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Email: admin stnicks. It reminds him of who he is. What he is. His stomach continues to clench painfully, heaving long past when he is certain he must have puked his empty stomach out to join its contents on the dirty pavement, his whole body shuddering with each painful spasm. The shovel makes a sly shuh-king noise as its blade bites into the hard earth that likely has never been touched by the tools of men.

William McAllister struggles against the un-giving ground, putting his foot on the top edge of the shovel blade beside the handle protruding from it and using his weight and muscles to force the blade deeper. The night creatures watch silently from the safety of their hideaways in the woods. His breath turns to fog in the cool night air, coming heavier from the exertion. Satisfied he has pierced the ground deep enough; he works the shovel back and forth before leaning on it, scraping out a pile of hard dirt.

He dumps it next to where he is digging and thrusts the blade into the earth again. It is spring and still chilly at night. The ground is still thawing from its winter freeze, making the job harder. The trees stand sentry above, dark figures against the moonlit sky blocking out some of the stars. The lower brush surrounding him grows where the trees thin to let more light reach lower, allowing it to thrive and grow taller and thicker, giving the spot a more secluded feeling. The wind picks up, hissing through the leaves of the treetops.

He ignores the whispering trees, continuing to dig until the hole is big and deep enough. At last he pauses, wiping away the sweat dripping into his eyes from his forehead. He drops the shovel on the ground and picks up a sheet-wrapped object lying on the ground behind him. It is perhaps the size of a small child of about four or five years old.

The sheet looks ghostly pale in the darkness, seeming to hover on its own in the barely visible arms of the dark-clothed man against the background of the dark woods surrounding him. He picks up the shovel, standing over the hole staring down into it for a pause that lasts only a few heartbeats but feels longer. Without a word, he starts shovelling the pile of disturbed earth back into the hole. With each thud of dirt hitting the sheet-wrapped object its startling brightness against the dark of the dirt and night grows smaller.

He keeps at it, methodically tossing in shovel full after shovel full until the. The rounded mound of dirt is dark against the rotting leaves and brown pine needles covering the ground all around. With a powerful swing, he brings the flat bottom of the shovel blade down on the mound. It hits with a dull thud, leaving an indentation in the disturbed earth. He wants the mound to be level with the ground around it. Scattering leaves, twigs, and fallen pine needles over it, he starts stomping the mound with his boots, stomping and stomping, clouds of vapour puffing out of his mouth in the chill air with the effort.

He scrapes the surface with the sharp shovel blade, smoothing it. Scattering more debris on the spot, he presses it in with the flat of the shovel and then sets the shovel down to scatter more loose debris on top. There is no visible sign the ground has ever been disturbed unless you know to look. The next good rain will wash away even those faint traces. Picking up the shovel, William moves off through the woods, eventually arriving at a farmyard. In one direction across the farmyard is an old barn that has not been used to house animals for decades. Straw still litters the floor in places around the edges and in old stalls.

The rest is swept clean. The moonlight coming in through the cracks between boards and in the windows glints dully off the rounded metal frames of old tractors huddled in the darkened interior. Like the farm itself, the tractors were passed down to him from his father. The old barn is feeling its age and will probably need to be rebuilt in another ten years. Close to him near the edge of the trees is a shed used for storage for anything small enough to pile on its shelves and in corners. Centered between them across the yard is a small old farmhouse. It is the kind of farmhouse built before building codes, when a handshake was enough to suffice and a farmer built his own house with a hammer and nails and his own sweat.

The house is small but well built with two small bedrooms and a mud-floored cellar for cold storage and the only access to the cellar a trap door with a ladder that goes straight down. The walls are made of flat boards grouted between them to seal the cracks. The house was built by an earlier generation of McAllisters when they first settled here and the farm handed down in the family. The livestock on the farm consists of a small flock of free roaming chickens that provide them with fresh eggs, a single aging nanny goat they use for milk, and a small herd of feral cattle that live mostly unbothered in the field.

An old barn without doors beyond the trees surrounding the farmyard provides the cattle shelter when they need it. William walks across the yard and puts the shovel in the barn, hanging it on the wall, then heads for the farmhouse. The light shining on a pole in the farmyard reveals the lines at the corners of his eyes; lines drawn by hours spent working outside under the burning sun and against the ravages of the wind and weather. He looks forty, although he is younger. Marjory greets him at the door, wringing her hands and looking anxious.

After supper and the kids are sent to bed, William and Marjory sit in their chairs in the small living room. Finally, William puts the paper down and looks at Marjory, watching her for a moment before speaking. Her hands freeze and Marjory stares down at her knitting without seeing it. Her first reaction is disbelief. She tries to tell herself she heard wrong. His silence as he stares at her, weighing her reaction, waiting for what her reaction will be, makes it undeniable.

Marjory swallows. Her throat feels suddenly strained, like the muscles are stretched like taught elastics, pained. Her body is stiff like sun-hardened mud that might crack if she tries to move. He knew how she will respond to his announcement. The boy needs more direction and responsibility to keep him out of trouble. I knew it was going to happen sooner or later, she thinks, and there is nothing I can do to stop it. I could have taken the children and run away with them when they were younger, to keep them out of his business, but who would look after the three of us?

How would I support them? With my little education and being a woman with children and no family, I would be utterly and completely on my own and no one would hire me. I would have to go into hiding with the kids with no support from anyone anywhere. It is not William she is afraid of following her if she left him. A woman with children working is unheard of. Who would raise my kids while I worked? Those who do manage it are frowned on and talked rudely about behind their backs. It is shameful unless you are widowed. Marjory knows he is right. She went into this marriage knowing, had kids knowing, that one day their sons would be groomed to work with their father and eventually replace him in the business.

She turns away from him, angrily gnashing her knitting needles together as she takes her anger out on her knitting, refusing to look at or speak to William for the rest of the evening. William thinks it over long and hard while they sit in awkward silence, trying to figure out how he will go about training the boy. Is he ready? He is old enough, he decides. The coyotes proved that. If I wait much longer Jason might be harder to manage. The next question is how. William settles that question quickly, thinking again about the coyotes. The steady drone of the tires on concrete should have lulled Detective Jim McNelly into a false sense of normalcy.

Nothing will be normal again. Not for him, or for anyone else. His fat jowls work as he clenches and unclenches his jaw, his thick hands gripping the steering wheel hard. They are eating away at his gut, tormenting his sleep, and torturing his heartburn.

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They are victims he failed to save. The phone call that brought him speeding towards the prison had shattered his morning. Michael Underwood vanished along with our only living witness to the McAllister murders, Jim thinks, pouring himself a cup of coffee. Michael visited McAllister in prison after the guilty verdict came down on Jason T. That was the last time Michael Underwood and our only witness, Katherine Kingslow, were seen. He takes a sip of coffee, his unkempt moustache soaking up some of the brew. Hawkworth, that buzzard-like creature who has no shame when it comes to digging up and publishing dirt for the InterCity Voice.

Otherwise, Jason McAllister would still be an unknown perp. His sentence will be determined on a month-to-month basis by a board of psychiatrists and the suits that run the place. The idea infuriates Jim. Not guilty by reason of insanity, that was the trial verdict. How long he serves depends on his behaviour. He used the media to get the public to sympathize with McAllister while he filed his appeal against the guilty but insane verdict. The moment the verdict came down the media switched from portraying McAllister as a monster to calling him an innocent victim railroaded by the police without proof, almost in the same breath.

I doubt there will be another trial, not even a trial by judge. The appeal is just a formality. Jim flinches, freezes, a stone cold statue. Jason McAllister will be standing before the judge within the next few days. His coffee cup explodes against the wall in a shower of broken ceramic fragments and coffee erupting and splattering out from the wall like dull brown blood. McAllister is too insane to be found guilty of kidnapping and murder, but not insane enough to be a danger to society.

McAllister has just been handed a free pass, a get out of jail free card. Do not pass Go and do not collect your two hundred dollars, just go and run. Kathy peeks out again to see Michael turned away and talking again. A shiver shudders down her spine and she suddenly feels an uneasy feeling rush through her.

A premonition? She turns away, going into the kitchen. There was only so much I could do. You let him take us and kill our mother. You let him keep us and hit us. You were already gone when I ran away. You were the one who left me alone with him. They were not very nice people who took me in after. I went to foster homes. You know because you knew lots of runaway kids from foster homes. You heard the stories about what they do to kids in foster homes. He is starting to feel sick. You were adopted. You found a good family who took care of you. I went to foster homes first, before I finally got adopted.

She looks down at her feet sadly, scuffing the dirt with a toe. I was better off with him.

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He is starting to sound like a little boy. He feels like a little boy, overwhelmed with a world that is so much bigger than him. Cassie looks up at him again, her eyes burning with resentment. You were supposed to protect me. Always, you promised to protect me always. I found you. After years of searching, I finally found you. And you ran away from me. You ran away. Michael Ritchot? How many names have you had? Do you even know your real name?

Do you even remember? David McAllister. That is who you really are. You are a McAllister, just like him. He raised you to be just like him. He makes himself settle back into the chair. Kathy hears Michael yell from inside the house and pushes away the urge to go see what is happening.

Michael lunges up from his chair, grabbing the chair in a fit of rage, the world around him fading, being pushed away to a distant place and replaced with the black fog of anger. He swings the chair viciously at Cassie and smashes it against the ground. The voice is not that of a small child. Michael spins to face Jane Doe and blanches. His mind compartmentalized his sister, needing to separate the two of her into separate people. Cassie is the little girl, the innocent he needed to protect. Jane Doe is the woman, the stranger Cassie became, the woman who fought against him and ran away.

You were supposed to protect me David. You are still alive. I know it and I will find you. Wherever you are, whatever he did with you, I am going to find you. You are very bad. You were bad as a boy and you are bad now. Michael is stunned. How can she not want me to find her? I am Michael. The flutter of a curtain in the window of the house next door catches his attention.

He sees it out of the corner of his eye. Michael looks and the curtain is still, but he knows it moved. The neighbour next door is spying on him. With a sinking in his stomach, Michael realizes that he had been yelling. He groans. Kathy is trying to make herself busy tidying up, although she finds the task almost impossible to force on herself, the heavy weight of unhappiness dragging her down. We have to keep moving. Just for a little while. Something is broken inside him and it is making him behave in ways that scare her. She knows Ronnie is dead, but that nagging doubt keeps pushing at her.

What if Ronnie is somehow alive and comes after her? Besides, Michael would never hurt her. He will hurt others, but never her. He even killed Ronnie so that he could never hurt her again. She stares at him with vacant eyes, the light of life extinguished.

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That you are going to kill him? Kathy still feels the shock. It fills every fibre of her being, numbing her and pushing the world away to some distant place. She feels like she is trapped in a bad movie. Every time she looks at Kathy she is filled with anger. Did you mean it?

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Do I ask? What will she do, kill me? To die? To get this all over with? The only way out of this is death. Kathy feels nauseas. Kathy is anxious he somehow knows what they are talking about. She reaches up, taking his hand and letting him help her up, surprised at the strength in his withered muscles. They walk to the vehicles together, where everyone is waiting.

You saw the place. But, William probably already knows that. He rolls over on the bed, facing the other way and covers his head with the pillow. They will all be waiting for us. David pulls the pillow off his head and swings his feet over the edge of the bed, sitting up. The others are gathering at the two vehicles, loading their bags in the trunk and truck box. It increases the risk of us getting separated, but we need to change our travelling groups. William and I will do one last sweep of the rooms to make sure we are clear.

Minutes later, William and Anderson return from checking the rooms and they are driving away. William stops the truck on the side of the road. Ahead they can see the sign for an old motel chain that died off except for the odd motel. Stay down and out of sight in the back. You know how this goes.

We drive to the switch location, and go our separate ways. Jason grins. William scowls, but he is feeling it too, the nostalgia of the days when he was young and strong, taking Jason on the road to teach him the business. It brings with it also the darker memories; Jason just a boy, shooting the coyote bitch, intentionally torturing the animal when he was a good enough shot to have killed her easily. The barn. The blood. Amy Dodds. William closes his eyes tightly against the unwanted intrusion of those dark memories from his past.

I should have put the boy down after the coyote. I should have put him down after the rabbit. Before Amy. The memories and the thought they bring is a physical pain that fills his whole being with a sorrow that cannot be denied; pain of loss and failure on multiple levels. It centers in his chest and sends a shooting pain down his left arm that leaves him momentarily breathless. Is he angry he has to bring me? Yes, he does hate me that much. Look at the rage having to spend even a moment with me is filling him with, Jason thinks.

No matter how small the mistake I ever made; it just made you hate me more. William pulls himself together with effort. You are getting soft, Old man, he thinks. He puts the car in gear and drives on. Jason ducks low in the back just before they reach where anyone at the motel might see him. Parking across the lot, William gets out and walks across the lot, his slow pained shuffle giving away his age-wreaked weakness.

William knocks on the motel door and it is opened almost immediately. He looks eye to eye with the man who opens the door. Continue out of town and over the bridge. Turn left after the bridge and continue for three miles. I will pass you and then you follow me.

Park back to back when I stop. William walks away, heading to the truck without looking back. As he is getting in, he sees Mr. Miller drive by in an SUV. A thrill courses through William as he follows him out the parking lot. It is an undeniable excitement at being back doing what he has done his whole life despite the gravity that hollows him out. He follows the SUV at a distance, accelerating to overtake it at the designated spot, and winds through country back roads with the SUV following until he finally pulls over.

As instructed, the SUV does a three-point turn in the road, backing up with the rear bumpers facing each other and leaving room to stand between them.

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This love of storytelling has L. Gaudet currently lives in Winnipeg with two rescue dogs, spouse, and kids. Fiona and the Whale is a poignant and often hilarious contemporary fiction novel. Early in the morning. My brain works best as soon as I get up. Start writing. As soon as I can get started, I do. When I use to write in a coffee shop I would always get a lemon tea. The problem was as soon as I started writing I would forget about it so it was always cold by the time I remembered to have a sip.

Probably Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I love writing different genres. I read all sorts so I find myself writing all sorts too. My first novel Amendments is a dystopian time-travel romance, very different from my other books. I would say I steal odd characteristics from people I know, but not whole characters.

Normally I would jot the idea down on my phone, then put it into a document I have when I get home. Whom would it be with? Hannah Lynn is an award-winning novelist. While she freely moves between genres, her novels are recognisable for their character driven stories and wonderfully vivid description. She is currently working on a YA Vampire series and a reimaging of a classic Greek myth. Born in , Hannah grew up in the Cotswolds, UK.

After graduating from university, she spent ten years as a teacher of physics, first in the UK and then around Asia. It was during this time, inspired by the imaginations of the young people she taught, she began writing short stories for children, and later adult fiction Now as a teacher, writer, wife and mother, she is currently living in the Austrian Alps. DS Jenna Morgan 1. Responding to reports of deadly screams in the Ironbridge Gorge, Detective Sergeant Jenna Morgan is first on the scene to investigate.

Well, this certainly is a great start to a new series! The author has created a wonderful set of characters and I enjoyed getting to know them. I love the team of investigators and if I have to pick a favorite one, it would be a hard choice. After some reflection, I think I would pick Mason. He is a typical male, but has a heart of gold and he made me smile as well.

He is loyal and honest. Who does not love a man like that? The author knows how to add creepiness to a story. I read a big part of it last night and I decided to finish it this morning. I would never have guessed that this would be the culprit. I admit that this person acted a bit strange at a certain point, but hey acting strange is not synonym for murderer. The story illustrates that some people can keep their true colours very well hidden. Thank you, Diane Saxon and Boldwood Books. Diane Saxon previously wrote romantic fiction for the US market but has now turned to writing psychological crime.

It will be published by Boldwood in October She is married to a retired policeman and lives in Shropshire.

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Strange Blood encompasses well-known hits as well as obscurities that differ from your standard fang fare by turning genre conventions on their head. Here, vampires come in the form of cars, pets, aliens, mechanical objects, gorillas, or floating heads. And when they do look like a demonic monster or an aristocratic Count or Countess, they break the mold in terms of imagery, style, or setting. Leading horror writers, filmmakers, actors, distributors, academics, and programmers present their favorite vampire films through in-depth essays, providing background information, analysis, and trivia regarding the various films.

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Some of these stories are hilarious, some are terrifying, some are touching, and some are just plain weird. Just when you thought that the children of the night had become a tired trope, it turns out they have quite a diverse inventory after all. For over five decades, Jon Kitley has been on a never-ending quest to explore as much of the horror film genre as possible, from the early days of terror television to movie theaters and drive-ins, from the video explosion to the creation of his long-running website.

Focusing on sexism, B-movies, and the Golden Age of Hollywood, Wholesale Theft is about the adventures of Edith Donnegan, a young woman who invariably finds herself up against killer robots, mad scientists, and lizardmen. All the while, she has to deal with incessant chauvinism for the most absurd of reasons, but she strives to succeed. Empire of the Future: While on holiday to Luxembourg, Edith witnesses the world change into a bizarre hybrid of past and future technology. Undead Teenagers of the Lost Island: On an uncharted island, mysterious and dastardly experiments threaten a group of visiting teenagers.

Can Edith rescue them in time from the clutches of a villainous mad scientist? Corporate Wolf by Stuart R. West ebook. It was supposed to be a corporate retreat and a series of morale-boosting exercises. There was something else playing in the woods that night, something other than a bunch of corporate drones with paintball guns. And it had chosen Shawn as its new chew toy. The local authorities chalked it up to a bear attack. So did the doctors. Shawn knew the truth, however, as much as he wanted to deny it. Or is he?

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