At World’s End: Chapter 3

Prologue 

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

“Fucking bitch,” Zed muttered under his breath as he pulled his tattered shirt from the dirt and putting it over his head.

Eli ignored the insult. “She wants you to chase her.” He dropped the firewood on the ground and proceeded to start a fire.

“What?”

“She’s,” Eli paused, scrambling for the right words, “playing.”

“You’re kidding me.”

“She had a complicated childhood. It is nice that she can retain some childlike wonder.”

“But she is not a child.”

“Does that matter? She has been through a lot and now she is happy.” Eli looked in the distance as smiled. 

It was clear that Zed wanted the conversation to end but Eli persevered. “So what has a young boy like yourself seen?”

“None of your business.”

Eli chuckled once again, “you know you remind me of someone.”

“Lovely tidbit but I’d prefer that you don’t compare to a pathetic friend of yours in a past life.”

A small snigger came from Eli’s mouth. “Ouch. You’re mean. An old man is just trying to warn you. That pathetic friend did alright. In fact, look for yourself,” he said as he gestured to himself.

Zed observed him, and as much as he did not want to admit it, he was doing alright. His build was thin and slender upon first impressions but the way he had pinned him, Zed realised that he was a lot stronger than he had seemed. He did not look old. But above all, he was alive, alive and happy. A mix that is seldom seen.

“Is this the future I should look forward to?”

“Alright, Zed — if that’s still the name you want to be referred to as — ”

“It’s my name.”

“Sure, ‘Zed’ , if you learn anything from me let it be this: nothing is as simple as it may seem. Remember that when you’re judging people.”

“You and your sister travelling together seems simple enough. What is it? The cliché ‘parents died in front of your very eyes and you devote yourself to avenge them’ but before you can, you realise how royally fucked you are; so you just move, valuing your own life more than anything.”

“If you want me to start from the top then I will.”

“Anything is better than you making me guess.” Zed stretched out his arms before sinking closer to the ground. He looked as if he was waiting for a bedtime story.

Eli cleared his throat. “My parents were killed before my very eyes.”

Zed groaned loudly to a story he expected.

“They were killed years before the war and as a child I lashed out. Became a ‘victim’ of the system. I hated that term but I guess it was true. I had no one in the world. I had nothing. I lived and did anything to feel alive. Drugs, crime, who knows what else. Even when I turned eighteen and was forced out, I continued that life, slept rough and squatted when I was lucky. 

“Then the war started and chaos spread. Dead bodies littered the street, the ringing of an explosion. I became intoxicated with havoc, I felt happy. People were suffering the pain I had been suffering for years. I saw this as an opportunity. I could do whatever I really wanted and with absolutely no consequences.”

Zed had no snarky comeback for Eli, the person he was describing did not sound like the person who had been so forgiving of him.“So what did you do? Kill people. Did you shoot a man as he begged for his life, seeing the fear in his eyes but using it as ammo when you pulled the trigger. Watching yourself becoming a killer and not hate it.”

Eli was not shaken by the oddly specific description that Zed had painted for him. “I’m thankful I was never that far gone. I did the same shit I always did. I tripped on acid, got high with the same people but just in a bigger playground. Met some people who only fueled my self-destructive tendencies. I thought I was so hard, I thought I was living how I wanted. I thought that what I did was a big ‘fuck’ you to everyone who did me wrong. These things that were taboo, but I had been doing it so easily. It’s because there was no one left to tell us, no punishment, no crime, no boredom. In reality, we were just teenagers squatting in someone’s house that didn’t care while other people were dying. I didn’t care because in that moment, I was immortal. The feeling of immortality is only heightened when you see more people die. I felt superior.”

“There was an abrupt end to that feeling. One day when we were all tripping, a group of kids our age had bigger plans of saying fuck you. They were the killers you described. They came into our home, our barrier to the shit that was happening outside. They lit it on fire and tried shooting at us from the windows. My best friend Sawyer got shot right in the eye and burst out laughing, all the drugs dulled him out and the hallucinations must have been hilarious. He was enjoying the pain and didn’t even feel his life slip away, not from the first, second or even third bullet. Some people got an idea of what happened and ran. They tried at least, however the fire spread and their alcohol soaked shirts determined their fate. I didn’t flee I just sat there completely unable to move. One friend pulled me out and threw me out the window, he saved my life. We were on the second floor and my landing was not graceful, in fact my leg never recovered properly from that. I urged my friend to jump with me but he smiled and exploded with the house.”

“What was your friend’s name?”

“I wish I could tell you. I must have called him something but my memory of that time is a little bit shaky. The man saved my life and I can’t remember his name. Even if the name he told me was fake, many of us did that. There was a Snake and Blaze in the group but for the life of me I can’t put a name on him.” Guilt was eating away at Eli. 

“So you were the only survivor?”

“Me and Sarah. We both survived. She was so fucking crazy. She would occasionally trip out and do some crazy shit but most of the time she was clean. She did these insane things like jumping from bridges, completely in her right mind. She was fearless.” His eyes lit up talking about her, which urged Zed to ask, “you loved her?”

“Completely. I thought if I lived by jumping out of a house on fire then I could survive if she rejected me. I was more taken aback when she actually said she liked me too. We already travelled and lived together for a year and a half. But now it was different. Now we were together.”

“So where does Kanna come into this story?”

“I completely forgot that’s why story time began. You’re awfully interested in her.”Eli probed.

“You haven’t explained why she’s such a bitch.”

“If you want to know, maybe you should ask her directly.”

“I’d rather not endure any more pain from her.”

“She is a feisty one but she isn’t a bad person.” Eli’s carefree attitude had dissipated, he wore a stoic look which did not suit him. “Zed, this is an odd request but if something were to happen, I would like you to take care of Kanna.”

“I can’t promise that. I don’t even expect to see you again after tomorrow.”

“You’re welcome to stay. It is easier to be in groups and I know you’re not a bad kid either.”

“Why don’t we finish the story before I start making lifelong promises?”

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At World’s End: Chapter 2

Prologue 

Chapter 1 

There was a rustle from the forest — the slightest sound of a stealthy hunter.

“Let’s talk about this over dinner,” Eli said.

The figure of a small girl clutching a knife in one hand emerged from between the trees. Her hands were covered in blood as the other hand held the bitter remains of a rabbit.

Eli smiled. “Hello, Kanna. Say hello to our new friend.” 

She glared at the stranger, not once breaking eye contact with him even when she walked past her brother, dropping the rabbit in front of him in the process. She stood before Zed, he towered over her, yet this unfazed her. She extended her arm, holding the blood stained knife to his neck. The knife was freshly sharpened, already drawing blood from his neck — one wrong move would result in fatal damage. 

“What do what want?” She asked, her voice did not shake, nor show any emotion. It was almost a monotonous tone. 

“Kill me, I dare you,” Zed laughed. “Put me out of my perpetual misery.”

“Kanna, you brought a lovely meal. Now, let’s sit and eat.” 

There was a moment where the Earth stood still, no one spoke, no breeze passed them, not even an animal stirred, as both Kanna and Zed stared at each other. 

“Children,” Eli said. His voice was soft but it was enough to make Kanna finally withdraw her knife from Zed’s throat. 

She spun around to face Eli exposing a sweet smile. “Would I ever kill a defenceless animal?” she asked while picking up the rabbit. 

Much like his feelings towards Eli, Kanna also made Zed feel uneasy. She showed no emotion to him, yet changed that in an instant when she spoke to Eli. He knew that she was not only capable of killing him but she was ready to. There would be no tears if he died in that moment and certainly not from her. 

Zed felt sweat trickle down on his back, he let out a shaky breath. As he glanced over to Kanna, he saw that she did not share the same sentiment on the event. She leaned back on a tree skinning the rabbit whilst humming a jaunty tune. 

“Zed,” Eli called out, “take a seat.” He was so polite, plastering a grin on his face as if Zed was an ordinary dinner guest.

“No.”

A small knife coming from Kanna’s direction passed Zed, landing on a tree behind him. 

What’s her problem? He thought, however before he could voice his qualms she spoke: “before you get pissy, I don’t miss a shot. So maybe next time I won’t be so nice. If you wanna avoid testing that then I suggest you start listening.”

Zed obeyed sitting on a rock near the camp.

Eli had the same smile on his face, “now, isn’t this nice?”

“Fucking lovely,” Zed said.

“Do I need to get the firewood as well?” Kanna asked. 

“I don’t mind but then you need to keep our guest company. But we can’t expect him to do it.”

“Is the dog unable to do that?”

Eli’s expression changed. “Kanna, it’s manners. He has a name.”

“I’m bad with names. The name I gave him suits him perfectly.”

“Don’t be rude. I’m getting sick of your attitude.”

“People like him just want to hurt us.” She began to shake. “I can’t lose you.” It was like a quiet plea, so small like a child’s voice. 

“Some people need our help, Kanna. We can’t be like those other people. Kindness and compassion can be much harder but it will free us. I promise. Don’t hold onto fear and anger.”

Kanna wiped her face before walking to Zed. “I won’t apologise but I will offer to clean your neck.”

It was a small wound on his neck, compared to other injuries this was so minuscule that he forgot it was there. He knew it was a gesture rather than a necessity, but it still made him want to laugh. The idea of someone showing him a weakness to him, made him want to scream that he was the monster she thought he was. 

Instead he grumbled an agreement. Eli left for the firewood, leaving the two to simmer in a thick silence. Eli sat on the ground, looking upwards as Kanna dabbed a rag with alcohol over the cut. 

He hissed, “no need for that shit.”

“If I’m doing this then I’m doing it properly.”

He just grunted in response, he would much rather she left it but it was better to get this done quick. It did not take long, ensuring that someone does not die over something small was a basic need in dire times. 

“All done,” she exclaimed. “You took it like a trooper.” Kanna joked as she slapped his back while passing him.

He cringed from this force. She did not intend it to be hard but his back sore, some pain from his encounter with Eli but mainly scratches from before he arrived. 

Kanna noticed the discomfort. “Take off your shirt.” 

He remained still as he searched her expression to see if she was being serious. 

“Are you worried for a girl to see you naked? I guarantee you that I will be less than impressed.”

“Darling, I’m sure you can’t wait to see me naked. Would you like me to take off my trousers while I’m at it?”

She glanced down. “I’m not interested in anything so small. Shirt off is fine.”

Zed removed his shirt to reveal bruises along his back, splotches of black and purple painted his back. There were some scratches on his back, the blood from these were dried from these and thankfully, they were not deep. They would not scar like the many marks which trailed to his waistband.

Kanna once again cleaned these wounds and applied an ointment to his back as a thousand theories on how the torments he endured raced through her mind. 

“I fell. It’s not a big deal.” Referring to some of the bruises. 

“And the scratches?”

“I was hiding in some bushes, didn’t realise how prickly it was.”

“The scars?”

“Those are years in the making.”

“They hit you a lot.”

Kanna continued to apply the thick cream, tracing the lines of his scars, some ran to his torso which she followed. She stared at two large gashes on his chest. Eli looked away from Kanna, clearly embarrassed, he was not used to anyone staring at him like this for so long, especially a girl. As he mustered up the nerve to look at her, he noticed that she was not going to cry or feel pity for him, like he was used to. Instead she was filled with a rage directed at those responsible. 

Trying to extinguish that anger, even slightly, Zed muttered, “hey, my eyes are up here.” As he held his shirt to his chest. 

“Sorry for staring. That was tactless.” 

Zed was surprised about the apology, when he was ready to respond Eli came barrelling in. It was obvious to both of them that it was Eli as he was singing a pop song loudly and out of tune. “Seeing you to like that, makes it look like you’re a couple.”

Kanna’s face twisted. “Gross, bro. That’s not funny.”

The quickness of her response hurt Zed, not from any love harboured but from exposing so much of himself, only for people to still be disgusted by him. “What about me? I don’t like you much either.”

She poked his side.  “Wanna tell me what’s wrong with me, bastard? You’d be lucky to get a girl as sophisticated and loving as me.”

Zed did not want to pout or deal with them for any longer, he had his own reasons for travelling. His freedom required him to leave.

“Bitch,” Zed scoffed. 

Before Zed could start the dramatic exit he planned, Kanna ran past him into the forest but not before her hand hit his back. His back stung as he watched her disappear into the night.

At World’s End: Chapter 1

A man stood over the tall sand dunes, famished and dripping with sweat from his trek. Not even the light clothing could help as the unforgiving sun beat down on him. He travelled with only the tattered clothes on his back and the bag slung over his shoulder. In addition to this, a younger woman who was running circles around him.
The strange thing about this pair was not that they were travelling in a pair, nor was it the odd age gap. It was that — despite the fact that they were exhausted, lacked food and were dehydrated — they still smiled.
“Eli,” the small girl laughed. “We’re here.”
He tousled her hair, “we did it, kid.”
They looked at the divide of the desert to a forest area. The girl could not conceal her smile and she enthusiastically said, “we can make it today if we hurry. Let’s hurry.”
The girl carried a smaller bag, not knowing the burden Eli’s body from carrying most of their things, he had always insisted that he was fine. Only recently did she become pushy enough to carry a larger share.
He tried to match her enthusiasm by teasing her. “You’re eighteen now, Kanna, but you still run around like a kid.”
Her argumentative spirit dampened when she looked upon his expression. He was exhausted, breathing heavy, it was clear even to Kanna who looked up to Eli as an unwavering invisible presence — that the toll of travelling had caught up with him.
“You’re a dumbass.” She rolled her eyes. “Like you said I’m 18 and I can carry my share.” She smiled as she took their things from him and draped his arm around her shoulders.
As they walked, Eli could not subdue a chuckle. “I did this for you not long ago.”
“And how fast they grow,” she mocked, knowing that is what he would comment.
They walked at a slower pace than before, to a home past the desert, where the land would provide them the necessary resources. The quiet lifestyle they had craved was now in their grasp. A small river was not far and the only other people much further away. They had completed their journey and all that was left was to set up camp. They wandered into the forest, as trees surrounded them making the months of travelling seem so far. A tranquillity they had never felt took over them.
The summer was not kind during the day but gave them the long days they needed but the night was before them. Kanna quickly unpacked a sleeping bag for her brother and set him down on it. “Now, rest.”
“Kanna,” he sat up, “thank you.”
“All I did was support you for a few minutes. You’ve been supporting me everyday for 11 years.”
“It’s not just that. You’ve done more for me than you could ever know.”
“Don’t get sentimental on me, Bro. You and Reya have done too much for me.” She looked to her feet, it has been a while since she said her name out loud. Reya.
He scoffed, “that crazy girl. I don’t think about her everyday or anything.” He glanced down at his wedding ring and muttered, “Fuck, I miss her.”
“She was the best big sister ever.” Kanna looked at Eli, they both were on the brink of tears. He never cried in front of her and never wanted her to see him cry, therefore this formed an unhealthy habit of Kanna leaving whenever it seemed he would cry.
She excused herself when she saw a rabbit and chased it into the shroud of night.
Whilst in the campsite, Eli lay with his back on the sleeping bag. Tears fell from his eyes as he covered them with his arms. In the darkness, he could only picture his late wife’s face. Not much time passed since Kanna left but he heard footsteps approach him.
He wiped at his eyes with his sleeve. “Kid, aren’t you meant to be going for a walk?” he called out.
A large silhouette walked toward him. A man who was well built with short hair approached him. “Sorry, I’m not a kid.”
Eli sat unfazed, he blinked at the stranger as he shifted toward his belongings and clutched an object from his bag. “Then, who might you be little boy?” He asked, knowing that would agitate him.
“I’m not little,” he said in a low tone. The man was muscular man and much larger, however there was no doubt that he was younger.
“Okay, boy. My name is Eli.” The tone was used clearly to belittle him.
“Old man Eli.”
As Eli leaned in for a handshake, the man lunged at him. Eli dodged the man, using the larger man’s weight against him as his balance was slightly off, he pushed him to the ground emitting a tremendous crash. He held a knife at the intruders neck. “You’re still a kid.”
The intruder’s eyes did not change as he continued his hostile glare. “So, little boy, what’s your name?”
There was only silence, leading Eli to speak again. “You can tell me your name or I will call you boy. And we both know how much you enjoy that.”
Finally, he hesitantly replied, “Zed”.
“That’s an interesting name.”
Eli released him from his grip. “You’re not going to kill me?”
“Nah, I like a challenge.” Eli extended his hand again, Zed took it this time as he got up.
“Don’t screw with me.”
“You can either leave, but if you’re gonna stay then you gotta fetch me dinner.”
“You really don’t think I’ll try to kill you?”
“You might but as it stands, that will be too predictable and you don’t come off as a predictable guy. More of a loose cannon.”
Zed was used to his arrival making people feel uneasy, in fact, he thrived off this. However, Eli had made him nervous. Zed’s strong fight instinct screamed at him to try again.
“Feel free to try again,” Eli said, almost reading his mind. “It’s been a while since I’ve been in a good scrap.”
Zed shuffled on the spot. “We’re in the middle of a war, it is eat or be eaten.”
“Ah, yes. The apparent war. I highly doubt it even existed. Let alone has gone on for this many years.”
“What kind of conspiracy bullshit are you spouting? Of course, there’s a war, look around. The world’s population has plummeted, people are being killed or becoming killers.”
“There’s a difference between war and what we’re going through, boy. We have all suffered but you can’t remain ignorant.”
“If it isn’t a war, then what is it?” Zed’s tone changed, his anger dissipated as his curiosity spiked.
“It’s the end.”
“You’re gonna have to be more specific than that.”
“Well, you were born in this state of affairs so I can’t expect you to know of a time before. But before, we weren’t much better. There were too many people with too many different opinions. Too many opposing teams, which did result in actual wars. Greed fuelled and funded these conflicts. We survived as a species for over 2000 years with plenty of resources and now if you look around — poof — nothing.”
“What happened to everything?”
“Taking what you think you can, pillaging the land and destroying it. Along with whoever gets in the way. But like I said before it stemmed from greed. A sense of entitlement. The need for power.”
“So a corrupt system?”
“Ding, ding. You got it. If you want to cut a short story down. Then think of this as a very extreme survival of the fittest.”
“Survival of the fittest implies some sort of advancement. That isn’t happening, the survivors are broken. The people left are either completely dominated by fear or strike fear into others. Some people kill for sport now.” He paused, his hands clenched, fingernails digging into his palm.
Eli edged closer to him, his instincts as a big brother was to comfort him but stopped when Zed asked: “is that evolution?”
“No, it’s not. It is the opposite. As humans, we pride ourselves on not being animals. Segregating ourselves from them but when the time, we went back to our primal instincts mixed with a thirst for power. Living in communities gave us humanity so when those collapsed and people broke off, we lost that as well.”
“You’re gonna get yourself killed one day for saying things like that.”
“That is too noble a death for a man like me.”
Zed examined him. The friendly attitude, weaker stature combined with proud atmosphere, Eli was not like many others he had met before. “A man like you can’t possibly be travelling alone.”
“Ah, sharp and a smart mouth. Those would be the things that kill you.”
“I’m not going to die.”
“A man that thinks he’s a god. This is priceless.” Eli laughed.
He finally looked at the younger man’s face and realised it wasn’t a joke.
“I died a long time ago and they need me.”
Eli knew that the Zed’s heart was still beating and the certainty in his voice shook Eli. This was the first time that this strange man was sincere.

At World’s End: Prologue

In a time of complete turmoil, when the Earth is in distress, the thought of living became menacing. 

Many died. Whether it be in poverty, in riots or by the hands of their fellow man, there was never a time to mourn. 

Those people left behind — the “lucky” few — roamed the land, looking for a way to survive. Living off scraps, alone in their sadness. To be left alive was considered luck but to live was not lucky. 

They had seen their families die before their very eyes. Watched the devolution of humankind and eventually the death of humanity. There was no solace. Surviving for the sake of simply not dying, with no hope was cruel. But some could not justify the alternative — choosing to die on their own terms when the darkness became too much. 

The battle of the land had long finished but the war never ended. In this desolate place, life is often forgotten and death is far kinder.

However, human nature dictates that a fighting instinct remains until the very end. Even in a lifeless expanse of sand as far as the eye can see with the blistering heat beating down, there was finally a sign of life. The sound of laughter from a young woman as she ran across the land with a slightly older man trailing behind. Two mismatched people seeking survival.

Nightfall

Image result for black and white forestThe sound feet hitting the pavement in perfect rhythm was the only sound which resonated through the quiet street. They belonged to a young woman taking the same route she takes everyday, with her knowing that she would arrive to work late and that no one would realise. She continues at her relaxed pace, with footsteps growing slightly heavier as the same unease shot through her. This unease was the reminder that this was her life until the end of her days. The town was too predictable, thus for her, too boring. Nothing ever changed, not the people, and never their routine.

This was proved when she turned into the busy street, greeted by the eyes of the barber peering out of his glass shop front. There was the same awful aroma coming from the real estate agents sucking their morning fag. Then the barking of the dog with his owners resting on the bench. All sounds and senses dulled ever so slightly with the familiar bustle of cars in traffic. This isn’t where I’m meant to be, she had always thought. It just doesn’t feel right.

A singular raindrop fell, leading her to sigh and pull an umbrella from her bag anticipating this change of weather. Not much time passed before the downpour increased, leading to the streets to clear. She watched a bus crammed with people stuck in traffic and decided to continued by foot — extending her beloved solitude. Another turn led her to enter an empty park, her usual shortcut which truly was not shorter. She stopped the blaring music in her ears to listen to the sounds of the rain hit the surface. 

The clouds above merged into a grey storm, showing no sign of stopping. The pitter patter of the water hit her umbrella forming a gentle beat which calmed her. The rhythmic sound was disrupted with the emergence of footsteps running through mud, accompanied by a heavy panting. It was sudden but the footsteps were closely approaching. 

Her pace began to quicken and it was not long before she achieved a full out sprint. She did not dare turn around, instead she glued her eyes to the setting directly in front of her, praying never to hear that gnarly panting again. A time soon came where she could no longer run, her ears ringing and vision blurred. She hunched over, squatting close to the wet grass, still with the umbrella in hand but not positioned above her. Her throat was aching due to a combination of the weather and the most exercise she had done in years, breathing hurt, yet she was hyperventilating. Her chest felt like it was on fire, and a twinge of fear remained instilled into her. When she was able to hear again and the need to throw up finally subsided, she had realised she could not hear the rain, nor any footsteps and bad things which followed it. It was replaced by an undisturbed tranquility. 

The feeling of was cut short when cold bony hand touched the woman’s shoulder. “Finally,” a deep voice said, belonging to a man towering over her. He stood upright making his six foot demeanour seem even taller, he was composed, no sense of uneven breathing, just serenity, in contrast to the woman near him. She turned around, examining the stranger’s face. Due to his paleness, his skin seemed to illuminate, his dark attire did not help his complexion — he wore a long black jacket with a hood over his head while strands of long damp black hair peeking out. His most prominent — and unsettling — feature were his black eyes staring down at her.

“Why were you running?” he asked, monotonously.

She racked her mind, wondering how she could explain to a stranger that she was running from something she never even saw. She stood upright mimicking his posture whilst dusting off her trousers. “Just late to work, so I should make a move.”

“I don’t think you’re going to make it there.”

“Excuse me,” she pushed past him and walked with urgency.

Her apprehension had returned, not able to stay near the strange man but her mind fixated on the initial creature she was trying to escape. She roamed further away, expecting to see the same red bricks from the wall she encounters every day, but instead was greeted by an unfamiliar terrain. The path that would lead her to work was no longer there, replaced by trees vaguely concealing a railroad. Though the heavy downpour stopped, the grey sky remained, however darker than before. 

She stood frozen at her new surroundings when the stranger approached her again. She didn’t know where to go, but wanted to run. “Stay away from me. I bet you were the one chasing me before as well.” The minimal composure she hoped to maintain had disappeared. 

“What are you talking about?”

“Something was running behind me, which is how I ended up — well I don’t even know where.”

“Please, honey, I don’t run. The real question is how you got here. What are you, like a witch or something?”

“What did you call me?”

“So not a witch.” He held his hands up. “You can’t be a reaper too. Sure, you’re pale enough but your eyes are brown.”

“Excuse me. I’m not going to stand here and be insulted, especially after you have already threatened me.” She turned around, grabbing her phone hoping to see where she was, but instead came to face a black screen.

The strange man was before her again, he had no audible footsteps, nor presence. “I guess you’re small enough to be a fairy.” He slyly smiled at his quip, while she just glared at him. “That can’t be it. There is hate in those eyes, you are nowhere near ‘sparkly’ enough to be a fairy. With those eyes, you must be a siren.”

“Hey, weirdo! What the fuck are you on about?”

There was silence. 

“Actually, you know what I don’t have time for this. Just tell me where I am so I can go work.”

“Nightfall.”

“Where am I?” she repeated.

“That is where you are.”

“Nightfall is not a real place.”

“Look around, darling. That is where you are.”

“I am lost in a strange place with strange man.”

“I am no mere mortal, miss. I am a reaper.” 

She fell to the ground and uttered the most pathetic words: “I’m gonna be late for work”.

A silence swept over them once again. He didn’t leave – a kind gesture that she did not want, nevertheless she quickly became consumed with her own thoughts. “I’m going to die here,” she muttered.

“Hate to break it to you but if you’re here then you’re probably already dead,” he said.

“You severely lack any sensitivity.” God, why could he not leave? “Earlier when you said you were a reaper. Did you mean like grim?”

“Is there any other kind?” a proud smile spread across his face as he bowed dramatically.

As he hunched over she grabbed his collar. “You bastard did you bring me here. I’ll fucking kill you.”

“What a gross misconception.” He sounded hurt and easily escaped her weak grasp. “Reapers don’t take lives, they only guide them to the afterlife.”

“Genius, are you meant to guide anyone today?”

“I usually get a name, one second.” He gestured with his index finger as he turned his pockets inside out like a schoolboy. “Nothin’”.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The warmth of the mug radiated to her fingertips. She stared down at the hot beverage, firmly believing that comfort can always be found in a cup of tea. The steam raised up warming face as she slowly took a sip. Familiarity, is all she thought.

Due to pity and curiosity, the “reaper” could not help but invite the lost woman into his home. She never went into a stranger’s home, but considering the circumstance, an exception was made. It was homelier than she had presumed. From the outside, his house looked like a small bungalow, however inside it was strangely spacious. The minimalist composition further added to this sparse look. There were no dividing walls, the bedroom overlooked the living room and past this was the kitchen. The kitchen particularly stood out, differing from the rest of the house, as it was contemporary and bright. She also could not help be comforted slightly by the thought of a reaper wearing an apron and preparing meals like a normal person.

The rest of the house was dark, which suited him more. The sofa she sat on was black, similarly with the rug that rested below her feet. Behind her was his bedroom, with a black brick wall complemented by an array of  grey decor.

Her trance was cut short from the harsh steps of the so-called reaper. Before she even looked up, she  could see him pacing back and forth in her peripheral vision. “I don’t understand,” he said.

“You and me both, dude.” Finally relaxed and embracing the new warmth, she gulped down the hot tea. She stretched on his couch and began to lay down.

“No, no,” he rushed toward her before her back could rest against the leather of the sofa, placing his hands on her back and pushing her up. “No,” he repeated. “Don’t make yourself comfortable. You’re going to heaven or hell or whatever the afterlife is. But you don’t belong here.”

“Well, apparently you’re the expert, so you tell me what to do.” I was clearly a novice at this whole dying thing, she thought. 

He wanted to retaliate, but quickly deflated, knowing he had no rebuttal.  “Why are you relaxed now? Ten minutes ago, you were frantic, cursing me out.”

She shrugged. “Ten minutes ago, you were level-headed and carefree. You’re looking pretty flustered now.” She knew she was irritating her only hope to get answers but in this moment she finally did not have a care in the world. “What usually happens when someone dies?”

“I get a name and when I read the name I see the person’s face. I wander out to the forest and in the middle of the plains, someone’s lying there. They’re unconscious, laying in the same exact place, every time. When they come to, they can’t recall their life but when I look into their eyes, I see it all — guiding them through these wastelands, where they gradually remember as well. When they know their truth, then they have reached the end. For each person, it’s different but it’s usually a gate — a gate to the next life. The final one.”

“Interesting. But it proves I’m not dead. I remember everything, my whole life. My house for example, it’s nice. Not too big but not too small. There’s the porch door which is white and leads to the black tiles where I throw my shoes when I get home. Then there’s another door, a cream colour. This leads to our hallway. There’s two doors, the one with a glass pane leads to our living room. It’s all open, so we have a long room and the kitchen at the end. Above the kitchen is a skylight, which you can see from my room. The kitchen has a lot of light which I always hated a bit because it blinds me first thing in the morning. The-”

“Okay!” He cut her off, clearly agitated, “I get it! Was there anything weird about the events leading up to before I saw you?”

“It started off as a pretty normal day. It was raining before I got here, real heavy rain, it even had the same rain smell mixed with petrol and mud. And of course, the weird rabid dog panting which I thought came from you.”

His eyes widened. “Hellhounds,” was all he muttered. “Did it bite you? Tear you limb from limb?”

“No, I ran.”

“No one could ever outrun a hellhound, especially considering how unfit you are. Coughing your lungs out from the slightest bit of exercise. It is just so strange.”

She walked up to him extending her hand out as a sign of friendship. “We spent a bit of time together and I find it odd that we haven’t introduced ourselves yet. My name is Noor.” There was brief silence therefore Noor took it upon herself to continue speaking. “It means divine light in Arabic, fitting right?”

He was wary but graciously accepted the act of kindness. “Right.”

“This is the portion of the conversation where you say your name.”

“I’m reaper, I guess.”

“That’s not a name, you must have had a name once. A life aside from reaping.”

“This is all I know. All I have ever done. I am but a reaper.”

“So how long you been doing this gig?”

“What is with the interrogation?”

“I’m trying to be friendly.”

“I think I preferred when you were threatening me.” He sighed, “as far back as I can remember. The beginning of time, I guess. I don’t know. I don’t know when it started or when it will end.”

“De-pressing,” she said in a sing-song tone.

“I am sorry I don’t get the same luxury as you deplorable humans.” Noor was shocked, wondering what she had said to hit a nerve, and also hurt by his harsh words.

It wasn’t long before he spoke again. “I apologise for my outburst. I’m never like this, reapers don’t have a lot of emotion —  it helps maintain a judgement free zone. But I have met a lot of people. I have seen their deepest darkest secrets and all their desires, the flaws. I am not the one to pass judgement — but I see it and I can’t pretend like I haven’t.”

“So, you don’t like humans, how about the witches and sirens and fairies you mentioned? Maybe I’ve met one.”

“Doubtful. There are things not in your world which can enter mine. It’s like walking through a neighbourhood for them. Any being with free will have the same issues. And for the record I don’t hate humans.” He smiled, slyly referring to Noor. This was the first time he really smiled at her and she couldn’t help but grin back.

“I don’t want to make this about myself again but can you see anything about me, even a glimpse?”

“That’s exactly it. When I look at you, it’s a complete blank. Usually, I see everything when I look in their eyes. I see their souls. The eyes are a window to the soul, never underestimate how true that is. I see what they don’t know about themselves. Just to summarise, paper, vision, memory lane which then leads to the gate. I’m a glorified delivery boy. With you, there’s nothing, I didn’t even realise you came here, I didn’t know your face, I know nothing about you. It irks me.”

“Maybe it’s just a delayed reaction. What if you look in my eyes, like really look in them?”

“It couldn’t hurt to try,” he said. They sat opposite each other, legs folded like school kids. As they stared into each others eyes, his face betrayed him to show that he once again reached a disappointing blank. “You have black eyes,” he noted.

Noor knew that he was unable to see her years unfold before his very eyes, instead she saw his. The entirety of the reaper’s existence flashed before her. However, he was no reaper, not anymore and he wasn’t from the start as he believed. There is more to his story, that he had yet to learn. A sad story of a boy destined to live a normal life, but died before he became a man. As her vision became clouded, she felt a dampness on her face, but she saw his face change. Something he hadn’t felt in years despite the thousands of people who previously broke down in front of him — empathy.

“Micah,” was all that left her lips.

He looked at her in disarray, completely unaware of all that she had seen. He instinctively wiped Noor’s tears with his thumb, which she knew that he had never been compelled to do for any other soul. That only made her tears flow more. She abruptly stood up, startling him slightly. With her back turned to him, she quickly wiped the tears with her pulled sleeves.

Micah stared at her, restraining himself from comforting her. Before she was ready to face him again, she dug her hands deeps into her pocket and felt a roughness at the bottom, brushing over it with her thumb. Removing the foreign object — a scrunched-up piece of paper — and unfolding it, which revealed the new name Noor had just learnt.

“Micah, would you like to go for a walk?” Noor asked.

The Long Exhausting Life of a Vulture

I am a bird of prey,
Knowing only two things: to fly and to feed,
There is not much else to say,
Abiding to a cycle of search, eat and breed,
The same, every day
What more is there that I need?

For humans, it is difficult,
But when there is a war,
They’ve lost, knowing it’s their own fault,
But I continue to soar.

To me, they are no more than meat,

I should be content not to die,
While their corpses are littered in the street,
My own kind flourish in the sky

Surely, they are just like me,
So why am I filled with disgust?
Food, like them, is all I see,
Their next victim is seen in the dust,
Although this is no body,
However, it’s still what they lust.

The human is alive,
Albeit, on their last strand of life,
Someone must take a dive,
So they don’t yet feel the sharp scythe.

If they are as good as dead,
It shouldn’t be left to rot,
We should be fed,
As long as it’s not for nought.

As they drew toward the child,
I feel I want to cradle the thing,
They were so wild,
That something tugged at my heart string.

Every instinct I have installed in my body
Is aching,
I didn’t think this feeling was a possibility,
My very being is the very thing I’m contradicting,
As I flew to she,
And perched my body next to hers, in the warmth under my wing.

I gave the heat,
That no one showed the compassion to,
I gathered our food with my crows feet,
I did whatever I could possibly do.

She had no life nor a name,
She’s only known war and struggle,
It was such a shame,
She didn’t look like food because I was full.

I’m the only one to show any kindness,
The truth is kind of sick,
But better than nothing in this mess,
Everything, like it happened, was too quick.

The disgusted glares of my brothers as they looked over me,
My emotion was not invited by them,
But I couldn’t leave her be,
I would much rather be the one to face the condemn.

They would often taunt me,
However I wouldn’t shake,
Even when they used their long claws to bully,
And then my wings would break.

I would limp to the river,
My spirit still not be crushed,
But my frail body would still shiver,
These moments away from her was the only times I was fussed

It would hurt not having a home,
But watching her age,
Seeing her able to roam,
It was like a book turning another page.

When I saw that she lived for her,
No amount of grief would take away that joy,
Therefore when I left bloody trails further,
I could only play coy.

She began to look over us,
When I was completely wrecked,
She never kicked up a fuss,
It was almost perfect.

But everything changed when the hunters came,
They damaged my beautiful home,
It was such a shame,
That once again I was left to roam.

They burnt the forest,
Killed for sport,
Truly becoming a pest,
Like the ones the fought.

My loathing for them was intolerable,
But she became infatuated with these fools,
Once upon a time her eyes were dull,
but they sparkled upon seeing these animals

She watched them from afar for a long time,
Until those tyrants took her away,
It was really the greatest crime,
And for that they shall pay.

For her I left the place I call home,
Yet she could not do the same,
I was left alone,
Most definitely lame.

By this time the war was long past,
The humans have entered a golden age,
But every other being had to run fast,
Away from the humans rage.

We were not so lucky, not allowed to rest,
We are hunted, running,
Barely alive at best,
We are homeless again — left with nothing.

Many of my brothers since thenhave passed,
I always thought their spirits have been starved,
But as I go past the place I once called home, which will be the last,
I see that they have nests of children, in their spirits are their parents carved.

Not hungry,
They scoured for them when push came to shove,
And the truth that I couldn’t see,
Was to provide for the ones that they love.

It has dawned that I’m the one who is pathetic,
They were not monsters — they did what they must,
I felt sick,
Left by myself in the dust.

The humans did what they did not for survival,
But for entertainment,
Just like an animal,
I raised the monster I was sent.

As I flew to find food,
I had no purpose,
So for me to still try to survive was albeit kind of crude,
But I’ve lived for less.

Now that I had nothing, not drive or even energy,
I truly believed this to be my ending,
Until a woman with her resemblance uncanny,
Had approached me, and upon her seeing.

She grabbed her bloodied knife,
And granted me a corpse,
I did what I did best in my life,
And fed of the poor creature as my mind warps.

She patted my head,
And spent time until I could fly,
Said she was glad I wasn’t dead,
And when she parted with me, she did genuinely cry.

Seeing her children and her family,
With her own happiness,
It made me smile and I didn’t know I could be so sappy,
I’m glad, I must confess.

And it was like the beginning, my life on repeat,
She left food out,
Happy, full and complete,
But why did I feel still some doubt?

It got all too familiar when she got ill,
She became skinny once more,
I watched from the windowsill,
When everyone would come through the door.

Unable to walk,
What was left was skin and bones in a pile,
No more could she couldn’t talk,
Or even smile .

They carried out a party upon her death,
Wearing all black,
As I let out a breath,
Watching them crowded as a pack.

They were completely disgusting,
As I felt moisture run down my face,
It was somehow touching,
That I wasn’t, as I always believed, a lost case.

As they screamed and blubbered,
I still watched from the fence,
And joined as they mourned,
Her beautiful existence.

I wasn’t just watching,
I participated,
As we celebrated her living,
and this day that was fated.

I stayed,
Watching her I let out a cry,
There was still a happy face even in the dirt where she was laid,
Now was the time I could finally say goodbye.

Doing what I couldn’t do those years,
Because of the pity I felt before,
But now as she grew and overcoming those fears,
I devoured begging for more,

Tears that I didn’t think I was capable of still flowed,
It was intoxicating,
I ate and I was full once again in the cold,
I had taken away what was left of her being,

Now it was truly over.

Beyond the Window

Going back to my routes on this one, creative writing from words from a random word generator. 

The words were: Hostage, Talkative, Deal, Infection

Image result for window  photography

I lay on the soft mattress, sinking in as the covers surround me. I made it a habit to lay in the dark, I was not concerned about my surroundings. It was nice to not think, not dream just be. I had to savour this feeling. As I relax further into my nest, my safe space quickly became intruded. 

The lights turned on and a young man strolled in. Leon came here everyday, wearing a smug grin on his face accompanied with a chirpy attitude. “It has been a lovely day.”

“I wouldn’t know,” I said while sitting up, leaning on the headboard.

“You’re not a hostage, Mika. You can leave whenever you want.”

I felt my lips tightening, I had nothing to say nor any desire to leave, feeling too comfortable within these four walls. I was sick for a long time and once I got better rather than returning to my life it was just easier to stay here. 

No one came to visit me besides Leon. Not that I could recall many of my memories from before that time but I thought if they came then it would trigger some memory. Instead I was left alone with Leon, it made me bitter and Leon was the only one I could take out my frustrations on. 

On some level, I should be thankful but I’m not, he just reminds me how weak I am. Besides I never asked him to see me, he just does. I realised that he wouldn’t stop no matter what I said. 

I glared at him as he sat on the foot of my bed. It was no longer a quizzical stare, wondering why he came to visit or why he seemed so happy to see me I gave up on that a long time ago. Instead I glared at him to make it clear I didn’t want him here, make him not feel welcome enough to stroll in as he likes and make himself at home. 

“You’re very talkative,” he joked. 

“I don’t have much to say. Nothing has changed since yesterday or the day before. I haven’t done anything.”

“Are you still having those dreams?”

I did have dreams good dreams. In those dreams I can relive the feeling of happiness, of being uncomplicated. A blue sky, watching the clouds with a pair of eyes staring at me. The eyes were full of warmth. Even though I could not remember the face, I know I was happy. They were mundane activities, dreams of cooking and dancing, walking outside, going to the store. They were normal,  yet I craved them. However, I could not will myself to leave.

I looked at him for the first time. He wore a light blue jumper with white trousers. I have only seen him in some rendition of blue. 

“You really like blue?”

“It was my wife’s favourite colour.” He played with the silver band on his finger, smiling. He must really love her. In some way it made me jealous. Not because he was taken, but he was happy I did not have that luxury. 

“Was?” I repeated.

He ignored me, instead he observed the curtains, pushing up his glasses. “You haven’t opened the curtains again,” he stated. 

“No need. There is nothing out there for me.”

“There is nothing in here for you.”

“This is my home.”

“It was.”

“I remember how I used to be here. I remember laughing so easily. Smiling. Why does it not feel like me?”

“You remember?”

“Only a little.” After that sudden confession, I became defensive. “ I don’t know why you care, I don’t even know you.”

In that moment I thought I saw his eyes become glassy but focussed more on the hurt expression he now wore.  I had pushed him away before but this is the first time it had affected him. That is what I wanted but a knot still formed in my stomach. “Please, just indulge me,” he pleaded.

“I loved watching the clouds. The blue sky.”

“You did.”

“Can you tell me more?” I asked, this was the first time I had wanted to know more about my life, no longer content with the fragments.

“It’s not fair to ask me that.”

“How about a hint?”

“Here is a deal. I will look outside if you give me a hint.”

He leaned in closer to me. Initially, I thought it was to deny my request, instead he pulled me closer to him and kissed my forehead. “I love you.”

For the first time, I felt hope. The face in my dreams, the kiss on the forehead confirms it. It was all Leon. 

“You would humour me before.” 

“You had a strange outlook on the clouds but you loved looking at them, coming up with the most absurd stories.” I recalled him giggling when I would say the wildest observations about the clouds, the face were no longer eyes but Leon’s face. If I could remember him even a little then I was sure he would remind me of the rest. Finally the world was bright and I thought that I could live that we could live. 

He slipped a matched band to his on my finger and smiled weakly. 

Fulfilling my promise and with a new sense of confidence, I drew open the curtains, expecting to see my blue sky. But that is not what stared back at me. 

The sky was a blood red. The streets weren’t the ones I grew up in, the buildings were falling and resembled rubble more than structures. There was no form of life beneath us. 

“It hasn’t got any better, I’m afraid. Everyone left.”

“We will follow them.”

“Mik, the infection spread. I don’t have much time left.”

“I got better.”

“And you’re the only one.”

“Why did you stay with me ?”

“I was sick too, ” he lied. 

“You liar, you should have left me.”

“I could never do that.”

“I will stay with you.”

“It is more dangerous. You don’t know this world, Mik. It gets worse every day, the air is toxic for most animals, they’re going wild. The longer you stay, the further everyone else gets. You won’t find them if you wait around for me. “

“No.”

He rested his head on my shoulder and I felt a dampness on my t-shirt. “You have to,” he sobbed. 

I already decided that I would not leave him. Just like he refused me.

Queen of Hearts

The village where I spent my boyhood years had an unwritten mantra amongst the children, it existed before my family moved there generations before and will continue long after I am dead. Be careful what you wish for. It was a law, a saying and a threat. It goes in accordance with another lore, which states that if a person pure of heart believes anything strong enough, it will come true. Almost like a wish.  I never thought much of it before, but it became the forefront of my thoughts after a winter that changed my life. The night exceeds all scientific possibility and the village of Efrose still contains inexplicable mysteries which turn into stories. 

In my youth, I was particularly fond of magic. It inspired an odd sense of hope and no one can deny that it holds a childlike wonder. The one trick that enamoured me was the disappearing act. I never saw a trapdoor or other cheap tricks; it was simple, a person was there and the next second by some divine miracle, they no longer were: magic.

My best friend at the time — probably the best friend I ever had, a better friend than any I’ve made well into my adult years — was a girl named Reina. That wasn’t her real name, there was another story. This story like all others entwine into each other, so I must bore you with some details.

Her real name was Olivia but she hated being called that, in addition to Liv, Ollie or any other rendition you can muster . One day by pure instinct, I called her Reina. She looked at me confused, like I was stupid. I got flustered quickly and felt a strong urge to explain myself. “My mum reads me a story about a strong princess who ran away with a knight. Her name is Reina — it means queen. So even if she wasn’t the queen of that kingdom, she was still a queen by name. That’s what my mum said at least. It just reminds me of you. Sorry.” I look down at my shoes when I noted that she looked sad due to the tears forming in her eyes, however, upon reflection it was quite the opposite.

She put her hands on my face, looking at me with those glassy eyes, and said, “you truly are an Angel.” Now would be a good time to mention that my eccentric parents named me Angel. She kissed my forehead and we proceeded to play like we always did.  Shortly after that event the name stuck and everyone called her Reina.

We were inseparable. While the other kids in our class would tease me for expressing high praise for the magical arts, she would encourage it and remind me why I loved it. She made sure no one laughed at me.

At that age, I never understood why she would not want to return home, or why she had bruises on her body. I never understood why sometimes she would flinch when anyone came close to her. At that age, all I thought was that her life was awesome because she never had a curfew and would spend all day trying to play. She would spend days on end at my house or hide in the park. I understand it now. But it’s too late.

She was my partner in crime and on occasion my lovely assistant. The most notable case, brings us to the winter of 2000. We were 11, preparing for the school’s talent show. I remember the nerves, and how I would joke that Reina had a spidey sense for it. She had a knack of soothing me and on that night Reina simply said, “I believe in you.” 

With that my nerves dissipated. “Believe in me but the magic is a trick, which we have practised to perfection.” 

“Remember, if you believe strong enough anything can come true. Like Peter Pan and fairies. Believe in the magic.”

Backstage was a flurry of parents fussing over their children. Reina’s parents were not there so she gave her seats to my family. While the other kid’s parents primped them, she was alone. The teachers and parents often gave her sympathetic looks coupled with inaudible muttering. She smiled at me as though she couldn’t see them. “I really wish I could disappear sometimes,” she muttered to herself.

When the show commenced, it was a mashup of offkey singers and out of time dancers. We were the last kids to go on, not for our talent but because we were the only act that was different. It went as practised, we did our card tricks without a hitch, pulled a coin out from behind unsuspecting audience members ears, turned water into ice immediately and made a ring defy gravity by going up a string. Finally, time for the big finish: make my lovely assistant disappear.

We had it planned: there was a small space underneath the stage where Reina could hide, mimicking a trapdoor. We placed the box on top with a false bottom. She walked in the box with a large smile, her face shone brighter every time the audience would clap. She whispered to me just as I closed the door, “this is the happiest day of my life. Thank you for being my best friend.”

Upon hearing those words, I said to the audience, “I love Reina. She is my best friend.” The door was closed but I was sure she could hear me. The big reveal to the audience which showed she had disappeared resulted in a massive round of applause. I just imagined how happy she would be to hear it. The finale should have shown Reina reappear. Should have. “Now ladies and gentlemen. I need some help to get Reina back. Reina. Reina.” I made motions to encourage them to chant. Now everyone was chanting Reina’s name, including the kids that would ridicule us and even the teachers who knew of the trick. I opened the door to reveal Reina. But she wasn’t there. I closed it and tried again. 

Panic struck me, maybe she was stuck, I thought. I dropped to the floor and removed the false bottom. The space was empty. There was no sign of Reina in the school or town of Efrose. Everyone searched for her but to no avail. Her parents never pushed to find her and moved out of the village not long after she went missing. The people soon forgot about her after that. Reina was a whisper in the wind and the village would never see her again. She had truly disappeared.

My Greatest Fear

My biggest fear is giving up. More than I already have.

I still have some fight left in me.

I don’t fear spiders or heights but watching someone I know give up, slowly turning into a shell of what once was. That scared the shit out of me.

Not feeling like smiling or talking. Or even dying.

To have stories told of how great they were, the potential they held, and only seeing them as a fraction of this person. Dreams gone, backed into a corner.

My greatest fear is once again feeling nothing, that makes giving up so easy. 

Indie Books Masterlist

#IndieApril was a huge hashtag which encouraged people to buy books from authors who weren’t traditionally published. I put up a post asking authors to drop their links and it was a big list. More than I can read in a month but there are plenty of good ones I would like to. This compiles every book and a short description.

Fantasy

Soul by Dave GF Blackwell – A snowstorm. A body with the cause of death unknown. A bloody crime scene. A missing elderly woman. An unidentified young girl. A young girl found naked and covered in blood at a crime scene harbours a powerful gift and a traumatic past that changes the lives of Marie and her foster daughter in ways they couldn’t imagine. Death is only the beginning. This is the story of Kimimela.

Gold Shadow by L.C. Perry – In the North American continent, eighteen year old Ebony has been living as a slave for as long as she can remember. The underground cities, the tattoo, the scars and the shackles are a part of the only world she has ever known. She knows that in order to survive, she will have to stay strong. And she will stay strong, cursing those in power, until her very last breath. She waits for a meaningful way to die as she quietly pushes her body to its limit…but that all changes when rebels from the surface drop down right in front of her.

Hippocrates and the Hobgoblin: The Child of Murindur by C.S. Colvin – The chaotic confines of the hospital kept Creed occupied, even as he felt something change within. The embattled physician’s dreams were more frequent, and oddities were becoming the norm in an otherwise pedestrian existence. Following a tumultuous turn of events, Creed awakens in another world, one in which he slowly remembers to be his home as the past and present collide. Mürindür has been waiting, and within moments of arriving, he is rescued by his hobgoblin friend, Ojin, as they embark on a perilous journey to protect Creed’s bride and their unborn son, a child of prophecy and purpose.

The Well of Youth by E.J. DawsonGrateful to be leaving the deathbed of his estranged father behind, Andy Morzov wants nothing more than to return to Amphion University to submit his thesis to his mentor Professor Nick Holloran. Instead, he discovers the professor missing – possibly dead – while on a secret mission for the Illisian government.

The Van Helsing Paradox by Evelyn Chartres – a dark fantasy which tells the story of Clara Grey, who is a member of the Tower, a religious order of hunters who work outside the confines of the Church. Witness her rigorous training, how she faces adversity, and fights in the Great War to become the derringer wielding flapper she is.

The Light Conjurer by Rachel Rener – Ever since Aspen (as she calls herself) awoke three years ago in an empty cabin in the middle of the forest, not knowing her name, where she came from, or where she was, she’s been forced to live entirely off the grid. It’s a lonely life she’s grown accustomed to – until now. Suddenly, strange things are beginning to happen all around her: a raging tornado manifests out of nowhere, narrowly saving her from an out-of-control semi-truck; her frigid bath water inexplicably becomes luxuriously hot; without warning, the wood fireplace erupts a plume of white-hot fire straight into her living room.

The Dark Mermaid by Christina Barr – Luna, heir to father’s throne, is banished for saving the life of a human boy. He gives her a choice: kill the boy before she turns of age or be destroyed.

Healer’s Touch by Deb E Howell – Llew has a gift. Her body heals itself from any injury – but at a cost to anyone nearby. Whereas, Jonas is haunted by memories of his loved ones. At his side, the cursed knife that took their lives acts as a cruel reminder of his pain.

Premonition by Rachel KrotecIn a future deeply divided between two magical sects, seventeen-year-old Lilah Crowne prepares for what ought to be a surefire win in the annual competition for warriors—until an unexpected encounter sends her world reeling.

Long Grows the Dark by Catherine Labadie – In the past, a sorceress introduced a queendom’s golden age right before the return of an ancient foe. In the present, Gwendoline fights for free will even if the cost of her choices may be too dear for her to pay.

The Etherea Cycle by Kristina Kelly, Jonathan Fuller – There is a darkness that threatens this world, as it once did long ago. Three distinct realms, one forever shadowed, one drenched in light, and one caught in the grey between, battled for supremacy. To preserve peace, two emissaries from each realm are chosen to partake in an epic quest: the Trials of the Innermost. In the left hand, knowledge. In the right hand, combat. The six Truthseekers must learn to look beyond the birthplace of their companions, or risk failure as they face challenges designed to test their deepest fears.

Chieftess by Delilah Bluette – Leilana never wanted power. She never wanted to rule even if it was always her destiny. Mytis knows that the Gods have decreed his Empire encompass the face of the world and he will do anything to make sure it happens. He never anticipated the assassin he sent to the Eastern Islands would kill the wrong heirs, making an enemy out of three nations now united against the Imperial Mages or that a grieving husband’s revenge could threaten his Kingdom.

First Magyc by Nicole DragonBeck – The ethereal song spilling from behind the door persuades Ria to help the Guardian Cedar Jal escape his prison between worlds. She discovers a land of magyc and music which feels strangely familiar, and gets entangled in the Guardians’ search for the missing pieces of the Amber Torch. This tale starts with Ria, but it’s up to all those who keep the Path – the Guardians, Witches, assassins, and even Death Himself – to save magyc.

Prelude (Borderlands Book 0) – Long trained and battled hardened, this band of heroes must forsake magic and hunt the vile Spawn with deadly determination, simple brutal weapons and obscure advice buried in an ancient book. What starts as another routine sweep soon becomes a battle for survival as they are challenged by horrors powerful beyond record. Now, not even skill, experience and the Captain’s unique family legacy can guarantee the patrol’s survival.

Spirit Horse and the Battles of the Guardians by T. Louise Perry, Tina Perry– All Ella wanted was to graduate high school and leave. Tormented by her alcoholic father and his best friend Jimmy who will stop at nothing to have her.A letter from her aunt Jean asking her to come for the summer was what she thought was a life saver, but instead it turned her life upside down. She meets Chase and falls in love, everything was perfect till she finds out that she’s pregnant. She has no idea that the child she carries is the reincarnation of the powerful Spirit Horse.

The Dawn Warrior by Ginny O. – Warrior and magician, exiled Princess Roxana has spent the beginning of her adult life helping others escape their curses by dealing with the evil magicians that cast them. Now it’s past time that she dealt with her own fateful curse. Nearing twenty-one, the curse will fall whether she wants it to or not. Neither she, nor her only companion, Gorlouis, a fire dragon, can stop it. She needs to find the witch or find her fairy godmother before her birthday.

Bloodlines by William B. Taylor – Alex Tinsdill never thought a simple DNA test would lead to a $250 million inheritance and Cove Point Manor, a massive estate built during the Gilded Age on the Gold Coast of Long Island, New York. Alex’s inheritance doesn’t come without a cost, however, as two greedy relatives soon show up, determined to separate Alex from his new found riches. When the relatives arrive, the spirit of the former owner of Cove Point Manor, who died under mysterious circumstances almost 100 years earlier, awakens.

Twisted Fate by Jessi Elliot – Aurora Marshall is sharp, witty, and always has a plan. Ready to finish her business degree and graduate, her life is going smoothly—until the night she meets Tristan Westbrook. Tristan, the overbearing, gorgeous fae leader, and an admired businessman in the human world, is all kinds of dangerous. While he finds Aurora intriguing, her refusal to bend to his will keeps them locked in a constant power struggle.

Second Skin by M Damon Baker – “In one final attempt to salvage the wreckage of my life, I stepped into a virtual reality chamber, searching for something, anything, that might make me want to live again. But when I emerged inside the virtual world of Second Skin, I immediately discovered that things had gone wrong—terribly wrong. I was suddenly trapped in a strange place where nothing was what it seemed; unable to determine what was real… unsure of anything, including myself.”

Always Gray In Winter by Mark Engels – A distant daughter. A peculiar device. A family lineage full of secrets. When werecat Pawlina Katczynski finally resurfaces, her location previously unknown to anyone close to her, the reunion is short of welcomed. Instead, she finds herself thrust tooth and nail—tooth and claw—into a feud between opposing werecat clans as her family and their enemies reignite a battle that has raged for years. Always Gray in Winter invites the reader to join the feud and see if blood is truly thicker than water

Sham Belly Shack by Ginny Stone – a modern day South African fairytale. The Beetle Boys descend upon the Glen, causing more chaos. Granny Catty is transported to a dark time in her life when she was married to Husband Number Eight and her husky vocals were considered captivating. Trapped in a dingy seamy nightclub, the feisty Cee-Cee-Lia has no option but to do her wicked husband’s bidding.

Concealed Power by Michelle Crow – For centuries, Earth has served as the battleground for a secret war between a reptilian alien species and the clandestine human organisation dedicated to eradicating this extraterrestrial threat. But when a single woman becomes the focal point of this brutal conflict, the fate of the planet alters forever.

Dun an Doras by G. Tarr – People are dying in Ben’s sleepy village. Mysterious deaths are just the start, it looks like the very fabric of the universe is tearing apart. With Ben, Branna, (an apologetic banshee), Ged, (an accidental werewolf) and the right hand of Gaia, do humans even have a chance?

Elysia by C.C. Francis – In the far future, technology is known as magic. That magic preserves a tenuous peace between two countries in the hands of its seemingly immortal inventor, the Sovereign. But Will Darkwood knows nothing about that, he lives a simple life by a lake, spending most of his days dreaming of what things are like beyond the far-off mountains. One morning, Will opens a strange letter with no return address. Inside is the source of the Sovereign’s ancient power. The next thing Will knows, he’s on the run from an infamous assassin. He manifests dangerous abilities he can’t control. He’s a threat to everyone around him.

The Paths That Be by Serena Whynd – Already well-versed in the Law of Attraction, universal energies, and other eastern philosophies, Tali’s life is forever changed when one night she is woken by her deceased grandfather. She finds herself thrown into new levels of reality that are far beyond what she is used to.She meets Jane, who introduces her to her true calling – more than just a quest for self-awareness and personal growth. Tali finds herself undergoing ancient rituals, shape-shifting, and working within her dream state to help souls transition from trauma into their next life.

Nocturnal Blood by Villimey Mist – Anchorage, Alaska. A place where people don’t care if someone goes missing. A place where Leia Walker tries her hardest to hide from the world, wanting a normal life without anxiety and OCD. But Leia’s bubble pops when an old friend is back in town and twists Leia’s reality . A bloody event proves what Leia is scared to learn—Sophie Gardner, her old high school friend and saviour from the bullies, is a vampire.

Green Mist Rising by N.R. Gurney – It all started with the letter. Now years later, when Sarah Salter finds herself in an alternative dimension, she is forced to adapt. She has to make new friends, and learn in order to thrive. Come experience her journey, and her pains, as she takes up a new role as an oracle.

Only Words by Summer Kiska – Shane Ashby is witch with cursed, who needs to defend against a sister she never thought she’d see again. And with the worst timing ever, a desperate, if irritatingly attractive warlock shows up at her door in need of a tutor.

Resurrection: Legend of Sanction by Kanye Sampson – It’s been 14 years since the Great War. The Demon clans have been scattered. The Human Empire seeks to annihilate them. The Brotherhood of Shadows, a band of Demon warriors, seek to return their people to the light, by any means necessary. Two swordsmen form an unlikely alliance.

Empire’s Daughter by Marian Thorpe – In a re-imagined dark-ages Europe, a young woman must choose between her lover and her land, beginning a journey into lands beyond her imagining, into danger and opportunity, and to a deeper understanding of loyalty, sacrifice, & the dimensions of love.

Heavenward by Olga Gibbs – Meet Ariel: a quiet, unnoticeable girl with an incredible gift. She never had an easy or pleasant life, but the arrival of three gorgeous strangers meant her measured life is turned upside down, as she discovers that angels exist. Now against her will, she’s drawn into an ancient celestial conflict, where her powers will decide the fate of humanity.

Over a God’s Dead Body by Joel Spriggs – Loki hates being bound to Seth, the most micromanaging of all the Egyptian Gods. But when their quest to regain Seth’s crown leads to a boring midwest town where nothing happens, Loki discovers a family he never wanted to admit may exist.

Dog! by Mike Robbins – Bazza is an easy-going middle-aged college lecturer with a taste for weed, porn, beer and redheads. When he adopts a rescue dog, he sees nothing odd about the animal. Then a Himalayan monk comes to visit, and senses something strange.

Francis is Alive by Moshood Adebayo – Francis Is Alive portrays the return of the most dangerous man in the world who is thought dead. He is found at the center of world leaders’ debate determining the fate of a World War. A love story, a paranormal haunt, endless games of assassinations and crimes; such is what Francis brings from his death.

Krakbrayn by Torsten Krol – tells the story of Tagg, a young World Trade Center bombing orphan, who wakes up in New York City to find his brain has been hijacked.

Dystopian

The Future King: Logres by M.L. Makworth Praed – Britain, 2052. In a world of war, disease and hunger the UK stands alone as a beacon of prosperity under an all-powerful ruling party. Life at new school Logres seems promising for fifteen-year-old Gwenhwyfar, and quickly she falls for the school’s handsome catch, Arthur. Realising that behind the UK’s prosperity lies unspeakable cruelty, Gwenhwyfar sets off on a path to dismantle everything the government stands for.

Romance

The Sinners’ Club by D.W. Plato – In the town of Pleasant, one young man will challenge faith itself for the woman he loves. Gaius Stewart is handsome, smart and charismatic. Elizabeth Anderson is beautiful, selfless and caring. There’s only one problem: he’s a self-proclaimed Pagan, and she’s a devoted member of The Church of Latter Day Saints.

The End of Hatred by Rachel Hefner – Slayer Princess Miranda, heir to the throne, has hated the Vampyres for a thousand years. When a female Vampyre washes up on the shore of her compound’s riverbank, she seizes the moment to take the offensive. Sathan, King of the Vampyres, distraught at his sister’s disappearance and captivity, agrees to travel with Miranda to resect the Blade of Pestilence, also hoping to change his people’s state of endless war.

My Northanger Abbey by Jenni James – Kathryn Morland is determined to escape the hardship of watching her mother’s decline with Alzheimer’s. Her plan is to write a modern version of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. It’s not until Heath Finnegan walks into the bookshop where she works that she realizes how horrible her book is. Well, maybe not the whole book—just the hero.

The Color of God’s Eyes by Christina BarrCharlotte, purchased by Lady Cohen, a widow newly married to a plantation owner in Mississippi, is tasked with taking care of her son, John, not realising that he’s been tasked with observing her for any unique abilities. The two grow secretly in romance, but their future together is threatened when John’s loyalty to his father and the South is called into question.

Glue by D.W. Plato – Dacia thinks she’s escaping a miserable life with her emotionally abusive husband only to get caught up in a world filled with meth and sex. Her out-of- control lifestyle leads her into more than one sexual encounter with a variety of men. A friend with benefits turns into something more. A handsome sex addict’s fantasies take her to the brink of out-of- control passion. And Christopher, a man who is boy-next-door charming, cute and good to her who will do anything to get Dacia to give him a chance.

Coming of Age

What Friends Do by C.E. Shields – If you entrust your identity to your only friend, how do you grow up to be yourself? When self-doubting Debbie meets confident Antoinette in 1980s suburban New Zealand, her adolescent worries seem to be over. But while their connection deepens into adulthood, joy and aspiration increasingly compete with insidious jealousy.

The Light in the Sound by V.G. Anderson – character-driven and often comical story of a spirited young woman, Rachel Richardson, who works in a porn shop in Seattle. Her estranged family lives a thousand miles away, and she has a bunch of wretched friends. Rachel is tired of walking through life half asleep—literally and figuratively because she also suffers from night terrors. Her sense of disconnection from family, work, and friends grows, resulting in her attempting to cut all ties, turn inward, and numb herself emotionally. Ultimately, in the wake of losing everything—yet again—Rachel is forced to discover how many times one person can start over before self-destructing.

Where Do You Go To by Jean Cerfontaine – When the young Marie-Claire wakes up in Rome, she has no idea who she is or how she got there. Her tale of adversity starts in the biting cold, her past unknown and her future uncertain. Our heroine gets adopted from the Marcigliana orphanage by a French diplomat, initiating a journey of self-discovery across post-World War II Europe.

Pitching for Sanity by Mike Reuther – Bill Barrister is riddled with almost crippling anxiety, the kind of nervous condition that prevents him from having any kind of normal life. Once a teenage pitching phenom, he finds temporary calm and comfort from throwing a baseball every day in the backyard of his boyhood home where he lives after spending twenty years in the military. When a free-spirited boyhood friend lures him on a cross-country road trip, Bill is sprung from the malaise of his small town existence and off on a reluctant journey of self-discovery and of his past.

Baseball Dreams, Fishing Magic by Mike Reuther – A baseball player, a fisherman – a young man looking for answers. Perhaps no pursuits stir the passions of dreamers and poets like baseball and fly fishing. For Nick Grimes, a small town kid with big dreams, these two pastimes and sports are more than pursuits of the soul, they are means to an end. Or so he thinks.

True Crime

Notra Dame by Jacqueline Evans – Discover the true story of a woman trying to make sense of a mysterious world. She suppressed what came naturally to her but a pivotal moment in her mid-twenties opened a door. The depth of knowledge that ensued began to snowball, leading her to predict global events and high-profile murder investigations.

Thriller

Lost Girls: A Novel by Caitlyn Grey – At 24-years-old, Felicity Walker’s seemingly average life was anything but that. She had endured enough heartache and life-altering events for one lifetime. With the help of Heather, her best friend, Felicity was able to get a grip on the mental health issues that kept her captive for years. She then found a a missing person poster that wore her name and that day’s date.

Living Nightmare by D.M. Dore – Night after night in the fourth-floor ward of the Mendwell Institute, Tobin Blake awakens screaming from nightmares of gruesome deaths and tortured souls. Therapy isn’t helping, the drugs aren’t helping, and lately the nightmares are getting worse. When a new doctor and his hypnotist colleague arrive promising breakthroughs, most patients are relieved, but Tobin senses something deeper is amiss.Now a stranger is hiding cryptic clues and suspicious newspaper clippings beneath her pillow, and when the nightly visions begin leaving bruises and scars on her waking body, Tobin must fight to retain what’s left of her sanity.

Room 119: The Whitby Trader by T.F. Lince – High-flying trader Dean Harrison has it all – the London penthouse apartment; the fast car; the beautiful wife. But when the threads of Dean’s life start to unravel, they do so with alarming speed.Following the advice of a frail stranger, Dean sets off for Welnetham Hall Hotel and is plunged into the mysterious world of Room 119 – a world where nothing makes sense.

A Haunted Past by April Kennedy – Angie Conaty, has long suffered from a reoccurring nightmare. The same one she’s had since childhood. As an adult the dreams come far less frequently, due to her demanding public relations position, in the Toronto based reality television station, Gottchaon TV. Her boss – an entitled rich manchild – elects Angie to be the assistant director for his new show, Sustainable. Flying her out to British Columbia, where her dreams become hallucinations, and they come vividly, while she is fully lucid, and working with the handsome and rugged Max Murphy, Sustainable’s leading man!

Little Mickey: The Novel by David Matthew Bennett – During a power cut, the Detectives of Oswestry Police Station, finally catch the serial killer, they’ve been hunting for 15 months. He’s clearly unstable, and they’re against the clock to get the answers they so badly need before his solicitor has him committed.

Werewolf Nights by Mari Hamill – Threatened by financial ruin, widowed bakery owner Catherine Mercy leads a solitary life with more interest in reading about werewolf lore than in finding a man. Her now deceased husband kept her trapped in the house claiming that a werewolf might hunt her down. Already in her thirties, Catherine feels ridiculous trying to become an actress, but lands the leading role.

Historical Fiction

The Quest for the Sun God’s Tomb by C.J. Evans – Retired Lieutenant Willie Abrams is enjoying the Cuban sun in 1921. Just him and his friend, retired Sergeant Banesfeld run their bar in peace, while selling a little rum to mainland prohibition USA. There’s also a young girl which Abrams has taken under his wing from the war who helps them out. Then one day when an old girlfriend comes around asking for his help, she unexpectedly gets kidnapped. Abrams is thus sent on an adventure towards a tomb in ways he did not expect, while dealing with prohibition gang politics.

Lucan by Christine Duts – Reclusive Lucan now tells it all. There are no more secrets; and his past is no longer shrouded in mystery. We are introduced to his wife, Althea, and his beloved sister, Claudia. The tragedies that plagued him in mortal life are now out in the open, unleashed from his cross of burden.

Antonius: Son of Rome by Brook Allen – After young Marcus Antonius’s father dies in disgrace, he yearns to restore his family’s honor during the final days of Rome’s dying Republic. Marcus is rugged, handsome, and owns abundant military talent, but upon entering manhood, he falls prey to the excesses of a violent society. His whoring, gambling, and drinking eventually reap dire consequences. Through a series of personal tragedies, Marcus must come into his own through blood, blades, and death.

The Lord Poet by Megan FranksMeet Lord Edmund Troy, a carefree aristocrat and renowned poet in Victorian-era London. Idolized by the masses for his charisma and dashing good looks, he finds himself in the sights of wealthy socialite Agatha and her cousin Catrina.

Sci-Fi

Symbiosis in Seattle: A Novella by Sutherland Staatz, Eric BergWhile walking home from what initially seemed like a routine suicide cleanup, Tammy Metz stumbles upon the aftermath of a bloody assault involving performance art and a syringe. The P.I. Amy Lamb, exhausted from her obsession to solve her missing brother’s cold case and bored with snapping photos of cheating husbands, receives a call about a husband who might be stepping out on himself. And C.J. Crow, a homeless teen that sees blue as often as he sees red. He has answers that everyone desperately needs.

Quarton: The Bridge by Ian Hornett – Fen, a young scavenger surviving in the ruins of London, finds an unusual stone – the quarton, one of the building blocks from the Garial Bridge destroyed 5000 years previously. Its strange pulse pulls her in, forcing her to question not only the past, but her whole purpose in a world with no meaning. She is not the only one. There are others who have been sucked in, all of them with equally confusing pasts, all of them with conflicting motives… and all of them desperate to get their hands on the block.

Star Chaser: The Traveler: Beyond The Outer Rim by Reiter – Z’Gunok Tel Dungias, an enigmatic member of a noble house of Malgovi. Despite representing the newest generation of a truly fascinating race, Dungias lacks the mystic power possessed by his ancestors; the ability to summon IRO energy, and forge the world around them as they see fit. His failings as a Malgovi have left him an outcast, an outsider, and convinced that his destiny lies elsewhere in the universe.

The Starhawk Chronicles by Joseph J. Madden – The year is 2283. Though more than a quarter-century has passed since the end of the last war, the Galactic Confederation is still busy picking up the pieces. Whole sectors of the galaxy remain lawless, rife with corruption and greed. The criminal element has a well-established foothold on these sectors. It is a good time to be a bounty hunter. Jesse Forster and the crew of the STARHAWK are some of the best bounty hunters in the business.

Crystal and Flint by Holly Ash – It’s been 300 years since humans arrived on Neophia and the planet’s intelligent species have yet to agree on how much influence humans and their advanced technology should have on the planet. With the threat of war hanging in the air, Lieutenant Commander Crystal Wolf races to finish construction of the mega submarine, Journey, in order to calm political tensions on Neophia and cement her already stellar military career.

Pandora’s Box by Nathan Marchand – Cadet Brewer is a military brat living in a “perfect” world. Or so it seems, until the oppressed Camp Countries’ leader, the Overlord, unleashes a deadly virus and changes the balance of power. Consumed by vengeance, Brewer vows to fight the Overlord’s New Order and volunteers to defend the last remaining stockpile of WMDs. But the base is attacked and Brewer, as the only survivor, unwittingly becomes the sole protector of Project: Pandora’s Box.

Child of Humanity by Dr. Alyse N. Steves – “My name was Allyson Owens. It isn’t anymore, but it was back then. I was a daughter. I was a sister. Most importantly, I was supposed to be a friend. By the time I realized that I wasn’t, it was too late. This is the story of how we not only failed those we swore to protect, but how, in our darkest moments, when we fell into shadows that we couldn’t see, we had to be shown the light.”

Ghosts of San Francisco by Mord McGhee – In the year 2185, reality is a terrifyingly ugly place. The only time teenage Rigs feels alive is when she’s breaking heads as a member of Poseidon’s Angels, feared San Francisco biker gang. Rigs has devoted her life to violence and getting ahead in the world within the world’s societal confines—add in technological ghosts haunting the world as digital astral projections capable of all-things including murder.

Action & Adventure

The Melankholia Effect by Ace Layton – The city of Melankholia. A shadowy sub-world, full of monsters and misery. Not everything is terrible, though. People are generally nice, and they’ve recently come in to having their own sun. The new abundance of light, and the plants that followed it, are a nice change from the dark and dreary world that most shades grew up in. Lola recalls the way it used to be. She remembers the endless gray skies, lighter in the day and darker at night but always present. Now they have sunrises and sunsets and stars. Considering what little else has changed, it’s actually kind of nice.

The Unnamed Bears Favor by J. Lyon Laden – Mythical China, 9000 B.C.E. A nameless outcast is summoned by the village priestess to undergo his initiation into the Rik-Sika, a band of hunter-assassins. To earn his place, he must travel with them to the ruins of his people’s stronghold, which sits on a plateau near the roof of the world. On the perilous journey, he encounters restless ghosts, giant man-bears, and the dreaded ogres who rule the mountains. Faced with unimaginable odds, the unnamed discovers his true origins and with it, a powerful secret buried by generations long ago. Armed with dark knowledge, the boy must choose between his life and the fate of his people.

El Dorado and the Amazon by Ruth Elliot-Smith – The allure and power of gold draws Alex Cavanagh, failed international mining magnate, to Colombia to revive his fortunes. He finds a dangerous land of anarchy, uncharted jungle and warring drug barons. With him is Frederica Allsop, newly divorced, emotionally and mentally scarred from a mysterious past but determined to fulfil her life’s ambition to see the Amazon River. Their passionate affair threatens to destroy them both and if it doesn’t, the cocaine cartel will!

Poetry

Devolution by Ami Sanghvi – Based off Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy [and written in old-world verse], it’s about Heaven, Hell, Earth, God, Satan, and human morality.

Lost in Quatrain by Adiela Akoo – A diverse collection of original poems about this curiously crazy experience called life.

The End of the Rainbow by Geetha Krishnan – A book of poems on life, nature and personal experiences.

KidLit

Meet ClaraBelle Blue by Adiba Nelson – one of the most diverse children’s books on the market. Sharing the message of inclusion, and helping children see that regardless of having a disability, all kids want and need the same thing – play and love.

Life in Your World by Anj Cairns – Sketch, a light-infused energy, loves the boy Matt. she watches him from the Core and wishes she could be part of his world.Sent out from the Core for training in the human world of North London, Sketch seizes the opportunity to prove herself, and show Matt how she feels.If she fails to learn what it’s like to be a human, she will be trapped in the outer world forever.

Agent 603: The Teddy Files by Tabitha Bell – Agent 603 embarks on his first adventure as a Teddy Seal secret agent. His mission is to locate the whereabouts of his assigned human’s (Amy’s) leopard. Is her closet that messy? Or is something more sinister lurking in the dark?

Taste of You, Taste of Me by Sarah D’Anne – The saying, “Opposites attract” almost works for this story. Crystal knows what she needs, but does she really want it? She gets the chance to find out when a young man knocks on her door. What will she do when the opportunity to change her life is sitting in her living room?

Rescue the Night by John Stuhl – A delightful story of the young girl Thompson Lee and the mysterious Sandman. Thompson, her sister Lily Conner and their best friend Carly Elise follow the Sandman on adventures into the night sky, where they find fun, mysteries and danger. With their special gifts, and help from unexpected sources, the girls seek answers to the most threatening problem of the night – vanishing dreams.

Non Fiction

Mother of Millennials by Kathryn Mortimer – Mortimer thought she had it all worked out when she became a mother. It turns out she didn’t. Looking back, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion she could have done better. Her big mistake? It’s not easy for her to admit, but the truth is she was blinded by expectation. This book is her attempt to make amends. To say sorry to her daughters for her inadequacies, and to allow them to share their own stories. Harriet talks about her quarter life crisis, and how it helped her escape from unfulfilling work and relationships. While Sally’s honest account of her mental health problems.

Literally Unbelievable by Bronwyn Harris – Harris was a new teacher thrust into a classroom in Oakland, California’s “Killing Zone.” Her teacher preparation classes had not covered making child abuse reports, teaching traumatized children, or keeping a class calm during a lockdown. This book chronicles the ups and downs of the students she taught, as well as the toll this work took on her personally.

O-B*TCH-UARY by Ticia Rani – “Hi, my name is Olivia Carpenter and this is my hair raising, lumpy, bumpy journey. Wanna come? Sure, you do. There’re laughs, fist fights, bra burning parties, nasty drama filled girl snits, baby showers, and death. Let’s not forget that part. Come on, grab a coffee, tea, wine- Oh! Wine, *sigh* Anyway, have a seat and get comfy cuz I have a story to tell.”