Welcome to Day 2 of the
October Frights Blog Hop
and Part 2 of
The Land of the Rising Sun...
Under the dim glow of his single flashlight, Karl studied the lean body of the woman crushed from the waist down. Her arms, torso and face escaped unscathed. An exotic beauty with long, black hair and high cheekbones, sweat clung to her stained, torn shirt, which revealed the small mounds of her breasts. It saddened him to see such loveliness mangled and broken.
Her oval eyes popped open. They were the color of dark chocolate. Her eyelashes swept upward as she stared at him. Karl abruptly dropped the section of the wall to the ground. It landed with a deafening thud, sending a plume of dirt and dust into the air.
“Don’t be afraid, ma’am. We’re going to get you out of here.” He pressed his hand against his chest, pointed at her then, up at the opening above.
“I…speak English,” she said in a raspy whisper. “Water, please.”
In one swift movement he sat next to her. Unsnapping the canteen from his belt, he lifted her head and put the opening to her lips. “Take small sips.” Her scent, now stronger, hung like a cloud of the intoxicating perfume of a beautiful woman.
“Thank you.” She rested her head on the curve of his knee.
Uncomfortable with such an intimate gesture, he shifted his position.
“Please,” she pleaded. “You are much softer than the hard ground.”
He returned his leg and she placed her head on his lap.
“How were able to lift that wall with such ease?”
“The light down here is deceiving. It’s not that big or heavy.”
“I stared at it for days. It must weigh thousands of kilos.” A strong, magnetic energy radiated from her being. Mysterious. Seductive. Dangerous.
“What’s your name?” He offered her more water, resisting the urge to brush a strand of hair from her delicate face.
“Kiyomi.” She took a gulp of water.
“I’m Karl. Are you in much pain?”
“No.” Her eyes squeezed shut. “I don’t feel anything from the waist down.”
“Help will be here soon.”
Her eyes held his in a bewitching stare. “You carry a heavy burden on your journey through this life. Something happened to you long ago and you’re still trying to adjust,” Kiyomi said.
Uncertainty crept into his gut. He lifted her head off his lap and placed it softly on the ground. He slid away from her toward the wall, jagged pieces of the crumbled remains pressed into his back.
“Do I make you uncomfortable?”
“No. I needed to stretch my leg. I’m getting a cramp.”
“Of course.” Her lips curled into a lopsided grin. “Why don’t you want to talk about it? It’s damaged your fundamental nature and left you scarred.” Her melodic voice soothed him like a lullaby to a baby. “Who are you, Karl?”
“I think the better question is who are you?”
“Just a woman who was unfortunate to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“And I’m just a man who works on a search and rescue team. Nothing more.”
“You want to tell someone. You need to tell someone. Someone safe. I won’t survive this. We both know it. Your secret will follow me to the grave.” Temptation whispered in her voice and he willed himself to be strong. “I’m the perfect person to tell.”
“There’s nothing to tell.” Where the hell is Maggie and the stretcher? His grip to resist was slipping.
“If you tell a dying woman your secret it will set you free to bloom like an exquisite lotus.”
I miss my family, friends, and the warmth of the sun.
“Karl, come closer. Everything will be fine. I promise.” Her hand dug through the dirt and wreckage toward him. “Please.”
As the tight space closed in on him, he hungered for her the way an alcoholic longs for a forbidden bottle. “I…can’t.”
He took her hand.
Thanks again for stopping by.
I hope you're enjoying the story.
Come back tomorrow for the conclusion...
Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for
a $10 Amazon gift card.
Winner announced on the last day of the hop.
And don't forget to hop around and visit the spooky goings on
over at these authors...
Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Night to Dawn Magazine & Books LLC
Always Another Chapter
Spreading the Writer's Word
Yours in Storytelling
Angela Yuriko Smith
Welcome to Day 1 of
The October Frights Blog Hop
Many thanks to our host, Anita Stewart, for all her hard work
organizing the blog hop.
I hope everyone has stayed well through this
But the most wonderful time of the year is upon us and
I'm posting a short story in parts over the five days of the hop,
as well as other posts.
I hope you enjoy part 1 of
The Land of the Rising Sun
Karl lay sprawled across a jagged rock on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Waves lapped toward him before gently pulling away. It was close to dawn, the time of the rising sun. The bright, life-giving star would make its appearance soon, punctual, steadfast and unfailing, like a faithful lover.
This would be his first sunrise in ten years.
Thirty-six hours earlier. Outskirts of Sendai, Japan
Karl and his elite search and rescue team climbed into the large bed of the Diahatsu Kei truck. Sendai had suffered extensive damage thanks to the seven point three earthquake. Thick humidity, sulfur, and smoke hung in the air creating a hazy curtain. The main roads impassable, they drove along a dirt road riddled with ruts and potholes, until they reached the hard hit village outside of Sendai.
Karl gazed at the sky as he did each evening when darkness defeated the light of day, wanting its turn for the world’s attention. The stars welcomed him, winking from an immeasurable distance. The moon reached down brushing him with her soft beams. The splendor of the night wooed and seduced him into believing that being a creature of the dark wasn’t so bad.
This was Karl’s sixth trip to the island of many quakes. Still, when the earth shuddered for a few devastating moments, the destruction and death left behind served as a harsh reminder of her strength and ruthlessness. Dynamic wooden structures of ancient Japanese architecture lay shattered in piles. Gone were the tiled thatched roofs and beautifully symmetrical curved eaves suggesting the balance and harmony so important in Japanese culture.
“Karl.” A young man’s voice snapped him from his thoughts. “We’re here.”
“Oh, sorry, let’s go.” Karl led the group into a dreary room in the back of a dilapidated house.
Inside, their Japanese contact and interpreter, Hachiro, greeted them. A man of slender build with grey speckled throughout his black hair and a cigarette permanently hanging from his lips, he was the one person who knew who and what they really were.
Hachiro’s scent gave away his apprehension and nervousness. Karl learned long ago to suppress his natural instinct to go for the jugular. However, the new recruits worried him. He could never be sure if one would unravel this close to a live human. At six foot, two hundred ten pounds, Karl would use of insurmountable strength and lightning fast reflexes to protect their translator.
Hachiro bowed graciously. “Karl-san.” His cigarette bobbed up and down in his mouth. “Welcome friend.”
Karl bowed in return. “Hachiro-san, thank you. I’m sorry to be here amid a tragedy once again.”
“As always, we are grateful for your help.”
Hachiro stepped to the front of the room and settled down the small crowd. “Good evening, everyone. Thank you for coming to Japan’s assistance. The building you will be searching tonight is a small hospital. It was scheduled to be reinforced next year.” Sorrow darkened his weary face. “It’s been four days since the earthquake. If anyone can find survivors underneath the deep rubble, it is you, our strong and invincible allies.” He wiped the sweat from his brow with an old napkin from his pocket. “The area has been secured and the regular rescue teams have been sent off to rest after working double shifts. You are free to do your job without fear of being discovered.”
He directed their attention to a long table pushed up against the wall. Lined in a row were three large insulated jugs, clearly marked in English:
CHILLED ROOM TEMPERATURE WARM – 98.6
“Please, help yourself to the nourishment provided. Thank you.”
Karl filled his cup to the brim with chilled blood, his preference on a warm, muggy night and then took his place on the makeshift platform. “First, I’d like to commend you all for making the difficult decisions to help the mortals instead of taking from them.” He tipped his cup toward the group. “Let’s raise our glasses to each other and to a night of success. Cheers! Or as they say here in Japan, Kampai.” His throat parched and dry, he emptied the cup in three gulps. The cool liquid flowed down his throat and he relished each drop. “Please check the list.” He held up a paper. “To see who you are partnered with tonight. Good luck.”
Karl chose Maggie, now and forever a sixty-year old nurse, to accompany him. It was her first rescue. A solid woman, with white hair and a jovial personality, she joked that if she had to be turned why couldn’t it be when she was younger and thinner.
While their human counterparts battled the debris with sledgehammers and heavy equipment, Karl and Maggie used their bare hands to toss immense concrete walls yards away, like Frisbees. Within minutes, the created a tunnel they could maneuver through.
With flashlights clenched between their teeth, they crawled through the loose fragments of broken stone. Dust burned their eyes. Jagged pieces of metal and shattered glass littered their path, cutting exposed skin.
The smell hit Karl first, triggering his mouth to water. He swallowed hard and forced back his instinct against the fresh blood pulsing through the veins of a live human.
Next to him, Maggie stopped. On hands and knees, her body bristled like a Halloween cat.
“Are you alright?” he asked. Even with intense training, nights like these were the hardest on the newbies.
“Yes, I…I think so,” she said visibly gathering her composure.
Karl squeezed her arm and nodded. “I think they’re down there.” Fast and light on their feet, they flew down and inside the dark cavern. He bolted to far side of the area, kicking bulky pieces of debris out of his way with ease and hauled the concrete wall over his head like Atlas holding the world.
“Maggie, can you check for a pulse?” He kept his voice calm. “I know there’s a lot of blood.”
With wide eyes, she licked her lips and inched closer. A moment of hesitation but her trembling hand pressed against the warm flesh of the victim’s neck. “She’s alive, but barely. I don’t think we should move her by hand. She needs a stretcher.”
“You go and get help. I’ll stay with her.”
“Thank you. I need some air.” Maggie scooted backwards away from the bloodied woman.
Maggie bolted to the tunnel’s opening.
“Hey, you did great.” Karl called after her. “It’ll get easier. I promise.”
PART TWO TOMORROW....
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Thanks for stopping by today. Please remember to visit the other
horror and paranormal authors
participating in The October Frights Blog Hop.
Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Night to Dawn Magazine & Books LLC
Always Another Chapter
Spreading the Writer's Word
Yours in Storytelling
Angela Yuriko Smith
Belle Vue is a well written, page turning, hard to put down, gothic horror novel set in an insane asylum with a deeply disturbing past.
The author tells the story in two different eras. The story opens in the 1860's, with Mary and her sister, Ellen in the forefront with Belle Vue in full operation, complete with the cruel and sadistic treatment of its patients.
Present day Belle Vue, has been renovated into luxury apartments and Claire has decided to move in. Her boyfriend Alex is thrilled and sets his sights on learning the history of the asylum. Soon, Clarie's friend, Marianne (who had a ghoulish childhood experience with her sister while creeping around the abandoned asylum) comes to stay with her.
Once Claire is settled, peculiar things start to happen. Shadowy figures lurk in hallways, strange goings on happen in the apt, utilities go haywire, and more specific, personalities begin to change. Are the past and present of Belle Vue coming together? An elderly neighbor who worked at the asylum in the 1950's may have some answers but is hesitant to speak.
I really enjoyed this book. The writing was strong, descriptive and atmospheric. It was clear that Ms. Alleyne had done her research and I felt like I had jumped into the book and felt the horror that the patients lived everyday.
The author moved from one time period to another seamlessly. The story flowed smoothy. Belle Vue had what every good horror novel has: Terror. It was scary, creepy, disturbing with twists and turns and a good ending.
I thought the characters and plot were stronger in the 1860's timeline. The author did a great job writing the antagonists in both eras, but the villains in the 19th century were ruthless, they lusted after revenge, sex, money and power. They were edgy, fighters, and we understood their motivation and why a few of them had become the person they were.
The modern story and characters weren't as gritty. Alex was hard to connect with and sometimes even hard to like. I didn't always understand Claire's affection for him, but Belle Vue's story was so solid and compelling, it didn't take away my enjoyment of the book, but I did notice it.
All in all, a great read if you're a fan of gothic horror, like I am.
*I received a complimentary ARC of Belle Vue from Crystal Lake Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
**There are a couple explicit scenes that include sexual violence.
In 324 Abercorn, Mr. Gunnells has written a fun, entertaining -creepy at times - story about Brad Storms, a successful horror author who now has the means to buy a house in Savannah that he had seen years ago on a haunted tour of the city. Brad is an old school skeptic about all things otherworldly.
It starts off fast, we meet most of the characters in the first few chapters. Tobias "Bias" Silver, a young, free spirit sort who does ghost tours of the city, who is a fan of Brad and a firm believer of ghosts and all things supernatural.
Neisha Parker, works as a museum curator at the Maverick Heritage House next door and knows the whole sorted history of Brad's house.
Harold "Titty Titty Gangbang" is Bias' drag queen roommate. He's a great character, fun, flamboyant and endearing. And I can't forget Harold and Bias' own ghost, Melinda, who shares their apartment.
A few other secondary characters round out the cast and add an air of mystery.
As strange things start to happen in the house, the plot thickens and the last chapter or two turns darker then the rest of the book. It's well written. I found myself turning the pages quickly to find out what forces were at work inside the house.
I liked the romance between Brad and Bias. It happened quickly, but they compliment each other and Bias seemed to get Brad to 'loosen up" and look at life a little differently.
I don't know the author's plan, but this would make a fun series. Or at least, a trilogy.
A haunted mystery, more than a horror story, I enjoyed it and would read more from Mr. Gunnell in the future.
I received an ARC from Crystal Lake Publishing in return for an honest review.