Friday, October 5, 2012

Fire up the Kindle!

To Hell

Got my short story "To Hell" published by the fine folks at Dark Moon Publishing, for their sixteenth installment of Dark Eclipse Magazine. As you can only read it online, the above link is for Kindle users.

The Many Misadventures of Master Mystery: Murderous Mohrgs from the Moors Part Two

Today most certainly was not a good day.
While Reginald had suspected this day would be like so many bad days, it was confirmed upon entering the Pink Swan to find himself grappled from the sides by a pair of young giggling girls, squeezing his thin limbs between their scantily clad breasts in a way they assumed he found enticing, cooing their greetings into his ears.
This lasted as long as it took for the girls to get a good look at him in all of his ghoulish glory, swathed in his black cloak and black silk clothes with ashen skin and sunken eyes; they leaped back with girlish shrieks, his appearance terrifying them into a mindless stupor as they began to make a scene. Reginald glowered at the cabbie and an older busty redhead who were both laughing at the scene, while the rest of the bar all stared at him in abject horror.
“’E’s the Ripper! The Rippers ‘ere!” One of the girls, a younger blonde in a slinky green dress, shrieked as she backed away from him, pointing a shaky finger.
The rest of the working girls all began screaming as well, their various clients rising from their seats, menacing looks etched upon their faces. Before things could get ugly, the older redhead fired a gun into the air, sending broken pieces of wood and plaster showering down around her, but effectively silencing everyone. Looking up, I could see the ceiling dotted with so many holes, so this was apparently commonplace.
“He’s no Ripper more than I am, ya lot of wankers an’ poofters!” She bellows across the wide bar, a tightly bound corset forcing her prodigious assets up and almost out of her tight dress. “Robert here jus’ brought ‘im in from tha’ docks, a travler from America. ‘E’s been trapped on a damned boat fer tha’ better part ova month, so ‘e ain’t killed anybody!”
Reginald’s head hurts from both the gunshot’s loud clamor to the matron’s horrid grammar, but he merely sniffs once to show his disdain for all of this… indignity he must suffer through. He tugs his coat forward with both hands and walks over to the bar, keeping his face as stoic as he can as every pair of eyes in the room follow him.
“One room, madam,” He says to her with a slight bow, before bending over in search of a guest registry, “Under the name of Master Mystery.”
“Wot kind of name is that?” She asks with a bit of skepticism, leaning over the counter to get a good look at me.
“The same kind of name as your manner of speaking; a silly one.” He replies curtly, snapping his fingers towards the cabbie, Robert, and his pile of luggage. “Nevertheless, I shall require one of your more spacious rooms for the time being and am willing to pay for it. Tell Robert which room is to be mine and he’ll bring my belongings up forthwith.”
“Uhm… I ‘spose room numbah four Robbie, the last door on tha’ left.” The madam says, tearing her eyes away from Reginald for the briefest of moments. “An’ how will you be payin’ fer this room Mister Mystery?”
“Master Mystery,” he corrects her before pulling a thumb sized emerald from his pocket and sliding it across the bar to her, smirking as her eyes widen at the sight of the sparkling jewel. “That should cover my stay so long as I don’t stay longer than a month, wouldn’t you agree?”
She nods mutely, snatching the gleaming gem from the countertop the moment my fingers leave it. “M’lord, for this you’ll be gettin’ the royal service fer this, you will!”
“How charming,” He replies before turning towards the door and making his way out. “I’ll be returning in the wee hours of the morning. I trust my room will be prepared by then?”
“O’ course! It’ll be as spick and span as a freshly scoured chamber pot!” The madam said with an enthusiastic nod, motioning for the two girls that had flanked him (bouth still quivering like leaves in the wind). “This ‘ere is Sara,” she said, motioning to the blonde, “an’ this be Annie! They be the help I ‘ave running this place when they ain’t working the floor or the streets. Jus’ ask ‘em for anything at all and they’ll get it for ya.”
Delving his mind into the Ethereal, Reginald quickly wound a few chords of stray energy around the two girls so he could find them should he be in need of anything, the protective ward he’d cast over the structure still settling into the nooks and crannies of the old building. Pulling a small pocket watch from within his cloak and flipping it open, he gazed at it with his eyes full of ethereal vapors, the long minute hand spinning about wildly in search of the nearest concentration of magical energy.
South, more South East, and from the way the arm was twitching it was actually rather close considering the size of London in general. Flipping the copper top closed he tucked the wind-up trinket into his cloak once more before wordlessly pushing out the door and back into the dismal grey skies of London, curtains of foul smelling rain pounding the cobblestone roads as if they were beneath a waterfall.
“Lovely,” He muttered to himself, fishing in his coat for his dark wooden pipe, standing beneath the awning over the brothel’s wide doors to remain warm and dry, well drier. Packing the pipe with a special blend of tobacco he had personally steeped in several medical solutions, he lit the pip with a casual wave of his hand over the bowl, smiling as the feeling of a warm blanket wrapped about his frame ever so snuggly. To everyone else it appeared to be a thin gentleman enjoying a pipe while walking through the rain.
To a Sorcerer like himself, it would look like a man using a brand of Indian folk magic to ward away the rain, allowing it to slide off his gaunt body like water off a frog’s back. “And to think we call them savages,” He muttered to himself around the pipe, puffing a few times to get the relaxing effects of the tobacco into his system, “The have cities bigger than London dating back a thousand years ago that thrived on a barter system, we have cities that destroy the rivers that we drink from with our own waste.”
Walking down the street with his shoulders hunched over and his wide brimmed hat pulled flush over his head, Reginald headed South along the river, occasionally pulling his pocket watch from his coat to get his bearings, trying to find the largest concentration of Ethereal energy in the area.
After an hour of sloshing through the flooded streets of Whitechapel, he finally found the damnable place, cursing his own stupidity over having literally walked over it at least a dozen times, usually while cursing at his own device for being broken. A drainage grate just outside of Dorset street revealed the large concentration of supernatural activity beneath his feet, forcing him to walk down the darkened alley looking for an entrance that would lead him down.
The alley was dark, the overcast skies doing little to help him see the litter cluttered alleyway, several barrels of trash overflowing next to one another, great swarms of flies and gigantic rats happily gorging themselves on the leavings of man. Heaving a sigh, Reginald closed his eyes and pulled himself into the Ethereal, leaving his physical form to stand in the pouring rain.
The world, once dark and grim, was now grainy and bright, colorless with great swathes of black and white to contrast one another. Walls were translucent, as was the ground, showing Reginald the various doors and tunnels leading about the darkened alley, one door in particular bearing an invisible marker above it, labeling it a safe haven for the supernatural.
Sadly, that would have to wait as he could see three sparkling souls descending down the walls towards his deserted body, their souls writhing and pulsing with hunger and need. Pulling himself back into reality, he opened his eyes just in time to make out the blazing red eyes and glistening teeth of a creature the size of a small boy, its arms twice the length of a tall man ending in thick serrated tendrils, the elongated head letting out a low screech as it whipped one of its arms out towards Reginald faster than one could see
Today was turning out to be a terrible day.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Many Misadventures of Master Mystery: Murderous Mohrgs from the Moors

Today was not a good day.
“Gods, the weather is just dismal in London,” complained a man of gaunt appearance and lean frame. For those to first look upon him, they would be reminded of the recently risen dead, ones that were heavily considering returning to the grave out of apathy rather than any true desire to harm. “How in blazes do you people live here? It’s always raining!”
The cabbie, a surly man with a much healthier build and skin color, turned and glared at the sallow skinned youth for a brief moment before turning back to the reins. “Ya get used ta tha rain after ah bit… where was it ah was takin’ ya?”
The passenger sighed, the rings under his eyes along with his sunken features made even more disturbing by the shadows cast by the cover preventing the rain from soaking him to the bone. His bags were safely stored in the undercarriage of the… well, carriage, and while he wasn’t against travel to the old country, he was most certainly against travel to England.
He hated the rain.
Well, in reality he disliked pretty much everything that could be offered in this fine world, but he chose to keep that to himself. Like others in his field, he was peculiar to the extreme, and the general public rarely felt at ease with him around.
Again, this might be because he looked like the recently deceased. He liked to think it was because the universe hated him.
“For the third time, take me to any inn or brothel in Whitechapel. I don’t care which.” He said with an annoyed huff, watching the rain pour in sheets onto the narrow London roads of cobblestone and mud.
“Whitechapel, eh? ‘Ou know wot’s goin’ on there, right mate?” The cabbie asked, whipping his horse once for slowing down. “Not a lot o’ folk willin’ to risk the alleys o’ Whitechapel, they is.”
“Hard to believe you’re English the way you speak…” The passenger muttered before raised his voice. “Yes, I’ve heard the tales, however tall they are. Just take me to my destination and be silent and I’ll tip you an extra twenty pounds.”
That shut the driver up, who merely pulled the collar of his coat higher to protect his neck from the pouring rain around him. Reaching into his coat, he pulled a flask of his favorite beverage, a colonial brew that fortified the nerves while providing vigor to the senses. Taking a long pull, he gazed out the open window at the rainy streets of London and sighed.
This was going to be a long one. He could already tell.
Master Mystery, as he was known by the many he chose not to reveal his true name to, was by far one of the world’s most well established Parapsychologists, Exorcists and all around Hunter of the Dead. This was not to say he liked his job, but with his gifts also came the curse of possessing those gifts. And so when he was relaxing in his New York flat with The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, only to be interrupted by the sudden appearance of a ghost wailing about her murder, one could say the Master, his true name Reginald, was most displeased.
The spectral image bore the horrific markings of her death, a great slash across the throat deep enough to cut into the spine, along with far more precise cuttings along her abdomen. Swirling green mists enveloped her, chains of the underworld wrapped about her lithe frame but unable to pull her to the great beyond due to her unfinished business. Wailing and moaning, she’d been taken aback when Reginald had politely asked her to “silence that racket and act like the lady you once were!”
And so over the course of an hour, and several cups of tea served by a very understanding butler, Reginald interviewed the spirit of Mary Ann Nichols, a streetwalker from London. She claimed to have been slain by a man with glowing red eyes and the ability to breathe flames, with “knives for hands, and steel for teeth.”
The dead were well known for being overly dramatic.
Still, when she told him of a secret cache of savings she and her friends had been hoarding, offering it as payment should he avenge her death, who was he to say no? After all, Master Mystery was a man of action! A man of vision! A man who had bills to pay!
And so here he was, sitting in a leaking wooden carriage with an Englishmen doing his best to butcher the language in the middle of a “light rain shower” that would have drowned out the Midwest. Snapping his fingers, a sudden twist of reality warped before him, green mist forming the face of a clock telling him the local time. Waving his hand through the vapors to clear them, he leaned back in his seat and took another sip from his flask.
Peering out the window, he saw that the street sign bearing the name of “Whitechapel” slowly pass them by, the stained wood cracked and worn from the constant beating it took from a very angry Mother Nature.
“We’re ‘ere Guvner!” The cabbie announced, pulling back on the reins of his trusty steed to slow the carriage to a stop. “Tha’ best brothel in all o’ London it is, wit’ cheap room and cheaper women!”
“How lovely,” Reginald replied drolly as he studied the building from his seat. Two stories high, the place was obviously an inn due to the small swinging sign bearing a bed and a bottle, paint-stripped lettering proclaiming the dank building to be the “Pink Swan,” “Go ahead and bring my luggage inside and rent a room for me. I’ll be in shortly.”
The cabbie looked ready to protest, but a pair of twenty pound notes shoved into his face quickly silences him, as well as hastened his rather rickety movements as he unloaded his large from the driver’s seat and quickly began to take the luggage into the inn. Clapping his hands, Reginald pulls on the spiritual chords of London, trying to sense any disturbances in the local area, before throwing a cheap alarm ward over the inn.
Pulling his cloak around his shoulders, he takes a deep breath before pushing open the door to the carriage and quickly climbing down the ladder, wincing as mud spatters up onto his favorite pants, a silken set of black pants from the Far East.
Looking to the sky and then back to the inn, he heaved a sigh and moved to the door.
Today was not looking like a good day at all.
Part Two

Authors Note: Like The Son of a Preacher Man series, expect to see additions to Master Mystery's story quite often. He's an older character of mine, a sort of magical Sherlock Holmes that deals with supernatural crimes. I enjoy his character quite a bit, and hope you will too.