Short Story Sunday: Hollow Heads

Hollow Heads

A Science Fiction Story by Marla Todd

Sure we all volunteered with a capitol V but we didn’t know we’d be stuck a billion miles from home with a bunch of assholes.

Our plan was to stop at Planet 2387 before we made communication with our target planet. 2387 is an uninhabited wasteland. There might have been the rudiments of life there at one time but that ship had come and gone.

So we land at what was left of the Emile Hanson Memorial Outpost, otherwise known as Hanson’s Hole. I looked up Hanson’s name before we left home. He’d been the captain of the third Mars mission. You know, the one whose head exploded when he ran into a couple of guys from Europa, but that was a long time ago. That was almost three hundred years ago, long before I was born.

On the wall of the main building of Hanson’s Hole the words, “Welcome to Hell” were scrawled in what looked like blood.

Junior Potemkin, the communications officer, if you could call him that, started to hyperventilate. I slapped him in the back and told him to stop it. Captain John Finch our leader, rolled his eyes, and told us start testing for signs of life. I called my lead science officer and went exploring.

We’d only heard of this place. Nobody was sure even who’d been here in the past, or exactly what their mission was. We were looking at a ghost. And while the rest of the crew stood shaking in their gravity boots I started to explore. I didn’t travel twenty light years away from home to pee my pants over some extraterrestrial graffiti.

I’ll tell you, when I signed up for this gig, last minute of course, I found myself with the lamest group of space travelers ever assembled. Sure they were all smart and looked good on paper. Everyone had advanced degrees and shit loads of experience. But the experience was in the lab and on paper. Nobody had field experience or people experience aside from the Captain or me.

Potemkin was an expert in written communications but couldn’t carry on a conversation if his life depended on it. Our lead engineer Thomas K. Morgan was one of those insidious geeks who corrected everyone on every single word they said. Morgan’s favorite line in any conversation was, “actually” fill in the blank with his expert opinion, which was usually bullshit or worthless trivia. After we were out of the solar system Captain Finch told Morgan that he’d throw him out into space without a suit if he didn’t cut it out.

The rest of the group included a guy called Boof who thought he was channeling Flash Gordon, an antisocial hermit of a physicist who asked to be called X, and a pair of identical twins I called Satan’s Daughters. The twins, Vera and Meera, were sneaky little shits who talked at the same time and were never seen away from each other. They were brought on as some sort of geology experts, you know, dirt and rocks as they liked to remind everyone as they cackled like witches as if that was funny. They were dirt and rocks as far as I was concerned. The rest of the crew was bland, mean spirited, and aside from the Captain had no imagination what so ever.

So I’m looking at the writing on the wall and wondering what in the world, and who in the world had written it. I felt someone rub my shoulder and looked over to see Boof standing there expecting me to be Dale Arden to his Flash Gordon. Give me a break. He looks good but no. Absolutely no.

“Boof,” I said looking up at the leafy blue green canopy of plants (I assume they were maybe once plants) around the building. “Let’s take a look inside.”

He gave me a great big blinding white smile and knocked the door open with his foot. Boof wasn’t carrying a ray gun, but it wasn’t because we’re a couple of scientists with seven degrees between the two of us. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t like scientists or people with degrees can’t be badass. We just didn’t have any weapons with us.

The interior was dark. Not like no lights, because there was a skylight, but because obviously the interior decorator of this forgotten outpost either had a stack of 1980’s Architectural Digest Magazines handy for inspiration, or he was into all things Gothic.

“Looks like vampires live here,” said Boof.

I gave an uncomfortable laugh and tried to be serious, that is until the music started to play. I couldn’t figure out where the music was coming from. The sound was sort of like it was coming out of a metal tunnel. A man was singing in sort of a strange high voice, but it sounded kind of nice.

You’re just a little bit of sunshine when it’s raining,

You’re just a little bit of gladness when I’m blue,

You’re just a little bit of love light that keeps shining,

And when it’s cloudy, you’re a silver lining.

“Radio Franks.You’re Just A Little Bit of Everything I Love,” said Boof.

I looked straight ahead at a slowly moving shadow. “How do you know that Boof?”

“I like early 20thCentury music,” he answered, his eyes also on the shadow.

“Sing me something from the late 21stCentury. You know the one, about the alien romance, ruby skin.”

Your DNA plays around,

Like a silken ghost,

Worlds apart are we.

Flying higher

Flying higher

Flying higher

Reach the stars

Ruby skin, emerald eyes,

Heaven between

Hot alien thighs.

Flying higher

Flying higher

Flying higher

Reach the stars

Boof started to sing quietly in a surprisingly beautiful tenor.

“I hate that song,” I said taking a slow step forward. “You changed the lyrics.”

“Yes, I did change the lyrics, and yes I hate it too. Do you sing?”

“Only in the shower.”

“Can I join you?”

“Only in your dreams.”

“Let’s sleep then, shall we,” Boof said in almost a whisper as we slowly walked towards the shadow.

The shadow moved, in what looked like the shape of a human hand, then stupidity happened. A tremendous scraping sound, sent us turning backwards to see Garland Holbright, one the Earth’s most famous journalists, come along to document our journey for the ages. Every living Earthling knew who the man was, and Garland never let us forget.

Garland had opened the door in the wrong direction, throwing it off of it’s tracks.

“Find anything yet?” Garland called out loudly as he propped the door up against a wall.

The shadow vanished.

“God Damn you Holbright. You’re such an asshole,” said Boof, as I grabbed him by his jacket and held him back.

Garland Holbright was what we (not me, everyone else) called a Frank, short for Frankenstein. He was one of those kids who’s parents had custom ordered him from a cocktail of perfect DNA so he’d be brilliant and exceptionally good looking. Sure his IQ was off the charts and he was good at taking tests. Sure on a scale of one to ten in looks Garland was a seventeen, but where he excelled in trivia and Prince Charming handsomeness he lacked in creativity and personality. The guy was an insufferable bore with an ego the size of Jupiter.

Sure we’d all had genetic modifications for long term space travel. Our respiratory systems, muscular growth, and bone density had all been tweaked. A few of us, including me, had a few personal tweaks as well. My eyes are now a little brighter shade of hazel, and my hair is finally grows model perfect. That said, I’d like to think that you always get better babies with natural random DNA selection.

Boof and Garland had gotten into it the night before. Garland had convinced a friend to hack into the personnel logs and found out that Boof was created by a couple of teenagers one hot summer night in the back seat of a self driving solar convertible.

“Silence,” I said in one of those loud mom-like whispers. “Both of you. Garland, we are not alone.”

Garland formed an O with his mouth in surprise. I knew the guy was deathly afraid of aliens. Go figure. He goes on a space mission but he is afraid of anything that isn’t human, or maybe a dog.

While I was getting ready to rip Garland a new one Boof grabbed my arm.

“Timothy Leary is not dead,” he said right in my ear, so close I could feel his hot breath. I shook my head to get him away from me.

I wondered why Boof was making a reference to the 20thCentury Philosopher. Thank goodness he didn’t start singing that song. What was that group? Moody Crew? No, I think it was Moody Blues. I’d been spending way too much time with Boof. I swore between Boof and Garland I felt like my head was going to explode.

Then I turned around and there before us stood Pilot Tim Leary from the Space Explorer 23 Dog Star Mission. According to records, and Wikipedia, he’d died years ago, before I was even born. When I was a kid he was one of my idols.

Leary held out his arms in a welcoming gesture and with a wide grin said, “Welcome to Hanson’s Hole!”

“Captain Leary?” I asked, stepping forward to introduce my team and myself. “Chief Officer Gwendolyn Ward of the Research Ship the DeGrasse Tyson. These gentlemen are Science Specialist First Class Boof Errikson, and Garland Holbright, a journalist for International Geographic.

“An award winning journalist,” said Garland holding out his hand to Leary.

I kicked Boof in the ankle to prevent him from doing anything stupid. I let Garland have his bit of ego masturbation before I found out what was going on with Leary.

Leary took me by the arm as he walked and talked me into a much larger room that resembled an intergalactic art museum with comfortable seating. “I see your ship was named after the 48thPresident of the United States. A good omen there. My ship was called “The Dog Star.” I like dogs and all, I have a couple around here somewhere, but, I’ll tell you, it was a dog of a ship. Holy space shit, that thing was as bad as 2213 GM Sasquatch. Remember those? Do you like to be called Gwendolyn or Gwen?”

“Gwendolyn please. You’re alive.”

“Yes, very much so,” he said with a dashing smile as he patted my arm.

“But your body was found. DNA matched yours. There was no mistake. There is a huge memorial in Washington D.C.”

“And I’m honored at the thought, but obviously I’m still alive. I am indeed Commander Timothy Leary of the Dog Star.”

“But…” I started

“Do you know much about clones Gwen, Gentlemen?”

“Holbrook is a clone,” said Boof.

“I am not a clone,” said Garland.

“Gentlemen…” I hissed at them.

“You’re a freak Holbrook,” said Boof.

Garland threw his shoulders back. “You’re nothing but degenerate pod shelter trash.”

I’d had enough. “Boof, Garland, NOW.” I turned back to our host, “Captain Leary, the time line wouldn’t make sense. All of your bodies were found and brought back to earth. How do you explain that?”

Leary smiled again. “None of us wanted to go back so we cloned ourselves.”

“If you cloned yourselves, wait, your bodies were found a month after you landed here. It would have taken at least twelve years to have a fully grown human body.”

Leary motioned to the plush red chairs in the room. “Sit and make yourselves comfortable. I’ll tell you all about it.” We sat, and Leary told us an extraordinary story. “Once we had the Time Machine it seemed like we could steal anything we needed. Where do you think all of this art came from? Anyway, we stole an advanced cloning lab from the Dingus V Planet Chain. Nobody there has had fertile sex in centuries. They can’t, so they clone. Sad story, but shit happens.

Listen, none of us wanted to go back to our mission or Earth. We also didn’t want anyone looking for us. With the technology from Dingus V we were able to clone fully formed human bodies in thirty-six Earth hours. Thirty-six fucking hours. Unheard of. We programmed our clones to be without working brains. We called them the hollow heads. Once our clones were grown we smashed their empty heads in and called it a day. No brains, no souls, just lab grown flesh.”

“Wait,” said Garland. “You had a time machine?”

Leary smiled and shook his head in a definite yes. “I knew you’d ask. It is an amazing machine that jumps both time and space.”

“Space portal travel I can believe, but Time Travel is illegal universally, said Garland.

“That doesn’t mean it I can’t do it. I went forward because I don’t like the people I was with. I’m only here at Hanson’s Hole because I needed an additional respite from, well, everything. What are you doing here? Space Jumping I assume, but what is your mission. Nobody stops at Hanson’s Hole.”

I explained our mission as Leary listened intently.

Holbrook held up a finger and gave an artificially inquisitive look. “Why does it say Welcome to Hell in blood on the door of the compound?”

Leary shrugged. “I have no idea. It was there when I got here a few weeks ago. I just haven’t had the time or the paint to fix it.”

After more discussions about Leary’s adventures we returned to our own ship. I knew exactly what Leary was talking about when he said he was tired of annoying people.

Vera and Meera, the evil twins, came giggling and snorting into my office.

I motioned for them to sit. They both sat down and crossed their bony legs in unison. “Do you have the updated geology reports?”

Vera was the first to respond. “The soil acidity has doubled from the last time measurements were taken fifty years ago.”

“Fifty years ago,” said Meera.

Vera continued. “We also detected new volcanic activity. Are you having sex with Boof?”

Meera then spoke again, right on the tail of her sister. “Are you having sex with Boof? Was it good? Positively volcanic?”

“Volcanic. We know you are,” said Vera.

Meera started to laugh, a high pitched crow like cackle, then she started to snort. Then Vera joined in.

“Insubordination is not to be tolerated on this ship. If you ladies continue your immature behavior I will make sure you’re dropped off at the next supply station. You will receive no letters of recommendation, and I guarantee you will have to find your own way home, at your own expense. Capiche?”

“Yes, of course,” they said in unison. It almost sounded like they had an echo to their words.

“Thank you for the report. I’ll review it thoroughly.” I said motioning with my hand for them to leave.

After they’d Holbrook put his head in the door. “Do you want to have dinner later? This isn’t romantic, of course…”

I cut him off. “No.”

“Is there something going on between you and Boof?”

“No. Jesus, Garland, I’m having dinner with Caption Finch. A working dinner.”

As soon as he left a message came on the screen from Boof.

Hey Baby, do you want to see stars tonight?

I deleted the message.

The entire trip had been like the set-up from a bad bodice ripper romance, but without any sex or bodice ripping. You know the story. The heroine is caught between two potential lovers. One is dark haired, gorgeous, with impeccable breeding, and insanely rich. The other is blond, gorgeous, insanely smart, and grew up more or less a street urchin in a block of government run shelter pods. Who should our heroine choose? One will eventually betray her as the other one rescues her, but she won’t know until it happens. Screw that. I didn’t have time for it.

I took the clip out of my hair and shook out letting it fall to my shoulders. Thank goodness for planets with normal gravity. I remember reading about the days when the idea of women being in space seemed ridiculous. The excuse was always something about hair, periods, sex, temptations, strength and peeing. Seriously, one does not need a penis, or a hairy chest to travel in space. Thank goodness for Nichelle Nichols. I was so glad to see her on the one-dollar coin last year. I remember reading the emails of my great-great-grandmother telling my father about when she met Sally Ride. I can’t even imagine.

Over the next few days Captain Finch and I tasked our crew with collecting data, and ship maintenance. Our engineer Morgan questioned everything we asked him to do. He claimed inspections were not necessary. He went on about how his qualifications were better than anyone on the ship, and bragged about his superior intelligence whenever I requested a progress report.

Our physics team, headed up by a guy named Dex Harland, who insisted on being called just “X” decided that we were all going to be eaten by mutant aliens and refused to leave the ship. They spread the word through the crew that Timothy Leary was going to drug them and feed them to giant spiders or some sort of shit along those lines. It was as if the entire crew had gone insane.

I asked one of our two our medical officers about it and he told me that he was writing a screenplay about a murder on a space barge couldn’t give a rat’s ass about our mission. His name was Dr. Charles Young. He only took the job to get out of paying child support for four different women and six kids on three planets. Our sane medical crew member, Dr. Sashie Vern, took my arm and asked if I wanted to get coffee. In the empty crew lounge she begged me to keep Dr. Jay away from her due to his incompetence and creepiness.

On our last supply stop, Hawk Donaldson, a popular member of our Engineering group had a one night stand with a Trasidain female. Trasidian’s are beautiful human like creatures with iridescent pink skin, and several more pleasure seeking orifices than Earthlings. Unfortunately Trasidains also have horrible parasites, which there is no cure for except the death of the host.

Hawk contracted a large number of the parasites and was in excruciating pain as the bugs ate him from the inside out. On his request Dr. Sashie put him into a medically induced coma until his death thirty four hours later. His body, along with the bugs, was cremated and blasted into space.

After Hawk’s death Dr. Sashie wondered why most of the crew members refused to see her for regular check ups or even acknowledge her existence. I should have guessed what Dr. Sashie told me. Dr. Jay had told everyone that Dr. Sashie was incompetent and had caused Hawk’s death.

I went back to confront Dr. Jay and he just smirked.

“I’m entitled to my opinion,” he said with a shit eating grin. I wrote him up for spreading false information and confined him to his room when he was not on duty. The following day rumors spread that I was sleeping with Captain Finch, which was odd considering Finch is gay. I knew it was Dr. Jay.

As I made my rounds that day I realized that our crew, due to the nasty mix of passive aggressive cockroaches and over inflated egos was completely shutting down as a functional team.

The Engineering Group all shaved their heads and wore goggles because they decided that they did not want Garland Holbrook writing about them. Their reasoning was that if they all looked alike then Holbrook would get confused and leave them alone.

Poor Junior Potemkin, our painfully shy communications officer was being bullied by a Data Wrangler named Bambi Von Grob. She would sit next to Potemkin and make snorting noises, suck up snot in her nose, cough, loudly chew crunchy food hours on end, pound on her work station. In retaliation to his complaints she innocently told everyone on board that she was a victim of Junior Potemkin’s bullying.

I could go on for hours about the adolescent behavior of the crew. It seemed that most of my day was spent listening to complaints, breaking up fights, and telling crew members to act like adults.

With six months into our mission, and five years to go, I didn’t know how Captain Finch and I were going to handle this. I loved my job. I loved exploration. I loved the science, but I hated almost everyone on board of our ship.

Boof and I continued to visit Tim Leary. He told us a lot of tall tales but was stingy with any technical information. He said he’d always been more of a manager rather than a scientist. He’d joke that he should have been a stand-up-comic, even thought he didn’t really say anything funny.

One night at dinner, with a nice view of the three aligned moons of the planet, the Captain vented for about an hour about the crew. Boof, Garland, and Dr. Sashie Vern had joined us as the highest ranking crewmembers.

Captain Finch had an announcement for us. “I’ve done some research and come to a realization that we were given a crew of rejects of the highest order.”

“You think?” Boof said with a disgusted look.

“Our mission is longer than usual with extensive isolated periods and difficult Space Jumps. I asked for an experienced crew of individuals with solid science experience, and technical expertise. What I ended up with was a crew of people that nobody else wanted,” said Finch.

I added to his thoughts, “I asked around and was given memos stating that the reason was have the crew we have is because somebody wanted to get rid of them. We asked for the best of the best, and in turn, present company aside, we got the worst of the worst.”

“Exactly,” said Finch.

“Now what? Behavior modification or bull shit team building at the next supply spot isn’t going to fix anything,” said Sashie.

Garland Holbrook poured another glass of wine and smiled. “Clone the crew and leave them there. Then we can have a perfect crew. They have the facilities right here for high speed clone creation.”

“How would that work?” Asked Dr. Sashie.

“Leary and his crew stole the technology from the Glanidians who use semi-brainless clones for off planet mining and prostitution. It’s cheaper than robots, and biological clones are more reliable,” said Garland.

“But you have to feed them,” said Boof. “How can that be more reliable?”

Garland smiled. “No, they eat themselves. They don’t even know it. You know, Clone Nuggets.”

“That is horrible,” said Sashie.

“Yes it is but it isn’t what Leary and his crew did,” said Garland.

“Eventually we’d have to land somewhere and we’d be found out,” said Captain Finch.

“You don’t get it. We will clone the crew, but tweak the genetic codes so that they’ll have more pleasant personalities. We’ll make them brilliant but downright sweet, and completely bland. I know Gwendolyn and Boof could do it,” said Garland. “You both have studied genetics and personality modifications for violent and anti social prisoners on off planet penal colonies.”

I had to speak up. “It will take an extra week depending on how many clones we’re going to make. I spoke with the Evil Twins today and they estimated a major volcanic explosion within the next month. If it blows it will take out all life within five hundred miles of Leary’s clubhouse.”

Then we all sat, nobody asking the questions we all wanted the answer for.

There was a knock on the door. Tim Leary stood there in a black tuxedo, holding three bottles of wine in his arms.  “Your mission reminds me of a story my Great Great Grammy used to tell me. A long time ago when she was a little girl there used to be a huge store called Ickyah. People would flock to it to be unassembled furniture because it felt good if you built stuff yourself. The buyer would get home with instructions that said it would take two hours to build your bed frame and nightstand. Fifty hours later maybe the bed would be done and the nightstand drawer assembled. Another twenty hours everything would be complete with the help of additional duck tape and a lot of swearing.”

“Leary,” I said. “What does that have to do with your mission?”

“That’s what it is like living here. Everything was supposed to be easy. Self contained they said.  But it wasn’t. Fortunately I have a lot of duck tape. I still have that fast acting cloning machine. I’ll let you use it.”

“That is out of the question. We all took ethics oaths to protect our crew,” said Captain Finch.

“I didn’t,” said Holbrook.

We spend the rest of the night bitching about the rest of the crew. After everyone realized that we had more shit-for-brains stories than we could tell in one night. My brain was so agitated that there was no way I could get any sleep so I took a stroll under the three moons of Planet 2387.

“You need a real name,” I said aloud as I scanned the horizon.

“It has a name. Atropos.” I turned to see Garland Holbrook standing next to me. I didn’t even hear him coming. “She was one of the three Fates. Atropos was the one who would decide how long one’s life line was. She’d also choose how one died,”

“Why’d you come on this mission? You could have any job you wanted,” I said.

“Captain Finch is the best. None of us could have predicted the bait and switch with the crew. Think about it. If we had the original crew this would be a perfect science mission.”

This was new to me. “Original crew? Garland, what are you talking about?”

“You don’t know do you? They were finishing up in Florida on their last mission. You and Boof were later additions.”

I was almost in shock. My entire body went numb. Over a thousand souls were lost in a terrorist attack at the National Space Science Research compound. Religious fundamentalists fire bombed the place. No wonder Captain Finch took what crew was assigned him. The man must have been in deep mourning. Why didn’t anyone tell me? Why didn’t I figure it out?”

“Garland, could we get Tim Leary to go back in time and…”

“You know it doesn’t work that way. When you go back in time you can change whatever you want but it won’t change the future. Your changes spin off into an alternate thread of time that eventually fades away.”

“Sure, I forgot. I knew some of the people who died. I had no idea they were signed up with Finch’s next mission. No idea.”

I turned and headed off towards the Welcome to Hell door. I wanted to talk to Leary.

As I took my first step Garland grabbed my hand, twirled me around and kissed me. If I thought my head was spinning before, it was spinning even more now.

“I know you’re attracted to me. I know you’re attracted to Boof. May the best man win, and you know I’m the best man,” said Garland as he kissed me again.

“Let’s go talk to Leary,” I said as I tried to catch my breath.

Three weeks later we left Planet 2387. Leary took off in his time machine a week before we blasted off. From our ship we watched (at a great distance) the massive volcano blow up a good portion of the planet’s crust.

Junior Potemkin came into my office and thanked me for helping him out. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about.

“Everyone is so nice now,” he said slowly choosing the words. “It is as if they were all replaced with clones, or something.” Then he laughed uncomfortably. “That would have been weird.”

I smiled and told him that I was glad he was happy now. I truly was.

~ End

Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe – WPAD Science Fiction.

This story is featured in Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe, W.P.A.D. Science Fiction Anthology. Available with most fine online book dealers (including Amazon and B&N) in electronic and paperback versions. Part of proceeds from all WPaD books go to support or fellow authors who have MS. 

Tangled Tales – Now Over 200 Short Stories

Short Stories from Vampire Maman

A good portion of the posts on Vampiremaman.com read like short stories, but the list here is of stand alone stories that don’t necessarily follow the tales of Juliette’s life with her husband, kids and assorted Vampire Mom adventures.

Expect the unexpected … and a lot of fun! Click on the title to go to the story.

You’ll find Vampire, parenting, Gothic romance, horror, humor, urban fantasy, science fiction, odd ditties, literary fiction, and other unique and unexpected tangled tales. This isn’t the complete list but it will keep you busy for a while. Keep checking back for more.

* Guest authors  

  1. Dancing on the Beach
  2. Morning in the Vineyard
  3. When You Grow Old
  4. A Man Should Have What He Wants
  5. Ode to a Greek God
  6. The Alley
  7. Off to See the Wizard
  8. Baker Beach
  9. The Necklace (My Christmas Necklace)
  10. The Travelers
  11. Captain Sandy and the Airship at the End of the World
  12. Perfection
  13. The Shadow of Fire
  14. Robert and the Key *
  15. Dark Politics
  16. Romance of the Needles
  17. Heart Shaped Box*
  18. Stumped
  19. The Child
  20. Night at the Crest
  21. Dawn of the Undead
  22. Sunday School
  23. The Time Travelers
  24. I’ll Return to You
  25. Star Crossed Wars
  26. My Vampire Lover
  27. No End in Sight
  28. Tell Tail Heart
  29. The Hunter
  30. The Bully
  31. Slut
  32. I’ll Take Care of You
  33. Cold
  34. Prisoner of Love
  35. Christmas Orphans (a random short tale)
  36. The List
  37. A Head of the Game
  38. The Box in Dave’s Basement
  39. Tall Tales
  40. Fallen
  41. Back into the Past
  42. Pixie Dust
  43. Welcome to Hell (a bit of Science Fiction)
  44. Male Bonding (A Vampire Story)
  45. Everything Will Be Alright
  46. Magnolia
  47. Saturday Afternoon
  48. Almost Perfect in Every Way
  49. Up or Down
  50. Uncle Jerry’s Time Machine
  51. That Which Remains
  52. First Sight
  53. Springtime
  54. The Changeling
  55. The Rally
  56. Yes, it is complicated, almost as much as A Unicorn, A Squirrel, and A Possum Go Into a Bar
  57. Earthquake
  58. Coffee and a Crypt
  59. Nowhere in Time
  60. A Werewolf’s Train to Nowhere
  61. Curse of Bloke Island
  62. Dead or Alive (a Vampire Romance)
  63. Conversion
  64. You Gotta Believe
  65. A Ray of Hope
  66. True Friends
  67. Stranger No More
  68. The Time Travelers
  69. A Change of Heart
  70. Captured Bride
  71. Rare Peace
  72. Finally Home
  73. A Drive with Marilyn
  74. Cold Hands, Warm Heart
  75. Sunday Morning Coffee
  76. Giving Blood
  77. 2020
  78. One of Those Days
  79. A Mysterious Stranger on a Hot Dry Day
  80. A Mystery
  81. Charade*
  82. Checkmate*
  83. Sunset and Ginger Ale*
  84. Under the Stars
  85. For the Kids
  86. Indecision
  87. We will be happy
  88. Blow Up
  89. Community
  90. Desert Sky
  91. Dog Park
  92. Fairies
  93. Don’t Fall Apart On Me Baby
  94. Dawn of the Undead
  95. You Gotta Believe
  96. The List
  97. Hollow Heads
  98. Springtime
  99. Earthquake
  100. Mail Order House
  101. Krampus Clause
  102. Heal Thyself
  103. Fall Garden
  104. Lucky Me
  105. Gasoline and Tiger Maple (don’t mix)
  106. Warlock Woods
  107. Sunday Coffee
  108. College Daze
  109. Why I hate Valentine’s Day
  110. Mail Order House
  111. Boys Will Be Boys
  112. Mother’s Day
  113. No Weapon At All
  114. Cold
  115. Writing on the Wall
  116. Night Dogs
  117. Lizbit
  118. Smoke
  119. Dream a Little Dream
  120. Mere Mortal
  121. A Better Place
  122. For the Kids
  123. No Little Women
  124. Off to See the Wizard
  125. House by the Ocean
  126. Art
  127. Night Dogs
  128. Friends  Forever
  129. Green Man
  130. Donner Lake
  131. Chaos and Mistletoe
  132. Warmth
  133. Conversion
  134. Gather Around Little Vampires
  135. The Morning After
  136. Friends Forever
  137. Witching
  138. Being a Vampire
  139. Boys will be Boys
  140. Mother’s Day
  141. School Night
  142. The Rally
  143. Chloe’s Face
  144. Going Through With It
  145. Circles
  146. Beauty
  147. Gerald Atkins – Vampire Hunter
  148. Morcant and the Mermaid
  149. I’ve got your number –  an intergalatic romance
  150. Leaving Victor
  151. Raven and Dove
  152. A Ghost Story*
  153. Small Talk
  154. Noz*
  155. Last Call*
  156. Pandemic
  157. Permission to Mourn
  158. Old Bones
  159. Playing Dracula
  160. Driving Home With Superheroes
  161. May Your Days Be Foggy and Bite
  162. There Would Always Be Cats
  163. Brothers in Arms
  164. Peaches
  165. Shelter
  166. Shrine
  167. Unicorns Don’t Care
  168. The Morning After
  169. I Hate Valentine’s Day
  170. May Your Days be Foggy and Bite – OR – Hark the Herald Vampires Sing
  171. Witching
  172. Smoke
  173. None of His Concern
  174. Beauty
  175. Glass Dreams
  176. Face Your Demons
  177. Binge Watch
  178. The First Apocalypse, The Truth About Aliens, Missing Links, and Real Pandora’s Box, as Told by A Ghost
  179. Goji and the Angel*
  180. Chernobyl Charlie*
  181. Remains*
  182. The Last Time*
  183. The Changeling
  184. The Lives I Never Lived (aka Ophelia, Drowned aka A Preoccupation With Tragedy)*
  185. Radio Waves
  186. Ashes
  187. Bernie Showers in France*
  188. Holy Grail
  189. Not Going Anywhere
  190. Good Bones
  191. Food Supply
  192. Too Hot To Wear Black
  193. Intentions
  194. Juice Cleanse
  195. Cousin Rachael
  196. Play Date
  197. Completely
  198. The Cabin
  199. Chaos and Mistletoe
  200. A Christmas Message From Ambrose*
  201. Driving Home With Superheroes
  202. May Your Days Be Foggy and Bite
  203. Old St. Rick

Guest Posts:

I’m honored to share these fantastic stories and verse from others. These are so good. You’re in for a treat. You’ll thank me later.

  1. Chuck the Elf by David X. Hunter
  2. Robert and the Key  by Charlotte Kings
  3. Heart Shaped Box by Mandy White
  4. We’re Not So Different by Mandy White
  5. Beneath the Bed by Mandy White
  6. Just One Kiss by Mandy White
  7. Chernobyl Charlie by Mandy White
  8. Charade by Adelia Hoff
  9. The Lives I Never Lived (aka Ophelia, Drowned aka A Preoccupation With Tragedy) by Adelia Hoff  
  10. Checkmate by Dave Stone
  11. The Eagle Cried by Richard Turton
  12. A Ghost Story by Richard Turton
  13. The Last Time by Richard Turton
  14. Sunset and Ginger Ale by Jade M. Phillips
  15. Noz by Mike Cooley
  16. Last Call by R. James Turley
  17. Goji and the Angel by Diana Garcia
  18. Remains by Soleil Daniel
  19. Bernie Showers in France by Aurora Jean Alexander
  20. A Christmas Message From Ambrose by Amy Karian

Series:

Keep checking back on the left side bar of this blog for more updates or CLICK here. I have more short stories for December 2020 from me and from wonderful guest writers.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Juliette’s Book Club: Free Books for the Holidays and the Pandemic

A lot of us are staying in a lot more these these days due to the pandemic. Luckily we can always escape into a book or a short story. Winter is also here which means more curling up with a book while the storms blow outside. All of these books and short stories available for FREE but only for a short time so act fast.

Check out the listings below and get your copies before the offers run out! Links to the books are below the listings. Make sure you scroll down through all of the listings here. You might have seen some of these before, but I know you haven’t seen all of them.

You’ll find everything from heartwarming holiday tales, to horror, to mainstream fiction. There is something for everyone.

If you like anything you read please leave a review on Amazon.

The downloads listed below are free but most of these books are also available in paperback editions. If you happen to miss the FREE dates for digital downloads these books and stories aren’t expensive and well worth reading.

Goin’ Extinct Too – Apocalypse A Go-Go!

By WPaD

How could the world end? The possibilities are endless:
A global pandemic (obviously), aliens, evil politicians, zombies in one form or another, or even … rogue sex robots? (wait-what?) are just a few of the ideas we came up with.

WPaD’s second volume of apocalyptic tales will shock, entertain, and tug at your heart strings. A must-have for any fan of dystopian fiction.

When we began work on our second apocalyptic anthology in early 2019, long before the world had ever heard of COVID-19, we never would have dreamed that toilet paper and hand sanitizer would become symbols of the apocalypse.

The pandemic pushed our release to a later date than anticipated. We assumed readers had more important things on their minds and might not be in the mood for apocalyptic fiction at that time. The lockdown allowed our writers more time to write, resulting in a larger collection of stories than originally anticipated. The backdrop of the pandemic colored the mood of some of the pieces, as you will see. We think of this book as the Extra-Big Bonus Pandemic Edition, written in a reality stranger than fiction.

FREE Nov 30-Dec 4

USA

Canada

UK

Tinsel Tales: A Holiday Treasury

By WPaD

Experience the holidays through our eyes… the magic, the memories, some warm and some bittersweet… in this treasury of holiday-themed stories and poetry from the writers of WPaD.

FREE Nov 30-Dec 4

USA

Canada

UK

Tinsel Tales 2: Holiday Hootenanny

By WPaD

It’s a Holiday Hootenanny! In this anthology, you will find more than just Christmas stories. WPaD is proud to present our favorite fiction from holidays all year round, from Halloween to Arbor Day, ranging from sentimental to a bit on the dark side. An entertaining read for any season.

FREE Nov 30-Dec 4

USA

Canada

UK

Just One Kiss: A Short Story

By Mandy White

The day her brother tore his own head off and didn’t die was the day Johanna first suspected that all was not right with the world.
A teenage waitress and her sister find their world turned upside down when men start behaving strangely, trying to woo every woman they see, spouting lines from old romantic movies. But it isn’t all love and romance; the men have been infected by an alien virus that makes them tear off their own heads and implant alien eggs into women. All it takes is a single kiss…

FREE Nov 29-Dec 3

USA

Canada

UK

Halfborn

by Soleil Daniels

It should have been simple. Easy.

She had done it a thousand times. A flick of the pocketknife. A slice from the blade. A trickle of hot blood on her tongue. Filling her mouth. That is how it should have been.

Instinctually, it was both . . . Oh, so simple as she pounced on the man across the room from her . . . and unbelievably easy as her teeth sliced into the side of his neck.

But it was different.

Animalistic.

And that bite would change Coral’s life . . .

Forever.

Note: Halfborn is for mature readers only. It contains violent and sexual content. These are not vamps for the kiddos. They bite, kill, and do very adult and monstrous things.

Download it now!

Matriarch Series

by Kevin Ranson

Words Take Flight Books’ Cyberbook-Monday “Matriarch” Special
Need a new e-read to help you to de-stress through the holiday season? Words Take Flight Books is offering Cyber Monday specials on the Kindle editions of some of our best-selling titles, including Kevin Ranson’s “The Matriarch” – the five-star debut novel in his namesake “The Matriarch” vampire chronicles. But shop early – this Cyber Monday countdown deal starts at $0.99 at 7:00 am on November 30 until it reaches its normal price of $3.99 at 7:00 am on December 1. 

Find it on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Matriarch-Vampires…/dp/B00CE2HE42

The Dark Side of the World:
A Short Story

By Mandy White

Humans evacuate a dying Earth to start over on a distant planet. When familiar social patterns emerge, it becomes clear that they have learned nothing.

FREE Nov 30-Dec 4

USA

Canada

UK

Exceptional Liars

By Marla Todd

Excerpt from “To Elizabeth With Love.”

This book was written as a love letter to my wife Elizabeth Hobbs Atkinson. She was brutally tortured and killed by a man who had once been my friend. Her body was never found, but her legacy of love will still be here.

From the day Liz vanished I prayed for her return and for hope. The day she was pronounced legally dead I lost all hope and thought I too would die. Only my faith in God and the love Liz and I shared kept me from going off into a black abyss of hopelessness and grief.

My comfort comes from my faith and my knowledge  that Liz is in a better place.

~ Gregory Atkinson

“Son of a bitch.”  I put down my glass of wine and threw the book across the room.

I’m surprised the bastard hasn’t been struck by lightning. What a crock of crap and lies. Any poetic justice of my situation had gone down the drain at that moment. Greg is walking and talking and writing bestselling books about me and about our marriage… and I’m still dead… saved by a serial killer, no less. God save me and have mercy on my soul and on that abusive lying son of a bitch Gregory Atkinson. May he rot in Hell. But he did get his wish. I am in a better place. A much better place.

_________

Alex Goldstein has a thriving law practice with his wife Tasha Alexander. Life is is good. Well, except for the fact that he drinks too much, and his wife regularly cheats on him. To keep his mind off of his problems Alex writes about by serial killers. His most recent obsession is The Killer of Virtue.

Liz Hobbs is born into a large family of sneaky manipulative children with an unhealthy fear of God only ranks second to the fear of their narcissistic parents. Unfortunately she falls in love with Greg Atkinson who is far more sneaky and manipulative than she could ever imagine.

After misreading the phone number of a women’s shelter Liz ends up in office of Alexander and Goldstein. Alex helps her build a new life as his own life falls apart.

Exceptional Liars is a roller coaster ride of a book – full of unexpected twists and turns, witty dialogue and interesting characters.

Exceptional Liars was written by my writing collaborator Marla Todd. 

As my friend author Mandy White said: I’ve read this book, and it’s a phenomenal story. It’s part drama, part thriller, part romance, and maybe a bit fantasy, for anyone who ever wanted to escape their life and start fresh. I highly recommend it. Read it!

FREE Nov 30-Dec 4

US

Happy reading! Stay safe. Wear a mask. Discover new authors. Be kind. Hug your kids. Check in on those who might need extra help and on those who are alone.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Juliette’s Book Club: Exceptional Liars

Exceptional Liars
by Marla Todd

Excerpt from “To Elizabeth With Love.”

This book was written as a love letter to my wife Elizabeth Hobbs Atkinson. She was brutally tortured and killed by a man who had once been my friend. Her body was never found, but her legacy of love will still be here.

From the day Liz vanished I prayed for her return and for hope. The day she was pronounced legally dead I lost all hope and thought I too would die. Only my faith in God and the love Liz and I shared kept me from going off into a black abyss of hopelessness and grief.

My comfort comes from my faith and my knowledge  that Liz is in a better place.

~ Gregory Atkinson

“Son of a bitch.”  I put down my glass of wine and threw the book across the room.

I’m surprised the bastard hasn’t been struck by lightning. What a crock of crap and lies. Any poetic justice of my situation had gone down the drain at that moment. Greg is walking and talking and writing bestselling books about me and about our marriage… and I’m still dead… saved by a serial killer, no less. God save me and have mercy on my soul and on that abusive lying son of a bitch Gregory Atkinson. May he rot in Hell. But he did get his wish. I am in a better place. A much better place.

_________

Alex Goldstein has a thriving law practice with his wife Tasha Alexander. Life is is good. Well, except for the fact that he drinks too much, and his wife regularly cheats on him. To keep his mind off of his problems Alex writes about by serial killers. His most recent obsession is The Killer of Virtue.

Liz Hobbs is born into a large family of sneaky manipulative children with an unhealthy fear of God only ranks second to the fear of their narcissistic parents. Unfortunately she falls in love with Greg Atkinson who is far more sneaky and manipulative than she could ever imagine.

After misreading the phone number of a women’s shelter Liz ends up in office of Alexander and Goldstein. Alex helps her build a new life as his own life falls apart.

Exceptional Liars is a roller coaster ride of a book – full of unexpected twists and turns, witty dialogue and interesting characters.

Exceptional Liars is now available in both electronic and paperback versions on Amazon.

Exceptional Liars was written by my writing collaborator Marla Todd.

As my friend author Mandy White said: I’ve read this book, and it’s a phenomenal story. It’s part drama, part thriller, part romance, and maybe a bit fantasy, for anyone who ever wanted to escape their life and start fresh. I highly recommend it. Read it!

Warning: this book contains violence, adult situations, and bad language.

Happy Reading. Wear a mask. Stay safe. Talk to your kids. Check in on those who might need extra help or company. And as always, kiss a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

WRITE. I made a thing. I made an art thing.

WRITE

11 x 14 Mixed Media on Canvas

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman
with a little bit of help from Marla Todd and inspiration from Milton 510 Bowen and my friends at WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants)

Coming soon to a wall near me and a blog post near you. This is part of my “Jane Eyre” series. Mixed medium art during the pandemic inspired by the classics.

Juliette’s Book Club: Apocalypse A GO-GO!

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Now available in paperback!

Goin’ Extinct Too
Apocalypse A GO-GO!

It was so much fun the first time, we decided to take another stab at ending the world in as many creative ways as possible.

When we began work on our second apocalyptic anthology in early 2019, long before the world had ever heard of COVID-19, we never would have dreamed that toilet paper and hand sanitizer would become symbols of the apocalypse.

The pandemic pushed our release to a later date than anticipated. We assumed readers had more important things on their minds and might not be in the mood for apocalyptic fiction at that time. The lockdown allowed our writers more time to write, resulting in a larger collection of stories than originally anticipated. The backdrop of the pandemic colored the mood of some of the pieces, as you will see.

We think of this book as the Extra-Big Bonus Pandemic Edition, written in a reality stranger than fiction.

Stay safe, wash your hands, and may your quarantine dreams be sweet ones.

~ The authors of WPaD

Be sure to pick up a copy of the first Goin’ Extinct. (If you haven’t already done so)

goin-extinct-front-cover1

Available in paperback and electronic ebook versions on Amazon, Good Reads, Barnes and Noble and other fine online booksellers.

 

We are Writers, Poets and Deviants, AKA WPaD.

We are an independent publishing group made up of writers who collaborate on thematic anthologies to raise funds for MS research.

We meet on the internet to share ideas and challenge ourselves to write in different genres. The stories and poetry we compose are compiled into books, which are sold to help raise funds in support of group members who live with MS.

To date, WPaD has published twelve books, with a thirteenth already in progress. Wanna know a secret? Number thirteen will be our Paranormal anthology. 

Books by WPaD:

Goin’ Extinct Too (apocalyptic ~ published in 2020)
Creepies 3 (horror ~ published in 2019)
Tinsel Tales 2 (holiday ~ published in 2018)
Weirder Tales (bizarre ~ published in 2018)
Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe (science fiction ~ published in 2017)
Creepies 2 (horror ~ published in 2015)
Goin’ Extinct (apocalyptic ~ published in 2014)
Tinsel Tales (holiday ~ published in 2013)

Dragons and Dreams (fantasy ~ published in 2013)
Passion’s Prisms (romance ~ published in 2013)
Creepies (horror ~ published in 2012)
Nocturnal Desires (erotica ~ published in 2012)

Stock up for summer reading, or stock up for fall and winter. We don’t know what might happen next but at least we’ll have some great stories from WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants.)

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  • Happy Reading
  • Wear a mask
  • Social Distance
  • Kiss a Vampire
  • Be kind
  • Check in on those who might need extra help, might be extra lonely, or be technically challenged.
  • Talk to your kids.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman