Tuesday, May 26, 2015



Disintegration: a Windy City Dark Mystery, by Richard Thomas , is out today. I know I say this a lot, but if you simply go to the free sample on Amazon you will know that this book is something special, that Richard Thomas is a master at the craft. Do you love dark, twisted tales? This one is for you. The reviewers agree with me. I love writing in first person, present tense, and, of course, I love reading other authors who do it well. This tale shows how this style of writing allows you to get into the mind of the person telling the tale. Psychological horror is best displayed in this manner, I believe.

Richard's story lays bare the soul of the protagonist, one who is complex. The more you read, the farther you will want to delve into his mind.

Are you ready for a thrilling adventure into dark mystery? This is the novel for you!

Blaze McRob

Book Description

May 26, 2015
“A dark existential thriller of unexpected twists, featuring a drowning man determined to pull the rest of the world under with him, Disintegration is a stunning and vital piece of work.”—Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting

In a brilliantly stylish breakthrough thriller for fans of Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho and Will Christopher Baer’s Kiss Me, Judas, here is the compelling tale of a man who has lost it all—and is now navigating a crooked, harrowing path to redemption.

Once a suburban husband and father, now the man has lost all sense of time. He retains only a few keepsakes of his former life: a handmade dining room table, an armoire and dresser from the bedroom, and a tape of the last message his wife ever left on their answering machine. These are memories of a man who no longer exists. Booze and an affair with a beautiful woman provide little relief, with the only meaning left in his life comes from his assignments. An envelope slipped under the door of his apartment with the name and address of an unpunished evildoer. The unspoken directive to kill. And every time he does, he marks the occasion with a memento: a tattoo. He has a lot of tattoos.

But into this unchanging existence seep unsettling questions. How much of what he feels and sees can he trust? How much is a lie designed to control him? He will risk his own life—and the lives of everyone around him—to find out.

Advance praise for Disintegration
“Sweet hot hell, Richard Thomas writes like a man possessed, a man on fire, a guy with a gun to his head. And you’ll read Disintegration like there’s a gun to yours, too. It’s a twisted masterpiece.”—Chuck Wendig, author of Blackbirds and Double Dead

“This novel is so hard-hitting it should come with its own ice pack. Richard Thomas is the wild child of Raymond Chandler and Chuck Palahniuk, a neo-noirist who brings to life a gritty, shadow-soaked, bullet-pocked Chicago as the stage for this compulsively readable crime drama.”—Benjamin Percy, author of The Dead Lands, Red Moon, and The Wilding

“Richard Thomas builds his universe and its population with terse prose and dynamic, often horrifyingly visceral imagery that unspools with grand weirdness and intensity. Then he rips that universe apart, brick by bloody brick. Disintegration is provocative. It’s also damned fine noir.”—Laird Barron, author of The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and The Croning
Disintegration is gritty neo-noir, a psycho-sexual descent into an unhinged psyche and an underworld Chicago that could very well stand in for one of the rings of Dante’s Hell. Richard Thomas’s depraved, doomed philosopher-hitman is your guide. I suggest you do as he says and follow him, if you know what’s good for you.”—Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Little Sleep
“Gritty, obsessive, and compulsively readable.”—Brian Evenson, author of Immobility
“In sharp, icy prose that cuts like a glacial wind, Richard Thomas’s dark Chicago tale keeps us absolutely riveted to the very end.”—Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bad Day at Black Rock Visits Chicago May 26, 2015
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I’m not sure whether Disintegration by Richard Thomas is brilliant or totally insane. I know Richard Thomas, and he is brilliant. So I read the whole novel again and try to make up my mind. Now the story makes sense to me. There is a method to this madness. The novel is both brilliant and insane.
First read didn’t go well for me, so used to straight narrative and give and take dialogue from the usual word merchants am I that I couldn’t make hide nor hair of the skeleton in the closet of the protagonist’s mind. First-person stream-of-consciousness William Burroughs avant garde does not compute. What is real and what isn’t? Hard to tell.
And that’s the brilliance of this novel. You get drawn in so your own mind constantly questions what is real and what isn’t until, finally, you don’t care either way. The human mind is marvelously adaptive and mimicking, and you find yourself inside the narrator’s demented psyche and tattooed skin thinking just like him. After a while, the story seems vaguely familiar, and you realize it’s probably because the style and setting remind you of a combination of Nelson Algren’s novels and Wayne Allen Sallee’s award-winning “Take the A Train.” Maybe even a touch of Hemingway’s “The Killers.” Maybe it’s mainly because Disintegration takes place in Chicago and the streets and buses and trains have Chicago names. Or maybe it’s only because Chicago writers tend toward a dark way of thinking that’s broody and moody and self-destructive.
This quote from Richard Thomas’s novel rings true for me: “They say that your experiences in life, whether real or imagined, something you’ve seen in a dream or a movie—they all stay with you, they all become part of your past, with equal weight, your emotional baggage, the fabric you stitch together to weave the stained blanket of lies you call your life.”
Fair warning: Once you’ve read Disintegration, the stained blanket of your life won’t ever be the same. You’ll be haunted with horrible nightmares, doubts, delusions. It’s an experience you can’t forget, no matter how hard you try. It’ll be tattooed to your psyche forever.
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative Dark Noir from a Master Storyteller May 26, 2015
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
DISINTEGRATION is hard-hitting dark noir of the highest order. The book moves at a breathless pace both in terms of plot and style. Writing with an incisive voice and relentless prose, Thomas explores some of the darkest material I've ever read. He manages to balance the darkness touches of subtle beauty.

Filled with taut, raw-edged material—sugar, glass, and cocaine—the book is thrilling, disturbing, gut-wrenching, and always, always entertaining. Set in Chicago and featuring a nameless protagonist, we follow a desperate man forced to do desperate things—a man living in the margins, a man lost to the world and to himself.

With fluid prose, compelling action, a flair for the literary and including a handful of subtle literary references, DISINTEGRATION excels at being both smart and tough. It takes us down dingy, mist-filled streets. It offers keen observations of human nature, and explores the zoos we construct for ourselves, the labyrinths, the never-sufficient penance we inflict on ourselves and others. A story of grief and regret, of rage and violence, of the need to break free, the novel moves at frenetic pace. Broken out into 100 chapters (some no longer than a handful of lines) DISINTIGRATION simply moves, sometimes so fast it will leave your head spinning.

The plotting seems simple enough at first: the protagonist is a damaged-goods enforcer who kills because he has to, because he wants to, because it’s his only form of escape from his demons. Similar to Dexter, the protagonist takes out the filth, the top predator in the food chain. However, as the book progresses, we learn that things are more complicated than we’d imagined; that secretes lay beneath secrets, that the man we think we know doesn’t know his own story.

Thomas does an exemplary job of withholding information, delivering it in a trickle that like the protagonist’s chemical dependence, keeps you desperate for more. Thomas also finds myriad ways to make this gritty killer likable so that when the book reaches its conclusion, we feel WITH him as much as we do FOR him. That’s the real accomplishment of the book: it’s easier to horrify than it is to inspire compassion. Thomas does both.

DISINTEGRATION is a fantastic read and well worth the price of admission.

Sunday, May 24, 2015


My Vietnam story for Memorial Day. Not everyone made it back alive. This story is dedicated to them.

Death Walks The Jungle

"The jungle talking to you again, kid?"

I looked at Joe and put my finger to my lips, motioning for him to be silent. This was so totally out of character for him, a well seasoned, twenty year veteran of the Army. Usually, Joe was a man of few words, and he knew when to speak them. I pointed up ahead and he nodded back, returning to his usual, ever-vigilant self.

Something was there in front of us. I could feel it. The hairs on the back of my neck were stiffening up the farther we traveled, and my skin was getting clammy. It wasn't a warm sweat either: it was cold. I never got cold over there in 'Nam, but I was cold then. Damned cold.

We approached a clearing, and I fully expected us to skirt its perimeter and catch whatever safety we could get from the dense jungle undergrowth. Nobody ever charged through an open clearing with the kind of moon we had on that night. Which way were we going to go? Right or left? That was really the only question.

But I'll be a son-of-a-bitch if the Lieutenant in charge of the small band of Rangers we had attached ourselves to didn't take us right through the center of the clearing. Right through it! Was he fucking crazy or what?

I looked over at the Captain in charge of our band of four. Surely he would distance us from the Rangers, I thought. He was certainly smarter than this idiot Lieutenant. But no, he made no move to stop our progress.  I looked at Joe and shrugged my hands way out to the side. He just shook his head in disbelief and mouthed every obscene word I had ever heard. He was pissed off as hell and just couldn't believe what was going on, but being enlisted men, what were we supposed to do?

What made things even worse was the unworldly fog that sprang up from nowhere, thick as all get out and smack dab up to my chest. Shit, the only thing I could see was everyone's heads! God only knew what kind of booby- traps might be lying around the field. How the Hell were we supposed to look out for that crap if we couldn't see the ground? The whole situation was getting worse by the moment.

We were almost directly in the center of the clearing when all hell broke loose. Some poor guy just in front of and to the right of me stepped on a mine and vanished from sight almost instantly, his head dropping below that cursed fog. Blood just sprayed everywhere, some of it getting on me. Then the shots rang out. Bullets were flying all over the place, and men were screaming out in pain, falling like dominoes in some kind of bizarre game. But this was no game: this was real. Too real.

I tried to react to what was going on, but there was no time. Something drove into my skull, sending bolts of pain throughout my head. My knees buckled as I felt consciousness leaving my body. Everything turned distorted and hazy and, the next second, I slipped below the fog. I grabbed for something to hang onto so I wouldn't fall, but there was nothing there to grab.

Darkness came to me. I was out before I hit the ground . . .

                                                          *   *   *   *

The sun was just beginning to rise when my focus started to return. I tried to get up, but the agonizing pain in my head knocked me back down again. Damn! I had to get up; I had to see if anyone else was alive and, if there was, we had to get the hell out of there.

After a few minutes, I made another try at getting off the ground. This time I managed to force myself up, although my knees were pretty wobbly.

The damned fog was still there, not as thick and deep as the night before, but enough to cast an eerie pall over the land. As soon as the sun created enough light for me to actually see what was in the clearing, the fog turned into little wisps of vapor and vanished into the air.

I was horrified at what I saw. There was nothing but carnage all around me. The ground was littered with dead bodies and blood. Entrails were hanging on bushes and low trees at the edge of the clearing. The stench of death hung heavy over the entire area. I searched frantically, looking for anyone who might still be alive. I found no one.

My head started spinning, and I toppled to the ground. "Oh, shit! This can't be good," I thought. I had to get out of there and time was of the essence.

I tried to get up several times but just kept falling down. Finally, someone came over and helped me up. "Oh, great! Somebody else is alive after all," I thought.

All my happiness over finding one of my buddies alive came to a screeching halt though. I stared into the eyes of a Vietnamese soldier. One look at his uniform told me he was no friend. He was North Vietnamese. Oh, oh, my luck had run out.

I was half-dragged and half-prodded into moving ahead by my captors. They were a small band, probably around twelve or so. Some wore uniforms - of varying degrees, anyway - and some just wore the typical farmer-like garb that most Americans referred to as pajamas. It was pretty easy to tell from the gestures and talk of the group that the North Vietnamese were in charge here.

After what seemed like an eternity, we made it to a small camp in the Highlands. I counted eight small, crude huts. From all appearances, they had been constructed in a big hurry. Ram-shackle pieces of shit would be the best way to describe them. I was shoved into one of them, and the door was locked behind me.

Talk about basic! This place had a dirt floor and a bamboo frame cot. That was it. There was some sort of hole in the corner, and, from the odor coming from it, I guessed that I was looking at my new toilet facilities. No indoor plumbing here.

As near as I could figure, this was one of those small, easy to move camps that I'd heard about. If the Americans got to close to them for comfort, the enemy could just march everyone off to another site. Of course, if time was really short, the prisoners could always just be killed - less baggage that way.

I never saw another prisoner while I was there. They did a pretty good job of keeping us apart from one another. The only way I knew there had to be other prisoners there was when I would hear them crying out in pain. Yes, there was torture. It was war.

I'm sure that all of us had to endure the same kind of torture: bamboo shoved up body orifices; twisting back of fingers, legs , arms, and all; beatings; cutting us up; keeping us awake for hours on end while interrogating us; and all the other shit they did to us. I don't know how the other guys handled it, but my secret weapon was laughing at the bastards. Yes, laughing. The worse it hurt, the more I laughed. They'd back off when I did it. My guess is they thought I was crazy. Some cultures don't want to mess with crazies - they're afraid they're possessed or something.

One other thing that confused the interrogators a lot was my stuttering. I suppose it makes understanding another language a lot more difficult when words are scrambled around all over the place and someone is jerking their head back and forth in an effort to spit the words out. I never heard a Vietnamese stutter. Perhap they don't - I don't know - but one interrogator in particular would really get pissed off when I did it. Too fucking bad for him, huh?

As bad as the torture got at times - and believe me, these little people were indeed masters at it - I knew that I would escape. You've probably seen in movies where captured soldiers marked the days they were in captivity on the walls of their cells. None of that shit for me though. I didn't want to dwell on the past. The future was what I was looking forward to: the day of my redemption.

One night, my chance came. Some kind of a commotion occurred not too far from the camp. I could hear people scurrying around everywhere. As soon as all the hubbub in the camp subsided, I went to the far end of the hut, opposite the door, and ran just as fast as I could, hitting the door so hard that it fell down on the ground with me on top of it. That was my lucky day because the only guard left in the camp just happened to be on the other side of that door. With me and the door on top of him, it wasn't that difficult to neutralize him. One quick twist and his neck snapped in two.

As soon as I realized I was free and there were no other captors around anywhere, I went to the other huts and let my fellow prisoners out. Everybody scurried off as fast as they could, except for one man who was in really bad shape. My guess is that he was down to maybe ninety pounds, and he was barely breathing. Damn! I couldn't just leave him there.

I bent down to pick him up and got the shock of my life! This beaten down man was Jimmy Meyers, my best friend - actually, my only friend in High School. Damn! Jimmy had weighed around 210 to 220 pounds in school and had a tough, heavily muscled body. Now he was skin and bones and just barely that.

"Jesus, Jimmy!" I hollered out. "What the fuck have they done to you, man?"

Of course, Jimmy was in no shape to answer me. He didn't even have the strength to open his eyes.

Just then, a bomb exploded so close to the camp that it shook the hell out of the ground. My feet were rolling around as if I were on a wobbly conveyor belt. I picked Jimmy up. Time was of the essence. We had to beat feet in a hurry.

"I'm taking you home, Jimmy," I said. "I'm taking you home."

Not knowing if I was going in the right direction or not, I headed away from where the bombs were being dropped. Hopefully, I thought, this would get me home.

Out of the camp we went: away from that piece of hell I'd been forced to stay in. I slipped into the jungle and headed home . . .

                                                           *   *   *   *

My head was pounding, blood dripping down the back of my skull - caused from numerous losing battles with tree limbs - sticking to my neck and shoulders. The pain was unbearable, but there was no choice. I had to go on.

The moon was full and very bright. Thank God for that. At least the path - in the areas where a path actually existed - would be easier to follow. I ran on and on, sometimes crashing over roots hidden in the shadows, cussing the night blindness I had been cursed with since I was a very young child. Every now and then a bomb would explode, sending bright, garish patches of light flashing across the evening sky. Demonic fireworks.

I ran farther back into the Highlands' jungle, away from the bombs, trying to put some space - as much as possible - between my tormentors and me. Freedom was in my veins now. I wasn't about to relinquish it.

The bombs' acrid odor, hanging in the air, was giving way to the smell of musty soil. I was getting away from my prison after all!

I kept running, drinking water from leaves as I passed, not daring to stop for fear of being captured. My lungs were burning from the exertion; my heart was pounding so hard I was afraid someone would hear it and I would be found out. Still, I had no idea where I was headed, but with each step, I knew I was getting closer to freedom. Just one foot in front of the other. That was all it would take and I'd be home.

The super damp heat sent sweat flowing into the corners of my mouth. The salt stung my parched, cracked lips and made my thirst even greater. I needed to wipe my mouth and get rid of the irritant, but I couldn't. My hands were full.

Looking down, I could see the real reason I had to get back to friendly forces. The bright moonlight cast an eerie glow on the delicate body of my pal. Totally worn and emaciated, with joints that seemed to want to push through his paper-thin skin at any moment, he looked even lighter than the ninety pounds I had guessed him to be. Damn, how I hated that war!

The sounds of bombs exploding were getting fainter by the minute. At least I'd be spared that annoyance soon. I could remember nights when sleep never came because there were so many of them. One right after another, some in clusters, they would sing their songs of death and destruction for hours on end.

My shoulders were really hurting me now. Jimmy might not have weighed very much, but the effort of carrying him as I ran was taking its toll on my strength. I tried not to dwell on it, knowing that if I quit, or slowed down, the end would come for Jimmy. So, I just sucked it up and carried on, occasionally just shifting the way I was holding him. There was no way I was going to let him die in this God-forsaken rat hole. I'd see to it that he got home.

I don't know how many hours I had been running through the jungle, but the sun was starting to rise. This was a mixed bag of good and bad. Good because it meant I wouldn't be running into things, but bad since it would make us easier to spot. One good thing was that I'd be able to find Jimmy some better water to drink. He'd been subjected to the water off the passing vegetation the same as me. He needed a lot more water, and he needed it fast.

Concealment and stealth were very important now. In this land, it was impossible to tell the enemy from everyone else living there. They were all Vietnamese; North or South; Communist or Democratic; soldier or farmer. I figured the only way to get back in one piece would be to avoid detection by anyone. No one could be trusted.

I pushed on, looking for Jimmy's water, keeping my senses sharp. Sleep was trying to force itself on me, but I wouldn't let it. In a way, I was lucky. The stabbing pain in my head was keeping me awake. The downside was the effect it had on my vision at times. Focusing was becoming increasingly more difficult. Edges were blurred, and I was besieged by flashes of light interspersed with periods of almost complete blindness where all I could see were small, fuzzy patches of different colors against a black background. For a while, I thought I was losing my mind, but then I realized my brain was just reacting to the pain.

Pretty soon, I came to a small stream cascading down the jungle cliffs. Looking around carefully and deciding Jimmy and I were alone, I went to the water's edge. The water appeared to be cleaner than most I had seen in the area. It would have to do.

Moving Jimmy as close to the water as I could, I rested him against one leg, kneeling down on the other. I cupped my free hand and filled it with the water. When I brought it to his lips, there was no response. His mouth didn't budge at all.

"Damn it, Jimmy! You gotta drink. You're dry as a bone," I said to him.

There was still no response. I gave him a little shake, and his eyes partially opened. Slowly, oh so slowly, his lips parted just a crack, and I was able to get some water into his mouth. He had some problems swallowing it, so I very gently massaged his neck as best I could to ease the water along its path. This wasn't easy, and it literally tore me apart to see him struggle like this, but in order for him to survive, it was necessary.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he got enough to drink.

There was no time for dawdling. I got back up, cradling Jimmy in my arms again, and down the path we went. We hadn't gone very far before I realized that I had forgotten to get myself a drink. Oh well! I could just go back to sucking the moisture off the leaves again, I figured.

Even though I hadn't taken a drink at the watering hole, I seemed to have some renewed energy after the water stop. Jimmy still didn't look very good, though. I would definitely have to make certain we got as much water in him as possible. Solid food would be another story. How could he have possibly chewed anything? He had all he could do to open his mouth at all. This was one more reason - a very big one - for me to get him out and back to safety where he could receive some medical attention.

It wasn't a simple matter to run quietly through the jungle. Some of the branches and twigs on the ground snapped when I stepped on them, making a sound like a gun shot. Cringing whenever it happened, I'd look in all directions to make certain I hadn't been found out. The twigs were cutting into my bare feet like razors, making it harder yet for me to keep quiet. Every now and then, I'd mutter something under my breath because of the pain. It was too hard to keep absolutely silent. My damn captors had removed all of our shoes, probably to stop us from getting too far if we did escape. I'd show those bastards, I thought. Bare feet or not, I would get back where I belonged. I owed it to Jimmy, and I owed it to myself.

The increasing heat of mid-day brought out the insidious vermin of the insect world. Of course, they found a place of attack on my flesh. Any open wound seemed to become a focal point of numerous stinging, biting, crawling, multi-legged creatures bent on causing me pain. My bloody feet were attacked time and time again by little biting, gnat-like buggers. I almost tripped numerous times trying to stomp on them.

The blood on my head and shoulders seemed to hold some morbid fascination for flies. Some just landed and flitted around, while others bit. I remembered an old book I had read as a youngster where flies had laid eggs in open wounds, causing horrendous pain and angst later when maggots would emerge, eating the rotting flesh of their host. God, I hoped that wouldn't happen to me! Just thinking about it gave me the willies, but my pace certainly picked up a lot.

All that day I ran, stopping only to get Jimmy a decent drink from time to time. Once, I was fortunate enough to find a place in a stream that was deep enough for me to walk right in. Damn, that cold water felt good on my cuts and insect bites! It must have been that way for Jimmy too. He seemed to let out a small moan of relief. For the first time all day, a hint of a grin appeared on his face. It wasn't much, but it gave me some hope for my friend.

Daytime gave in to dusk. I relished the thought of getting relief from the searing sun. It might have been tougher to navigate at night, but it would be somewhat cooler, anyway.

My entire body seemed to be caked in salt. I knew I needed to get something in my body to counteract the loss of sodium, but there really wasn't anything around. There was barely enough drinkable water in the area, let alone nourishing food rich in the nutrients I needed.

With the setting of the sun came my usual night vision problems, but it wasn't very long before the moon rose in all its glory. Ah! My little lantern had returned to show me the way through the jungle again. Thank God I was running through the full moon and not the dark stage. I still wouldn't be able to see everything, but my vision would certainly be enhanced.

Jimmy's body was glowing in the moonlight. His black skin, covered in sweat, had an almost surreal look. The look of pain I had seen on his face from the moment we had escaped the camp was no longer there. Instead, he had a look of peace and contentment. Did he know he was headed for freedom. Maybe he was just happy to to be out of that hell-hole of a prison, not having to endure any more torture at the hands of the twisted, sadistic guards holding reign there.

 I ran easier now. The cooler evening air was like a tonic. That was good because I needed something to get my energy levels up; I'd been getting really tired - dog tired.

Looking down at Jimmy again, I thought back to my High School days when Jimmy was the only friend I had. There wasn't very much we had in common when we first met: Jimmy was black and I was white; I was an A+ student, while Jimmy just barely managed to get C's; he was out-going with a dynamic personality, and I was shy and withdrawn. For some reason - I don't know why - he decided to strike up a conversation with me while I was eating alone in the school cafeteria. We became instant friends. He had gotten me to come out of my shell back then and become a real person. It was now up to me to get him out of this damned mess and back home again.

Running through the jungle, constantly getting entangled in the world's biggest and stickiest spider webs, and listening to the sounds of the night creatures surrounding me, I became aware that something was different. Not only were the animal sounds and other sensory perceptions unlike those I had been experiencing earlier, but the air had a distinct odor of wet, rich earth. This too was new. It actually made me hungry to breathe this in. Why?

Coming around a little bend in the trail, I spotted some lights well off in the distance. Oh, oh! It was time for me to steer clear until I knew for sure where I was. Maybe those lights were innocent enough, belonging to some farmers, or, perhaps, even to some friendly forces, but I had no way of knowing. Stealth was vital.

I made a little move to the left to veer around the area with the lights. Almost instantly, I slid down an embankment and plunged into water and mud up to my waist. Trying to back out, I stumbled into long, grainy, grasses going up my nostrils so hard I could feel the blood start to flow immediately. Cursing the darkness, my stupidity, and everything else I could think of, I spat out some grass I had almost swallowed in the melee. Now I knew what had happened: I had fallen into a rice paddy. The taste in my mouth was unmistakable.

Jimmy was still in my arms, but just barely. I adjusted the way I was holding him and clambored out of the paddy. Skirting the perimeter carefully, I managed to find a path that was firm enough to run on and which seemed to go in the direction I had in mind. It wasn't easy carrying Jimmy now. The slime from the rich mud we had fallen into was covering us both. He kept sliding down with every step. The fact that I was totally exhausted didn't help much either.

The path was getting wider now. It was also smoother to run on and much straighter. With the moon shining brightly and almost overhead, it was like a sign from above that everything would be alright from this point on. Still, the eternal pessimist in me said to be wary.

On and on we went, step after laborious step, fighting the many fronts of pain waging war on my battered body. I wanted so much to allow myself the luxury of just a little rest, but I knew that if I were to stop and rest now, I would fall asleep. Sleep for me would have almost surely have meant death for Jimmy.

With my body on the verge of collapse, I knew I'd have to rely on force of will to make it back home. I started to play little mind games. Imagining I was indestructible, I squared my shoulders and ran faster. Feeling uplifted after actually being able to pick up my pace, it seemed as if I were floating on moonbeams. Then I started plotting revenge against the people responsible for all this pain. All at once, my mind was clicking again. For the moment at least, I shoved my pain to the side.

The hours passed and the moon dropped lower in the sky. I was still dogged tired, but at least I had been able to push through another evening. The light forming to the east told me another day was here. A good one, I hoped.

I still hadn't found the source of the lights from the night before. Probably, my path change had taken me around whatever it was. Maybe I had only imagined it. After all, my mind wasn't totally sharp at this point. But one thing was certain: if the lights were real, and not a figment of my imagination, there were people around, and they were close by.

The rice paddy was further evidence of someone being in the area. It hadn't just dropped out of the sky and landed there. Someone had planted it and cultivated the area. I figured the paddy and the lights were connected. My mind, tired as it was, knew the logic there: to keep the chances of running into these people as low as possible.

The lighter it got, the more I could see the changes in the landscape. The forests were not as dense here, and there were many more open areas. This made the possibility of being ambushed much greater. My skin crawled just thinking about it. Prior to being captured, I had been in an area just like this. I didn't like it at all. To be extra cautious, I stayed completely out of the open, even if the path went through it, and hugged the edges of the forest where the cover was greatest.

Mist was rising from the jungle floor. It was especially spooky coming from the paddies and open areas, creating an eerie feeling that sent my mind racing back to the night I'd been captured. I had to hold Jimmy up higher to even be able to see him. The fog was that thick.

I detected the odor of food off in the distance. It didn't smell like any food common to this area; it had a familiar odor, though. There was a sort of tinny smell to it.

After going a few more feet, I recognized what it was.That disgusting, horrendous concoction known as ham and eggs, along with the unmistakable garbage which was cheese and crackers. I was smelling C-rations! The Army's not so pleasant way to feed its men in the field even smelled good to me now. I was starved. But what it really meant was that I might soon catch up with the guys from my side!

Still, I watched where I was going. I was confident now that I'd be going home soon, but nothing could be left to chance. Knowing all too well what could happen in these jungles, I slowed down and became more watchful, listening to every sound, ready to react if need be.

Slowly, the fog burned off. Most of what was left hung around the edges of the clearing ahead. I was just about to duck farther back into the jungle when I spotted a man's head rising above the mist. I froze dead in my tracks!

For a while, I just stood and watched his every move. It was pretty obvious he wasn't Vietnamese. He wore an American Army camouflage hat and was definitely black. Added to that was the fact he was well over six feet tall. No Vietnamese man I had ever seen came close in size to this man. I wanted to cry out and let him know we were there, but if there were any of the enemy hiding any place close, it would have alerted them. So Jimmy and I just took it slow and easy, and we worked our way over to him without making a sound.

I had almost made it to where he was when I spotted several more of our guys. One of them noticed me and almost dropped his M-16. Either I had scared the holy shit out of him or we looked pretty tattered and he didn't know how to react. Once he was over his shock, he called out to the other guys and they came running over.

By then, my energy level was non-existent. The adrenaline rush I had earlier was gone, but my mission was accomplished. Jimmy was back in safe hands and would soon be home. Knowing that, I leaned against the closest tree and just let myself slide down to the ground. I no longer had the strength to stand up.

The first man to reach us bent down and looked at Jimmy. Quickly checking his pulse, a puzzled look crossed his face. He placed his cheek gently on Jimmy's lips and almost jumped straight up into the air.

"Get over her quick, Jack!" he hollered.

A tall, gangly guy rushed past the other men and knelt by Jimmy. In short order, he checked his pulse, eyes, lips, and chest. Then he felt Jimmy's skin. He looked at me and back to Jimmy again. Making one last check around Jimmy's neck, he took his hands off of him and placed them on his knees.

"What's wrong with Jimmy?" I asked.

He put his right hand on my left shoulder, looked me straight in the eyes, and very calmly said, "You can put your buddy down now, son. Jimmy is dead."

I noticed the tears around the corners of Jack's eyes. He was very moved by all this. The rest of the men stood around watching. I could tell that they too were saddened by what had happened. Thank God, if this had to take place, it happened amongst friends and not enemies.

Jimmy's running was now over. His race was completed. My running, on the other hand, was just starting, and my race had just begun.

Very slowly, oh so slowly, I relinquished the grip I had on my buddy. Giving him one last look, the tears coming down my face, I said, "Goodbye, Jimmy. I'll miss you, man."

And the, I blacked out . . .

Blaze McRob


Gallop alongside us, Damnlings, for we tame a mighty steed from Hades itself just for your reading pleasure... 'GREAT NYCTAEUS' http://wp.me/p2iKoL-PJ is this week's newest ‪#‎horror‬ ‪#‎fiction‬ by Thomas Brown on Pen of the Damned.
The Number Forty-Nine lurches as it pulls away from the curb. Hydraulics hiss, and through the settling fog Max makes out brake lights, blinking indifferently in the drizzle. Teeth clenched, he giv...
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Great Nyctaeus, by Thomas Brown, is this week's Scary Sunday Tale! And a great story it is. Thomas has a mastery of the English language and melds it with his skills at the Craft to create compelling stories. Hit the link above and read this great story in its entirety. While you're at the Pen Of The Damned website, read his other great stories. There are many of them there, and they are all free to read.

Hey! Would I lie to you? Of course not. Thomas is an award winning author. Everything he writes is great!

Blaze McRob

Saturday, May 23, 2015



Truth Decay, by William Meikle, is a great little story. The review below by Lisa hits the spot. Another great book from William, this time in noir gumshoe fashion. What's not to love?

A .99 tale you don't want to miss!

Blaze McRob

Book Description

May 15, 2015
The last thing he needed was another trip to the dentists. But the client was paying good money. Even if it smelled bad, a case was a case. But the past has a way of sneaking up on you... even if you have brushed every day.

4.0 out of 5 stars Truth decay. May 18, 2015
By Lisa
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Although it seems I've read this story before, it didn't disappoint on its second reading. It's hard for me to read these sort of stories without using an accent! I see the word dame and next thing I know I'm thinking old movies and Lauren Bacall! Yep, I'd recommend this story and author.

5.0 out of 5 stars A Visit To The Dentist May 18, 2015
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A story that falls between horror and crime.. a cop from a successful team disappeared three years before. Our hero knows he's still alive, having spotted him in the Bowery.

Now the wife of the second who's disappeared as well wants him found. Actually, she wants him proved dead so she gets his money.

It's all tied into an old case that all three men were a part of.

It all goes back to an old case. That our hero

Friday, May 22, 2015


Trailer for Rowan's End by Author Laurie Ricard
Trailer for Rowan's End by Author Laurie Ricard. Produced by Beverly Cialone in conjunction with Author/Publisher Blaze McRob and Author Laurie Ricard. Music...
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Take a look and listen to this great youtube book trailer for Rowan's End. This great trailer was made by Beverly Cialone. She did a fantastic job! I hope everyone likes it as much as I do!
Blaze McRob

Thursday, May 21, 2015



This is my Friday Friday Frights for this week. Our theme this month is Demonic Toys. Even adults have toys. Beware. Treat them right . . .

Vodou Retribution

"C'mon, Herb, stick another pin in that fucking doll of yours."

"You don't want that, Lee. Your ass could well be rolling around on my carpet in pain. Voodoo is strong shit."

All the guys laughed at that. Even Herb.

"I'd pay good money to see Lee under some spell like that," George said. "Here's a twenty from me," he said as he slapped it on the table the grotesque doll was lying on. Within seconds everyone except Lee and Herb had added to the twenty. Eighty dollars for the taking.

Herb held the doll in his left hand as he poked pin after pin into the outlandish caricature of evil. As the others stared at him in disbelief, Lee dropped to the ground, screaming out in pain as each pin found its mark. They stepped away, not wanting to be close to the magic in front of them. Taking the largest pin in his right hand, Herb smashed it into the head of the demonic toy with such force that the doll almost came apart in his hands.

With a last gasp, Lee stopped moving, apparently dead.

George, the color drained from his face, went to Lee to see if he could help. As he placed his fingers on Lee's carotid artery to check for any sign of life, Lee jumped up and said, "Gotcha!" The rest of the guys burst out laughing as George, obviously distressed, tried to pull himself together.

"Don't piss yourself, George," Herb said. "I don't want a mess on my carpet."

George made a mad dash for the toilet as the others laughed.

"Well," said Herb, "I see eighty dollars on the table that has my name on it."

The laughter stopped. "Gotcha!" Herb said.

The doll was passed around to all the guys. They took turns stabbing away at the almost destroyed toy until Herb placed it on the end table next to the overstuffed recliner. The guys drank cold beers well into the night. They did the stupid thing and drove back to their homes. Herb tried to talk them into crashing at his house deep in the back woods but they wouldn't listen.

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Darkness filled Herb's bedroom. Not even his night-light was on. The buzz in his head told him he had consumed far to many beers. He tried to get out of bed to get some pain killers but found he couldn't move.

"What the fuck!" he said.

Struggle as he might, nothing changed. From what he surmised, he was lying spread-eagled, completely naked, his wrists and ankles bound.

"C'mon guys!" he shouted. "The fun is over. Untie me."

Complete silence filled the room. Yet . . . yet he knew he wasn't alone. The hairs on his body twitched in nervous anticipation. Of what, he didn't know. Sweat poured off him, the vile, putrid stench of it gagging him. The taste of stagnant beer remained on his tongue, in no hurry to leave.

"Damn it! Talk to me!"

The sheets at his feet rustled, a gentle movement, deliberate and taunting.

"What if I don't feel like talking, Herb? What then? Maybe I'm an action guy. No words needed for me."

Herb's heart started racing. Fear like none he had ever experienced before tore at him, keeping him from being able to talk.

"So now you're the silent one, Herb.You're not afraid are you? That couldn't be. Just a couple hours ago you were the big brave man, scaring your friends with your malicious teasing. Turnabout is fair play, you know."

Words formed in Herb's mouth, but they never came out. All that passed through his lips were moans and hisses. Nothing intelligible; nothing with any force behind them.

"You are making things far too easy for me, Herb. Actually, you're depriving me of some well deserved retribution. You and your friends were not very nice to me. Not nice at all. However, I believe that once I do what I must do that you will break down. That's good for me but bad for you."

Herb thrashed around now, making a last attempt to break loose, but he was bound too tightly. His efforts were futile.

"I know you want to see me for who I am, Herb, so I am going to light a few candles. Truth be told, I'm lighting them for me. It's part of my ritual."

The rustling of the sheets stopped as the movement moved to Herb's dresser. The stench of sulfur from the matches used to light the candles filled the room, and when Herb's eyes were able to focus once more after being subjected to total darkness for so long, he stared at the leering face of what was once a fully formed voodoo doll, now reduced to mere remnants of fabric and straw and a skull-like head. If he was panicked before, his mental state was in overdrive now.

"Surprised, Herb? Don't be. I am merely a spirit right now, encased in this pitiful Vodou doll. But not for long."

Grabbing a bunch of pins in his hand, he jumped down from the dresser and climbed back up onto the bed. He twirled one in his deformed, almost non-existent, hand before plunging it into Herb's left eye. Screams poured from the man as the doll laughed.

"Scream, you bastard! Scream!"

Pin after pin probed Herb's body as the doll teased them everywhere before slamming them into his flesh. Blood flowed like rivers towards a pond created on the hollow beneath his body on top of the sheet. All the while, screams reverberated everywhere.

"Yes, Herb. Scream. No one can hear you here. Only me, and I find it most amusing."

Herb was going fast. The loss of blood and shock were double-teaming him, taking him on a road from which there was no safe passage.

The doll cut Herb's bondings and breathed into his mouth. A ghastly black cloud circled around Herb's face for a few minutes before being sucked into his body. At the same time, The essence that was Herb flowed into the doll.

There was no movement for a while. Both of them were spent. Time was needed to complete the spell. The blood on the bed reversed course and flowed back into the man's body; the doll became fuller, looking much like its former self. Yet, it lacked the leer attached to it so shortly before.

Rising from the bed, the man walked to the mirror and smiled. The old spell worked. He was freed.

Placing the doll on the dresser, he said, "Thanks for the body you gave me, Herb. I will use it well."

The newly revived Bokor set out the door, ready to extract retribution from those who had trapped him in the doll so many years before.

His black magic powers were ready to combat the light magic of his enemies. His leer returned . . .

Blaze McRob


Anyone in the mood for a free story by a brand new yet talented author? It's NEW BLOOD time again, where Crystal Lake Publishing gives an unpublished author the chance to shine. Talented authors are recommended to me by writing coaches and teachers, and after working with them for a while, we purchase and publish their best story.
So come read "A Matter of Taste" by Samantha Hill and give her some advice or encouragement. wink emoticon

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The above is written by Joe Mynhardt, chief honcho at Crystal Lake Publishing. A Matter Of Taste, by Samantha Hill, is a rather gruesome piece of work. So, I love it. Go to the link above and give it a read. I'm sure you will agree with me. Samantha certainly has a future in writing horror.

Blaze McRob

Wednesday, May 20, 2015



If you're a fan of noir mystery tales, check out Dead On: A Noir Mystery Private Eye Novel, by Robert W. Walker. I've always been a fan of this genre/sub-genre. When I was a kid, a copy of Mickey Spillane's latest novel was always taking up residence in my back pocket. 

Delve into the world of noir. Read this great book by Robert W. Walker!

Blaze McRob

Book Description

October 31, 2009 12 - 18 8 - 12
Just when disgraced Atlanta cop-turned-private eye Marcus Rydell prepares to eat his gun, a kid in trouble, a call to duty, and a dirty blonde named Kat Holley stop him cold.

Kat pulls Marcus from his suicidal depression and his soon-to-be demolished apartment building—only to make him face his past. She leads him on a deadly hunt deep into the blackest forest in the Red Earth State. Near the Georgia-Tennessee border in the breathtaking Blue Ridge countryside, the pair watch a safe haven become their death trap.

They seek to destroy a local legend, a cave-dwelling ex-marine and murderer, a monster whose instincts and military training have allowed him to survive in the wilderness for four years, eluding the Feds as well as Atlanta PD. When the hunters become the hunted, they must duel with this psychotic deviant.

(Published in hardcover by Five Star. Approximately 83,000 words.)

Also features excerpts from CUBA BLUE by Robert W. Walker and Lyn Polkabla, and TRUCK STOP by Jack Kilborn and J.A. Konrath.

Praise for Dead On

"Dead On takes the reader's capacity for the imagination of horror to stomach turning depths, and then gives it more twists than a Georgia backroad that paves an Indian trail." -- Armchair Detective Reviews

“Walker’s whip-smart dialogue, vivid characters, and ever-building tension make Dead On a terrifically compelling read.” -- Tess Gerritsen

"Not even fictional characters should have to suffer this much! Walker is at the top of his game." -- Jack Kilborn

"Walker is the best and that's the whole of it." -- Ken Bruen

About the Author

Robert W. Walker is the author of more than forty thriller novels, including the acclaimed INSTINCT series featuring FBI medical examiner Jessica Coran.

Praise for Robert W. Walker

"Masterful." -- Clive Cussler

"Ingenious." -- San Francisco Examiner

"Gruesome." -- The Sunday Oklahoman

"Frightening." -- Midwest Book Review."

"Bone-chilling." -- Publisher's Weekly

"Perfect for Patricia Cornwell fans." -- Mystery Scene

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of this middling thriller, the first in a new series from Walker (PSI: Blue), Marcus Rydell, a disgraced ex-cop and failed PI on the verge of suicide, and Kat Holley, an attractive doctor bent on revenge, join forces to catch a psychopathic killer. Iden Cantu, four years earlier, slew six people in an Atlanta bloodbath, including Rydell's then police partner and Holley's cop husband. Cantu, who's made a game of stalking and killing the surviving relatives from the bloodbath, never becomes more than an unseen bogeyman until late in the story, when Rydell, Holley and another at-risk family seek refuge in a remote cabin in Georgia's Blue Ridge Lake area. Besieged and taunted by Cantu, Rydell and Holley seek to turn the tables on the sadistic hunter. The climactic struggle arrives too late to save the cumbersome setup and slow-developing plot. Leaden dialogue doesn't help. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

5.0 out of 5 stars exhilarating cat and mouse thriller August 1, 2009
The bloodbath that left his partner Stan Miersky and two uniform cops dead forced Marcus Rydell from the Atlanta police department in disgrace as he survived the massacre by fainting; his wife took their two kids to Ohio. He tried for the last four years to make it as a private investigator, but failed miserably as his heart was never in taking photos of cheating spouses. He now sits in his apartment with a gun contemplating suicide when he hears a noise upstairs that awakens his dormant detective genes. He races upstairs to find a little girl has killed an apparent pervert. Another neighbor Dr. Kat Holley arrives to help the child and invites Marcus to meet her for a drink.

He comes to the bar and she points a gun at him accusing him of killing her husband, APD cop Rydell four years ago in the incident that ended so tragically. She shows him letters from the cop killer hunter Iden Cantu, still eluding the law, who threatens to add her to his count. They agree to team up to capture and she to butcher the psychopath. However, he leaves them a holiday calling card when he tortures and kills the fiancé of the other dead cop from four years ago. Kat and Marcus know he is coming for them and the family members of his partner.

This is an exhilarating cat and mouse thriller that takes too long for the anticipated confrontation to occur; when it does it is first rate. Kat and Marcus are a fascinating couple as neither has moved passed the massacre and both want Iden dead. When their dysfunctional relationship changes from killing Iden to love, some of the steam is lost with the expected switch. Still they make the tale as they plan to hunt the predator; not understanding how clever and diabolical their enemy is though revenge proves extremely pointed.

Harriet Klausner 
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling, amazing, don't miss this ride!! January 19, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This review has been a long time coming, since I read this book over a year ago. Still that is only due to my own forgetfulness and haphazard personal management style, rather than anything other than the most positive reflection of the amazing writing and thrilling story contained within these pages. I'm not one for spoilers, so I won't offer any of those here. I mostly aim to boost the Amazon rating for this story, which I had the pleasure of reading in hard cover. The characters were very relatable, the story was powerfully paced and this was definitely one of those stories you just couldn't let go of. This book has its share of bloodshed, mystery, a bag guy with a truly twisted soul and even a bit of romance (interwoven in such a way that had one cheering for their survival on every level). It was all these things and more which drew the reader (in this case me) to turning page after page, hoping that the "killer" would finally get his due and the hero would be the victor. As with any great tale there are expected elements, but Mr. Walker's confident writing style takes you on quite the unexpected journey. I gave this a full compliment of stars and hope that my level of fandom brings others to the club! Because if you are not yet a fan, you surely will be!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


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This Old Mare, by Molly N. Moss, is a short story spotlighted on Stupefying Stories Showcase. It is free to read, is short, and it made my skin crawl. So, I obviously love it. Hit the link above and read this scary tale. Happy skin-crawling!
Blaze McRob