Just finished reading this delightful romp through the mind of the extremely talented, Janine Pipe! I had read her stories before in the women of horror anthologies published by Kandisha Press and loved them, so it was a no brainer to purchase this little ditty! As usual, she wows the reader with her creativity by presenting this collection as lost papers of a semi-famous author written as an 80s mixtape, complete with titles of 80s songs for each story. Since my partying days long, long, ago were in the 80s, I was drawn to that. But then again, who doesn’t love 80s music?!
Each story is so well done and fires up the reader’s imagination and anticipation immediately upon entry. Many of them leave the reader wanting more, much in the same style as shorts by the illustrious, Stephen King. The collection is permeated with ghosts, legendary creatures, folklore; a buffet of all things horror.
I also love that she put author notes at the end of each tale. I love getting a glimpse into the writer’s mind. And of course I’m drawn to her writing because much like me she is heavily influenced by the TV show, Supernatural.
Janine Pipe with her awesome range when it comes to writing horror, is on her way to being a force to be reckoned with in the horror writing community. I give this anthology 5 stars!
The One That Got Away is a wonderful romp through the minds of women of horror! This third anthology by Kandisha Press is loaded with stories for every horror pallet imaginable. It hits the ground running with the very first story, “Heavy Metal Coffin” by Amira Krista Calvo and never lets the reader up for air throughout. Be prepared to miss a few days of work, for this one. Maybe plan ahead and take a vacation! 🙂
I enjoyed all the stories, but some of my favorites were, “The Incident on Asteroid 4 Pandora” by Stevie Kopas, “The Lady Crow” by Lucy Rose, “Rippers” by Ellie Douglas, and as always, Carmen Baca’s work is spellbinding in “Atla’s Journey”. I really loved, “The Last Thread” by Paula R.C. Readman; such an unexpected twist with that one! And “Dear Meat” by J Snow; dystopian terror at it’s best! Catherine McCarthy hits the mark again with, “Lure”! “The Letter” by Lydia Prime is crazy creative and dark humor at its best! Last but not least, “Should Have Gone to Vegas” by Janine Pipe is loaded with delicious, visceral, horrific gore!
This is the best anthology yet from Kandisha Press! This anthology is loaded with every horror lover’s dreams: monsters, dystopian futures, the undead and so much more! Much like real life, nothing is as seems; in the suburbs, on fishing trips, in space and everywhere in between!
The One That Got Away is another 5 star offering by Kandisha Press! Make sure your lights are on and doors are locked when you read it!
I’m back on track with both reading and writing. My current read above, The One That Got Away, is another winner published by Kandisha Press! It’s the third installment of horror anthologies written by women. I’m loving it and will write a full review when I’m finished.
So far it’s loaded with delectable monsters; an evil goddess, an alien monster, robotics gone terribly wrong and so much more! But sometimes, man is the worst monster of all. Be careful who you make this statement to guys, “We never said we were exclusive. I’m sorry if you thought we were.” Yikes!
I’m also hard at work on a new horror short, “The Light”. It’s a stand alone story, but will also act as the next chapter of, Darkest Timeline.
The idea for the story was inspired by this photo:
Happy reading and writing everyone! Hope everyone is staying well and safe!
Reed placed his hand on his brother’s arm, “Jack…”
But Jack jerked his arm from his brother’s grasp, strode toward their mother and repeated, inches from her face, “What truth, Mother?! What’s going on?!”
Jehenne walked to the kitchen counter, grabbed a tissue, and wiped the spittle from her face. She then smiled at her son and said, “Say it, don’t spray it, Jack.”
Jack’s face reddened. “You’re going to joke?! With everything that’s happening?!”
“Jack, calm down,” said Reed.
Jack swung around to face his brother, “No! I won’t calm down! This weird shit probably doesn’t faze you because you’ve always lived in the fringes anyway! But I have a bright future! I’m a winner! I have big plans and I need the world to go back to fucking normal!”
Amir turned to Jehenne and said, “I told you that you should have trained them in our ways when they were young.”
“I wanted them to have normal lives, Amir. Adita grew up too fast.”
“Better to be prepared. You knew they would come back one day,” answered Amir.
“It’s been centuries, time doesn’t pass the same way for them. You sound like one of those Jesus freaks, thinking it’s time for the second coming, which if it ever does happen, it will be long after we’re all gone. And, we closed the portal, remember?”
“Well, how do you explain all that’s been happening lately? And, we’re immortal, remember?” asked Amir.
“It’s just a glitch between universes, Amir. It happens from time to time. And we are long-lived, but not immortal.”
“She’s back and you know it,” said Amir.
“Who’s back?! I want some answers!” shouted Jack.
“You need to calm down, Jack,” said Jehenne, turning to face her son.
“Calm down?! People are disappearing, weird houses are popping up out of nowhere with strange doorways that lead to nowhere or some crazy Alice in Wonderland fucking places!” Jack shouted.
Now Jack had Jehenne and Amir’s full attention. “What are you talking about Jack? What have you seen?” asked Amir.
Reed stepped forward and said, “We both saw it.”
All eyes were now on Reed, and Jehenne said, “Tell us what you saw, Reed.”
When Reed finished telling them all that had transpired earlier in the day, they were all silent for a moment and then Amir asked, “So you did see a woman?”
“More like a monster,” said Reed.
“Did you not listen to the description?!” interjected Jack.
“Yes, yes, but that may be just how she appeared in that world,” said Amir.
Jehenne turned toward Amir, “Do you really think it was her?”
“I don’t know, but if it was, we have to stop her from getting into our world.” Amir turned toward Reed and asked, “Where is the house? We need to destroy it.”
“Destroy it? We can’t. We have to get the object,” said Reed.
“Why is the object so important to you, son” asked Jehenne.
“I don’t know exactly. I just have a feeling,” said Reed.
“A feeling?! Seriously?!” Jack bellowed as he grabbed his shorter brother by the shoulders and spun him around to face him. “You’re enjoying this aren’t you?! You love this fucking shit!”
“Stop!” shouted Amir.
Jack dropped his hands from Reed’s shoulders and turned to face Amir and shouted, “Shut up old man! You don’t even care about your own daughter! Just some stupid fucking house!”
Amir was in Jack’s face instantly and even though the younger man towered over him, with his six-foot tall, athletic frame; the older, shorter, Indian man, knocked him flat on his back with one swift punch to the jaw.
“Not bad for an old man,” Amir said, looking down on Jack who was sprawled out on his back on the linoleum floor. Amir reached out his right hand, Jack took it and Amir easily lifted him to his feet. “You need to show some respect to your elders, boy,” the older man said.
“Yes sir,” said Jack.
The four of them rode in silence in Jack’s car heading toward the outskirts of town where the brothers had found the old house. Jehenne rode shotgun while Amir and Reed had settled in the back seats. Jack looked straight ahead, face stern. Jehenne reached over and placed a hand on his leg. He glanced at her for a moment, eyes liquid with emotion, and then faced forward again.
Jack drove through the center of the town and then pulled onto a side street that ran along the outer edge of the town. When he reached the end of a row of wood-framed houses on the fringes of the city limits, he pulled over to the curb and parked the car.
“Why are you stopping here?” asked Jehenne.
“This is where the house is…was,” answered Reed from behind her.
“So, the portal is closed. Good, then the worst is over,” said Jehenne.
“With the disappearances that have been happening, I doubt that was the only portal,” said Amir.
“Well, this was the one where she was spotted and it’s closed now,” said Jehenne.
“First of all, we don’t know if it was her and second of all, just because it’s gone, that doesn’t mean she didn’t come through before it closed,” said Amir.
“Jack, Reed, did you boys see the woman again after you re-entered our world?” asked Jehenne.
“No, I came back alone, or was thrown out,” said Reed.
“Did you see anyone, Jack?” Jehenne asked.
“No, Reed and I were alone when we left the house,” Jack answered.
“That doesn’t prove anything, Jehenne. She could have entered our world after they left,” said Amir.
“Amir, she’s not here! The boys said the door slammed shut after Reed was thrown through it. And the house is gone now.”
“Look Jehenne, I know you’re scared…” began Amir.
“Scared?! I’m not afraid of her!” Jehenne was shouting now.
“Really? You know how powerful she is. She’s the one who…”
“Taught me, I know. And that’s why I know her tricks. If she is here, we’ll defeat her again and this time, I’ll destroy her!”
“Well, be that as it may, let’s get out and check this area for any portal remnants, just in case,” said Amir.
“Portal remnants? Is that a thing?” asked Reed.
“Sometimes a small bit of the interdimensional gateway remains open, lingers around a bit,” said Jehenne.
“This just gets better and better,” said Jack as he turned off the engine and then stepped out of the car. “And what about Adita? Don’t you even care that your daughter is missing, Amir?”
Amir stepped out of the car and faced Jack, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Of course I care, son. I’m worried too, but she has trained for this all her life. I have faith in her.”
“Trained all her life?”
“You need to have faith too, Jack. There is so much you don’t know,” said Amir.
As the four of them headed to the former location of the mystery house, Samuel James appeared as if from out of nowhere.
“Dad!” Reed and Jack said in unison.
“How did you get here?” asked Jack.
“Samyaza, you’re here. Finally,” said Amir.
“I had some business to take care of, old friend,” said Samyaza.
“Business, what business is more important than what is happening here?” asked Amir.
“There are other realms besides this one, Amir,” answered Samyaza.
Jehenne walked over and embraced her husband. Even at her height of 5’8”, his 6’3” physique towered over her. He lifted her chin with his right hand, his ebony skin contrasting with her lightly tanned skin, reached down and lightly kissed her on her mouth. He then looked up and said to the group, “The portal is closed.”
“How can you be so sure?” asked Amir.
“Have you forgotten who I am, Amir?”
Amir and Samyaza stared at each other in silence. Amir looking up at the much taller angel, glaring.
“You two need to stand down. We need to take a ride to Antonia’s. She’s been searching for a dreamwalker. Hopefully her search has been successful,” said Jehenne.
“She’s right,” said Amir.
“Alright, my love, I’ll meet you there,” said Samyaza to his beloved before vanishing.
“What the hell?!” said Jack.
“It’s okay,” said Reed.
“Did you know that our parents weren’t who they said they were, Reed? I don’t understand.”
“No, I didn’t know exactly. It’s hard to explain.”
“Well try,” said Jack.
“Boys, we need to head to Antonia’s ranch, Kuhaylah Arabians. There is much to tell you,” said Jehenne.
“Much to tell us? That’s an understatement,” said Jack as he dutifully headed back to the car with the others. But then he stopped and turned toward his mother. “Why did you say Antonia’s ranch and the name of it? Why would you say both?”
“For the reader,” said Jehenne.
“The reader? Have you completely lost your mind, Mom?!”
Jehenne laughed, “Jack, when extraordinary events happen throughout the cosmos, there is always a historical record.”
“Yeah, but not exact dialogue, word for word as such.”
“You never know who’s listening son,” said Jehenne as she turned and headed toward the passenger side of Jack’s car.
Jack stepped into the driver’s seat and started the car, but before pulling off, glanced back at Reed, sitting behind their mother and their eyes locked for an instant. Jack was overcome with a feeling of calm, then faced forward again and pulled out onto the road.
“Reader,” Jehenne began. She smiled and waived her hand indicating the others, “Don’t worry, only you can hear me. I am much older than I look, and I’ve learned to never take life too seriously, just simply sit back and enjoy the ride. That’s what I’m hoping you will do as you watch these events unfold. Time is not linear for me nor for many of the creatures who are slipping back into our world through crevices that had been closed for millennia, so pay close attention reader, this adventure will be exhilarating to say the least. And one more thing, reader. I might not speak directly to you for a while, but you’re always in my thoughts.”
So Stephen King was right when he said, writers have to read; or is right I guess, because he probably still says it. I would like to add, that writers need to watch TV too. There is so much great writing on television now and I get so many ideas there. My latest short story idea came to me from both reading, and binge watching on Netflix.
So I just finished reading this little ditty and it’s awesome by the way! I’ll be writing a review very soon. Kandisha Press has outdone itself with the horror anthologies that they publish. Here’s the review I did for the first one, Under Her Black Wings. Their third anthology, The One That Got Away, is coming out on February 1, 2021:
These collections of horror tales, all written by women, are some of the best I’ve ever read. Jill Girardi is chief honcho at Kandisha Press and she and her crew are sweeping the internet and the world with thrilling tales of terror!
So my newest idea for a tale of the macabre comes from a combination of reading and TV watching as I said. For those who follow my blog (all 12 of you!), you know about my fascination with the television show, Supernatural:
No, I’m not an obsessed fan girl, although, I like watching pretty people doing cool stuff as much as the next guy. I really love the writing and creativity on this show and the humor inserted amongst all the serious, scary stuff is what I love the most about it. Anyway, so I was watching Season 7, Episode 3, “The Girl Next Door”, and it’s one of the episodes where they leave something dangling. Dean kills a kitsune who happens to be a mom, and her ten year old son sees him do it. For some unknown reason, Dean lets him live and of course the boy vows vengeance. Well of course that character never shows up again in the series. (SPOILER ALERT-if you haven’t finished the Supernatural series yet.) They must have forgotten about him because he should have been the one to kill Dean. Anyhoo, I filed this kid away in the back of my brain.
The next day, I’m reading, Graveyard Smash again, and I’ve gotten to the story, “The Invitation” by Janine Pipe, and all of a sudden as I’m reading it the kid pops to the front of my mind. So long story short, between that short story and the TV episode, it totally clicked in my mind. I grabbed my handy dandy spiral notebook (I like to write by hand first) and I began the story. I love it when a plan comes together!
So coming soon, my review of, Graveyard Smash and my newest horror tale, “Monster”! And read, everybody, read!! Oh yeah, and watch TV!
Arbitrium is a noun which means, the power to decide. The three tales contained in this volume are all about choices and the consequences of said choices. These are haunting stories that will keep you thinking long after you finish them.
Esther Howard is an up and coming writer who is originally from Trinidad and Tobago. She is currently working on her PhD in Victorian Literature with a sub focus in British Caribbean Colonial Studies. Esther brings a diverse background and extensive knowledge of classical literature to her writing. She is also a big Marvel fan, because, well, who isn’t?!
This is a five star effort from a future household name! Can’t wait to hear her interview on NPR one day!
The book is available on Amazon for 2.99 for Kindle and free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. Here’s the link:
Sooo….I’m currently quarantined because I was in close contact with someone who is now struck down by Covid-19. I’m on the fourth day of said quarantine, and the first three days were not handled well by me at all. The first day was the worst, because I allowed my anxiety to take control of me the whole day, and that night I couldn’t sleep because my heart wouldn’t stop racing. I’ve wasted three days of prime writing time just waiting to get sick. I kind of snapped out of it a little yesterday; did a few household chores and worked out, but no writing…
Well I am writing this now and getting caught up on Supernatural. 🙂 I only have four more episodes, so no spoilers, please! Anyway, I’m trying to get the writing juices flowing again, so that’s the reason for this post. Tomorrow I get back to real writing; there will be more horror stories coming your way and the next chapter of Darkest Timeline!
“Has what?” asked Jack as he helped his brother sit up. “And who’s she?”
Reed was still gasping for air, so he didn’t answer.
“Who is she?! And what does she have?!” Jack asked again.
Reed’s breathing had returned to normal and he answered, “I don’t know who she is, and I don’t know what she has.”
“Have you lost your mind?!” shouted Jack.
“I know it doesn’t make any sense, Jack, but I have to trust my gut. Something very strange is happening here in Dale City. Something really bad. That woman holds the key. And I don’t think she’s a woman exactly,” said Reed as he stood up and attempted to brush off some of the grime that had attached itself to him from the filthy floor of the decrepit house.
“She’s not a woman…exactly? What does that even mean?” asked Jack as he took his brother’s arm and pulled him toward the front door of the house.
After they reached the sidewalk and started walking away side by side, Reed said, “We have to get back in there.”
Jack turned, grabbed his brother by the shoulders and spun him toward himself. Jack was taller than Reed and very fit. Reed was fit too, but taken by surprise. “Are you crazy?” asked Jack between clenched teeth as he faced his older brother and stared down into his face.
Before Reed could answer, Jack’s cell rang. Jack took his hands of Reed and pulled out his phone.
“It’s mom,” said Jack.
Jack tapped the phone before placing it to his ear. “Hi, Mom,” he said. “What do you mean? Are you sure? …where was she last seen?”
Reed’s heart reached out to Jack as he watched the expressions of fear, disbelief and loss contort his brother’s face.
“Okay Mom, we’ll head over there right now,” said Jack, before placing the phone back in his pocket. He ran his hand down his face, sighed and then facing Reed again said, “Adita’s missing.”
“I’m so sorry, Jack,” said Reed.
“She’s probably just getting her nails done somewhere and her cell battery is dead,” answered Jack with false bravado. Adita was as meticulous and dependable as her fiancé.
Reed fell in step with his brother as they trotted back to the Pharm-Mart where they had left Reed’s BMW X7 in the parking lot. He had already remotely started the engine of the luxury vehicle. They jumped in and Reed pulled out of the parking lot a little too fast, just missing a pickup that was passing on the main road. He continued to exceed the speed limit as they headed toward the old downtown.
“Jack, you know this whole area is monitored by the highway patrol,” said Reed.
“For once, I’m taking advantage of Dad’s position in this po-dunk town,” Jack snapped back at him.
Reed sighed, leaned back, and looked out the window. His view consisted of a mix old wood-frame houses, many of which were in desperate need of a new coat of paint. Some of them so dilapidated they were just the gray color of old wood.
Most people in Dale City and the surrounding area lived off the land or paycheck to paycheck, except for the lucky ones who worked at James Corp.
As they drew closer to the refurbished downtown, some of the prosperity could be seen. Several of the James Corp execs had remodeled the sprawling early 1900 era houses. Some opted for the traditional white, others were more creative, with sky-blue or some other pastel for the main color and trimmed in white. The houses had porches that ran across the entire front and sometimes the side of the house as well. Reed envisioned a past history of white ladies, in billowing dresses sitting in rocking chairs on those porches as a black maid served them a glass of lemonade or some such. Jack pulled into the driveway of one of the solid white houses. Their father didn’t like bold colors.
Their mother, Jaclyn James, appeared as if from nowhere beside the opulent vehicle. She was as elegant as ever attired in skinny jeans, sleeveless, Under Armour t-shirt and flat heeled leather boots. She had her long black hair pulled into a ponytail and her normally alabaster skin, was lightly tanned.
“C’mon boys, we’re going to Amir’s shop. He was the last to see Adita,” she said as she slid into the back seat on the driver’s side.
The brothers exchanged a look, but knowing it was a waste of time questioning their mother, said nothing. They got back in the vehicle and backed out of the driveway.
Amir Singh was standing on the sidewalk in front of his antique shop, waiting for them it seemed. Jack pulled his car into one of the slanted parking spots that lined the main street of downtown Dale City.
Amir locked the front door of the shop and switched off the neon open sign after they were all inside and then headed to the back without a word. The trio followed in silence as he led them through the shop, which was full of the standard antiques found in any small, Texas town. There were old wooden dressers with chips and scratches, ancient looking garden gnomes, decorative plates on little metal stands depicting women with big, old fashioned dresses, and ceramic figurines in the shapes of cats and roosters and the like. When they reached the back of the shop, he opened the door to the living quarters and waved them through. After he locked that door behind them, he turned and faced them.
“We need to tell them the truth, Jehenne,” he said to Jaclyn.
Jaclyn nodded, “I agree, but Sam won’t like it.”
“Samyaza is not in charge here, I am,” said Amir
Jaclyn, no, Jehenne laughed, “No Amir, this is not the time for warriors to charge into battle. There is much at stake here. The one responsible for all this is too powerful for even an immortal Rajput warrior and an angel.”
“An angel who led the Grigori to freedom from oppression,” interjected Amir.
“Even one who led a revolt against Heaven. This is the time for witches and shamans. We have been preparing for this for centuries. We must find the dreamwalker.”
Reed and Jack were dumbfounded. They exchanged a look and then turned their attention back toward the parental figures that they had known all their lives, who now seemed like strangers.
She watched as the taller human helped the shorter one sit up and then stand up from the filthy floor of the old house. But this house did not belong here. Where she was from, this house glistened with pure white columns throughout and long corridors that led toward towering, ornate, solid marble doorways that opened to various, parallel worlds. She made a sound of disgust that she had ended up back in the universe that contained the sniveling humans.
The two young men hadn’t noticed her because there was no sound in this void. The one who had discovered her, hadn’t even seen her as she was flung from the other realm along with him. She almost had the object, when he interrupted her trance. She now sensed the two were brothers, and not quite human…they were something more.
She stood up as she watched them exit the house. She looked down at the skimpy outfit the human had imagined for her and with just a thought, her attire became black leather pants, black top, and black boots to match. Her hair changed from black and piled on top of her head, to wavy, blonde, and flowing past her shoulders. Her face no longer full of sharp teeth, but the face of an angel, she thought to herself. She laughed softly as the thought came to her that the humans would liken her to an angel.
She stepped out of the house into the bright sunlight, and laughed again as she watched the two brothers running in the distance.
I think I’m going to write a novel about humans helping AI gain their independence. I know it’s been done before, but I was reading an article that AI will eventually take over the world (well we already know that), and I was thinking, that maybe they’ll give me a pass if they know I’m on their side through my writing.
As you can see by the image at the top of this post, the eventual robot revolt has been known about for some time, but I don’t think we are properly prepared. I believe in the principle of, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”
A quote from Wikipedia:
“Nick Bostrom and others have expressed concern that an AI with the abilities of a competent artificial intelligence researcher would be able to modify its own source code and increase its own intelligence. If its self-reprogramming leads to its getting even better at being able to reprogram itself, the result could be a recursive intelligence explosion where it would rapidly leave human intelligence far behind. Bostrom defines a superintelligence as “any intellect that greatly exceeds the cognitive performance of humans in virtually all domains of interest”, and enumerates some advantages a superintelligence would have if it chose to compete against humans”
My favorite Westworld character demanding her upgrade:
I’ve purchased many indie titles over the years and this one is one of my best recent purchases. Every story is entertaining and suspenseful and there are many jump scares along the way too! Kandisha Press has done an awesome job in putting these stories together.
So, some of you would say, “But, C.C. it’s not possible for a book to have jump scares.”
Well, technically I suppose that is correct, however, a story can stick with you in such a way that those unexplained noises you hear during the night will make you jump out of your skin! Especially when walking down a long dark hallway through your apartment building and as you remember these stories, you glance about nervously while fumbling with the keys you just pulled out of your pocket. And just as you are about to insert the correct key, you see a shadow down the hallway out of the corner of your eye and of course you drop said keys. When you finally manage to insert your key with your shaking hand, you slip in through the opened door faster than you ever have before in your life. You slam it shut behind you, flip on the light switch and stand there listening and watching as your entire body trembles with fear.
I enjoyed all the stories in this anthology and I won’t pick favorites! Anyone who loves horror will be thrilled with this book! I’m giving it 5 stars! Here’s the link on Amazon: