About Me

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Hello, my name is Valorie. I have a Master's Degree in History and a license to teach-- I have been both university professor and public school teacher. Currently, I am a middle school social studies teacher. I love horror movies and spooky things. Every day is Halloween. I am also a passionate book blogger.

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Book Review: 23:27 by H.L. Roberts

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Book Tour & Guest Post: Wild by Sherry Rossman

Christian Dystopian Fiction
Date Published: June 2017
Publisher: Darwin House Press

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“Do you still love me as you did?” His arms come around me, pulling me against him, and I see it on the horizon before us—the world—what will it do to us?

After escaping Titus, Monet and Luke join the rebels living on the fringe. The Colony is a haven for the artists and God-seekers who survived The Chasm, but as Monet soon discovers, freedom across the boundaries is interwoven with darkness. The wounds from their city run deep, bringing Monet and Luke to question their bond. When a cataclysmic event threatens their existence, they must step into the unknown with an old enemy, and work together to survive.

About the Author

I started writing after I realized putting my Back-Up Plan first was a bad idea. Advice for dreamers: go for your Dream first, but don’t make a Back-Up Plan, just be open to a bill-paying job that you like while pursuing your dream. And then, chase that dream with everything that’s in you.

I have short stories published in online publications such as, The Wordsmith Journal Magazine and The Relevant Christian Magazine. The Water Man earned a spot in Mythic Orbits 2016: Best Speculative Fiction by Christian Authors. I added that for those who want to know whether or not I’m a serious writer. I am. But what’s most important is that I love to bring readers stories that are more than just formulas. I offer you splattered canvases.

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Week Blitz & Giveaway: Entombed by Ruth Parker

Romantic Suspense
Date Published: 8/17/17

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It’s hard being the daughter of a serial killer. Especially when your father has a lot of sick, twisted fans…

Camille West is the daughter of the infamous Body in the Barrel Killer, the maniac who entombed his victims in large steel barrels after days of torture. When she reluctantly returns to her hometown to take care of her ailing mother, there is a surprise waiting in her new house.

A barrel. A body. And a promise.

Camille has worked hard to forget her small hometown and the stain of her father’s crimes. But someone out there never forgot her…

If that wasn’t enough, her old flame Jake Musgrove is still in town, now working as a private investigator. His smirk and arrogance are a big part of why she fled her small town ten years ago.

Jake has screwed up pretty much everything in his life, but his biggest regret is how he let Camille walk away. Now that she’s back, he refuses to lose her again. He’s got to put it all on the line to protect her, but the killer is getting closer and he’s got to figure out who it is before Camille is entombed…

This romantic suspense novel is a page-turning standalone with an HEA and no cliffhangers.

About the Author

RUTH PARKER lives in Los Angeles, in a house covered in toddler handprints and cat hair. She has a crippling addiction to diagramless crossword puzzles, Forensic Files and John D. MacDonald novels. Send help. And pencils.

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Spotlight: Dirty by R.L. Kenderson

Contemporary Romance
Date Published: July 1, 2017

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He’s a player. She’s too smart to let him in her pants. Until a night of drunken sex has her kicking herself and vowing she’ll never let it happen again. Or will she? 

After returning home due to her father’s illness, Elise Phillips reunites with her college friends, including Luke Long. Luke was a player back then, and Elise had always prided herself on not being another notch on his bedpost. 

Luke is still gorgeous though, and he knows it. And he checks all her boxes—intelligent and sexy with muscles and a hard body. 

Following a night of beer and shots, her resistance runs out, and he finally does check her box. And Elise knows that it can never happen again. 

Luke had always thought of Elise as the pretty girl that was friends with his roommate’s girlfriend, but now she’s all grown up. When their night of passion rocks Luke’s world he realizes he must have her again. 

The two enter a friends-with-benefits relationship with the agreement that they’re just going to have fun. The only thing is, with mutual friends involved, they have to hide their indiscretion. 

But what harm can come from a dirty little secret?

Dirty is the first contemporary romance from paranormal romance author R.L. Kenderson. If you like laughing out loud, sexy book boyfriends, playful couples, and dirty, dirty sex, then you’ll love this fun contemporary romance.

Get your copy of Dirty and start falling in love today!

About the Author

R.L. Kenderson is two best friends writing under one name. Renae has always loved reading and in third grade wrote her first poem where she learned she might have a knack for this writing thing. Lara remembers sneaking her grandmother’s Harlequin novels when she was probably too young to be reading them, and since then she knew she wanted to write her own.

When they met in college, they bonded over their love of reading and the TV show Charmed. What really spiced up their friendship was when Lara introduced Renae to romance novels. When they discovered their first vampire romance, they knew there would always be a special place in their hearts for paranormal romance. After being unable to find certain storylines and characteristics they wanted to read about in the hundreds of books they consumed, they decided to write their own.

They both live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area where they’re a sonographer/stay-at-home mom/wife and pharmacist/mother by day and a sexy author by night. You can find them at http://www.rlkenderson.com, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and Goodreads. Or you can email them at rlkenderson@rlkenderson.com. They always love hearing from their readers.

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MOVED to a new home

Morbid Romantic Reviews has moved!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Promo Blitz: Shadows & Teeth, vol. 3 by Ramiro Perez de Pereda

Date Published: June 15, 2017
Publisher: Darkwater Syndicate, Inc.

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Out of the shadows and meaner than ever, volume three of this award-winning horror series packs international star power. Featuring ten brand-new stories by the legendary Guy N. Smith, the prolific Adam Millard, master of horror Nicholas Paschall, and others, this collection is certain to keep you up at night. Take care as you reach into these dark places, for the things here bite, and you may withdraw a hand short of a few fingers.


My body crumpled forward, my forehead resting on the floorboards. I would have remained this way, if I had not been roused by a shout from behind me. Rosario roared and shook his head like an enraged bull, stamping his feet and frothing between gritted teeth. He clutched his temples and shook his head, and when he had gathered enough clarity of mind, he leveled a penetrating stare at the djinni and yelled, “Enough!”
All around Rosario, the peasant men stood frozen as though they were statues, eyes on the djinni. Clenching his jaw, he staggered forward a step, inadvertently brushing against one of the men. The man instantly spilled to his knees in supplication, droning, “I adore thee, oh my lord!” in such rapid succession that the words were hardly perceptible.
Scowling with rage at this irreverence, Rosario let fly an uppercut swing with his hook. The metal flashed in the dim candlelight and caught the man in the crook of his lower mandible. The man did not so much as scream, so overawed was he by the djinni.
Rosario raised his arm aloft, lifting the man fully erect, looking like a fisherman with a prize catch. Then he tore his dagger out of his belt with his opposite hand and plunged it into the side of the man’s neck between the skull and the shoulders. The skin at the peasant’s neck pulled apart, opening his throat as though his shoulders were yawning wide, until at last the weight of his collapsing body snapped his head off his neck. The body slumped to its knees and spilled headlong, gushing blood in spurts from its severed arteries.
Something like a sigh came from the djinni. Then it said, “Man is a foolish child who calls many things gods. Man knows not the gods.”
Its skin seemed to dull, losing some of the magnificent radiance it exuded, and I found that I was no longer overawed in its presence. Rosario helped me to my feet and together we addressed the djinni. The remaining three peasants all were unconscious, seemingly asleep on the floor.
“In the name of the most high, I command you to speak your name, djinni!” I yelled, thinking it could be cowed in the same manner as a demon might.
The djinni’s eyes widened. If it had eyebrows, they would surely have bobbed at my effrontery. Its eyes narrowed into angry slits that contained all the deadly chill of a winter snowstorm. “Hadst thou instead come to visit me, I would have attended thee in the manner befitting of a guest. I would have filled thy mouth with rotten pus until thy belly were full. Thou wouldst have told me a great many wondrous things of thy life, and I, having learned such, would have sent thee home with an anus so full of scorpions the trail of blood behind thee would stretch for miles.”
The images each word represented, along with the concepts and sensations those phrases conveyed, flashed in my mind as the djinni spoke. They are as vivid now as then—by God, I still taste the pus! These images are always in the forefront of my mind, constantly playing out before my eyes, and it is hard to focus on anything else except through purposeful concentration.
“Wherefore hast thou brought me here?” it asked.
Seeing how my last attempt at communication had failed, I bowed my head and spoke in lowered tones. “Djinni, we have called you to ask a favor.”
“Indeed,” it cut me short, “it is always so when mortals call upon the djinn. Impudent humans! What boon seeketh ye? Be it pleasure? I shall show ye such pain that the greatest pleasure would be anticipating its end! I ask again: wherefore disturbest me thou?”
It was then I explained we sought to spare your daughter from the ailment that would surely take her, and requested the djinni’s succor.
The djinni sighed, if otherworldly beings can be said to sigh. “Alas, thy mortality is a concept thy limited intellect can only dimly grasp.” It looked down at the floor as it considered this, then raised its gaze to make eye contact with me. “What wouldst thou have me do? The child is already dead.”
An image of her flashed in my mind’s eye. I was there, in the room with Bernadette as she languished in her bed, delirious with fever. The eyes I saw her with were not my physical eyes, as they saw more than human eyes could ever hope to detect. Bernadette’s body was like a red-hot fireplace poker, glowing orange from her core. The glow collapsed on itself, giving way to lifeless, cold black, shriveling into her center like a bonfire shrunk to embers. I knew she was dead when the light faltered and snuffed out, leaving nothing but a dreadful stillness in its passing.
Brother, do not think for a moment that so terse an account of your daughter’s death should mean I was hard-hearted about the matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. She was my niece, and—by God!—my only living relative; that is, save for you of course, if ever you should return to read this.
Her passing crushed me. It opened wounds in me, wounds that weep much as my eyes might weep. And while time has dried my tears, it has done nothing to soothe the ache of missing her.
I was flashed back to my study with the djinni standing before me. The realization that Bernadette was dead weighted my body; I crumpled to my knees and collapsed to all fours.
All of this, for naught! Frustration churned the searing bile in my stomach. “You must be able to do something,” I pleaded.
The djinni cocked its head to one side. “Thou hast misunderstood. I can do a great many things.”
“You could not save her!”
“Thou didst not ask.”
My mouth went dry on realizing it was right—I had not asked it to save her from the disease. “Save her!” I blurted, figuring this was as good a time to ask as any.
“I cannot. She has died.”
I plunged my fingers into my hair and clawed at my scalp. “Quit speaking in circles!”
“I speak as plainly as I can. Ye men possess little aptitude for understanding.”
“If you cannot save her, then…” I stammered. At the time, I did not know why I had broken off; I was only aware that I had stopped mid-sentence. I had found that strange, especially since I had already deliberated on what it was I wanted to say before saying it. In retrospect, I think I know what halted my tongue—some combination of my conscience and divine intervention giving me one last chance before I could commit a heinous sin.
“Then… bring her back,” I finished my sentence.
“It is already done.”
I blinked, and then again, looking upon the djinni in mute shock as its words sunk into my mind. Was Bernadette alive? When had she been brought back—when I asked, or sometime prior? Had she even died? It was not lost on me that the djinni could be lying, but before I could ask any questions, it said, “Thy niece lies upon her deathbed. Lay her body down in this circle before moonrise tomorrow night, and thou shall have what thou seeketh.”
A thought occurred to me then that I wanted to give voice to, but I stopped myself. To even reflect upon it sent shivers down my spine. What might the djinni want of me in exchange?
As if it had sensed my thoughts, the djinni said, “Thou wonderest what thou must offer to uphold the bargain. Rest assured, human, thy debt is paid in advance.”

About the Author

Our award-winning horror series brings together the very best in international horror. Volume three features the UK’s legendary Guy N. Smith, the prolific Adam Millard, and master of horror Nicholas Paschall, among other established names in the genre.

Bio For Series Editor, Ramiro Perez: 
Born in Cuba in 1941, Ramiro Perez de Pereda has seen it all. Growing up in a time when then-democratic Cuba was experiencing unprecedented foreign investment, he was exposed to the U.S. pop culture items of the day. Among them: pulp fiction magazines, which young Ramiro avidly read and collected. Far and away, his favorites were the Conan the Barbarian stories by Robert E. Howard. Ramiro, now retired from the corporate life, is a grandfather of five. He devotes himself to his family, his writing, and the occasional pen-and-ink sketch. He writes poetry and short fiction under the name R. Perez de Pereda. He serves Darkwater Syndicate as its Head Acquisitions Editor—he heads the department, he does not collect heads, which is a point he has grown quite fond of making. Indeed, it’s one reason he likes his job so much.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Promo Blitz: Slasher Sam by Simon Petersen

Date Published: March 31, 2017
Publisher: Darkwater Syndicate, Inc.

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Beware: this book is not for the faint of heart, the weak of stomach, or the soft of bowels. In these pages are the blog entries of one of the most depraved serial killers of the 21st century—Slasher Sam.

Taking inspiration from several generations of horror films, Sam guts countless victims in creative ways, and posts these exploits to SlasherSam.com for the world to see, putting readers so close to the action that they’re practically in the splash zone when the blood goes flying.

And is there ever blood—Sam’s a savvy killer, too well-versed in horror film lore to make rookie mistakes, which is why the kill count scores well into the double digits.

Visit www.SlasherSam.com if you dare, just remember: in cyberspace, everyone can hear you scream...


A snap of a twig, a rustle of leaves, her head spins around in fright.
“Who’s there?” she says. “Randy, is that you?”
Silly girl. She’s just signed her own death warrant—as if she hadn’t already when I caught her and her boyfriend smoking weed a few moments ago. I’ve been stalking these two for about half an hour, and now he’s gone off to piss somewhere and she’s about to be offed in the opening scene.
To be fair, she’s exactly the sort of girl you hate to see get killed off so early in a slasher movie. Long blonde hair pours out of a red beanie, framing a face so pretty it could sell moisturiser. A tight white puffer jacket hugs her fantastic figure, and skinny jeans accentuate her long legs and ample ass.
I think I’m in love. But rules are rules. I don’t make them; I just enforce them, and she’s going to die tonight.
“It’s not funny anymore, Randy. I mean it. Quit clowning around and get back here right now. I’m really scared.”
I fight the urge to call back, “You should be.” Instead, the rustle of the bush is her only answer as I move out from my hiding place behind a large evergreen and walk back to the well-worn hiking trail where she’s standing, flaring her flashlight in all directions for any sign of her loser boyfriend.
When she sees me, her eyes grow so wide that it’s comical. Rendered immobile by fright, we both just stand and look at each other for a moment or two—her on the verge of a nervous breakdown, me on the verge of killing her. The tension between us is so thick that you could cut it with my machete. I try. What I cut instead is her head open.
It’s like one of Thomas Savini’s finest special effects, but, oddly, less messy. Blood and brain matter abound, of course, but it’s really more like piercing a coconut than splitting an overripe melon. Either way, the blade makes a satisfyingly heavy thunk sound as it punctures the cerebrum, ensuring that she’ll never get to learn French, read another book, or do anything ever again.
When I pull the machete out of her skull, she plummets like the quality of the Friday the 13th film franchise after Part VII: The New Blood. But I don’t have time to dwell on the disappointing Jason Takes Manhattan or the frankly unwatchable Jason Goes to Hell right now; I shouldn’t have even brought them up, because I’ve got a boyfriend to kill. He’s not my boyfriend, asshole. I mean the boyfriend of the girl I just killed. He’ll be back here at any moment.
Propping the girl up against a nearby tree, I pull the hood of her coat up over her bloody beanie and the gaping wound in her head. Even in death, she’s lovely. Now it looks like she’s just having a wee rest. Well, if you’re stoned or stupid anyway.
Fortunately, the boyfriend is a potent mixture of both. I hear him tearing through the jungle and spouting inane babble and sexual innuendo long before I see him from my hiding place in the black forest, opposite the sleeping dead girl.
“Hey babe, I just saw a really big snake,” he says while he’s still out of view. “Oh wait, it was only my penis. False alarm.” He laughs at his own lame joke. “I’m really horny. We should fuck again, if you’re interested. Seriously, you don’t have a choice, let’s do it.”
Wait, didn’t she call this guy Randy a minute ago? That’s a bit on the nose, don’t you think? It’s like a guy called Bob who can’t swim well, a dick called Richard, or if the parents of that blowhard politician who wants to build a wall to keep the Mexicans out and likes wearing a bad toupee had christened him ‘Racist Asshole’.
When I finally get a visual on this walking-talking meat puppet, he’s strutting up the track like a man relieved. Dressed in a black puffer jacket and a trucker cap—in spite of the fact that it’s the middle of the Goddamn night—he proudly wears a shit-eating grin through a stubbly beard like he won it in a contest. I just can’t wait to end him.
“You sleeping babe?” he says, bending over the resting corpse of his dead girlfriend. “Come on, rise and shine sleepyhead. I’m horny.” When she doesn’t reply, he shakes her. “Come on babe, I’m not kidding around. You need to wake up right now.”
Frustrated, he gives her a short, sharp shove and she flops over.
Impatience vanishes and terror takes control now. Whimpering like a sad puppy whose owners have abandoned it next to a busy highway, he slowly peels back her hood to see exactly the sort of damage that a sharp machete will render to a person’s forehead. He lets out a prodigious scream that’ll continue to ring in my ears a number of hours later, and then flurries around in fright when he feels a soft tap on his shoulder.
It’s me, lumbering behind him in my very best Jason Voorhees impression.
Shock, horror and frank disbelief are plastered all over Randy’s terrified face; for all intents and purposes he is face to face right now with the hockey mask-wearing psycho from the Friday the 13th series. What do you do in that situation? What do you even say?
“What the actual fu—”
But I guess we’ll never know his final words, because I cut him off mid-sentence with a swing of my machete and punt his head away like a soccer ball.

About the Author

Simon Petersen is an experienced journalist and popular blogger from Auckland, New Zealand. By day he writes about craft beer, world travel, and professional sport; by night he dreams up horror movie scenarios that’d scare the striped sweater off Freddy Krueger. Visit him at www.SlasherSam.com.

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Amazon Review Tour & Excerpt: Breathe In by Michelle Bellon

Title: Breathe In
Author: Michelle Bellon
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Published: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Limitless Publishing

“If you like dark thrillers THIS book is right up your alley! If you've never read a Michelle Bellon book-this one is, seriously, her best book yet! I have loved them all, but this one ..WOW!” - 5 Star Amazon Review
“I couldn't set it down!!” - 5 Star Amazon review

Breathe in, breathe out. This mantra gets Tessa Benson through the day.

The man she loves walks all over her, and she just wants to get by without her heart shattering to pieces. If she could find her voice, she’d scream.

Everything changes in one night, when she’s snatched from the streets and tied to a bed, a camera set up to capture her dying moment. And the person who paid to watch her die...is still out there somewhere.

Tessa prowls dark neighborhoods in a quest for justice, but she doesn’t find the killer. Not until they strike again…in the place Tessa is least expecting, and where it hurts worst.

Warning.  This book contains some major triggers.  It contains violence, sexual assault, and scenes of PTSD.  

Tessa has a complicated love life.  The man she likes, Tom, wants nothing to do with her.  The man who likes her, Gerald, she wants nothing to do with.  To unwind from her troubled life, Tessa goes out with a friend.  What started as a fun night ends up in violent despair.  Tessa is taken by two men, kidnapped and held hostage in a lone cabin.  They videotape the mental and physical torture she experiences.  Sure that she will not make it out alive, Tessa fights back and escapes.  Yet the pain of her experience lingers—she suffers from serious PTSD, often turning violent herself.  Determined to find out who orchestrated the kidnapping, Tessa and a cop Tobin, whom she begins to develop feelings for, seek out answers.

Breathe In is definitely not a novel for the faint of heart.  Tessa endures things that take her to the very brink of a dangerous edge.  It was hard to read what her kidnappers put it through.  The process of her grief and anger was realistic and heartbreaking.  The inner psychology of being the survivor of extreme abuse is well written and very emotional.  It is hard not to feel for Tessa.  And her anger?  You don’t dislike her for what she does because you sympathize and understand her pain.  The end came as a surprise, and the victory much needed.  I can’t say she that her pain was assuaged, but the cathartic revenge at the end was enough to satisfy the need for resolution.

Blindly, I run across the lot. As I round the corner, I run smack into someone as they are coming the opposite direction.  

“Tessa? Are you okay?”

I glance up through the stream of tears to see a blurry image of Gerald. “No, no. I just want to go home.” I push off his chest and stumble backward, then turn and flee the opposite direction without saying a word, ignoring Gerald’s plea of confusion as the distance between us widens. I pray he won’t follow. I just want to get away from this place. 

I keep running until I’m at least a few blocks away. Winded, fatigued, and little sick to my stomach, I stop. I lean against the wall of a building, taking in sharp gasps of air, and look around. Thankfully, Gerald didn’t follow. Where am I? Terin. I left Terin back at the club. I can’t go back there. I’ll have to call her and let her know I’ve gone home. She’ll be fine. 

My phone? Where is my phone? It was in my handbag. I had my handbag when I left the club with Tom. Shit. It must be in his car. Fear, pain, shame, anger, guilt, all well up tight within my chest and rise until I feel as if I will go mad. I run my fingers through my hair and cry so hard I start to gag again. I want to puke. Get that man out of me. Get him out!

“Can I help you? Are you okay?”

Startled, I spin around. The man from the library is standing at the corner, maybe fifteen feet away. My crying wanes as muddled thoughts spin around in my mind, trying to make sense of it all. Why is he here? Did he follow me from the club? His brow is pinched with a look of concern. He takes a step forward. “Are you okay?”

My knees and hands are trembling violently. “I’m…I’m fine.” I drag both hands across my face, swiping away the tears.

He takes another step forward. “Are you sure? You seem upset. Are you ill?”

I take a step back. I don’t want any further interaction tonight. I’ve had more than enough. All I want to do is go home. And this guy…he seems friendly, but he freaks me out. “No, really. I’m fine. I’m just on my way home.”

Another step forward. “Do you need a ride?”

Another step back. Why won’t anyone listen to me? “No. I’m fi…”

Something is pulled over my head from behind. The world is dark and muffled. I scream. Hands go around my waist. My arms arc outward, side to side, hoping to hit anything in my path. What is happening? Fear, stark and white, drains the blood from my head to my toes. I’m dizzy. 

Voices bark out sharp orders but I’m flailing about and screaming so I can’t make out what they’re saying. Another set of hands grab my legs and pull them out from under me so now I’m being carried by two men…one by my waist and the other by my legs. I writhe and twist. I have to get out of this. I need to get away. What is happening? My breath plumes in and out in short, hot gasps inside the small bag over my head. Claustrophobia flares up. A stronger wave of panic follows. I’m…going…to pass…out.

Michelle Bellon lives in the Pacific Northwest with her four quirky and beautiful children. She loves coffee, Superman, rollercoasters, and has an addiction to chapstick.

She works as a registered nurse and in her spare time writes novels. As a multi-genre author, she has written in the categories of romance suspense, young adult, women’s fiction, and literary fiction. She has won four literary awards. You can visit Michelle’s website at http://www.michellebellonauthor.com/


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Book Blitz & Giveaway: Peculiar Country by Stuart R. West

Peculiar County

Genre: YA Paranormal/Ghost Mystery

Release Date: July 30th 2017

Books We Love


Growing up in Peculiar County, Kansas, is a mighty...well, peculiar experience. In 1965, things get even stranger for Dibby Caldwell, the mortician's fifteen year old daughter. A young boy's ghost haunts Dibby into unearthing the circumstances of his death. 

Nobody—living or dead—wants her to succeed. James, the new mop-topped, bad boy at school doesn’t help. Dibby can’t get him out of her head, even though she doesn’t trust him. No, sir, there's nothing much more peculiar than life in Peculiar County…except maybe death in Peculiar County.

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo


I pushed through the doors. They swat at my backside, squeaking with mischief. Eee-hee, eee-hee
Down in the workshop, the cold really packed a wallop. I rubbed my arms, stamped my feet. I rode my hand along the wall, searching for the light switch.
Fluorescent ceiling lamps sprung to life, duller, deader than usual. Instead of providing warm luminescence, they cast everything in an odd light, everything touched in artificial tints.
Immediately, the strong, familiar odor of ammonia enveloped me. But I couldn’t place the other smell, couldn’t describe it. If pressed, I suppose I’d catalog it somewhere between sweet and metallic. Sorta the way blood tastes when you prick your finger and suck on it. I’d never smelled anything like it before, not in Dad’s workshop or elsewhere.
An overriding smell rode in like fog. A strong, wrong odor that brought to mind mold and rot. A primal scent from a different time or place.
Ching! Ding! Ting-a-ling!
Impatient as a hungry baby, the bell-ringer called.
The walk-in refrigerator door handle swung up.
The door released its seal and opened, just a few inches. A pale blue—hardly blue, more like moon-white—cone of light fell across the floor. A swirl of frost slivered out, twirled in the bare luminescence.
Ding! Ding! Ching! Ting-a-ling-aling
Cut off in mid-ring, the bell silenced. Everything hushed. No sound, not a peep, a tick, a drop. Just the silent shroud of death.
Slowly, I crept toward the refrigerator. Which didn’t make a lick of sense as I knew Hettie waited for me. There didn’t seem to be any real sense in maintaining silence either. But any noise—even my own—made me want to scream.
Above me, the light flickered off, on, then sizzled like bacon before settling on dark.
My hand gripped the handle. Arctic cold, I wrenched my hand back. I flagged it ‘till the stabbing needles of cold left. With my shoulder, I nudged the door. It pushed open half-way, then stopped. I followed with a mighty mule kick.
The door opened about as far as its hinges would allow.
I took a deep breath, held it. When I exhaled, I spouted out a frozen, visible vapor.
“Hettie?” I whispered.
I entered. To the left, the metal shelves on the wall were unoccupied. On the opposite side, all but one sat empty. A rumpled plastic cloth lay across the bottom shelf.
The eerie blue light had no visible source, but it provided ample light to see by. Maybe too much, considering.
“Hettie?” I repeated a little louder.
In the back of the unit, where Dad housed his supplies, a hanging shower curtain billowed out. Plastic crinkled. Something moved, fluid behind the curtain’s rippling waves. Not exactly flesh-colored, not much of anything.
My heart urged me to turn back. Traitorous feet wouldn’t comply.
White snails of fingers crawled around the plastic and gripped it. Slowly, the curtain pulled back. Rusty rings on a rustier rod squealed screeeeeee.
Hettie stood exposed, naked. Except for the black “X” stitching up her innards. Varicose veins twined her legs. Toes exploded into corns the size of thumbs. Her scrubbing pad of hair stood up on end, a static raised brush of black and white.
Clouds had moved into her eyes, milkier than when I’d found her, yet intently focused on me. She showed that awful cavernous smile again. Barnacle-like teeth jabbed out of her gums.
Her lower jaw wobbled, then dropped ajar. Not an involuntary movement caused by gas either, the way sometimes happened to corpses. She gasped, a hissing radiator.
She took a doddering step toward me.
The bell tied to her toe tolled.
Each step forward took great effort. A kind of ghostly arthritis hampered her dead limbs, encased them in cement. When she moved, wood cracked. More wood splintered, her body falling apart. She raised an arm. Dark veins spiraled around it, swimming upstream with determination. They rode toward her sagging bosom, traveled north up her neck, snaked beneath her chin, and set up house on her face.

And still she kept coming.

About the Author
Stuart R. West is a lifelong resident of Kansas, which he considers both a curse and a blessing. It's a curse because...well, it's Kansas. But it's great because…well, it’s Kansas. Lots of cool, strange and creepy things happen in the Midwest, and Stuart takes advantage of them in his workCall it “Kansas Noir.” Stuart writes thrillers and mysteries usually tinged with humor, both for adult and young adult audiences.
Stuart spent 25 years in the corporate sector and now writes full time. He’s married to a professor of pharmacy (who greatly appreciates the fact he cooks dinner for her every night) and has a 25 year old daughter who’s dabbling in the nefarious world of banking.

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