Vices and Virtues

 
Vices
and Virtues
An Anthology of the Seven Deadly Sins
and
Seven Dark Virtues
Genres: Horror, Supernatural,
Paranormal,
Sci-Fi, Suspense/Thriller
Taglines: Because sometimes, the
virtuous are as frightening as the sinful…
About
the Anthology
Sins will weave you into their
webs. They become the Vice you’re unable to shake. There are the values, taught
from birth, which ride a razor’s edge. They turn into Dark Virtues, a twisted
mockery of their true meaning.
Pride, envy, lust, gluttony,
anger, greed and sloth all have their place in the tapestry of life. They are
the Vices who lost sight of the Virtues: charity, temperance, forgiveness,
humility, kindness, chastity and diligence.
Enter the worlds where the tales
of the most sinful of Vices and the darkest of Virtues will entice and intrigue
you…
…for even among the most devout
there is a dark side.
 
 
SINS
OF THE FLESH (Gluttony)
BY
STACEY BROADBENT
It was a balmy Spring evening
when I first discovered a taste for human flesh. It was a happy accident
really. After having my heart broken one too many times, I’d abstained from any
type of physical relationship with a man for years, so when one fell in my lap,
it came as quite the surprise.
EXCERPT SINS OF THE FLESH:
Throwing
caution to the wind, I slipped my feet into a pair of runners and walked down
the road, telling myself it was to clear my mind. But really, I was on the prowl
for fresh meat. Someone vulnerable—easy prey. I had to be smart about it; it
was broad daylight after all.
Every
person who walked past became a possible target. In my mind’s eye, I pictured a
computer log for each one, listing their attributes. Having limited knowledge
on the ins and outs of cannibalism, I had no idea what the perfect body type
was for consumption. Would it matter if they were male or female? Was it better
if they were lean and muscular, or was a layer of padding more flavourful? How
was I to choose?
Turns
out, I didn’t need to think about it at all. On my walk back home, I was
knocked off my feet by a man out for a jog. He’d been too busy flicking through
the playlist on his phone to see me, and by the time we’d both looked up, it was
too late. We collided, my forehead into his chin and mouth. My hands
automatically went up, pressing against his chest and sending us both bouncing
off each other, landing on our behinds. Apologising profusely, he offered me
his hand and pulled me to my feet. The impact had left a red egg on my head and
skinned my palms raw. He, however, came across a little worse for wear,
sporting a newly chipped tooth, and fat, bleeding lip. As soon as I got a whiff
of the blood on his breath, I knew, he was the one.
I
pointed to my house across the street, inviting him in to clean up while he
called the emergency dentist. It was the least I could do.
Ushering
him into the bathroom, I had him perch on the edge of the bath while I rummaged
through the cabinet for the first aid kit. I needed to knock him out somehow.
There was no way I could do this without it… unless…
About
Stacey Broadbent:
Stacey lives in Ashburton, New
Zealand, with her husband and three children. An avid reader and self-confessed
book-a-holic, she has always had a love of the written word, so it was only a
matter of time before she took pen to paper and began on her writing journey.
Stacey is a multi-genre author, with books from light-hearted comedies to
zombie thrillers. She is also part of the writing duo ‘The Ink Slinging
Sisters’ with friend S.K. Lessner. You can often find her lurking on social
media so don’t be afraid to reach out and have a chat.
 
A
MILLION CLAY WOLVES (Greed)
BY
AMBER K. BRYANT
Living in a squalid encampment in
the shadows of a towering city, a young woman able to endow objects with
magical powers struggles with her brother’s growing determination to use her
gift for his own selfish means.
EXCEPRT A MILLION CLAY WOLVES :
“Do
you remember Jamey? Has a tattoo of a whale on his right arm, wears a red and
white striped tank top—Sound familiar?”
Mora nodded. “He juggled knives and guns.”
“That’s
right. Jamey is my boyfriend and we’re very happy, only… He has this crazy idea
that he should give up the troop, join the army instead. He thinks it would
provide a better life for us, but he’s wrong. This is the only life I want and
I don’t want it to change. I need you to change his mind.”
“What?” She took a step away from Dare. “I… I can’t do that!”
“You
don’t realize it, but you can. I saw it in you. The ability to endow magic. You
just needed a jumpstart, and yesterday…” she pointed to the feather, “I gave it
to you.”
Mora stared at the feather, still crumpled in her hand.
“Tell
the feather that Jamey’s place is with me. In the troop. Tell the feather it
needs to change Jamey’s mind. Go on.”
Mora
lifted the feather halfway to her face, then paused. This would never work.
Clearly circus life had taken its toll on Dare’s mental health. Or perhaps
unstable people were attracted to the quirky life the troop seemed to lead. It
was silly to give in to Dare’s demands. Then again, if she didn’t do it,
perhaps Dare would become so angry, she’d bust out of her purple corset and
become a rage-fueled She-Hulk. Perhaps the simplest way out of this situation
was to tell the feather to become a mind-changer and then get the hell out of
there.
“Fine,
whatever.” She brought the feather to her lips and blew words into it. “Change
Jamey’s mind. Make him stay. Oh!” She jumped as a tingling sensation moved
through her body, from the soles of her feet up her legs and spine, then out to
the tips of her fingers and into the feather. “What… what just happened.”
Dare’s
face went back to its friendly older sister mode. “Exactly what I thought
would. Thank you, Mora.” She took the feather back from Mora and pinned it into
her dark, shimmering hair. “Wiser people than me would tell you to be careful
with this gift of yours. Magic can be used for good or for evil. It doesn’t
care which, most of the time.”
Confused,
Mora toyed with a stray thread from the hem of her t-shirt. “But you’re… not
telling me to be careful?”
Dare
grasped Mora’s chin and tilted it so their eyes met. “We don’t find out what
we’re capable of through advice.” She gave Mora’s face a tiny squeeze and then
let her go. “Trial and error, darlin’.”
About
Amber K Bryant:
Amber K. Bryant is an
award-winning author and a librarian living deep within Sasquatch territory in
Washington State. She has co-authored a short story with R. L. Stine, won a
Watty for her novella UNSEEN, and won three contests judged by Margaret Atwood.
When not glued to her keyboard, Amber can be found spending time with her
husband and son, hiking, gardening, and searching in vain for the illusive
Sasquatch.
CONFESSIONS
OF AN HONEST MAN (Chastity)
BY
CYRIL BUNT
When I was thirteen I took my
oath, I never broke it. But apparently, I broke many others.
About
Cyril Blunt:
My name is Cyril and I’m 32. I’ve
loved writing since I was very young and so I try to create believe lies, one
day I hope to be good enough to make a living from writing.
DO
NO HARM (Charity)
BY
J.M. BUTLER
What if someone offered you
exactly what you needed?
Ethics and vampirism hardly go together,
and Aestan has concluded he is trapped between two bad situations. A chance
meeting with his neighbor Summer changes everything as she offers the solution
to his problems. He can have her blood. She’s more than happy to give it if it
keeps him from robbing blood banks or killing people. Though at first he is
relieved, he soon realizes that even what is freely given may yet have
consequences he does not desire.
EXCERPT DO NO HARM:
“Summer…I can’t take your
blood.”
“Yes, you can. And if I were a
stranger, you would. But we’re friends.”
“Friends?” Aestan couldn’t
suppress the sharp laugh. She had an oddly vague definition of friendship.
Surely this was a joke. Summer finished the prep and took a deep breath.
“Yes, of course we are. Now…don’t
attack me or anything, okay?” She stuck the needle into her arm and balled
her hand up before flexing her fingers and clenching again. “I can’t let
you have the blood we collected for the drive, but I can let you have some of
mine. And then you know…we can start looking for some substitutes.”
Words failed Aestan as he watched. A
tantalizing scent rose from the glass, thick, slightly metallic. How could she
be serious? Was he dreaming?
SEVEN
DAYS (Humility)
BY
LENORE CHEAIRS
TBA
A
SINGLE MIND (Pride)
BY
ALANA DELACROIX
Neil Clarins is a very important
man with very important research.  He
could save the world.  And he won’t let
anyone stand in his way.
EXCERPT A SINGLE MIND:
Neil straightens his back and keeps his
hand away from his pocket. He’s right. His work is good and more than that,
it’s needed. The entire world is about to go up in flames. The environment is a
mess. People are fucking dying and what he has in his lab will save them. No
way he’s going to let some petty bureaucrat like Mike Bell get in his way.
And if using his own brain as a testing
ground is the way it has to be done, so be it.
Knowing he’ll be out for at least a day, Neil
puts messages on all his corporate tethers: email, messenger. I’m sick, it
says. Sorry, back soon.
He goes to his room and shaves off a small
patch of hair. Underneath, the skin that’s never seen the sun is a sickly
white-green. He swabs his temple with a topical anesthetic and sits on the bed
for a long time, staring at the syringe with its small bolt gun mechanism, so
like the one used to kill cattle. He has no idea if he’ll be able to walk after
the injection and he doesn’t want to pass out in the bathroom. Too much risk of
injury.
Neil takes a deep breath, then another. He
thinks of the other scientific greats. Salk and the polio vaccine. Newton
digging around his own eyeball with a bodkin.
Then, before he can think any more, he
thrusts the needle against the side of his head and pulls the trigger.
About
Alana Delacroix:
Alana Delacroix lives surrounded
by  books in Toronto, Canada. She loves
exploring the city, on the hunt for both the perfect coffee shop as well as
ideal locations to set stories. Her debut novel, Masked Possession, a
paranormal romance, is available now from Kensington Publishing.
YOU
MADE ME (Envy)
BY
CHRIS FARMER
I envied the time I watched you
eat, hoping to taste even a crumb of that sandwich. I envied the time you got
to stay warm while, I nearly froze on the street. I envied the power you had to
destroy my life.
Now it will be you who envies me.
Your gluttony has come to an end. One way or another, you will feel the agony
of want.
About
Chris Farmer:
Chris Farmer is working on a
debut novel, One and Done, releasing in December 2017.
Website:  https://www.chrisfarmernovels.com
 
DEATH THROES (Sloth)
BY
LISA GOLDMAN
Born into prestige and wealth,
twenty-year-old, indolent Chandler Wentsworth’s biggest worries are working to
smooth over his constantly disappointed family and friends. He doesn’t realize
how easy his life is until he and his friend go to a carnival, where Roma, an
eccentric psychic, delivers improbable predictions and a frightening warning
that the eyes are the window to one’s soul. Soon, he not only discovers the
true evil behind black oily eyes, but Roma’s atrocious predictions has begun a
series of catastrophic events, including soul-shattering death throes.
ONE
FORGIVES AS ONE LOVES (Forgiveness)
BY
TRINITY HANRAHAN
I can have peace of mind only
when forgiveness has been earned and granted.
About
Trinity Hanrahan:
Trinity lives with her husband
and five children in Virginia. She grew up overseas in Turkey and Japan, where
her love of reading developed due to a lack of English-speaking television. As
her need for written works grew, so did her desire to create worlds for others
to enjoy. By the time she was in middle school she had started writing short
stories. She endeavors to break the mold where modern stereo-types are
concerned and create engaging characters.
When she’s not writing or
working, Trinity still enjoys settling down to read a book or doing graphic art
in her spare time.
 
 
CAVEAT
EMPTOR (Diligence)
BY
KRISTEN JACQUES
Captain Niels Fizarian prides
himself on quality product: weapons, rare goods, even concubines. It’s one
thing to be an unscrupulous scoundrel, another to be a poor businessman. But
with early retirement looming, what could cutting a few corners hurt? When it
comes to interstellar trade, Captain Niels may just learn the hard way to pay
his due diligence. 
 
 
THE
DEVIL YOU KNOW (Lust)
BY
REBECCA NOLAN
Ivy feels like everything is
finally falling in place from her now that she has a new home. To make things
even better, her landlord is sexy, caring Drake Hunter. The problem is Drake
isn’t what he seems. Will Ivy get her happy ever after or is she doomed to end
up in tears.
About
Rebecca Nolan:
Rebecca Nolan is an aspiring
writer with several anthologies under her belt. She loves being able to bring
characters to life through words. In her spear time she is often found reading
or spending time with her family.
THE
PAIN OF A KINDNESS (Kindness)
BY
TAMMY OJA
Anna works with an appointed
psychologist for answers when her mother goes missing.
About
Tammy Oja:
Tammy Oja is an active reader and
lover of all things word related. She currently writes on Wattpad under the pen
name tamoja. Previous works include being published by Gallery books in the
anthology Once Upon Now (2016).  Her
short story Darla was a top 10 finalist for TNT and was optioned for film.
Her favorite things to write are
short psychological horror stories that leave you thinking long after the pages
are closed.
She currently lives in Michigan
and you can usually find her staring at a screen at her kitchen table.
 
 
HELL’S
MATCH (Kindness)
BY
ARIA PEYTON
In my world, too many people are
lonely. So out of the kindness of my heart I help them. Those who want someone
by their side forever get it. Only they never read the fine print and forever
means just that.
EXCERPT
HELL’S MATCH:
In a sinuous motion, Cheshire slides off the
machine and backs away, book held out in front of her in a warding-off gesture.
Anger fuels her when she speaks. “Am I being set up? Did you follow me here?
What’s going on?”
I know better than to move, so I stay put, my
body jerking with the motion of the tub beneath me. “No, of course—” The rest
of the sentence dies at her raised brow and sceptical glare. “Yes. I followed
you here.” I act all resigned to this fact but surge on when she tries to
interrupt. “But only because Grandmother asked me to make contact with you, and
when I got to your apartment, you were already on your way here. I was so
intrigued by how you rebuffed her on the phone last night, I had to meet you
myself.”
I may have just painted myself into a corner here
as I watch the thoughts swirling in her head. I’ve given her too many
inconsistencies to process and I know she’ll have a question for each one. But
I already have the answer, and realistically, so does she.
“How did she know where I live? How the hell did
she know what I look like? And how the fuck did you think this would look,
stalking me into the damn laundromat?!” Her voice gets louder and squeakier
with each word until others here start backing away. Soon the place is empty
and Cheshire is alone here with me. The predator within can’t believe its luck,
while the other side of me is fascinated that she didn’t run with everyone
else.
“You spoke to her last night. What did she know
about you then, huh?”
The glare eases a little, but she still keeps her
distance. “Too much is what she knows. I’d love to know what little tricks she
has up her frock sleeves to know so much without a word.”
“It’s just her ability. Some would call her
clairvoyant or psychic.”
“Or just plain freaky,” she mutters under her
breath.
“Or that.” I release a chuckle to lessen the
tension hovering between us. Even though it’s refreshing to have a normal
conversation with someone, the urgency to get her back to the office of
‘Madame’ still hangs over me. She’s the next match to be made and that contract
needs to be signed.
About
Aria Peyton:
I’ve been a covert operative in a
foreign country, jumped out of helicopters for fun, and bungee jumped over the
side of a Styrofoam factory into a vat of beans made for beanbags.
I can also leap Lego towers in a
single bound, pack school lunches like a boss, and burn myself on any hot
surface.
My multi-skilling is out of this
world and I successfully masquerade as an average parent 24/7.
EVELYN
BY
QT RUBY
Dr. Evers says the only way for
Evelyn to be free is to remember her past, but is that really such a good idea?
EXCERPT EVELYN:
“Why am I restrained? There is no escape
from this room.”
Dr. Evers releases a little sigh. “For my
protection.”
“Against?”
“You.”
“Me? What could I do to you?” She waits to
respond. I’m unsure if it’s because I have to remember like she said before, or
she’s just a withholding bitch. “You will remember. So . . . please, continue.”
I sigh and growl a little. “My family . . .
they loved me.”
Dr. Evers writes down my words.
“But they were afraid of me.”
“How do you know?”
“Because . . .” I pause to remember, to
allow memories to solidify, sharpen. “Because I used to harm things.”
About
Q.T. Ruby:
Q.T. Ruby, author of A Matter of
Trust and its sequel A Moment of Truth, regularly escapes real-life to fall
into make-believe worlds of her own design. Living in her native Connecticut
with her two sweet kids, a wonderful husband, and a cat that doesn’t like to
get picked up, she teaches tweens full time, hunkers down for cold winters, and
tries to write like the wind in the summer.
A
SORCERER’S ROAD TO TEMPERANCE (Temperance)
BY
MAGGIE JANE SCHULER
Temperance Blanco served to bring
order to her family and small town. She thought if she practiced her craft and
lead the immoral on a path to restraint, life would be perfect. What she didn’t
count on was her intense draw to her employer, the handsome new night club
owner Raiden Spellman. She thought she had tricks up her sleeve until she found
herself captivated by Raiden and unaware of her place in the Cards of life.
EXCERPT A SORCERER’S
ROAD TO TEMPERANCE :
Her reaction to him was…extreme, unexpected
and intense…and she wondered in what other subtle ways Tempest would affect
her. It almost felt like a spell, and somewhat forbidden, but it also
felt…good, too. Whether it was the natural lure of a new establishment, or Mr.
Spellman was doing something himself to cause such havoc lately, she had to
find out either way.
About
Maggie Jane Schuler:
Maggie Jane Schuler is a wife,
mother of three almost-grown children, and teacher by day. While she has always
loved to read, the thought of writing her own prose did not strike until she
was in the middle of writing her Master’s Thesis. From that point on she was
hooked.
She Resides in Southern
California. Besides the family and books, she loves baseball. Since the
Dodgers, Angels, and Padres are all within a short distance, and the Giants and
Athletics a nice weekend jaunt away, she’s got plenty of games to take in
during the season. Additionally, she enjoys cooking, movies, the beach, and the
local mountains. She’s most content being with her family engaged in whatever
activity they have planned.

 

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Goddess of the Wild Thing by Paul DeBlassie III

 

Goddess of the Wild Thing
Paul DeBlassie III
Genre: Horror , Sci Fi and Fantasy
Book Description:
Goddess of the Wild Thing is a dramatic tale of one woman’s spiritual journey where magical happenings, unexpected turns of fate, and unseen forces influence her ability to love and be loved.
Eve Sanchez, a middle-aged woman and scholar of esoteric studies, encounters a seductive but frightening man who introduces her to a supernatural world in which the wicked powers of a surrogate mother’s twisted affection threaten love and life.
In the mystic realms of Aztlan del Sur, Eve and three friends struggle with whether bad love is better than no love and discover that love is a wild thing.



https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07656JLNR
Excerpt II
Unending man dramas weren’t
necessary to life and well-being. She was educated, had plenty of common sense,
and was street-smart. Countless members of the male species spoke of her in
hushed tones at the cantina, in university hallways, and at social events
when friends and colleagues were relaxed and enjoying themselves during
the cool, high-desert nights. The thought of hooking up
with the most desirable of fantasy felines for the evening rippled through the
undercurrent of verbal exchange. She should be able to attract the right kind
of man, one who was kind and caring and didn’t bring tidal waves of emotional
drama.
Eve had
no time to waste. She needed the counsel of her trusted friend and spiritual
guide. This turn of events was unlike any she’d ever encountered. It was
violent and bloody and made her fear for her safety.
This new fellow had seemed
genuine, courtly, romantic, and hot. He gave off a world-wise and street savvy
vibe. There was a gentleness and sensitivity to him, more so than the typical
single, middle-aged male on the lookout for female companionship and mind-blowing
times.
However, she’d unwittingly found
trouble and needed guidance from Graciéla, a seventy-eight-year-old wise woman,
crone, and seer into confusing matters of the heart. Graciéla waited for Eve at
the Sage Metaphysical Bookstore where she served as resident manager for an
absentee owner. Even after an exhausting day of seeing one desperate soul after
another, Graciéla agreed that Eve’s situation was critical. She’d stay late for
a friend and frightened soul.
Eve had to park blocks from the
store because lately, downtown had become a hub of clubs, theaters, and trendy
restaurants appealing to a congestion of new money and hot times. Close-in
parking was locked up by happy hour, so blocks away was her only choice. She
caught herself looking nervously from side to side and down twilight-shadowed
alleyways as she hurried along the cracked sidewalk. She felt safer along these
edgy streets with Shirley by her side, a genuine person and mystic cohort.
“Eve, honey . . .” Shirley paused
before going on.
Eve knew Shirley hesitated
because she was trying to be conciliatory—not an easy talent for a hard-bitten
woman.
The pause passed. “On the other
hand, maybe if bad love is what we get, bad love is just what we take. If there’s something better, I’m in . . . just
saying I’ve never seen it. Till I do, I for one gotta go with what I get.” Her
look toughened. “It’s just not come my way, and I’m not holding a
sure-to-turn-me-blue breath.” A tough attitude toward life, love, and men was
her stock-in-trade.
Eve smiled a bit. She loved her
friend and all her rough spots and edges. There were people who were mean but
not nasty, malicious, or toxic. Shirley was hardened and mean but only when and
if she needed to be.
Shirley’s hair floated a few
inches away from her shoulders, static currents conjuring magic. Eve’s
peripheral vision caught the streaks of what she imagined as a bonfire during a
war dance. Shirley spoke from experience, a woman smitten by man potential
going south quicker than a rattler hisses and bites.
Eve kept up her pace as she
contemplated Shirley’s words. Settling for less than what she wanted was no
good. It left her cold and empty. It was definitely no good. Plus, Shirley
didn’t know the whole story, only that gloom about the prospect of men and love
had descended, and Eve was taking it hard.
“Bad love’s a risk, Shirley. No
good for me. If I need to cut this thing short, so be it. But I’d rather see it
through. Maybe there’s a chance that the bad I’m afraid of isn’t there. Maybe
I’m blowing it up into something it isn’t. Maybe there’s good and I’m thinking
it’s bad. So if the good is down deep, real deep—I want to hold on and give it
a chance.” Eve pondered the words as a light rain started up. Then she went on,
“I need to hear what Graciéla has to say. I’d like to give things a chance. I’m
not giving up unless there’s no way out of emotional dead-ends and never-ending
heartache.”
Mists formed along the edges of the potholed asphalt
and cracked sidewalks. They twisted and curled, arising out of a subterranean
ether sphere. Usually, they arose during the early morning and hovered inches
above the downtown park’s green expanse, hardly ever at night with its fading
daytime desert heat, and hardly ever along the paved spaces. Darkness descended
and pressed down like a heavy hand, edgy and ominous.

 

About the Author:
Paul DeBlassie III, Ph.D. is a depth psychologist and award-winning writer living in his native New Mexico. He specializes in treating individuals in emotional and spiritual crisis. His novels, visionary thrillers, delve deep into archetypal realities as they play out dramatically in the lives of everyday people. Memberships include the Author’s Guild, the Depth Psychology Alliance, the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, and the International Association for Jungian Studies.

 

The Beautiful Dead by Jun Prince

The Beautiful Dead:  A Tale of K-Pop, Ghosts,
and Nine-Tailed Fox Women
Jun Prince
Genre:  Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Publisher: Apollo and Nyx Publishing
Date of Publication:   September 22, 2017
ISBN:   978-0999491300
ASIN: B075VXNMDD
Number of pages:  346 (Print)
Word Count:  97k Words
Cover Artist:  Damonza
A lonely Korean pop star learns her high school classmate died five years ago. So why are they still texting?
Book Description:
Yubin knows she’s different than the other girls in the pop group SIITY. Yes, they all got sucked into the same machine, giving up schooling and signing ridiculously long contracts before anyone knew if they’d be successful, but that’s how pop stars are made in Korea. Yubin is supposed to be thankful for that, but she isn’t. She doesn’t even like the girls she performs with. 
She’s more connected to her former schoolmate Jieun, even though all they ever do is text. Over the last two months, Jieun has become her confidant and best friend, connecting Yubin to the real world in a way she desperately needs. Now that SIITY is going to appear on the reality show The Incredible Race: Asia, Yubin will need that connection more than ever, which is why she’s devastated to discover Jieun has been dead five years and is actually haunting her. 
If that weren’t enough, Yubin’s not the only SIITY member with issues. Rena’s father is emotionally abusive. Somi has a learning disability, and after a near death experience, Tae-eun becomes a nine-tailed fox woman. The only way they’ll survive the show, each other, and the supernatural currents buffeting them is to work together and win the hearts of their fans. Because if they don’t, they have nothing to go back to even if they survive what’s trying to kill them.  
Excerpt
4 (542 Words):
Jieun
She was still
unaccustomed to spirit combat, but a small tempest swirled in the underworld
around her. Humans too felt the wind she created, their muscles tightened, and
more than a few quickened their pace to evade the chill. Scraps of litter
spiraled over real world concrete, and whips of black hair whirled in an angry
nimbus around Jieun’s face.
The shadowman
looked up. She’d expected empty pits of darkness where eyes should have been, but
when the creature ceased feeding, a set of all too human brown eyes that now
lacked eyelids appeared in the monster’s head. They contrasted with the rest of
its body in that while the majority of the creature lurked in shadow that was
darker than everything else in the Dead World, these two spheres burned as if
absorbing all the spirit light that should have detailed the shadowman’s body.
The flow of spirit energy that connected its ugly mouth to the girl stopped,
and the ghost realized that she held the creature’s attention.
The shade of an
eerily human face like black paint on even blacker canvas contorted in what
could have just as easily been taken for triumph or rage. It unleashed an
otherworldly snarl that was anything but human and charged Jieun. Though it had
a man’s body, it rushed in an inhuman lope on all fours that seemed more like
an animal. Jieun darted out of the way—it wasn’t a conscious thing, and the
instinct may well have saved her dead life. If she hadn’t known before, alarm
she felt made her certain; ghosts could die a second death.
She whirled
after the attack expecting the shadowman behind her but it had vanished. She
sighed in relief. Then, without warning she saw the black shape leap from the
roof of a magazine stand just outside the subway station. She cried out in
alarm, and before its feet had touched the ground its giant mouth fastened on
her shoulder. The weight of the attack forced her to the ground, and in a
moment of dawning horror she realized it was impossible to escape.
She shrieked.
The pain was beyond anything she imagined possible for a spirit to experience.
It wasn’t like trailing her fingers through the wall, or even passing
completely through a physical object. Those pains were an affirmation of life,
cold shocks that, while not comfortable, served as a reminder that she was
still in some sense alive. The feeling of her spirit body being torn apart by
the shadowman’s teeth seemed as if the devil had run away with God’s scalpel
and used it to peel thick ribbons of her soul away from creation.
Though the
shadowman looked like and had similar features to a man, it made low growls
that were far distant from human speech. It wasn’t a language at all – if it
had been she’d have instinctually understood it. It shook its head like a
starved wolf and further tore into the fabric of firelines that composed her
spirit body. Its breath smelled of rotten flesh, and she could hear the pulse
of bestial rhythmic snorting in her ears. She needed a weapon. She didn’t have
one. This was it. Jieun would die… this time for real.

 

About the Author:
Jun has lived in Asia for the better part of the last decade. During his years in Korea, he made a point of learning about and getting as close to the Korean entertainment industry as possible while writing his first novel “The Beautiful Dead.” He enjoys telling stories about monstrous humans and humanized monsters.
He has a MFA from the University of California – Riverside, graduated with a BA in English Cum Laude from the University of Washington – Seattle, and attended Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea as an exchange student.

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