Monday, 26 October 2015

Sinister Stitches - excerpt from "Midnight Clay"

Halloween is almost upon us and so is my short horror story collection, Sinister Stitches, featuring 12 tales from the Shadow Fabric mythos.

A teaser from one of those stories, “Midnight Clay”:

As though the moonlight pushed him along, Owen freewheeled down the hill. The wind bit into his face, froze his knuckles. Often summer nights were like this, especially with a cloudless sky. If only he hadn’t left his coat back at Jimmy’s house.
      A rumble in the distance, almost a howl, snatched his attention to the bend up ahead. He steered closer to the edge of the lane. He and Jimmy had an awesome evening; the new Dungeons and Dragons role-play game had stolen the day away. Before they’d realised it, night had fallen and Owen was late. Jimmy had beaten him with some lucky dice rolls.
      The next game, Owen thought, would be war.
      The rumble intensified; a vehicle approached at speed, still unseen. Perhaps a truck or lorry. Having cycled this route many times, he knew the lane was wide enough even if he did meet something that large. Still, he kept close to the grass verge.
      Once more, his thoughts wandered to the game. Luck or not, next time he’d outsmart Jimmy.
      Further ahead, along the winding road and through the trees, headlights forced back the darkness. Air-brakes hissed. A lorry, definitely, and it approached the bend without slowing.
      Owen jammed on the brakes, the back wheel whirring on the tarmac.
      He jerked to a halt.
      The vehicle tore into the bend. Tyres screeched and juddered and groaned in protest. The trailer tilted, jack-knifed, and tipped. Something sleek, a silhouette against the night sky, leapt from the roof with what looked like enormous wings and too many limbs. Whatever it was, Owen had the fleetest glimpse as he threw himself sideways, dragging his bike. He rolled into the bushes, twigs and branches raked his hands and face. The lorry cleaved the tarmac, roaring like a metal dragon and uprooting trees and foliage, mud and earth.
      His heart pounded in his throat.
      After that there was silence, save for the creak of a buckled trailer wheel. And voices. Faint echoes on the wind from somewhere in the darkness. Not near the lorry but further away in the fields. Imagination surely; adrenaline from witnessing the crash. Imagination, too, had made him see that great…creature?
      Entirely in his head.
      He pushed himself up and staggered onto the road. The underside of the metal hulk loomed over him. A clump of mud and tangled brambles fell from the buckled wheel. Tiny glass beads covered the road, each one glinting moonlight.
      If only he hadn’t left his phone in his coat pocket, back at Jimmy’s.
      “Hello?” he called, heading for the cab.
      No one answered…

Sinister Stitches is out this Halloween, available on pre-order from Amazon.

The blurb:

Twelve horror stories weave truths you do not want to hear. The collection includes:

Intensive Scare – Three teenagers dabble in the occult and learn there's a good reason to be afraid of the dark.
Red, White and Black – When a clinical trial goes horribly wrong, a lone survivor finds herself fleeing from a sentient infection.
Meeting Mum – Introducing a new girlfriend to your parents has never been so problematic.
Midnight Clay – An otherwise pleasant homeward journey is interrupted by a demon with a particularly grotesque skill.

Each story binds the Shadow Fabric mythos tighter, revealing that everything around us is entwined with a deep-rooted darkness. And sometimes that darkness — the fabric — tears.

Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK with his wife and a number of animals. He often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, dark fantasy, and Sci-Fi stories have featured in several anthologies and ezines. Rayne Hall has included his work in three of her Ten Tales anthologies: Fiery Beasts, Cogwheels, and Fiends, and also a Shadow Fabric mythos story can be found in April Grey’s Hell’s Garden anthology. His flash fiction often features in the popular ezine, Sirens Call, and he writes a series for the Sci-Fi ezine, Future Chronicles, in which we follow the adventures of Alpha Beta Gamma Kill. His upcoming short story collection, Sinister Stitches, is only a fraction of an expanding mythos that began with his debut novel, The Shadow Fabric.

The Shadow Fabric:
Sinister Stitches (pre-order):

Twitter: @Mark_Cassell

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