Sarah Is FREE Today Only! #Freebook #horror #paranormal #YA

It’s finally here – Sarah is FREE across all markets today only! For your FREE copy, go HERE.

Seventeen-year-old horror fan Cain Shannon thought helping a ghost find her killers would be the supernatural adventure of a lifetime. Now, he just hopes to survive long enough to protect his family and friends from her.

A bet between friends goes horribly wrong, resulting in Sarah’s death. When she returns to seek justice against those responsible, Cain agrees to help her. But when he discovers Sarah has been hijacking his body, he realizes she wants retribution instead of justice.

Terrified of what could have happened when he wasn’t in control, Cain commands Sarah to leave his house – but exorcising her isn’t that easy. She retaliates against her murderers in bloody, horrific ways, each death making her stronger, then sets her sights on Cain. With the help of friends, Cain fights to save himself and his loved ones and searches for a way to stop Sarah before she kills again.

Sarah is FREE Sunday, April 10th! #freebook #horror #YA #paranormal

Mark your calendars – Sarah will be FREE Sunday, April 10th only! If you enjoy haunted houses, black cats, angry ghosts, and humorous teen boys, I hope you take advantage of this offer. It was inspired by my cat Shadow, who’s since crossed the Rainbow Bridge, so it was only fair a black cat be included in the story.

“Spectacularly creepy!” Library of Steubenville

“Dark and twisted.” The Reading Closet

“A rather well-done haunting thriller.” Literary License Podcast

“The writing style and general creepiness reminded me of Diary of a Haunting, which I would recommend to anyone who enjoyed this book.” -Barnes and Noble Booksellers

Seventeen-year-old horror fan Cain Shannon thought helping a ghost find her killers would be the supernatural adventure of a lifetime. Now, he just hopes to survive long enough to protect his family and friends from her.

A bet between friends goes horribly wrong, resulting in Sarah’s death. When she returns to seek justice against those responsible, Cain agrees to help her. But when he discovers Sarah has been hijacking his body, he realizes she wants retribution instead of justice.

Terrified of what could have happened when he wasn’t in control, Cain commands Sarah to leave his house – but exorcising her isn’t that easy. She retaliates against her murderers in bloody, horrific ways, each death making her stronger, then sets her sights on Cain. With the help of friends, Cain fights to save himself and his loved ones and searches for a way to stop Sarah before she kills again.

The Insurgent (The Colony #2) Giveaway Winner!

I’m so excited about the upcoming release of The Insurgent (The Colony #2) and was thrilled to get my books early so I could host a giveaway. Thanks so much to all of you who entered (and also gave me more books to add to my TBR).

I put the number of comments on all my social media into a random number generator and the winner is LADY TESSA!

A big congrats to Tessa, and I hope you enjoy The Insurgent. On some days if felt like I put in my blood, sweat, and tears just to get it finished, but I promise your copy won’t contain any bodily fluids, lol. Email me your address at tpolen6@gmail.com, Tessa!

#Giveaway The Insurgent (The Colony #2) #YA #scifi #dystopian

It’s giveaway time! The Insurgent doesn’t release until May 19, 2022, but you can win a signed paperback copy (US only) or ebook (international) now. All you have to do is reply to one question and leave an answer in the comment section. A random commenter will be chosen and the winner announced here and on my social media accounts next Wednesday, March 16th. The deadline to enter is midnight March 15th. Since we all love books (or else you wouldn’t be here) and this is a book blog, it’s an easy question to answer.

What are you reading right now?

Below is the book description.

If a megalomaniac threatened your family, would you give up your freedom for them? Would you give up your soul?

Asher Solomon is faced with that choice. And makes the ultimate sacrifice.

Exactly as Director Silas Reeves expected him to.

Unable to live as the Colony’s premier assassin, Ash retreats to a corner of his mind, ceding control of his body to the alter-ego he was engineered to be-Subject A36. As he’s unleashed to battle the Insurgents, the only family he ever knew, the tide of war shifts in Silas’s favor.

Combined with his expansion into new territories, the director is poised to take over the world.

But the Insurgents don’t give up easily. Not on their cause, and not on their people. With the help of a few double agents deep in the Colony, they stand a fighting chance at ending Silas’s reign.

In order to shut down the program, they face almost insurmountable odds. And their most dangerous foe-their former champion turned killing machine, A36.

#CoverReveal The Insurgent (The Colony #2) #YA #scifi

Here it is – the sequel I thought might never see the light of day. Most of it was written during the pandemic when I really wasn’t feeling writerly. The characters and I weren’t getting along – they didn’t want to talk, but were also frustrated I was taking so long to tell the rest of their story. The character I thought would take the helm wasn’t stepping up. Another one, someone I didn’t expect, demanded to drive the story. After some group therapy sessions between all of us, we finally came to an agreement. I put my butt in the chair, they talked, and I listened. So, at long last, I give you The Insurgent.

If a megalomaniac threatened your family, would you give up your freedom for them? Would you give up your soul?

Asher Solomon is faced with that choice. And makes the ultimate sacrifice.

Exactly as Director Silas Reeves expected him to.

Unable to live as the Colony’s premier assassin, Ash retreats to a corner of his mind, ceding control of his body to the alter-ego he was engineered to be—Subject A36. As he’s unleashed to battle the Insurgents, the only family he ever knew, the tide of war shifts in Silas’s favor.

Combined with his expansion into new territories, the director is poised to take over the world.

But the Insurgents don’t give up easily. Not on their cause, and not on their people. With the help of a few double agents deep in the Colony, they stand a fighting chance at ending Silas’s reign.

In order to shut down the program, they face almost insurmountable odds. And their most dangerous foe—their former champion turned killing machine, A36.

You can preorder from Amazon HERE or Barnes and Noble HERE.

It’s not on Goodreads yet to add to your Want To Read list, but I’ll post the link when it shows up. If you’re local to Bowling Green, KY you won’t have to wait until May to get your copy. They’ll be with me at SOKY Book Fest on March 25th and 26th!

Look for giveaways later this week!

Sarah is FREE Today Only! #TuesdayBookBlog #freebook #YA #horror #paranormal

I hate to post twice on the same day, but my publisher let me know a few weeks ago the Sarah ebook would be free today only across all makets on Amazon – just in time for Halloween! It’s not a slasher/gore type of story, it’s more about the bonds of family and friendship – and a vengeful ghost just happens to be hanging around the house. But it also contains a good amount of humor and a really awesome black cat named Eby (inspired by my cat, Shadow, who gave me the idea for this book). I hope you’ll download Sarah today HERE!

I’m also over at Robbie Cheadle’s blog today answering some of my own Bad Moon Rising questions. Click HERE to visit. She’s currently on tour with her most recent release, A Ghost and His Gold, so make sure to check it out!

Seventeen-year-old horror fan Cain Shannon thought helping a ghost find her killers would be the supernatural adventure of a lifetime. Now, he just hopes to survive long enough to protect his family and friends from her.

A bet between friends goes horribly wrong, resulting in Sarah’s death. When she returns to seek justice against those responsible, Cain agrees to help her. But when he discovers Sarah has been hijacking his body, he realizes she wants retribution instead of justice.

Terrified of what could have happened when he wasn’t in control, Cain commands Sarah to leave his house – but exorcising her isn’t that easy. She retaliates against her murderers in bloody, horrific ways, each death making her stronger, then sets her sights on Cain. With the help of friends, Cain fights to save himself and his loved ones and searches for a way to stop Sarah before she kills again.

Tina Lost in a Crowd by Miriam Hurdle #NewRelease #childrensbook

Most of you will probably recognize today’s guest for her children’s books and poetry collections. I had the pleasure of reading her newest release and adored it. Welcome Miriam Hurdle!

Hi Teri, it’s wonderful to be here on your lovely blog. Thank you so much for your kindness to host my Book Release Tour and allow me to share my process from pen to publication with your readers.

The Making of Tina Lost in a Crowd, Part 5

Finding an Illustrator

I’m a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). On one blog post, it featured an illustrator and her work. I liked the style of her artworks, so I contacted her and got an idea of how much she would charge for the number of pages in my book and how long it would take to complete the job.

Some blogging friends recommended some websites with illustration services, and I checked them out. The illustrators charged by hours. They didn’t have a portfolio with sample artworks, so I couldn’t tell if I liked their style.

After much search and consideration, my decision was to search for an illustrator on fiverr.com. I could see the services they provide and their sample work. Some would provide limited, and some unlimited revisions.

I do watercolor painting and wish to illustrate my book, but I don’t do portrait painting. There are thousands of gigs out there, and it would take forever to scroll through all the pages to find one. I narrowed it down to watercolor, and children’s illustration, and got 660 services. It took me six months to find one I liked. I paid for one sample page and when I ordered the rest, it became part of my entire book.

After I accepted the sample page, I sent the story summary and the description of each page to her. She then sent me a few sketches at a time. I gave her my feedback and suggestions. She revised them and sent them to me. Sometimes I respected her creativity and approved them. But if they didn’t correspond with the story, I asked for further revisions until they were done to my satisfaction. It was a pleasant experience working with Victoria Skakandi.

Blurb

Tina invited her friend Erica to attend a popular Tchaikovsky’s Spectacular concert on a summer evening with her parents. During the intermission, her dad left the seat to buy some snacks. Tina and Erica followed him wanting to use the restroom. The shoving crowd pushed them away, and they lost sight of him. It would be impossible to fight through the 18,000 people to find him or go back to Tina’s mom. What would the girls do?

This story tells about what happened to Tina and Erica after they got lost. Children can adapt to the learning from different situations they may observe or encounter. Adults could have discussions with the children about the situations to help them develop problem-solving skills.

Purchase Links

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B091M586M7

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w?ean=2940162309741

My Review It’s been years since I’ve read a children’s book – and I thoroughly enjoyed this charming tale. Tina just finished third grade and is looking forward to her summer and spending time with her friend. She and her mother plan a list of activities, something I did with my sons when they were little. The family decides to attend an outdoor concert at a large venue and bring along Tina’s friend Erica. It’s a scary, but very realistic situation when the two girls get lost during intermission. In the author’s note at the end of the book she mentions this event is based on a true story involving her own daughter – a parent’s nightmare! Luckily, Tina and her parents have talked about what to do if they were ever separated, something all parents should discuss with their children.

The illustrations are vibrant and colorful and go along well with the text. With summer coming up, this would be a fun story to read with children and would also spur conversations about what they would do in Tina’s situation. This is a book I’d highly recommend to parents and caregivers of young children.

About the Author

Miriam Hurdle is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She published four children’s books at twenty-six years old. Her poetry collection received the Solo “Medalist Winner” for the New Apple Summer eBook Award and achieved bestseller status on Amazon.

Miriam writes poetry, short stories, memoir, and children’s books. She earned a Doctor of Education from the University of La Verne in California. After two years of rehabilitation counseling, fifteen years of public-school teaching and ten years in school district administration, she retired and enjoys life with her husband in southern California, and the visits to her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters in Oregon. When not writing, she engages in blogging, gardening, photography, and traveling.

Contact Miriam at –

Website/Blog: https://theshowersofblessings.com

Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/Miriam-Hurdle/e/B07K2MCSVW

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17252131.Miriam_Hurdle

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mhurdle112

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Miriam-Hurdle-Author-100123351515424

#BlogTour Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry @algonquinyr #YA #supernatural #TigersNotDaughters

I originally reviewed this YA supernatural novel in March 2020, but the paperback was recently released. If you’d like to read my review, click HERE. At less than 300 pages, it’s a quick read I finished on a two hour flight.

The Torres sisters dream of escape. Escape from their needy and despotic widowed father, and from their San Antonio neighborhood, full of old San Antonio families and all the traditions and expectations that go along with them. In the summer after her senior year of high school, Ana, the oldest sister, falls to her death from her bedroom window. A year later, her three younger sisters, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, are still consumed by grief and haunted by their sister’s memory. Their dream of leaving Southtown now seems out of reach. But then strange things start happening around the house: mysterious laughter, mysterious shadows, mysterious writing on the walls. The sisters begin to wonder if Ana really is haunting them, trying to send them a message—and what exactly she’s trying to say.
 
In a stunning follow-up to her National Book Award–longlisted novel All the Wind in the World, Samantha Mabry weaves an aching, magical novel that is one part family drama, one part ghost story, and one part love story.

samantha was born four days before the death of john lennon. she grew up in dallas, playing bass guitar along to vinyl records in her bedroom after school, writing fan letters to rock stars, doodling song lyrics into notebooks, and reading big, big books.

in college at southern methodist university, she majored in english literature, minored in spanish, and studied latin and classics. after that, she went on to receive a master’s degree in english from boston college.

these days, she teaches at a community college and spends as much time as possible in the west texas desert.

#BlogTour The Seal’s Temptation by Jacquie Biggar #giveaway #romanticsuspense

Happy Friday! You may have seen this author around the blogosphere this week promoting her new release, The Seal’s Temptation, and I’m thrilled to host her today! If you missed my review of Jacquie’s techno-thriller novella, Virtually Gone, yesterday, click HERE. Make sure to register for the giveaway!

The SEAL’s Temptation
Wounded Hearts Book 7
by Jacquie Biggar
Genre: Romantic Suspense
DEA Agent Maggie Holt knows about Hell…
After eighteen months undercover in a Mexican cartel, Maggie is broken. The kickass agent she once was, is gone, leaving her riddled with guilt and nightmares. Forced to take paid leave, Maggie accepts the offer of a vacation on the ranch of the man who’d rescued her from an almost certain death.
Frank Stein knows the signs of PTSD, he’d suffered the symptoms himself as Chief Petty Officer of SEAL Team Five. Honorably retired from duty, Frank has found peace at the family ranch and hopes it will do the same for Magdalena. Ever since he’d first met her when she was interrogating his buddy, Jared, Frank has been fascinated by the raven-haired beauty and wants the chance to see where their relationship could go.
Adam O’Connor is Maggie’s partner. He knows her. He loved her once and could again, if she’d let him in. But he’s also angry she took the chances she did by going undercover against orders. And now, things are different. She’s different.
When a right-wing militia group infiltrates the area, will DEA Agent Maggie Holt, her partner, Adam O’Connor, and ex-SEAL Chief Frank Stein be able to set aside their differences to stop them before someone dies? And who will Maggie choose, the handsome cowboy, or her charismatic DEA partner?
**Only .99 cents!!**
**Check out the rest of the Wounded Hearts series here! **
USA Today bestselling author Jacquie Biggar loves to write Romantic Suspense novels brimming w/Attitude.
Jacquie Biggar is a USA Today bestselling author of romance who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world!
In her own words: “My name is Jacquie Biggar. When I’m not acting like a total klutz I am a wife, mother of one, grandmother, and a butler to my calico cat. My guilty pleasure are reality tv shows like Amazing Race and The Voice. I can be found every Monday night in my armchair plastered to the television laughing at Blake and Adam’s shenanigans. I love to hang at the beach with DH (darling hubby) taking pictures or reading romance novels (what else?). I have a slight Tim Hortons obsession, enjoy gardening, everything pink and talking to my friends.”
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
$20 Amazon

Excerpt

Dawn was little more than a blush on the horizon when Frank, Jared and Adam set out on their ride the next morning. It was both strange and bittersweet to have his friends on his six again. Frank grinned, the tension easing from between his shoulder blades. Just like old times.

He kicked Sadie into a fast trot and glanced over his shoulder. “You girls think you can keep up?”

Jared shot him a one finger salute. “Maybe if you’d given me a horse instead of this old nag.” The nag in question—a handsome Quarter Horse Frank had trained himself—tossed his head, fighting the tight grip on the reins.

Adam leaned over and gave the bay a slap on the rump with his Red Sox ball cap, a rare smile erasing the grim lines of his face. “What’s the matter, Martin? Married life turning you into a pansy?” He took one glance at his buddy’s expression as he wrestled to bring the startled horse under control and decided to catch up to Frank. “Be one with the horse,” he advised with a laugh.

“I knew you were an a-hole,” Jared shouted.

Frank shook his head at their antics. “You two are worse than a couple of kids.” He kept an eye on Jared until he caught up, then guided Sadie toward the hills, turning up the collar on his shearling jacket against the early morning chill.

Spencer stepped out the door of the foreman’s cottage as they rode by and doffed his stained cowboy hat. “Have a good ride,” he called.

Frank tipped his Stetson in reply but kept going. Spence had managed this ranch for upwards of thirty years—he didn’t need Frank telling him what to do.

“He doesn’t spend the night up at the main house?” Jared asked, his butt bouncing in the saddle.

“No, he does not sleep with my mother.” Tempted to let him suffer, Frank warned, “Loosen your back. Roll with the motion and it’ll go easier on you.”

Adam whistled through his teeth. “I’m sensing some tension, Chief. You do realize your mother is a grown woman, right?” His puppy-dog eyes twinkled with mirth.

Frank snorted. “If you yahoos are done, can we get back to business?”

“Ah,” Jared said, his teeth clacking together with every bounce. “I figured there had to be an ulterior motive to this invite.”

Frank frowned. It was true he’d asked his friends to join them at the ranch after their return from Mexico, but he didn’t mean for it to come with a price tag.

“Listen—” he began.

Jared held up a leather-gloved hand, then just as quickly latched onto the pommel as the bay climbed a steep rise. “Hey, it’s all good. Annie and I have been meaning to come down for a visit anyway. Things have been slightly crazy back home, what with the new baby and setting up the new business and all, or we would have been here sooner.” He gave Adam the stink-eye. “Especially, if you’d let me know you were in trouble.”

Adam shrugged. “Don’t look at me, bro, I was following orders. Besides, we had to move fast once we knew where that bastard had Mags.”

They topped the rise and stopped for a moment to take in the vista. Cows grazed in the field below, their sleek brown and white coats a contrast to the verdant green grass. Bluebonnets flirted with the breeze blowing down from the north, keeping the temperature balmy—at least for the moment. Fluffy Cumulous clouds scattered across the sky like the petticoats under a woman’s skirt; not that many wore them these days except for weddings and such. And why the heck was he thinking about a woman’s underdrawers anyway? Frank scowled.

Desperate to break what felt like an awkward silence, she gestured toward the sparkling constellations over their heads. “Do you study the stars, Mr. Stein? You have quite the view out here.” Maybe not as reach-out-and-touch them as she’d felt on that mesa in Mexico, but a hell of a lot safer. The melancholy that was never very far away filled her chest, a black cloud covering the silvery moon. Her best friend was buried on that hill, a victim of the monster who’d ruined the lives of countless women.

“Not really. My brother and I got into it some as kids but then he… disappeared and I kind of lost heart.” Frank’s voice flowed over her like a warm breeze, dispersing the darkness of her thoughts.

“I’m sorry,” she murmured. “I think I remember reading something about that in your file—the part that wasn’t confidential anyway.” She smiled.

He nodded. “It happened a long time ago. We’ve accepted it, though that’s not to say we’ve stopped looking. Hope lives on, you know?”

Yeah, she did.

The only thing that kept her alive through those hellish months with Chenglei and his band of assholes was hope.

Well, that and a craving for revenge.

“I imagine you’ve exhausted official channels. Have you looked into private investigators?”

He shifted, stretching long jean-clad legs and crossing his ankles, revealing scuffed cowboy boots. The old chair creaked, protesting his movements.

“We tried every avenue there was, but it did no good. He’d vanished.” Frank’s voice was matter-of-fact, but his tone revealed how much the loss of his brother still affected him.

The sad truth was there were thousands just like Cameron Stein—young men and women dissatisfied with their lives who think the grass will be greener on the other side and instead learn, more often than not and sometimes with fatal consequences, that running away is not the answer.

There probably wasn’t a lot she could do, but Maggie wanted to help this family to at least find some closure. Maybe she could pull a few strings within the agency and see what popped. Off the record, of course.

She glanced through the window into the soft vignette-like lighting of the kitchen. Frank’s mom had risen to clear the table, her hands grasping the platter of decimated turkey as she laughed at something the ranch foreman had said, affection apparent on both their faces. Emily leaned down to give him a kiss and he took advantage of the moment to pull her onto his lap. Maggie looked away, her heart pinching.

That kind of relationship was as far away as the moon for her. Even before her captivity, Maggie’s main focus had been career-orientated. Adam blamed himself for their break-up, but truthfully, she just wasn’t a good bet.

“I’m not promising anything, but I can check a couple of things when I get back to work. Sometimes, time can uncover secrets from the past.”

As the Arabian kicked his heels and galloped away, Maggie folded onto the ground at his feet, her arm twisted awkwardly where he held her wrist. Long, black silk hair flowed over her shoulder and breast, hiding her face from his view. He let go, grimacing at the red marks he’d left on her delicate skin.

Dropping to a knee so he could better see her expression, Frank frowned. She was pale, fragile looking. He didn’t think the horse had a chance to hurt her, but with the way he’d yanked on her arm, maybe he had. “Are you injured?” he asked, roughly.

She lifted her head at the sound of his voice, but her eyes looked through him and, suddenly, he realized why.

“Maggie, look at me.” He carefully tucked her hair behind the shell of her ear. “Come back to me, sweetheart. I’ve got you.” He rubbed her shoulder and was relieved to see her eyes lose that vacant, faraway expression. “That’s it, take it easy. You’re safe.” And she would remain that way if he had any say.

Tears formed and she blinked them away. “I… I must have tripped,” she said, her voice gaining strength as she raised her armor, blocking him out.

Much as he wanted to confront her with the truth and force her to talk to him, Frank understood the need to hide the flashbacks away—pretend they didn’t exist.

He rose and held out his hand. “It’s the stallion’s fault, he startled you.”

She accepted the offer and stood with less than her normal grace. “Thanks, I’m not usually so jumpy.” She avoided eye contact while carefully brushing non-existent dust from her slacks. “I guess I was expecting more manners after we gave him an apple and all.” Her wobbly smile begged him not to make a big deal out of her breakdown.

“It was my fault. I should have warned you about Desert Dancer. He’s new to the ranch and still learning his boundaries. He’s a showoff for the ladies—kind of reminds me of O’Connor.”

Maggie lifted a brow. “Does Adam know how you feel?”

He grinned, pleased the sparkle had returned to her beautiful topaz eyes. “He’d be the first to agree. Back on the team we called him our secret weapon because he always managed to get intel for our ops when no one else could.”

“Well, can’t say I’m surprised. He made use of those… talents in the DEA, as well.” She started walking and Frank fell in alongside. “It’s kind of strange being here, with you. Adam used to talk about the great Frank Stein all the time. You’re a legend, you know.” She slipped him an intimate, sideways smile that set lightning bugs buzzing in his chest.

#BlogTour Reaper Aftermath by Jonathan Pongratz #NewRelease #horror #RRBookTours

I’m so excited to be a part of this blog tour! I read the novella, Reaper, a couple years ago and was really hoping the author would expand on the story. Wishes do come true, and here’s the proof. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but since I’m such a big horror fan, you can be sure it will be soon.

It’s been five years have passed since the Reapers invaded Earth, but Gregory is back and trying to survive the wastelands left behind!

Welcome to the book tour for Reaper: Aftermath by Jonathan Pongratz! Read on for an excerpt and a chance to win 1 of 3 print copies of the book!

Reaper: Aftermath

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror/ Apocalypse

Expected Publication Date: February 5th, 2021

Five years have passed since the Reapers invaded Earth and tore it asunder. Gregory, his mother, Trent, and their group of scavengers hunt the decimated wastelands for survival.

But when a sudden Reaper attack forces Gregory through a Reaper door, he finds himself in a bizarre place, one that may provide answers to the Reapers’ past and where they came from.

Can Gregory put together the pieces of the past and find his way home, or will he just become another human casualty in the lost war against the Reapers?

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

I crouched behind a row of old dusty cars beside my mom and two other sharpshooters, my body trembling. Don’t freak out. Be brave. Remember your training.

I took a deep breath and dared a peek ahead between two cars. Across the street was a deserted grocery store covered in grime and soot. It was a small shop, maybe two or three times the size of an average gas station. A bunch of old, rotted wooden planks covered the windows, but the front entrance was untouched. Whoever had been here was either dead inside or long gone. No one in their right mind would leave their home unfortified, not anymore.

All was quiet except for the wind, but I knew better. We all did. Any second and the Reapers could be right on us. Though they never came out during the day, we couldn’t leave anything to chance.

Mom pulled out her walkie. “Proceeding with root-out of potential Reapers.” She retrieved an oddly-shaped ball constructed from cans, tins, and several small bells we called chatter boxes from her supply bag and hurled it over her head.

The chatter box clunked loudly on the ground, bouncing before stopping in front of the seemingly-empty store. For a couple moments we all sat there, waiting for any sign of Reapers.

              Mom’s walkie crackled to life. “Patricia, I think we should–”

              “Quiet!” Mom hissed. “I think I hear something.”

              I couldn’t hear anything, but there was definitely a difference in the air, like it was charged somehow. Just like the basement five years ago. Images of the past filled my mind: My little sister Imogen, the electrified feeling down in the basement, the Reaper’s sudden appearance. I shook off my thoughts and edged close to my mother.

              “You’re right, something’s coming.”

Mom nodded, her gaze fixed on the grocery store. “Be brave, Gregory. If you have to, fall back.”

I shook my head. There was no way I was gonna miss out on this.

Her eyes widened, and she gripped her walkie once more. “Reapers, incoming!”

 I drew my Glock from my holster, turned the safety off, and tried to look through the abandoned store’s smudged entrance. It was dark inside, but I could see two hulking figures scrambling to the front of the store at breakneck speed.

Oh shi–

Two Reapers crashed through the entrance in an explosion of glass that blasted shards in a thousand directions. As the projectiles clinked on the ground I stared at the monsters before us, a chill running down my spine.

 Large, festering boils covered their reddish, emaciated bodies. They stood tall on two clawed feet, but could easily switch to all fours for speed, doubling the danger of their razor sharp appendages. The Reapers opened their mouths, revealing multiple layers of jagged, pointy teeth as they gave ear-piercing shrieks of rage.

A grin spread across my face. Time to die, assholes.

I aimed, then pulled my trigger as deafening gunshots came from my left and right. We’d hit the one on the right several times. A thick, black liquid oozed from its wounds, but it was still in fighting shape and pretty freakin’ pissed based on the hideous snarl on its face.

The aggravated Reaper leaped forward on all fours, bounding over the car we were hiding behind and landing in front of the sharpshooter furthest from me. It gave a mighty roar, snatching him up and throwing him like a rag doll. He went flying, landing on a nearby car’s windshield with a loud crack. The monster eyed the other sharpshooter with furious, predatory yellow eyes.

Shit, shit, shit! I lunged towards the Reaper as I targeted it, then yanked on my trigger.  It gave a high-pitched cry of pain and staggered back a step. Damn it! I’d only hit its shoulder. Its hateful gaze was now focused on me.

A sudden gunblast boomed from my comrade, and the Reaper fell to the ground, unmoving. A large pool of black sludge gathered underneath its head where the bullet had exited.

Before I could rejoice in the kill, Mom shouted nearby. I spun around. She was battling the other Reaper in front of the grocery store with a long knife in hand. She had deep cuts on her arms and legs, while the monster sported several nonfatal gunshot wounds. I tried to aim for the Reaper but they were moving too fast, desperately circling one another for an advantage. One wrong move and I’d shoot my own mother.

The Reaper took a wide-arching swipe at her, but she dodged to the side, cutting its leg as she went. The monster screeched and turned to attack, but mom slid between its legs and was now behind it. Point blank, Mom whipped out her revolver and fired three shots into the back of the Reaper’s head. It fell to the ground, twitching in its final death throes.

Mom lifted her combat boot and stomped on its head with a sickening crunch. The Reaper didn’t move anymore. She spat on it, then pulled out her walkie as I approached. “All clear. Torch the bodies.”

I glanced back. Twenty yards away behind another row of dead cars, our small group of noncombatants emerged. Mom strolled towards the grocery store and I jogged to catch up to her, eager to see what was inside. Whatever it was, it had better be worth it.

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About the Author

Jonathan Pongratz is a writer and author of captivating horror, urban fantasy, and paranormal stories. When he’s not writing, he’s busy being a bookworm, video game junkie, and karaoke vocalist. A former resident of Dallas, he currently resides in Kansas City with his halloween cat Ajax. By day he works magic in finance, by night he creates dark and mesmerizing worlds.

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