Book Promo & Giveaway: Manipulated Lives by H.A Leuschel

Welcome to another book promo on Lipsyy Lost & Found where I’m always thrilled to support indie authors & publishers. This time the promo is for a collection of five stories exploring the theme of psychological manipulation from five different perspectives.

Manipulated Lives ~ H.A Leuschel

image001Publication date:  8th June 2016 by H.A Leuschel
Genres: Literary & General Fiction, Novellas, Suspense

Five stories – Five Lives. 

Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?


Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim. 


In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual.

First you meet Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret.

All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.

Goodreads // Amazon // Facebook

*GIVEAWAY*

The author, Helene is giving away copies of one of the stories from the collection entitled Tess and Tattoos. Simply head to her website, enter your email and tadaaaa!

Meet the Author

H.A. Leuschel

Helene grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. 

She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.

 

If you’d like me to promote your book, please get in touch via the email on my contacts page 🙂 Thanks to Helene for getting in touch!

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Flash Fiction Battle: Let the Voting Commence! #HorrorOctober #VoteNow

ho-ffb

Welcome to to Horror October 2016’s main event: The Flash Fiction Battle

 

At the beginning of the month, you voted in your masses for your favourite horror story prompt, and the winner was ‘3 AM. Full Dark. One Sound’. The participating writers rose to the challenge with aplomb and now it’s time for you to vote for your favourite!

Voting closes on the 28th October

Here’s the stories again, all in the same place so you can agonise over your winner. I’m torn between two but I’m not letting on which two! Will it be a blood-curdling basement, a creepy-ass child, spine-tingling survival, or a very unpleasant pregnancy?? YOU DECIDE!

Entry #1: The Secret Of The Basement

By Lily Luchesi

When I was a kid, I hated my house’s basement. No matter how many times my father said I was being ridiculous, my mother said I was getting too old for such childishness, and my older brother called me an assortment of cruel names, I never ever went down there. I always said it would take a life or death situation to get me to go down there of my own accord.

Yes, it was a stupid thing for an adult with a high-class scholarship to one of the best schools in the US to think that the boogeyman was living in their basement, but there you have it. Some childhood fears stick with you forever.

I only returned to the house because my mother left it to me in her will, with very specific instructions that I had to stay there until it sold. With a few expletives in my mind, I did my very best to negotiate with her lawyer. I was pre-law, I knew the drill, and I knew there were always loopholes in every contract, even a will.

Not this time. If I didn’t do as she asked, it would go to the state. When I asked why the house wouldn’t go to my brother, the lawyer replied that he had refused it: he’d claimed a vow of poverty and couldn’t accept the house or the land. Sanctimonious bastard.

I sold it, losing out on a hundred grand. That’s how badly I didn’t want it. However, I still had to stay there and take care of everything inside. I figured I’d hold an estate sale and whatever didn’t sell, I’d toss.

Being back home brought back unpleasant memories of my workaholic dad, my alcoholic mom, and my abusive brother. I hated it.

It took me over a week to price everything–most of which was junk–and then I realized, I couldn’t give the city this house without seeing what was in the basement. What if there was something combustible down there? Or valuable?

My fear of the place was still there, buried deep down but there nonetheless. I felt like an imbecile. I went three times all day today, trying to open the doors and get it over with. Each time shaking limbs and a pained stomach stopped me.

I spent the rest of the day and evening berating myself as I watched the sky darken and the usual autumnal thunderstorm roll in, drinking what was left of my mom’s liquor cabinet. I passed out on the living room sofa, only to be woken by a loud crash of thunder. I flew off the couch, frightened, as the power flickered a few times and then went out just in time for me to see the clock read 3AM. I let my cell illuminate the room, not that it did a great job. Looking out the back doors, I saw that the lightning hit a tree in the neighbor’s yard that had fallen partly into my yard.

Sighing, I threw on my hoodie and went outside to be sure there was no damage to the house. Rounding the side, I was relieved when all I saw was a branch sticking into the doors to the basement. Shielding my eyes from the driving rain, I removed the branch, which came apart with a wet crack, taking with it the old, rusted padlock on the doors.

Despite the fear in my gut and the hangover pounding in my head, I figured the Hell with it and threw open the doors, smelling the wet, moldy stench all places like that have after being closed up for years. And there was something else, something cinnamony.

I began my descent, cell phone before me to cast some kind of light into the inky darkness that seemed to be seeping into my bones just like the cold rain was. The stench got worse, a thick wet smell that made me want to gag.

As I went further down, the doors slammed shut behind me and I jumped. Damn wind. Now it was not only pitch dark except for a foot of smartphone light, it was silent like the grave and I shivered.

Take a look around and get the Hell out, I thought as I finished my descent, breathing through my mouth. I fumbled my cell, trying to get the light to stay steady in my trembling hand. Shouldn’t I at least be able to hear the storm?

The silence and darkness combined was too much. I just wanted out. Finally I got my hand to steady and waved my phone from side to side to get a panorama. What I saw made me collapse on the steps behind me.

Corpses. At least a dozen. Men, women, and children, all in various stages of decay, many so old they were mummified, creating that cinnamon stench. Gaping, rotted mouths seemed to smile at me, and empty, rotted eye sockets stared at me, the intruder in the domain of the dead. Flesh was sloughing off the bones of the most recent ones, and I saw a family of maggots in one man’s eyehole.

I wondered how they all got here, many of them were so old they had to have died in the twenties at least. Fear holding me prisoner, I finally had the sense to turn around and scramble up the steps, only to slip on the rainwater.

I felt backwards and barely felt my leg break. Too much adrenaline in my veins. Grabbing my phone, I checked for a signal to dial 911. Nothing. The storm had hit the cell towers.

I tried calling 911 twenty minutes ago, and I’ve been writing this ever since in my Notes app. I’m never getting out of here, but maybe one day they’ll find my body with the others. Why do I say I’m never getting out? Because the heavy silence was broken by one thing just now: the subtle, papery sound of a body shifting

Entry #2: Come in Here

By Stevie Kopas

Sorry I’m late,” Jill whispered as she crept through the front door, locking it behind her.

It was just past Midnight and she hoped the baby was already sleeping and that her sister wasn’t angry with her for not arriving home on time, but Maddie was curled up on the couch with a book as usual and smiled when Jill entered the living room.

How was work?” Maddie asked, marking her page with a bookmark and hopping to her feet, stretching.

Awful,” Jill sighed. “If I could actually leave when I was scheduled for once I might come home with a better answer. How’s my little bear?”

Oh he’s great, been sleeping like a baby.” Maddie made a face and laughed. “Well, I mean, he is a baby, but you get what I mean.”

Jill chuckled and walked her sister to the door, giving her a big hug before sending her on her way. She was halfway up the stairs to check on baby Louis when her phone blared from her purse in the living room.

Shit,” she cursed under her breath, praying that the noise didn’t wake the baby.

She fished the iPhone from her bag and quickly silenced it, looking at the screen.

Unknown Caller.

She frowned, but answered anyway, curious as to who could be calling at this hour.

Hello?”

She was greeted by loud static on the other end and repeated her greeting only to receive child-like laughter in response.

Maddie? Is that you?” She asked, but the call immediately disconnected.

Shrugging, Jill put the phone on vibrate and slipped it into her pocket. She started back for the stairs when it began to buzz.

Seriously?” She pulled it from her pocket and rolled her eyes when she saw that it was an unknown caller again. She swiped and answered, trekking up the stairs. “Maddie, this isn’t funny.” The same static greeted her followed by a child giggling; she rolled her eyes. “I hope your parents find out what you’re doing and ground you!”

She hung up and stuffed the phone into her pocket once more before heading for baby Louis’ room. Her little bundle of joy was snuggled up and sound asleep. She smiled and leaned into the crib, gently touching his tiny hand.

Good night, my angel. Mommy loves you.” Jill whispered.

She checked that the baby monitor was on and working before heading for her bedroom.

She changed into some sweatpants and before she could even get her oversized t-shirt over her head, her iPhone buzzed in her jeans on the floor. She let out an exasperated sigh and answered without even looking at who was calling.

Listen up, you little shit—“ Jill started.

Come back in here and play with me.” The little girl on the other end said.

What?” A slight chill ran down Jill’s spine.

The little girl giggled. “I want to play. Come back.”

She rolled her eyes and scolded herself for letting it freak her out. “Go to bed, brat. I’m done playing for the night.”

She hung up and shut the phone completely off, she’d have to set the alarm on the clock for once.

***

Jill rolled over and squinted at the clock: 2:57. She groaned and sat up, she could have sworn she shut the phone off before she went to bed. As her eyes adjusted, she could see the screen read Unknown Caller. Jill tried to decline the call but her screen wouldn’t swipe. She hit the power button on the side, but again, the phone wouldn’t respond. In a huff, she threw the covers off and went with her only option: answering it.

What!” She yelled into the phone.

Come in here,” the little girl whispered through heavy static. “Come in here and play with me.”

For the last time… Go. To. Bed.”

Furious, Jill made sure the phone was off. She got up and put the iPhone in a pile of clothes in the closet just in case there was something wrong with it and the little brat kept prank calling her. Just as she was getting back into bed, Jill froze; there was static coming from the baby monitor.

She stared at it for a moment, straining her ears for more sound, but there was nothing. She thought about checking on Louis, but he wasn’t crying and she desperately needed the sleep. Settling back into bed, she had just closed her eyes when the static came through the monitor again, this time, child’s laughter followed. Her eyes shot open and her skin broke out in goose bumps. She glanced at the clock before jumping out of bed: 3:00.

With the baby monitor in hand, she crept toward her bedroom door and again she heard the laughter. There was no denying it this time, it was the same laugh she’d heard on the phone.

Come in here and play with me,” the little girl said.

Jill panicked and the baby monitor fell from her hands, the static screeching from it, louder now. She sprinted from her bedroom and made a beeline for Louis’ door. She charged through and turned on the light, expecting to find someone trying to hurt her baby, but the room was empty, and Louis remained fast asleep in his crib. She checked on her son, making sure he was okay, her heartrate slowly returning to normal. She cursed herself for being so paranoid, she figured whoever had been calling her had somehow hacked into the baby monitor. She would go to the police tomorrow.

As Jill turned to leave the room, the door suddenly slammed shut and her hands flew up to her mouth. She stifled a scream as she read what was written in blood on the opposite wall just before the lights in the room went out:

I knew I could get you back in here.

 

Entry #3: The Quiet Life

By Stephen Kozeniewski

My tongue sits in a Mason jar on my nightstand, suspended in denatured alcohol.

Do you think that makes me morbid? Grotesque?

Perhaps. I prefer to think it makes me sentimental. After all, he was an unwilling victim of circumstance.

I couldn’t keep him. The human voice is irresistible to them. Like a pheromone. It draws them. The creatures are strangely reliant on the sense of hearing, even to the detriment of all other senses. I’ve often seen them prowling the grounds at night. But they never try to come in the house. To them, the door may as well be an impassable mountain.

When they hear human speech, though, my God, it’s like they’re miniature tornadoes, destroying everything in their paths. It happened to the Martins across the street. This was after we’d all learned to stay silent. But the stillness must have been driving Ted Martin out of his wits. He made the mistake of playing a song.

It was Elvis singing, not Ted, but that didn’t matter to the invaders. As soon as the King’s voice was on the wind the creatures couldn’t flood the Martin household fast enough. They burrowed through brick, wood, and glass with equal vigor, a chitinous tide rolling in.

So we must do without music or television. Even a single errant noise, crying out after hitting your hand with a hammer and they’ll come.

Watching what happened to the Martins was what finally made me walk downstairs, take the scissors from the sewing nook, and hack out my own tongue. It seemed to take hours, longer because I had to suppress my cries of pain. Just scissoring and scissoring away, choking back the blood as it filled my mouth.

After a while I saw Grace had been watching me. She was sitting in the corner, her head hung like a schoolgirl’s. She’s a large girl. Obese, I guess you might say. I don’t find her especially attractive, but we’ve been sleeping together quite a bit. Mostly just to stave off the boredom.

I’d never even seen her before when this all began nine months ago. That was back when there was still panic in the streets and no one understood what drove the creatures. She turned up on my doorstep seeking refuge. Not really knowing what else to do I’d let her in. She’d been the one to suggest that we try not talking.

She has a terrible stutter and rarely opens her mouth out of fear of embarrassment. She had taken note that her habitual silence had made her all but invisible to the creatures. She’d shared the secret with me full days before the news had suggested it. But by then, of course, most everyone was already gone and of those who remained few of us had the discipline to sit silently in our homes for the rest of our lives.

Then the Martins died, and I cut my tongue out. I was standing there with the bloody scissors and Grace just stuck her out her own tongue and closed her eyes, waiting for me to do it for her. Even with her stutter she didn’t trust herself never to utter another sound.

So now we sit. Day after day. Occasionally reading. Often fucking. We’ve taken to exercising a bit, too, not unlike prison lifting to pass the time. We have conversations on the whiteboard, but neither of us have very much to say. Christ said the meek would inherit the earth. I doubt this is what He meant.

It’s late now. Nearly three o’clock in the morning. With nothing to occupy my mind during the day I’ve become a habitual insomniac. The power went out ages ago and there’s no moon or stars out tonight. I can hear them, chittering away at each other in their own strange language.

In the darkness I’m haunted by memories.

Grace is thumping around in the next room. I wonder if she’s exercising. Perhaps she’s just masturbating. Either way I consider joining her. At least it would take my mind off those damned things.

They start out like black insects, about the size of a fist. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are extraterrestrial, but sometimes I think it’s more likely they originated right here on Earth. How could space bugs have evolved to love the human voice so much?

When they hear you they swarm into your mouth. You can crush one, maybe five. But you can’t escape all of them. The “winner” devours your tongue. I suppose when they finally get me they’ll be denied that little treat, at least. Then it latches onto the stem, turning itself into a nasty little prosthetic tongue.

They must tug on your nerves or else secrete some kind of venom, because once one’s gotten in your mouth you stop acting normal. You just walk around, arms and legs wildly flailing, as though the little bugs are student drivers attempting to drive your body.

I’ve looked into the eyes of people possessed like that. You can see them suffering, unable to control their own bodies or even close their mouths over the invader. A fully conscious meat puppet. If I had more guts I would try to kill them when I see them wandering around the streets below. But I don’t want to draw any attention.

A noise pierces the darkness. How is that possible? Grace is fat enough to hide it, but didn’t she know? Damn. I should have used protection. My newborn baby is crying in the next room.

 

Wake Up Mommy

By A. Giacomi

The sensation strikes me at nearly the same time every night. Midnight, the witching hour, where pregnant women around the world rise to take a piss. Begrudgingly, I slowly glide out of bed and drag my sore feet into the bathroom. Sleep would become impossible once the baby arrived, but sleep was already escaping me in my eighth month of pregnancy, a taste of things to come I suppose.

Returning to bed, I close my eyes and try to summon any god that would hear my prayer for a restful, comfortable sleep for the remainder of the night, as I couldn’t remember what great sleep felt like.

A moment goes by, or at least it feels that way.

A tapping sound wakes me from my sleep. The sound is muffled, but difficult to ignore, it grows a little louder when I sit up in bed, but not nearly loud enough to wake my husband, who is blissfully sleeping beneath the bed sheets, unaffected and quite still.

Glancing towards the only light in the darkness, our alarm clock, I see that it reads 3 am, an ungodly hour that I hadn’t seen since my party years in my early twenties. The sound grows louder, a thumping, drumming sound that I can’t quite describe.

It wasn’t coming from the walls, but it was close…very close.

Still groggy, with eyes half open, I try to shake my husband awake so that he may investigate the sound further, but when I pull back the bed sheets I find his side empty but still warm.

Shouting out to him, I await his reply…

The house remains silent.

Beginning to panic I try to get out of bed, but a sharp pain in my back prevents me from moving any further. Stuck, I call out again, but there is still no answer. My mind races as the thumping sound returns, this time louder and in tempo with my rapid pulse.

As the thumping grows louder and louder still, my pain begins to accelerate with the sound. It was too soon to be in labour, but I was beginning to think the baby might have other plans for its arrival. Gritting my teeth and bracing for pain, I sit up and pull the bed sheets away to expose my belly.

To my horror, when I look down at the round mound attached to me, I find tiny fists are pounding against it from the inside. The thumping was coming from inside of me. This is why it had been muffled, this is why I couldn’t detect its source.

Who would imagine such a sound coming from within?

The pounding of tiny fists is drowned out by my screams, which now fill the house and possibly the neighbourhood.

With fear coursing through my veins, my heart nearly bursting, I forget about the pain in my spine and bolt out of bed and down the stairs in my nightgown. My plan was to seek help from the neighbours next door, they were my best bet until I could locate my missing husband.

Reaching the front door, nearly out of breath, I find a dark figure standing in the doorway. It takes a moment to realize who it is.

Baby?” I say in a whisper.

As he turns around slowly, I see that it is my husband, but something in his eyes is off. He seemed hollow, like his mind held no memory of me. Waving my hands in front of him, he barely flinches, but when I try to move him out of the way and exit the house, he springs to life and holds me back.

Stay here.” He says in an eerie whisper.

I’m having the baby, I think, I have to go to the hospital.” I shout with all composure leaving my body.

He refuses to budge and let me pass.

I scream for help, but the thumping returns and pain surges through my entire body, silencing me. My legs get weak and I’m forced to lay on the cold ceramic floor of the hallway. It feels as though I’m about to tear in half. My husband stares down at me without expression as I writhe in pain.

Looking at my belly once more as my vision begins to blur, I see the tiny fists pounding with so much force that it didn’t seem human, there was something other living inside me, and it clearly didn’t need me anymore, it was about to make its exit.

 

Choose wisely, friends 😉 The winner will be announced on Saturday 29th October!

Flash Fiction Battle: Wake Up Mommy by A. Giacomi #HorrorOctober

ho-ffb

Welcome to to Horror October 2016’s main event: The Flash Fiction Battle

At the beginning of the month, you voted in your masses for your favourite horror story prompt, and the time has come for the participating horror writers (see above) to battle it out for the title of King or Queen of Horror (October)!  The winning prompt was ‘3 AM. Full Dark. One Sound’, and the only rule was a 1000 word limit.

You will be able to vote for your favourite story, but not until all the entries have been published (by the end of this week). 

Wake Up Mommy

Author: A. Giacomi
Word Count: 755
Blurb: A thump in the night…

scared


The sensation strikes me at nearly the same time every night. Midnight, the witching hour, where pregnant women around the world rise to take a piss. Begrudgingly, I slowly glide out of bed and drag my sore feet into the bathroom. Sleep would become impossible once the baby arrived, but sleep was already escaping me in my eighth month of pregnancy, a taste of things to come I suppose.

Returning to bed, I close my eyes and try to summon any god that would hear my prayer for a restful, comfortable sleep for the remainder of the night, as I couldn’t remember what great sleep felt like.

A moment goes by, or at least it feels that way.

A tapping sound wakes me from my sleep. The sound is muffled, but difficult to ignore, it grows a little louder when I sit up in bed, but not nearly loud enough to wake my husband, who is blissfully sleeping beneath the bed sheets, unaffected and quite still.

Glancing towards the only light in the darkness, our alarm clock, I see that it reads 3 am, an ungodly hour that I hadn’t seen since my party years in my early twenties. The sound grows louder, a thumping, drumming sound that I can’t quite describe.

It wasn’t coming from the walls, but it was close…very close.

Still groggy, with eyes half open, I try to shake my husband awake so that he may investigate the sound further, but when I pull back the bed sheets I find his side empty but still warm.

Shouting out to him, I await his reply…

The house remains silent.

Beginning to panic I try to get out of bed, but a sharp pain in my back prevents me from moving any further. Stuck, I call out again, but there is still no answer. My mind races as the thumping sound returns, this time louder and in tempo with my rapid pulse.

As the thumping grows louder and louder still, my pain begins to accelerate with the sound. It was too soon to be in labour, but I was beginning to think the baby might have other plans for its arrival. Gritting my teeth and bracing for pain, I sit up and pull the bed sheets away to expose my belly.

To my horror, when I look down at the round mound attached to me, I find tiny fists are pounding against it from the inside. The thumping was coming from inside of me. This is why it had been muffled, this is why I couldn’t detect its source.

Who would imagine such a sound coming from within?

The pounding of tiny fists is drowned out by my screams, which now fill the house and possibly the neighbourhood.

With fear coursing through my veins, my heart nearly bursting, I forget about the pain in my spine and bolt out of bed and down the stairs in my nightgown. My plan was to seek help from the neighbours next door, they were my best bet until I could locate my missing husband.

Reaching the front door, nearly out of breath, I find a dark figure standing in the doorway. It takes a moment to realize who it is.

Baby?” I say in a whisper.

As he turns around slowly, I see that it is my husband, but something in his eyes is off. He seemed hollow, like his mind held no memory of me. Waving my hands in front of him, he barely flinches, but when I try to move him out of the way and exit the house, he springs to life and holds me back.

Stay here.” He says in an eerie whisper.

I’m having the baby, I think, I have to go to the hospital.” I shout with all composure leaving my body.

He refuses to budge and let me pass.

I scream for help, but the thumping returns and pain surges through my entire body, silencing me. My legs get weak and I’m forced to lay on the cold ceramic floor of the hallway. It feels as though I’m about to tear in half. My husband stares down at me without expression as I writhe in pain.

Looking at my belly once more as my vision begins to blur, I see the tiny fists pounding with so much force that it didn’t seem human, there was something other living inside me, and it clearly didn’t need me anymore, it was about to make its exit.

About the Author

 

a-giacomi
A.Giacomi is a writer, artist, and educator from Toronto, Canada. She is the mother of two tiny humans who inspire her to create weird and wonderful works that are both giggle worthy, bizarre, and unique. When she’s not hanging out with her family she can be found slapping paint around or typing at light speed on her laptop (That is when the rest of the house is napping or sleeping).

A.Giacomi is the author of The Zombie Girl Saga, which will conclude January 2017. She is currently working on a poetry book, a children’s book series, a YA series, and short stories whenever ideas pop into her head. She is deeply influenced by her fangirl tendencies and loves to throw lots of pop culture into whatever she creates. Ask her about anything TIM BURTON or MARVEL related and she’ll love you forever.

Although she mainly writes in the horror/supernatural genre, she also dabbles in poetry, thus gaining the nickname: THE POETIC ZOMBIE. She’s a big fan of “cute” but “creepy” which started when she was a wee one and read lots and lots of R.L Stine way past her bed time. That and she loves ZOMBIES! She never misses a TWD or iZombie episode, and the comics? Don’t even get her started on her love of comics! To her, they’re art!

Check out the other entries: The Secret of the Basement , Come in Here The Quiet Life

That’s it guys! All four stories have been entered. Check back later today for the poll so you can vote for your favourite.

Flash Fiction Battle: The Quiet Life by Stephen Kozeniewski #HorrorOctober

ho-ffb

Welcome to to Horror October 2016’s main event: The Flash Fiction Battle

At the beginning of the month, you voted in your masses for your favourite horror story prompt, and the time has come for the participating horror writers (see above) to battle it out for the title of King or Queen of Horror (October)!  The winning prompt was ‘3 AM. Full Dark. One Sound’, and the only rule was a 1000 word limit.

You will be able to vote for your favourite story, but not until all the entries have been published (by the end of this week). 

The Quiet Life

Author: Stephen Kozeniewski
Word Count: 926
Blurb:  What could possess a couple to cut out their own tongues?

tongues
My tongue sits in a Mason jar on my nightstand, suspended in denatured alcohol.

Do you think that makes me morbid? Grotesque?

Perhaps. I prefer to think it makes me sentimental. After all, he was an unwilling victim of circumstance.

I couldn’t keep him. The human voice is irresistible to them. Like a pheromone. It draws them. The creatures are strangely reliant on the sense of hearing, even to the detriment of all other senses. I’ve often seen them prowling the grounds at night. But they never try to come in the house. To them, the door may as well be an impassable mountain.

When they hear human speech, though, my God, it’s like they’re miniature tornadoes, destroying everything in their paths. It happened to the Martins across the street. This was after we’d all learned to stay silent. But the stillness must have been driving Ted Martin out of his wits. He made the mistake of playing a song.

It was Elvis singing, not Ted, but that didn’t matter to the invaders. As soon as the King’s voice was on the wind the creatures couldn’t flood the Martin household fast enough. They burrowed through brick, wood, and glass with equal vigor, a chitinous tide rolling in.

So we must do without music or television. Even a single errant noise, crying out after hitting your hand with a hammer and they’ll come.

Watching what happened to the Martins was what finally made me walk downstairs, take the scissors from the sewing nook, and hack out my own tongue. It seemed to take hours, longer because I had to suppress my cries of pain. Just scissoring and scissoring away, choking back the blood as it filled my mouth.

After a while I saw Grace had been watching me. She was sitting in the corner, her head hung like a schoolgirl’s. She’s a large girl. Obese, I guess you might say. I don’t find her especially attractive, but we’ve been sleeping together quite a bit. Mostly just to stave off the boredom.

I’d never even seen her before when this all began nine months ago. That was back when there was still panic in the streets and no one understood what drove the creatures. She turned up on my doorstep seeking refuge. Not really knowing what else to do I’d let her in. She’d been the one to suggest that we try not talking.

She has a terrible stutter and rarely opens her mouth out of fear of embarrassment. She had taken note that her habitual silence had made her all but invisible to the creatures. She’d shared the secret with me full days before the news had suggested it. But by then, of course, most everyone was already gone and of those who remained few of us had the discipline to sit silently in our homes for the rest of our lives.

Then the Martins died, and I cut my tongue out. I was standing there with the bloody scissors and Grace just stuck her out her own tongue and closed her eyes, waiting for me to do it for her. Even with her stutter she didn’t trust herself never to utter another sound.

So now we sit. Day after day. Occasionally reading. Often fucking. We’ve taken to exercising a bit, too, not unlike prison lifting to pass the time. We have conversations on the whiteboard, but neither of us have very much to say. Christ said the meek would inherit the earth. I doubt this is what He meant.

It’s late now. Nearly three o’clock in the morning. With nothing to occupy my mind during the day I’ve become a habitual insomniac. The power went out ages ago and there’s no moon or stars out tonight. I can hear them, chittering away at each other in their own strange language.

In the darkness I’m haunted by memories.

Grace is thumping around in the next room. I wonder if she’s exercising. Perhaps she’s just masturbating. Either way I consider joining her. At least it would take my mind off those damned things.

They start out like black insects, about the size of a fist. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are extraterrestrial, but sometimes I think it’s more likely they originated right here on Earth. How could space bugs have evolved to love the human voice so much?

When they hear you they swarm into your mouth. You can crush one, maybe five. But you can’t escape all of them. The “winner” devours your tongue. I suppose when they finally get me they’ll be denied that little treat, at least. Then it latches onto the stem, turning itself into a nasty little prosthetic tongue.

They must tug on your nerves or else secrete some kind of venom, because once one’s gotten in your mouth you stop acting normal. You just walk around, arms and legs wildly flailing, as though the little bugs are student drivers attempting to drive your body.

I’ve looked into the eyes of people possessed like that. You can see them suffering, unable to control their own bodies or even close their mouths over the invader. A fully conscious meat puppet. If I had more guts I would try to kill them when I see them wandering around the streets below. But I don’t want to draw any attention.

A noise pierces the darkness. How is that possible? Grace is fat enough to hide it, but didn’t she know? Damn. I should have used protection. My newborn baby is crying in the next room.

[Image: http://davescupboard.blogspot.co.uk/2009/10/pickled-lambs-tongues.html]

 

About the Author

stephenkoz

Stephen Kozeniewski lives in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. During his time as a Field Artillery officer he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where, due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star.
He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s is in German.

Check out the other entries: The Secret of the Basement & Come in Here. Voting begins soon!

What’s your favourite so far? Let’s discuss – leave a comment.

UP NEXT ON HORROR OCTOBER: The final Flash Fic entry

#HorrorOctober Book Promo: In the Service of the Boyar #Dracula

horroroctofficial2016

Welcome to another book promo on Lipsyy Lost & Found where I’m always thrilled to support indie authors & publishers. Today I’m spotlighting a paranormal romance Dracula novella! Intrigued? Read on!

In the Service of the Boyar ~ Jason Graff

boyarPublication date:  August 22nd 2016
Genres: Horror/ Paranormal Romance

In the land of the Boyar, a boy will fall in love and become much more than a man.

 Fleeing with his family from danger, a boy catches a glimpse of a girl named Fifika. They are part of the same clan of travelling workers, who have been contracted by their Boyar, Count Dracula, to dig up the earth from beneath his ancestral home. Smitten, the boy becomes her playmate there in Carpathians where the count resides and whose hillsides are filled with enchanted beasts. The children spend their days exploring the mountains surrounding the castle of the count. When they encounter him, he reassures the children that they have nothing to fear in his land.

 Some of the other members of their clan are not so sure. Some even try to hunt the wolves they feel threaten them in the night. These hunts end in tragedy but certain clan members refuse to learn from them. When tragedy visits Fifika’s family, the Boyar invites her and the boy to come to his castle and learn from his English tutor. The find John Harker to be lazy and fearful, forcing Fifika to take up both of their educations. Over the course of these lessons, the boy, no longer merely smitten, falls deeply in love with Fifika. When he finally learns Fifika’s secret, he realizes he can never leave the land of the Boyar, where Dracula is hardly the only source of enchantment.

Goodreads // Amazon

Meet the Author

 

jason

Jason Graff is an educator as well as a writer of essays, poetry and fiction. His work has been featured in journals, such as Per Contra, Carrier Pigeon Magazine, Shadowgraph Quarterly, The Ignatian to name a few and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

In the Service of the Boyar, published by Vagabondage Press is his debut novella. His lives in Little Falls, NJ with his wife, editor and muse Laura and their son Warren.

 

Website/Blog // Facebook // Twitter

Thanks to Jason for getting in touch! If you’d like to be featured on Lipsyy Lost & Found drop me a line (see contact page).

And the Winner is… #FlashFictionBattle #HorrorOctober

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OK guys, all week you have been voting for your favourite horror prompt so that the above authors can battle it out for the best short horror story! 

The votes are finally in! Thank you to everyone who voted and to Cleo, Lynn and Drew for also posting the poll and spreading the word. 

With no further ado, here is your top three…

In 3rd place is Circus of Blood with 45 votes (sorry Drew)!

In 2nd place we have Bad night for a storm with 49 votes. 

And the winner is…

 

 

 

 

 

 

3am. Full dark. One sound with 60 votes

 

So there you have it blog friends. I can’t wait to see what the writers come up with. Watch this space for their entries, and you will then have the opportunity to vote for your favourite just in time for Halloween!

Full breakdown of votes below…

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Prompt                                                 Votes per poll

3am. Full dark. One sound. 47+6+7=60  
Bad night for a storm 33+6+10=49  
Circus of Blood 29+9+7=45  
Monsters aren’t born… 25+5+4=34  
Guttural sounds of the 70s 18+5+5=28  
The Body 17+2+0=19  
Unspeakable crimes 16+7+2=25  
Red Tape Road Trip 9+2+0=11

Flash Fiction Battle: The Countdown is on! #VoteNow #HorrorOctober

Hi guys, you have just 11 hours left to vote.

When I crawl back to into my coffin after work  the votes will be counted and we’ll have our horror prompt for these amazing participating authors. 

ho-ffb

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, see my original post here, where you can place your vote. 

The prompts are:

  • Bad night for a storm
  • The Body
  • Guttural sounds of the 70s
  • Red Tape Road Trip
  • 3am. Full dark. One sound.
  • Monsters aren’t born…
  • Unspeakable crimes
  • Circus of Blood

The rules are simple: There are no rules! Muwahaha ha ha…Apart from the stories being under 1000 words and based on the winning prompt. OK, so there are a few rules. We’re not animals. 

 

What’s your favourite prompt and why? Let’s discuss! What would be your nightmare scary story…?

Horror October 2016: Flash Fiction Battle #HorrorOctober #VoteNow

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I’m so glad Horror October is finally here; I’m mega excited about it this year!

As I mentioned in my welcome post earlier, this year I’m hosting a flash fiction battle which will see four of the best independent horror authors out there battle it out to to be crowned King or Queen of Horror (well, Horror October at least). 

You guys, yes you guys, can vote for the theme and the authors will write their guts out to produce the best horror story in 1000 words or under.

Voting ends in 5 days (Thursday 6th) so no dilly-dallying!

I’ll be introducing the writers as their stories come in, but in the mean time you can check them out using the links below:

A. Giacomi

Stevie Kopas

Stephen Kozeniewski

Lily Luchesi

Huge thanks to them and to Cleo @ Cleopatra Loves Books, Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek and Lynn @ Lynn’s Book Blog who will be helping me to flog this little idea! 

Book Promo: Drawn to Her #Romance

Welcome to another book promo on Lipsyy Lost & Found where I’m always thrilled to support indie authors & publishers. This time the promo is for the first book in a new series by romance writer Jenna Harte.

Drawn to Her ~ Jenna Harte

drawntoherPublication date:  April 12th 2016 by Penner Publishing
Genres: Romance

Feisty and outspoken, Lexie McKenna will do anything to protect her cantankerous and ailing patient—even if it means going up against his cold and calculating, but sexy and irresistible, grandson. After all, as a nurse, her number one priority is her patient.

Drake Carmichael doesn’t trust the nurse who’s taking care of his grandfather—despite how adorable and compassionate she seems. He refuses to let her get her grips into their hard-earned money.

But as the two square off and begin to battle about what is best for the dying man, Lexie and Drake realize they know very little about each other and that first impressions are deceiving. Once they finally give in to their desires, the battle has only just begin.

With a fight between family and fortune, love and lust, will either one be able to find the southern comfort they both truly crave?

Goodreads // Amazon

Meet the Author

jenna-2Jenna Harte is a die-hard romantic writing about characters who are passionate about and committed to each other, and frequently getting into trouble. She is the author of the Valentine Mysteries, the first of which,Deadly Valentine, reached the quarter-finals in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award in 2013. She entered into a three-book deal for a romance series with Penner Publishing in 2015. Drawn to Her, book one in the series was published April 2016. Meant to Be is due September 2016 and Wed To You in January 2017.

She has a bundle of stories filled with romance, mystery, and even time travel rattling around in her head, and is eager for the day when a device is invented allowing her to download what’s in her brain onto her computer.

When she’s not telling stories, she works by day as a freelance writer, author, blogger and online entrepreneur. She lives in central Virginia with her husband, two college-bound children and a two fat cats.

Website // Facebook // Twitter

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Jenna…

1) Writing always terrified me, so I’m baffled to how I got here.

2) My favorite fiction involves mystery and romance, but I prefer a mystery with romance as opposed to a romance with mystery, if that makes any sense. In either case, there should be at least one hot love scene!

3) My favorite authors are J.D. Robb, Janet Evanovich, Sandra Brown and Carl Hiaasen. I also love Jane Austen, but tend to stay away from literature unless I know it will end well.

4) Like my character Tess, I love good chocolate and old R&B tunes. I’m still working on getting Carine Gilson lingerie to see if I’d love them as much as Tess does. A set can cost several hundred dollars, so I have to wait until more books sell.

5) I long for the day when Apple or Microsoft invents a doodad that I can plug into my head, preferably when I’m sleeping, that will download my stories to my computer. My stories come to me when I sleep (and when I drive), but I can’t remember the details when I sit down to write.

 

If you’d like me to promote your book, please get in touch via the email on my contacts page 🙂 Thanks to Jenna and Penner Publishing for getting in touch!

Book Promo: Rarity from the Hollow #SupportingIndyAuthors

Welcome to another book promo on Lipsyy Lost & Found where I’m always thrilled to support indie authors & publishers. This time the promo is for Robert Eggleton’s mind-bending children’s tale FOR ADULTS! All author proceeds from sales are donated to the Child Abuse Agency.

Rarity from the HollowRobert Eggleton

1 Rarity Front Cover WEB (2)Publication date: March 16th 2012 by Dog Horn Publishing, republished 2016
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Lacy Dawn’s father relives the Gulf War, her mother’s teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in The Hollow isn’t great. But Lacy has one advantage — she’s been befriended by a semi-organic, semi-robot who works with her to cure her parents. He wants something in exchange, though. It’s up to her to save the Universe.

Will Lacy Dawn’s predisposition, education, and magic be enough for her to save the Universe, Earth, and, most importantly, protect her own family?

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. It is a children’s story for adults, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended.

Goodreads // Amazon US // Amazon UK / Doghorn Publishing

Meet the Author

Robert Eggleton has served as a children’s advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next — never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency.

Today, he is a recently retired children’s psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel and its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. http://www.childhswv.org/ Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

Website // Facebook

A Little More About Rarity From Robert…

 

“My work utilizes SF/F cross-genre as a backdrop. It is not hard science fiction and includes elements of fantasy, everyday horror, a ghost — so it’s a little paranormal, true-love type romance, mystery, and adventure. The content addresses social issues: poverty, domestic violence, child maltreatment, local and intergalactic economics, mental health concerns – including PTSD experienced by Veterans and the medicinal use of marijuana for treatment of Bipolar Disorder, Capitalism, and touches on the role of Jesus.”

If you’d like me to promote your book, please get in touch via the email on my contacts page 🙂