Tag Archives: fiction

Of The Night by Mark Simmons

Hello all,

It’s been a while.

Time for a shameless plug of my debut novel: Of The Night.

Available from:

AMAZON UK:
 AMAZON USA:

Whitfield Creed had never been one to believe in such things as luck. Yet when he wakes to find he’s hung from a meat hook, in a warehouse, he can’t help but feel his luck may have run out.

A chance meeting with the wrong people immerses Whitfield in an underworld that he had presumed to be no more than folklore. Yet these creatures exist and with eternal life have manipulated mankind from the shadows through the millennia’s.

Trying to come to terms with the way these creatures occupy their eternity Whitfield must live amongst their ranks. With the elders of this ancient society bickering with one another and the constant threat of execution hanging over his head he must try to survive. Whilst also accepting his own immortality.

Of The Night is the debut horror novel by Mark Simmons and is a Tour De force of thrills and scares that will leave the reader breathless and begging for the morning.

Hope you enjoy.

M.

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Censoring a Book Cover?

So what are the grounds for censoring a book cover according to Amazon?

A question that is asked by Rayne Hall in the below guest article.

Please read and share this information.

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Amazon’s censors find this book cover offensive.

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Yes, you’ve read this right. I was as astonished as you when I received the email. I had to read it several times before I grasped that they meant it. A quick glance at the calendar assured me that the first of April was well past.

Amazon gave no explanation beyond a vague reference to guidelines, and when I asked for one, I received only silence.

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The book has been published since 2013. with this cover, and been part of several promotions and advertising campaigns on Amazon. The censors didn’t voice an objection when I submitted to book for publication, and they accepted it for promotion and advertising campaigns… until now.

Suddenly, they’ve clamped down and refused.

I read and re-read the guidelines for covers Amazon deems acceptable. I see no rule against pictures of dolls, or against the colours orange and blue, or against the Oregon font. So what rule could this possibly offend against?

When I tweeted about this, everyone responded with the same bafflement.

Tweets

So what triggered the censors? It must be one of these.

1. Perhaps the cover is not “high quality, professional, and visually appealing”? I think the painting by artist Xteve Abanto meets all three criteria, but perhaps I’m mistaken – what do you think?

2. Maybe the text is not “easily understandable to the average customer”? It doesn’t strike me as difficult to understand the words “Thirty Scary Tales”. but maybe Amazon rates its customers’ intelligence lower than I do?

3. The fact that the cover depicts a doll may have triggered a censor’s dirty imagination, conjuring up fantasies of adult toys. The doll’s parted lips might qualify as “poses that may be suggestive of sexual behavior”.

4. Perhaps Amazon uses robots to censor books?

The automated scan may identified the doll’s head as a human face with the high forehead, small nose and large eyes of a child and flagged it up as “Images of human or animal abuse, mistreatment, or distress”. But would Amazon allow a robot to censor a book without a human taking a closer look first?

5. Maybe it was an honest mistake by a human censor who was over-tired, barely able to keep his or her eyes open that day, whose exhausted brain saw something that wasn’t there. But if that was the case, surely Amazon would have replied to my query with an apology and corrected the error at once… at least I would hope so.

6. “Foul, vulgar, or obscene language” – perhaps the word “tales” is vulgar? Or maybe “thirty” has an obscene meaning that I’m not aware of?

7. The rules forbid “excessive blood, injuries, mutilations, guts, corpses, and weapons being used in a violent or threatening manner” – maybe the cracks in the doll’s head are so much more gruesome than the axe-split human skulls on thousands of other covers?

8. Images hinting at “sensitive topics such as hormonal development or changes” are forbidden. Could it be that the censor thinks the crack in the doll’s face and the open eye are caused by hormones?

Rejection

So far, Amazon hasn’t banned my book, only refused to advertise it. Readers can still buy it on Amazon for 99c. viewBook.at/30ScaryTales

But I’m concerned that this may only be the first step. Amazon may remove the book from sale next – and after that, those of other indie authors.

I’m hoping that if we protest loudly enough, and spread the word in the social media, Amazon will reconsider not only this particular book cover, but its approach to censorship.

What do you think is the reason for Amazon’s censorship of this cover – one of the eight possibilities I’ve thought of, or something else altogether? Do you personally find it offensive?

I’ll be grateful if you could share this post on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere.

Rayne

——

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Rayne Hall has published more than fifty books in several languages under several pen names with several publishers in several genres, mostly fantasy, horror and non-fiction. She is the author of the bestselling Writer’s Craft series (Writing Fight Scenes, Writing Scary Scenes, Writing About Villains, Writing About Magic and more) and editor of the Ten Tales short story anthologies.

She is a trained publishing manager, holds a Masters degree in Creative Writing, and has worked in the publishing industry for over thirty years.

Having lived in Germany, China, Mongolia and Nepal, she has now settled in a small dilapidated town of former Victorian grandeur on the south coast of England where she enjoys reading, gardening and long walks along the seashore. She shares her home with a black cat adopted from the cat shelter. Sulu likes to lie on the desk and snuggle into Rayne’s arms when she’s writing.

You can follow here on Twitter http://twitter.com/RayneHall where she posts advice for writers, funny cartoons and cute pictures of her cat.

To see her books on Amazon, go to viewAuthor.at/RayneHall .

——-

“Update”

At last, someone at Amazon responded. Three weeks of trying to get a statement from the advertising department or any other part of Amazon had brought only silence. After three weeks, an email addressed to Jeff Bezos finally brought a reply from the Executive Customer Department:

> In this case, your ad was not approved because a general audience may find the cover image for “Thirty Scary Tales” to be violent or disturbing.<

Huh? A doll’s head is too violent or disturbing? For readers of horror fiction?

What do you think? Can the general audience browsing horror books on Amazon cope with seeing cracks in the head of a doll?

Whaling in the 19th Century.

And Ahab stands alone among the millions of the peopled earth, nor gods nor men his neighbours!

HERMAN MELVILLE

Whaling in the 19th Century


About seven weeks ago I signed up to become a member of a Nantucket Whaling vessel called the Pequod with the intention of sailing about a little and seeing the watery part of the world. A man from Toulouse whom I had befriended a few months before I set sail had taken a similar voyage and had recommended that if I had nothing else to do with my time I should take up a comparable trip. Previous conversations I had held with companions over taking on such a challenge had swayed me away from the idea as they called it a most tedious of vacations. Now this decision was not made on a whim. I had looked into the matter a number of years before but bad press and the advice of others had kept my temptation at bay. The first hand opinions of this same said Frenchman changed that decision and before long I was sailing out of Massachusetts into the Atlantic Ocean.

I knew that it was going to be a long and sometimes laborious journey but instead of struggling through my time on board I embraced the adventure and before I had had a chance to reconsider my actions I had already completed one fifth of my charter. My time was spent at within this period in the company of a fellow called Ishmael who was also signing up for his first Whaling trip but by no means his maiden voyage as he would gale me with stories of how he had himself come to be afloat. The highlight of his tales being how he befriended a Harpooner from one of the South Pacific Islands despite their differences on deities and military victory celebrations. Queequeg was the man’s name a fine specimen and a greater swimmer I never be met, in the prime of his life and of a tall athletic build his dark skin covered in the tattoos of his people. Yet the words on everyone’s lips were of the whereabouts of our Captain as his appearance from below deck had yet to happen.

Once we reached the deep oceans though all talk and speculation was disregarded as constant tasks presented themselves and required my complete attention, mainly the studying of the various types of prey that we would be hunting all over this blue carpet of the world. Soon I was up to speed with the many variations of these leviathans that rise to the surface and share the same air as us inferiorly sized apes. Not just their appearance and levels of aggression were taught to me but also the value of their bodies after our crew had successfully hunted and farmed them. The one species that held the highest price above all others and due to this had become the most hunted was the mighty Sperm Whale. Spermaceti is found in the head cavity of Cachalot and it is this substance that has become big business as it is used to fuel the lamps that illuminate our growing society.

I am not a squeamish man but even my strong stomach could not prepare me for the first time I saw the methods for removing the highly valued substance from these majestic creatures. Even now I cannot go into the details of it as the systematic slaughter and butchery haunts me still.

When the call came and the hunting began we finally met our leader as Captain Ahab stepped out onto his deck. He was a man lost in his own cause and by no means someone who would be call approachable, but his intentions were made very clear to everyone that he was hunting a very specific whale, one that had taken his leg and almost his life on his last voyage. The White Whale named Moby Dick.

The crew gave the old Captain little regard at first but once he nailed a Gold Doubloon to the mast and announced that the first man to raise the aforementioned Whale would receive the affixed 8 Ecuadorian Escudos they paired more attention to what he had to say.

We hunted and hunted and then hunted again.

Supply and demand of Spermaceti has flooded the oceans with ships and judging by my experience of how many our crew alone slaughtered the animal may soon be in trouble of sharing the same fate as other creatures of similar size. To see such an amazing creature taken from us completely would be a travesty but inevitability if they are hunted with this continued intensity.

Adverse weather greeted us in the Pacific Ocean as a Typhoon nearly tore us apart and we lost a man amongst the maelstrom. This was treated as a bad omen by the crew but a storm could not quench Ahab’s thirst for revenge, neither could the faces of men who had fought and lost to the white beast passing by in other ships. We met two vessels that had been defeated by the monster and both painted a sullen picture. Until finally the day came and the object of Ahab’s obsession rose from the depths to finish what it had started with his leg to which the crews manned their boats, descended into the water and the chase was on.

For three days we gave chase to Moby Dick and in that time there was a series of failures, including the wrecking of a boat and the death of a shipmate but a harpoon was landed into the hulk of the creature landed by Ahab himself but his rage now became all-consuming as more than ever his hatred for the whale forced him to act blindly without regard to his crew.

Finally the chase came to its conclusion as Moby Dick drew Ahab and all his forces in close before he smote the starboard side of the Pequod with the buttress of his giant forehead. My own ears heard the waters pour in through the breach and my eyes soon saw the damage as the ship quickly sunk down towards its aquatic end and as the cold swept in around me the vessel’s bulk pulled me down into a final descent.

Yet now I look up through the murk towards the great shroud of the sea rolling on as it has for thousands of years.


Viewer

Viewer


Detective Inspector Walter Bambridge stepped past two uniformed officers into the room cast in darkness that had until recently been someone’s home but was now nothing more than a crime scene. A rank odour greeted him as he passed over the threshold, not the usual reek of death that after five years on homicide he still couldn’t get use to, but the smell of grease and left over food. To his right a tiny space that could hardly be called a kitchen seemed to be the cause of the unpleasant fragrance as piles of dirty dishes flooded out of the sink and across every surface. The hallway continued on past the kitchen and Walter paused at what looked like a door but as he looked closer it became apparent to him that it was in fact a set of hanging beads that were being used as a room divider. He parted them with his gloved hand and passed through the makeshift doorway. The beads clattered against each other as he let them go adding sound to the quiet room. Weak light from the nearest streetlamp crept in through the thin curtains from the window to his left casting various shapes in front of him. Walter reached into his inside jacket pocket and pulled out the miniature torch that resided there. With a click the beam came to life and illuminated a lounge that had been shown as little housekeeping as the kitchen he had just passed. A Television ten years past its best sat in one corner, a coffee table littered with all manner of fast food and confectionary wrappers lay between the Television and a worn along the arms and cushions sofa. More rubbish was scattered across the floor and Walter had to shine the light at his feet so that he didn’t stand on any possible evidence. In the same room but to his right a double bed looked like it had seen better days and had also recently been used. The light cast across the dishevelled sheets, revealing various stains that appeared to have been ground into the fabric, before resting on the discoloured pillows. Walter held the light on a substance that was scattered all over the pillows and with careful footing moved around the bed to get a better look. A full head of hair looked to have been shaved from someone’s skull and was scattered all over the top end of the bed. He considered this image as the sound of the hanging beads rattled their tune and another figure entered the room.

Detective Constable Cynthia Lawrence couldn’t help but turn her nose up at the hideous state that was before her and she had to dip into all her reserves of willpower not to begin cleaning up the mess. She surveyed the room and her eyes soon fell onto the torch lit bed and her superior officer crouching down next to it.

‘What we got, sir?’ Cynthia asked as she shone her own light around the scene.

‘I’m not sure yet.’ Walter turned his light towards her. ‘But watch your feet as there’s crap all over the place.’

Cynthia guided her beam to the floor and skipped her way around the piles of junk so that she could be at Walter’s side.

‘Got a whole lot of human hair all over the pillows, looks like someone did some barber work.’ He paused and turned his torch towards the only other area of the small flat that he had not yet searched, the bathroom. ‘Our victim must be in there.’

Together they approached the closed door; Walter reached out and turned the handle then pushed the door open. A weak strip light gave off some light from above a small sink but the bathroom could be called anything but well lit. There torch light moved across the pristine floor, sink and finally rested on the bathtub or more precisely what hung over the tub. Her legs had been tied at the ankles, the rope cutting deep into her flesh as the whole weight of her body was taken by the knot. The pale nakedness of her form had been disturbed at various pointed by a series of deep cuts made at very specific parts of her anatomy. One along each upper thigh, another across the left side of her mid abdomen, a further two down each of her wrists and a final cut athwart her throat. Her head had been shaved and a look of disbelief stared out at them from her vacant eyes.

Walter got closer and looked at the interior of the bath. ‘Where’s all the blood?’

Cynthia stood by his side and examined the tub. Not a single drop of blood blemished the white surface, the whole area gleamed under the torch light, plughole and taps all spotless. She looked around at the rest of the room and the same clean surfaces as the bathtub were on the floor and even the sink. ‘This room doesn’t fit with the rest of the flat. It’s spotless.’

‘Yeah, they cleaned up after themselves.’ Walter placed a hand on the victim’s right arm and studied the incision. ‘She’s been cleaned too.’ Walter shone the light into the plughole and leant forward to get a better look down the hole. ‘We’ll need Forensics to confirm but I don’t think any of the blood went down there.’ He stood and looked around the room. ‘They took it with them.’


Everything that stands. Part 4.

Everything that stands. Part 4.


Will and Luther raced forward to where Nita and Joshua had just been but over the handrail they could see only the dark outlines of the street below. A heavy foot from overhead brought their attentions back to where they were. Countless creatures streamed down the walkway and had almost reached the level above. The fire exit on that floor burst open releasing yet more beings out into the night.

They took off, spiralling down the metallic shaft at a pace that their pursuers had no chance of keeping up with and they were soon at the base of the staircase. A wire mesh fence greeted them with a padlock on the inside keeping the entrance firmly closed.

Will aimed his gun at the lock but Luther put his hand on the weapon and lowered his friends aim. ‘That lock might give us a bit of time.’ Luther said. ‘Let’s go up a level and jump down.’ Will grimaced at the idea but with a nod agreed and the two of them ventured back up one flight. ‘You go first kid and I’ll be right behind you.’ Will nodded in agreement and lowered himself over the side. He landed and instantly took in his surroundings. The alleyway was shrouded in shadows and even after a few moments his eyes would not adjust to the pitch. To his right a dark puddle had formed on the pavement and it slowly leaking towards his feet. The sound of teeth scraping against bone turned his stomach and he dreaded the sight that he knew would hail him just hidden in the darkness. Luther landed next to him and immediately flicked open his lighter to see what had caught Will’s eye.

The flame flickered in the breeze which cast dancing shades of light across the two bodies at their feet. Nita’s right arm had shattered on impact, the Humerus jutted out the top of her shoulder and her legs were spread apart broken at inhuman angles. Joshua laid across the top of her, his legs also a bloody mess and he appeared to be kissing her. As the light enveloped the scene Joshua became aware of his audience and lifted his head. With a sickening rip Nita’s lower lip came with him and he greedily consumed the tender meat. With a devilish grin Joshua crawled over Nita’s corpse and reached out for them. Before Will could react Luther stepped forward and put his laces of his boot through Joshua’s face. The rest was lost to Will in the shadows but the sound of Luther’s boot caving in Joshua’s skull could not be hidden.

‘Luther.’ Will waited for sounds of violence to stop. ‘We need to go.’

Luther stepped over the carnage he had partly created and took a deep breath.  ‘Let’s go.’

From the heavens light cascaded down onto them as a break in the cloud cover revealed the Moon in its full glory. The stairwell behind them came alive with the horde that now pressed against the padlocked fence. They backed away from the bulging wire mesh and crept towards the street. Things moved in the far reaches of the alleyway before them, drawn towards the sounds of their fellow beings bashing against their metal cage. Legs shattered beyond repair Nita dragged herself towards them, her half eaten face oozing blood down across her chin giving her the appearance that she was smiling at them. With one last look of pity Will aimed his firearm and pulled the trigger. The bullet caught Nita just above the left eye, shattering the back of her skull and ceasing her movements forever. The two of them spun and ventured out into the city.

The flashing orange light from their goal was easy to follow through the abandoned city streets and they were soon testing the armoured car’s locks. With a pleasing click the driver’s door opened, Will flung it open and glanced inside.

‘I’m gonna need your lighter.’ Will offered a hand for Luther to give him the Zippo.

‘No time.’ Luther pointed to the gathering crowd approaching them. He pulled the passenger driver side door open and climbed into the back. Will followed his example and climbed into the driver seat. Like a snake Luther worked his way up through the hole in the turret on the roof. Will searched around the steering column looking for the keys but they did not hang from their dock, so he began to look around the cabin but the poor light prevented him from seeing the interior.

‘Luther!’ He called back into the rear. ‘I’m gonna need that lighter.’ Will noticed movement ahead and took in the scene in front of him for the first time. Forms had begun to sidle out into the Luna lit road, their shambolic movements slowly starting to unite into an increasing mob. Then the clouds did what they do and took away the natural light, the hellish picture somehow taking on an even more sinister look.

Will reached back and placed a hand on Luther’s leg. ‘I’m gonna need a distraction too.’

Luther’s hand shot down to meet his and thrust the lighter into Will’s. ‘What do you need me to do?’ Luther replied.

‘Shoot everything that stands.’ Will flicked the lighter on and immediately began searching for the keys. Above him violence barked out its automatic cry.

Luther lost all sense of time as the bullets cut apart the first ranks of the Living Dead, then the second row, and the third. Each wave bathed in an orange glow briefly before they fell, the road soon becoming littered with the peppered carcases of so many unfortunate souls. His focus on all that approached his line of sight and yet so many shadows still cast across hidden foes from so many different angles. He aimed at all that he could see but even that was not enough.

So much debris littered the vehicle. Used shells formed a golden blanket across most the seating and floor and continued to spread as more empty cartridges rained down into the back compartment. The flame danced its dance with Will searching through every inch of the large armoured people carrier, his ears ringing as the miniature cannon overhead bellowed its tune. Something caught his eye, he dove down into the metal sea and his hand clasped around what he was probing for. In his excitement his gripped loosened on the lighter, it cartwheeled out of his hand snapping shut as it hit the floor but he disregarded it and jumped into the driver seat. The keys slotted pleasingly into the ignition and with a satisfying choke the engine spluttered into life. Will released the handbrake and floored the automatic accelerator.

Bodies crunched and popped under the transports weight. Figures appeared in front of him and then vanished under the front bumper. He picked up to a steady pace and then let out the breath he had been holding. With this sudden release his ears regained some of their use and told him that the turret had stopped. Will chanced a look over his shoulder and found the empty void of death staring back at him through rotting eye sockets. He ducked to the side to avoid the oncoming teeth and fumbled at his belt buckle to draw his firearm. From the darkness ahead an abandoned car was parked in their path and before Will could react the two automobiles collided. His ribs cracked as they ploughed into the steering wheel, the body behind him adding to the blow before it sailed past him and struck the wind screen head first. Its blood plastered the broken window and the flesh on the skull torn back over its forehead. Its head was stuck in the hole the collision had created yet the creature still reached for him, fingers wrapping around his left arm. With a scream of terror his right arm came up from his lap and the revolver opened up into the back of its head. A second bullet silenced it and before he knew it the chamber sounded empty, the fingers around his arm became loose. Will tried to take a breath but it felt like a paving slab lay across his lungs. He lost consciousness.

A long slow soulless moan brought him back from oblivion.

Blood foamed on his lips and a sharp pain stabbed into his left hand side. Gasping for air realisation hit him and he remembered his current predicament. A forceful shove moved the body draped over his left shoulder onto the passenger seat and he painfully turned to see if Luther was still alive.

The tall West Indian’s legs swung down into the cabin and the confined space rattled to life as used casings scattered under his feet. The friendly smile of Luther greeted him no more, only the tattered leftovers of a face hung from the head, all resemblance of humanity lost in his one remaining eye. Behind him another body fell through the hole, followed by a third. More joined them as they pressed down onto their next meal.

 THE END


Everything that stands. Part 3.

Everything that stands. Part 3.


Will returned to his three comrades and paused as he saw the torn flesh that hung from Joshua’s ruined left buttock, his eyes darted towards Luther’s and the tall man looked away.

‘I’ve checked the whole suite and there’s nothing in here that can help us.’ All three of them deflated at Will’s words. ‘But looking out onto the street below I saw something that could be of use.’

‘Down on the street?’ Nita barked. ‘What fucking good is that?’ Her eyes had welled up with tears and she looked away from the three men.

‘Let’s see what it is before we disregard it.’ Luther added. ‘Let’s go have a look.’

‘Anything to keep me occupied.’ Joshua joked. ‘I might need a hand though.’ He put his weight on his leg but it buckled under him. Luther stepped forward to help but Nita got in the way.

‘I’ve got him.’ She said slipping in under his left arm.

Will turned and headed back into the suite with everyone in tow. He led them to the bedroom which was dominated by a lavish four poster bed and a window that took up the entire wall to the right of the room. The four of them looked out at the black city scape, fires blazing through various buildings providing the only sign of activity. Will pointed to the street below where a single orange hazard light spun on top of a shadowed vehicle and with each turn of the lamp a little more of the transport revealed itself. The four seated Humvee with a mounted machine gun on top had clearly been left by the Military when they had evacuated or been overrun the distinction between the two had long been forgotten. A broad smile crept across Luther’s lips.

‘How are we going to get down there?’ Joshua asked between gritted teeth.

‘Every hotel in the city has to have a fire escape from the roof to the ground floor.’ Will replied. ‘We just have to find it.’

‘I hate to burst everyone’s bubble but even if we get down there and the damn thing is unlocked there is no saying that it will have any fuel in it.’ Nita shifted under the weight of Joshua.

‘It’s a chance I’m willing to take.’ Will responded. ‘None of you have to follow me but it’s the best looking option to come my way in a long time.’ He was already moving towards the door before anyone could give a response. Luther looked at the two interlocked partners, shrugged his shoulders and followed Will out of the room.

Will lingered at the front door to the apartment, listening at the door but hearing nothing. Luther appeared at his shoulder and also pressed his ear to the wood. Both delayed moving for longer than was needed, glancing at each other to see if either of them could make out any sounds from the corridor. Finally they gave up and stepped away from the door. Will stretched out a hand and turned the handle, in the silence it screeched like the brakes of a bus and they both cringed. He pulled the door open, stepped out into the poorly lit corridor and instantly he wished that he hadn’t dropped the torch earlier. Gloom greeted him from both directions and either end of the corridor was lost to the lack of light. Luther joined him in the darkness and began to fish around in his jeans pocket. With a snap and click his lighter sparked to life. Even with the extra brightness they could still not make out one end from the other.

‘You lead the way.’ Will offered. ‘I’m right behind you with this.’ He waved the gun into the light. With a nod Luther began down the hall to their left, slowly they edged further into the obscurity in front of them. A door appeared to their right so Luther tried the lock but it didn’t move. They moved on. Gradually the light began to bounce back at them from a metal double door as the lift became visible and to its left a white wooden door with stairs written above it.

‘Do we try the stairs? Luther whispered but Will whipped a finger up to his lips and then pointed at his ear. They both listened. At first it sounded like the wind blowing through a crack in the doorframe but as it got louder that familiar sound of heavy breathing and shuffling feet echoed up the stairwell. Slowly the two men back away, never taking their eyes of the white exit and retracing their steps. Just as the door became engulfed by the dark something bashed into it and the wooden frame splintered. The thump was followed by another, then a third and with a groan the door gave way generating the sound of multiple forms stumbling into the corridor.

Luther snapped his lighter shut whilst turning on his heel and ran. From the darkness ahead two figures crept towards them and Will raised his weapon ready to fire.

‘It’s us you fool.’ Nita barked at him before he could get off a shot. ‘I take it from your running that we shouldn’t be headed in that direction?’

‘They’re up the stairwell and in the corridor. We have to try the other direction.’ Will didn’t stop to tell her and was already past her midsentence.

He disregarded the darkness ahead of him continuing on at a constant pace and just as he was about to give up hope another white door materialised out of the pitch at him but above this one read Fire Exit. Without slowing down he hit the push to release bar and burst out into the evening air. A quick glance down the metal stairwell produced the all clear he was hoping for and he returned his attention to the open exit in front of him.

Three figures staggered out of the dimness before him, Luther and Nita struggling with an unconscious Joshua draped over their shoulders his feet dragging along behind them. Behind them a wall of rotting flesh flowed through the darkness. Will stepped to the side to let them through and slammed the door shut behind them.

‘All clear below.’ Will stated as he pushed against the door.

Luther glanced back at Will as they stumbled down the steps. ‘Leave that, they’ll be through it before you can get away.’ Will considered the suggestion, looked around at the tight staircase and then followed.

As they reached the floor below something crashed against the metal fire escape above, follow by another thump and then finally the door swinging open. It struck the handrail with such force that the whole staircase shook and knocked the four fleers of balance. Will caught himself before he could fall hooking an arm around the nearest piece of structure. Nita was not as lucky as her grip on Joshua came loose and she stumbled forward down the next flight of steps catching herself on the barrier at the foot of them. Luther managed to keep his footing whilst retaining a hold on Joshua’s shirt but the injured man lost his balance and landed heavily on his backside.

Will looked up and saw them swarming out onto the stairwell above. He picked himself up and caught up with Luther. ‘Is everyone alright?’ Luther nodded in agreement. Nita looked up to them with a smile which soon faded.

Joshua stared at her but his eyes didn’t have the caring depth that she was used to, only the cold face of death peered at her. With a jolt Joshua lurched forward and reached out for his partner. Nita had no time to react as Joshua’s hands wrapped around her left shoulder and the right side of her waist. His momentum overcame them both, her back bent against the strain causing her to scream and his weight took them toppling over the railing.

TOO BE CONCLUDED


Everything that stands. Part 2.

Everything that stands. Part 2.


The onslaught never came.

As his eyes adjusted to the bright room three figures came into focus. A tall man dressed in jeans and a T-shirt stood to his right, hands out in front of him showing he meant no harm, and a broad smile across his dark features. To his left a young woman in some form of law enforcement uniform had a scowl on her face and her arms folded over her chest. The third figure appeared to have the same uniform and was pushing a dressing table up against the door, his broad shoulders flexing with the effort.

Will regained his composure and scrambled backwards away from the new faces. Too his left the gun lay bathed in dusk sunlight; he leant forward grabbing the weapon and then continued his retreat.

‘It’s ok; we’re not going to hurt you.’ The tall man said taking a step forward, his West Indian accent having a soothing effect on Will.

‘Yeah, but we should.’ The woman interjected. ‘He’s led them straight to us.’ As if they had heard her voice the door began to shake on its hinges.

‘This won’t hold for long.’ The man by the door added.

‘Thanks.’ The woman stared at Will with more venom than he had ever experienced, her arms now at her sides fists clenched.

‘Nita, go do something productive and help your partner barricade the door.’ The tall man turned to her and his face made it clear that his statement was not a request. With a heavy sigh she grabbed a chair from nearby and jammed it under the dresser. The tall man returned his attention to Will and took another step closer.

‘Now, what’s your name kid?’ Will raised the gun towards the tall man, fear still pumping through his body and overtaking all his other instincts. ‘Easy my friend.’ He held his hands up in surrender and took a step back. ‘Shall I give you mine first?’ Will lowered the weapon but gave no response. The tall man shrugged and continued anyway. ‘My name is Luther. Her name as you may have heard it Nita and her partner is Joshua.’ The door rattled and scrapped as the horde on the other side pressed forward.

‘Luther, we need to move and fast.’ Joshua remarked over his shoulder. In front of him the middle of the door had begun to splinter. Luther ignored him and took another step closer to Will.

‘Just your name, that’s all I’m after. Giving your name never hurt anyone.’ Will got to his feet but still held the gun out in front of him. As if for the first time he began to take in the room glancing to his left and right, but never really taking them off Luther. The interior was identical to the previous one, aside from the bodies and blood spatter, as was so often the case in large hotels.

‘Just lower the piece son and we can all work this out.’ Luther stepped closer, but Will still did not respond ,his eyes had become distant and he stared down at the metal instrument of death in his hand. Both men stood regarding the black object in his palm.

Their silence was broken by the sound of wood cracking and from the middle of the door a pale bloody hand reached towards Joshua and Nita.

His eyes came back into focus and the situation dawned on him. Will raised the gun again this time towards the door; Luther stepped back and held his hands over his face, but at the last moment Will turned and fire a shot into the centre of the window to his left. The whole pane of glass spider webbed, but stayed in its frame.

‘My name is, Will.’ He took a step towards the window and kicked at the bottom corner of the sheet. It gave way at the second attempt and disappeared down into the street below. Will poked his head out of the empty window frame and looked up. He smiled and ducked back into the room. ‘There’s a balcony on the floor above us.’ Will shoved the gun down the front of his Jeans. ‘We can climb up.’

Luther smiled back at him and then turned to his two comrades who had both stopped at the sound of gunfire, a smile also formed on Joshua’s lips, but Nita remained grim. Three different arms now pushed through the small hole in the door behind them and it began to get bigger. Another shake of the door brought them back to the task at hand and they put their weight back into pushing against the pressing mass from the corridor. Luther joined Will at the window and looked up at their escape route.

‘Not an easy climb.’ Luther offered but then shrugged his shoulders and looked back towards the door. ‘Not much choice either.’ Will gave him a reassuring grin and leapt forward. He caught the underside of the balcony and felt rough climbing proof paint cut into his palms. Through gritted teeth he adjusted his grip and reached up over the side.

The floor of the balcony had been made from decking so a good grip was easy to achieve, Will pulled himself up onto the outer lip and then up over the side. He stopped briefly to catch his breath before getting up and leaning over the side. Luther stared up at him.

‘The paint on the underside is serrated.’ Will said showing him his bleeding palm. ‘I’m gonna find something to hang down for you.’

‘Well hurry up because they are almost through.’ Luther glanced back into the room, the top corner of the door had begun to crack and bend inwards.

‘Luther, what’s the plan?’ Joshua quizzed over his shoulder. ‘This door’s about to give way.’

As the words left his mouth the top corner ripped and arms extended into the room. Nita’s head was down pushing against the dresser as a hand took hold of her hair and pulled her towards its fellow reaching limbs. Joshua saw this and sprang up onto the dresser forcing the loose corner of the door back against the outstretched rotting extremities. Luther took a step forward to help and was greeted by material hitting him across the face. A backdraft pulled the curtain out the window, knocking Luther off balance and he swung wildly with his arms trying to get a hold onto anything. His right hand found the edge of the window frame, but also found the shard of glass still lodged in the grouting. It sliced deep into his palm, but he held on regardless of the pain. His left arm got a grip on the curtain and slowly he dragged himself back into the room.

Luther pulled the material from his face and was met by Nita just in front of him, she was bleeding from the back of her head a large chunk of hair had been ripped out and red droplets now covered the shoulders of her uniform. Over her shoulder Luther could see that Joshua was still stood on the dresser, but was leaning to the right and kicking at anything that tried to come through the shredded wood.

Nita grabbed hold of the curtain in Luther’s hands and followed it out of the window. Above her the other end was tied to the balcony and Will leant over the edge looking down.

‘Come on let’s go.’ He shouted down at her.

Luther followed her gaze up and gave Will the thumbs up.

‘Joshua!’ Luther shouted. The stocky man looked up towards his name caller, accessed the situation in front of him and gave a quick nod.

Luther turned back to talk to Nita but found her half way up her climb.

Will gave the curtain an extra tug his end, grabbed Nita under her left armpit and together they fell backwards onto the decking.

She rolled off him and darted back to the balcony edge.

‘Joshua, come on!’ Luther shouted again as he swung out into the open air. His right hand burnt with pain as cut tendons strained against the force of his own body weight, almost causing him to lose his grip. He tried to pull himself up but all strength had left him.

‘My hand is fucked.’ He called up to the two faces above him. ‘I can’t climb.’ He glanced towards Joshua but as the sun set behind him the room became a series of shadows. ‘Pull me up God damn it!’ With a jerk he slowly began to rise up to safety above. Just as his feet reached the top of the window a figure jumped out from the darkness and grabbed a hold of his left leg. The extra weight took Will and Nita by surprise, the two of them crashed against the wooden frame and the curtain loosened from their grip. Luther looked down and saw the grimacing face of Joshua staring up at him.

‘Climb damn you!’ Joshua called up to his counterpart.

Luther shook his head and held back a scream. ‘Climb up me.’ He growled through gritted teeth. Joshua looked at the blood soaked curtain wrapped around the other man’s right hand and nodded his agreement. Will and Nita doubled their efforts but the going was tough.

Shadows formed and from the darkness a shape appeared at the window. And then another and another. One reached forward but missed Joshua and plummeted into the darkness below followed by another three bodies. The night exploded with noise as the four creatures hit the ground hard.

The two men jerked upward as Will and Nita finally got a hold of the makeshift rope.

Another shape leapt from the gloom and this time it caught hold of Joshua. Again, Will and Nita struggled with their haul and found themselves pressed against the handrail.

Before Joshua could react the creature’s teeth sank into his left buttock and its arms tightened around his knees. Joshua released his left arm and swung it down onto the top of his assailants head. He struck again and still the jaws would not separate.

‘JOSHUA!!’ Will screamed out from above. ‘Don’t move.”

Joshua pulled his arm in and grabbed hold of Luther’s leg again just as another individual jumped out of the pitch Hotel room and wrapped itself around its fellow pursuer. Its dead eyes stared greedily up at the two living beings stretched out above it and with a lick of its lips it began to climb up the hanging body ladder. Joshua screamed again as the creature enveloped around him sunk its teeth deeper into his flesh, Luther could feel the last ounces of strength leaving his arms as the climbing being at the bottom of the chain caused them all to swing with its erratic movements. More of them reached out from the shattered window as their momentum brought them closer to the outstretched arms. A few caught hold of their rotting companion’s and began to drag the whole group back into the room.

Suddenly the top half of the biter’s head exploded, it’s vice grip on Joshua vanishing as it fell like a stone taking its hungry friend with it and four other forms wrenched out of the window.

Will dropped the gun on the decking and began to help Nita pulled the curtain up. As Luther reached the lip on the railing he let out a triumphant shout and then tumbled down into safety. Joshua follow, his face drained of all colour and a look of absolute fear.

‘Fucking thing bit me.’ Joshua said holding a hand over bite marks to stop the bleeding.

‘Just stay calm, Josh.’ Nita knelt down next to him and had a quick look at the wound. ‘We need to find a first aid kit. You two go see what’s in this room.’ Will and Luther slid the door open and entered the Penthouse suite.

Joshua looked up to see if the other two were out of earshot. ‘I’m done for, Nita.’

‘Don’t say that.’ She replied keeping her eyes on the wound.

‘It’s true though. You’ve seen what one of those bites does to a man. I give it an hour before I turn on you.’ He reached out and turned her face so that she could look at him. ‘Leave me here and carry on.’

Nita blinked back a tear and then shook her head. ‘Not a chance.’

‘I’m dead anyway and sooner or later I will change.’

‘Well, we’ll worry about that when it happens.’ Nita snapped. She wiped a tear from her cheek and gave him an apologetic smile. ‘Sorry.’

He returned the smile and gave her shoulder a reassuring squeeze.

Luther returned to them with some bed sheets and a bottle of Vodka. ‘It’s all I could find but it should help stop the bleeding.’ He handed them over.

‘Alright drop them.’ Nita said as she unscrewed the lid.

Begrudgingly Joshua complied, leaning forward and lowered his trousers.

The wound had already begun to coagulate and a black discharge wept out of the multiple tooth holes. Joshua screamed as the alcohol washed over his damaged skin.

TOO BE CONTINUED