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Archive for January, 2011

Dark Stories: Michael and Cindy, Part II

This is the last of the Michael and Cindy Dark Stories, and this one takes place immediately after the argument that takes place between Michael, Jeff, and George about Jason leaving with them to go to Manchester to collect supplies.  I thought this one would give you one last look into the twisted relationship these two have, as well as Michael’s paranoia about those around him.

There are a few more stories to tell, including one about Ben, the teens, and even Sadie, the little girl in the camp.  So stay tuned for those.

 

Michael and Cindy Part II

“What a bunch of pathetic wussies.  They make me sick.”

“Tsk, tsk dear.  Such harsh language.”

Cindy shifted her gaze from the curtain and focused on Michael as he sat at the table reassembling the M16 he’d decided to clean yet again before going on the hunt.

“Ya know, you keep rubbing that gun like that and you’ll go blind.”  She slinked over to him, her body lithe and sinewy.  She was a predator, a jungle cat on the prowl.  She treated most men, including Michael, like prey.  They were either food or sex, nothing more.  That was why when most men caught Cindy’s attention they usually did their best to divert their eyes and look away.  They seemed to know that to her they were just meat, pure and simple.

“And if you keep wishing such ill will on others you won’t get into heaven.”

Cindy almost laughed, but instead continued creeping up on her boyfriend.  Michael was definitely sex to her, but also food.  She craved him like meat, like a meal that could never completely sate her hunger, so she had to continue to hunt and devour him, over and over again.  She slithered to the floor and moved her hand over his combat boot, sliding it underneath his camouflaged pants.  Blocked at the bend in the knee, her hand hovered just below it scratching at his calf with her ragged fingernails.

Michael ignored Cindy as he finished reassembling the weapon.  After a second he admired his work and nodded in satisfaction.  He was getting more proficient at taking care of the rifle.  He’d searched around and managed to find a manual covering the how-to’s of field stripping and maintaining it in a bookstore he’d come across during the group’s travels.

As much as he had every intention of keeping it operational, the fact that he’d acquired only two thirty round clips with it, one of which was only partially full, meant that he had very little desire to use the M16.  It was more a symbol of his authority than anything.

He’d squeezed off a few rounds in automatic mode a while back, just to convince himself that it did indeed work and when the time came he could put it to use.  Other than that all he did was keep it clean and ready to go.  There would be time to acquire more rounds.  After all, there had to be tons of munitions floating around these days, it was just a matter of venturing into an area where soldiers had been stationed that wasn’t currently overrun by the undead.  Until then, the rifle would continue to serve its purpose as his staff of office.

He grinned as he flashed back to how he had acquired it.  It had been a shame, a real shame, that the soldier had been unwilling to surrender the weapon.  The boy had been brave, but he was injured, and in a bit of a jam.  He had required a bit of extreme persuasion, as Michael liked to think of it, to finally relinquish his rifle and sidearm.  Desperate times called for desperate measures …

Michael’s daydream was shattered by the sensation of sharp fingernails digging into his lower leg and a warm trickle of blood running down his calf.

Cindy was looking up at him, her head leaning against his leg.  Michael glanced at her, but despite the pain she was inflicting, he continued smiling at the M16.  Yes, it had taken quite a bit to get the damn thing, but it had been worth it.

“If you don’t ravage me soon, I am going to take that thing away from you and use it to get off.”

“Well that would be something to see.  It’d be even better if you let me pull the trigger while you did it.”

Michael caught Cindy’s fist before it could connect with his crotch.  He had no doubt that she would have hit him so hard he wouldn’t be able to stand up straight for a week.  He twisted her wrist until she gasped in pain.  As usual, it sounded more like a moan of pleasure coming from her lips.

He gritted his teeth as she dug the nails even deeper into the meat of his lower leg.  Michael knew no matter how much he twisted Cindy’s wrist, she would keep digging, even if he went so far as to snap the slender bones in her arm.  It was a tempting proposition, but with no doctors around he couldn’t take things that that far.  Still, the idea of putting the certifiably insane girl out of commission for a while was tempting.

Standing up abruptly, Michael flung her arm away with a sharp kick of his leg.  Before she could react he brought his knee up and slammed it against Cindy’s chest, forcing her to the ground.

Gasping for air, her eyes widened in surprise.  When she was able to breathe again, a knowing smiled appeared on Cindy’s lips.

“Maybe now I’ll finally get some attention.”

Michael glared down at her, angry again.  After what had happened outside with George and Jeff, he needed an outlet for the rage building up inside of him.  How convenient for him that Cindy was always available, willing to scratch any itch he might have.

*

Perhaps what had happened outside should be considered a moral victory.  At least on the surface, it appeared that way.  Everyone had been watching as Jeff had gotten flustered when he couldn’t persuade Michael to let Jason stay in the camp.  He’d been forced to demand that the boy be left behind when they went into town, which would have ended very badly for Jeff if he had remained obstinate.  That is, if George hadn’t butted in.

The final result, though unexpected, was a pleasant surprise.  George had committed to staying with them, which wasn’t what Michael had expected to get out of him.  Not in a million years, and certainly not voluntarily.  The deal George offered was one Michael was more than willing to make.

The plan had been to dress down Jeff, make him sweat a bit, and make it abundantly clear who was in charge so there wouldn’t be any more opportunities for them to butt heads.  Jeff would know his place and would be content from then on in following orders.  Backing him into a corner should have been easy, with just a little bit of help from his friends.  Megan was never going to allow Jason to leave the camp and it was Jeff’s duty to enforce her wishes.  In the end, Jeff was backed into a corner, but George’s little outburst had pulled his bacon out of the fire.

Looking back on the spat was amusing.  Michael could care less about whether or not Jason went with them.  When the conversation first started even Frank seemed to question the value of having a twelve year old going out with them, but even someone as dense as that fat hick was able to pick up on what Michael was trying to do after a few minutes and kept his big yap shut, except to tease George and Megan.

Jason was just another pawn to Michael.  It appeared that Jeff was really the only other person who picked up on that little detail.  Perhaps George and Megan had suspected, but they let their emotions get in the way, which was exactly what Michael had hoped for.  The kid liked Michael, and that made him pretty damn easy to manipulate.  Since none of the adult newcomers seemed to have much fondness for the camp’s leader, resorting to using the kid was the natural choice for sorting things out and clearing the air as to who was in charge.

Jason would be useful again later on.  He was probably mad at everyone at the moment, including Michael, but he would get over it.  Kids were resilient like that.  All it would take would be a few more gentle reminders that he had to stand on his own two feet and needed to act like a man.  He couldn’t allow the adults in the group to coddle him like a little baby anymore.  With a few well placed words, Jason would ditch the others entirely and be as loyal to Michael as Frank and Marcus.

Jason’s destiny was to drive a wedge between Megan and the two other men.  The subject of the boy would be a hot topic amongst them from now on and sooner or later they would not see eye to eye on how to deal with the rebellious preteen.  As they argued, it would be easy to chip away at their loyalty to one another.  In time, one of them would decide they were better off offering up their loyalties to Michael, who was the one providing them with shelter and food, rather than the other two troublemakers, who were just stirring up shit and doing little else that was productive.  It was just a matter of letting them fall apart on their own, with a few well placed nudges, of course.

It would all work out, but there was still something that bothered Michael.  Something about what had happened outside that tasted foul on his tongue—like fruit that had started to ferment a little too quickly.  Something was not right.

George had shown some backbone, which was far more than Michael thought the dumb bastard was capable of.  George was supposed to be some miserable wimp pining away for his family, so it came as a big surprise when he agreed to stay at the camp to avoid putting Jason in any sort of danger.  Even more surprising were the threats he’d uttered.  Michael had to admit that it had unnerved him—not because George was so big and scary.  Michael had taken down bigger foes in the past.  Instead, it was what he had seen in the big man’s eyes: there was no bluffing there.  George had every intention of killing Michael if he continued pushing him.

Despite that, there was a simple answer to the George dilemma: he would have to be watched and watched carefully.  The old man would fly the coup if he was certain the boy was safe and secure here and the opportunity to escape presented itself.  But more important than making sure he stayed put was getting him to behave.  That might require poking and prodding him into a fight.  It would give Michael a chance to break the old man down and sap his will to rebel just a little bit.  And if that did not work, more drastic measures might be in order …

But as much as George might end up being a headache, he would be easy to deal with—he was a minor nuisance at most.  George was not the one bothering him.  Jeff was.

Michael had seen his type before: the reluctant leader.  Jeff did not crave power, at least not in the form of authority over others.  He was the type that preferred staying behind the scenes, doing his own thing, and would only step up when he was forced to.  He wasn’t fearless, but like so many other people, he had probably lost everything and figured he didn’t have any real reasons left to be afraid anymore.

So the trick, as Michael saw it, was to give Jeff a few reasons to be afraid once again.

Jason had told Michael a bit about the group.  About how he and George had spent most of their time stuck in some church, and then all the excitement that had occurred over the past couple of days, ever since Jeff and Megan had shown up in their minivan.  Michael had gotten a few juicy tidbits from the stories the boy had told, enough to use against Jeff and George when they’d argued earlier, but he needed more information on the newcomers.  Lydia was the one who’d spent the most amount of time with Megan and Jeff since they’d gotten here.  Michael would need to have a long discussion with her about what they’d shared with her after they returned from the supply run.  If anyone in the camp was non-threatening enough to open up to, it was Lydia.  She was good at keeping secrets, but with a little sweet talk there was no doubt she would reveal things to Michael about her new friends.

Getting to know Jeff better would allow Michael to know what made him tick.  There was no doubt he’d lost his family over the past few weeks.  The thousand-yard stare confirmed that much.  And when he’d stood up for himself outside, and given the ultimatum about Jason staying inside the camp … well, that had been a bit of surprise.

He would have never thought the other man had it in him.  Jeff was soft, not a brawler of any sort.  Unless he was hiding some sort of ex-military commando existence behind his bland exterior, Michael knew he could easily take Jeff down in a fight.  More importantly, Jeff knew that as well.  People like him avoided physical confrontations like the plague.  Jeff was just an average dude who had been a family man once upon a time.  Michael did his best to try to understand it.  Jeff had to know that Michael was younger, faster, and stronger than him, plus he had all the weapons.  So why risk getting his nuts squashed?  The whole idea went against the grain.  Jeff had probably lived his whole existence going with the flow, not rocking the boat.  He lived a dull, unexceptional life, kept his nose clean, and obeyed all the laws … just like 99.9% of the other slobs out there.

As Michael continued to mull Jeff over, another possibility occurred to him.  Maybe Jeff was willing to get a few teeth knocked in, just to show everyone he wasn’t a coward, and that Michael needed brute force to maintain control over the camp.  Jeff would have been beaten, but Michael would have lost the respect of some of the camp members.

Oh you son of a bitch.  You sly, sly son of a bitch.  You almost had me, you cock sucker.

There was a small sense of satisfaction at having rooted out the trickster’s plan, but it was surrounded by doubt.  Was that really Jeff’s intention?  Was he willing to get bloodied to prove a point?  George had stepped in and changed things with his declaration, which left Jeff’s real intention a mystery.  All Michael knew was that there was no way that motherfucker was going to undermine his authority.  No way in hell.  Others had tried before and he had dealt with them—it was one of those ugly responsibilities that came with the burden of leadership.  His father had taught him that.  “Make a good enough example out of a troublemaker and the others will think twice before they cross you.”

Jeff was just another liability that would be dealt with soon enough.  Michael just needed to get a better fix on him, so he could find out the best way to make him behave.

*

Perhaps if Michael had bothered looking out the window of the Winnebago at that moment, he would have seen Jeff and Megan consoling one another, which might have given him some ideas of how he could keep Jeff in line.  Instead, his thoughts shifted back to Cindy as he stared down at her, his knee still on her chest.  In that moment he felt the closest thing to love for her that he could possibly could.  She had allowed him to see things in ways he had never seen them before.  Everything was … easier now.

Without her he was a good leader, but with her he was a leader that understood that he always needed to be consolidating his power and eliminating elements that would seek to undermine him.  He knew the sensation he felt was not really love; it was more like gratitude.  An appreciation for the woman who had unearthed in him the feelings and passion that drove him.  He grew more excited as he continued gazing at her.

The resentment and regret that always seemed to creep up on him when he thought too much about her had dissipated, as it always did.  It seemed foolish not to embrace the power he felt because of what Cindy had done for him, what she had shown him.

He slapped her across her jaw as a grin surfaced on his face.  He watched as the side of his girlfriend’s face slammed into the carpeted floor of the RV.

Cindy felt dazed, but knew once again that Michael was just getting warmed up.  It made her shiver with excitement.  He was getting closer to losing control with the others like he did with her.  He’d nearly gotten into a fight with both George and Jeff instead of trying to be diplomatic, which was how he used to handle things like that.  Not anymore.  He’d used that brat Jason to get his way, and it had stirred up shit with that bitch Megan, as well Jeff and George.  What had happened outside was a tantalizing tease and there was a good chance that Michael would come to blows with one or both of the new men in the next couple of days.

The idea of it nearly sent Cindy over the edge with excitement.  She loved seeing the hate boil up behind her man’s eyes.  It wouldn’t be long before he stopped trying to restrain himself and let go.  It would be a beautiful sight to see when he did.

She licked at the small trickle of blood that came from her split lip and returned Michael’s smile.

 

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Review of AP Fuchs “Possession of the Dead”

Possession of the Dead is the second book in the Undead World Trilogy. Blood of the Dead, the first book, started out as a fairly traditional zombie apocalypse tale, with four main characters coping with the fact that they live in an Undead world.  A gray rain came down and turned the living into zombies, with few being immune, and along with them, those who stayed inside avoiding whatever it was that caused this to happen.  Animals too were affected, and for the majority of the first story, we see the main characters struggle to survive as the primary objective.  Then, toward the end of that story, an intervention by an angel, a journey through time, and an alternate world (or so it seems) opens up to the characters and in it, there are giant sized zombies that are fifteen stories tall, demons, and of course, as mentioned before, angels.  Possession of the Dead goes a long way toward explaining this rather stunning change of scenery at the very end of the first book.  Without attempting to spoil anything, the reader discovers that some of the living are actually able to turn into zombies at will, this is a battle for the remaining souls of humanity, and our main characters, because of what they have witnessed, are primary targets of the underworld.
This book changes things up, but is still a zombie novel at heart.  I was somewhat reminded of both Brian Keene’s The Rising/City of the Dead and Ben Roger’s Faith and Undead in the fact that the zombies here are used as a tool of the demons of the underworld and the devil himself in an effort to usurp God’s power, or better yet, to bring him to his knees.  Still, this tale has some unique elements, including the transformational power of some of the zombies, as well as the giant zombies that roam the city streets and scoop up the living by the handful.  We still get a lot of straight up zombie action as the undead chase the main characters from start to finish.
The action is nonstop and between this book and the last, I’ve grown attached to the characters, and like the new ones introduced in this book.  The author once again leaves us hanging at the end of the book, but not as dramatically and shockingly as he did after the first.  There are still plenty of questions to answer with the finale, and I will be very interested to find out what happens to characters like Joe, April, and the world as a whole when the end comes.  Naturally, the biggest battle is yet to take place, and hopefully more of an explanation of our character’s part in all of it will be revealed.
The story keeps the tempo moving at a fast clip and the action is good.  I am still a little bit confused by the giant zombies, since there was a minimal explanation as to their existence here, but they do make for an interesting part of the story as the characters are challenged to avoid them.  I will be interested to see if there is more discussion of their particular nature in the third book, as well as the animal undead, which are not mentioned too often, but are clearly a part of this world.  Even with these minor critiques of mine, I did enjoy this book and it certainly will keep me waiting anxiously for the third book.  This is a fun and unique look at the zombie apocalypse, and I am sure AP Fuchs has a few more surprises up his sleeve for the end of his trilogy.

Possession of the Dead can be found here:  http://www.amazon.com/Possession-Dead-Zombie-Undead-Trilogy/dp/1926712536/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1295284411&sr=8-1


Dark Stories: Michael and Cindy, Part I

This little vignette, which takes place in Michael and Cindy’s RV on the first night after Jeff and company’s arrival in the camp, mainly takes place in the minds of the two characters, though there is some dialog surrounding it.  I discarded this mainly because the story was able to move forward without knowing these two and their hidden agendas, but of course, this serves as a way to better know about the twisted relationship between these two.  Once again, Michael didn’t seem the type that would willingly fall in with a girl like Cindy, despite the lack of other women his age surrounding him.  This, and the next story I will post should provide more depth to their relationship, and how screwed up they really are.  Again, for those of you who haven’t read Into The Dark, this might not make much sense, so you might save checking this out until after you’ve had the chance to read that.

Again, as always, this is a rough cut, with my own meager editing efforts.  So forgive me the typos and other errors as you read.  Thanks.

 

Michael and Cindy

He grabbed her coarse blond hair and pulled her head back.  Biting at her neck, he listened as she moaned in pleasure.

“You like it rough, don’t you, bitch?”  It was a harsh whisper as his lips traveled up her neck and towards her earlobe.

“You know it baby.”  The voice was unstable, shaky.  If you didn’t know her you might think she was afraid.  But for the few who truly knew Cindy, of which Michael was the only one still alive, it was obvious there was no fear in the woman.  She was pure adrenaline and rage bottled up in a healthy young female package.  At twenty three she was already savvy enough to understand how things worked in the world (even this particular variation of it) and vicious enough to achieve any objective that she set her mind to.

The tattoos on her neck covered up the hickeys and bite marks that Michael gave her.  The scabs might be noticed, but no one would say anything.  It was odd enough that Michael, a graduate of the Michigan School of Business and the son of extremely wealthy and prestigious parents, was shacked up with her in the first place.  The additional ‘wounds’ that adorned her seemed to stretch comprehension levels to the breaking point.  Who would ever believe that the prototypical ‘boy next door’ was the culprit responsible for those?

When Cindy had wandered into his little clan, it was clear to her that since Michael was in charge, he was the only person for her.  He was far from her type, but her type was all dead, and that was just fine with her.  He bit and scratched in bed, but only because she had taught him so well.  She had unleashed his kinky side.  Michael in turn had shown her that all men have one, it just took a strong and harsh enough woman to pull it out of them, kicking and screaming if need be.

Michael was all the power in the universe now.  It was the only drug left to her after the last hit of ecstasy was gone well over a month ago.  Cindy had been an addict at one point or another in her illustrious career to nearly every drug and intoxicating substance known to mankind.  In essence, she was addicted to addiction.

Michael was just as addicting to her as anything she had sniffed, drank, or injected into her veins in the past.  He was a royal prick under his nice guy persona and it tripped her trigger that she knew it and had known it from the moment she laid eyes on him.  At first, she had repulsed him.  It made no difference to her and in no time she was able wear him down.  After all, geography might be the only thing they had in common in their relationship, but that was all she needed.

But some bony bitch had arrived in the camp and threatened to change the landscape drastically.  She was sweet, she was demure, and she was everything that Michael would have found appealing in the past, before Cindy had corrupted him.      Certainly the woman had the whole anorexia theme going, but beyond that she was perfectly “normal.”  Attractive even.  The jealously Cindy felt didn’t extend to any desire to be like that woman at all.  It was strictly raw rage at a potential threat to her existence as the Queen Bee.

That was not all of it.  Not by a long shot.  None of it would have bothered her (or so she had herself convinced) except that it was very clear that Michael had been eyeing the other woman.  Within the first five seconds the battle lines were drawn in Cindy’s mind.   She knew her man well enough to know that when he fixated on something, it would not be long before he went after it.  Michael was not one to take no for an answer.  He had little inclination to deny his own base needs either.  So far he had been satisfying them with Cindy, but now that Megan was here, she would be the new candy for him.

It was obvious.  He did not hide it very well.  She knew that sooner or later he would go after Megan and kick Cindy’s skanky ass to the curb.  Even if that other bitch did not return his interest, it would make no difference to him.  He would dump Cindy just to prove himself worthy of Megan.  What a lousy piece of shit name: Megan. Everything about the other woman was something to despise.

Cindy had felt hatred from the moment she saw her.  That was nothing big, she hated Lydia too.  Most men pissed her off pretty fiercely as well.  The teenagers had looked at her with lust in their eyes at first and that was amusing.  She had joked with Michael how she was going to break Ray and Teddy’s cherries at the same time.  She asked him if he wanted to watch while she did it.  In response, Michael had smacked her in the jaw so hard that she had been knocked unconscious.  When she came to, he was wringing his hands over her, in a panic, worried that he had killed her.  When she smiled up at him and licked at the trickle of blood on her chin demurely, he nearly fainted.  Then, when she insisted they have sex right then and there he almost had a nervous breakdown.  Still, he complied and it gave her a sense of power over Michael that nothing else could.  She owned him.  That bitch Megan could never have that sort of a control over a man.  Never.

The sex was interesting and Michael was willing to experiment, though he was amazed at how depraved Cindy’s mind could become.  It was all boring to her though.  She gave thought to cheating on him with that filthy scumbag Frank.  Or maybe Frank and Marcus together.  They were disgusting and they leered at her when they did not think she was looking.  She knew it would be a hell of a challenge to get them into bed though.  They were scared shitless of Michael and the idea of crossing him like that was probably the equivalent of committing suicide to their pea brains.  That turned her on even more.  Imagining having Michael walk in on something like that was delicious to think about.  He would beat the living shit out of her but he would kill them, just as they feared.  She knew she could get him to do it, especially if the look on her face when he burst in was of pure ecstasy.  Those two slime buckets couldn’t turn her on if they slapped an electric motor to her ass, but she would play it up for all it was worth if it did a number on Michael.

Later, as they lay side by side, panting, with their sweat soaking through the sheets, Cindy jumped on top of Michael, knocking the air out of him.  Anything that made him feel uncomfortable was a good thing.

“So what are you going to do about those new people?”

“What do you mean?”

“You know what I mean.”

Michael looked up at her in disgust.  “Bah, screw you tramp.  I do know what you mean.  You’re asking about Megan.”

A wicked grin creased her face.  In the darkness and shadows it was disconcerting, but Michael knew it was no better in daylight and was grateful that he could only see part of it now.

“Of course I am.”

The smile disappeared as she moved her hand up his hairless, muscular chest and grabbed at his nipple, squeezing it.  She moved her face directly in front of his, less than an inch away, and pinched his nipple as hard as she could as she hissed at him.

“So are you going to screw that whore?”

Cindy went flying, hitting the wall opposite the bed where she slumped to the floor.

“Bitch!  You might be into fucking pain but I’m not!”  Michael screamed as he stood before her.  She stared up at him, her eyes gliding down his naked torso.  She smiled.

She reached up and grabbed at him as he swatted her hand away.  Grabbing a hold of her other wrist, he wrestled her up on the bed again, jumping on top of her and holding her down.

Cindy purred like a kitten and Michael stared down at her, exasperated, but unable to deny that she had him aroused once again.

Michael hated Cindy.

But as much as he hated her he hated himself even more for ever having hooked up with the psycho bitch in the first place.  She was a piece of trash, pure and simple.  Somehow, as much as she appalled him, her trashiness was the root of everything that turned him on about her.  There was absolutely nothing he couldn’t do to her.  He could beat her to within an inch of her life and she would come crawling back for more.  When she had first provoked him he had resisted the temptation to smack her, but she cried out for it.  She dared him, taunted him, and did her best to humiliate him.

Michael had not been that violent of a man before he met her.  He’d never laid a finger on a woman in his entire life, and thought anyone who did was scum.  He’d beaten the crap out of a few losers, true enough.  A drunken brawl back at college had sent a guy to the hospital, but Michael’s father, with his many connections, was insurance that a little problem like that never became a big problem.

Michael had taken martial arts training to teach him balance and patience, but all it had done was allow him to bury the anger he felt a little deeper.  It didn’t rear its ugly head as much.  Still, he could be cool and calm one moment and explode violently the next, as it suited his needs.

His temper had all been well under control.  There was some rage inside of him, but that was fairly normal for most red-blooded American guys, wasn’t it?  Except these days there were plenty of excuses for rage to shine through and no one to question it anymore.  In fact, rage was an excellent motivator.  It drove Michael in his quest to survive and thrive in these dark times.  He had refused to yield to the undead, refused to believe that everything was over and done with just because some virus had torn the human race to shreds.  This was a new beginning.  Whoever was strong enough to stay alive and adapt would reap the rewards.

Cindy had just … amped things a little bit.  It was okay to unleash all that pent up rage in front of her, around her, and upon her.  Every impetuous desire he had been repressing his entire life could see the light of day.  In fact, he could use those impulses to help his followers to survive and prosper.

It frustrated him that Cindy had been the only piece of ass in his age range for miles around, possibly anywhere anymore.  So her aggressive tactics when they first met wasn’t a total turnoff.  What other options did he have, anyway?

Cindy was a tattooed and pierced freak that he would not have given the time of day to when he’d been wearing his Canali business suits and was climbing the corporate ladder.  The bleach in her hair was erratic and left her hair a mess of black and white scattered across her head.  It had originally been shaved on one side and spiky on the other, but as time went on she let it grow out and got rid of the dye.  Not that she had much of a choice.  Supplies they had collected did not include much in the way of hair care products outside of shampoo.

They made an odd pair and everyone knew it.  He made it clear from the moment they fell in bed together that he would tolerate no crass acts from her in front of the others.  Whatever she wanted to do with him, or more specifically to him, was to be limited to when they were in private … at the factory at first, and then in his RV when they had set up the camp in the woods.

Soon after they had gotten together she began provoking him.  At first it was simple taunting, but it turned into getting rough in bed.  Punching, kicking, and biting.  Part of him wanted to kick her to the curb right away.  But every time she would do something to him, she would pretend to be sorry.  She would promise him she would never do it again if he would forgive her.  Then she would blow his mind in the sack and he would be left trying to convince himself that the pain was worth it.

But finally, after a while, something happened.  In a fit of anger after one of her mocking abuse sessions, he hit her.  It was a slap, hard, across her face.  A little trickle of blood from the corner of her mouth was the result, plus a welt that would be hard to imagine makeup hiding like it did the hickeys he’d already given her.  After realizing what he had done, he lost his mind.  He begged forgiveness and apologized profusely, swearing he would never do something like that again.  For all the minor abuse she had heaped on him, hitting her had never crossed his mind.  But when she grinned and asked him to do it again, he was speechless.  He refused, so instead she jumped on him and practically raped him, which only served to confuse Michael even more.

But not for long.

The hit that knocked her unconscious was next.  From there it became easier for him to do whatever Cindy wanted.  The guilt was fading into the background he let the rage inside of him come to the surface.  After that, they learned to keep the bruised and welts hidden to avoid any questions from the others.

Over time, Michael began to dread the encounters he had with Cindy.  But it was dread drenched in an undeniable craving for what she offered.  Because she had unleashed a part of him that he didn’t know existed, a part that wanted to cause pain.  Specifically, pain to Cindy, which he could rationalize as okay—she wanted it, so he gave it to her.  But it was how that desire to administer pain was spilling over to everything else he did that was disturbing him.

And now, as he sat above her in what was supposed to be a position of complete control, she was the one in charge and deep down, Michael knew it.

Cindy’s purring stopped.  “So, you gonna screw the whore or am I going to slit the bitches’ throat?”  She smiled up at Michael, taunting him, prodding him onward.

The fist crashed down on her stomach.  Cindy gasped in surprise as the air whooshed out of her.  Her vision blurred and a thousand stars appeared before her eyes.  When her eyes were able to focus again, Michael was already laying next to her, pretending not to care about how badly he had hurt her this time.  She had taught him well.

Cindy was a masochist and enjoyed the pain, partly because after years of abusing her body with drugs and anything else she could get her hands on, her nerve endings had dulled to the point where excruciating pain was about the only thing she could feel anymore.  But even that was a fleeting sensation.

As the pain faded, her mind fixated on Megan once again.  So what does he see in that bitch anyway?

Megan looked pretty hideous to Cindy.  Although run down and so thin she was almost transparent, there was an aura of confidence and toughness about her.  She was ‘normal’ on top of that.  That more than anything drove Cindy bat shit crazy.  Megan was someone Michael could be seen with by the others and not be embarrassed.  She was the antithesis of everything that Cindy was or believed in.

And there were the others that had come into the camp with Megan.  Two men and a black kid.  The kid was nothing, just like those other little brats that Lydia dealt with.  The bigger man looked like some sort of whiney wimp.  That was obvious to Cindy almost immediately.  He moped around like he was already dead and in general irritated her.

The other, Jeff, was more interesting.  He appeared to be with the woman.  Not that it would stop Michael.  If he wanted Megan, not much would stand in his way.  In a twisted way that was yet another thing that turned Cindy on about him.  Society may have dulled that caveman edge out of him, but society was dead and Michael was the one making the rules these days, so he could take what he wanted.

Cindy didn’t so much care if he got his rocks off with the bitch once or twice, as long as that was all there was to it.  Hell, she would hold Megan down and get off watching him rape her if that was something that could be arranged.  Screwing meant nothing to Cindy.  It was all about control.  Being controlled and controlling the other person.

No one else seemed to understand the level of control you had over another person when you forced them to willfully inflict pain on you.  Michael beat her because she willed him to do it.  He did not want to, but she did.  Now, only after a few weeks, he couldn’t stop himself.  And because of all the guilt and trauma that it caused inside his head, she was able to manipulate him in other ways.  Michael was a good little puppet.

But that weasel, Marcus, had mentioned how Megan had slapped Michael when they first met.  That was something she could not tolerate.  Cindy knew the stupid bitch had no idea what a slap meant to Michael, the meaning attached to such a violent physical act, but she bet that if Megan had been looking deep into his eyes at the time her hand crossed his face she would have realized what it had done to him.  The fact that he had to let off some steam by putting a knife to Frank’s throat right after that confirmed how excited Megan had made him.  Cindy had corrupted Michael enough that the violence was the only thing that really turned him on any more.

There was no doubt in Cindy’s mind that her boyfriend was already fantasizing about that pathetic tramp.  But tackling that subject head on wasn’t going to give her any answers she wanted, so instead, Cindy knew to come at it sideways.

“Okay, so forget about Megan.  What are you going to do to put these newcomers in their place?”

Michael rolled over to face Cindy.  There was weakly hidden guilt tracing his features from the latest assault he had perpetrated on her.  It was always there, no matter how well he tried to hide it.  It made Cindy smile inside, though she was careful not to show it.  The guilt was a tease.  Everything forbidden had guilt associated with it.  Guilt was one of the strongest stimulants there was in the world.  As long as it kept showing up on his face, that meant whatever caused that guilt was still tantalizing and forbidden.  It was simply too much to for him to resist.

“What do you mean?”

He was tired and past getting angry or aroused anymore that night.  In other words, he was getting boring.  But it also meant that his defenses were down and she could easily get him to divulge the truth and perhaps even agree to do something she really wanted just to get her off his back.

“I mean, you dragged them in here and treated them like your best buddies.  Then you brought Jeff in the RV and had a nice little chat with him.  Now I hear that you and the rest of the guys are going into town tomorrow on some sort of supply run.  What the hell is the point of that?”

Michael closed his eyes and put his hand over them in hopes of blotting out all traces of light trickling through their window.

“So you’re asking what the hell I have planned.”  He paused.  She did not respond and he sighed heavily.  “Well my dear, that is very simple.  I am going to test their loyalty to me and see if they can obey orders like good little soldiers.”

“Loyalty?  From people you kidnapped off the fucking road?  Are you nuts?”

Michael opened his eyes and glared at Cindy.  “I must be if I’m with your psycho ass.”  She gave him a finger and he ignored it.  He propped a pillow up beneath him and put his hands behind his head.  “It shouldn’t be too difficult, actually.  The only one that will be a problem is Jeff.  He is too damn smart for his own good.”

“What about George?  Doesn’t he miss his ‘widdle famawy’?  He looks like he could tear your head off if he was motivated enough.  If you make him stay here against his will sooner or later he is going to try.”

Michael smiled at his girlfriend.  “Quite the contrary.  He is going to be a good little boy and do just as I tell him to.”

“How do you propose getting that to happen?”

“Nothing too technical.  I’ll just hold Megan and Jason hostage.  Once Jeff messes up and I have to ‘deal’ with him, George will realize that he is the only one that can protect them.  A few well placed words here and there along with a few delicate hints and he will decide for himself that staying is the best possible idea.  Momma and the kiddies are dead already and sooner or later he will realize that.  And then, he will come to love it here with us.  He’ll be just another big, dumb, malleable grunt like Ben.”

“If Ben heard you say that he would twist you into a pretzel.”

“Indeed.  He might just do that.  If he knew I said it.  But that is how things work around here.  The pawns do not realize what they are.  I am the king and I control the board.  They are expendable pieces, but valuable.  I move them into harm’s way as I see fit.  If there is a rogue piece, I simply get rid of it, sacrifice it to my opponent, and keep on moving.”

Cindy looked over at her man and saw a look on his face that was reminiscent of the cat after eating the canary.  He was just too damn self-satisfied.  But she decided to let it go.  He had his little plans and she had hers.  She knew a little bit about chess as well and while the King was the piece that ruled the board, the queen was the one who took care of business.

That Jason brat should be enough leverage to keep George in line.  He doesn’t need Megan as well.

With their conversation finished, Michael drifted off to sleep.  Cindy stayed awake a while longer, shaping and reshaping her own plans so that they merged and fit with her lover’s.  She smiled down at him as she did so.  He was a beautiful man, nearly perfect on the outside.  But it was his insides, his guts, which were getting black and ugly.  She had initiated the process, but it had taken hold and was flourishing without constant nurturing anymore.

She laid her finger on his jugular vein and felt it pulse.  She moved her mouth close and gently flicked her tongue out at it, like a snake.  It would be so easy. She grazed her teeth against it and Michael stirred, but sleep already had him in its grasp.  It was tantalizing: the idea of wrecking everything with one simple effort.  She could tear out his throat and even slip out the window with very little fuss and muss.  All they would discover was his bloodied carcass and the signs that she was responsible for his death all over the bed.  But they would never find her.

As tempting as it was, she knew that Michael was far more exciting alive than dead; powerful and yet powerless at the same time.  She had weakened him.  Before they met he was probably a good man with a penchant for anger now and again.  He could hide it then and he still could now, but that façade was chip away.  The violence was bubbling to the surface more often and more readily.  It was wondrous to behold.

She shivered in the bed next to him.  Whether in excitement or fear, it was hard to tell.  She laid back and planned the death of Megan LeValley.  It would be a simple thing, not too complicated.  It couldn’t be blatant though.  The others could never know what really happened.  She imagined the pain and agony Megan would experience when she did it.  But what would be the kicker was when Cindy got to tell Michael what she had done and the supreme pleasure she would get out of watching him react.

A few minutes later, Cindy wrapped her arms and legs around her man like a spider and fell asleep, content in knowing how things were going to play out over the next few days.

 


Some updates on the trilogy, meandering thoughts and whatnot

It’s been a while since I posted just some random thoughts, or even some updates on my experiences in writing.  Most of my blog posts have been book reviews and updates on stuff being released, Dark Stories, etc.  So I thought I would post some comments based on how things are looking these days.  It’s been around six months now since Comes The Dark came out, and this whole process of writing, promoting, editing, and all that wonderful stuff has changed for me since the book’s release.  It used to be that I was always preparing for something to happen, and it seemed like a distant dream.  For several years, when I meandered down the path of writing the manuscript that became my trilogy, it almost seemed theoretical that it would ever be published and that this whole effort was being done for nothing more than a “see, I told you I could do it!” perspective.  But then it became real, and the first book was released.

Things went great with that, and have been great, no doubt about it.  Sure, there have been a few negative reviews, which are almost like a badge of honor for a writer.  Having someone tell you that you suck and please stop writing is sort of a tough one to handle at first blush, but you can either ignore it, or try to extract something from that which motivates you to do better.  You can’t respond in kind, by lashing out, because it does no one any good, especially me.  Even trying to explain why you did something in your book that someone really didn’t like is pointless, because the inevitable truth that you have to embrace as a writer (especially of genre stuff, and in particular, sub-genre stuff as this zombie stuff has been called) is that there will always be people for who your work does not resonate, and in fact, they do truly hate it, because something you said, did, or didn’t do really rubs them the wrong way.  And if you try to absorb all that criticism and validate it in your mind, it will drive you crazy.  You will have one person who sights that you poured on the emotions far too heavily in one scene, and then someone else will come along and point out that your characters seemed emotionally withdrawn in that exact same scene.  I would never say that you can’t extract something out of the critiques you get, but you have to be true to yourself in the end, and let the chips fall where they may.  And trying to get everyone to like your stuff is a tough way to go through life, and there will be a LOT of disappointments along the way.  I want people to enjoy my work…otherwise, I wouldn’t have tried to get any of it published.  But knowing that you have done your best, no matter what, has to stand for something.

I will be the first one to admit that I have a lot to learn about writing, and a lot to learn about the editing process.  I know that there is always room for improvement, but at the same time, sooner or later, you have to step back and tell yourself that all that can be done has been done.  I’m not sure when that point is, but I think sooner or later I will find it.  It probably has something to do with being a bit OCD now and then, and not having the ability to walk away from a story and just leave it be, knowing that I’ve done all I can with it.

With all that said, I am taking another swipe at having some edits done to my trilogy.  The third book, Beyond The Dark, is complete and I am satisfied that it is the best it can be, with no further tampering from me.  I have had several edits done to it, and I know well enough to leave it be after that, because better editing minds than mine have worked it over and slapped it on the grill.  If it keeps cooking it will be overcooked and no one wants that.  But in conjunction with the edits being completed on that book, I have had an editor have another go at Comes The Dark and Into The Dark, and those edits will be implemented with the paperback and electronic versions of the book that are sold after the release of Beyond The Dark.   In fact, there will be several releases in March  for the grand finale of the trilogy.  Here they are, briefly:

Beyond The Dark is being released as a paperback and on Smashwords, naturally.  The edits, as I mentioned, are complete, and I am very happy with them.  I honestly think that this is the most compelling of the three books, for many reasons I won’t divulge here.

Future versions of the paperback and smashwords versions of Comes The Dark and Into The Dark will be the revised versions, though we won’t be advertising that.  The new copies sold will just have some new editing touches that won’t change anything with the stories, but will do a bit to get rid of some of the typos and grammatical errors that were in the original releases.

The Dark Trilogy, Revised, Expanded, and with Additional Stories will be released for both the Kindle and smashwords.  As I mention here: https://patrickdorazio.com/2010/11/22/announcement-about-the-kindle-version-of-comes-the-dark/, there was a snafu with the kindle release of Comes The Dark.  It was the raw, unedited version of the entire manuscript for the trilogy.  We pulled that version off the market, but not before a substantial number had been sold, and as you can guess, many of those kindle readers assumed that Into The Dark would end up being an entirely new story, not one that had appeared already in the version they had (mind you, there were some new chapters added and it was edited, which the raw manuscript was not), so we did not release Into The Dark on the kindle, nor are we releasing Beyond The Dark as a stand alone on the kindle either. Instead, we are releasing, as the title describes it, the entire trilogy, plus all the stories that appear here, on my blog, under the page heading “Dark Stories”.  It will be around 250,000 words and include a lot of stuff that didn’t show up in that raw and unedited kindle version that went out.

 

Maybe that will allow my OCD to relinquish control of me and let this trilogy rest for a bit after all that is said and done in March.  And that is the key, I think.  I need to focus 100% of my efforts on new stuff, and not on revising, editing, messing with, or otherwise tweaking stuff I have already done.  Granted, I have written my fair share of short stories and have outlined and even started writing new novels over the past few months, but the focus has been splintered with a LOT of it devoted to the trilogy.  I will continue to promote the Dark trilogy via the net and in other places, but it has been crazy for the past year, with so much effort put into something I had already written, and re-written, several times.  But that is what it takes to get a novel out there, and ready to go for public consumption.  I will even mention that another publisher came along and chatted about buying the rights to the trilogy and doing a re-release, which was very flattering, but a very daunting prospect.  The idea of once again diving into this trilogy of books, which has consumed so much of my time, effort, and energy over the past few years, was terrifying.  I just couldn’t do that.  I love these books-they will always hold a special place in my heart, and I love talking about them, promoting them, and doing whatever is needed to make them appear more polished and professional, etc.  but as far as writing, editing, etc…that all needs to be in the rear view mirror for me.  I need to focus on other projects and throw myself into them like I did this one.

With that in mind, I though I might give some vague ideas of what the future holds.  Because regardless of the guy on Amazon who pleaded with me to stop writing, I plan on doing some more…and I hope to get better at it-perhaps enough, someday, that he might change his mind, or might be able to brag to his friends that his comments were the ones that motivated me to get better and I actually did!  I guess there are crazier dreams out there.

I will finish off the Dark Stories.  I still have a handful of these stories to offer up to you, and I intend on finishing them before the release of Beyond The Dark.

There are about 15 submission calls for short stories that I would love to tackle.  Realistically, I will probably go after no more than 5-10 of them, but I will give it my best shot.  Another stab at keeping my writing diverse and not just tackling zombies, but other horror stories, sci fi, fantasy, and other genres as well.

I have two novels outlined, and I will admit that one is a fourth book in the same universe that the Dark Trilogy takes place in.  In all, the plan would be for five books total, with the fifth book being the final chapter in the tale.  The other novel is another horror tale that includes both our dear friends, the zombies, as well as their arch nemesis (well, at least I think so), the vampires.  And no, neither side are made to look like the good guys.  This one will hopefully be a very dark, very grim tale.

I have at least two or three other novels floating around in my head, including an overhaul of a book I wrote back in college.  High fantasy, as it was originally written.  Granted, the book was bad, really, really, bad.  But my new slant would be to do an overhaul with a few winks, a nudge here and there, and not try to take it so seriously.  Would it be outright comedy?  That remains to be seen, but I think I would like to take a swipe at doing my best to overhaul this sucker.  Another would be a YA adventure story, which is one that got into my head over the past few months and I really want to run with it.  It would be something very personal because of the elements of the story and the main characters, but unfortunately, I really don’t want to divulge much else because again, I haven’t done much with it yet.  But one of my longterm goals is to write YA fiction, and this would be my first step into that arena, perhaps beyond a few short stories I plan on doing before the novel would get done.  The final book floating around in my mind, and that I have created a description that would fit nicely on the back cover of the book, would be a futuristic novel.  It would actually have noir elements, would be at its heart a mystery, and takes place a decade after the zombie apocalypse has come and went-the humans won, and the zombies were wiped out…but someone out there knows the secret to creating zombies, and wants to bring them back…the main character’s job would be to stop them, and discover why they want to do such a crazy thing.

Again, this is all just ideas floating around in my head.  It is always fun to come up with ideas that you believe can be turned into novels, and then doing your best to putting them down on paper and get rolling with them.  They don’t always continue to speak to you after you start the writing process, and you realize that a good idea was actually only that-an idea.  But the ideas can morph and change into something completely different, which is also part of the fun.  You have the opportunity to change a story mid-stride and make it into something you never expected, but really gives you the juice to go the distance with it.

I guess that is it for now.  Sorry for the long explanation of things, but a lot on my mind lately, and a lot of things going on.  And for better or worse, I wanted to share it all with you. 😉


Review of Zombie Zak’s “Chaptered and Versed, Poetic and Cursed”

Zombie Zak is the crown prince of gore, goofiness, and grim verse.  I’m not sure I can come up with a different way to describe what he does and who he is.  I have seen his poems created on the spur of the moment on a forum or just somewhere on the web-he is a well known entity throughout the horror and zombie genre community as the poet of the apocalypse.  Collected here are some of his more involved and intriguing poems.
Yes, much of his verse is zombie-centric, and I thoroughly enjoyed the various incarnations of One Lone Zombie, but there are other delights to be found between the pages here.  I was blown away by Zak’s interpretation of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, done up with each of their own poems.  Even with that said, Zak slips in humor and a presentation that gives you reason to smile now and then.  I particularly enjoyed ‘Be Brightness’, which, if you read the back cover of this book, is a cornerstone of this cookie-loving zombie madman.
I am no poetry expert.  I have read my share and can be touched and moved by it, most certainly, but it is not a staple of my existence.  So take that as a measure of my ability to judge a book filled with horror poetry, but I did enjoy this too brief book immensely for its rapid pace, quick wit, and inspired verse.  Zak has talent, could easily grow broodingly philosophical with his words, but he lightens it up with the occasional burst of lunacy and zombie chickens.  Yes, I said zombie chickens.
I will leave this review with the zombie’s own words:  Above all else, whatever you do, be true, be Brightness, be happy!

Chaptered and Versed, Poetic and Cursed can be found here:  http://www.amazon.com/Chaptered-Versed-Poetic-Zombie-Zak/dp/1453695672/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1294886051&sr=1-1


Review of Patrick Rutigliano’s “Black Corners Of A Blood-Red Room”

Black Corners of a Blood-Red Room is a series of brief vignettes, or nightmares, if you will.  Each is like a taste of a bitter drink that first warms, then burns, as it travels down your throat, and then is gone, though you can still feel it there, itching in your gut, well after you have finished it.  None of these slightly less than fifty tales is more than ten pages long, and most are quite a bit less than that.  That the author is able to do much like the creature that adorns the cover and grab you by the throat with the stories that appear here speaks highly of his writing talent.  Short fiction can be tricky, and admittedly, not every single story here resonated with me, but again, with a selection as wide as Mr. Rutigliano has offered up here, his hit rate is quite impressive.
The stories on these pages are broken up into five different themes, though the author’s flights of fancy don’t really provide enough restraint that all of these stories can be easily categorized, though they are all horror, and there is a tremendous amount of diversity at work here.  Not often do you see a writer willing to plunge into such diverse territory.  We travel through history, alternate universes, and surreal environments.  This is definitely a dreamscape, and a wide ranging one at that.
I would like to see some longer tales from this author, but my guess is that he often gets the itch to create something short and abrupt, and finds it hard to spend time on larger works.  Again, he has done a great job at creating short, strong splashes of imagery that pulls you in and then drop kicks you rather rapidly when the tale is done.  So if you have a penchant for short horror fiction that tends to run into the fantastical, you should check out this book.  It is well worth the price of admission.

Black Corners of a Blood-Red Room can be found here:  http://www.amazon.com/Black-Corners-Blood-Red-Patrick-Rutigliano/dp/1453756531/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1294715754&sr=1-1


Living Dead Media’s review of Into The Dark

Living Dead Media’s review of Into The Dark has been posted and once again, I am pretty happy at the reception the second book in my trilogy has been receiving.  My biggest concern was how all the new characters that I introduce in this book would be received.  Thus far, most of the comments at the introduction of a bigger community of people that have given Jeff, Megan, George, and Jason new challenges to face has been positive, which I am thrilled with.

Check out the review here:  http://www.livingdeadmedia.com/zombie-books-and-fiction/208-dark2.html and keep looking for more of my Dark Stories that I will continue to post here on my blog-the new characters found in Into The Dark are now the focus of what will be posted from now on.  So check out the book, and then my Dark Stories page of this blog for more details on characters like Michael, Cindy, Frank, Ben, and the others.