore. I just couldn’t.

“We’re done.”

“What?”

“I can’t. I can’t do this anymore.”

He kept trying to talk and took my hand and I screamed at him and we were making a scene and I was sobbing and he looked so small and embarrassed and I didn’t care.

I just didn’t fucking care anymore.

He ruined it. He ruined us.

I ran.

I ran and ran and pushed my way through the crowd, to get away from him.

I couldn’t. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to. But it was true. The whole time. My suspicions. My jealousy. They weren’t unfounded. I was right.

How could he do this to us? To me?

How can you say you love someone so much, and then go and do that?

My chest ached. I was sobbing and running and not paying attention to where I was going. I pushed my way through the crowd in the club, could hear him calling after me as I reached the door and rushed outside.

It was hot and muggy out and I hated summers here.

Why the hell did I come to California? Why was I so naive?

I shoved through the line outside, through the crowded street, not caring who I pissed off.

Some big guy tried to pick a fight with me until he saw that I was sobbing like a baby and he just didn’t have it in him to punch me. He just turned and acted like nothing had happened and I would’ve given anything for someone to hurt me so that the pain in my chest eased.

Anything, to get it to stop hurting so damn much.

I was so stupid.

So very, very stupid.

He didn’t love me. He didn’t love anyone.

I wasn’t good enough for him. I wasn’t enough.

“Jonah! Wait!” Mal rushed after me, kept calling my name.

“Leave me alone! I never want to speak to you again!

I ran away. I kept running. I didn’t want to talk to him. I didn’t want to see him. I didn’t want to have anything to do with him ever again.

I ran into the alleyway to get around the foot traffic and didn’t pay attention.

Didn’t care that the street lights were out and the shadows in the alley didn’t look quite right. Didn’t see that the lights were smashed out on purpose and that the glass littered the ground, nor did I see that someone tall and lanky and barefooted and dirty was standing in my way.

I ran right into them, muttered an apology and went to push past them and they grabbed me by the shoulders and lifted me straight up off the pavement.

Panicked I looked down and saw that I was being held up by a woman.

A tall, lanky woman with stringy hair black as death, her skin pale white alabaster.

Her eyes.

My God.

They were red. Blood red and shining like the moon.

Her mouth opened and her jaw extended like a snake’s and I saw row after row of sharp serrated triangle teeth and I screamed and tried to get out of her long fingered, clawed hands but they dug in hard, raked through my flesh.

Stop,” I said, my voice small, weak, shaking. I was scared. I had never been so scared in my life.

“You smell delicious,” she said and licked my neck and my blood ran cold.

“Let me go!” I screamed and kicked at her and she slammed me into the brick wall of one of the buildings that lined the alleyway and I saw stars, tasted blood. Bile rose in my throat. I threw up.

She made a disgusted sound and tossed me down onto the pavement and my head bounced off of it and I lay there stunned, whimpering. Scared but unable to move as she pounced on me, ripped my shirt collar wider and sank her sharp teeth into my neck and bit down hard and ripped the skin right off, bit right through the arteries and blood sprayed everywhere and I screamed and screamed and thrashed and tried to get free but I couldn’t.

She drank and sighed and kept drinking her fill, petting my head with a long fingered hand and I shuddered as all my strength left me. Felt piss run down my leg as my bowels let go. My eyes rolled back in my head, everything was dimming. The world had gone monochrome.

My body was limp and cold and I couldn’t move.

I was dying.

I could feel myself slipping away.

And it terrified me.

I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want to go. Even if my life was shit, even if I was crying and he broke my heart, it wasn’t worth dying over. I wanted the pain to stop, but not like this. Not like this.

“Please,” I said weakly. “I don’t want to die.”

“Here,” she said. “Drink of my blood. Become mine. I will take care of you.”

She lifted up my head, it lolled back, she pried open my mouth, cut open her wrist with a razor sharp nail and forced a blob of thick foul-tasting blood out of the wound and into my mouth. She made me swallow.

I gagged but she kept my mouth shut until I had swallowed all of it.

It burned on the way down.

I gasped and cried out and she kept making me drink more and more of it.

I shivered. I was cold and my stomach was on fire.

“Now you’re mine,” she said. She sounded happy. Like a cat playing with a mouse that it was about to devour. “What’s your name little one?” her voice reverberated in my head. She was talking directly into my brain.

“Jonah,” I said and coughed.

“Jonah?” she asked and sounded surprised. “You can still talk?”

“Yes.”

“Interesting,” she said and loomed over me, watched me close. For what, I didn’t know.

I felt the wound on my neck scab over, harden, just like that. I stopped bleeding. I was slowly dragging myself away from her on weak and shaking arms.

My body was heavy and numb.

Everything hurt.

And yet, I couldn’t stop thinking about him.

I yelled at him. He did something. Something awful. Broke my heart.

Why did it hurt so much? Why did I love him?

“What is that nonsense you are thinking?” she asked.

“He hurt me, but…I think I still love him.”

“Pathetic. You shouldn’t be thinking about anyone but me now. I own you. I own your body and mind. It’s mine now. Mine!” she said and kicked me hard in the ribs.

I cried out in pain and curled up in a ball and shuddered. I could smell the piss that soaked my shorts. I could smell the sweat and musky sex of the gay men in the crowd in front of the club a few streets over. Their lust was strong, almost overwhelming.

She knelt by me, lifted my head, tried to make me look at her face, but I couldn’t. My eyes were looking up towards the night sky.

I couldn’t stop thinking about him.

He broke my heart. He was all I had, and he didn’t even want me.

No one did.

“Who is that? Who are you thinking about?

I murmured something.

“What?”

“I don’t…”

“Don’t what?”

“I don’t remember his name,” I sounded sad, weak, sick. Tired.

“He doesn’t matter anymore. Only I do,” she said. “Only Mullo matters now.”

“No. No. He matters. He’s important. I know him. I know his name. I know I do!”

“If I tell you who he is, will you stop this obsession and come with us?”

I couldn’t say.

Fire ants crawled into my ears and bite my brain, skull on fire.

I’m on fire!

She slapped me hard.

Once.

Twice.

Three times.

Ringing in my ears.

“What is wrong with you? Do you not understand? You obey me. I am your queen! I made you! You are mine!”

“No. No. Never yours. Never. Only…only…” Whose? Whose am I? I know the answer. I know it. I know I do. I just can’t…fuck. What was it?

She laughed. Nail grating across chalkboard in my ears. I shuddered.

“You poor thing. So confused. You aren’t like the others, and you aren’t clever like I am. You’re so dumb. So forgetful. So lost. You’re my lost little lamb. I slaughtered you, and yet even still, you won’t come home to feed. Why?”

“Shut up. I’ll remember. I know it. I know the answer. I know who it is. It’s…”

“What? Whose are you then? That human’s? The one who broke you? Him? Don’t be stupid. You can’t go back to him. You’re dying. Soon you shall be dead, and then wake up as one of us. And when he sees you, well, he’ll know that you died. Just look at you, you’re a mess.”

“No. No, I’m not dead. Not dead!”

“I know. There, there. It’s all right,” she cooed, tried to wrap her long thin arms around me.

So cold.

Shivering.

Everything was spinning out of control. Upside down. My world was upside down and burning to ashes. I had to get away from her. I had to find…him? Who is the man she spoke of?

I shoved her away.

“Leave me alone!”

“That’s no way to treat your mother.”

“I might be crazy, and I might not remember anything, but I do know that you aren’t my mom. And you certainly don’t give a fuck about me. You just want to control me, like you control them. I’m not stupid. Just…missing information. I have amnesia or some shit. It’ll come back to me. It will. I know it.” Did I? Did I know? Or was I just lying to myself?

She laughed again. My pain, it amused her.

“Is that so?”

“Leave me alone.”

“Or what? You are so incredibly ungrateful, you little whelp. Without me, you wouldn’t even exist right now. I could’ve killed you. But I blessed you with un-life. You are so much more than you used to be.”

“LIES! Lies lies lies lies lies!”

She went to say something and paused. Looked around and made an aggravated sound.

“We shall finish this later,” she said.

My vision went in and out and when I looked again, she was running away. I could see her perfectly in the pitch black alleyway, and tried to focus but couldn’t.

Half blind, I staggered to my feet and shuffled over to a fire escape ladder and scaled it and moved across the roof top.  

He lied.

He lied to me.

He lied and everything was shit and I didn’t want to die, and she did something to me. Something horrible.

I blacked out, and when I came to I saw my hand on a door knob and my vision went out again.

 

Promises, promises.

I promise to break you. I promise to take care of you. I promise to love you.

Promises are broken.

Like bones

Like glass

Shattered dreams

Splintered wood in my chest.

Splintered hope in my heart.

The dead have no hope

Hope is for the living

Like taxes

Or bank accounts

Or liver

Vacations

Cars

Homes

Lives

Dreams Broken

 

Shards of brilliantly colored glass fall

Cut into me

Through me

But that’s not what hurts.

It’s his love that hurts.

His love.

 

Cut out his heart and eat it

Eat

Food

Right there

“No! Nooo! Stop! What are you doing?” Food screamed at me. Flailed about. Picked it up like rag doll, tossed it out onto the floor. Pulled open a drawer.

Arms on fire. Head on fire. Eyes on fire. Legs like lead. Need to feed. Food tastes better when it’s scared.

Teeth like knives to cut into the food’s pretty pale flesh. So juicy. So tender. So tasty.

I gorged myself and collapsed on the cold concrete floor and passed out.

I was lying on a dirty rug on the floor of an empty house. Face down, blood dried and crusted on my shirt.

My head pounded.

What happened?

I don’t remember.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t remember.

There was nothing there. Just a blank spot.

My heart ached.

I felt like I had lost someone important, but I couldn’t recall who it was.

Everything hurt. Everything. Too much pain, couldn’t think straight.

It was day out.

I stood up, and the sharp light of the sun shining through the window slapped me hard and it burned. It burned!

The skin on my arms, neck and face bubbled, smoked and burst into flames. I screamed and dropped to the floor, rolled the fire out and crawled to another door, saw that it opened to a flight of stairs and crawled down into the basement.

Sobbing, in throbbing, burning pain, I curled up in a ball on the dirt floor.

The seared flesh on my body still felt like it was on fire, even though I knew that the flames were put out.

It was awful, but it hurt nowhere near as bad as the rest of my body did. I was wracked with horrible burning pain. Like the blood in my veins was replaced with acid.

I was scared.

Never been so scared in my life.

I don’t want to die. I don’t. But this pain. It’s just too much. It’s all too much.

Why did he have to do that?

Do what? What did he do?

Who am I remembering? Who is that?

What is his name?

I don’t even remember what I said to him, but my heart was breaking. Everything had shattered into a million pieces, and no one would ever be able to put me back together again.

Maybe if I could find a way out to the street, someone would see me, take me…to that place. The place where they help you when you’re hurt.

What is the name of that?

Why can’t I remember? It’s a simple word. A child would know it.

Darkness, dizzy, body burning inside, like I swallowed fire.

Maybe I did.

It hurt. It hurt so much.

I couldn’t focus.

My vision scattered. The walls of the room fell away, their edges black and pulsing, writhing shadows at the corners of my vision turning into tendrils of darkness that churned and slithered and crawled towards me.

My mind was tearing apart. The tendrils of shadow slammed into my head, gripped onto my brain and ripped it to shreds. I felt names and dates get yanked out of my grasp, memories torn away from my mind forever.

I was missing time.

I couldn’t recall how I got there, where I was the night before, who I was with, other than the fact that he hurt me, and I cried and then she attacked me and did something awful to me.

Where am I?

I need help.

It hurts!

Won’t someone help me?

Won’t they hear my screams?

Am I screaming? Is that me?

Yes, that’s me.

It was such a primal, hoarse, horrible sound escaping my lips. It scared me. Hell, everything did. I was not myself. I could feel it. I was slipping away, sliding into this darkness that was enveloping my mind. Losing myself, with no way out. Drowning in madness and sorrow.

I was crying and screaming and my body burned.

My tears were tinged black, like ink from a fountain pen.

She was waiting for me in the alleyway. She was waiting. I remembered that.

She made me…oh God. She made me drink her blood. Thick black foul smelling shit that oozed out of a wound she sliced in her wrist with a sharp finger nail.

And now? Whispers. Whispers all around. They won’t shut up. They won’t.

“SHUT UP!” I screamed over and over, curled up tighter into a ball, hands over my ears. Tears cold, falling down my cheeks.

How could they be so cold if my body is burning up? 

Nothing made any sense anymore. Nothing.

I was falling apart, the puzzle pieces swept off the table with an angry hand, my mind scrambled eggs.

My stomach felt like I swallowed shards of glass and razor blades, my chest was heavy, it was hard to breath; throat tight, arms, legs and back screamed with searing pain.

I was dying.

I could feel myself slipping away into the nothingness.

I clung to myself, arms wrapped tight around my torso, curled up in a ball, terrified, saying over and over, “I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die,” as if it would keep me here forever.

My jaw ached, my head was pounding, vision turning red, stomach growling.

I was hungry.

So very hungry.

Wait…that smell. Delicious food. Close. Very close. Need to eat.

My teeth grew longer and sharp. I licked my lips.

My mouth watered.

My stomach growled.

My body shook.

I was weak.

Sun went down. Not sure where the time went, but the smell…distracting. Hunger. Need to feed. Need to eat. NOW.

Shaking I crawled up the stairs. There was a junkie huddled against the wall, trying to shoot up with heroin. Didn’t hear me scramble on all fours over to him, didn’t react until I grabbed his filthy jacket and shoved him down, his scream cut short as I ripped out his throat with my teeth, mouth drenched in blood. Hot, delicious, so velvety smooth. I shuddered, eyes rolled back in my head.

Fuck that was good. I swallowed and the pain in my stomach vanished.

More! Need more!

I took my time and drank my fill, then dragged the body downstairs, ripped off its clothes and started eating. It was delicious. Like a rare steak or pork loin. The more I ate, the more the pain left, and the easier it was to think.

After a while, I realized that I wasn’t eating rare steak, I was eating a person. A person!

Horrified, disgusted, I threw the arm I was working on across the room, backed away from the shredded remains of the body until I hit a wall and turned my back to it, looked at my hands.

It was dark down there, but I could see perfectly fine. I was covered in blood, and it smelled so good.

“What the fuck? What the fuck is wrong with me?”

“Nothing.” An answer in my head. A woman’s voice, loud, deafening.

I jerked and looked around.

“Who’s there?”

“No one. Just you, and me, and that dead man over there that you’ve been eating for a few hours.”

“A few hours?”

A laugh, a horrible, hate-filled sound.

“Jonah, come. It’s time for you to join us.”

“No. No. This isn’t right. I need to go home, I need to find…”

Who? Who would be waiting for me? Someone is. I know it. I know his name. I know I do. What is it? Who is that man? He’s waiting for me. Right?

Her mocking laughter bounced around in my skull.

A cold pit grew in my stomach and I sank to the floor in despair, hugged my knees to my chest. My jeans were so filthy. No shoes, bare feet.

“Jonah, come. We wait for you. Once you join us, we shall leave this city and move north. There’s a good place for us there. Too many smart humans here. They’ll hunt you down, kill you.”

“You’re not real. You’re not. You’re just a voice in my head. I’ve completely lost my mind. Something happened. Someone slipped a drug in my drink or…”

“I bit you. I bit you and made you mine.”

“No. No, I…” My hand went up to the wound on my neck. The scab was shrinking, disappearing under my hand, completely healing over as I touched it. “What the hell? That wasn’t possible. That’s not how it works.”

“Blood is life. Blood heals. Blood cures all your ills now. Nothing else matters. Just blood. Human blood. Nothing else will work.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Aw, poor thing. Come to Mullo, come to Mother. All will be explained.”

“Oh, hell no. I’m not listening to a voice in my head. This is crazy.”

“Is it?”

She had to be close. I could sense it. I could feel her looming presence pressing tight against my skin. She had a string tied around my heart. Invisible, but there. If I got too close, she’d reach right in and squeeze it with a bare hand. She’d crush it and all of my will would be gone. I’d live for no one but her.  

And I wanted nothing to do with her.

Nothing.

She hurt me. Tried to kill me. She made me drink her blood. She didn’t care about me. I was just another pawn to her. Another puppet to manipulate and nothing more.

“I have to get home, I have to get help. I just need to find him. He’ll help me. He always helps me. He loves me.”

“No. Humans will kill you. Look at what you did. You think they will let you get away with it? They’re nothing more than food to you now. FOOD. Now get moving, before someone finds you there and tries to lock you up.”

This was wrong. So wrong. I needed a phone, a car, something. Anything. I had to get away. I had to put some distance between myself and that feeling of being pulled under and drowning. That is what she felt like, pressing against my back. The cold, black deep waters of the abyss.

I knew that she was nearby. It was as though if I closed my eyes and focused, I could walk right to her, follow the invisible pull she had on me. But, I wasn’t going to do that. No way in hell was I going to do that.

“Come here Jonah! I am losing my patience.”

“No.” I gritted my teeth. Her voice thundered in my head, it hurt my ears, even though there was no sound.

It didn’t make sense. But I knew, I just knew staying here would make it easier for her to dig her claws into me, for her to control me. I wasn’t going to let her do that. That would be disastrous.

My instincts screamed at me to run away as fast and as far as I could, until I couldn’t feel her presence anymore.

She was right.

Someone would eventually find the pool of blood on the floor upstairs.

I was a messy eater.

And still hungry.

The thought of more food made me drool. I wiped it off my chin, looked at the cold, black gooey saliva on the back of my hand and grimaced.

That wasn’t right.

It should be clear, and it wasn’t.

Did I bite myself? Is that my blood?

I felt around my mouth with my tongue. Yes…there were several gouges where my sharp teeth dug holes into my cheeks. They were bleeding. I didn’t notice the taste until I probed at one with my tongue.

I gagged.

My blood, it was revolting, like eating raw sewage.

I spit and wiped at my tongue, but the taste wouldn’t leave.

I spotted the arm. There. Across the room. I ran to it and ripped off a chunk of flesh and chewed, sighing in relief. It was the most delicious thing I had ever tasted.

And it came from a human being.

Was I still human?

“No.” A voice whispered, guttural, deep but not hers though. Sounded like my voice, but raspy and monstrous. Not anymore. But you know what you are. You know it in your bones.

“No. Please. Anything but that,” I whispered. “Please.”

“They’re here,” the voice in my head said. Better move or you’ll die.”

“Who’s here?”

Scratching on the walls of the basement. On the other side of the concrete blocks. Digging, dozens of clawed hands digging.

A myriad of voices, a chorus of hate in my head,“Coming for you. Time to take you to our queen.” 

“Shit!”

I ran.

Dropped the arm and booked it, scrambled up the stairs and out into the night. The streetlights and car headlights were blinding. I ran down the sidewalk, zipping through back alleys, running faster than I ever could before. The scenery just blurring past me. It felt great. I felt so…alive.

The night air smelled wonderful and horrible at the same time. So many scents, like I had never breathed in air before.

People, so many people, dogs, cats, birds, hell, even the earthworms beneath my feet I could smell. Felt if I focused and concentrated, I could hear them digging down there.

Digging. Digging. Digging. They’re digging.

They’re after me!

Run!

Run, run, run, run, run! Don’t look back!

They are coming.

I can hear them, scratching at the walls, digging through the earth, whispering, chanting my name. Telling me they were going to take me to HER. She was going to make me do things, horrible things if I didn’t behave.

I kept running, but no matter where I went, rooftops, highway, it didn’t matter.

They kept up easily.

“Stop running,” they said, a chorus of voices, nails on chalkboard screeching in my head.

Were they even real? Was I going crazy?

I didn’t want to stop to find out.

The night was getting old. The sun…the sun. It burned me. Set my skin on fire like cigarette paper.

I didn’t want to feel that again. It hurt too damned much. Even if it did heal up fast after I ate that druggie, it wasn’t something I wanted to experience ever again.

My limbs grew tired, I felt sluggish, drained, as the sun’s first blush hit the cloudy summer skies.

Panic choked me and I realized that I had no idea where I was. I was running blind.

I had left the city.

Left somethingsomeone important behind. And it filled me with such an overwhelming sadness that a sob caught in my throat. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think.

But, I had to hide. The sun was rising. I had to find shelter, before I went up in flames.

I dove into an abandoned factory building, found the darkest, lowest corner and pressed my back against the cold concrete wall. Hugged my knees to my chest and hyperventilated.

What was wrong with me?

What happened?

Why did I run?

Who was that man? Why does it hurt so damn much whenever I try to remember his name?

I could see his face. His eyes, arrogant one minute, full of sorrow and regret the next. Brown eyes. He had brown eyes. So beautiful. And soft skin and warm hands.

But what was his name?

My mind raced, my chest heaved, I felt light headed and nauseous.

Scratching, scratching, scratching in my ears.

Goosebumps raised on my arms when I realized that it wasn’t just in my head.

Something, a whole bunch of somethings, were digging, scraping claws across concrete blocks, effortlessly breaking off chunks as they frenetically tunneled and tried to reach me. They weren’t tiring. They were pushed by her.

I could feel Mullo. She was near. Her presence felt like a black cold oil slick on my skin that squeezed tighter and tighter until I couldn’t move. I was frozen with fear and dread.

A hand punched through the wall by my head.

I bolted away. The wall crumbled as multiple inhumanely strong fists broke through it.

I looked back.

I shouldn’t have.

Hundreds of pairs of red glowing eyes, pale flesh…monsters that used to be people. But now, they were her puppets; her brood, their thoughts and movements shaped by her, as though invisible strings drove them, made them crawl, hiss, growl and drool as they poured out into the factory and surrounded me.  

I could see the dangerous golden rays of the sun. The row of windows near the ceiling were grimy but still let in the morning light. It was a gentle glow. Before, I would’ve found comforting. But now, it hurt my eyes. Made me wince. I didn’t like it. It was death to me now.

Her drones were all around me. Other dead, yet not dead things that used to be human. Fanged mouths, clawed hands and feet. Most in tattered clothes, covered in dirt, caked on mud and dried blood. They smelled foul. It was disgusting.

I didn’t want them to touch me.

I flinched away from grabbing hands, shoved them back when they got too close.

Screamed at them, “The sun! You stupid fucks! It’ll get you too!”

I heard a woman laugh, it made my blood run cold.

Wait.

Did I still have blood?

“No,” a dark gravely voice said from a throat ragged from swallowing broken glass. It was in my head. “Not any more.”

It was my voice, but not my voice. It was darker, bitter, more vicious and cruel.

I waved it away from my head, an invisible buzzing insect.

“Don’t try to talk to them. They do what I want. Anything I say, they do. They’ll be fine in here, as long as they stay away from the sun’s touch.”

It was her.

“Mullo,” I said.

The others grew agitated. Piled a top me.

I screamed as they bit my arms and legs and sides. I thrashed and kicked and desperately clawed, trying to get away from them.

It was no use.

Their teeth burned as they sank into my flesh, popped me open like a water balloon. Black sludge seeped from my wounds. They made disgusted sounds, but kept biting, even though they didn’t want to. Even though they were repulsed, they did it. Because she told them to. She was cruel. She wanted us all to suffer.

She hated everything.

They did too, and yet, they loved her for it. Because she made them.

But not me.

Not me.

No, I hated her. I hated her so much.

Stop,”she said and they paused. Ice cold hands and slimy cool mouths on my skin, not moving. Set him down. Slow.

Her voice loud in my head. So loud. It hurt. Felt like I’d go deaf if I listened too much.

Mullo stepped up. I could see her dirty bare feet with elongated, clawed toes. She had large feet, for a woman. Everything about her was big. She had to be over six feet tall.

The once white dress she wore was now gray charcoal from muck, mire, and tar oil blood.

She loomed over me, scraggly hair limp on her head. Black as pitch, almost forming matted dreadlocks. Almost.

Her over-sized mouth was full of jagged shark teeth. Not human. Not human at all. And her eyes, burning full of hate, bright blood red orbs peering through the darkness.

“Jonah. Why did you run? You can’t escape. You are mine now. Mine.”

“Fuck off lady. You don’t own me. No one does.”

She smiled and knelt by me. The others instantly moved aside when she stepped up.

“Now, now. That’s no way to talk to your savior.”

“You didn’t save me from shit.”

“Oh? You were running. You ran right into my arms, sobbing. You wanted to end it all. So I did. I ended your pain. You wanted to get away, so I helped you. You’re free from your dull mortal existence. You can shed the skin of humanity and join your rightful place in my brood. Be a favored child even. You are so much stronger than the others. You can join me, and Walker, and the three of us can rule the night, forever. Humanity stands no chance with you by my side, my little Jonah.”

I could feel her mind shoving red hot probing fingers into my own head and I cringed and pushed off her brood and scrambled to my feet.

“No. I’ll never join you.”

“Oh? But, you already have. I made you one of us. Now come, let us go back to the nest to sleep away the day. No need for more hostility. Just do what you are told and they won’t be forced to hurt you again.”

I didn’t move a muscle.

This wasn’t right. I couldn’t go with her. If I did, everything would be lost.

“Jonah. Come. Before I lose my temper.”

“No.”

“What did you say?”

“No. I won’t go with you. I’m not one of your brood. Won’t ever be one of yours. I’d rather die than be a puppet.”

“But, I am your queen. They are your siblings now.”

“Bull. You’re a monster. And I won’t be a part of your ‘family.’ Why chase me? Why attack? No…you don’t care about me. You’re like all the others. You want to control and manipulate and lie to me. Like he did. You’re just. Like. Him!”

Thick black blood oozed of the bites on my body and plopped heavily on the floor. It smelled so bad, I wanted to puke.

I could see a slice of sunlight cutting across the floor. In about an hour, it’d be right where she stood. But, there was no way I could stall her that long.

“Jonah! Come! Now!”

“Never!” I screamed.

Her hold on my mind was like a vice grip. My knees buckled and I cried out in pain and dropped to the floor.

“If you won’t join us, then you can stay here and burn. Maybe tomorrow you’ll be more agreeable. After you’ve forgotten more about your former life.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“You didn’t want to remember. You wanted to forget him. What he did to you. I gave that to you. Devoured your mind. You should thank me.”

“No…no. That’s not true! It’s not!”

“It isn’t,” that gravely voice from deep inside said to me. “She lies.”

Mullo screamed in wordless rage as the sun grew stronger and light flooded the factory room. Her brood scattered, running back into the tunnels they dug. I ran as far as could away from them, down to the other side of the building.

“I will get you Jonah. You will obey me. I conquered Walker’s mind, I shall enslave you as well.”

“I don’t know who the hell you are talking about, and I don’t care. Just leave me the hell alone.”

“You’ll forget soon enough. You’ll forget everything and become nothing more than a mindless animal. And when that happens., I’ll own you!” she seethed at the tunnel entrance.

I was at the other side of the large open factory room. She’d have to run through swatches of sunlight now.

I could feel my skin start to sizzle and pop. The sun wasn’t even up all the way and it burned me.

I saw that I was by a door.

“I’d rather catch fire, than go with you,” I spat and broke down the door and ran out into the morning light. Grinding my teeth as I started smoldering. I made it halfway to the next building before I collapsed and flames engulfed me.

It hurt so much and I don’t know why but I laughed and laughed and laughed as I crawled under a rusted out abandoned car and blacked out.

 

I heard slithering, black ridged tendrils, like leeches, crawled over me. I was falling, falling, falling and beneath me there was a huge maw, bright white arches of shark’s teeth, like a bear trap waiting to snap down on me and cut me in half, ensnare me and make me drown on the liquid darkness.

No matter how much I tried to move away from it, I kept falling straight down into it. The teeth snapped down on me, pain shot through my torso and I screamed and screamed as red blood flowed out of me.

I could see faces, memories, scenes playing out in my blood, and it all slipped out of my hands. I couldn’t shovel it back into my body, no matter how hard I tried. I was bleeding out my life. My memories, my personality, everything that made me, me. It was all falling away.

And that is when I heard it.

His voice.

The voice of the one that I loved.

“Jonah. Where are you?”

 

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