‘Out of the Dark ’ by Claire Riley, released 26th of May

Out of the Dark front cover

We are temporary. Finite.

The choices we’ve made, the people we have loved. Who we used to be no longer matters.

Because now it is all about the ending. And the ending always comes too soon.

There’s fear in the dark. And behind every drop of light, the shadows creep and the darkness comes in the form of clawing, red-eyed monsters. They hunt us—stalk us…they are desperate to destroy us.

But I have a reason to fight the darkness and everything in it. A small glimpse of light that lives within my golden-haired daughter, Lilly. She is my strength. She is my everything.

Every life is an untold story, each scene unfolding until the final act. But our ending has yet to be written, and I will continue to protect us, until I can not.

Add it to your bookshelves here –> http://bit.ly/1Sd6pE4

Review quotes:

 Riley delivers a story that is equal parts thrilling and breathtaking. It beautifully illustrates the lengths we go to survive and what it means to love when we’ve lost everything.

NYT & USA Today bestselling Author A. Meredith Walters

 

Riley’s ‘Out of the Dark’ holds a special place in my heart. Before I’d devoured it, I’d never read a book that so beautifully and eloquently captured the distressing, aching love a mother holds for her child. It is built into the heart strings of a woman, natural and uncontainable. It goes past biological and into spiritual.

In her most unique and mysterious way, Riley has given us a transcendent picture of love in the midst of a terrifying climate. She has shown us what it means to choose your family, that it is a matter of honor and earning and not a matter of a blood bond and obligation. I am honored to have read this book pre-release and I know it will stick to me like honey, nearly glued onto the fabric of who I am as a human being.

Speculative fiction author – Eli Constant

 

A beautifully written story that makes you realize that you should always have hope, even in the most desperate of circumstances. It will tug at your heart strings, until by the end, there isn’t a dry eye in the house.

Goodreads & Amazon reviewer

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 Claire C. Riley is a USA Today and International bestselling author. She is also a bestselling British horror writer and an Amazon top 100 bestseller.

Her work is best described as the modernization of classic, old-school horror. She fuses multi-genre elements to develop storylines that pay homage to cult classics while still feeling fresh and cutting edge. She writes characters that are realistic, and kills them without mercy. Claire lives in the United Kingdom with her husband, three daughters, and one scruffy dog.

 

Author of:

 Odium The Dead Saga Series (3 books),

Odium Origins Series (3 books),

Limerence (The Obsession Series) (2 books),

Thicker than Blood series (2 books),

& Shut Up & Kiss me,

Plus much more.

 

Contact Links:

 www.clairecriley.com

www.facebook.com/ClaireCRileyAuthor

http://amzn.to/1GDpF3I

 

‘She writes characters that are realistic and then kills them without mercy’ – Eli Constant author of Z-Children, Dead Trees, Mastic and much more.

Out of the Dark teaser graphic slide.png

 

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O is for Opium

Serpent and Apple
Serpent and Apple — Image by © 68/GK Hart/Vikki Hart/Ocean/Corbis

“Opium”  is another of my short stores in my book Flight of Destiny. A town called Jacksonville has fallen into disarray, many under the influence of the celestial drug opium. A preacher (known as Preacher Moon) is sent to stop the town falling deeper into the mire into moral collapse. He is a pious man, a kind of John the Baptist figure, who believes his strong voice and powerful words putting the fear of God into the inhabitants will bring the town into line.

A town council meeting was called by the church elders. A new force needed to be summoned to counteract this seemingly unstoppable slide into moral iniquity, and, at their behest, that force arrived the next day on a spavined, overworked, mangy-looking brute of a horse, scarcely able to navigate the town streets. The rider didn’t care about appearances. He put his trust in God to provide for all his earthly needs, including those of his horse. With his wild, shoulder length hair and scraggly beard, he looked a wild man, eyes full of zeal, capable of digging deep within a person’s soul. In other rail towns he’d proven a bastion against any evil that stood in his way. His fire and brimstone sermons were legendary, and he had a reputation for smiting even the most heinous of sinners, those acting as consorts of the very devil himself.

The preacher finds himself confronting an adversary, who he deems responsible for the evil that is prevalent in the town.

And before the day was out, there was one man in particular he had placed his sights on: the local gangster chief of the Green Triad Gang, known to everyone simply as “Gecko.” The preacher’s first move would be to locate and confront this source of all the evil scourging the town. Once he encounters Gecko he finds him to be somewhat different to what he imagined, in that Gecko, is wise and witty and more than a match for him verbally. 

“You will henceforth stop your activities, or be smitten by the Right Hand of God!” Gecko considered the threat calmly. “And what form would this punishment likely take?” he asked, as if the preacher’s answer might make a difference.

“You and your family will suffer the heat of Hell’s fire throughout all eternity,” he clarified, pointing the head of his staff menacingly at Gecko, who remained completely unruffled.

“Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man,” Gecko sighed philosophically.

Ultimately  Opium is a story about temptation.  The Preacher is drawn into eating a piece of cake. He is also tempted by Gecko’s beautiful daughter.

Gecko smiled sweetly at the preacher, twiddling the dragon ring on his finger, then glanced at the cake.

“Will you not have something to eat with us, Preacher? I’m about to cut this cake,” Gecko said in a relaxed, convivial way, reaching for a gilded knife.

The preacher’s face soured. It was clear to him that Gecko’s offer was a gesture of hospitality rather than threat, and he was extremely hungry from the long ride. In truth, he’d lost count of the time since he had last eaten, and then, it had been mostly grasshoppers he’d come across on his travels. Still, how could he accept food from such a loathsome sinner?

“Food from the devil’s hand no doubt,” he growled in a bitter tone, shaking his head in the negative and averting his eyes from the cake and the exotic fruits the young girl had placed on the table.

“No,” contradicted Gecko, “A cake baked by my daughter, here.”

Gecko beamed proudly.

“Never,” replied the preacher, lifting his eyes and hands towards the heavens as if holding up a massive rock and waiting for God to cast it onto the tempter before him Gecko shook his head.

“Isn’t it equally sinful to spurn gifts provided by God. Surely this magnificent cake is such a gift. Wouldn’t it be wrong not to take advantage of an offer of food in order to keep yourself strong in his service? Even Jesus, if I’m not mistaken, indulged in local weddings and feasts.”

Gecko cut a large slice of cake and as he brought it to his mouth, a look of anticipatory pleasure and contentment swept across his face.

ENJOY OPIUM (the short story…I mean)

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

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M is for Maggot

Serpent and Apple

Maggot is one of my short stories, it is about a circus owner, who has run into debt and is forced to sell his daughter in order to be debt free.  He is a buffoon, an oaf, with no evidence of any real likable traits. The story starts with him bargaining with Excellency, the cruel tyrant who he hopes will give him a good price for his daughter. His daughter is brought in, like some kind of merchandise.

The young girl beneath the veil might have been Cleopatra, except that but for a fine gold thong, she was entirely naked. Gold coins strung on golden chains hung from all four sides of the palanquin, making chinking sounds with each of her carriers’ steps

She has been coerced into being sell-able  goods, having been cruelly beaten by her father.

She couldn’t be more than sixteen. Her long black hair flowed  over her shoulders down to her waist, barely covering her adolescent breasts. Every male in the room stared greedily at her, none noting the smudged makeup highlighting her deep brown eyes, the result of a copious flow of tears at having been coerced.

After the young girl Apollonia is presented, some crude bartering takes place.

“Is she…pure?” demanded her would-be purchaser, shooting a quick glance in Maggot’s direction, as if this would have direct bearing on the “price” of the goods he was considering purchasing.

“Of course, Excellency,” said Maggot boldly. “She’s never been touched.”

 Finally the two men come to an agreement and Maggot’s greed is seen through the way takes the money.

 Maggot grasped the money in his gnarled fingers, trying his best to give the impression he really wasn’t interested, though, in fact, he undeniably was. His beady eyes drifted from the coins in his hand to the remaining ones flashing and glinting inside the treasury box.

 The unwilling merchandise makes one final plea to stop the sale…which will inevitable end up with the slimy tyrant violating her.

The girl’s fate decided, the four strong men shouldered the palanquin while Apollonia searched her father’s eyes a final time, beseeching him to change his mind. It was a useless gesture, as Maggot was busy counting and ogling the gold coins. To her dismay,he never gave her a second glance, and she was carried, wailing inconsolably, through the massive banquet hall doors and down a short hallway.

Maggot is a despicable man without scruples, what kind of man would sell his own daughter?

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

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L is for laughter is killing me!

L for Twitter

I hope at least that there are some strong elements of humor in my book Flight of Destiny, sometimes humor naturally evolves in a story. If humor is evident, it is doubtlessly dark. I am British, so this perhaps accounts for a dosage of dark humor in my stories.  The humor is often surreal.

In my story Fire and Brimstone,  for some reason I came up with a Danish character called Helga, who is sent to a correctional school for delinquents by the Danish Bible society.  She is a very rotund young lady, who is seduced by a morally corrupt Night warden.

The story also seems to have an obsession with fish.  Jonathon Noteworthy (who is sent to the correctional school, arrives home to find his mother having sex with a local fishmonger).

The boy had been sent to the school following “a fire incident.” He’d come home early from school one day and noticed a distinct smell of fish. Looking about, he noticed a bloodstained striped apron, a white hat, an oiled sweater, a pair of heavy woolen trousers and two rubber boots scattered about the living room. Upstairs, he heard the repetitive sound of his mother’s beds prings. Running up the stairs three at a time, he burst into her bedroom, thinking somebody was attacking his mother. His eyes caught sight of Mr. Lucius Pike, the fishmonger, his thin sallow face with two tiny polka dot eyes, naked on top of his mother.The shock of this discovery, forces Jonathon to seek revenge on Lucius Pike. Retribution came exactly two days later, when Noteworthy broke into Pike’s Fish Mongers during the night and filled a large sack with every kind of fish he could lay his hands on. Bass, eel, haddock, mackerel, mullet, sturgeon, turbot, it didn’t matter. He dragged the sackto Pike’s house and peeked into the man’s living room window. Pike was curled up asleep in his favorite chair pulled close to the hearth for warmth, a woolen blanket draped over his skinny legs,snoring loudly, while the television across from him announced the latest fishing news.

Noteworthy rummaged about outside, located a ladder left by  some workmen, and climbed it, carrying the stuffed sack over his  shoulder like a coal miner a sack of coal onto Pike’s roof, and then began dropping the fish, one by one, down the chimney. The fish landed on the fire, and soon the living room was filled with the acrid smoke and the smell of charred fish. Just before Pike awoke, the sizzling, fire made a popping noise and leaped from the hearth onto the man’s blanket. As Pike’s living room burst into flames, a neighbor noted a boy on Pike’s roof stuffing a huge halibut into the chimney.

The image of a boy dropping fish down a chimney, might not appear funny to some, in the same way perhaps the famous Parrot sketch involving an irate  customer Mr Praline (played by John Cleese) and a shopkeeper (Michael Palin), who hold contradictory positions on the vital state of a “Norwegian Blue” parrot, while poking fun at the many euphemisms for death used in British culture, might appear lacking in humor or at least sensibility. This brings me onto the subject of “death”.  Would you like to die laughing?  Members of the Monty Python team were responsible (inadvertently)  for the death of a man named Ole Bentzen whose demise was brought about by the scene where Ken (Michael Palin)  gets chips up his nose that caused him to laugh into oblivion.  Imagine the indignity of dying from hearing a dirty joke…Pietro Aretino, an Italian author, suffocated from the hysterics that ensued after his sister told him a dirty joke. I guess the sister must  have rued killing her brother by laughter.

The British comedian/magician Tommy Cooper, may not have died laughing, but he died during the course of his penultimate show.  The audience were certainly laughing when Tommy suddenly

Slumped to the floor during an onstage comedy routine in 1984 at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London. Audience members believing it was part of the act expected him to get up. When the realization that Tommy had passed away, they stopped laughing.

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

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F is for Flight of Destiny

April 7 for Twitter

 

Flight of Destiny is my first published book.  It was a long haul to complete this book.  There are twenty two short stories in this book,  which cover a range of themes.  The book opens with a story called “Arrival” …Flight of Destiny… “Arrival”…do you get it? It seemed a logical beginning.  The story revolves around a man who can’t place a name and this niggling problem grows into an obsession,  as paranoia starts to grip his mind. “Snatched”, the second story,  concerns  a parent’s worst nightmare when a  child goes missing, however readers are left to ponder,  is it the fault of the father? Can ever be forgiven by his bitter wife ? Does the blame really lie with him?  Another title is “Opium”.  Oscar Wilde said The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it… I can resist everything but temptation” in this story a righteous man is driven down this bumpy road.  Onto Bugeyes. We live in a world of body image stereo types, are perpetuated by the media. Those unfortunate beings, born with abnormalities, could face a lifetime of cruel jokes, and in this story’s case rejection.  “Seed” is a story about a woman who is simply desperate for a baby and is surrounded by young virile officers in an army barracks, while her husband can’t seem to provide her with the  offspring she craves. “Mutant” is a story about a scientist who takes the ultimate revenge on his cheating wife.  “Maggot” is a story based around a circus owner, who is forced to sell his daughter to a slimy tyrant

I suppose I will admit to having a few favorites. “Flawless” is a favorite, for sentimental reasons, because it was the first story I wrote which got published in a small literary magazine called Rat Mort (Dead Rat. It set me on the way to write other short stories. It is about a man who is proposing to the woman of his dreams, when suddenly a colorful insects arrives and he is forced to swallow it. He develops a terrible inexplicable skin disease and his life goes in a downward spiral. His fiancé soon deserts him for his younger brother, leaving him bitter and betrayed. Totally out of character he decides to take his revenge, on the day of his brother’s wedding. As he is about to enact his revenge, the insect suddenly exits and his skin is back to normal., to pay off his circus debts.  

 The book is full of quirky characters,  horrible odious characters,  oddballs, freaks. The stories usually have a dramatic twist at the end.  I have been heavily influenced by the short stories of Roald Dahl (Kiss Kiss).

 Reviewers  Comments

Francis H. Powell is a masterful storyteller. He successfully kept me on the edge of my seat as I paged through from one story to the next in FLIGHT OF DESTINY—a fantastic collection of 22 short stories. Here he weaves humor, surrealism, and contradictions into tales that reveal errors in commonly accepted definitions. Each story is uniquely different with twisting endings and story plots that challenge commonly accepted concepts. The characters are true and undeniably out-of-the-ordinary. Such stories as DUKE and FLAWLESS will bring into question all you thought you knew about people and the universe —I know they did me. These stories kept me guessing until the last page.

As with all great literature, these tales provide excellent food for thought. There is a bitter sweetness to humanity, in terms of what man is capable of doing to one another. In FLIGHT OF DESTINY this paradox is magnified, examined, and spit out in artful, literary way that is brilliantly captivating.

 

I love the dark tone of the short stories and how the underlying theme of each is this sense of shock over what humans would be capable of if there were no reality based limits. While the stories do not tie together, the tone of the work connects them all and makes it easy to flow from one story to the next.

I enjoyed these tales as they gave me a fantastic break from my daily routine and I enjoyed remembering them and day dreaming about them afterwards. They’re a little Ray Bradbury, a little Stephen King, but with Powell’s own unique twists. Very interesting read.

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

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D is for death and the afterlife.

D Finished

 

What happens after we pass over to the other side? It is a question that dogs us as soon as we become conscious of what death  is all about.  Of course points of view on this subject are colored  by  the religion that a person follows.   It is a commonly banded about  idea that some Muslims  believe  they are promised 72 virgins,  upon entry to paradise,  particularly those who fight in the way of Allah.

What do Catholics believe? At the moment of death, the soul is separated from the body and no longer sustains order within the natural body; as a result, the body begins to corrupt and left to its own will decompose. The soul, however, is immortal and never ceases to exist, once created. Immediately upon death, the soul of each person is judged by the Lord, either to eternal life or the damnation of hell.

There must be many permutations depending on which religion a person follows. Buddhists give two permutations,  If you still have unresolved kamma (Sanskrit: karma), if the conditions for rebirth are present, “you” are reborn. Alternatively If you have achieved nibbana (Sanskrit: nirvana) during your life, you will have no more kamma, and so the conditions for the creation of the five clinging-aggregates will no longer be present. Consciousness will cease, activity in your brain will cease, and your body will decay. Meaning you will die, and that’s your lot.

The Buddhist  version of life after death,  seems to not only be more appealing than the threat of damnation in Hell  but also seems to  be more logical, as well giving a meaning to life, in that through a life we learn and develop until we reach the point whereby it is unnecessary to learn any more.

From my point of view it is only when we all finally embrace death itself  will this vexing question about what happens after death will finally be answered.  There are those who have recently had their quest  to answer this  question satisfied.  David Bowie is no longer with us, having succumbed to cancer.  He was the type of man a person might imagine could live forever, he was such a part of my life as surely he was for many others.  Is he now in some other dimension  working on celestial music? Has he been interacting with other departed souls,  other geniuses,  departed family  members of the Jones family  (Jones was his real family name).

In my book Flight of Destiny, I present an image of both Heaven and Hell. In my story cast from Hell,  a man is rejected by Hell (for being too good)  and is sent back in the guise of a woman to wreak havoc.  This is his take on Hell.

As you can tell, my expectations of hell were quickly dashed.It was far removed from William Blake’s famed illustrations of Dante’s Inferno, and it didn’t even remotely resemble a Brueghel painting.To my surprise, there was no evidence in Hell of people being  grievously punished. The slothful were not being goaded with burning coals. The gluttons were not being tormented with thirst and hunger.There were no hedonists being bathed in burning pitch and stinking brimstone, or envious individuals howling with grief over that which they could never possess. The proud were not being brought down.The covetous were not being denied. In fact, the damned seemed to be living in a modicum of comfort. I never detected any weeping, wailing or gnashing of teeth. The place, called by some gehenna, the bottomless pit, was admittedly no holiday camp, but things there had grown shoddy and dysfunctional. It would require major rehabilitation to scare even a child. Being lodged with fellow rejects was sobering experience, not unlike being in a holding center for suspected criminals, refugees or illegal immigrants.

This is his take on Heaven.

I took a last look survey of Hell. It looked like a vast airport terminal: vacuous, tedious, and hum-drum. By now I couldn’t wait to leave. By contrast, I have often tried to imagine Heaven. To me it would be one long party in a great vivant night club, not unlike this second life to which I was now looking forward to I closed my inner eye as instructed and waited while Charon transported me to earth’s dimension.

What happens after death, is the ultimate, unanswerable question.

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

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B is for Bugeyes.

Bugeyes REDUCED

We live in a world of body image stereo types, which are perpetuated by the media. Those unfortunate beings, born with abnormalities, could face a lifetime of cruel jokes, and in this story’s case rejection.

You can’t but help but feel for Bugeyes.  He is born with oversized eyes and is consequently ruthlessly mocked.  Besides being mocked , he is sent away  from his biological family’s grand estate,  almost as soon as his mother sets eyes on him. Not a happy start to  life.  Bugeyes is one of my favorite characters in my book of  short stories,  it covers the life of an outsider, a reject.  The character does not speak much, he is like a shadow.  It is a story about revenge,  Bugeyes is not stupid,  he has a sharp calculating mind, as well as being curious to discover the truth of his true origins.  This curiosity finally leads him to confront the family that has rejected him and to claim his rightful inheritance.

 

BOOK EXERT (Bugeyes)

Bug-eyes was destined to a life of toil. As his mother, Lady
Harriet Lombard, remarked gruffly when holding her swaddled firstborn,
“He has disproportionate eyes,” adding tersely, “the child’s
abnormal.” As she handed the squalling reject back to the doctor, she
decreed, “Drop it down the well for all I care.”

Dr. Shady, a tall, thin, nervous practitioner from a line of doctors
who had served the Lombards for generations, wasn’t given to
infanticide. After some negotiations with Lord Lombard, he concocted
a plan, which, despite being highly irregular and grossly illegal, at
least allowed for the child’s preservation. The shrieking infant, who
should at this point have been profiting from his mother’s milk or at
least that of a wet nurse, was promptly dispatched to the periphery of
the estate where the infant’s upbringing became the responsibility of
the Lockjaws, who Doctor Shady had known were desperate for a
child.
Ralston Lockjaw, the Lombard estate gamekeeper, and Hettie, his
barren wife, lived in a poky ramshackle cottage. The infant was was
welcomed heartily by Hettie. Ralston had his reservations, but wisely
kept them to himself. A sizable pay increase on the promise of total
silence sweetened the pill of having to feed another mouth and tolerate
the strange bug-eyed infant. Lord Lombard determined to keep the
secret of the child’s whereabouts to himself, while his seething wife
continued to bitterly rue her “cursed luck,” blaming the abomination
squarely on her husband. In fact, some odd physical defects were
known to exist within the aristocraticly inbred Lombards. Lady Harriet
had more hoped for a healthy heir to grace the front cover of many a
society magazine, like her society friends with their offspring, not
some kind of monstrosity with a conspicuous defect. In disgust, she
took to noting the overly protruding eyes present in the line of
Lombard portraits looking contemptuously down on her in the
corridors of the huge manor house. The infant’s “death” was officially
pronounced by Dr. Shady to all the world, the reality being otherwise.

 

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