Lou Presents an #Extract of The Farmhouse – A Southern Gothic Ghost Tale By L.B. Stimpson  @zooloo2008 @stimsonink @QuestionPress #TheFarmhouseOfPeaceandPlenty

Today on day 1 of this blog tour, I present an extract from The Farmhouse by L.B. Stimpson. Thanks to the author for providing the extract and Zooloo Blogtours for inviting me onto this.
Follow onto the Blurb and Extract and take a peek at a bit of this interesting, evocative, atmospheric book, that may well have your spines tingling, to see who lives in a house like this – an ageing, spooky farmhouse that just may put you in the mood early for Halloween!

The Farmhouse Book Cover

Blurb

The house, for all of its solitude, seemed incredibly noisy

The Farmhouse, having stood against time and history for nearly 160 years in the Virginia countryside, was forgotten and abandoned until Kyle and Jenny Dowling moved in during the summer of 1972.

The Dowlings, married just a year, were struggling to repair their broken marriage. It was to be the perfect place, away from it all, to heal their relationship. Jenny would write and Kyle would tend to minor renovations. The rent was cheap.

The realtor warned them, however, against staying beyond the final days of fall.

Extract

Late Spring 1972

Jenny Dowling bit her lower lip in a failed attempt to keep her opinion to herself. She had promised her husband she would keep an open mind, but she didn’t expect the house to be so dilapidated. She swallowed her doubt and concern as they traveled down the gravel road, it was so worn and lonely and if she had to admit, the surrounding fields appeared frozen in time and she and Kyle were emerging through a portal, far from modern society, disturbing the past. Haunted. Yes, haunted was the perfect description. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine the past, when wagons rolled and seclusion was necessary for survival at times.

“Oh, Kyle, you can’t be serious,” she finally blurted out as her eyes wandered along the overgrown driveway beyond the padlocked cattle guard gate which appeared to be holding in the decay spilling forth from the broken windows lining the front of the house. Empty, hollow eyes. Oh, he can’t be serious, but yet, he was.

Kyle reached over and grasped his wife’s hand. “Look, I know it doesn’t, well it might not be the secluded getaway you said you wanted, but it has some charm and it’s cheap and near enough to the city if I need to get back to the university, but I doubt that anyone will be calling. Besides, it has electricity and the realtor said she would cut us a break on the rent if we fixed up a few things.”

Jenny pulled her hand away and cranked open the window. The air was still. It was as though it was holding its breath lest a breeze break through the last shards of broken windows protecting the house against the elements. The house, this house, was exactly what Kyle had always wanted. Of course he would have chosen such a place–lonely and secluded.

The Farmhouse Book Tour Poster

Lou Presents an #Extract of The Seamstress of Warsaw By Rebecca Mascull @zooloo2008 @rebeccamascull @SpellBoundBks #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour

Today I am kicking off the blog tour with an extract/excerpt of The Seamstress of Warsaw By Rebecca Mascull to whet your appetite and draw you in….
This is the latest book from the author who has also brought you – The Ironbridge Daughter and many more… You can find out more about her below…
Thanks to the publisher company lSpellbound Books for providing the extract/excerpt of the book.The Seamstress of Warsaw

Extract/Excerpt

WINTER 1920

He said to wear her best dress, the one with the poppies. Whatever could it be for? Perhaps they were going for lunch. That would be a miracle in the midst of these dark days, when he came home from his long walks with empty pockets and the scent of hard drink, without a word or even a smile. But she hoped for the miracle all the same. He waited by the door, shifting from foot to foot.

“Come on! Come on!” he laughed and took her hand. It was the first time he’d laughed in weeks.

They walked arm in arm down their street. Slowly, on dense snow. They turned one corner, crossed the road and stopped. There was a shop, in the window photographs of a baby, a young couple, a soldier.

“Darling, I‘ve decided to enlist.”

“No,” she said. “No!”

“I’m going away tomorrow.”

“Don’t leave me,” she said.

“Here. I want a photograph of you to take with me.”

He opened the shop door to an anteroom. The owner came through and she watched as they made arrangements. Her lover turned back to her and kissed her cheek, his touch like paper. She was led through to a small studio, shrouded in heavy curtains, a chair centrally placed. The photographer had a kindly face. He asked her to sit down. Her lover stood behind the camera, grinning.

“My Helena is a beauty, isn’t she? I want a close-up, just her face. Those eyes. One day, I will write a sonnet about them.”

She might be able to stop the tears coming, if she pressed her nails hard into her palms. Harder.

The photographer said, “A little smile, my dear?”

She was thinking of their room, how tiny it was, cluttered and dirty. How vast it would be tomorrow, when he had gone. His stories, his dreams, his plans for them: only now could she see them clearly for what they were. A handful of thistledown.

She heard them talking of the photograph, ready next week. She was to pick it up and pay. With what? Where would she find the money for milk, for bread?

At the door, he hugged her roughly.

“When the Russians are gone, I’ll come home to you. And one day, I will write an epic poem about it.”

They stepped out and stood a moment in the cold.

He said, “You must send the photograph on to me.”

He kissed her. Warm against the icy air. A taste of vodka.

“Where will you be?”

“I don’t know yet. As soon as I’m settled, I’ll write to you.”

They walked on through the snow. The east wind wailed through Warsaw.

About The Author

Rebecca Mascull Author PhotoRebecca Mascull is an author of historical novels. She also writes saga fiction under the pen-name of Mollie Walton.

Rebecca’s latest book under the Mascull name is coming on September 18th 2021, THE SEAMSTRESS OF WARSAW, the powerful tale of two people unknowingly connected to each other, caught up in the whirlwind of World War II, whose perilous journeys we follow from the Blitz to the Warsaw Ghetto and beyond, published by SpellBound.

Mollie Walton’s The Ironbridge Saga series is set in the dangerous world of the iron industry: THE DAUGHTERS OF IRONBRIDGE (2019). The second book in the trilogy is THE SECRETS OF IRONBRIDGE (2020), set in the brickyards of the 1850s. The third book is set in the coalmines and servants’ quarters of the 1870s: THE ORPHAN OF IRONBRIDGE (2021). All three are published by Bonnier Zaffre. Mollie’s next trilogy will be set in WW2 North Yorkshire and the first book of this saga will be out in March 2022, published by Welbeck.

Her first novel as Rebecca Mascull, THE VISITORS (2014) tells the story of Adeliza Golding, a deaf-blind child living on her father’s hop farm in Victorian Kent. Her second novel SONG OF THE SEA MAID (2015) is set in the C18th and concerns an orphan girl who becomes a scientist and makes a remarkable discovery. Her third novel, THE WILD AIR (2017) is about a shy Edwardian girl who learns to fly and becomes a celebrated aviatrix but the shadow of war is looming. All are published by Hodder & Stoughton.

She also completed the finishing chapters of her friend and fellow novelist Vanessa Lafaye’s final work, a novella called MISS MARLEY, a prequel to Dickens’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL. This novella is published by HarperCollins.

Rebecca has worked in education, has a Masters in Writing and lives by the sea in the east of England. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund, based at the University of Lincoln.

Follow her at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaMascull/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/beccamascull/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rebeccamascull

Buy on

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B099KWCPFS

Amazon UShttps://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B099KWCPFS

 

Lou Presents an #Extract #Excerpt of Release By Karen Moore @KarenMo35731701 @darkstrokedark @between_pr #Release #Thriller #CrimeFiction #BlogTour

Today I have been gifted an extract from the first chapter of Release for you to read, be inspired by, be perhaps pulled in by. Find out more about the author, the blurb and of course a sneaky peak of part of the book. I thank Reading Between The Lines and  for gifting me the extract and inviting 

Release 2 

About the Author

Release authorKaren Moore is passionate about all things noir – crime, mystery, thrillers – and writes in that genre.

She has been writing all her life, mostly for work purposes, and is now delighted to be able to spend more time developing her own creative work.

Her debut novel, Torn, is a dark tale of intrigue and betrayal set in Sicily and North Wales. Release is the sequel, although it is written as a standalone novel for people who may not have read Torn.

Karen worked as a tour guide across Europe, North America and Canada, followed by a career in PR and marketing. She has lived in France and Italy, and is now based in Cheshire, England. Her cat, Lexi, often appears in her social media feeds.

 BLURB

ReleaseWhen Hanna’s estranged mafioso husband, Luciano, is released early from a Sicilian prison, she fears he will come after her and her young daughter, Eva.

The revelation leaves her with a dilemma. Invited to Sicily to attend her best friend’s wedding, can she really take the risk?

But even staying at home in North Wales may not be safe. Something strange is going on at her old cottage in the hills. As the lines between Sicily and North Wales blur, Hanna uncovers a criminal operation that leads her to fear for Eva’s life all over again.

Will Hanna ever be able to release herself from Luciano’s grip? Or will her discovery lead her into even deeper danger?

Excerpt

Chapter One

Shielding her eyes against the dazzling sunlight, Hanna shivered as she stepped out into the afternoon heat. Maybe it was the sharp contrast in temperature after the coolness of the cottage. Or was there another reason? Something was bothering her, an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach she’d had all day. It was as if the nightmares of the past were lurking in the shadows, threatening to return.
Trying to ignore it, she carried the tray of marinated chicken pieces over to the barbecue where Rhys was busy poking the glowing coals. His tanned face crinkled into a smile.
“Nearly ready now. Only a few more minutes. I’m ravenous. Don’t know about you?” Rhys almost had to shout to make himself heard above Eva’s shrieks as she tore around the garden after Bryn, his new squeaky doggy toy clamped between his jaws.
Hanna forced a smile. “Me, too.”
“How about an aperitif while we wait?”
She nodded and flopped onto a garden lounger. “That’d be great, just what I need.”
Rhys wiped the beads of sweat off his forehead with the back of his arm. “Fine. Won’t be a
minute…” he said, already making for the back door into the kitchen.
Hanna sat back with a sigh. Cosmo, their adopted cat, stretched out lazily on the patio, basking
in the sun, purring contentedly. The heady scent of sweet honeysuckle wafted through the air. The garden was a blaze of colour: swathes of pink and purple mallow, dainty red fuchsias, spectacular blue hydrangeas, giant yellow daisies, and delicate peach roses. Amazing how they manage to bloom with so little attention, she thought. There was even a fig tree, although she doubted it would bear fruit in the Welsh climate. The fine weather wouldn’t last long.
The warm sun made her drowsy and she was almost nodding off when she heard the chink of ice against glass. Rhys set two tall drinks down on the table, together with a bowl of olives. He collapsed onto the lounger next to her.
“I thought you might like one of these,” he said, handing her a glass filled with a sparkling dark-coloured liquid, a twist of blood orange clinging to its rim.
She took a sip, savouring the familiar bittersweet orange flavour that immediately conjured up memories of Sicily. Memories more bitter than sweet. A shudder ran through her as if a dark cloud had passed over the sun. Shrugging it off, she said, “Orange vermouth, my favourite! Wherever did you find it?”
Rhys grinned as he reached for his drink, studying her over the top of his glass. “I saw it the other day in a farm shop and remembered you telling me how much you used to like it.”
“It’s wonderful, really refreshing. The perfect summer drink,” said Hanna, reaching for an olive.
Rhys downed half his drink in one gulp. “Mmm, not bad. I might have to have another one.” Hanna laughed. “You’re supposed to sip it slowly and relish its tangy aroma.”
“You sound like an advert! No wonder you’re in marketing!”
“You’d better get a move on with that chicken. Eva’ll be famished after all that running
around.”
“OK, boss, anything you say.” Rhys finished his drink, returned to the barbecue, and started to
load the chicken onto the rack.
Hanna took another sip and scanned the garden again. Eva was still charging around after Bryn in a game of hide-and-seek that he seemed to be winning. Peals of laughter and high- pitched squeals from the squeaky toy floated on the air. Just as well we’ve no immediate neighbours to disturb, she thought. Rhys busied himself at the barbecue, deftly wielding a pair of tongs, humming softly to himself.
So much had happened since Sicily and her daughter’s kidnapping two years earlier. By some miracle Eva had emerged remarkably unscathed, and as her fifth birthday approached, she was growing into a chirpy and inquisitive little girl. She seemed happy in their new home, an old stone cottage in the little village of Abergarron, slightly set back from the North Wales coast, and had settled in well at the school she had been attending for the past few months.
But for Hanna it hadn’t been so easy, and she still bore the scars of her Sicilian husband’s betrayal and deceit. What hurt the most was the apparent ease with which he had shunned both his wife and daughter in favour of the noxious family business. But at least that was all behind her now, and Luciano was paying the price: a fourteen-year jail sentence in Palermo’s Pagliarelli maximum-security prison.
Trying to dismiss her feeling of foreboding, Hanna reminded herself she had much to be thankful for. Eva no longer asked about Luciano and her Sicilian grandparents, and had accepted Rhys without too many questions. Hanna’s own relationship with Rhys was warm and loving, a bond that had developed naturally without any great effort on either part.

#Extract of Rising Star by Michele Kwasniewski @MicheleKwas @RandSmithBooks @RandomTTours #YA #RisingStar

Rising Star
By Michele Kwasniewski
Extract/Excerpt

Today I am pleased to show you an extract/excerpt from Rising Star, thanks to Random TTours Rand-Smith Books and Michele Kwasniewski for providing the passage.
I will also say that Rising Star is an interesting sounding book that looks at the price of fame and fortune, which is a highly fitting for today’s society of young adults. Find out about the author, the book and then discover an extract from it to get your reading eyes going.
Readers… meet Dani Truhart

About the Author

Michelle K Author PicThe author, Michele Kwasniewski, is an entertainment industry insider who has seen what the Hollywood machine can do to people – having worked for many years in film and television production on such films and TV shows as Primal FearIndependence DayEvita, Face/OffBig Brother, and many TCL, HGTV, and Discovery series including: Meet the Pandas, Adoption Story, Wedding Story, and Extra Yardage. 

 

Michelle Kwasneiwski Author PicWith her book, she shares the glamour and excitement of fame as well as the hard work it takes to achieve success and the price of living life in the public eye.  Everyone wants to be famous, but most people have no idea what that really means.  Michele has seen it firsthand.  She is an active member of the Producers Guild of America.

 

Blurb

What’s the Price of Fame?

Rising Star Cover ImageIn the first book in THE RISE AND FALL OF DANI TRUEHART series, RISING STAR, fifteen-year-old Dani Truehart is living a life that is not quite her own. Driven by her mother’s desire for fame and fortune, she has spent her childhood dutifully training for a career as a pop star. On the brink of discovery, doubts begin to creep into Dani’s mind as she questions her own desire for fame, and she wonders whether she can trust the motivations of the adults who are driving her forward.

Following a brilliant audition arranged by her vocal/dance coach and former ’80s pop icon Martin Fox, Dani is thrown full-force into the music industry. She leaves her friends, family and scheming mother behind to move with Martin, who has become her legal guardian, into the Malibu compound of her new manager, Jenner Redman. Jenner, the former swindling manager of Martin’s boy band, leverages what’s left of his depleted fortune to launch Dani’s career.

Isolated from her life at home and trying to stay apace with her demanding schedule, Dani struggles to keep in touch with those she loves, connect to her withholding mother and find her voice as an artist. With Martin and Jenner at odds over their rocky past and finding herself unprepared to handle the pressures of her future singing career, Dani’s debut album and future stardom are at risk of falling apart.

Rising Star Cover Image

Extract/Excerpt

Sean, the lights, and the gym quickly dissolve into my shrieking

alarm clock and my equally grating mother yelling my name. I roll over groaning and blindly striking out for the clock, knocking odds and ends off the nightstand. A final violent swipe turns off the alarm. I pry open my eyes. It’s 5:12 a.m.

“Danilynn Marie Truehart, get up this instant! Don’t make me walk up those stairs and get you, girl.”

I pause for a second, wondering what evil I’ve done in my past life to deserve such torment in this one. Jodi Truehart is her own special brand of torture. Some days it’s all I can do not to either burst into tears or erupt in a tirade of swear words. My mother never stops. She is unrelenting, unforgiving, and utterly determined to make me into a star.

Sighing as I haul my bones out of bed, I remind myself that if I’m really that miserable, I could make the endless lessons and rehearsals stop. My mother is all about the bottom line. If there’s any chance she won’t receive a big payoff after all these years of pushing and spending, she’ll cut her losses and turn her maniacal stage-mother- ing skills to some other money-making prospect. She’d probably just have another baby. I chuckle to myself…third time’s a charm, right?

Grabbing the stack of workout wear on the dresser, I stumble down the hall to the bathroom. My father is shambling up the stairs from the kitchen, a steaming mug of coffee in hand.

“Sorry about all the noise, Dad. Guess I overslept.”

He shakes his head. “No worries, Marie. I had an early meeting any- way.” He blows me a kiss and continues down the hall to the master bedroom.

My dad is the only one who calls me Marie. I’m named after his mother, who used to visit us a lot when we were younger. We used to hang out at her house all the time, and she used to bake the best cakes ever. But there was some sort of falling out between her and my mom, and we stopped going to see her. No one ever mentions it, and I’m too scared to ask what happened. Though I haven’t seen her in years, I always think of her when he calls me “Marie.”

“Where’s my apology, superstar?” Geena appears in the doorway of her darkened room, arms folded across her t-shirt, her blonde hair tousled. She smirks and gives me a playful slap on the butt as I pass. “Better get in that shower.” Geena puts her hands on her hips and wags her finger at me in a perfect imitation of our mother’s Texas twang, “Don’t make her walk up those steps and get you, girl.”

I groan. “God, you’re lucky you’re the smart one! If you’d been able to sing, maybe they’d have stopped at one kid, and I’d be blissfully unaware up in the stars somewhere.”

“You make your own luck, sis, believe me.” Geena winks at me and disappears into her room.

Rising Star BT Poster

An Extract/Excerpt of White Eye of The Needle by Chris Campbell @Citizen_Chris @Choir_Press @kenyon_isabelle #Poetry #ContemporaryPoetryExtract

Today I am excited to present you with an extract of the latest poems by Chris Campbell.
Thanks to Isabelle Kenyon for this opportunity. I also have a bit about the author for now, but then look out tomorrow (Wednesday) for a very insightful and highly interesting interview I had with Chris Campbell.

Cover White Eye of the Needle

About the Poetry Collection

White Eye of the Needle, the second book of poems by Chris Campbell, explores human connections, both passing and intimate. The collection was put together in Nottingham and also includes pieces from the former  Journalist’s time in Bristol, London, Swansea, Glasgow and Gloucestershire, plus visits abroad including a honeymoon in Madagascar and trips to Tignes, France.

Extract/Excerpt

Dawn

When exhausted birds have flown away and tweeted their last breath
that’s when i’ll close my eyes and say there’s more to life than death.

For when they call, they call with heart through feathered chest
and as they go, they fly with hope that after song they’ll rest.

and i in bed as next day looms and dawn begins to stir,

think back before this sombre place to sunlit gardens far.

a silent bird that sings no more may have no song to make,

but as i lie in deepened thought, my bitten nails, break.

as once it sang, brought the day and closed it with a verse,

now every time i think of it, my anxiety gets worse.

Take my clothes, my pillow too and place me by the tree

where these poor birds once posed and sang and breathed relief to me.

Trainers

in fields of yellow daffodils

and grass as fine as hair,

that’s where my chest beside you once

grew under torn trainers.

like cats that toy with life,

we chance, pounce and play,

i count the years, and ‘til we stroll again,

all blue skies will feel grey.

Praise for White Eye of the Needle

‘These poems are sparkling with affection. Campbell finds beauty in the everyday, in the
connections to each other and to the land. in a world when we are feeling cut off, these poems
are like a bridge back to some sense of balance. They are celebrations of relationships, places
and of being alive. some of them feel like a home i’ve never been to.’
– David Linklater

‘At a time when the world feels a little darker, White Eye of the Needle invites the reader
to gaze upon a world where “houses rub shoulders”, “the taps of shoes are circling” and
dawn spreads its welcome light “like the oranges brightening seville”. in this tender, wistful
collection, Campbell observes humanity with a sharp eye – where the lockdown poems offer a
relatable and searingly honest depiction of our days transfixed on blinking screens, there is
always the human touch to offer relief in a lemon dress, the notes of ‘Für Elise’, tumbling
hedgerows and the tender simplicity of a shared meal with a loved one. like the flowers that
push through its city gardens, this is a collection that reminds us that it’s the human
connection and the power of the natural world that keep hope alive in a world gone dark.’
– Natalie Ann Holborow

Buy Link: Waterstones 

Front Cover White Eye of the Needle

About the Author

Chris Campbell, born in Dublin, is a former national and regional journalist who worked for newspaper titles in London, Bristol, bath, south Wales and Gloucestershire. Chris has a passion for poetry, writing and travel and has judged young writer competitions in Swansea. he graduated with an MA in Journalism from Kingston University and a BA (hons) in Economic and political Development from the University of Exeter, with a year’s study in Uppsala, Sweden. he currently lives in Nottingham.

#Extract of Termination – The Boy Who Died by Richard T. Burke @CazVincent @RTBurkeAuthor #Thriller #TheDecimationTrilogy

Termination - Out Now - Banner

I am delighted to host an extract of Termination – The Boy Who Died by Richard T. Burke. The second book in this groundbreaking trilogy, of which you can find out titles below, after the extract. This has humanity and the global population as high up there topics, and a virus (Orestes Virus) that Antimone with the goal of finding a cure with his uniqueness. Check out more in the extract and then find out more about this thriller/crime fiction author.

Termination book cover (1)

Blurb

Antimone Lessing returns in book two of the ground-breaking Decimation trilogy.

Nearly twenty years after the Orestes virus swept across the earth, finally there is hope. Women are no longer dying within seconds of giving birth. For the first time in two decades, the global population is on an upward trend.

As the world returns to normal, Antimone is back on the athletics track and a single race away from achieving her lifetime goal of winning the Olympic 1500-metre Wheelchair gold medal.

But a deadly new threat has emerged, one that could reverse the fragile recovery and spell the end of humanity’s time on the planet. Could Antimone’s unique biology once again provide the vital clue to develop a cure?

When the details of her past become exposed, ruthless forces prepare an audacious plan to kidnap the first woman in a generation to survive childbirth. Now, the only hope for her survival and that of her young family may rest with the one person she trusts least in the world.

Extract

Thursday 12th June 2036

Infant Creche, Bani Waled, Republic of North Africa

Four weeks before the Olympic wheelchair final

“Sit still,” the woman said in Arabic.

“No,” the three-year-old boy replied, angling his head away.

She grabbed a tissue from the nearby box and tried to wipe the child’s nose. He wriggled in her arms as she attempted to reach the twin trails of mucus dribbling down his face. She tightened her grip and pulled him closer. The boy’s struggles intensified. He lashed out a foot and caught her in the stomach. Her hand immediately released his wrist, moving to the rounded bump protruding from her belly.

“Ibn kalb,” she muttered under her breath. The words must have come out louder than she intended because the little girl, playing with the doll two metres away, glanced up sharply. She had just called the annoying brat the son of a dog. In truth, the identity of the boy’s father was a mystery. Like all the children under her care, his mother had died in childbirth, probably moments after a multiple birth. The doctors would have given her fertility drugs to increase the number of eggs she released, then impregnated her with the sperm of a member of the ruling elite.

The woman gently rubbed the point of impact. In less than a month, she would suffer the same fate. She was already finding it hard to sleep at night. The rapidly expanding bulge in her stomach prevented her from getting comfortable. During the last inspection, the midwife had informed her she was expecting quadruplets. Not that she would ever get to see them. Within moments of severing the umbilical cord, the virus would transition to its active state. I hope I’m no longer awake when that happens.

The previous week, a cousin told her the Americans had developed a cure. Their women could give birth without fear of dying. It was typical of the infidel devils to keep such a discovery to themselves. No doubt it suited their purposes to reduce the number of true believers. It was her duty to help replenish her people’s population, but that didn’t make the burden any easier to bear. Why do I have to die?

Her eyes swept the room. The children played in groups of three or four. There were nineteen of them in total, twelve girls and seven boys. As well as releasing more eggs in the mother, the drugs raised the ratio of female to male foetuses. The rulers needed women to increase population numbers, but few, if any, would live past their teens.

The woman glanced at her watch. In half-an-hour, it would be time for the midday sleep. She was supposed to stay awake to supervise the children, but she would often try to grab a few minutes of rest herself. The combination of the energy-sapping heat and the steady, rhythmic whump of the ceiling fan were already making her feel sleepy. Nobody will notice. She closed her eyes and leant back in the wooden chair.

A tap on the knee jerked her out of her drowsiness. The boy with the snotty nose stood in front of her. He held one hand to his face. The other tugged at the black material of her robes. She swatted away his grubby fingers. He dropped the raised arm, revealing a trickle of blood originating from his left nostril and mingling with the trail of mucus. 

Why can’t he just leave me alone? With a groan, she reached once again for the box of tissues and tugged one free. When she returned her attention to the child, the red trail had developed into a stream. A reedy wail escaped from his lips. His open mouth revealed a rose-coloured stain on his tiny, white teeth. He balled his hands into fists and rubbed at his eyes.

The woman dragged him nearer and dabbed at the blood now gushing from his nose. Within seconds, crimson fluid saturated the tissue. She tossed it on the floor and grabbed another handful from the box.

The boy lowered his hands and grasped at his throat. His brown irises now sat amidst a labyrinth of burst veins where moments before there had been only white sclera. The boy’s chest heaved as he tried to suck air into his oxygen-starved lungs. A wracking cough culminated in a spray of blood and mucus into the woman’s face.

She wiped the glutinous mass away with her sleeve and levered herself upright. By the time she reached her feet, the child was convulsing on the floor. She lowered herself to one knee beside him, grunting with the effort. The boy writhed on the ground, his frantic movements creating red streaks across the discoloured white tiles.

What should she do? They hadn’t trained her for anything like this. She placed a hand on his chest to still the jerking spasms that rippled through his body. With a final twitch, the child lay still. Is he dead? That isn’t possible.

The sound of crying drew her attention away from the prostrate child. She raised her eyes to see three other children, each writhing in a pool of blood. The rest of the group backed up against the crude, childish paintings distributed along the roughly finished walls. As she watched, two more burst into a fit of coughing, hacking up gobbets of bloody phlegm.

The woman staggered to her feet, raising an arm to cover her face with her sleeve. Everywhere she looked, children were bleeding from their mouths, noses and ears. She took a step forwards as one of the closest victims stopped moving. Is this some sort of chemical attack? She turned in a full circle. Every single child in the room now either lay still or twitching in their bodily fluids. The mingled smells of blood and faeces assaulted her nostrils.

She stumbled to the mirror above the sink and studied her reflection: no nosebleed. The whites of the terrified eyes staring back at her remained clear. No blood emerged from her mouth or ears. Why am I the only one not to be affected?

When she turned around, every single child sprawled motionless on the floor. Those that faced her stared back with open, unseeing eyes.

The woman lumbered across the room as fast as her bulk would allow. When she reached the door, she fumbled with the lock and stumbled outside into the stifling midday heat.

“They’re dead,” she screamed. “The children are all dead.”

 The Decimation trilogy:

Decimation – The Girl Who Survived
Termination – The Boy Who Died
Annihilation – Origins and Endings (out 12 Sept 2021, now available for pre-order).

About The Author

Richard T. Burke Author ImageRichard T. Burke is the author of crime thrillers with a twist. To date he has written six novels, The Rage, The Colour of the Soul, Assassin’s Web and the Decimation trilogy:  DecimationTerminationAnnihilation (out 12 Sept 2021, now available for pre-order).

Richard also contributed short stories to anthologies by Bloodhound Books and Corona Books.

Richard lives with his wife, Judith, and daughter, Emily, in the village of Rotherwick in north-east Hampshire, UK.

Richard T. Burke on Social Media

Author Website:                   www.rjne.uk
Twitter:                                   twitter.com/RTBurkeAuthor
Facebook Author Page:      www.facebook.com/RichardTBurkeBooks
Amazon Author Page:                     author.to/RichardTBurke   
GoodReads:                         www.goodreads.com/ricky_reader