Wind, Ice, and Willows

Mud squelched under his boots as he made his way up the dirt road. Willows waved in a frigid wind on either side of the track, their windward surfaces coated in a half-inch-thick layer of ice. The man zipped his jacket and pulled his collar up instinctively, before it occurred to him that he didn’t feel cold.

The mountain pass was enshrouded in clouds, obscuring the peaks on either side as well as the road ahead. Ragged streamers of water vapor raced past, chased by the razor-edged wind. The man paused and turned in a circle, taking stock of his surroundings. Alpine tundra stretched away into the mist on either side of him, dotted with lichen-covered boulders, scrub willows, and the occasional stunted spruce.

Back the way he had come, lights glowed weakly through the fog. A black SUV rested half off the road, its hood impaled on the end of a guard rail. There had been a sharp corner. Icy mud. A loss of traction.

Continue reading “Wind, Ice, and Willows”

Blood & Bluegrass by Leland Lydecker

Author’s note: Blood and Bluegrass takes place immediately after the events of The Moon Buck. If you haven’t already, take a moment to give the previous story a read!

The tracks were the same.

Annabelle stared at the impressions in the muddy leaf mold, ears ringing from a sudden surge of adrenaline.

The story was there, trampled by the searchers that found her sweetheart’s body, the coroner, sheriff, and crime scene investigators.

Jeremiah’s tracks picked their way through the brush from the road. He’d staggered mid-step and fallen to his knees, his boots cutting gouges in the dirt. A larger set of tracks followed his, superimposed over his prints in a few places but the same age. The tread on the second set of boots was chunky, size fourteen, and brand new. Their owner was standing right behind her, calling her name.

The Moon Festival has come to the riverfront slums: a time when ghosts and shadows walk the streets, returning to visit their loved ones. Some visitors are more welcome than others.

This is the third installment of a three-part series. New to the story? Start here!

Continue reading “Ghosts and Shadows”

Cover of Dark by Paul L Arvidson

Paul L Arvidson’s Dark is an unexpected hybrid, part science fiction and part heroic fantasy. The residents of the place known as the Dark inhabit a labyrinth of pipes and drains surrounding a central aqueduct known as the River, and readers will quickly realize that it is a created world rather than an organic one.

Dun, a budding shaman, and his boisterous friend Padj, along with a clever alchemist named Tali and their mysterious guide, Myrch, are tasked with following the River to its source and finding out what has become of their clan’s upstream neighbors.

Continue reading “Review: Paul L Arvidson’s Dark”

Birth of the Eye by Justinas Vitkus

The flash fiction that follows was inspired by the artwork “Birth of the Eye,” by Justinas Vitkus. If you’d like to see more, check out his profile on DeviantArt.

The Stolen Moon

When the largest of the planet’s three moons finally slid free of the horizon, everyone on the research team looked up in awe.

“I don’t think that moon always belonged to this planet,” Senior Geologist Shayna Darris said.

“The hell are you mumbling about?” Mission Commander Jason Haze snapped, barely glancing up from putting together a portable security turret. “Get back to work, all of you. It’s going to be dark soon.”

“Take a chill pill, Commander,” one of the mechanics shot back. “There’s nothing hiding in the dark. Sit back and enjoy the moonrise.”

“Surely you see it too,” Darris said, nodding toward the massive red moon, its face dominated by a circular impact crater.

“See what? It’s a moon, for Star Mother’s sakes! The system surveys say it’s always been there.”

“2B6V is tidally locked. If it’s always been there, how did it get that impact crater?”

Continue reading “Flash Fiction: The Stolen Moon”

Ghostly Tree

“The rain is full of ghosts tonight,” she said.

I held her close, her head cradled against my shoulder, as we stood under the ancient trees. Her fingers were cold in mine.

“What do they want?” she whispered. “Why do they come back?”

The rain rustled in the leaves above our hiding place, and an ethereal breeze stirred the ruffles of her white gown– the last one she ever wore.

“Maybe they miss the living?” I suggested. “The ones who never come to visit.”

“Silly things. They know they can’t leave this graveyard. Nobody who lies here leaves.” Her voice was as soft and sad as the whisper of the rain.

“I know,” I said. Believe me, I know. My tears mixed with the rain as she turned to cold fog in my arms.

—Flash Fiction: Ghosts © 2018 by Leland Lydecker

Today on the author blog, I’m going to do something different. What follows is the first page of a short story that will be released as part of an anthology this summer. Hel’s Fury is set in Fairbanks, Alaska, in a dystopian near future. And yes, the spelling is deliberate.

A Taste of Things to Come: Hel’s Fury

As Fairbanks Police Captain Nathan Spencer waded through the soggy snow toward the crime scene, a growing sense of dread supplanted his annoyance at being called out first thing on a Monday morning. Dozens of other pairs of boots had already made the same journey, clearing a wide path from the parking area to the underside of the nearby Steese Highway bridge.

To his right the Chatanika River rushed by, muddied by year-round mining operations upstream. A forest of scraggly black spruce marched off into the pre-dawn dimness on the far bank. To his left, a handful of Alaska State Trooper SUVs and several Fairbanks Police cars sat in the parking lot of an abandoned campground. Ravens circled overhead.

A FPD detective named Henriksen met him at the edge of the highway overpass, expression grim.

“This had better be good,” Spencer snapped. “I’m going to be pissed if you called me all the way out here just because someone strung up a couple more drunks.”

The detective grimaced. “These weren’t drunks. That’s why I called you. These are some of ours.”

Continue reading “Sneak Preview: Hel’s Fury”

Cover of Dirty Deeds by Armand Rosamilia

Today on the author blog, Leland Lydecker reviews Armand Rosamilia’s Dirty Deeds.

I get paid to erase problems.

Did your extramarital affair produce an unwanted complication? Family problems? Just want to enjoy your midlife crisis by yourself?

That’s where I come in. For a fee I’ll take care of it. A big fee.

Dirty Deeds is a crime novel with a twist– and not the kind you’d expect. The protagonist is an aging hitman with a big secret: he spirits away the children he’s been paid to kill, setting them up with an adoption agency that places them with loving new families. Or at least, so he thinks.

Continue reading “Dirty Deeds Review”