This year's Author Guests are a veritable who's who of fantasy and sci-fi literature, and we're proud to have among them Blue Cole, a Georgia resident and prolific writer with a flair for fantasy storytelling that's hard to beat.
At this year's event, he'll be releasing his latest novel, Elsewhere, and to help everyone prepare, we have two exclusive excerpts from his book. You won't find this anywhere else.
Available at independent, chain and online book retailers, Elsewhere tells the story of a young girl who tries to protect her brother from feral humans in an exciting creature-horror tale. In the blink of an eye, humanity has been reversed to a bestial level by “The Flash”, an energy pulse of unknown origin. All higher thought processes have been erased, removing every trace of civilization and culture, leaving these new creatures concerned with three things: fornicating, feeding, and fighting.
The survivors must first find one another amid the chaos and destruction. The Scramblers are merciless, swarming over everything and everyone in their path. If they are lucky, those who survived the Flash will pick up the pieces left behind.
Cole is supporting the pre-release of the novel through crowdsourcing via Indiegogo: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/elsewhere-books-horror#/. Additional online information may be found here:
· Cole’s Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Cole/e/B00HTSUGIM
· Cole’s webpage: www.bluecole.com
Chapter 2 – Duke Before the Flash
Duke let the screen door of the single-wide trailer sigh shut behind him, hoping it wouldn’t wake the dogs. Dinky and Zippy would raise hell, waking his mother, and that was something he couldn’t deal with right now. Mama’s medicine hadn’t come, and the doctors said she couldn’t drink anymore, which made for an unhappy woman. The clock above the fake fireplace showed a quarter after ten, and Duke counted himself lucky. The only good thing about being sent home early from the prison was that he got to see the strange shimmering in the sky while walking home; the news was reporting on the sun flares and strange solar activity creating Northern Lights are far south as Florida. The long walk gave him some time to think, and the violet and green pulses above him were worth the sore neck.
Duke unhooked his utility belt and tossed it onto the kitchen counter. What could he do about the bastards at the prison? Saunders and the other inmates deserved what they got, but would Duke get the blame? There was enough to muddy the waters if he asked the union to intervene, but Duke didn’t want to do that. The union would defend him, but at what cost? Would he burn his chance to join the state patrol? Opening the door to the refrigerator, he grabbed a beer.
“Duuuke?” Mama’s voice quavered from the bedroom. He heard the rustle of the blankets and then twin thumps as the mutts hit the floor. The swish of carpet under paws gave way to soft clicks as they stepped onto the thin linoleum of the hallway, and Duke gave up trying to be quiet. He shut the door of the fridge with a twist of his wrist.
“Yeah, it’s me, Ma,” he said. The mutts moved to the edge of the hallway. Duke darted forward, on his toes, faking a kick. They dodged back, and Duke grinned. “They turned me loose early,” he called to his mother.
“Is everything ok?” she asked from the depths of the dark bedroom. “You didn’t do something again, did you?”
“No, Ma,” he said patiently. “The union gives overtime to folks who have seniority.” He settled on the couch, grabbing the remote and pointing at the television.
“Ain’t right, Son,” she said. “Can you let the dogs out?”
“Sure, Ma,” he answered without moving. If the dogs shit in the house, even Ma wouldn’t mind if he beat them.
“You’re a good boy. The best a mama could want,” she said, her voice losing coherence. Duke didn’t respond, already lost in the third quarter of the Thursday night football game.
Chapter 5 – Duke’s Flash Day
The union’s lawyer hadn’t returned Duke’s phone calls all day. Finally getting the fat bastard to answer made him even more nervous; normally a verbose man, the rep’s single-word answers were a glaring sign that something was very, very wrong. That put Duke on edge, and his mother’s constant ramblings ground on his last nerve.
Zippy nosed along the ground, following a phantom trail. The dog didn’t notice he was in range of Duke’s foot, distracted by something in the clover. Another tiny dog step and Duke moved, hooking his foot under the dog’s stomach and flipping it into the air. The dog sprawled when it hit, scrambling up and darting away from him. Even the dog’s gangly run didn’t amuse Duke. He grunted sourly. Damn dogs.
He left them outside, hoping a coyote or bobcat would take one of them off. He doubted it; the little bastards were so mean they would probably choke anything that tried to eat them. He left the door cracked so they could get back in.
“Ma, what’s for supper?” he yelled. He thought about getting dressed. Even though the day was almost over, the inside of the trailer was hot, holding in the heat of the day. His bedroom was small, with a bed shoved into one corner and a broken-down dresser on the opposite wall. Gone were the posters from his boyhood, but lighter squares on the faded paneling showed where they once had hung.
He sat on his bed, trying to plan his next move. Unfortunately, he thought it would come down to who they believed: him or the inmates. Tiny clicks on the linoleum propelled him off the bed to slam his door shut. The rat dogs were back inside, and if he didn’t keep his door closed, they would sneak into his room to shit. They seemed to take joy in it, creeping in and then dashing out to the safety of his mother’s lap. If he left them out tonight, maybe something would eat them.
A buzz filled the trailer, the wail of the built-in fire alarm. It did that when the power went off, until the battery picked up. Duke frowned, wondering. The lights blinked again, a quick on-and-off, and a roar filled his ears. The buzzing created a pain that seemed to slice his head in half, and he grabbed it. He staggered, colors exploding in his head, and he felt his shin hit the bed as he toppled.
Oh shit, the dresser . . . He couldn’t control his body anymore and the corner of the dresser loomed into view as a massive blow struck his forehead. The buzzing carried him into blackness where everything was silent.
Pain came back first, throbbing in his forehead, pulsing in time with his heartbeat. The house was silent except for an occasional scratching at his door.
They’re trying to get in so they can shit . . . he thought. He groaned, trying to push himself up. His bloody head stuck to the floor, coming free with a ripping sound that was accompanied by a fresh blast of pain. He groaned again. Feeling his head, his fingers flaked the dried blood loose, his hand coming away bloody. The scratching started again, and Duke managed to push himself to a sitting position, the walls of the room wavering around him.
Ch 7 – Duke Just After the Flash
The lights were still out, but Duke could see thin shafts of moonlight lifting the dark outside.
“Ma,” he called weakly. Thumps now joined the scratching, and he realized the sounds weren’t coming from the base of the door. Confused, Duke stood, swaying, and staggered to the doorway.
“Ma, what the—” he said, turning the doorknob. Something pushed against it and in his groggy state, Duke couldn’t hold the door. He stumbled back, and a shape fell into the room with him, reaching and clawing for him. He grunted in surprise and stepped back. With his arms outstretched, he held the shape away from him and recognized it as his mother.
Her face was covered in blood, blood that matted her hair and spilled down the neck of her nightgown. She was making slavering noises and grunting, and he turned, pushing her away from him.
“Ma, what the hell?” he cried. She’d had trouble getting around the last few years, but now moved in a quicker, scrabbling fashion, staying low, snapping at his legs, her arms clawing to gain purchase. As she stumbled, he slipped around her and stepped out his bedroom door. The hallway linoleum was slick and his bare feet went out from under him, sending him sprawling onto the floor. White spots danced in front of his eyes as the impact of the landing brought back the pain of awakening. When he blinked to regain his vision, he found himself staring into Zippy’s glazed eyes.
The dog was the source of the slickness; his head lay an inch or so from Duke’s nose, and the rest of the body was spread around the hallway. The dog’s body had been ripped open, and what was left of his entrails looped across the linoleum. Duke heard his door thump against the wall as it opened, and he pushed himself backward, barely avoiding his mother’s lunge. Duke screamed and pushed away from her.
He went into the kitchen on his ass, sliding in the blood and gore on the floor. His back bumped into the cheap kitchen table they ate on, and Duke rolled into the kitchen with his mother following on her hands and knees. Using the stove, he hauled himself to his feet. His hands knocked the skillet from the stovetop to the counter, and he grabbed for the handle as he clawed himself upward.
“Ma, what’re you doing?” Finally getting a grip on the handle of the skillet, he swung, catching his mother flush in the face. For a moment, he expected her face to flatten like it always did in the Saturday morning cartoons he’d watched as a kid. The pan thrummed with vibrations, and she crumpled to the floor. Only for a second. She lunged for his feet, and he brought the pan down on the back of her head.
That stopped her. She dropped to the floor and didn’t move. Duke spasmed, dropped the skillet, and stepped over her body. He was crying, snot mixing and trailing with the blood dripping from his forehead. He didn’t make it far, only to the fridge, and dropped to the floor himself.
“What the FUCK?” he screamed. “Mama, what was that?” The words bounced off the cheap walls, and Duke looked around. Dinky’s body was at the foot of her recliner, torn apart like Zippy’s. Duke crawled across the kitchen, unaware of the danger he was putting himself in. He flipped his mother over and cradled her head in his lap. Her head was misshapen from his blows, and he tried to straighten her hair. Her mouth was bloody because of teeth and claw marks on her cheeks and chin, and short brown and red dog hairs were stuck to her face.
As he cried, the tears helped wash her blood away.
Catch up with Cole and be there for the exclusive release of Elsewhere at JordanCon, April 20 - 22 at the Crowne Plaza Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia. Early registration ends March 25. You can get yours here.