Flash: Mannequin

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Brandson approached the mannequin cautiously. Too many weird fucking things have happened recently. Things appearing to be alive weren’t, things that shouldn’t be alive were, and we don’t even describe what was happening with the dead things. But to get to the other side of the room … to get to the next door which may lead out of this mad house … he must pass within arm’s reach of the mannequin.

“Because of course the door leading out is located directly fucking behind you.” Brandson commented out loud. “No offense darling, you’re beautiful but I stopped dating blowup dolls a while ago.”

All the room’s illumination pointed to the mannequin, making her plastic face shine. Her arms, covered with long black gloves, wrapped around herself tightly in fear; a feeling Brandson was becoming more and more familiar with. An evening gown stretched downward, wrapping her legs tightly together, before spilling down the small dais located immediately before the door he hoped lead out of wherever he was. Threads flowed out, crossing the only lighted path available.

Behind him, he heard a thump and a wet screech. “Yeah, yeah. I know you’re still there you mother-fucking salad!”

He hoped the last nightmare couldn’t uproot from its planter.

Brandson considered taking a step off the well-lit area to avoid the unraveling threads. He peered into the darkness. The four spotlights, each hovering in seemingly empty air, destroyed any night vision.

He returned to studying the mannequin, and jumped seeing her hands had moved. Instead of hugging herself, she was now trying to pull her hair from around her neck. Her complicated coiffure started in a bun at the top of her head, secured with a few sticks topped with cut gems. Multi-color strands wrapped around her head, behind her nape and then again around her neck.

“Shit, are you alive?” he asked, staring. The plastic face and hands made no movement. The eyes seemed to focus on him, pleading rescue, screaming in fear.

Looking down, to make certain he didn’t step on a thread, he discovered the cloth had pulled back to dressy cocktail length. The hem now skimmed the top of her very sexy, plastic knees and her shapely legs continued down to strappy black heels. Her toe nails were painted the same exact bright shade as her lips.

The mannequin looked a whole hell of a lot better than the blow-up his brother bought him as a joke when he went off to college. Shit, if Old Susie had looked this good he may have stayed away from Psycho Miranda. How long ago was that?

The floor raised into a little meter by meter square for the mannequin to stand on. The lighted path only extended a decimeter either side of the step. He debated looking up again to see what the plastic being was doing, but decided against it.

Muttering “No guts, no glory.” he made a run for it. Keeping an eye on his feet and tapping peripheral vision to watch the black skirt and the dark shadow, he rushed by the podium.

A gloved hand grabbed him as he passed and yanked him hard enough one of his feet took a step onto the platform before he could regain his balance. Brandson looked up to see the mannequin’s hair was wrapped around the arm grabbing him. She had pivoted and now faced the door denied him.

As he watched, the multi-color strands writhed where they separated the fingers gripping his arm.

“Please, sir.” The plastic doll begged. “Leave while you can.”

The woman’s face still shined plastic, but now looked like a clear plastic mask glued over a human face. Her eyes no longer were glass orbs, but bottomless green lakes of fear and concern.

“Is this the way out?” He asked. Brandson tried to take a step back only to find her fingers were not letting go. In addition, something had snaked around the foot located on the dais.

“I don’t know.”

The hair crossed from her fingers and started to wind around his bicep. Brandson  yelped.

“Is This The Way OUT?” He asked, his voice getting louder and louder as he used his other hand to untangle the strands.

Tears pooled, turning her eyes pure jade. “I don’t know.”

He dropped his eyes to his foot and discovered his own jeans hand lengthened to merge into the wood platform. “Then what the fuck do you know?” He asked contemplating how to escape the second part of the trap.

Her voice changed, picking up speed from her previous slow cadence, and a gutter hiss punctuated each word. “Dolly dear in spider web, bite your mate so you can live.”

“What the fuck?” He asked, snapping his head up to look at her face. For a second, he saw hairy legs reach out from the bun on her head. Mulit-faceted eyes blinked once on their stalks before returning to their gem-like camouflage appearance.

He felt her free hand unbuttoning his fly. Brandson’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Help me push them down,” she instructed.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” He said as her hand stroked his dick, pushing the jean fabric apart. After a second thought, he started pushing the cloth down. They both worked the tight denim until gravity took over. He was almost ready for the killing kiss as a release by the time they were through.  He started to lean towards her.

“Sir, … I will not free myself at another’s expense.” Her plastic mask moved as her face tensed. Still staring into his eyes, she brought up her free hand and crashed it down on the arm held in place by the spider silk. The plastic shattered.

With the detached hand still gripping his arm, he fell backwards against the door. His jeans remained attached to the dias.

With her remaining hand, the woman was holding an arm ending shortly past her elbow. Plastic goo froze mid-drip from white shards. Her plastic face, returned to looking like a plastic doll, was twisted in pain.  Four feathered boas rose out of her bun as though supported by wires and bent inward to frame her face. Her gown was once again tight around her legs. The trailing loose fringe hem had all the threads stretching towards his jeans and him.

Reaching up, he used the doorknob to help stand. Keeping an eye on the woman and her captor, he whispered to her. “I wish I could help you.”

He opened the door and stepped through to discover what was beyond.

(words 1,096 – originally appearing at Sunday Fun on Breathless Press 4/15/2013, published on old blog on 4/21/2013; republished new blog format 9/10/2017) 

Book Review: The Big Bad 2

Amazon Cover - The Big Bad II

Book Cover from Amazon

The Big Bad II, an anthology published by Falstaff Books.


Everybody loves the bad guys, and this second edition of The Big Bad brings you more to love! A collection of best-selling fantasy and horror writers brings you twenty-four all-new tales of vampires, demons, ghosts, zombies, and the most terrifying monsters of all – humans. Crack open the pages, if you dare, and explore two dozen tales of humor and horror by some of the brightest names in the business!



Much more consistent in story quality than the first book (but slightly less daring), Mr. Hartness and Ms. Leverett seem to have their strides with their second anthology of Big Bad. 

So often we see the put-upon minority, the bad guys, get trampled, locked up, even killed by good guys and government agents (unless, of course, those are the bad guys). It is a pleasure seeing them not only survive, but thrive … I think.

Feels like Justice to Me by Edmund R. Schubert may be one of the best justifications I have ever read for someone doing something unusual. An amazing character piece! This one is a five star. It’s about half-way through the anthology.

And Stuart Jaffee for his Portrait of a Psychopathic Man wins the “what was I thinking reading this anthology at midnight” award. Really I was reading this anthology at midnight – WHAT was I THINKING?

Quick rundown on some of the other 24 stories
A Family Affair – by Selah Janel – So nice to see a son take after his mother. I can see him growing up to be just like her … she should be worried.
Old Nonna – by Gail Z Martin – A lovely twist of an ancient Russian story transferred to mountain folk everywhere.
A Day in the Life – by James R. Tuck – Some days are better than others, even for the fiends of Hell. But you know, a good working environment can help make the difference.
Overkill – by Sara Taylor Woods – Word of advice, don’t make a Southern waitress from a redneck bar angry. She will bless your heart.
A Fitter Subject for Study – by Sarah Joy Adams – All in the name of science. (I can soooo see this as the first stage of a Call of Cth game. … Little surprised the editors choose to have two letter-based shorts, but they are both horrific fun.)
Ghost and Sands – by Jay Requard – Another short about Mr. Conjer whom we met in the first Big Bad Anthology. Pleased to see him still in business.
The House on Cherry Hill by Emily Lavin Leverett – Some old houses are more than just money pits.
Phone Home – by E.D. Guy – A sci-fi! So much of the horror genre is historic or contemporary; so nice to see one proving bad guys continue to destroy humanity in the future.
I Think of Snow – by J. Matthew Saunders – This author’s beautiful language perfectly capture a love interest (ummm, maybe not the right description). 

and finally …
The Cully – by D.B. Jackson – A Sephira origin story … enough said, if you like the Thieftaker series.

Book Review: Cellar

Amazon Cover - Cellar

Book Cover from Amazon


Cellar by Karen E. Taylor

Something’s not quite right about the neighborhood of Woodland Heights. Five years ago six children disappeared in this suburban heaven. When Laura Wagner moves into a house that had been vacant for most of those five years, this something comes alive.

Laura Wagner, divorced mother of two, addicted to alcohol and Valium, sees nothing wrong with her life; she sees nothing much at all. She gets by as well as she can, aided by the solace of her drugs and whiskey, until the day she backs into a police car in the parking lot of her favorite bar and is sentenced to involuntary rehabilitation treatments.

Returning home clean and sober is an eye-opening experience. The spirit dwelling in her house reveals its true, evil nature and begins to prey upon her, her friends, even her children, avid to spread its message of death and despair.

Laura must learn to control her inner demons before she can subdue these outside forces threatening to break free. She must learn how to distinguish hallucinations from reality, learn how to stop the spirit that requires her death and the deaths of her loved ones.

Author’s Note:
CELLAR is a re-issue of my previous published book (Twelve Steps from Darkness, Copyright © 2007 Karen E. Taylor.) The story, while essentially the same, has been edited and expanded upon in certain areas, resulting in several new scenes and an epilogue.



I finished reading Cellar by Karen Taylor at midnight last night – not exactly the best time to be reading this horror-ghost-recovering-addict story in a house with a damp, dark basement and parts of the house which knock at random moments. Yeah, bad idea.

First off, this is not my normal fare. I avoid horror and mental-health/addict stories, but it was in the Modern Magic pack where I knew a number of Urban Fantasy authors so I read it. It took a long time to get to the “modern magic” part. But in the meantime a solid character study was created for Laura, the Main Character – an alcoholic whose downward spiral included backing into a police car when leaving a bar. After coming home to the empty house following the sentencing, voices whisper in her head about how worthless she is – children taken by husband, loss of job, and soon to spend a month in rehab where they would take the one thing she loved from her – the alcohol. “She would be better off dead.” Again and again the whispers tell her, or is it her own mind spiraling down.

And that remains the question with each situation – it is real or her addiction altering her world? Is the depression external forces or an natural internal reaction to her situation? And the real kicker – should she even care? Every step forward she attempts is matched by a failure twice as great. But three people do not give up on her – her two daughters and one police officer who has already taken the journey back from the bottle.

Will it be enough to recover from her descent into the cellar of life with the alcohol and to fight whatever has decided to reside in her basement?

Not for the faint of heart. I’m not sure which is scarier: the “horror” story or the alcoholism whispering its siren song to her.

Author Spotlight: Jake Bible

Z Burbia Amazon Cover

Book Cover from Amazon

If one combined all the energy of a four year-old, the charming arrogance of a sixteen year-old, and the plain crazy of an eighty year-old paranoid dementia patient and sprinkled in some ADHD, mech zombies, and medieval space stations, you may begin to understand who is Jake Bible. He writes from middle grade to adults, horror to fantasy, thriller to science fiction. Whatever comes out of his blender mind gets put on paper. A lot of it – the man publishes six (or more) heart-pounding books a year.

I am not kidding about the mech zombies, the Apex Trilogy starting with Book 1: Dead Mech. The blurb reads: “Hundreds of years after the zombie apocalypse decimates the world, human civilization has put itself back together again. Their secret weapon against the zombie hordes: the Mechs. Massive robotic battle machines. But what happens when a mech pilot dies in his mech and becomes a zombie?”

And the medieval space station can be seen in the Reign of Four. Other series include Dead Team Alpha, Z-Burbia, and ScareScapes (middle grade), just to name a few. Mr. Bible nails the horror, the gooshy, pus-flowing, zombie-filled horror, even if the bodies don’t stay down – you think the creatures had claw hammers to dig those nails out. 

He presently resides in North Carolina and can be seen at various conventions in the area. If asked on a panel how to fix a dragging portion of a book, his response is always “Blow something up.” with a gleeful grin.

His website is: Jake Bible Fiction and his podcast is Writing in Suburbia (unscripted, NSFW – has very mellow voice, tends to have rants about writing).

Flash: Waking up Dead

Casket from EnvironmentalCaskets.com


You are born. You die. In between is when the world exists. Or that is why people say.

Maybe they believe in heaven, or hell, or reincarnation, but the only surety is the here and now. Between birth and death. That is what people say.

People lie.

Waking up inside a coffin can rearrange your world.

Trying to escape the top-of-the-line casket your family bought with the unused portion of your college fund can drive you half mad. Sure the adjustable bed and mattress are nice during the breaks between claustrophobia panic attacks, but the chemically treated interior isn’t exactly fresh air.

Eventually the white satin lining, cotton padding, strong metal interior and beautiful mahogany wood exterior gives way to your screams and pounding. To your sobs and clawing. To your whimpers.

It’s not like the fancy locking mechanism is on the inside.

You wonder if you would have to pay extra for that feature.

Of course once you break the casket, you got a pile of dirt to get through. Worms, roots and the flowers your family left. Hopefully you don’t loosen the headstone so it falls on you as you emerge.

And for that trip there is no adjustable bed and mattress to rest on. You only thought you knew claustrophobia in the casket. When you breathe dirt and can’t move your fingers because of the earth falling down, you go truly mad.

Rain fills the spaces between the dirt. Don’t even try to move after a downpour. The disorientation will make you dig in the wrong direction. But you won’t care. All you want is out.

Eventually your reach it. The surface. Hopefully it’s night, because after the endless dark of digging your way out, the sun bloody hurts. Hopefully no one is around, because after all the effort to get out, you are hungry beyond measure.

If you are lucky, you are a zombie and those worms were tasty snacks on the way up. You may be able to pick and choose who your grab.

Vampires have it much worse.

The madness makes it easier to do the first kill. But the nourishment heals you, body and mind. So you get to go mad again when you realize what you have done. What you have become.

You get to go mad every night for the rest of your life.

Vampires have it easier. Most walk into the sun before they hate themselves forever.

Zombies have to find someone to kill them.

Which is hard, because it ain’t exactly assisted suicide. The monster in your head has a will to live. It dragged you kicking and screaming through the casket, dirt and first kill. The monster that is you doesn’t want to die.

So you got to trick it. Trick yourself. Something only the mad can do. Fortunately you are already there. And if you are lucky, you have someone who loves you enough to kill you.

(words 496 – first published 5/24/2013; republished new blog format 10/2/2016)