3 in 1 Review: Short Stories

book-review

After Dark by Mikey Campling 3/5

This book had an interesting concept. I enjoyed the various POVs and how they linked up at the end of the narrative. It’s not often that you get the POV of an animal. I can’t say that I found this story scary, and I’m a big wuss.

Three Men and a Maybe by Katey Lovell 4/5

Three proposals, three back stories, and only one can get a yes. I enjoyed this short and sweet story. There was no competition in my eyes. It was obvious who Cerys should accept, and I’m glad she didn’t give a definite yes. The lucky guy has a year to prove that he means what he said. A feel good, romantic tale that can be read in one sitting.

The Apple Orchards by Veronica Henry 3.5/5

A short, bittersweet read. The narrative follows a man who is down on his luck and how the locals feel about him. There is a powerful message about greed, helping neighbours, and how society treat people living in poverty. Does a lack of material possessions constitute poverty? Are you rich if you’re contented with your little slice of life?


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review

 

 

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4 in 1 Review: Short Stories

book-review

Never Too Late by J.C. Laird 2/5

6tag_190817-073513This story is very short. A sweet story about regrets, love lost, and the afterlife, but not much meat on its bones. I didn’t connect with the characters because of the length, and the ending felt forced.

 

 

Hellfire by Drew Avera 4/5

6tag_190817-073430Another very short story. I thoroughly enjoyed this sci-fi, military tale, and that ending was unexpected. I could invest in it as a longer story. I would love for the author to expand this further. The writing was good, and the character’s felt developed in a short amount of time.

 

The God Machine by Mikey Campling, Drew Avera, Christopher Godsoe, and Jamie Dodge 3/5

6tag_190817-073558One story written by four authors. Sounds like a disaster, right? Actually, I was impressed. I loved the concept of The God Machine; a machine linking scribes to write the universe and all it’s dimensions into existence. I feel it needed to be longer, and more questions needed to be answered, but for a free, short read, it was a unique idea.

 

I Still Love You by Jane Lark 2/5

6tag_190817-073804This is not a standalone. Although free from Amazon, it should still be stated clearly that to fully understand the characters and their history, the reader must read the previous books about Rachel and Jason. This story is pretty depressing for my tastes, but the theme is important and a very real/ important issue for some couples. Can’t fault the writing, just not my cup of tea.

 


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review

Picture Prompt 10/08/17

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Here is another of my Instagram picture prompts for you to get creative with. I invite you to have a go at writing a sentence/paragraph/short story to accompany the picture. Remember to link your post back to me, so I can read your creations and spotlight them in the next picture prompt post.

You can find me on Instagram by following this link.

Prompt:

 

K.J. CHAPMAN(7).png

*This picture was taken at Kynance Cove, Cornwall*

“There’s a boy out there!” I shout, squinting from the glare of the sun on the water.

He appears to be waist deep in the sea, but is surely at least two hundred yards out. He’d be way out of his depth. His clothes are wet, and his hair slick to his face. I know he looks at me for a little hand waves in my direction.

“Where?” Sally asks, scanning the water.

“He was just there,” I reply, desperately searching for the boy. Nothing disturbs the water. How? “I swear, he was right there. He waved to me.”

The elderly metal detectorist not a few metres away from us starts packing his stuff away in a fluster. “Ya girls best be getting back to ya hotel. Go on, now. Do not come back here, do ya hear? Try the north coast. Better waves, so they say.”

Sally scoffs. “Excuse me, why would we not come back here? We’re on holiday, Sir.”

“Just do as ya’r told,” he barks, and we both edge away from him.

“Let’s go,” I urge Sally, pulling her away.

She roots herself firmly in the sand. “I heard the locals don’t like the tourists a whole lot, but that’s just rude. Who does he think he is?” She turns back to the man. “We will go where we like, thanks all the same.”

The man growls in his throat, but offers a shrug. “Ah, do what ya like. Don’t say, Old Tom didn’t warn ya. Once ya have seen him, it’s a watery end for ya.”

“Seen who?” I ask, the hairs on my arms standing on end.

“The drowned boy is who.”


Content belongs to K.J.Chapman

Review: Short Stories

book-review

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A Sea Change by Veronica Henry 3/5

I was hoping for a bit more romance, but the story was sweet with a happy ending. Jenna is skint, about to be made homeless, and doesn’t want to go back to living with her alcoholic mother. Out of desperation, she goes to the beach to steal enough money to pay her rent. Craig is a police officer on his holidays at said beach. He catches Jenna in the act and has a heart to heart with her.

It felt a little unbelievable, even though the situations Jenna faced are very real in everyday life. There was also a lot of unnecessary description: a long list of the ice cream flavours she sold, and everything in Craig’s grocery shop.

I wonder if there is/ will be a sequel to this short, as the situation between Craig and Jenna is left open for readers to assume the outcome.

After the Love: Guardian’s in Love (Newsletter Exclusive Short) by Brianna West 5/5

This short is exclusive to West’s newsletter. Sign up here: Subscribe.

I’m already a huge fan of West’s Promiscus Guardians, and have read Victor’s personal love story. This short carries on from that story, and gives a steamy, sexy glimpse in Victor’s relationship with Lilly, and shows how Victor deals with his jealousy. I loved it. I can’t wait for more.

Love is Blind by Kathy Lette 2.5/5

I wasn’t sure what to make of this story. It started off a little ridiculous, and the two sisters argued for pages. Neither seemed like relatable people- or good people for that matter. As the story continued, and Anthea went to meet Jane in Australia, it picked up a little. I think I would have preferred it more if the author didn’t fill it with every insult that she thought was remotely funny.


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review

Picture Prompt 09/06/17

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Here is another of my Instagram picture prompts for you to get creative with. I invite you to have a go at writing a sentence/paragraph/short story to accompany the picture. Remember to link your post back to me, so I can read your creations and spotlight them in the next picture prompt post.

You can find me on Instagram by following this link.

Writer Spotlight:

Two writers picked up the last prompt and invented their own story from it.

Check out Dana’s interpretation over on Instagram, and give her a follow while you are at it! Dana Fraedrich on Instagram.

Gabriel also created a brilliant piece. Check it out here in the comments of my last post:  Gabriel’s Interpretation. Head on over to Gabriel’s blog and follow follow follow: A Little Me, Apparently.

This Week’s Prompt:

K.J. CHAPMAN(5)

*This picture is of the old lifeboat station at Lizard Point, Cornwall.*

Jack is a secretive type. I know him, and yet, I don’t. We met by chance when he saved my life when I was caught in a rip current. Since then, we have met up every evening at the beach, but he always rushes off after our meetings, especially if my brother and my friends are due to turn up. Tonight, I was adamant that I would follow him. Keeping a good distance between us, I follow him onto the coastal path. I dont recall any residential buildings on the cliffs, and it’s quite a way to walk to the neighbouring port. He wouldn’t make it before dark.

I’m contemplating turning back when he diverts from the coastal path and heads down the slip to the old lifeboat station. Ignoring the warning signs, he brazenly sprints across the rickety platform. I watch him disappear inside. Could he be living here? Is that why he’s embarrassed to meet my friends, or tell me much about himself? By confronting him, I hope to ease some of his worries. He’s a good guy, a gentleman, and if its help he needs, perhaps I am the one to give it to him.

Slipping and sliding my way down the seaweed covered slipway, I gingerly make my way over the platform. A blinding light glares from within the station, but only for a moment. The noise of Jack clanging around inside disappears, and I have the oddest sensation of being totally alone. The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

“Jack?” I call, the heebie jeebies getting the better of me. No reply. “Jack?”

Rushing inside the old station, I clamber over bits of drift wood and good knows what else in search of the man I saw run in here just moment ago. “Jack! This isn’t funny. I know you’re in here. If you’re embarrassed–”

Another flash of light burns at my retinas. I stumble backward, sprawling over the mounds of debris. Jack reappears out of thin air, only now, he is accompanied by two men. The three of them tap at the metal bands on their wrists; the metal band that Jack always wears, and I thought was a bracelet of some kind. What the hell is happening? Where did they come from? Jack isn’t comfortable around these people. I can sense the hesitation in his body language. I’m too frightened to move. My mind is swimming with questions, and trying to think up a logical excuse for three people to just pop out of thin air. I should have minded my own business and kept well away.

I shrink back as they pass, trying to make myself as small as possible. One of the strangers shoves Jack ahead of him, nearly toppling him in the process. As he rights himself, his eyes meet mine. The shock on his face is quickly replaced with worry. Placing a finger to his lips, he pleads with his eyes for me to remain quiet.

“You’ve been posted here for a month, and you’re telling me that you’ve not even managed to talk to the girl?” The other guy asks him.

Jack’s eyes flit to my hiding spot. “I don’t think she’s the one, Franky. I did some digging, and her Dad died in a machinery accident when her Mum was pregnant with her.” My stomach swoops. He’s talking about me. “There’s a grave and everything–”

Franky clouts him around the head. “Oh, you’ve done some digging. Did you dig up that bloody grave? Did you find out who, if anyone, is buried there, because it sure as hell ain’t her old man?” Jack recoils from him, positioning himself between them and me. “You’ve spoken to her, haven’t you?” Franky says, gripping at the scruff of Jack’s top. “You’re protecting her.”

Jack pulls himself free. “I won’t let you take her back to him.” The pair laugh, but Jack draws himself up taller. “If Lana was here right now, I’d tell her she is in danger, and to get to that clear space at my nine o clock. Trust me.” He whispers those last two words. Franky and the other guy look at him bewildered. “Now, Lana!” Jack shouts.

I have to do what he says. Every fibre in my body urges me to move. Jumping up from my position on the floor, I hurdle the debris and land in the open space beside Jack. He turns on his heels, sprinting toward me, tapping at his watch as he runs. The two men draw guns, but they don’t have the time to use them. Jack body slams me, wrapping his arms around me, and then shouts at me to close my eyes. Another final blast of light ignites the air around us, and in the next split-second, we sprawl onto a cool, metal floor. As Jack hoists me to my feet, my first sight is the most spectacular and daunting sight I have ever seen. I’m looking at the Earth from space.


Content belongs to K.J. Chapman

 

 

Four in One Review: Short Stories

book-review

Bad Decisions by E.M. Smith 3.5/5

6tag_200517-064426Jamie Kendrick is known for his colossally bad decisions—jacking a squad car and turning it over in a ditch, for example. But he’s going to show everyone. With some help from his brother—and a court-ordered ankle monitor—Jamie is going to get sober, join the army, and shake his white trash reputation. And he’s actually doing a decent job until someone frames him for the grisly murders of his brother’s family.

No one believes that Jamie is innocent. No one but a mysterious blonde with a gun. She gives Jamie a choice: spend the rest of his life in prison or help her take down the man who killed his brother and set him up.

Review:

Finally, a short story that has a conclusion. Many that I’ve read lately lack a satisfactory ending in favour of getting readers to buy the next in the series, however, this story offers both conclusion and cliff hanger. Due to the length of the story, character development of both Jamie and the sub characters suffered a little, but it was a well written, fast paced read.

The Hospital (The First Mountain Man Story) by Keith .C. Blackmore 3/5

6tag_200517-064644“Mountain Man” Augustus Berry is a survivor in undead suburbia. He scavenges what he can from what’s left over. He is very careful in what he does and where he goes, taking no chances, no unnecessary risks, and weighing every choice… until he decides to visit the hospital at the edge of town, and experiences terror the likes he’s never encountered before.

Review:

If you like graphic gore and zombies, then this is the book for you. I was literally cringing in disgust and thinking ‘I’m going to have nightmares tonight’. It was a fast paced read, with a real taste of horror. The MC didn’t appeal to me in the slightest. An overweight biker who shits himself was not the imagery to help that, but he went through some stuff at the hands of Nurse Alice… urgh, hideous woman.

Teeth by Michael Robertson 2/5

6tag_200517-064844Josh is a fourteen year-old boy living in a world where the global economic recession has led to money being devalued. Three days ago, his parents went out for supplies, leaving him and his older brother, Archie, behind. They haven’t returned. A gang of looters has ransacked their house and set it on fire. The last thing their dad told them was to get to their nan’s if there was any trouble. The boys decide their current situation looks like trouble.

Setting out onto the streets of London, the boys quickly learn what a world looks like when capitalism has failed.

Review:

The only way I can describe the narrative is skittish. I was more than a little confused at times. There was violence, evidence of a sort of dystopian world after a global economic crash, and a killer who kills people and takes teeth keepsakes from the victims. The writing was fine, but the story lacking.

Fenix Rising by Jeff Liboiron 4/5

6tag_200517-063921One hundred years ago, a nuclear war decimated Earth, leaving rugged Wastelands wrought with malicious gangs and survivors desperately struggling to form new societies.

Among them, Vincent Fenix has made his temporary home in Avalon Wharf, working as a gun runner, smuggler and violence enthusiast, minding his own business.

But, when a Wasteland warlord hires a gang of ruthless cannibals to hunt down his lifelong friend, things get personal.

With fists, guns, and blades, he embarks on a path of vengeance. In true Fenix fashion, he vows to tear his city apart in search of the cannibals and when he finds them, he’s going to make them pay.

However, there is the answer to a nagging question which he ultimately seeks. Who hired them?

Review:

A dangerous, dystopian world with cannibals, gruesome murders, smuggling, and lots of guns. Well written, and more than a little gory. I found this short story a page turner, even when I was reading through my fingers. If you like Mad Max, then you’ll enjoy this book.


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review

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Four in One Review: Short Stories

book-review

Eden by Michael Robertson 4/5

6tag_150517-060737Eden is an underground, self-sufficient complex that has withstood the zombie apocalypse for over thirty years. Standing in the control room, there to take over the running of it from his father, Mark quickly realises this is more than a handover. He’s about to find out that Eden has secrets. Dark secrets.

Secrets that reveal the truth about the apocalypse.

Secrets that change the way he looks at his father forever.

Secrets that change the way he looks at everything forever.

Review:

Two zombie tales in one: Eden and Pandora. I preferred Eden because the narrative was told with back story and conclusion. I felt like Pandora could have been expanded into a longer novella. Both stories were well written and immersive. I will pay closer attention to this author in the future.

Birthday Blaze by Kacey Shea 3/5

6tag_150517-060035.jpgBrennan O’Shea might be every woman’s dream.
Gorgeous.
Single.
Built like a tank and inked to perfection.
A fireman. Really, what else is there?
Yeah, he’s a fantasy brought to life if only it weren’t for one little problem. Okay, it’s a big one. He can’t talk to women. The more attractive the lady, the more words fail him. And his beautiful, friendly neighbor Jenny has Brennan lusting for more than chatty banter. Will a birthday wish give him a shot with the woman he wants? Or will his hopes go up in flames?

Review:

Who doesn’t like romantic erotica about socially awkward firemen? Brennan came across as a ‘stumbling over his words, lacking in confidence’ hunk which was endearing at first, but then his attitude toward his ex was hypocrital, and every character seemed to go against the grain as the narrative progressed. His relationship with his sister was the saving grace for me. It felt natural and open, showing a hint of back story other than that of the ex.

Shadow of the Wolf by Mac Flynn 2/5

6tag_150517-055552.jpgThe moon is a harsh mistress for those with the curse. Only they understand the consequences when the full moon rises. Stephanie Yager slips into this world of struggle and seduction when she takes a wrong turn down destiny’s path.

The first part of the werewolf romance series featuring the trials of Stephanie Yager.

Review:

For the first part of a sixteen part serial, I was disappointed. There was no story arc to speak of. Even individual parts of a serial need a beginning, middle, and some sort of conclusion. Give me cliff hangers, but answer some of the questions set in the narrative first, right? This installment ended at the beginning.

Luna Proxy by Mac Flynn 3/5

6tag_150517-060339.jpgA grimy world surrounds Leila Ulric. Gangs roam the streets, her dead-end job has no end, and her apartment isn’t much larger than a walk-in closet. Her life looks to be turning around when a death leads her to a new apartment with a new roommate. The improvement in possessions, however, doesn’t lead to the satisfaction she hoped. A walk in the fresh night air leads her to stumble on a mystery that refuses to be solved, and a young man who holds truths she never realized existed.

Review:

I wanted to give Flynn another shot after seeing some good reviews for this serial. The blurb says ‘The Luna Proxy series is an episodic serial where each book contains a conclusive story within an over-arching tale.‘ This story was not conclusive, even in the general sense. Yet again, the story gets started at the very end. I gave this read 3/5 because the story we were given was well written and intriguing. I do not trust Red as far as I can throw him.


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review

10 Weeks, 10 Prompts, 10 Minutes #7 (Prompt Me Special)

The purpose of these writing exercises is to take a prompt a week for ten weeks and allow myself ten minutes to expand on it. All the prompts are taken from my writing prompt eBook: Prompt Me.

To check out my list of ten prompts, and maybe have a go yourself, follow this link.  Go with the flow, take the prompt literally, or just allow elements to inspire a totally different story. It is up to you. Link back to me, so I can have a read of your creations.

The Prompt:

“When I said come bearing gifts it was code for weapons. I can’t believe you brought cheesecake.”

Manny simply stares at me. “Uh, sorry, Boss. I thought it was your birthday or something.”

“Why would I celebrate my birthday with you bunch of reprobates? Put it in the bin.”

He looks to the dessert like I’ve just asked him to kill his cat. “But it’s banoffee–”

“Put the fucking cheesecake in the fucking bin, or so help me God, I will put so many bullets in you that you’ll look like fucking cheese!” Slamming my gun on the table, the room recoils from my outburst. Manny drops the pudding into the bin, and I unclench my hands and brush my hair back out of my face.

Why do these useless assholes make life hard for themselves- for me. It’s not like I don’t pay them well. It’s just a pity that the people easiest to control, and have do your dirty work, are usually a sandwich sort of a picnic. If I wanted to be a babysitter, I’d not have killed that hooker and let her keep the baby.

“Please tell me you’ve got something for me,” I say to Gaz. Gaz is the self-appointed crew leader, and I suppose he is the brightest of a very dim bunch. He swings a black bin bag onto my desk and opens the top just a little. Wilkes’ severed head peers up at me, and I close the bag once more. “Good. What did you do with the rest of him?”

“Propped up in his office chair like you wanted.”

I slouch back into my chair. “And the note?”

“I personally hand delivered it an hour ago.”

That makes me feel good- really good. This is my city and anyone who thinks otherwise must be shown their place. “If Wilkes Jr wants Daddy’s head, then he signs over his shares to Gyroni Corp. If he doesn’t, then I underestimated the Daddy’s boy.”

Gaz takes the black bag from my desk. “Right. So, what’s with the weapons, Boss?”

“I’m glad you asked. There is a little situation I need handled. Do you think you’re up for it?” Gaz nods. “I want you to storm Harry May’s house.”

“The politician?” Gaz asks. The men shift awkwardly.

“The very same. He’s got a security team of seven ex-marines, coded doors, and a panic room.” I slap a piece of A4 on the desk in front of Gaz. “Here are the codes you’ll need to get into the house. Harry must stay alive, kill the wife, and abduct his sixteen year old daughter. I will pay one mill for this job.” The thought of all those zeroes seems to lighten the mood a little. “The girl remains untouched. I mean it- not a hair on her head or a dick in her panties! After all, we’re not animals.”

 


Content belongs to KJ.Chapman

 

 

What’s Your Name? Letter O

Continuing with the letters between Mackenzie and Naomi, I pre-picked my ‘O’ name ahead of time to include in last week’s letter. This is the third and final letter and it is a doozy- woo hoo hoo.

You can find the first two letters here: Mackenzie’s Letter and Naomi’s Letter.

The name randomly picked from the first ‘O’ page in my naming book is:

Oakley: a surname meaning ‘oak meadow tree’. Used as a masculine first name.

Oakley

Mackenzie,

I hate you.

It has taken me twelve months to even contemplate sending this letter to you, but do you know what? I’m going to ensure that you experience even a fraction of the torment you put me through that night and continue to put me through to this very moment.

After the funeral, I tried to end my life. Is that what you wanted to hear? No parent should have to bury their child. Oakley was bright, funny, so so loving, and he had such a gentle heart. You robbed me of him- the world of him. I hate you!

Now, here’s the part that you need to know, and it’s a doozy. I named him Oakley because he was your child, Mackenzie. I left the day I found out I was pregnant because I knew you’d be poisonous for him. He deserved better than you as a father, and Rick brought him up as his own. I still loved you, and I knew that you would love him, but your love is dangerous. How does it feel knowing you killed your own child in the fire that night? I hope it eats you alive. I hope that you see fit to tie that rope around your neck and rid the earth of the scum that is Mackenzie Jenson.

Oakley’s resting with his Dad now; the man who earned that title, and will always have it. My son will haunt you for the rest of your days because I will see to it.

You took the best of me, but the rest of me I dedicate to torturing you.

Naomi.

 


All written works are the property of K.J.Chapman

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Picture Prompts: #1

As it’s the new year, I have created a new writing exercise post that will last for six months. The idea is for me to photograph something that inspires me each week, and use that picture as a prompt for a writing exercise post each Tuesday. The picture can be anything. I’m not limiting myself, so whereas one week a landscape shot may hold inspiration for me, the next week it could be a funny shaped vegetable- who knows?

This week’s picture was taken during a ramble through local woodland with my family. We had to jump a creek, try not to lose our wellies in thick mud, and get back to the car park before it got dark and we got well and truly lost. There was something so magical about the wildness of this particular woodland. Ideas kept springing to mind, and I had to take a plethora of pictures. I have opted for the following:

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It’s a photo of a particularly beautiful area on our walk. As night started to fall, the area took on a eerie,magical quality, and that is what has inspired this story. It’s longer than my usual short stories, but I felt it necessary.

The Man in the Woods

“You said you knew the way back,” Libby whispered. Every creak, bird call, and whistle of wind puts her on edge.

“I said, I’m sure we’d find our way back, but that was in the daylight. You were the one who wanted to stay and get those last few pictures.”She huffs ahead of me, no wiser of the path we’re taking. “Do you have any signal?

She laughs out loud. “Of course I don’t have signal. We’re lost in the woods, Fiona. Have you never watched a horror film?”

I roll my eyes, and opt for silence. If we keep heading in this direction we’ll stumble across some kind of civilisation soon. When Libby has subconsciously blamed you for something, there is no changing her mind. It’s a good job that I don’t pay her much heed. If she wasn’t Davey’s girlfriend, I doubt we’d hang out, like ever.

Libby stops, holding a hand just inches from my face. “Do you hear that?”

I swat her hand away, barging passed her, but then I too hear it. “That’s an engine,” I whisper. Headlights filter through the trees up ahead, and swing to the left. The car continues on out of sight. “There must be a road, a house, something,” I say, racing on.

Libby holds her camera to her chest, and jogs behind me. The road is more of a mud strewn dirt track, and on first glance, looks like it heads into deeper woodland. “There has to be something up there,” Libby surmises. Once again she takes the lead, flicking her hair over her shoulder as she does so.

I pull out my phone again- still no signal. Thrusting it back into my pocket, I plough through the mud, my wellies lagged up to my ankles. Libby lets out a little ‘ooo’ noise, and quickens her pace. A building sits nestled in dense trees. We could have missed it, if not for the silver car parked outside, reflecting the moonlight.

Libby’s already at the door. “This place is derelict. Do you reckon someone actually lives here,” she says, knocking.

The house is dying if not dead. Both upstairs windows are cracked, the roof bows in, and the white paintwork is tinged green with algae. The whole place smells boggy, but the car is fancy. I peer in the car window as the front door opens.

A man answers with a candle in hand. His features stretch in the flickering light, appearing demonic. He steps out, his face one of confusion and irritation.

“Oh, thank god,” Libby exclaims. “My friend has got us lost out here. Please, please could you show us the way to the real world.”

The man takes another step, the moonlight exposing him. I’m struck by his appearance- green eyes, dark hair back in a ponytail, and a symmetry to his face that surpasses that of Greek Gods.”

Libby makes a strange noise. She too must be seeing what I’m seeing, but up close. “Sorry, I’m- um- I’m Libby,” she says, holding out her hand. The man looks at her hand, and then giving it a shake, he looks passed her to me. “Oh, that’s Fiona,” she adds with a flick of her wrist. The action irritates me. She always acts like I’m a  nuisance, an annoying wasp that could be wafted away. The truth she wont admit is that I’m her only friend, if you can call us that.

I offer a quick wave.

“So, directions would be fantastic,” Libby continues.

“Would you like to come inside a minute,” he asks. His smooth voice stirs something deep in my tummy.

Libby is already heading into the house. How has this girl survived this long. One minute she’s talking about horror movies, and the next she is stepping into a strangers house in the woods.

“No, we’re happy to wait out here, thank you,” I say, grabbing her arm.

The man’s lips purse as if he’s hiding a smile, but he nods, and heads inside closing the door behind him.

“Fiona, could you be anymore rude? I’m freezing, and he was being polite.”

“We are lost in the woods, Lib. He could be a serial killer for all we know.”

“She’s right,” says the smooth voice. He has appeared from the back of the house, wearing a coat, and carrying a torch. “I’m not, but I could have been.” He heads down a narrow footpath, shining the torch at his feet. “It’s this way on foot.”

Libby lets out a flirty laugh. “Ignore her. I could tell you were a good man as soon as I saw you. Thank you for helping us.”

“A good man, well, that’s a new one.”

“Excuse me?” I say. Both Libby and Greek God turn toward me. “Did you say something?”

He raises an eyebrow. “No.”

“I just thought I heard something.” I walk at least ten paces behind them. Libby desperately tries to keep up with our escort, but he moves quickly. He glances at me, his mouth turns down in contemplation, and then he turns his attention back to the footpath.

“You haven’t even asked us why we were out here,” Libby says. I roll my eyes. Here we go. “I’m a photography student. I needed some natural images for an assignment I’m doing. Would you like to see?”

She doesn’t let him reply, just starts flicking through her pictures. He nods politely, glancing down just enough to feign interest, and then something draws his attention.

“Oh, I was just checking the exposure on that one.”

“Beautiful,” he says.

“What one is beautiful?” I ask, curiosity getting the better of me. “Even though Libby enjoys photography, and scrapes by in all her assignments, she doesn’t have a natural talent like Davey does.

His head jerks in my direction, his eyes locking mine. I feel exposed in his glare, and look to my feet. Why is he so intense? Why do I like it?

Libby notices his interest in me; she can’t deal with that. Libby always has the male attention, not boring, weird Fiona. “Alright, Miss Bighead. No one said anything about beautiful.” She whispers something to Greek God, and giggles like a school girl. He doesn’t seem impressed.

“You went pretty far out to get those pictures,” he says, then he stops, turn to face me, and shines the torch at my feet. “It can be dangerous that deep in the woods. Please, don’t go down there again.”

His words seep into me like honey absorbing into my skin. Despite myself, I nod, not able to look away from him. He smiles, and my tummy swoops.

Libby steps in front of me, breaking whatever that tension was. “We won’t be coming back here again,”she says, laughing. “Fiona, doesn’t know her left from her right.”

“Well, she seems much more sensible than you.” The fiery tones in his voice catch me off guard, but I grin to myself as Libby stumbles over her own tongue. “How are you two even friends?” he asks.

“Libby dates my brother,” I say. Libby glares at me. What was she expecting? ‘Oh, how could I ever not be friends with such a talented, friendly, selfless person such as Libby?’

Greek God laughs, the sound rolls around me like thunder. Shit! Did I just say that out loud? Libby appears just as confused by his outburst as I am, so I rein myself in, and concentrate on my own feet. He slows his pace, not much, but enough to allow me to catch up. Libby glares ahead with a face like a slapped ass. Greek God looks to my hand twirling my necklace, but averts his gaze when he realises I’m looking. What is happening here?

Street lights appear up ahead, twinkling through the blowing trees. He points his torch toward a stile. “There you go, ladies- the car park.”

“Thank Christ,” Libby says, sighing. She checks her watch and quickens her pace. “I’m supposed to be at work in ten minutes.” Jumping the stile, she straightens her jacket, and fixes her hair. “Are you okay to get a taxi home, Fiona? Otherwise, I’m going fifteen minutes out of my way.” She’s running to her car before I can even answer, and without so much as a fuck you very much to our rescuer.

I can’t leave it like that. “Thank you for helping us,” I say, turning to face him. He has Libby’s camera, flicking through the images. “How did you-”

“I wanted to show you the image I thought was beautiful,” he says, not looking up from the camera. “That self- absorbed, bimbo of a girl would have deleted it, otherwise.”

“I knew I heard you.”

“I didn’t say it, l thought it.”

He hands me the camera, and my breath catches a little. The image is slightly out of focus giving it a soft quality. I sit on the river bank, leaning back on my wrists. I’m oblivious to the camera, and twirl a yellow leaf in my fingers.

“What do you mean, you thought it?”

His fingers dance over my shoulder, leaving a coursing energy behind them. “Do you feel this?” he asks, centimeters from my ear. I nod. “Impossible.”

“Who are you? What is this?” I step away from him, drawing my arms around myself.

He backs up, holding his palms in the air. “Don’t fear me. I don’t know what this is, but it’s important. Come on, I’ll drive you home. Your idiotic friend thinks it’s okay for you to get a taxi alone, but I don’t. I would also like to have a word with your brother about his taste in women.”

I smile, instantly regretting it as one spreads over his own face. Wow, he is stunning. “No, I’m fine. I can walk it in less than five minutes, and anyway, I can look after myself.”

“Oh, is that so,” says a strange voice. A hand clamps over my mouth, and Greek God’s face falls in shock. In the next instant, he’s launched from his feet, hitting into a tree trunk with such force that the creak echoes throughout the woods.

“Hello, Anneka,” the voice whispers in my ear. He knows my birth name. Not even Libby knows my birth name. Greek God’s eyes meet mine if only briefly. My birth name means something to him too.

Okay, Fiona, think this through. His hand is big enough to cover my mouth and nose easily, I can feel his insane muscles pressed against my back, he’s about two heads taller than me, and there is a weapon of some kind in his waist band.

Inhaling through my nose, I stamp on his foot, and bring an elbow back into his ribs. He drops slightly, releasing his grip on me a little. Spinning in his arms, I bring my knee up to meet his manhood, and as he falls into a crouch, I grab his head, using the same knee to smash his face. Blood spurts from his mouth and nose, and as he topples, I kick him in the ribs, and unsheathe his knife; an ornate, silver blade that looks as old as life itself.

Greek God snatches the knife from me and plunges it into my attackers chest. An eerie hiss emits from the wound, and the man withers in front of my eyes until he’s nothing but dust.

“You can fight,” Greek God pants, nursing a deep cut to his forehead.

I don’t reply. I just stare at the pile of dust on the floor.


 

Images are the property of K.J.Chapman

Written works are the property of K.J.Chapman