Would you make a pact with the devil!

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One of my short stories in my book Flight of Destiny is called “The pact” it is about a desperate man, whose wife is dying, who is forced into making a pact with the devil.

History is littered with people who have taken this dramatic step.

There is even a Pope, namely Pope Sylvester II, who seemingly was way ahead of his time, and of high intellect. This French pope is credited with inventing the hydraulic organ, pendulum clock, and introducing Arabic numerals to Western Europe, on top of this he also wrote books on mathematics, natural science, music, theology and philosophy. Due to his incredible intelligence, highly tuned scientific mind,  and ingenuity  people suspected he had made a pact with the devil. He is not the only senior church figure to turn to the devil. Saint Theophilus the Penitent turned to the devil to make a deal, in order to gain a high ecclesiastical position. The contract signed in his own blood proved to be a heavy burden for Theophilus. German alchemist Faust also  is supposed to have made a pact with the devil, in order to pursue his “boundless desire for knowledge” for the next 24 years.

It seems a recurrent theme that if you are highly talented, it seems there is the possibility you have formed a pact with devil, this was the case of virtuoso violin musician Nicolo Paganini. His great virtuoso performances led people to believe he had formed a pact with the devil, and that it was the devil who was aiding him during the course of his performances. He was  refused the last rites,  and it took a while before he was finally laid to rest.  Paganini was not the only violinist to come under the microscope. It seems to be an Italian thing, Giuseppe Tartini, claimed that he dreamed that The Devil appeared to him and asked to be his servant, not only this, the devil composed piece for him, which Tartini transcribed when he awoke.  The devil is also accredited for turning Robert Johnson  a noted American blues artist into a genius. Rather than quash rumors he encouraged them.  There are quite a lot of modern day musicans who it is claimed have a made a pact with the prince of darkness, Bob Dylan, Jay-Z? Led Zeppelin, to name but a few.

Below is an exert from Flight of Destiny as Jarret encounters a man who says he can save his sick wife and unborn baby and Jarret is forced into making a pact with the devil.

pact-2014

Suddenly, he became aware his was not alone. A well dressed

man with shiny patent leather shoes was walking purposefully

towards him, as if he had something important to say.

“Jarret Lamb?” the dapper man asked in a sweetly scintillating

voice, pausing before the distraught Jarret.

Jarret froze, astonishment momentarily replacing pain.

“I can see you’ve a lot on your mind just now,” the man said

calmly, examining Jarret minutely in profile.

Jarret eyed him suspiciously, not knowing what to say.

“It’s your wife and child, isn’t it? They’re in mortal danger,”

declared the man.

“And how could you possibly know that?” demanded Jarret,

stunned.

“I just know,” the man replied matter-of-factly. “And, what’s

more, I can help.” The man’s eyes had a chillingly hypnotic draw, as

did the mesmeric tone of his voice. The man’s clothes, posture and

demeanor echoed confidence. He also emitted an enchanting aroma,

rather like an orchard of ripe fruit trees.

“How?” faltered Jarret.

“Your wife and child will survive,” avowed the man, resting a

hand gently on Jarret’s shoulder, like a father might when consoling a

son. Then his voice dropped and took on a more cautionary tone. “But

only if you do something for me in return.”

“And what exactly might that be?” asked Jarret confused, but

desperate for any shred of hope.

“You need only shake my hand, and everything will be righted. In

a few days you will receive a letter with instructions. In exchange for

your wife and child’s lives, you must carry out the instructions exactly

as written.” The man’s voice lowered to a rasping whisper. “You have

no alternative, really.”

“I see,” replied Jarret. Though trembling, his heart racing, he

couldn’t help but think, What do I have to lose? This man is probably

just a lunatic, but regardless, he’s seems more purposeful and sincere

than the doctors, who’ve thus far offered no concrete solutions or hope.

Crazy or not, he’s all I have at the moment. Jarret shrugged his

shoulders and slowly offered the man his hand. The man’s hand felt

strangely cool, and Jarret felt an icy-cold electric spark jump from the

man to him as they shook.

“There. Done and agreed,” said the man with a sense of agreeable

formality, like some of the businessmen Jarret dealt with at work.

“Now finish your walk, and return to your wife and child.”

Part of a Halloween holiday  blog hop, read other articles by writers and bloggers.

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Clowns: Our Fascination and Our Fear

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Clowns: Our Fascination and Our Fear

By Tiffany Apan

Throughout the ages, many creatures have served as a fascination for our imaginations while terrifying us in the process. Vampires, werewolves, black-eyed children…and clowns. Yes, that seemingly innocuous person making balloon sculptures at many a children’s party. They simultaneously bring joy and terror.

Clowns are a morbid curiosity. They also have a long history, dating back to ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. They have long been associated with the term, “rustic fool” and the concept of a circus clown didn’t even arrive until the 19th century. Until then, a clown was typically a “fool” character in theatrical productions. He was often lower class, dressed in a tattered servant’s attire, and often the comedic relief in an otherwise serious plot of a play. But if clowns were meant to bring humor and joy, how did they come to have such a sinister reputation?

There are many different theories, and an article on LiveScience.com suggest that perhaps this is partly due to that even as court jesters their comedy was often quite dark. There is also suggestion of long time association with being quite otherworldly. Some examples include how they seem to be able to cram themselves into a tiny car, twenty at a time before emerging seemingly unaffected by the cramped space. They perform acts of magic and are often unpredictable in their feats and actions. This can evoke strong emotions in different individuals, and sometimes, those emotions are negative ones. Perhaps it is these seemingly supernatural abilities and such unpredictability that gives reason for authors and filmmakers to feature the clown as a malevolent character, even a killer. Many individuals suffer from coulrophobia, or a clinically diagnosed fear of clowns. While this is not the average person, clowns tend to invoke feelings of disconcert among much of the population. Even Stephen King, author of the novel “IT” which features a demonic killer clown, is quoted as saying the clowns can be quite terrifying. According to the LiveScience article (along with a few interviews by King himself):

King admitted that seeing a clown outside of the character’s typical context, such as a circus or a birthday party, could be unnerving — yes, even for him.

“If I saw a clown lurking under a lonely bridge (or peering up at me from a sewer grate, with or without balloons), I’d be scared, too,” King said.

For me, clowns are mainly harmless. But I will also agree with King, in saying that if I saw some random clown standing somewhere in a field, under a bridge, or a street corner, I would be pretty unnerved myself.

For more of Tiffany’s work, check out her official website and blog:

http://tiffanyapan.com

http://tiffanyapanwritingproject.blogspot.com

Part of a Halloween holiday  blog hop, read other articles by writers and bloggers.

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The fear of being followed, alone late at night…

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Ever had that terrible feeling that somebody is following you? Perhaps you have caught a late night train and while you are walking home, the streets are deserted.  Suddenly you  are aware of footsteps.  You want to turn round to see who is behind you, but your growing anxiety prevents you from doing so.  You increase your pace in the hope that you can lose this unknown person who you perceive to be following your trail.  When you finally get home the relief is palpable.

In my book of short stories, Flight of Destiny,  at the end of my story called “Cast from Hell” ,  there is a similar situation to the above scenario.

The train arrived late in the evening at the station nearest my parents’ house. It was dark and deserted, and I felt truly alone. I breathed a sigh of relief and began dragging my case down the dark road to my parents’ house. Wisps of fog slowly crept in, obscuring the stars, then the moon, and finally the local scenery. A few moments later, it began to drizzle.I heard a twig break behind me, followed by the repetitive click of heels on tarmac. I didn’t immediately panic, but I recall feeling increasingly uneasy. I picked up my pace, only to hear the sound of the footsteps behind getting closer rather than more distant. I turned abruptly to try a gain a cursory look at my stalker, but the combination of darkness, fog and drizzle, made it impossible to see anything more than a foot away. I turned and further upped my pace, but my effort was frustrated by having to drag the case. The dense fog parted momentarily and turned and caught a glimpse of a person not far behind me, the face shadowy and undefined. The fog immediately re-engulfed the elusivefigure. The person appeared to be wearing a hooded cloak and riding boots, which would account for the pronounced clicking noises that eerily reverberated along the road. The footsteps behind me slowed, crunched some slushy leaves, then resumed moving at a faster pace.My sense of dignity stopped me from calling out for help, but I nonetheless discarded my luggage and ran, hampered this time by the high heels I was wearing. I couldn’t shake off my pursuer, who, to my  horror, was now almost within touching distance of me. I became aware of my pursuer’s labored breathing, and for a moment, I could swear I caught the briefest whiff of perfume. It even seemed familiar,but in my anxiety, I wasn’t able to place it. My body froze when a hand touched my shoulder, and I turned to face the grey specter in what seemed like slow motion.

Read some other great articles by authors and bloggers, Halloween Holiday blog hop

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Buy a copy of Flight of Destiny by Francis H Powell, 22 quirky short stories.

https://www.amazon.com/Flight-Destiny-Francis-H-Powell/dp/0988664097/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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‘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

 

Out of the Dark Claire Riley

Out of the Dark full wrap

‘Out of the Dark ’

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 front cover

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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This article is part of a blogging challenge,

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/sign-ups-for-2016-to-z-blogging.html

follow me on Twitter

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