John Conroe 

author ranked Number five on amazon most popular authors in horror
((-November 2012

Sample Chapters

Executable- Chapter 1- Declan



Only the crunch and ping of loose gravel between the tires and the asphalt of our parking lot announced the arrival of the big silver car, otherwise it was dead silent.  I pulled back slightly behind the edge of the big green dumpster that sits at the end of the building, interested to observe the unknown car but not wanting to be busted as some creepy loser kid. ‘Cause, you know… the truth hurts.


At first the sun glinting on the windshield blocked all view of the occupants but as the car, an older model Buick, rolled to a stop in the shadow of my aunt’s restaurant they became visible.  Two females; the driver young, with short brown hair and brown eyes, the other an older version with the same brown hair but lighter eyes.  A mother and daughter I decided, seeing enough similarities to form that opinion.


The driver stretched her neck for a moment, like she had just wrestled the heavy car for miles.  I figured she had, as the motor wasn’t running and it certainly wasn’t a hybrid.  Most likely she had coasted down Macomb hill fighting through the lack of power steering to make the winding turns.  That sharp left curve in front of Macomb cemetery a quarter mile up the hill must have been a bitch, I thought.


Her head came up and looked around the parking lot.  I jumped back behind the dumpster, relatively certain I hadn’t been spotted but now slightly ashamed that I was lurking there at all.  Pretty sad that my most exciting work break was taking out the garbage and spying on innocent travelers.  The day was just starting but all I had to look forward to was a full Sunday of dishes to wash before tackling three pages of Calc homework, then collapsing into bed for maybe six hours before continuing my fascinating life as a high school senior at Castlebury high. 


Entering through the back of the kitchen, I dodged around the morning cook, Chet, who was orchestrating eggs, hashbrowns, bacon and sausage on the big commercial griddle while humming along to a Dave Matthews song playing on the radio.  I was careful to avoid bumping him as he could get verbally abusive if you interfered with his cooking rhythm and while his anger was short lived and easily ignored, it was just too early to listen to any crap.


Just outside the kitchen, floor-to-ceiling shelves stacked with dishes faced a wall of stainless steel, high temperature dish washing equipment and long metal countertops covered with dirty plates, mugs and flatware.  My kingdom. 


I was half-way through offloading and stacking a rack of plates when one of the waitresses, Emilee, pushed opened the swinging doors from the dining room and looked my way.  “Hey, toothpick.  Your aunt wants you out here,” she said, before picking up a fresh pot of coffee and heading back into the Sunday morning fray.


I followed her out, wiping my hands on my apron, curious as to what my aunt wanted with me.


The owner of Rowan West was standing at a small table talking to two women, the same two women from the Buick out front.  At first I thought that the young one had busted me spying on them and complained to my aunt.  But the rational side of my brain dismissed that as paranoia.  Let’s be honest.  Who was going to even notice me spying in the first place?


“Ah, Declan dear, would you be so kind as to help these wayward ladies out?  It seems they’ve a spot of auto trouble and I’ve gone ahead and volunteered your services,” Aunt Ashling said in her lilting brogue.


Up close I decided that the two women were definitely mother and daughter.  Same brown hair, same facial features, but different eyes.  The mother’s were gray, while her teenage daughter’s were light brown. The girl’s were also almond shaped, uplifted at the corners, giving her face a slightly exotic cast.  Mom was tan with freckles while her daughter had a very light brown skin color that spoke of a more mixed up ethnicity.  Both watched me with frowns and narrowed eyes.


“That’s okay Ms. O’Carroll, we can just call a local garage,” the mother said quickly.


“Sure and you can be overspending and getting under-repaired if you know what I mean.  The only lads that are open on a Sunday hereabouts aren’t the trustworthy sort. If he can’t fix it, he can at least be sure to dig out the problem for ya.  Trust me on this one, dear, Declan is a bit of a wizard with cars and computers,” my aunt responded.  I winced a bit at the wizard part.


“What does it do?” I asked, thinking some verbal diagnostics might move things along.


“It doesn’t run,” the girl said, her expression flat, eyes hard.


I felt my eyebrows raise themselves, matching the rise in my temper.  My aunt was watching me and she suddenly laughed. 


“You walked right into that one,” she said with a pat on my back. 


After a moment I had to laugh too.  I had, in fact, set myself up, although from the girl’s expression, she hadn’t meant it as a joke.  Nonetheless, my aunt had reset my attitude so I tried a different tack.


“Ma’am, I’m really, really good with computers – desktop, laptop, tablet or even car computers, so if nothing else I can find out the problem so you don’t get ripped off.  And if I don’t look at your car, then I have to go back to dishwashing,” I explained to the mom, pleading with my eyes.


Both the mom and my aunt laughed, the girl just kept frowning.  Oh well, if I had fifty dollars for every girl that looked at me like I was a freak I’d be richer than Gates.


“I guess I should just say thanks and let you have a look,” the mother said.  “But you will be careful, right?”


“Yes ma’am.  If I can’t fix it I’ll back right off, Mrs…” I trailed off, realizing I didn’t know her name.


“Oh gracious.  Where are me manners.  Declan, this is Rachel Williams and her daughter, Sarah,” Aunt Ashling said.


“Nice to meet you.  If I can borrow your keys I’ll just take a look,” I said, patting my right jeans pocket to double check that I had my chalk.


“I have them.  I’ll go with you,” the girl, Sarah said, her expression still guarded.


I turned and walked out the front, past the gift shop area which held a bizarre combination of Vermont maple and cheese products mixed with spiritualist supplies like incense, crystals, tarot cards, amulets and herbs of all kinds.  Somehow it all worked, although most of the New Age stuff was sold via the Rowan West website that I had set up for my aunt.


The girl was quiet as we headed toward the car, moving almost silently behind me.  Something about her manner was creeping me out.  The place between my shoulder blades was itchy like I could feel her staring at it.  Shaking the feeling off, I studied the car.


“Buick Regal.   Looks older?”


“Twelve years, but low mileage,” she said, pushing the unlock button on the key fob.  She opened the driver’s door and slid in before I could, inserting the key and turning the ignition.  The dash lit up like a Christmas tree but the engine didn’t make a sound.  Not even the click of a bad starter.


I dropped into a squat and reached around her leg to pull the hood release, moving slowly as I didn’t want her to be more on edge than she was.  Although she seemed relaxed – just watchful.


Lifting the hood I scanned the engine for any obvious problems but it wasn’t going to be that easy.  Taking my trusty chalk from my pocket I drew Cen on my left palm and placed my hand on top of the engine.


“Try it again,” I yelled to Sarah.


“Why?  It won’t start,” she responded in a flat tone. 


“Humor me.”


Through the gap between the bottom of the hood and the frame of the car I could just see her hand move as she twisted the key.  Eyes closed I relaxed and listened.  Ah.


She was already sliding out of the driver’s seat as I stepped around the front of the car, like she had been coming to check on me.  She looked into the engine compartment, maybe to see if I had stolen the whole thing.  I took the opportunity to slide into the driver’s seat and look over the ignition switch, letting my left hand casually fall on top of the steering column.


I was getting back out when Sarah came back around, eyebrows raised in question.


“Let me guess.  You were driving along and the engine just shut off?” I asked.


She nodded.


“I think you’ve got a faulty security system.  It keeps thinking you’re trying to steal your own car so it shuts everything down.  Probably a loose wire in the ignition switch, which is jiggly as hell.”


“How could you know that?  You don’t have any diagnostic equipment.”


“I didn’t say that I was certain… I said I think it’s the security system, but if you know better that’s fine,” I snapped back at her. 


“If I knew better I wouldn’t even be here would I?” she questioned, her expression more puzzled than sarcastic.  She was kind of weird.  Cute, but weird.  She was wearing loose fitting jeans, a worn American Eagle tee shirt, no makeup and running shoes.  Vermont has all kinds of girls: hippie girls, fashionista girls, sporty athletic girls, save-the-world girls, brainiac girls, you name it.  She must fit in there somewhere, but at that moment I couldn’t figure out where.


Back inside we found my aunt and Sarah’s mother sipping coffee and chatting while Mrs. Williams looked over a menu.


“Any luck?” my aunt asked.


I repeated my theory about the security system and the possibility of a loose wire, although it wasn’t a theory.  It was flat out fact.


“Can you fix it?” Mrs. Williams asked.  She was a little intense.  Sharp eyes set in a thin face.  She was dressed in hiking pants, athletic shirt and walking shoes.  She too lacked any makeup and had a short no-nonsense haircut. Absolutely no concession to beauty or fashion. Her build was lean, a runners body, with no spare flesh.


“Yes ma’am.  I think I have a pretty good chance, although you’ll want a dealership service department to take a look when you get to your final stop.”


“They’re staying here in town Declan.  Mrs. Williams has taken a job at the University in Burlington,” my aunt said.  She always called it the University in Burlington, rather than University of Vermont or UVM which is what most of us called it.  I studied my aunt for a moment.  She was intrigued by these two and I could sense her protective streak coming out.  Hence my technical services being volunteered.


“Well, I’ll just grab my tools and I think it’s a quick fix.  About as long as it takes you to have breakfast.”


In hindsight I probably shouldn’t have been that specific about the duration of the job.  Even a mechanic wouldn’t commit to that close a time guess.  My aunt’s eyes flared a little but she said nothing, instead asking the mother and daughter for their breakfast orders.


“Oh, Caeco, they have a Woodsman’s special that you might like,” Mrs. Williams suggested to her daughter. 


My aunt and I exchanged a glance then looked at them curiously.  The girl looked pained and was quick to explain.


“My middle name.  Mother uses it as a nickname.”


Mrs. Williams looked up, taking only a second to realize we were talking about her name change.


“Yes, my own pet name.”


I had trouble picturing this lady with a pet anything.  The operative word here was cold.


I left to get my tools, happy for an extended break from dishwashing, not really caring if the people I was helping were a little weird.  Hard to throw stones at that glass house.


My skills aren’t really of the automotive set, although I am naturally mechanical.  I’m more of a computer and technology guy, but I’ve done enough work on my ’72 Toyota Land Cruiser to know my way around the inside of a car.  The steering column was the slowest part, as I didn’t dare harm the old car’s cosmetic appeal in anyway.  The pair watching me through the window made me more than a little nervous. 


Once I had the plastic housing apart the rest went pretty quick.  Tighten one loose wire and a spot of solder to keep it in place and the meat of the repair was done.  The Buick started right up, the six cylinder engine surprisingly smooth.  Another fifteen minutes of wrestling the column housing back together with a small amount of cursing for lubrication and I was done.


Mrs. Williams was looking through a Burlington Free Press, an empty bowl of oatmeal pushed to one side.  Aunt Ashling’s special cinnamon shaker caught my eye, tucked in among the salt, pepper and regular table sugar dispensers.  That was interesting.


The girl, Sarah or Caeco or what have you, was polishing off a Woodsman special; three eggs, hashbrowns, four pieces of toast, bacon, and a short stack of pancakes.  It was my personal favorite but it was a lot of food.  Wiping up the last of the egg yolk and maple syrup with a corner of toast she made it look easy.  She was five-three, maybe five-four at best and she’d just crammed in a two thousand calorie meal.


I dropped the keys on the edge of the table, but my aim was just a mite off.  The keys slipped toward the floor and I automatically went to catch them.  Instead of metal my hand encountered warm flesh.  I was holding the girl’s wrist and she was holding the keys.  I let go like I had touched a wall outlet, the feeling of her flesh shocking to my own.


“Fast,” was all that I managed to say, obviously not referring to my wits.  My reflexes are pretty good, but she had beaten me to the catch by a country mile.  She regarded me for a moment before pocketing the keys and picking up her glass of chocolate milk.


“You play any sports?” I asked, making no progress in rebuilding my reputation for witty repartee.


She shook her head, adding, “Homeschooled.”


Which explained a whole bunch of things.  “Declan, could you get your aunt for us?  I think it’s time we settled our debt and headed on.  Lots to do today,” Mrs. Williams said.


I nodded and left the two to head back into the kitchen.  Time to get back to the stacks of dishes and away from the customers. 


“Aunt Ash, your new friends are asking for their bill,” I said.  My aunt was sipping a cup of tea and peering out the kitchen window at the big Rowan tree that gives our place its name.  She nodded and headed out, a gleam of curiosity in her eyes.


I finished the half rack of clean dishes and was just starting a fresh batch when my aunt came back with a tray full of dirty dishes.  She set the whole thing down and then picked up the cinnamon shaker with a clean dish rag, crooking her finger at me to follow.


Safely tucked into her microscopic office, she used the towel to hold both ends of the shaker while she twisted it apart.  Hand carved from oak, the shaker was a little larger than a can of soda.  The top two-thirds held the cinnamon-sugar mixture and the bottom third held twenty-four miniature discs of wood; each cut from the same tree branch, the bark still on.  In fact, they had all come from a fresh cut limb of the Rowan tree outside our dining room window.


Each disc had a separate figure carved into its face – a rune.


“We’ll draw five, we will. I’ll draw first as I was first to meet the lasses, then you draw the next three, then I’ll pick last, got it?” she asked.  This was her area of expertise and she knew far more about it than I, so I would normally never question her, but I had a piece of information that she didn’t.


“Actually, I saw them coast into the parking lot when I was taking out the trash.  Not sure if that counts?”


“Did you lay eyes on the both of them then or just the auto?” she questioned.


Feeling my face flush I nodded as I answered.  “I saw them both.  Never saw the car before so I was curious,” I added.  She studied me with bright blue eyes that matched my own, nodding after a moment.


“That changes it.  You draw one, I the next, then two for you and one last for me own.”


I closed my eyes and settled my mind, breathing in slowly through my nose and out through my mouth.  When I had wrestled my unruly brain into a modest semblance of calm, I reached my left hand into the container of rune cover discs.  As my fingers brushed the chips of wood I pulled up the fresh memory of seeing the girl and her mother through the windshield of their car.  Seemingly of their own accord my fingers found a tiny branch segment and picked it up.  I set it down on my aunt’s desktop before us and contemplated the rune scored into its surface.  It had an upside down mutated F on it, the twin horizontal lines jutting up at a diagonal rather than straight.


“Feoh- reversed. Slavery or bondage,” Aunt Ashling intoned.  She reached into the wooden shaker bottom and pulled another rune.  It looked like a poorly drawn lower case p, with the vertical line extending up too high.  It was backwards as well.

“The Thorn, also reversed.  Danger,” she said, before giving me a nod.


I pulled out an R with sharply drawn angular lines.  It was right side up.


“Rad – a journey,” she said with a sharp nod to herself.  My next rune looked like an hourglass that was missing its top line and turned on its side like a C.


“Peor – female, hidden change.”


Aunt Ashling’s final draw was a simple line, an I.


“Is, also called Ice.  Treachery,” she said, her tone dropping into instructor mode.  I already knew this, but I nodded anyway, waiting for her to pull her reading together.


“These two are on the run… fleeing captivity.  True danger stalks them.  The girl has a secret, or maybe she is the secret.  Hard to know. They’ve journeyed far,” she said, still studying the five runes lined up in front of us.


“The car’s plates were from Colorado and there wasn’t a whole lot in it,” I noted.


She turned her head abruptly, auburn tresses swinging around her face as she locked her gaze onto mine.


“Make no mistake, Declan me lad, these ladies are not fleeing some abusive husband or father.  There is something uncanny about them, something more than a wee bit off,” she warned.


“I touched the girl’s wrist Aunt Ash, by accident.  I hadn’t wiped off my hand and still had Cen drawn on it.  I got the weirdest flash from her, real short and sharp.  It wasn’t the sort of thing I’ve ever gotten off a person, more like the feel of tech.”


She cocked her head to one side, eyebrows up in question.


“I can’t really explain it.  Kinda like a computer or smartphone, but not.  I don’t know… just weird.”


She looked worried.


“Declan, the girl’s to start at your school tomorrow.  I think you should keep an eye on her and maybe, if she needs it, help her out,” she said, sounding a bit uncertain.


“Help her out?  With what?  How much help? And just who are you and what have you done with my aunt?” I asked blown away by the direction she was taking.


She smiled a thin, pressed lip kind of smile.  “I know I’ve hounded ye to keep your head down and all.  But when we’re called to help, then help we must!”    


Despite her constant preaching about flying under the radar I knew my aunt had used her own gifts to help innocents from time to time.  It was how she had met her partner, Darci.  She had found a lost boy twelve years ago who would most likely have died of exposure to harsh Vermont weather. His searchers had been looking in all the wrong areas.  Since then she had helped a number of other times, working through Darci and her fellow deputies.  A couple of missing college kids on a hike, a child kidnapped by her estranged father and one runaway all owed their safety to my aunt who had avoided any and all recognition of her contributions. 


But she had been very steadfast in hiding me and my talents. I’ve never been allowed to use my true abilities, so really what’s the point in having them?  Now, if I was being directed to help than she was getting more from this reading than she was telling me.


“Declan me lad, as cliché as it sounds I feel something coming… and it feels like a storm,” she said, looking up from the five rounds of wood.


Readings were her thing and she was very good at them, but storms, at least certain storms, were my thing and in that respect of my Craft, I had no equal.


Demon Driven-Chapter 1



                                                   “Cry ‘HAVOC’ and let slip the dogs of war!” – Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar


Chapter 1


     The corridor was long, dark and musty.  It ended at a 'T'.  The werewolf was waiting around the left corner – at least that's where I thought he was.  I couldn't smell him or hear his heartbeat, which was really frustrating.  It’s amazing how fast you come to rely on hyper acute senses.  But all I could smell was the sharp ozone odor of overworked electric motors. The only sound I could hear: a faint whirring that seemed to come from everywhere.  The clock was ticking and I couldn't wait any longer.  Sliding silently down the hallway, I hugged the right-hand wall with my back, and kept the full-auto Glock 18 in my right hand pointed ahead, the smaller Glock 19 in my left pointed behind me.

     I didn't use to handle two pistols at once, so-called two-gun mojo.  But that had changed.  A lot had changed.  I've often carried two guns, but it was more of a backup kind of thing, I only ever used one at a time.  A couple of months ago, the ability to handle two at once had just sort of manifested.  Odd?  Just the tip of the iceberg of odd.

     Close enough to see part-way around the corner; I began to 'slice the pie'.

     That's what the Academy instructors call it.  When you are clearing a building, corners and doorways are deathtraps.  So cops are trained to gradually move around a corner, getting an ever-increasing view (or slice of the pie), while presenting as small a target as possible.  Clearing a 'T' is a two person job.  But there was only one of me and I had to make the best of it.

     My leading shoulder was just about on the edge of the right corner and there was nothing waiting on the left side of the intersection.  Uh oh!  A slight rush of air from the right was my only warning and then my fight brain took over.  The big toothy thing charging from the right should have taken my right arm off at the elbow.  Instead, it rushed into empty space as I instinctively flipped over it, my legs pointing toward the ceiling, my head and gun hand pointing down at the shaggy shape below.  Without conscious thought my finger feathered the trigger, ripping a three round burst into the skull below me.  Viscous red fluid sprayed the white institutional walls and gray floor, as the monster slammed headfirst into the wall, crunching through sheet rock and wall studs. It collapsed in a spasming heap, while I landed lightly on my feet.  My attention shifted to the door at the end of the left hallway, which was opening violently.  A six-foot humanoid figure with red eyes and two-inch fangs rushed at me from the doorway.  Four rounds to the chest, two to the head, sidestep into the first hall to let it rush by, and double tap the back of its head with the left hand gun.  How I can shoot and hit a moving target in the dark with my left hand while looking the opposite direction is as big a mystery to me as anyone.  I just can.  Of course, the V-squared virus might have something to do with it.

     I moved quickly toward the open door, shifting first left, then right to gain some view of what lay on the other side.  The echoing gunshots that should have deafened me, instead painted a sonar-like picture of the room ahead in my head.  Three people occupied space in the room.  My mental picture had the doorway coming into the room at a corner, where one of the long walls of the rectangle met a short wall. One person was seated and two were standing close together, one large, one small.

   Slowing down wasn't an appealing option, so instead, I dove through the opening, body horizontal to the ground, guns pointed at the seated figure and the larger of the two that were standing.  Sharp flashes of light and concussive waves of sound washed over me. I could feel tiny bits of burning gunpowder touch my skin, as their bullets slammed through the air behind me. A four round burst found the large standing vampire, at the same time that two rounds from my left hand gun hit the sitting vamp in the forehead. Rolling to my feet, my fight brain automatically scanned for threats as I reflexively dropped the smaller model 19 into its left-hand thigh holster, while my right hand ejected the partial mag from the Glock 18. A fresh thirty-three rounder was just seating home in 18s grip when the double doors at the other end of the room slammed open, revealing a nine-foot tall, shaggy monster. It charged.

 Long burst to the chest, short burst to the face, dodge right. The sasquatch slammed into the wall behind me and I reflexively fired a third burst into the back of its head.

Turning to the small female figure that was the purpose of all my actions to this point, I was just in time to see another flash of light and feel a sharp jolt to my chest. Her face snarling and framed by flaming red hair, she was bringing her silver handgun back on target, when a long burst from my gun knocked her off her feet.

Instantly bright light from high overhead illuminated everything, and a voice like God's boomed:“You're dead! And so is your hostage!”

“You're half right,” I replied to the trio of people sitting two stories up in the bulletproof control room.

“How do you figure?” Steve Sommers asked.

“My vest stopped the round,” I answered, pointing to the red spot on my chest armor where the Simunitions training round had impacted.

“Then why did you kill the girl you were supposed to rescue?” asked the female form leaning over Steve's shoulder.

“ 'Cause she was shooting at me! It was obvious she had been Turned!” I answered, angry at the thoroughly frustrating nature of the simulation.

Gina Velásquez's sharp brown eyes studied me like a scientist with a strange new bug.

“Chris, the scenario states that the girl has only been missing for a day. You, yourself, have told us that it takes at least three days for a human to be Turned,” she stated.

“Then why did she attack me?” I asked.

“Easy, she was mind controlled,” Chet Akins, the third of my tormentors, explained.

“What? Where the hell did that come from?”

Now I was really pissed off. The shoot house simulations I had been running were becoming harder and harder to win. My trainers in NYPD's Special Situation Squad were understandably handicapped by a lack of direct knowledge of the supernatural world, the dark, violent societies of vampires and weres. It’s hard to get good information when the object of your interview is ripping your throat out or using your arm as a toothpick. But when they started to make up stuff, it made me crazy.

“Chris, we have numerous documented cases of humans being....enthralled would be the word, by vampires,” Gina said.

“Well, that's a new one for me. I've never heard of that from any of my vamps,” I said.

“Have you ever asked?” was her calm reply.

“And what the hell's up with the sasquatch? I asked, still angry, but starting to feel like a bit of a jerk.

Steve and Chet looked at each other, both shrugging as Chet answered.

“We found him on eBay. Left over from a B grade movie, 'When Bigfoot Attacks'.”

Coming down a bit from my combat high, I was becoming more and more uncomfortable with my own actions.

“Well, it's actually kinda cool,” I allowed.

Sommers was already half way down the metal ladder that provided the only access to the shoot house control booth. Aikens was waiting impatiently to follow and Gina was still watching me, her damnably perceptive eyes continuing their cool evaluation.

The Squad's shoot house was an old Brooklyn warehouse that had been seized by the NYPD after it had been taken in a drug lab raid. I had been along on that raid, as had the entire Special Situation Squad, because the building had housed the laboratory that had manufactured Hance, a potent street drug derived from vampire and demon blood. That raid had been a pivotal point in my relationship with the squad, as well as my introduction to one of my more unique friends. That's saying something, as I have some extremely unusual friends.

The shoot house was located on the lowest level, three stories underground. The concrete floor had been mostly empty when we had raided it, now it was a veritable maze of movable walls and doors. Separated into three, distinct shoot zones, it could host all manner of scenarios involving everything from terrorists to the more exotic supernaturally themed situations like I had just run. Chet, our technical guy, had enlisted the help of his robotics club to build our 'vampires' and 'werewolves'.

“Dude, what the hell have you done to my wolf?” Chet asked.

He was looking down at the bullet shattered head of his most prized creation.

“Sorry, Chet, but it startled me and I just ... reacted,” I said.

He had built the life-size werewolf robot according to my limited knowledge of them. Since the head was chest-high on a human, he had built the skull to absorb 'kill' shots from the front, not through the top. My burst of nine millimeter slugs had exploded intricate mechanisms, spraying red hydraulic fluid all over the place.

“What was that move? We couldn't quite follow it and we haven't reviewed the footage yet,” Steve said.

I explained my twisting, head-down jump over the wolfbot. Steve and Chet looked impressed, Gina, who had joined us on the floor of the shoot house, just watched me, her arms crossed. I knew the signs. She was working up some words for me. Words from Detective Sgt. Velásquez were not usually enjoyable and the thought of enduring a blistering ream-out contributed to my sour mood.

I grabbed a broom and started sweeping up expended brass while Chet looked over the robots and Steve cataloged the damage to the walls and doors. The only real problem was the wolfbot and the wall it ran into. The other bots had taken slugs in the foam-filled portions of their anatomy that were designed for such abuse. Sensors in the gel recorded damage 'points' from successive hits and when a proper number was reached, the computer that ran everything would  'kill' the bot.

“Wolffie is down and out,” Chet said. “It's gonna take a week to fix this mess.”

I sighed. “Chet, I'm really sorry.”

“Yeah, well, me too!”

Chet, with a hand from the brawny Sommers, began loading the heavy robot onto a dolly to transport it to his workshop. I sensed Gina's approach, although my back was to her.

“Chris, let's chat a minute.”

Oh boy, here it comes, I thought. Gina is my handler, so to speak, a position assigned to her when the previous Police Commissioner had begun to realize the extent of my abilities. That's not to say that they knew the real extent of what I could do. Hell, I was still learning that, even seven months after my 'transformation'. But they knew enough.

“Chris, I'm disturbed by your actions. I can't believe you shot the hostage.”

“Okay, I'll admit, I probably shouldn't have capped her, but you gotta understand just how frustrating these things are.”

“Frustrating how?” she asked.

I kept my voice down as I answered. Chet was already mad at me, I didn't need to insult his handiwork on top of the damage I had done to his wolf.

“There's no scent, no life sounds, the movements are slow and jerky,” I said. “Even the echoes I get are obviously from non-living objects. It's hard to make believe it's real, when all my senses tell me it's not.”

“You can hear the difference in the echoes from a living body to a mannequin?” she asked.

I nodded. My whole echo-sonar ability was a fairly recent development and I was still adjusting to it.

“Look, if she had been real, I wouldn't have done that, but it all seemed too game-like to me. Now, I'm going to go from this -- “I waved my hand around us” -- to sparring with Tatiana. Not even remotely similar. If the girl was real, even if she had been Turned, I could have taken the gun from her and secured her without much chance of damage to myself.”

Gina knew my abilities as well as any of the squad, better even, and she certainly suspected more, but she looked a little shocked at my confession.

“You're that much faster than a new vampire?” she asked.

“Yeah, at least fast enough,” I answered. 

Truth be told, I'm that much faster than a hundred-year-old vamp. I'm nowhere near as fast as Tanya, but I'm head and shoulders above anyone in the New York coven, except maybe Arkady, Tanya’s giant chief of security.

“Is it that useless then?” she asked.

“No. It's not useless. It's good for my shooting. I mean, I can't go around shooting at real vamps or weres, now can I?  It’s also as good as we can get for training the rest of the team,” I said.  “Look, you’re right.  I shouldn’t have shot the hostage, even if I was taking fire. But these things are just so damned frustrating!”

She pursed her lips as she thought about my words.

“Chris, I get what you’re saying about the simulations, but your response still seems excessive.  And on top of that, you have been really edgy lately.  Quick to blow up, so to speak.  People have noticed.”

I was aware of her careful gaze as I reflected on the truth in her statement.  I had been running a short fuse lately, and I had absolutely no idea why. She read my own lack of answers on my face.  Gina is skilled in reading micro expressions, the result of intensive training in what’s become known as facial coding.

“Look, let’s talk about this some more later.  The Inspector is due here in a few moments, hopefully with the new Commissioner in tow.  Are you ready for a demonstration?” she asked.

The squad’s leader, Inspector Martin Roma, had been trying for two months to get the new Police Commissioner to learn more about our group.  The NYPD Special Situations Squad is off the official org chart, but has been in existence in one form or another for decades.  Formed to deal with the unexplainable world of the supernatural, the head of the squad always reports directly to the Commissioner.  When the new mayor had swept into office last November on a platform of social issues, he had fired the old Commissioner and brought in his handpicked replacement.   Said replacement hadn’t taken his Department of Homeland Security briefing on things that go bump in the night very seriously.  DHS has their own paranormal combat team, and they are responsible for coordinating and educating each of the big city teams.  Each new commissioner gets their own dog and pony show (or maybe I should say – wolf and bat show) from the feddies.  Commissioner Kane hadn’t believed a word of it and thought our squad a waste of money and man power. 

In a way, we were victims of our own success.  Crimes that fit a paranormal MO had fallen off drastically, the result of Tanya’s control of the New York Coven and my own recent liaison with the city’s Pack.  Even demon activity, my personal area of expertise, had dried up since the events of last Halloween.

I heard Roma’s voice greeting Aikens and Sommers in the stairwell, but it was too faint for Gina to hear. She noticed the tilt of my head as I listened and guessed the reason.

“Roma here?” she asked.

“Yeah, but I don’t hear any other voices.”

“Dammit!  If we can’t convince Kane how important the squad is, he’ll do something stupid,” she said.

“You mean like shut us down?” I asked.

She didn’t say anything but her grim look was answer enough.

The stairwell door opened and Inspector Martin Roma stepped out.  Lean and athletic, average height, dark hair, neatly trimmed goatee, he alternately reminded me of either a corporate attorney or a college professor, depending on his manner of dress.  Today he was channeling the corporate image with a charcoal Armani suit.  He smiled at the two of us, but the lines in his forehead never relaxed.

“No Commissioner Kane, I see.” Gina greeted him.

He shook his head and sighed before answering.

“I was really hoping to show him the plastic explosive thing at least.  No end of uses to that one,” he said.

The unique ability I was born with, the violet energy I used to banish demons, had undergone almost as many changes during my transformation as my body had.  One of the results was a rather nifty ability to change the chemical structure of a compound with nothing but my will.  Among other useful applications, it was great for rendering explosives inert (although I had once used it to change Sommers’ sunscreen to pink dye to nice effect).  It put a whole new light on bomb defusing, especially since I could do it from a short distance away and no one around me would have any idea of what I had done.

“Well, I’ll just have to keep after him, won’t I?  Now, how did the latest simulation go?” he asked.

After a quick glance at me, Gina answered him.  “We have some more bugs to work out and the wolfbot took a really bad hit.”

It seemed that part of Gina’s role as my handler was to shield my personal issues from everyone else.  I had no doubt that she kept Roma informed of my mental condition, abilities and stability, but she steadfastly protected me from undue criticism. As much as she would take me to task over my temper issues, she wasn’t going to embarrass me in front of our boss.  I’m pretty sure that Roma was aware of this.

“What manner of abuse did you heap on the poor, defenseless wolf, Gordon?” he asked.

“Um, it wasn’t where I thought it was and it startled me, Sir,” I answered.

“He jumped over it, upside down and shot it through the top of its skull,” Gina said.

The Inspector arched one aristocratic eyebrow as he looked from her to me.

“If I recall, wolfbot doesn’t have any gel on top of its head,” he said.

I grimaced as I responded, “No sir, it doesn’t.  I’m afraid that Chet is not real happy with me at the moment.”

He chuckled as he thought about it.  “Oh don’t let him fool you.  Chet is mostly upset that his design has a flaw.  I’ll bet you that will be changed when the wolf comes back.”

“I don’t think I’ll take that bet, Sir,” I answered.

He looked at his watch.  “Well, since we don’t need you to perform any magic tricks, why don’t you head out early?  The sooner you start, the quicker your girl will be done beating you up, right?”

“Thank you for reminding me of the pain that awaits me.”

He laughed.  “She only wants you to be prepared to protect yourself.   I’m sure she won’t hurt you too badly.”

He obviously had never worked out with Tanya before.


Black Frost-Chapter 1

Welcome to the home page for Bear Mountain blades.  The blade business is shut down.  Instead I’m using the site to get the truth out about the alleged chemical spill in Groton Falls, NY.

 Hopefully, this story will go viral. But I suggest you download this blog fast, as I don't know how long it will be before the government shuts it down.

 Just so you know…there was never any spill.  Sure, the news had aerial photos of a tipped over tanker truck on the main street in Groton Falls.  But it wasn’t carrying a restricted nerve agent, and the driver didn’t fall asleep at the wheel.  He was transporting chlorine (none of which actually spilled) and he was stung to death.  Then partially eaten.

None of the deaths in town were caused by this fictitious, ‘highly experimental’ nerve agent.

Pretty clever though….to leak a conspiracy story in order to cover up the real conspiracy story.

No, the deaths were savagely violent attacks by outside forces.

What actually happened is something the government scientists call inter-dimensional decay, but what I call a Rupture (as in ruptured membrane).  Either way it’s pretty much the same thing – a break in whatever separates this world from its twin.  See, all those bad science fiction movies about alternate realities and multiple dimensions have a grain of truth in them.  Quantum physics is finding that we don’t know as much as we think we do.  Here’s the deal – there are in fact other dimensions, at least one of which is very, very close to ours.  So close that the solar system in that other place is pretty much a match for this one, although it has ten planets instead of nine.   And the third planet is almost identical to Earth, inhabited by life complete with a sentient species.  It follows an orbit around its star that is identical to our orbit of the sun.  Its dominant species have known and visited us for thousands of years.  Apparently, the barrier that separates this universe from theirs thins naturally, from time to time.  Aging stars giving off the right kind of rays and particles, causing it to fail in places. The science types use words like string theory, neutrinos, and entangled quarks.  I don’t really follow too much of that.  But I know that this time it occurred at specific sites around the world, almost simultaneously. Places in Ireland, Germany, China, the Middle East, and Easter Island, among others.  And if you Google those sites, you’ll find they all had an alleged problem of some type.  Reactor leak, hazardous waste spill, outbreak of Ebola, whatever; you get the gist.  Some calamity that allowed governments to shut down and cordon off the effected areas.   There was no gas leak at Stonehenge, that’s a fact!

  I can even tell you what caused this inter-dimensional decay.  You may have heard of the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, the largest particle collider in the world – largest machine ever built by man. A seventeen mile circular tunnel carved under the border between France and Switzerland.  It was powered up in ’08 but was taken off line for repairs.  It came back up in ’09 and has been running on and off ever since.  

Before it was turned on it made the headlines by way of dire predictions of the baby black holes and strange matter that it was bound to create.  The doomsayers were silenced by its apparent success, but what they didn’t know, what no one knew, was that its effect took time.  It slowly wore away the fabric of whatever cosmic firewall keeps old mother Earth separate from her dark twin.  I can’t tell you how it did that, ‘cause I don’t understand it.

But I also can't tell you how my cell phone works, it just does, so I won't dwell on the how, but instead I'll tell you about what came through, here, in Groton Falls.  Because I know more about that than anyone, eggheads included.  Who am I?  My name is Ian Moore, and I was at ground zero for all of this.  My house and knife shop was at the center of one of these sites – these weak points between worlds – so I got a front row seat to everything and now I know more than I should.   More than I want.  It sits in my brain like a pregnant spider, whose babies are swarming and squirming around in my gray matter.  And now I’m gonna share it with you.  I think of it as therapy.  You can charge me for the sessions if you like, it won’t matter.  I won’t be here when you read this.  They want me back…on their side.  And I’ll go, but not before I leave a little something behind. 

You see they've been here before, many times, and we've recorded it and kept track.  No I'm not talking about aliens, little green men (although some are green and short), UFO's and Area 51.  Well, maybe I am, maybe that’s how we perceived them in this century.  But no, the records I'm referring to are far older, mostly passed down by word of mouth, parent to child 

But the stories have lost important information.  They've been twisted over time, made gentler, polished and turned into Disney movies.

 The reality is far different. You’ll need to know more.   You’ll need the information that I will leave on these pages.  Consider it a survival manual, a primer for our new reality.  ‘Cause they’ll be back and I wouldn’t rely too heavily on old Uncle Sam to contain them.  You’ll need to prepare. Kipling had the right of it:

“Gold for the mistress, silver for the maid, copper for the craftsman, cunning in his trade.  Good! said the Baron, sitting in his hall.  But Iron, Cold Iron is master of them all!”

  Ah, that Rudy, he was really clued in.

 I don't have much time, so I need to get down to it.  You'll have to be patient and let me tell the story my own way.  And you have a bit of time to read this, because of me.  Actually, because of my daughter, but that’s all part of the story, isn’t it?  How much time, I can’t tell you.  They will be back. Some, the lesser ones, are still here.  I'll tell you this…none of the old stories come close, not even the Brothers Grimm. 

So grab a seat and buckle up.  I’m gonna tell it like it happened to me, fast and bumpy.  You can even call ‘shotgun’ if you like (although you’ll probably want to own a shotgun when I’m done).

Oh, and I can tell you the name of earth’s dark twin…..Fairie.

 But before I start this story I need you to ask yourself one question:  would you kill to save a loved one?   Or maybe it should be will you kill to save a life?  Make up your!












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