With its twenty-one stories of serial killers and sociopaths, fixations and fetishes, breakdowns and bad decisions crafted by authors as diverse as their writing styles, Shadowy Natures leads fans of psychological horror down dark and treacherous roads to destinations they will be too unsettled to leave.
Shadowy Natures is a collection of stories from twenty-one different authors. This is an excerpt from Elin Olausson’s “Uncle,” a story told through the eyes of a young boy who recalls growing up on the ground of his uncle's motel where residents mysteriously go missing:
Uncle says that it was for the best that Mother died. I didn’t agree at first but I agree now. She was slow and clumsy, like a slug or cow or some other animal you don’t have to be nice to. Her food tasted bland and she was always crying. Boo-hoo, Uncle said, then lifted one of her thin braids and spoke with his lips touching her ear. Boo-fucking-hoo! He doesn’t want me using bad words but it’s not the same when it’s only in my head. I don’t think it’s the same.
Uncle is the only man I know. We don’t need other men here. Svetlana does the cleaning and I answer the telephone and Uncle does everything else. Svetlana lives in town; she drives here in the morning and leaves at noon. She tried to smile at me in the beginning but smiles don’t work on me. I don’t despise her, really, but I don’t care for her either. Uncle says she’s sloppy and wears too much makeup. At least she never cries.
The motel is ours and when Uncle dies, it will be mine. I have a lot of responsibilities. I do as I’m told. The old woman in Room 12 says I’m very clever. She has a strange way of talking; the words come out all stretched and bent. She has stayed for one week already, which is good because there are no other guests. The VACANT sign blinks, blinks, blinks like a shock-pink constellation in the sky. The woman has a big head and a name I don’t like, so I think of her as Head. Every day, Head drives off in her rusty white car with her canvas bag. I peeked into the bag on her first night here, when she forgot it in Reception, and saw an old camera and a book. I wonder if Head reads the same book every day or if she has lots of them to pick and choose from, lining the walls in Room 12. I have ten books but I haven’t looked at them since Mother went into the tub. None of them have pictures, because Uncle says picture books are bad for children. Mother used to read the stories to me when she was around. I guess you could say it was the only thing she was good at.
I have a secret place of my own below the counter in Reception. I can sit there with my legs outstretched and Uncle doesn’t notice, Svetlana doesn’t notice, no one notices. It’s a lockable hollow space inside the counter, dark and dusty, all empty because Uncle keeps everything important in his office down the hall. Sometimes I fall asleep in there. Other times I spy. I listen as Uncle asks guests for their names and hands out keys. I hear his voice ripple through the air. If the front door is open, which it is a lot because of the heat, I eavesdrop on the conversations on the porch. Those are what interest me the most. Uncle talks to all the guests. Only girls come here, and they are always alone. Their cars break down close to the motel in the middle of the night, or they come wandering from nowhere, barefoot, carrying nothing but their shoes. Hitchhiker girls, runaway girls, girls with pills in their pockets and china doll faces. Uncle tucks their long hair behind their ears and they laugh like a choir of broken toys, shrill and off-key. They ask him to fix their cars or make them coffee or let them stay the night. Uncle twirls their hair around his finger and they melt until the floor is a gooey mess.
There are no girls here now. Only Head. I like it when Uncle talks to her. Their talks are like cigarette smoke trailing through the air, beautiful but not beautiful at all. I don’t understand what they talk about but I want to hear it and pretend I am grown like them. Uncle sips the peach-flavored iced tea you make from powder. He buys twenty bags of it every time he goes to town for supplies. Once, I tore open an empty package and lapped at the remaining powder inside. I imagine that real peaches would taste just like that. An explosion of sweetness.
I sit under the counter tonight playing the spy game. Uncle is outside, and Head with her pale eyes and the usual scarf tied over her grey hair. I have made a hole in the counter with a nail. It’s small, but if I press my eye against it I see things. Right now, I see the rickety porch table with Uncle’s glass of iced tea, his long thin legs and his hairy arm, reaching for the glass. Head sits at the other side of the table. She drinks from a hip flask. Sometimes it’s a thermos, sometimes a water bottle. Uncle has never offered her anything from inside the house and she has never asked. Her bra is visible through her worn white t-shirt. Not like Uncle’s girls would do it, to be sexy. Head doesn’t know and if she did, she wouldn’t care.
The author of "The Slender Man" brings you a new horror: filled with gruesome killers, their possessed victims, and a lone witness.
Follow the Witness as she travels through a perpetual series of nightmares, haunted by a mixture of pernicious serial killers and their imprisoned, undead victims, known as preta. As she wanders through time and memories shared by the killers and their victims, she fights to solve the puzzle of their connection to each other and to herself. Her only hope of salvation lies in connecting key victims to the souls who can rescue them, thus waking her from the nightmare, but one killer follows the next, bringing forth a new set of victims, a new score of preta, and immediately landing her in a new terror.
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Former Marine sniper Sam Asher enjoys his casual civilian life. He’s content with his mundane job, steady girlfriend, and halfway decent apartment, until tragedy strikes too close to home, in a manner that appears to be related to a nationwide epidemic of creepy clown sightings.
Bent on vengeance, Sam hits the road to track down a deranged killer. Accompanied by his brother Jake, and pursued by an overly ambitious Homeland Security Agent, Sam will need to use every resource, every skill, and every friend he’s ever had to find the madman.
As the “clown crisis” ramps up, receiving constant coverage from the media and keeping regular folks hiding in their homes, a rash of murders takes Sam halfway across the country on his quest for justice. The battle-tested Marine will be sucked into a vortex of madness at the hands of a psychopath, engaging in a battle of will and wits that will test his heart, mind and loyalty.
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Every attempt to contain the deadly AM13 virus has failed, leaving humanity on the brink of extinction…
The plague is spreading out of control with no cure in sight. Then the government announces its new plan—a sanctuary in an area completely untouched by the infected—as long as you can get there alive and unscathed.
Ethan Watton has managed to survive this long, even with OCD making every day more hellish than it already is…
Ethan’s obsessive-compulsive disorder dramatically affected his life before the infection began. Now he’s desperate to get as far away from the zombie virus as humanly possible. Isolated and afraid, Ethan thinks there is no way in hell he will survive the epidemic.
Alyssa Turner has spent her teenage years prepping for the undead to challenge her zombie killing skills…
Alyssa knows with absolute certainty that she will survive the AM13 virus. She’s read all the books, watched all the films, and done all the research. She’s strong, tough, and a self-proclaimed badass. Any group would be lucky to fight alongside her…until the unthinkable makes her doubt every skill she’s acquired.
Dr. Jones is a scientist who doesn’t understand why he was selected to produce a cure…
Surely there are survivors more experienced in virology than he is. And what will happen to him—and the rest of the species—if he fails? Is the fate of the human race really resting on his shoulders? Or are there others working toward the same goal?
With the zombies multiplying and survivors struggling to make it to the sanctuary, Ethan, Alyssa, and Dr. Jones fight to fulfill their destinies. If they fail, their fate is sealed, and they will join the millions of others who have been…
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United by destiny, they must stand together to face an ancient evil.....
Ceri Edwards and two school friends lift the lid on an ancient book of recipes belonging to Betty Williams, a volunteer at the local hospital in Pontypridd, South Wales. Two Kansas City cops step off a flight at London Heathrow and one of them falls to the ground with a painful conviction that there's something evil in the air.
United in their destinies, Ceri and the police officers are drawn into a world where prophecies are pitted against invisible forces planning to raze London to the ground and bring down the Royal Family.
It all rests with Dai Williams, recently knighted MI5 agent and reluctant hero, to bring some order to the improbable events and to ensure that afternoon tea at The Ritz continues for another hundred years.
A great cross between Kim Newman and Ben Aaranovitch and a thrill for any fan of contemporary urban horror.
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A decent, pot-bellied, cast iron cauldron usually sold for a hundred pounds. One that was antique and appropriately fire-tarnished doubled the sum. Use by an accredited witch—specifically a member of the Dynion Mwyn tradition—could nudge that figure into the stratosphere. That was because a well-used cauldron was believed to absorb spells into the metalwork, supposedly making incantations more effective. Debunking that idea was as fruitless as rubbishing homeopathy—particularly now that Welsh folklore remedies had royal approval and were being marketed under the Cymry Originals brand, with a crest of giant leeks crossed like swords under a flying harp.
None of that was of the slightest interest to the three girls peering into the bubbling contents of the vessel. Ceri, Dilys and Bronwen liked to imagine their Celtic magick delivered with Grimm determination and lashings of David Giuntoli whom they had already accorded the title of ‘Honorary Welshman’. He would know a good potion if he saw one and would have no time for fictional fripperies like wands. They were for stupid kids who knocked themselves out walking into the wall between platforms at railway stations. Owls were cool, though, although they were far too self-important to be used as posties.
All three would-be witches were outfitted courtesy of Georgio @ Asda. ‘Gold Witch’ was an absolute steal at three pounds—if zero carat bling rocks your cwch. They had also considered the ‘Mental Patient’ blood-spattered straitjacket costume, but Bronwen’s mum was a social worker and thought the mentally ill deserved more respect than a few pence-worth of garish polyester. A gorily-streaked, plastic meat cleaver was an optional extra and she thought it was very realistic.
It was all for show, of course. They had no need of such embellishments, but it kept their mothers happy—and, hopefully, ignorant of what they were up to. The fact that Halloween—or, more accurately, All Hallows’ Eve—was just around the corner, provided the perfect smokescreen for their activities. There was always the chance Ceri’s mum might enter the room while they were in the middle of adding an eye or two of newt, so they had the music system turned up loud and playing Super Furry Animals. Actually, newt eyes were so yesterday. They’d read that modern witchery had honed the ingredients down to essences of magic which could be bought over the internet if you knew where to look. Currently, they had no internet thanks to the stupid British government, so they’d had to improvise— after tossing salt over their left shoulders, crossing their fingers and reciting a hundred Hail Marys.
Half the village of Breccan lies dead – slaughtered. All that stands between Antony Cardover and his freedom is his wife, Isabella, or so he believes.
In his wrath at his wife’s adultery, Antony trades his soul for the chance of vengeance. His price? An eternity as a monster – a man bearing a vampire curse. To stop him, the curse must be broken. To break the curse, Isabella and all her descendants must be destroyed. The catch? Only Antony can break the curse.
With Breccan in mourning and Antony on the rampage, only one person can help. Anna Martindale, a witch shunned by the villagers, entombs Antony within a stone sarcophagus, bound by spells and buried in hallowed ground for the rest of time.
Breccan breathes again. Time heals.
That was four hundred years ago.
Seventeenth century spells, however, are no match for twenty first century living. As Ramply Homes moves in, the secret of St Martin’s churchyard prepares to move out.
As the church is desecrated, the spells that hold Antony break. Soon, Becca Martin, a descendant of Isabella, is plagued by dreams of a time and of a man she cannot possibly have known.
As her nightmares become real, Becca has no choice but to contact the one person who will be able to help; someone she hasn’t spoken to in a decade – her mother.
Here, Becca discovers the truth about her ancestry and is forced to face up to whom and what she is. Only a wooden box and her gift hold the key to her survival.
Four hundred years ago Antony failed. He will not fail again.
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Extract From the Prologue of Bonds
Isabella’s whimpering carried on the still night air. Anna stared at her daughter; the ice that had surrounded her heart for so long was starting to melt. As despicable a person as Isabella was, she didn’t deserve this. No one deserved this.
Anna’s gaze shifted to the man who held her daughter. How on earth could she save Isabella from this monster? The reality was that she couldn’t.
‘Why, Antony? Why did you do this to yourself ?’ she asked.
‘You know why, Anna. No one makes a fool of me and gets away with it.’ He grappled with the young woman in his arms, his hand clenched over her mouth.
‘But this?’ she said, gesturing towards him with her gnarled hands. ‘Why did you have to go this far?’ Anna stared up at him. Gone were the soft brown eyes and gentle smile; the kindness and generosity. In their place lay only evil. His eyes were like coal against his chalky white skin and his mouth was a grim line. A rare smile seemed odd on his cold face and revealed the sharpness of his teeth.
‘You didn’t think I’d do it, did you, old woman?’ Antony’s sharp fingernails caressed his captive’s exposed neck as he spoke.
‘Let Isabella go, Antony. I think you’ve made your point.’
‘Made my point!’ he said, shaking Isabella as if she was a rag doll. ‘If it wasn’t for this harlot, none of this would have to have happened.’
‘Only you chose to do what you…’
‘Because of her! She betrayed me. She humiliated me and, worst of all, she made me a laughing stock. In…my…own…village! Do you have any idea what that is like?’
‘Let her go.’
‘Or else you’ll do what, old woman?’ he clenched his jaw, his teeth bared. ‘Do you honestly think you can stop me?’
‘I didn’t want it to come to this, Antony. I wanted to help you.’
‘Don’t patronise me, old woman. You’ll never defeat me. You don’t have the power.’ With a flick of his wrist he snapped Isabella’s neck and let her body slump to the ground.
‘No!’ Anna staggered over to the slain girl. Huddled over her daughter, tears running down her face, she stared up at him.
‘How could you? She was your wife.’
‘Pity she didn’t act like it then.’ He turned and started to walk away.
Anna remained hunched over Isabella, rocking the young woman back and forth, and cried. The moonlight illuminated the scene and amongst the jagged headstones she watched her son-in-law walking away. A carnal rage surged through her body and she stood up. She turned her face to the heavens and closed her eyes.
‘I call upon the power of the four elements. Of earth,’ she said, thrusting her hands towards the ground. The earth rumbled. Antony stopped.
‘Of air’ Anna whipped her hands around in a circular motion. Thunder crashed, the wind started to howl and bruised clouds scudded across the sky.
‘Of fire’ she said, pointing her power fingers towards the sky. A bolt of lightning shot down, connecting with her power. Anna shuddered as electricity coursed through her frail body, infusing her with the strength she was going to need.
‘And of water.’ She finished and clapped her hands three times. The thunder crashed overhead and the dark swirling clouds released their load.
Antony turned and stared at her, a mocking smile on his face.
‘You think that will stop me, you fool?’
‘By my Goddess and by my God, I call upon the power of the four elements. Of earth, of air, of fire, of water. I call upon you to aid me and to protect me.’ Anna spun round on the spot, her arms heavenwards, her eyes closed; the mantra repeating on her lips.
The wind roared; the thunder boomed. A bolt of lightning struck the earth in front of Antony, throwing him to the ground. The electricity sparked and fizzed in the rapidly forming puddles. He tried to get up, but his hands and feet couldn’t get traction in the mud.
Anna turned to face him and staring straight into the eyes of the man she had once loved, she pointed her arms towards him, lowered her head and started to chant the Spell O’ Binding.
She struggled to hold her position, her body convulsing as the power surged through her. Her eyes never leaving his, Anna thrust her palms to the earth and the ground began to shudder. She stumbled, but held firm. A crack appeared at her feet and zigzagged its way towards Antony, growing wider as it did so.
Anna heard his laughter through the storm, but she blocked it out, the image of her slain Isabella foremost in her mind. The crack stopped at Antony’s feet. She closed her eyes again and slowly raised her hands skywards.
Vines shot out of the gap and lashed themselves around his ankles. He used the traction to his advantage and hauled himself up, grabbing the sinewy stems with both hands, snapping them as though they were dried twigs. He strode towards Anna, her head still bowed as she chanted. She didn’t respond as he stood in front of her and hooked his finger under her chin, tilting her head upwards. She didn’t flinch as he spat in her face. She didn’t shudder as he lowered his head, his cheek brushing her hair, until his mouth was next to her ear.
‘You’ll never stop me, Anna, remember that.’ He turned to walk away and picked up the broken vines as he went. He paused for a moment and then turned back.
‘Never!’ he said and hurled the vines at Anna’s face. She staggered backwards at the force of the impact, but she didn’t break her concentration. Antony snorted in derision and turned away from her once again.
Anna regained her foothold in the mud and, drawing on all the power she had left, she thrust her palms towards him, sending a ball of light hurtling in his direction. It struck him in the lower back. Antony staggered, Anna didn’t falter. She raised her hands skywards and the crevasse soon crawled with vines, which snaked across the earth and wrapped around Antony’s ankles once again.
Anna yanked her hands down to her sides and the vines snapped backwards, dragging Antony off his feet. He crashed to the ground. More vines slithered from the earth. Antony rolled over, kicking his legs to try to free himself, but this time they held firm. He dug his fingers deep into the earth and tried to drag himself away, but it was futile, the mud was too thin.
He rolled over onto his back and sat up, yanking against his bindings with his hands, but they didn’t budge. The vines snaked up his legs, holding him firm as more and more emerged from the ground, binding his wrists to the earth and winding around his torso. He bucked and kicked, expanding his muscles as much as he could to try to burst through, but it was impossible.
Anna opened her eyes and saw the rage on his face; the veins pulsing in his neck as he strained against his fate. He looked up and caught her gaze; the vines creeping around his neck.
‘These won’t hold me forever,’ he shouted, the sound muted by the vines which now engulfed his head. Finally, he was still.
Anna nodded towards eight men who’d been hiding in the shadows. She had asked them to stay out of the way, for their own safety, and they hadn’t objected. They moved tentatively forward now and she watched as they hauled Antony’s inert form into a stone sarcophagus. The men struggled, but managed to slide the lid into place and Anna staggered forward, placing her palms flat on the lid.
‘Please make sure Isabella is put with the others,’ she said. The men nodded and retreated to the shadows. She turned her face to the heavens once again, closed her eyes and began to chant the Spell O’ Internment.
She shuddered as a lightning bolt shot through her body. Her hands glowed and the light spread around the gaps in the sarcophagus and sealed it tight. Anna raised her arms to the heavens once more and in barely a whisper she said, ‘By my Goddess and by my God, my humble thanks for supporting me. I bid you take the intention behind my actions and see it executed for all time. As I do will, so mote it be.’
She pushed her weary body away from the casket and the men crept out of hiding once again to lower it into the ground.
No one spoke to her as she left. Her walking stick was clasped in one hand, her shawl clutched around her shoulders with the other.
Book III of the vampire series GANGPIRE Trilogy will take the reader on it's final fantasy spin in the saga of Tacoma,Seattle Raider, Helen and their son Menelik. Who will survive this anarchic journey of torture, slaughter, and black magic as new enemies are established, old feuds are rekindled, and friends become traitors in this final installment.
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This book will take you to the underbelly of spiritual warfare and have you riveted as the story begins to unfold with each page. Surprisingly, Kayla and Julian’s plight is not uncommon and the reader will instantly be able to identify with the torrid love story tangled within the stronghold of darkness.
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