Tag Archives: Mark Taylor

Halloween Blitz – Alice in Monsterland

The Alice in Monsterland ebook by Mark Taylor is free to download on Kindle!

Click on the cover art to visit title on Amazon!

 

Alice in Monsterland by Mark Taylor

Alice didn’t want to be here. She was too old for it. Too tall. But when the door is answered by a very well dressed young man – in full vampire outfit – she couldn’t stop herself from being drawn in to the house.

A costume party. The perfect way to while away the night while her father got drunk at home.

But for Alice, it quickly became the worst night of her life.

 

Author Mark Taylor:

Mark began writing many years ago. He had a talent for it during his formative years, but didn’t follow through. He went from school into a career, and in his free time did other things.

Now his career path is set and he writes things on occasion.
He worked within the flourishing small press industry at first, submitting to horror anthologies left and right, writing like a madman.

He collaborated with fellow writer Charles Day on pair of interconnected novellas, which eventually became the novel, REDEMPTION.

After that he broke away and while still writes shorter work, concentrates more on the longer. He continues his novella series, WITCHES, and THE DEVIL’S HAND is now complete.

Novels come along at a steady rate, first there was SHUTTER SPEED, then A NIGHT AT THE DREAM THEATER, and then TRINITY.

He has written some original short story collections, THE HUMAN CONDITION and STRANGE, and has compiled a collection of previously released material, SMALL CUTS TO THE PSYCHE. When he wants to smash another genre to see what it’s like he’ll drop a SHORT/CUT.

His writing remains dark most of the time, but of late has found that his longer works err more into dark noir. He plays in a playground of demons and monsters, but plays nicely.

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Halloween Blitz – Horror Books

From now until Halloween, I’ll be sharing horror books that are on sale or free by myself and other great writers!

Keep your eyes peeled for scary horror book deals.

Authors  featured in Halloween Blitz:

Mark Taylor
Monique Snyman
Brent Abell
Rebecca Besser
Jaidis Shaw
Armand Rosamilia (and others in anthology!)

If you haven’t read anything by these authors (or you have and already love them) this is a great time to get your bloody hands on their deadly works!

Enjoy the deals, and be sure to share with your horror loving friends!

Nurse Blood Blurb – Mark Taylor

Mark Taylor’s debut novel, Shutter Speed, crash landed on planet earth in 2013. Its dark brooding style benchmarked his writing and has led to further releases of novel and short story collection alike.

While most of Mark’s work is macabre, occasion has it that he will write about kittens and daisies. Just not very often.

Some say he is a product of his environment, others, a product of his own imagination.

Whichever it is he works happily, portraying dark existences on this planet and others. He relays his fears and doubts on his characters, so always has a smile. If Mark is real, as some say he is, you might find him in England.

Find his books by following the link below, and see what he has to say about my novel, Nurse Blood!

http://www.authormarktaylor.com/index.html

Nurse Blood by Rebecca Besser

Click here to visit Nurse Blood on Amazon!

Author Mark Taylor – The Devil’s Hand Part 3

The Devil's Hand: Celestials by Mark Taylor

EXCERPT from The Devil’s Hand: Celestials by Mark Taylor:

Darin looked around the wasteland that was neither Hell nor Earth. It was an inbetween where no immortal bore power, and no man was safe.

The red hues and heat of Hell, the smell of sulfur burning sweet in the air, was replaced by a nothing. The grey dirt ground, the flat grey sky…it was all punctuated by the overpowering smell of nothing.

It reminded him of Scotland.

Darin sighed.

“Hello?” he called out into the echoless nothing. “Is there a doorman about?”

YES?

Darin jumped as the deep voice came from behind him. He turned. “Hi,” he said, smiling. “I’m here to see—”

WE KNOW.

The tall hooded figure didn’t so much speak, as project sound. And it did it very effectively. “How?” Darin continued.

YOU MUST REMEMBER THE SEER THAT YOU SENT TO US—ALONG WITH THE THOUSANDS OF OTHERS. YOU WISH TO SEE THE MAN PETIOT.

“Yes.”

IT IS A FOOLS ERRAND COMING HERE, HAND. YOU HAVE SENT MOST OF US HERE YOURSELF. WHY DO YOU DARE CROSS THE THRESHOLD?

“Um,” Darin paused, trying to put the words together in his head. Something eloquent like I appreciate your apprehension, friend from the netherworld, but I seek knowledge, answers, and the truth. Instead he said, “Whatever. Where can I find Petiot?”

HE IS WITHIN THE LANDSCAPE. DO AS YOU WILL.

Darin looked out to the landscape, barren as it was. “Perhaps a clue?” he asked the doorman.

He was gone.

Damn.

“I’m looking for Marcel Petiot,” Darin called, turning back to the wasteland and stepping forward, “Marcel with an M.”

As a sigh escaped his lips, Darin trudged further into Purgatory. It was depressing.

Although he supposed that was the point.

The ghosts of those that died in Hell and on Earth drifted by, a glimpse of their faces, torn into terrible screams for eternity, haunted each of The Hand’s footfalls. It was a dim reminder of what could happen.

In the distance a lone figure appeared. He stood and waited as Darin got closer. The hat gave it away.

“Tesla,” Darin said, greeting him.

“Hello, Hand.”

Darin raised his hands passively, a sign of peace. “Where is he?”

“He’s here,” the ex-Alp nodded.

“Where?”

“Here, Hand. He wants to know what you want,” Tesla smiled.

Darin looked surprised. “What are you, his bitch?”

Tesla laughed. “After what I have foreseen? I wonder why you are here myself.”

“Don’t you know?” Darin smirked.

Tesla tilted his head to the side. “It’s curious. I know what will happen up there. I always have, but I see nothing here in Purgatory. It is like the reality of what is, and what is to become, does not belong here. Perhaps I do, therefore, belong here. Where it is dull, and safe…”

“Petiot?”

“I am here, Hand.” Petiot’s growl came from behind Darin. He turned. Petiot was burned, scarred, from their last encounter. His skin was raw and his eyes glowed a deep red. “Tell me why I shouldn’t kill you where you stand.”

“Because,” Darin answered, “first I’d like to see you try, and second…well, I’m worth more as The Hand than I am as a fleeting moment of satisfaction…to you, at least.”

Petiot snorted. “What do you want?”

“The Journals, of course.”

“And you cannot find them?” Petiot roared with laughter.

Darin stared at him. “They are no use to you here, Marcel. Tell me where they are.”

“What is it worth?”

“I can get you out of here. You know that. Take you back to where the air is laced with sulfur.”

“In exchange for the book?”

Darin nodded.

As Petiot went to step forward, Tesla took him by the wrist to hold him back. “Don’t,” he whispered.

Petiot yanked his arm from the Alp’s grip. “Come, Hand.”

Darin smiled at Tesla. “See you around,” he winked.

“No,” Tesla answered. “You won’t.”

***

As Darin and Marcel returned to the door, Petiot sneered at The Hand. He continued to deride Darin’s efforts to find the Journals. As they approached, Marcel finally said, “And you’ll shit when you find out where I put them.”

“Yes,” Darin sighed. He pointed to the door. “We’re here. Spill.”

Petiot smiled. “Tell me, where would you put something that you didn’t want you to find?”

Darin shook his head. “No more games.”

Petiot nodded. “I trust you are a man of your word?”

“You know me.”

“The British Museum, Hand. I put them on display.”

***

Darin walked into the Devil’s office. He was sitting behind his desk, curiously just waiting. “Petiot is in a holding cell, and I know where they are.” He tried to refrain from swaggering, but he failed to do so.

The Devil nodded over Darin’s shoulder, back to the door. “Go.”

“I was. I was only letting you know what I’d done with Petiot.”

The Devil shook his head. “No, Hand. Go. You must leave.”

“What?” Darin raised his eyebrows.

“While you were in Purgatory, I got word that God’s Army is being raised once again. They are coming for you, apparently.” He looked away. “I don’t wish to wage a Celestial war. Not again. Not over you.”

“You’re turning me out?”

He nodded.

Darin approached his desk. “What do they want with me?”

“It is not my concern.”

Darin slammed his hands on the desk. “This is Tesla’s doing. I’ve done nothing.”

“Again,” the Devil turned back to face Darin, “that is not my concern. I won’t have a war on my doorstep.”

Darin was speechless. “But,” he stumbled over words, “I…you…” He dropped his head in defeat.

Standing back up straight, Darin turned to the door.

“If I hear anything, I will get word to you,” He said. “Good luck.”

“I’m sure going to need it,” Darin mumbled, leaving.

***

Darin sucked on a cigarette.

It was raining.

A fat man in a red suit walked by, his brass bell clanging from side to side. “Merry Christmas!” he hollered.

Darin had chosen to be returned to England, two days ago. He had taken to the streets of Canterbury—with all the shoppers and bustle it was a good place to hide. That, and the Cathedral. It masked his scent. He hoped for time before they found him.

He wasn’t surprised that the Devil had restricted his power.

He left the hordes in the street and turned down one of the alleys towards the Cathedral. He’d found a reasonable place to stay there, and it was getting dark.

The sign above the door waved back and forth in the wind, creaking as the first flourishes of snow fell, melting into the wet ground.

The Ingold Inn.

Darin opened the door, brushed the few flakes from his coat and entered. It was warm inside. He wasn’t one for the cold.

Maybe he should have hidden in the south of France?

Mrs. Ledbetter smiled warmly at him, her old skin wrinkling as she did. “Good evening,” she said, “and how are you today? How’s the weather?”

“Cold,” Darin replied. Why did the English always talk about the weather?

“There’s soup in the kitchen,” she smiled and turned back to buffing the brass.

She was sweet. The old lady ran this house like her own, with just Darin and two others staying there. He’d briefly met them at breakfast: a young man in his twenties, and a slightly older one. They clearly had a passing acquaintance and the three had nodded some sort of greeting.

Mrs. Ledbetter mothered them.

She had no obligation to provide anything other than the rudiments of breakfast for the three of them, and certainly nothing else.

But now, for the third night running, when Darin had returned, there had been fresh made soup and bread.

“Thank you,” he nodded, and turned into the kitchen.

 

Author Mark Taylot

Mark Taylor’s debut novel crash landed on planet earth in 2013. Its dark brooding style benchmarked his writing and has led to further releases of novel and short story collection alike.

While most of Mark’s work is macabre, occasion has it that he will write about kittens and daisies. Just not very often.

Some say he is a product of his environment, others, a product of his own imagination.

Whichever it is he works happily, portraying dark existences on this planet and others. He relays his fears and doubts on his characters, so always has a smile. If Mark is real, as some say he is, you might find him in England.

Perhaps.

 

©Mark Taylor, 2016. All rights reserved.

Author Mark Taylor – The Devil’s Hand Part 2

The Devil's Hand: Conviction by Mark Taylor

EXCERPT from The Devil’s Hand: Conviction by Mark Taylor:

Darin strode with purpose down the sidewalk. It had started to rain again. He’d know Tesla on sight now, well, he’d be able to spot that someone wasn’t human, and that was enough. But time wasn’t on his side.

He had known Bruce since before he was one of the protectors of the Kings of Hell. That was a time before the fall from grace of Lucifer. A time no one dared speak of now. When Lucifer took over the whole show, the Lamassu were scattered across the earth, sent into exile to live eternally among the human race. Lucifer had seen that as both an act of kindness—for not slaying them—and as a punishment for not bowing down before him. Honestly? It was pretty decent of him. But they were all bound to single dwellings. Over the century’s their strength diminished, until now…the likes of Bruce Masters barely held on to what little power remained. Darin discarded his spent cigarette and pulled another immediately from his pocket and lit it.

All he needed to do now was head back to the Melbourne Grand, and wait. Tesla would make his appearance soon enough, and then Darin had to act.

To do what, though, he wasn’t sure. That all depended on whether The Alp wanted to play…fair.

That was easy. Darin had only been waiting outside the hotel for around fifteen minutes when someone had walked by and Darin sensed that they weren’t human. His perception had changed. It was like the guy had some sort of black line drawn around him, it was a sensation that Darin had never felt before, but that was the way when you ‘borrowed’ power.

The feeling was so strong in fact, it brought him over a little queasy.

He stepped forward flicking his smoke away, and towards the man. Something he did, perhaps some way he moved, had tipped Tesla off, as he turned sharply, even though he was on the other side of the street and could in no way have known. There was a spark of recognition in his eyes as he looked straight at Darin.

He turned and ran.

“Shit!” Darin muttered starting after him, “I hate it when they run.”

Tesla cornered the Hotel and ran hard—away from the river bank—deeper into the city. Darin could tell instantly that he was going to try and lose him in the crowd, but that wasn’t going to work. Not at the moment.

Darin weaved between the cars in the street causing them to swerve out of the way, hands being pushed onto horns, and then back onto the sidewalk and around the corner.

Tesla was making good distance, but Darin could see him—his outline—clearly. His feet thudded after him, but Darin’s chest was quick to tighten, his footfalls slowing, and sweat breaking out on his face. He started to roll to a stop. “I’ve gotta stop smoking,” he heaved. He squinted up the street and saw Tesla dart left.

Darin took one left earlier. He moved as quickly as he could—which wasn’t overly quick—to the end of the building and slipped his head around the corner carefully. As he suspected, Tesla had doubled back. He smiled to himself. Recently, Darin had begun to think that he might be getting smarter. He glanced around for something big, his eyes fell on a trash can, and he picked it up.

Timing it carefully, he spun around the corner, trash can held at chest height and thrust it into the face of the oncoming Alp as he screamed the loudest war-cry his tar filled lungs could muster.

Tesla crashed to the ground with a thud and Darin discarded the metal trash can, which now had an Alp face impressioned on one side of it.

People stopped and stared.

Darin leaned over the black outlined figure as he lay flat on his back. “Right,” he huffed, jabbing his finger into his face, “you…” breath in, “need to…” breath out, “…wait.” Darin stopped and squinted at the man. “You’re not Tesla.”

The man on the floor frowned, asked “Who?” and quickly lay an excruciatingly hard fist onto Darin’s jaw. The force of the punch sent him bolt upright, flailing his hands like a wire walker trying to regain balance.

Before Darin’s focus had returned, the man was on his feet (which raised a whoop from a couple of members of the public who had witnessed this innocent man jumped by some crazy hiding around a corner) and stomped his foot hard into Darin’s gut sending him sprawling to the floor and off the curb.

As he lay, wedged between the wheels of a parked car and the concrete, the man walked over and crouched next to him. He looked around at the collection of people watching, some waving cellular devices at the two men, recording, and then returned his gaze to Darin. “Maybe next time, Hand,” he said, “I haven’t finished with you,” before standing and slipping through the crowd.

Darin lay there for a moment staring up into the blobs of rain that were falling onto his face, his coat absorbing the water that ran down the guttering. He sighed, not even surprised that his day was going this way, pulled a cigarette out of his pocket and smoked it right there, watching the crowd disperse—the last of the teenagers stopping recording the bum that lay in the street.

“What the hell is going on?” he grumbled, eventually pulling himself back to his feet. “What’s with the other team?”

***

Darin stumbled into O.B.’s clutching his chin. His lip was still bleeding.

Bruce shook his head and glanced at the clock on the wall, “Just over an hour…that has to be a record, even for you.”

Darin took a seat on a stall. “Hit me.”

Bruce slipped out a flaggard from beneath the bar. “The usual?” he grinned.

Darin nodded and mouthed ‘yeah’ whilst frowning.

“Walk into a wall, did you?” Bruce asked casually as drew a pint of stout.

Darin shook his head. When Bruce placed the mug in front of him, Darin took it and supped deeply. He placed it back down and wiped the remnants of the ale from his mouth, then said, “A Celestial.”

“What in…well, God’s name, is a Celestial doing down here?” Darin asked rhetorically for the third time.

“Quite.” As Bruce couldn’t leave the tavern there was nothing he could do, in fact, little he could say. He did however glance at the time again. “Hand,” he began, “you don’t have long to find The Alp. Perhaps it would be better to deal with one thing at a time.”

Darin nodded, deep in thought, “Do you think I should tell Him?”

“I would not. What do you have to tell him, anyway? That there is an angel on the loose? He would only burden you with what you must already do, and that is to find out why, but find The Alp, whilst you still have the time.”

Darin nodded. “You’re right, my friend. I’ll head back to the hotel—hopefully Tesla won’t have caught any of that earlier, and I can still catch him unaware.”

As he left the pub, Bruce simply called after him, “… and make sure it’s him this time…”

Darin’s lips tugged on the cigarette. Remember, he thought, to make sure he’s wearing a hat. The Celestial wasn’t. He’d gotten caught up in the moment.

Stupid.

He flipped the smoke away as he went straight into the hotel lobby. He wasn’t going to take any chances this time. It was lunch time and there was a reasonable possibility that Tesla would be here somewhere. After all, why leave—The Hand didn’t know who he was, right?

Darin pushed the double doors of the dining room open and stood there, arms spread. He thought it made him look dramatic. When he glanced around, the room was mostly devoid of patrons, and none that were there were Tesla.

Darin’s chest deflated as the Maitre D’ walked over. “Table, Sir?” He looked him up and down.

Darin nodded with a weak smile.

***

Tesla sat at the same table this evening as last night. He had ordered the scallops and a bottle of fine champagne. Why not? he had thought to himself. It wouldn’t be long before The Hand caught up with him, or the Devil would send someone else…or any other number of things that would preclude him from enjoying fine French wine and seafood. That was when Darin sat down opposite him at the table.

“Tesla,” he smiled confidently.

Tesla tipped his head slightly as a greeting, “Hand, how nice of you to join me.” He raised his hand and beckoned over the waiter who without word lay a second place at the small table, in front of Darin. Then a glass was placed, and before he had a chance to object, he was rolling a flute of champagne between his fingers. “How did you know?” Tesla asked.

“The hat,” Darin lied—having been loitering in and around the dining room for some hours. He glanced at the Madison placed carefully on the table to the side of Tesla’s dinner setting. “I like it, always been a trilby man myself,” he removed his own hat and dropped it onto the table, his hand reaching across towards Tesla’s. “Mind if I try it on?”

The Alp’s hand snaked out quickly, slipping the hat away and down into the shadows of his lap, leaving Darin’s hand hanging. “I don’t think so,” Tesla smiled.

Darin rubbed his fingers against his thumb for a second and then withdrew back to his own space on his own side of the table. He sipped his champagne and looked at The Alp over the lip of the glass.

“You look nervous, Hand. Do tell me what the plan is. I’m dying to know.”

The plan Darin had, like most of his plans, was flaky. Most importantly, he needed to get Tesla somewhere more private, and he wasn’t going to achieve that by force. He painted a smile on his face. “Later, Tesla. Tell me,” he sipped at his champagne again, “why the disappearing act?”

“Told you to find out, did he? Before you stopped me?”

Darin’s eyebrows flicked up and down, indicating the question was moot. “Well?”

Tesla waited for the waiter to slip professionally around the table and serve two plates of scallops before he continued, “You really have no idea, do you?”

Darin looked at the seafood, scrunched his face up and pushed the plate away. “Okay,” he said, raising his hands passively, “if you won’t tell me that, then tell me this: Why is there a Celestial walking the streets of Melbourne? There’s something going on and I want to know what it is.”

Tesla shook his head back and forth, a wide grin, as he savored his lunch. “What makes you think I know?”

Darin sat back in his chair and stared at The Alp.

“Oh,” Tesla continued, “going to sulk now, are we?”

Darin fumed. He breathed in as if raise mighty Hell at the table and then breathed back out, slowly. A sigh.

Tesla smiled as he continued to eat, now silent.

“You’re not losing your touch, are you?” Darin asked, “I thought you daemons knew everything?”

Tesla raised an eyebrow, his smile rose on one side. “I like you, Hand, I always have…but if you insist on such things, you might be sorry if I agree.”

“Try me.”

Darin stood watching. He was on the brow of a hill and the world below burned. He started down the grassy hill, the earth cracked beneath his feet as smoke rose—the heat of the soil burning through the soles of his shoes—the stench of sulfur in the air. He found the smell out of place but comforting…like home.

He stepped over the burning corpse of a child.

What had happened? Darin looked around, he didn’t truly recognize the area, but it could have been any one of a hundred places. It was a city: London? Edinburgh? Paris? Rome? It could have been one or none of the cities that he had visited in his time.

He stopped and watched a river of Hellion Roaches spew from a glowing red crack in the floor. They were not of this realm. They should not have been here.

And he couldn’t control them like he should have.

Hundreds of them rolled out and down towards the street…the screams of innocence filled the air. Darin shook his head and continued down to the street and over to the window of a store. He wiped his hand over the soot blackened window and squinted through. The family that hid—cowered—inside stared at him, the father’s eyes wide and terror filled. He couldn’t know who—or what—Darin was…the fear was something else.

He listened to the familiar applause of the scuttling creatures getting louder as their excitement grew. He watched them crawl through the cracks under the doors…he watched them find the family.

A man, a woman, and a child.

Darin watched his pets feed. They tore at the family, an orgasmic chatter rising from them as they took them with prejudice, without concern for age or sex.

Darin squinted in distain. This wasn’t right.

He turned away and continued down the street. It was night—dark—but there were no street lights…the light came only from Hell seeping through from below.

“Alp!” He turned, his eyes darting around looking for a sign that Tesla had followed him into this…dream. “What is the meaning of this?”

Tesla’s hand came to rest on his shoulder and Darin spun to face him. The Alp shook his head slowly. “Can you see what is happening, Hand?”

Darin licked his lips and reached into his pocket, pulling out his smokes and lighting one. “Tell me…”

The Alp shook his head harder. “It is not for me to say. That would surely spoil the fun.”

Darin grabbed Tesla to pull him into Hell, but aside from the two scuffling briefly, nothing happened.

“Not in here,” Tesla tapped the side of Darin’s head with his finger, much to his annoyance. “You have no power when I am in control.”

“So why show it to me, if you’re not going to explain it?” Darin snapped.

“So you have something to tell Him.”

 

Author Mark Taylor

Mark Taylor’s debut novel crash landed on planet earth in 2013. Its dark brooding style benchmarked his writing and has led to further releases of novel and short story collection alike.

While most of Mark’s work is macabre, occasion has it that he will write about kittens and daisies. Just not very often.

Some say he is a product of his environment, others, a product of his own imagination.

Whichever it is he works happily, portraying dark existences on this planet and others. He relays his fears and doubts on his characters, so always has a smile. If Mark is real, as some say he is, you might find him in England.

Perhaps.

 

©Mark Taylor, 2016. All rights reserved.

Author Mark Taylor – The Devil’s Hand Part 1

The Devil's Hand: Crossing Guard by Mark Taylor

EXCERPT from The Devil’s Hand: Crossing Guard by Mark Taylor:

“Good night, Miss Mitchell,” Peter slid his head around the door of the office. “Is there anything else you need before I go?”

Angela looked away from the rain to Peter and smiled, shaking her head. “I’ll see you in the morning.” Peter left, and she heard him close the door behind himself, latching it so that it was only accessible from the inside. She looked back out the window. Five days running it had been raining. Only on and off, but always in the early evening, and always when she was going home.

She picked up the North African Statesman’s Journals—her morning’s work—and carried them out of the office, starting up the back stairs to the storeroom on the next floor. She had indexed and priced them, even managing to send out a tentative email to a perspective buyer and now needed to put them away. She could, of course, leave them for Peter, but she felt that a celebratory glass of wine might be just what the doctor ordered tonight, and delaying the inevitable seemed a good idea.

Angela listened to the familiar creak of the old stairs as she ascended, her high heels tapping gently on the bare wood steps.

Entering the second floor, a whole room in itself—a room that in all its grandeur would have made a much better sales floor than the library below—Angela inhaled deeply. The room was stocked heavily with books and papers, letters, even some small antique jewelry, and it all smelled…cool.

Well, to Angela it did.

Angela loved the faint musty scents of old paper and parchment.

She walked across the bare floor to the closest book shelf and slipped the Journals on the end, inhaled again, and turned to leave.

She stopped.

Through the door, descending the stairs was a shadow. It startled her briefly. “Peter?” she called, “What did you forget this time?”

He didn’t reply.

Angela shook her head and returned to the door, her heels clacking loudly on the oak floor boards. She looked down the stairs to the floor below, “Peter?” she called again, this time with more urgency, “Answer me.”

He still didn’t reply.

Angela looked around quickly for something—a weapon?—to, if nothing else, make her feel better. She picked up a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo. A book weighty enough to be a weapon, and if nothing else she could bore the assailant to death.

She descended as quietly as she could, which wasn’t quiet in heels. Damn shoes.

As she moved from the last step, a slender young woman in expensive garb, wielding a book of over a thousand pages like a wood axe, she noted that the front door was latched. She lowered the book.

A trick of the light, perhaps?

Of course, she quickly went from the library to the office to settle the doubts in her mind, but there was no one there. There couldn’t have been. Even Peter would have to knock to get back in. Maybe she should lay off the liquor if it was going to cause hallucinations? Or perhaps, she just needed a drink?

Angela returned The Count to its rightful place upstairs and then left the library for the night, reaching out for her umbrella before remembering its likely demise in the streets of London last night. After alarming and locking the building behind her she headed out, head hunkered down in the rain and started the push towards the underground.

She wondered what Raphael would have for her tonight.

***

Fleep

The Oyster Card opened the turnstile at the cold entrance of Sloane Square Station for the nightly trudge of the Central line to Victoria Station and then the Victoria line home.

Down flights of escalators and tunnels, the human race herded itself toward the bullet shaped ‘tube train’. The noise of the approaching train as it emerged from the tunnel was a tornado of wind rushing past the hundred waiting bodies, the voice on the intercom drowned out.

It stopped with a clunk and the doors shwooped open.

Fifty people disembarked.

One hundred forced their way on.

Angela stood, she had removed her bag from her shoulder and held it between her legs, squashed between fat men wearing wet coats. The immediate heat and claustrophobia as the doors shwooped back shut. She felt her chest tighten slightly, as she always did when the tube was this busy.

And it was always this busy when it rained.

Airs of suspicion lingered between most of the travellers, no one wanting to look directly at another person, no one speaking.

Just densely packed in human meat.

And Darin.

As he watched her from further down the carriage.

Already on the train before her…

… knowing where she would get on.

***

“Shit it,” Angela looked at the small bubble of water on the one hundred year old manuscript, laid so carefully and perfectly on the desk before her. She looked around. ‘Where in Hell did that come from?

She pulled a lint free cloth from the drawer and started to work on the water. It was no more than a pinhead in size, but would affect the value.

Peter appeared at the door, “’Sup, Boss?” Angela shook her head without looking up or speaking. It was clearly the only acknowledgement that he was going to get. He shrugged it off—Angela was like that when she was buried in work—and returned to wherever he had come from.

Angela continued, ignoring day six of the rain at the window.

Fully restored and held firmly between two sheets of glass, Angela was finally happy with the library’s latest acquisition, the manuscript, and before pulling up her email to see if she had a response about the Journals, she glanced out of the window. It was dark and raining. Still.

She frowned and looked at her watch. It was six-fifteen. “Peter?” she called. There was no reply, but of course there wouldn’t be. Not at this time. She didn’t remember him leaving—or even announcing his intention to—and hoped that she had at least acknowledged him. He was a good boy. He would make a fine addition to the management of the library one day.

Angela took the manuscript to the upper floor and stored it with the other glass locked antiquities and then returned to her office. She opened her email one last time for the day and then closed the computer down. She turned off the working lights—spot lights—that spidered over her desk, closed and locked the bureau and turned the office lights off, closing and locking the door.

She went into the library, to cross to the front door, to find a man standing in front of one of the glass display cases—the one that held the library’s vastly expensive copy of the Napoleonic War Diary—the one next to the stairs that led to the second floor. He was studying the book.

She jumped, startled by the sudden presence of someone—anyone. “Who are you?” she asked, glancing over to the front door.

The latched front door.

The man nodded—apparently in appreciation of the tome—but didn’t turn to face her. “It is a fine piece,” he said.

“How did you get in?” Angela insisted.

“I remember the difficulties that one has on making such formal decisions when pricing such works,” he chuckled without sharing the joke.

“Could you leave, please?” Angela became nervous of the man’s intention.

The man turned. “Angela Mitchell, I assume?”

 

Author Mark Taylor

Mark Taylor’s debut novel crash landed on planet earth in 2013. Its dark brooding style benchmarked his writing and has led to further releases of novel and short story collection alike.

While most of Mark’s work is macabre, occasion has it that he will write about kittens and daisies. Just not very often.

Some say he is a product of his environment, others, a product of his own imagination.

Whichever it is he works happily, portraying dark existences on this planet and others. He relays his fears and doubts on his characters, so always has a smile. If Mark is real, as some say he is, you might find him in England.

Perhaps.

©Mark Taylor, 2016. All rights reserved.

New Release – Strange by Mark Taylor

Strange for Kindle

Title: Strange: A Dark and Surreal Collection

Author: Mark Taylor

Genre: Horror, Surrealism

Synopsis:

Are dreams made of jello or of blackened hearts? What are the four shadows? From a career defined by darkness comes the unexplained, the unbelievable and the shocking.

Mark Taylor’s Strange is a collection of six. Six tales of woe, six tales of terror, six layers of hate. But more, so much more, they are the answers in the darkness, the shades no longer grey…or are they?

Within the trials of Networking and the totalitarian Total Entertainment are the terrifying consequences of technology, and Eternal Light sees the world extinct.  Inside and Elizabeth toy with the mind, and that just leaves Dead Game where you might like what you find.

Come, come and visit…come and play…where we are all a little…Strange.

Excerpt:

“Welcome to the Consternation Lounge.”

The calm, soothing voice of the Company echoed along the corridor as the door slid open silently. Massi looked to the ceiling as he listened to it. It was supposed to be a woman, but it was a machine. You could tell.

On the other side of the door a woman waited. She was real, he surmised. She was wearing a slim close-fitting trouser suit, her blond hair tied in a tight bunch at the back of her head. “Mr. Rubens?” She asked, smiling pleasantly, but she knew exactly who he was.

“Yes.” He returned the smile.

“Is this your first time?” The woman stepped forward and held out her hand to show him the way. She couldn’t touch him. That wasn’t allowed. Massi nodded and let her guide him. She led him across the shiny metal floor of the suite—perfectly smooth—his bare feet padding on the warm surface, to the single reclined booth. “There’s nothing to worry about. Have you experienced any of Absorption Entertainment’s catalogue?”

He eyed the booth nervously. “Yeah. ‘Bout two years back I tried one of the Darcy line. The booth looked different to this though.”

“Yes,” the woman nodded, “with each scenario the expected physical reaction is different. Darcy is a much mellower journey.”

“So, what will happen this time?”

“Oh, there really is nothing to worry about.” She gestured to the seat in the booth, “Please. I’ll set up the Experience.”

Massi pushed his doubts aside and slid into the booth, sitting back. This was too expensive to change your mind at the last minute. And besides, it was Absorption Entertainment. The last entertainment company left.

“Now,” she said, “as you have done this before do you want me to run through the procedures?” When he shook his head she continued. “When the play begins your vision will be altered, but not be too disoriented by it. If the last time you rented an Experience was two years ago, you should notice the wonder of the new Integrated Cerebral Platform,” She looked him in the eyes—she was attractive enough that he could have been aroused by her doing so, but she was staring deep beyond his face—looking into him.

“How long will it last?” he asked.

“Around two hours.” She smiled and tilted her head to the side like an air stewardess pandering to a frightened flier.

Then she was gone.

Massi had blinked from one reality to another.

The area smelled wretched. He couldn’t tell when or where he was, but the soft ground was covered in slicks of oil and grime. It looked like the pictures he had seen from the war. From within the darkness came a shuffling of feet…a mutter…followed by several moans.

The woman watched Massi’s vitals as he sank into The Experience, his fingers curling unconsciously around the arms of the booth. She slipped her hand into the Communications Imprint Device, the CIm-Dev, and interfaced with AI. “Client Rubens 4071 is in play.” A holographic countdown coagulated into being above Massi’s twitching body. It read 01:58:15.

She would return when his story was finished.

***

Mark Taylor
Author Mark Taylor

Mark Taylor’s debut novel crash landed on planet earth in 2013. Its dark brooding style benchmarked his writing and has led to further releases of novel and short story collection alike.

While most of Mark’s work is macabre, occasion has it that he will write about kittens and daisies. Just not very often.

Some say he is a product of his environment, others, a product of his own imagination.

©Mark Taylor, 2015. All rights reserved.