Author Spotlight: Brhi Stokes

A budding author, Brhi Stokes has been writing ever since she could put pen to paper and daydreaming in every spare second. CALIGATION, her first published novel, is an urban fantasy about a young man lost in a strange city – the likes of which he never could have imagined – while he tries to dodge unnatural threats and search for a way home. She is currently beginning a new profession, but decided 2017 was the right time to brush the dust off Caligation and deliver it to an audience. In her spare time, Brhi enjoys reading, video games, tabletop RPGs, going for long, solitary jogs and music. She can be contacted on Facebook or at brhistokesauthor@gmail.com.

Today we are featuring her novel, Caligation.

Check it out!

Blurb:

//Darkness closed in on him like a pack of hounds. Buildings passed, warehouses, factories; shadows of silent windows disturbed every so often by dim light, taunting him.//

A city of the bizarre and the unfamiliar, inhabited by monstrous beasts and people with unnatural gifts. A city of tall glass spires mingling with old gothic architecture, where wild animals roam alongside the populace. 

This is where Ripley Mason awakens after the car accident.

University dropout, casual drinker, and newly fledged hitchhiker, Ripley is tired of the daily grind of study, drink, repeat. Only halfway done with a degree he never chose, Ripley heads north to see if life won’t throw him something less monotonous.

Early into his journey, Ripley suffers a brutal car accident and awakens in a rundown hospital. Nervous, he ventures into dark, unfamiliar streets and comes face to face with horrific beasts. Thrown into a world of supernatural fantasy, Ripley fights to discover where he is, how he came to be here and, most importantly, if he can even get home.

//Ripley was still staring at the wallet in his hands. The clinic – as he had found out the place was – had graciously returned it to him. The problem was, it wasn’t his. There was no identification, no cards, nothing. Just some strange currency he didn’t recognise…//

All he knows of this place is a single word: CALIGATION


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Web Serial: Stormguard – The Invisible War – Part II

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Stormguard: The Invisible War

Part II

Copyright © 2016, 2017 by Tom Fallwell

As we slowly descended into the Red Rock Canyon State Park, I couldn’t help wondering just what the Fallen were up to. They were always attempting to cause problems, but there was something very different happening this time. The energy we’d detected coming from this location was not the usual dark energy signature we commonly saw. Plus, the Fallen had attacked me as I made my descent to Earth with a shard of darkness, a bolt of pure dark energy. Something extraordinary was happening, and we needed to find out what.

I was stunned by the shard, causing my ring, my Halo, to slip from my finger as I descended. This left me without memory of who I was and the loss of my powers. I crashed into the Earth with a literal bang. Fortunately, my unceremonious landing hadn’t been witnessed by any mortals, given the rural location of my impact. While it was a daring act on the part of the Fallen, it simply reinforced my feeling that they were involved in something well beyond their typical devilment.

After my slight identity crisis and finding my Halo again, Uriel and I headed for the source of that energy. I restored my clothing to normal with the entropic forces my Halo afforded me. Our Halos, which had the ability to reconfigure matter as well as enhance and transform all forms of energy, were also a part of who we were. Every guardian angel had their own, personal Halo. It was as much a part of them as any limb of their body.

Having driven the short distance to Red Rock Canyon, our Camaro descended the steep, winding road that led down into the canyon’s park area. Uriel had to keep one foot on the brake constantly. The incline was precipitous and narrow, making travel hardly more than a crawl.

“Tell me about the energy you detected, Zak,” said Uriel, keeping her eyes on the road.

“It wasn’t dark energy,” I said. “In fact, it was a temporal signature. It would be a great cause for concern if the Fallen were messing around with Time itself.”

“Temporal?” Uriel’s brow furrowed.

I’m sure her thoughts were along the same lines as my own. What could the Fallen be seeking? They couldn’t change anything in the past – that was not possible without direct authority from the Almighty. If I had to guess, they were seeking something, either in the past or future of Time itself. But what? Regardless, it was certain they were planning to use temporal energy for some diabolical, malevolent purpose.

Uriel suddenly spoke her mind. “Attacking one of the Stormguard directly is more than just an act of desperation. It’s a declaration of war, Zak. They’re daring us to investigate.”

That comment hit me like a physical blow. She was right. It wasn’t just a rash act, it was calculated. Could the Fallen be so emboldened? This had further implications than I had originally considered.

“We have to find out what’s going on.” A worrisome foreboding gnawed at me as we finally reached the bottom of the canyon.

The road leveled out to a narrow, asphalt pathway; narrow enough that with two vehicles, one would have to pull halfway off the road to pass each other. The bottom of the sandstone canyon was riddled with maple trees and campsites. The canyon walls, in many places, were nearly fifty feet high, and these were the favored spots for those wanting to rappel down the cliffs.

As we entered the park, there was a pond stocked for fishing to the right of us that sat at the foot of a sandstone wall. As I turned my gaze upon it, I felt the familiar tingle of power from my Halo. There was a source of the dark energy here.

“Stop!” I said urgently, pointing to the pond. Uriel nodded, finding a spot to park.

As we exited the car, the vibration of energy was evident to both of us.

“There,” Uriel said, pointing to the canyon wall.

The faintest traces of a portal could be seen. Not something a mortal would see. We would have missed it as well, if we hadn’t been actively seeking something unusual.

“A doorway to Hell?” I wondered aloud.

“A doorway, definitely, but to where … who knows?”

Uriel’s question encouraged my own thoughts further. The Fallen wouldn’t hide something where it would easily be seen. The Stormguard were always monitoring the fiery recesses of Gehenna. The portal obviously led to another dimension, one we wouldn’t normally spend time observing.

“Only one way to find out,” I said, activating my wings. Uriel followed suit.

Our wings were made from feathers of the purist white, fifteen feet from tip to tip, formed by reconfiguring molecules and shaping them with our mental connection to the Halo. When not needed, the molecules were absorbed by the Halo to be used again later. Our rings also gave us the power to become invisible to mortal eyes, even removing from them any memory of seeing us, if they happened to have been looking at us when we vanished. As far as any mortal observer would know, we’d never even been there. They would only see a ’96 Camaro parked nearby, not giving it a second thought.

Flying through the portal, we readied ourselves for anything, but weren’t greeted with anything we might have expected. The area around us was obscured by clouds of dark mist. Nothing could be seen beyond a few feet, in any direction. Our only compass was a strong vibration of dark energy that we could feel through our Halos. We flew towards the source of those readings.

The thought of an attack was evidently on both our minds. If the Fallen had dared attack me once, they most certainly would do so again.

“I have a bad feeling,” commented Uriel.

“Yes, I feel it too. Put up your shield.”

We both generated shields around ourselves, near invisible, made of pure light energy. It turned out to be a perfectly intuitive move on our part.

The ambush was swift and sudden, hidden behind the mists until they were right on top of us. A legion of shadow demons from the abyssal depths burst from the clouds with shards of darkness hurtling towards us from every direction. Fortunately, having expected as much, the shards crashed upon our shields, shattering against the light that enshrouded us like glass hitting solid rock.

The demons were mostly featureless, nothing more than amorphous blobs of gloomy darkness. Only the red flames of their eyes gave any hint they were living things. These weren’t the Fallen, but creatures of darkness, their minions. There were at least fifty of them, now surrounding us as we flew together, back-to-back, and prepared for battle.

With Uriel hovering behind me, I held my hands before me and channeled my thoughts into my Halo. The hilt of my Sword of Light appeared in my hands and the blade grew from the hilt to its full length. I swung the glowing blade in a wide arc at the demons in front of me, the light energy sizzling through their shadowy forms, dissipating them and sending them back to Gehenna were they belonged. I could hear Uriel’s sword dispatching those she faced behind me as well, as we flapped our wings to maintain our position in the obscure clouds.

Within moments, we’d cut their numbers down by a dozen, but there were plenty more remaining. Realizing their shards were useless, the demons switched tactics. Several moved forward, melting into each other, creating an enormous lump of shadow that engulfed us both. Surround by that mass, I felt my shield being dissolved, slowly but surely.

“We have to get out of this!” I shouted. “I’m losing my shield!”

“Starburst!” Uriel retorted.

Reabsorbing our swords and moving together, back to back, we joined hands and I closed my eyes in concentration. Locked together in this manner, we provided twice the power of our Halos to generate a sphere of pure light energy around us. With each passing second, the light around us grew into a giant ball of force, encompassing us within its core, and at that instant we mutually triggered the detonation of our energy sphere. The ball exploded in a brilliant flash of brightness that would rival the sun, dissolving the demons around us.

With the demons banished back to the depths of hell, we were once again alone in the mists.

“I do love fireworks,” commented Uriel with a sly smile.

I chuckled. “Now to find the source of that energy.”

Following the vibrations of our Halos, like one would follow the signals of a metal detector, we soon came out of the mists to behold a barren landscape canopied by a pale violet sky. The clouds where we had entered were the atmosphere of a planet, and they were now high above us as we landed on the rocky ground and our wings folded and vanished, absorbed back into our Halos.

“This should be the source, but there’s nothing here.” Uriel wrinkled her brow as she scanned the area.

All we could see where rocks, and more rocks. The landscape was empty of any life, not even a microbe. I zeroed in on the source of the energy vibrations, only to see another rock.

“Something is odd here,” I mumbled, moving closer to the trashcan-sized boulder that my Halo was pointing me to. “How can a rock be a source of dark energy?”

Uriel was fumbling with the symbols on her ring, trying to fine tune the detection capabilities. She suddenly smiled.

“Aha!” Uriel cried with confidence. “It’s hollow.”

With a sudden surge, a beam of light shot out from her Halo and shattered the rock casing to reveal a simple shard of darkness. At least, it looked simple at first glance. I realized the amount of power registering from the shard was far above normal.

“What’s this?” I asked rhetorically.

I reached out for the shard and could feel the energy pulsing through my fingertips as my hand approached it. A shard of darkness was supposed to be pure energy. Not a substance that is solid, liquid or gaseous; just pure energy. Yet, this shard was something more. It was as if an invisible container were wrapped around the foot-long, slender shard. Bright, violet flashes could be seen within as the energy crackled, constantly moving within its strange, invisible container.

Activating a light shield around my hand, I grabbed hold of the shard and lifted it up. It was like gripping something that wasn’t truly there; akin to being able to grasp a lightning bolt or a cloud. The intensity of the power that it radiated was almost unbelievable.

“This shouldn’t exist,” I said as I examined it, turning it one way, then another. “I’m reading temporal energy surrounding this shard.”

Uriel opened her mouth, but shut it again. What could she say? I was holding a bolt of pure dark energy encased in Time. Nothing like this had ever been seen before. Something like this shouldn’t be possible, not for anyone. Well, for the Almighty, yes, but not for us, and certainly not for the Fallen.

“How could the Fallen create such a thing?” I wondered aloud.

“Zak?” Uriel’s voice was soft spoken, almost a whisper. “What if they didn’t create it?”

Her question sent my thoughts on a quick excursion for an answer, and arrived at a conclusion that put a shiver in me as well. If the Fallen hadn’t done this, then who had? What, other than our own creator, could manipulate Time itself? What did all this have to do with the Fallen? They were obviously involved. Whatever, or whoever, it was, had given them the confidence to attack us.

All this, on top of the observation Uriel made earlier, about the Fallen daring us to investigate, left me with a disturbing sense of imminent misfortune ahead.

“We need to get this analyzed further.” I created a long, spherical container of steel with my Halo, and sealed the shard inside. “Let’s get back to the car and contact Gabriel. He’ll know what to do.”

Gabriel was the leader of our Stormguard unit. Our boss, as a mortal might say. I knew he could get more in-depth knowledge about this shard, and we needed to search for any other traces of temporal energy on Earth.

Guided by the vibrations of our Halos, we passed back into the dimension of Earth, only to find Gabriel waiting for us at the Camaro. That was unsurprising, as he was always on top of things. I expected he already knew what we’d found. Being in the position he held, Gabriel was privy to the omniscient knowledge of the big man Himself. He generally knew every move we made, even though he seldom interfered with our investigations directly. Yet, this time there were some very unusual things happening, so I wasn’t really amazed to find him waiting for us.

“I have some information for you,” Gabriel said as we landed. “There’ve been several temporal readings across the globe, and I need you two to investigate something very important. I’m afraid the situation is becoming more complex than we may have originally anticipated.”

“What’s up?” asked Uriel.

“We’re not sure yet,” replied Gabriel, “but it appears the Fallen have found a way to manipulate Time. I’ve already assigned several other teams to explore these temporal readings, but I need you both to handle a special one. It had a powerful dark energy signature as well. The reading is in Paris, at the Eiffel Tower. I need the two of you to check it out at soon as possible.”

“We’re on it,” I nodded.

“Give me the shard you found,” added Gabriel. “I’ll have it analyzed and get the results back to you.”

After I handed the shard over, Gabriel launched himself upward.

“Well, looks like it’s time to do some long-distance flying,” I said. “Might as well lose the car for now.”

Uriel nodded and using her Halo, the molecules of the Camaro were taken apart and absorbed, stored for later use. We spread our wings and took to the sky, flying at a swift pace toward the east coast of the United States. Being in a hurry, we went supersonic, hitting Mach 2. It was 6:00 PM when we left, so it would be night by the time we arrived in Paris.

During the trip, I thought about the many centuries Uriel and I had been partners. We made a good team, and while Uriel could be as tough as nails when needed, she had a strong compassion for others, and for mankind in general. She took our job very seriously, but she had a playful and jubilant side, enjoying moments with relish. I, on the other hand, knew what was expected of me, and did it without question. I didn’t think about whether I enjoyed my work, or about duty and honor. I was a guardian angel. I was created for this very purpose.

“Zak?” Uriel’s voice snapped me out of my musings.

“Yeah?”

“Do you ever think about taking a vacation?”

I looked at her, raising an eyebrow. “Vacation? What do you mean?”

Our pace at supersonic speeds did not falter as we spoke, our wings beating rapidly as we zoomed across the Atlantic.

“You know, some time off,” she said.

I grinned. “Someplace you’re wanting to see?”

“Well, here we are headed for Paris. I’ve never actually been there, but we won’t have time to enjoy any of it. We’ll be working.”

I looked over and saw a slight twinkle in her eyes, a small smile playing across her lips. “Turning a bit sentimental, aren’t we?” I asked, returning her smile.

“Just because we’re angels doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. We have before. Remember that time in Jamaica?”

I laughed. She had a point. We’d spent several days taking in the sights and swimming, eating and enjoying some free time in the guise of mortals. In ways, it helped us learn more about mortals as well. There was a saying among mortals about entertaining angels unawares. I had to wonder how many of them truly believed angels walked among them.

There were many believers, that was true. But I also knew there were those whom God had marked, those He had his hand on, that were still unaware of their destiny. Sometimes it felt good to be among them, to see the joy and kindness of their hearts.

On the other hand, there were those who were truly lost, and completely unaware they were headed for a fate far worse than any death could be. Those made me sad in many ways. They were beyond help because of their hardened hearts.

These thoughts flashed by, and I turned my attention back to Uriel. “Jamaica was a lot of fun. I’m sure we can do it again someday.”

Uriel smiled and nodded.

“But right now, let’s keep our minds focused,” I said. “We’ve no idea what we may find.”

It was late at night in Paris when we arrived; past midnight. There were no more visitors to the top platform this late, so that’s where we landed, folding our wings away. We were nearly a thousand feet above the ground as we started checking for energy readings. We were still invisible to any mortals who might be gazing up at the top of the tower.

“Zak,” said Uriel, “I’m picking up the same vibrations we got from the shard. Temporal energy.”

Before I could respond, there was a familiar voice behind us. Without seeing the speaker, I knew who it was. Lahash. One of the Fallen.

“Ah, so nice to see you running your little errands for your master,” the chiding voice remarked.

Turning, I saw Lahash standing on the other side of the platform, grinning with a strange delight. He was dressed in a typical business suit, with a red tie laid against a black shirt, and a gray coat and pants. He appeared totally unafraid of Uriel and me, or the power he knew we could wield.

“What are you up to, Lahash?” Uriel asked. Her eyes were narrowed and boring into the Fallen angel, her jaw set firm.

I noticed his bravado, and knew him well enough to know he wasn’t just being boastful. He had some advantage, I was certain.

“What I’m up to is my business,” he replied confidently. “I’m more interested in what you’re up to, though I think I can guess quite easily.” At that he let a chuckle escape, causing me further concern. I realized then that the vibrations we were tracking came from him.

“Careful, Uriel,” I commented softly. “He’s the source of the temporal energy.”

Lahash’s grin widened with playful glee, his eyes shining with pure mischief. “Oh, the humiliation. You’ve discovered my little secret.”

I saw his eyes narrow with a flicker of red fire, giving me a split-second warning of his attack. It was enough for me to call forth a shield of light in front of both Uriel and myself. The sudden blast of energy he sent toward us hit the shield with far more force and power than I would’ve imagined, and the shield collapsed. Uriel was knocked off her feet, up against the platform rail.

I managed to hold my position, but the burst had left me stunned for a split second. The power I registered with that attack was unbelievable, and I knew our normal shields would not be enough to protect us. Quickly, I helped Uriel to her feet.

“We must work together,” I urged.

Uriel was just beginning to realize what we were up against. We joined hands.

Together, we created a wall of light between us and Lahash, with all the power we could muster in the mere seconds we had to act. Our wall erected itself just in time to fend off another explosion of energy from Lahash’s fingertips; this time the shield held. We instantly retaliated with dual Spears of Light at our adversary, only to watch in shock as our spears broke against some invisible barrier that encased him.

I had the thought that whatever shielding he was using, was the source of the temporal emanations we were reading, and it was the same type of invisible container that surrounded the shard we found earlier.

Lahash, seeing the shock on both mine and Uriel’s faces, grinned wider. “Now you realize, at the moment of your destruction, that you are no longer a match for Lucifer and his Fallen. Now you realize, you are no longer in control of this world.”

I sensed he was about to let loose something we had no defense for, and did the only thing I could to prevent us both being blasted off the top of the Eiffel Tower. Releasing my wings, and grabbing Uriel tightly in both arms, I surged up into the sky as fast as I could. The energy Lahash sent for us barely missed, but my quick action had saved us both. Before he could bring another attack to bear, we were many miles away.

Uriel found her voice. “What in Heaven’s name was that?” she cried. “Did that just happen? It’s not possible!”

I held on to her. In her confusion, she had yet to release her wings. I had never seen my partner so dumbfounded. I landed us well outside the city of Paris, in the dark, quiet countryside.

“I’m not sure how, but Lahash had some form of temporal shield, just like the shard,” I said as I folded my wings away.

Uriel had regained her composure, though still awed by what we had just experienced. “This is definitely not good.”

At that moment, I felt the call coming in from Gabriel, and opened the channel with my Halo. A ghostly image of Gabriel formed in front of us.

“I need you both back here, pronto,” the ghost said.

“Why?” I queried. “What’s happening?”

“We’re officially at war! We’ve lost several angels already. We must regroup. The rules have now changed.”

“The temporal anomalies?” Uriel asked.

“Yes,” replied Gabriel with a stern expression. “We don’t know how just yet, but the Fallen have somehow learned to master chronokinetic abilities. They can manipulate Time energy to create temporal constructs.”

“We just encountered Lahash,” I said. “He had some kind of shield we couldn’t penetrate, and his attacks were far more powerful than any we’ve encountered before.”

The image of Gabriel sighed. “That’s what we’ve discovered. The shield cannot be penetrated because your attacks are warped by Time itself. His shield and your weapons were in different phases.”

So, that was it. He was impervious to our attacks, as if he occupied a different place in space-time altogether, while his attacks against us carried far more power than the usual shards of darkness the Fallen were known for.

“Both of you get back here immediately,” said Gabriel. “We’ve work to do.”

With that, the ghost faded away and I shot a glance at Uriel, who now had a firm and serious expression plastered across her face.

“He said some of us had already been lost,” Uriel said. Sadness flashed through her eyes.

I sighed, sharing her sense of calamity. An angel lost meant an angel who had simply ceased to be. They no longer existed. Still, they’d been lost doing exactly what we’d been created to do; protect mankind from the Fallen.

“Come on,” I said finally. “We’ve work to do.”

Uriel nodded and we both soared skyward, flying straight up, higher and higher, towards the place of our origin. Toward Heaven.


Read more from Tom Fallwell

If you enjoyed my writing, then why not check out what else I’ve written. My latest book is a fantasy adventure called Dragonblood Throne: Legacy, and is currently available at many online retail outlets.

 

DBTL_smOrphaned as a young child and growing up alone in the forest, Delina lives a life of isolation; her only companion a saber-toothed panther. Her strange eyes frighten those she occasionally encounters, so she keeps to herself, until a young, wounded warrior ends up at her doorstep. As she nurses him back to health, she discovers she is more than just a young woman with unusual eyes, she is a dragonblood, destined to become the ruler of Almar.

Now hunted by the dark sorcerer who murdered her father, usurped his throne, and killed all her kin, she must find out how she can release the essence of the dragon inside her to defeat him. Everything depends upon her willingness to embrace her legacy and reclaim the Dragon Throne.

Buy Now!

 

Author Spotlight: S.E. Anderson

S.E. Anderson can’t ever tell you where she’s from. Not because she doesn’t want to, but because it inevitably leads to a confusing conversation where she goes over where she was born (England) where she grew up (France) and where her family is from (USA) and it tends to make things very complicated.

She’s lived pretty much her entire life in the South of France, except for a brief stint where she moved to Washington DC, or the eighty years she spent as a queen of Narnia before coming back home five minutes after she had left. Currently, she goes to university in Marseille, where she’s starting her masters of Astrophysics.

When she’s not writing, or trying to science, she’s either reading, designing, crafting, or attempting to speak with various woodland creatures in an attempt to get them to do household chores for her. She could also be gaming, or pretending she’s not watching anything on Netflix.

Today we are featuring her novel, Starstruck.

Check it out!

Blurb:

After an incident with a hot-air balloon causes college-dropout Sally Webber to lose her job, she sets off to find direction in her life. Crashing into a teleporting alien, however, is not on her to-do list. 

Now she’s on the run from TV-drama-loving aliens, and things are just getting started. Zander won’t stop reeling her into life-or-death situations to save her planet, as he waits for his laser-wielding sister to search the universe for him. Though Sally isn’t quite sure if he wants to save Earth from annihilation, or just quell his curiosity of all things human.

Now she’s got to find lost alien emissaries, as well as a job, and stop the planet from getting incinerated in the process. But with Zander as her roommate, what could possibly go wrong?

“S.E. Anderson’s debut is a hilarious galactic romp with loving nods to Hitch Hiker’s Guide to Galaxy but with a voice all its own. It’s quirky, fun, and utterly enjoyable.”
~Dragon Award-nominated author, R.R. Virdi of The Grave Report and The Books of Winter.


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Are you an author? Would you like to receive an Author Spotlight by SciFan™ Magazine? Do you need help promoting your book(s)? Check out the Author Services we offer! These promotional tools include, but are not limited to: Paperback Featured Author, Editorial Reviews, Author Spotlight, Line Editing, Content Editing and Live Story Consulting. Find out more here.

Author Spotlight: A.S. McGowan

received_1529044060451914A.S. McGowan is a wife and mother who resides in a small Southeast Missouri town. Her current publications include the romantic suspense, books 1 and 2 of the Centaur Agency series. Book 3 is currently in the final edits, with the 4th and final book planned for around the first of 2018. After that she has a vampire trilogy she is playing with along with a crime detective series. When she is not writing or spending time with family, A.S. McGowan is also the host of the Black River Book Bash where she enjoys all the ins and outs of planning multi author book signings.

Today we are featuring her novel, For the Love of a Centaur.

Check it out!

Blurb:

Analise woke up in the hospital to find that her parents were dead. Her father’s business partner has inherited the ranch she grew up on. To make matters worse her father’s will stipulates she cannot receive her inheritance until she turns twenty-one. Now penniless and homeless, she agrees to a marriage of convenience with her father’s business partner. 

After turning twenty-one and with her inheritance in hand, she no longer wishes to be trapped in a loveless marriage. Moving out she builds a life for herself away from the ranch and her husband. When her husband shows up on her door step asking to give their marriage a chance, she jumps at the idea of a marriage of love. The problem is: everyone has been lying to her, her whole life. Now those lies may very well get her killed.


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Are you an author? Would you like to receive an Author Spotlight by SciFan™ Magazine? Do you need help promoting your book(s)? Check out the Author Services we offer! These promotional tools include, but are not limited to: Paperback Featured Author, Editorial Reviews, Author Spotlight, Line Editing, Content Editing and Live Story Consulting. Find out more here.

Author Spotlight: Joe Giambrone

Joe Giambrone is a talented author of multiple stories. In 2011 his short film “The Container” won the one-minute juried prize at the Sundial Film Festival. In 2016, he again won in the one-minute category with “The Real Reason You Should Recycle”. He is also a journalist with many articles that have appeared in the International Policy Digest, WhoWhatWhy, Counterpunch, Globalresearch, Foreign Policy Journal, High Times, OpedNews and other outlets. Overall Joe writes, films and adapts works across many forms of media.

Today we are featuring his novel Transfixion.

Check it out!

Blurb:

TRANSFIXION is a science fiction / action thriller. Young Kaylee Colton’s life is shattered forever when society implodes around her. The world goes mad, and Kaylee may soon join in the madness. Surviving through a strange new kind of war, Kaylee becomes the key to saving everyone from the mysterious signal weapon.

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Are you an author? Would you like to receive an Author Spotlight by SciFan™ Magazine? Do you need help promoting your book(s)? Check out the Author Services we offer! These promotional tools include, but are not limited to: Paperback Featured Author, Editorial Reviews, Author Spotlight, Line Editing, Content Editing and Live Story Consulting. Find out more here.

Web Serial: Echoes of Shadow: Chapter 7: Party Crasher

Dobrius eyed the village of Eldar as it came into view. Home, he thought. He looked back at Stormhammer carrying the body of the dead huntsman and forward to Elise who still trotted barefoot down the road. What would the townsfolk think? They wouldn’t need to find the constable – he would find them, most likely.

“What a quaint village,” Stormhammer commented as they neared. “Do you live here?”

“I do,” Dobrius said. “Elise lives at the manor where Bron came from. Eldar is the largest village in the valley.”

“I see.”

“Great, a snobbish machine,” Elise said with a sniff.

Dobrius sensed that if Stormhammer could have cocked his head he would have. “I apologize, Lady Elise, I did not intend to come off as snobbish. I am curious to learn about new places.”

“You called our village ‘quaint,’” she snapped. “That’s judgmental.”

Dobrius put a hand to his face. Don’t pick a fight with the friendly golem, Elise. Besides, it was a bit hypocritical of her to judge him for judging when her family were wealthy and known to look down on less well-to-do families. “Just let it go, Elise. He’s just asking questions. To be polite, right?”

Stormhammer seized on the out Dobrius gave him. “Yes, of course.”

Elise harumphed but remained silent.

A hum of conversation filled the air as they drew closer to the village. Dobrius half-expected to see a crowd of gawkers watching them enter town, but instead he found a crowd filling the street outside of the Jabar Inn. Poepa, he thought, remembering the old man’s arrival earlier that day. He’d forgotten in light of recent events. The crowd hushed as Poepa spoke.

“…ten of them had me surrounded,” Poepa’s voice drifted out through the open door and down the street. “Blades in their hands and fury in their faces. But they’d never faced a gunslinger before. Quick as a hare I pulled out Betty and Lucy and let loose. When the smoke cleared only a single bloody pirate remained. I shot the ground at his feet to get his feet moving and he ran away.”

A collective “wow” drifted up from the crowd.

Dobrius smirked. He swore he’d heard that story every other year for the past ten years. He remembered being six sitting with his pa in the tavern. His smile faded. Back before…well…back before the accident.

“Where is the constabulary?” Stormhammer asked.

“This way,” Dobrius said, leading Stormhammer past the Jabar Inn.  No one in the crowd gave them a second glance. He did notice a strange man wearing a hood leaning  against the corner of a wall across the street watching them. The man wore a sword belt – an oddity among the citizens of Eldar. They passed directly across from the alley and at the end stood more men. That’s suspicious, Dobrius thought, but continued on his way down Wagon Street to the constabulary. One problem at a time.

The constabulary, an inconspicuous building nestled between old man Revan’s baker shop and Madame Antoinette’s tailor shop, housed both the constable’s office and the magistrates courtroom. Dobrius and Elise ascended the steps and he turned. “Wait here for a moment, Stormhammer. Let me talk to the constable first.”

“A prudent decision,” Stormhammer said.

“Glad you approve,” Dobrius mumbled as he opened the door and stepped inside.

The constable’s deputy, Bryer Kozinski, sat behind the desk perusing paperwork and scribbling notes on pieces of paper. He looked up. “Ah, Dobrius, right?” His eyes fell on Elise and he sat up straighter and nodded. “Miss Van’dar. What can I do for the two of you?”

“There’s been a murder,” Dobrius began. No sense beating around the bush.

Deputy Kozinski furrowed his brow. “A murder? Where?”

“Near the Wall of the Ancients, by Glistening Falls.”

He stood up. “How do you know it was a murder?”

Dobrius suppressed his frustration. Why couldn’t Constable Beeks be there? “Is the constable here?”

“He’s down at the inn. Keeping the peace.”

Sure he was. Probably just wanted to listen to Poepa’s story. “Maybe we should go and speak with him. It’s important.”

“Well now just wait a second,” the deputy said. “How do you know it was a murder?” His eyes narrowed. “Did you do something?”

“What?” Dobrius asked, taking a step backward. “No, I stumbled upon the body. There was a golem…”

“A golem? A golem committed the murder?”

Dobrius sighed. “No. The golem was investigating the murder. He told me…”

“Golems don’t speak.”

“This one does. Elise can confirm.”

Elise nodded. “His speech is quite snobbish.”

Better than nothing, Dobrius thought.

“Where is this speaking golem?”

“Waiting outside.”

The deputy withdrew his pistol and gestured to the door with his other hand. “Lead the way.”

Dobrius opened the door and followed Elise outside. “Say hello, Stormhammer,” he prompted. “This is a deputy constable.”

Stormhammer lifted the body of the huntsman and nodded his head. “Greetings. I am Stormhammer and also a law enforcement officer.”

Deputy Kozinski raised his pistol, hand shaking. “Lower the body, golem and keep your hands where I can see them.”

Dobrius frowned. “Deputy, Stormhammer didn’t kill the huntsman, I told you that.”

“Shush, boy, let me handle this. Drop the body,” he repeated, louder this time.

Dobrius opened his mouth to speak but closed it as Stormhammer set down the body.

“I mean no trouble and will comply,” he said. He raised his hands in the air.

The deputy descended the stairs and checked the body, keeping his pistol out the entire time. He rolled the body over and studied the wounds. “They don’t look like golem attacks,” he conceded.

What would golem attacks look like? Dobrius wondered. “No, they were arrows. He was shot in the back. Ambushed, most likely.”

The deputy cleared his throat. “Do you have any idea who did this?” he asked, focusing on Storhmammer.

“I have my suspicions, but cannot prove them.”

Movement out of the corner of Dobrius’ eye caused him to turn. A trio of golems walked through the intersection of Main and Wagon Street. Now that was strange.

“Well, you just wait here while I go get the constable. We’ll get to the bottom of this.”

“Yes, that’s a great idea,” Dobrius said. He started jogging toward the intersection.

“I said wait here,” the deputy called after him. “Get back here, boy.”

“No time,” Dobrius shouted over his shoulder. Something was up and he couldn’t sit idly by. He reached the corner of the two streets and peered down Main Street.

The trio of golems approached the crowd of people. They showed no signs of stopping.

“The golems,” Dobrius shouted to the others. “They’re…”

Screams erupted from the street.

Dobrius whipped his head around.

The golems were smashing into people! Three people went flying and slammed into a wall, while another was thrown to the ground and trampled. People fled in every direction. One man, who ran too close to a golem was snatched up and crushed. Blood pooled on the ground and soaked in, turning the brown ground red.

The deputy ran past Dobrius, saw the scene and started shaking. His eyes went wide. “G…g…golems.”

Stormhammer rushed past without a word and barreled toward the golems.

One golem turned. Its eyes were not blue but red. It charged toward Stormhammer.

Stormhammer ducked at the last minute to avoid the enemy golem’s fist, then slapped his fist up into his enemy’s jaw. A crack sounded and their head snapped back and they crumpled to the ground.

The other two golems now turned their attention to Stormhammer.

Deputy Kozinski finally sprang into action. He ran up near Stormhammer and fired at the golems, but his bullets had no effect and the golems paid the strike no more mind than a cow would the flies.

Dobrius followed. He knelt and fired but the bullets only sparked and did not pierce the thick armor of the golems. They’re probably bouncing off its armor, he thought.

Constable Beeks emerged from the tavern and also fired, with the same effect as the deputy. His shooting angered the golems.

One of them turned from Stormhammer toward the constable. It loomed above him.

Blue and red sparks erupted from the front of the golem, followed by a loud bang. The golem stumbled backward.

Poepa stepped out and stood in front of the window, wisps of smoke billowing up from the barrel of both pistols.

A green blur shot out of the open door and Poepa’s steed whipped its tail around and knocked the golem’s feet out from under it.

The golem lay on its back, trying to turn over and regain its feet.

Poepa didn’t give it a chance. He approached and aimed both pistols at its head. “Time to meet your maker,” Poepa said. He didn’t say it with fanfare or flair. Just a matter-of-fact. He pulled the trigger. More red and blue sparks erupted from the impact point and the golem fell still.

The last golem continued to tangle with Stormhammer.

A scream from behind Dobrius caused him to turn.

Elise, whom he had forgotten about in the chaos, was caught in the grip of one of the hooded men Dobrius had seen earlier.

Dobrius took a step and aimed his pistol at the man holding her.

“Don’t even think about it,” one man, who held a knife to Elise’s throat, warned in a foreign accent. “Unless you want her blood added to the pool beneath your feet.” He sneered in derision.

Four other men stood behind the man with the knife. Two held pistols and two held swords.

A bang from behind pulled Dobrius’ attention away from his friend’s assailant for a moment. Poepa stood behind the third golem, guns in hand. The golem slumped forward into Stormahmmer’s arms and was summarily thrown to the floor. He surveyed the assailants. “Out of my way, boy,” he warned.

Dobrius dropped to his knees and bowed his head. That should be low enough, right?

Dual discharges of the pistols sounded in his ears. He looked up to see the two men with pistols falling backward to the ground. Another bang followed a moment later and the two with swords fell.

The last man still held knife to Elise’s throat but now fumbled for his pistol. “Drop your weapon, old man, or the girl gets it.”

“Poepa spat in the dirt. “Lesson number one of being the bad guy,” Poepa began, “is never threaten unless you’re prepared to carry out the action.” He pressed a button on the side of each and a small scope popped out of the top of each.

Dobrius fought the urge to close his eyes. What if Elise got hit?

Poepa took aim and fired.

Thump.

Dobrius turned.

Elise stood still, eyes wide, tears running down her cheeks, blood spattered on her shoulder and hair.

The hooded man lay face down on the ground, blood pouring out of his head.

Dobrius let out a huge sigh, holstered his pistol and ran to Elise.

She gasped and hugged him. Sobs wracked her and she buried her head in Dobrius’ chest “I…I…,” she fell back into sobs.

“I know,” Dobrius said. “I know.” She had to be terrified, first having a knife at her throat and then having two pistols pointed at her and coming within inches of ending her life. He couldn’t blame her.

The townspeople emerged from alleyways and homes and shops along the street. Conversation rose. “Did you see that? Poepa stopped them all,” one voice said. “Is that a good golem?” another asked. “Where’s my mommy,” a young voice asked. That last question brought a tear to Dobrius eye. So many killed in such a short period of time. What would they have done had Poepa not been there?

“Well don’t just stand there gawking,” Poepa said, raising his voice to be heard above the din. “Give these victims a proper burial. And scrap these bastards,” he kicked the foot of one golem.”

“You heard the man,” the constable said. “Get to it.”

The people, spurred into action by both the constable and a legendary storyteller, passed Dobrius and Elise and made their way toward the scene of the battle. Elise remained burrowed in his arms, head against his chest.

“Good fighting, golem.”

“Thank you, sir,” Stormhammer said. “It was my pleasure to fight alongside a legend such as you.” If a golem could express admiration, Stormhammer would have been gushing with it.

“You’ve heard of me?” Poepa asked.

“Oh yes. You’ve passed through Arks Portas many times over the years. I am a deputy constable there.”

“What brings you so far south?”

“Alas the perpetrators of this violence. Though you killed some of them.”

“You mean there are more?” Poepa asked sharply.

“Oh yes. I tracked at least two dozen in this group of criminals.”

“What was their crime?”

“They incited several riots, killed many nobles and raided villages and towns in their path. I was sent to track them and bring them to justice.”

“Judging by how light-skinned they are, they’re from the Dark Shale, yes?”

“You are correct, sir.”

Dobrius gently pushed Elise away from him and took her hand in his. He turned to face Poepa and Stormhammer.

Poepa appraised the two. “I saw you on the road,” he said, pointing at Dobrius.

Dobrius nodded. “Yes, sir, I was on my way to repair a golem, but when I found him he…” his eyes drifted to one of the fallen golems. “…had no core.” He let go of Elise’s hand and rushed to the golem. “No, it can’t be.”

“What, boy?” Poepa demanded.

“That’s Bron, my golem,” Elise explained, kneeling beside Dobrius.

“Help me turn him over,” Dobrius said over his shoulder to Stormhammer.

The deputy constable golem stomped over and shoved Bron onto its stomach.

Dobrius again removed his turner and removed the screws securing the backplate before removing the backplate. “What is that?” he asked.

Inside, a red crystal, not blue, sat at the heart of the golem. Its light had been extinguished, but it still held a reddish color.

He reached out a hand, preparing to touch it. What would cause the crystal to turn red, and how had a replacement been found?

“Step, back, boy,” Poepa snapped.

Dobrius stopped his hand and looked up. “Why?” He felt an urge to touch the crystal. Just one touch wouldn’t hurt, would it.

With one fluid motion Poepa withdrew his pistols. He pointed them at Dobrius point-blank. “Back up, boy.”

Dobrius blinked and shook his head. Why was he trying to touch an unknown crystal? He stood up and stepped back.

“That’s a good boy.” Poepa holstered his pistols and let out a sigh. “The red crystals are tainted. One touch and you’d be tainted too.”

“Tainted? How so?”

“You’d feel rage. Uncontrollable rage. And hatred. Hatred for everyone and everything. You’d see everything through a red haze.”

“How do you know?” Elise asked. “You sound as if you know first-hand.”

Poepa didn’t respond. Instead he pointed at the deceased golem. “Put the back plate on, then Stormhammer here will dispose of the husk.”

Dobrius replaced the back plate and screwed it into place. Once done it felt like a weight had been lifted off him. He was able to breath fully again. He looked at Poepa as Stormhammer lifted Bron and carried him toward the edge of town. “Where is he going to take Bron?”

Poepa quirked an eyebrow. “Out in the field. He’s going to bury him.”

“Could there be more around?”

“Golems?”

“Or the men with them, yes.”

Poepa stroked his chin. “Stormhammer said he was tracking at least two dozen. Seeing as we only killed five, well, you do the math, kid.”

“That’s a lot of enemies running around.”

“Aye, especially if they attack at once or with more of them golems.”

Dobrius nodded and looked around at his surroundings for the first time. Wounded villagers limped away from the scene while the dead were carried away. The inn-keeper was outside, fretting about the damage to his building, while the constable talked with his deputy. “We should inform the constable of our suspicions. He can gather some more men or something.”

Poepa shook his head. “No, if we go arming an angry mob the enemy will see us coming. We need to handle this quiet-like. Make it seem like we think these were the only attackers. Then we get the jump on them.”

Dobrius nodded in agreement. “That makes sense.” Smoke caught his attention. It was billowing up above the rooftops from the direction of his house. “I need to check on my mother.”

Poepa narrowed his eyes and followed Dobrius’ gaze toward the smoke. “You think she was in danger?”

“I don’t know. But I need to be sure and make sure she knows I’m all right.”

“I’ll come with you,” Elise said.

“As will I, boy.”

The lizard mount growled in what sounded like agreement.

Dobrius led the trio through the crowded streets toward the edge of town. He tried to avoid shoving people aside as the source of the smoke remained hidden and his feeling of dread grew. He turned a corner and there his mother’s herbalist shop sat. Smoke billowed from the broken windows. He ran toward the shop.

“Dobrius, wait!” Poepa shouted.

He heard footsteps behind him but didn’t care. He entered stepping on top of the broken door on his way in. The kitchen lay empty, though pots and pans lay on the ground mingled with broken pottery. A leg of the dining table rested in the hearth fire, causing smoke to billow as the fire licked it. They didn’t have much time before the whole house went up in flames.

“This was recent,” Poepa observed.

A trail of blood led toward the parlor. “Mother!” he shouted. He passed into the small parlor and found furniture upturned and more spots of blood on the floor but no sign of the one he sought. He ascended the stairs and approached his mother’s room. The door lay open. “Mother?” Dobrius asked, slowing. A creak indicated Poepa or Elise, or both, following him.

A moan drifted out of the bedroom.

Dobrius rushed in.

A trail of blood led to his mother who lay on the bed. A wound in her stomach gaped open and soaked her dress red. She moaned again and turned her head toward Dobrius. “My boy,” she whispered. She extended a hand.

“Mother,” Dobrius said, kneeling by the bed and grabbing his mother’s hand. “What happened?”

“Men…came…,” she coughed and spit blood into her handkerchief, “attacked. I tried to stop them but…” she erupted into a coughing fit.

The floor creaked. Dobrius turned and saw Poepa standing there with Elise behind. “Can you help her?” he asked Poepa.

Poepa stepped forward and assessed the wound. He shook his head. “I’m afraid a gut wound like that is beyond my skill, lad. Beyond the skill of anyone in this village.”

“So she’s going to die?” Dobrius asked, swallowing hard.

“I’m afraid so.”

“Dobrius,” his mother croaked. “Listen…to…,”

Dobrius turned his attention to his mother. “I’m listening, Mother.”

“Must…leave…not…safe. He…knows…you’re,” more coughs. “Here.”

“Who, mother? Who knows I’m here? The man who did this to you?”

She shook her head. “No. But…he…wants…run.”

“I don’t understand,” Dobrius said.

His mother locked eyes with Poepa, as if she was noticing him for the first time. “The Destroyer,” she said.

For the first time since Dobrius had seen Poepa he expressed surprise on his face. “It can’t be.”

“Must…go…light…strike…,” she stopped speaking and squeezed Dobrius’ hand tight.  Then she gasped one final time and her grip loosened. Her eyes glazed over.

“Mother?” Dobrius asked. “No, Mother, don’t leave me.” Tears streamed down his face now. He shook her arm as if to rouse her from a slumber. “You can’t die. Please.”

A firm hand gripped his shoulder. “Let her go, lad, it’s too late for her. But we must leave.”

“I have to bury her first,” Dobrius said, hardly able to process what was happening. He had to focus on the immediate task at hand or he feared he would break down.

Poepa sighed. “I’ll help you. But we must hurry, the house is going to be in flames soon enough. He lifted Dobrius’ mother up and carried her down the stairs.

Dobrius followed, sadness mingling with disbelief and sprinkled with sadness. My mother…gone. He pulled his hand away when Elise tried to take it. Not even the distraction of a pretty girl could stop the pain.

The gunslinger carried his mother out behind the house and set her gently on the ground. “I need a shovel,” he said.

 

Narrator Spotlight: New Release by Andrea Emmes @aemmes

Andrea

Andrea Emmes is an Audible Best Selling Narrator! Her most notable narrations include Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. She started her career performing in musical theater while growing up on the East Coast. This lead to a successful career as a stage performer working for Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Renaissance Cruises and eventually head lining on the Las Vegas Strip. Having worked in TV, film and video games, Andrea, a total bibliophile, now enjoys narrating audiobooks at her home studio in San Jose, California. Known as “The Girl with a Thousand Voices”, her wide range of character voices and dynamic/emotionally invested performances has reviewers and listeners alike commenting on how she effortlessly pulls listeners in, and has versatility and charisma.

Today we are featuring her most recent release, Protective Custody published by Tantor Audio:

 

Check it out!

Blurb:

Guarding witnesses? All in a day’s work for deputy US marshal Carly Masterson. Protecting the judge who was indirectly responsible for her mentor’s death? That’s another story.

Still, she won’t let harm come to Judge Nicholas Floyd, or the niece and nephew in his care. She’s determined to do the job right, and not let her emotions take over – no matter how wonderful it feels to be accepted by the little family.

Can she let go of the past and learn to trust again before danger finds them once more?


You Can Follow Her:


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