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Thursday, June 14, 2018

$.99 Preorder: Creature Feature Anthology + excerpt

Jo: Hello sheeples! My name is Joleene Naylor, and I’m the god of the Amaranthine Universe—

Jorick: Someone’s let power go to their head.

Jo: As I was saying before my character interrupted me, I’m the author (better?) of the Amaranthine Universe. I’m here today with Jorick to tell you about the Creature Feature Anthology
Jorick: Long story short, she has a story in it. Blah, blah, it’s available for pre-order for only $.99, and the proceeds go to Book Born’s Children’s Book Fund, so if you’re interested in reading my torture—

Jo: Would you behave? Geeze. I’m sorry I brought you along. I just thought it might be fun, considering the story is about you. And no, it’s not torture. It’s just an origin story where
Jorick: Where you make horrible things happen to me?

Jo: It’s not my fault. You’re the one who falls for the” old mysterious stranger that needs help around his farm” bit. I could have told you it was a bad idea to work for Malick.
Jorick: I didn’t fall for anything—he was an ancient vampire with mind control abilities! I didn’t have a chance against him!

Jo: True, but you were the one who had to know what was killing his sheep. If you’d just left it alone like he told you to...
Jorick: I’m sorry, but a person gets tired of tending a flock that is dying off one by one. It reflects badly on their abilities to protect the creatures in their charge.

Jo: And were you happy when you found out what it was? *shakes head* Your trouble is you always have to stick your nose into things.
Jorick: No, my trouble is that my author is sadistic. You weren’t content to just torture me, but you do horrible things to my entire family!

Jo: Just be glad you had a family. I could have made you an orphan. Though that would create some crazy continuity issues, but hey, I am the god of the Amaranthine Universe, so…
Jorick: Are you going to share an excerpt or just prattle on all day?

Jo: As a matter of fact, I chose a nice one. Just for you. This takes place after Jorick finds out what his employer is doing to those poor sheep. He returns to Malick’s farm the next day, expecting to find the old man dead of a gunshot wound, but he’s very much alive and sealed up in his house.

A wild idea danced its way into Jorick’s consciousness. With nothing else, he embraced it full-tilt. Malick was a monster. As the only one who knew, it was his job to eradicate him. The bullet hadn’t done it, but nothing could withstand fire.

It didn’t take long for him to construct a torch and light it. He marched to the house ready to fling it through a window, when the front door opened.

At the sound of Malick’s voice, Jorick went stiff. “So you came back. How interesting. I didn’t think you would.”

Jorick’s hand tightened on the torch. He could see the shape of Malick, partially obscured by the door, his face hidden by the heavy hooded cloak.

Malick chuckled. “Nothing to say, child? No apologies, perhaps? No? Just a murderous plan. You would burn me alive as I sleep, and you call me the monster.”

Jorick tried to reply, but the words wouldn’t come. He could only stare, the torch gripped in his white knuckled fist.

“But you have no need for that, do you?”

Jorick wanted to fling the torch at him, watch the fire catch his robes, except…except why? Why would he want…

I saw what he is!

“Did you?” Malick asked. “I doubt very much that you have any concept. But come, put down your torch and think reasonably.”

Reasonably. Jorick felt the desire sucking at him, bleeding away his will. But he couldn’t give in.

“I saw you!” he shouted. The volume gave him strength, and he added, “I saw you in the barn!”

Malick laughed, a sound half music and half terror. “So you did. Ah, but I could make you forget. With a snap of my fingers you’d remember only drinking last night, perhaps a nightmare, nothing more. And yet, isn’t it more amusing if you do remember?”

Jorick scoffed, drawing himself up. “You can’t make a person forget.”

“Can’t I? Is there anyone in the town who remembers me? Anyone who can say they’ve seen me, that they’ve spoken to me? Many have, but their minds were malleable and I relieved them of the memories. You, on the other hand, your mind is strong, willful, and infinitely entertaining.”

Jorick wanted to deny the truth in the words, but he felt them at his core. No one knew who Malick was, no matter how many times he explained him.

Could it really be some dark magic?

“It is the magic of a god, child, as is my miraculous healing. You were right, you did hit me, a good mark too, just here.” He pressed a finger to his chest, below his heart. “Unlucky for you, such wounds cannot destroy me. But come, put down the torch, continue to work for me and I will reward you in ways you cannot imagine.”

Jorick’s fingers wanted to relax but he refused to let them. “You’re a demon.”

The master laughed, flashing fangs. “Better to work for the demon than to be fed upon. Besides, what is a demon but a god by another name? Hmmm? One man’s evil is another man’s good. Come, the sun tires me. I’ll give you until sundown to make your choice. Will you continue to serve me, as you have been, or will you walk away?”

“How can you ask such a question! I’ll-”

“Think carefully,” Malick cut in. “Because of your service, your family has plenty of food; a bad harvest, a flood, those things have starved you in the past, left your sister and brother hungry, your mother desperate, your father forlorn. Not now. They have meat enough to sell. And with the addition of my garden, your sister has her own income, money she can save against a future of drudgery. Not to mention the wage you command. How much longer will it take you to save up the funds for passage on a ship? Don’t look so surprised, child, I can read your thoughts like a book, and flip through the chapters at leisure. I’ve done so, many times, not that you remember them. That aside, I ask you what harm is there in serving me? I’ve required nothing objectionable of you, made you commit no crime. If I wish to kill my own livestock, whose concern is that? Have you not helped butcher animals yourself?”

“It isn’t the death-”

“But the manner?” Malick finished. “Why does it matter which method I choose? Mine is painless. The beast passes into sweet dreams, never to wake. Is that not better than screams and the terror as you slit their throats and they watch their blood run? Ask yourself, which of us are the monsters.”

Jorick felt the words, saw the logic behind them, the order, the reason. He has a point, his mind whispered to him. Memories surfaced of the first pig he’d seen killed, of the horror he felt, the way he’d run to hide behind his mother’s skirts. The laughter of his father and his uncle.

“He’ll have to get over that.”

“He’s only three,” his mother chided. “Let him be gentle awhile longer.”

Jorick shook away from the past, the smell of the pig’s blood, the gurgling sound of its dying breaths. “You are not a man.”

“No,” Malick agreed. “You are right. I’m not a man. I am a god. And now I will rest. Either burn the house to the ground or drop the torch and return this evening. The choice is yours.”

Jo: I hope you enjoyed the excerpt! Thanks so much for stopping by, and thanks to I Smell Sheep for hosting us today!

Pre-order for $.99
proceeds go to Book Born’s Children’s Book Fund
by Gabriella Messina, Amber Naralim, Joleene Naylor
June 21, 2018
Vampires… Werewolves… Monsters… They stalk our dreams and nightmares… the stuff of legends and fantasies…

Featuring short stories by Joleene Naylor (the Amaranthine series), Amber Naralim (the Monsters series), and Gabriella Messina (the Bloodline series), CREATURE FEATURE invites you to take a taste of the worlds these three authors have created, and the creature characters you will never forget.

About the Author:
Joleene Naylor is the author of the glitter-less Amaranthine series, a world where vampires aren't for children. As a compliment to the novel series, she has also written several short stories, including the Vampire Morsels collection, and the Amaranthine Handbook.

In what little time is left she watches anime and updates her blogs, all from a crooked Victorian house in Villisca, Iowa. Between her husband and her pets, she is never lonely, and should she ever disappear one might look for her on a beach in Tahiti, sipping a tropical drink and wearing a disguise.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm. My comment isn't here! Thanks so much for having us!