Saturday, April 29, 2017

Short Review: THE RISE OF PETER TROY: VOL ONE By Joseph DiBartolo

Review: “The Rise of Peter Troy: Volume One” by Joseph DiBartolo

Joseph DiBartolo’s novella, THE RISE OF PETER TROY VOL 1: THE DECAYED ONES, explodes out of the gate like a race horse and doesn’t stop until it reaches the finish line. In the interest of full disclosure, I have yet to read the other volumes in the Peter Troy series. But Volume One seems to serve as the catalyst, a setup for something much, much bigger.

Peter Troy, the eponymous hero of this short novel, is an instantly likable and relatable character. He’s got legal problems, a mountain of debt, and he’s incapable of getting his life together…that is until the rest of the world starts to fall apart around him.

Peter, an ex-butcher who is infatuated with zombies, has been training for this moment his whole life without even realizing it. And he certainly isn’t going down without a fight. And his vast, encyclopedic knowledge of zombies is just one of the many weapons he possesses.

Along his bizarre new journey, Peter encounters both the dead and the living. It doesn’t take long for Peter to form new alliances in his fight for survival. But these survivors aren’t just talkers, they’re doers, they’re fighters. They don’t sit around for hours, waiting or discussing their next move. The story moves at a brisk pace.

Author Joseph DiBartolo also puts an extra added twist on the zombie genre with this story. Your level of intelligence determines the type of zombie you come back as: Slow and witless, or fast and cunning. Some of the zombies are smarter and faster, while others roam aimlessly like mindless beasts out of a George A. Romero film. This creates a whole new threat for Peter and his motley crew of survivors.

THE RISE OF PETER TROY is a worthy addition to the zombie genre, with a protagonist you can easily root for. The series is available through Amazon. If you’re a fan of the ever-growing zombie trend, I suggest giving this first volume a try. You might enjoy it as much as I did.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Genre: Horror

By Daniel Skye

           Stephen Henriksen felt a sharp pang in his gut when his father-in-law pulled into the driveway. The Wrangler was a ’95 and had over 200,000 miles on it. The engine rattled, the tailpipe coughed up exhaust fumes, and it shook and vibrated every time Russ Cogdell drove it. But somehow it managed to keep on running. Just like Stephen’s father-in-law.

Stephen and Russ exchanged awkward hellos at the door and shook hands like they were total strangers.

            “Russ, it’s so good to see you again,” Stephen said, feigning enthusiasm. But Russ could see past his plastic smile and forced pleasantries. He was a detective for more than twenty years. He could sniff out a liar in a second.

            Russ made himself at home in Stephen’s favorite chair, a leather recliner. When he sat down, his untucked, ruffled sweater revealed the holstered pistol at his side. Stephen recoiled slightly at the sight.

            “Relax, Stephen,” Russ said, shaking his head. “It’s only a gun.”

            Russ was retired, but he still carried a piece for protection. He made a lot of enemies over the years. Sent a lot of men to prison, robbed a lot of young men of their youth. That pistol rarely left his side.

Stephen’s fingers had never even grazed a pistol. Sometimes he felt inferior in the presence of his father-in-law. And Russ seemed to sense this, which only raised his sense of superiority.

            “Can I get you something to drink?” Stephen asked, trying to retain that forced smile.

            “Whiskey, straight, no rocks.”

            “Coming right up.”

            The kids were upstairs playing Halo on Xbox. Joyce was setting the table. And the turkey was in the oven, which is exactly where Stephen wanted to stick his head at that particular moment. Stephen loathed his father-in-law, but not as much as Russ loathed Stephen.

            Russ Cogdell was disappointed that Joyce hadn’t kept her maiden name. He was even more disappointed that his only daughter had settled for someone as timid and weak as Stephen Henriksen. A man with no spine. A man who didn’t know how to say no or stand up for himself. A man who didn’t even know how to use a gun.

            Stephen poured Russ a stiff glass of whiskey, and poured one for himself too. He sighed and whispered, “Let’s get this over with.”

Russ accepted the glass of whiskey and gave Stephen a vague nod of appreciation.  

“You should come down to the range one day,” Russ said, though it sounded like more of a challenge than an invitation. “I’ll teach you how to shoot. A man should know to use a gun.”

“Yeah, maybe I’ll take you up on that,” Stephen muttered, guzzling down his whiskey.

Joyce sauntered out from the kitchen to greet her father.

“Daddy!” she exclaimed. “Happy Thanksgiving!”

“Princess!” Russ returned her enthusiasm. “How on earth have you been? I hope mister jelly spine over here is looking after my little angel.”

“Daddy, be nice.”

“This is me being nice. And where are my two grandsons?”

“They’re upstairs playing with that darn Xbox that you bought them last Christmas. Thanks a lot, by the way.”

“Hey, they’re my grandchildren and if I want to spoil them, I’ll spoil them. Besides, they should have the childhood that I never had. When I was a kid, all we had to play with was a stick and a ball.”

 Next he’ll be telling us how he used to walk twenty miles through the snow to get to school, Stephen thought and had a silent chuckle.

“Grandpa!” Todd exclaimed as he darted down the stairs, Jody following behind him. Todd was the older of the two. He had his father’s wavy hair and facial features, but shared none of his personality.

Jody seemed to take more after his mother as far as looks were concerned. He had her light brown hair and piercing blue eyes. Though he seemed to display more of his father’s personality traits than Todd did. Like his father, Jody scared easily, was timid, and often afraid to speak up.

“Oh, boys, it’s so great to see you again,” Russ said, giving his grandsons a big hug.

“Grandpa, tell us a story,” Jody requested.

“Yeah, a scary story,” Todd added. “Like the urban legend about the guy with a hook for a hand. Or the one about the babysitter who kept getting creepy phone calls.”

“No, no, no,” Joyce protested. “No scary stories, dad. The last time you told them one of your stories, they didn’t get a wink of sleep. And neither did I.”

“Oh come on, Joyce. They’re just boys. In a few years, these stories will have no effect on them. They’re going to grow up with some backbone, if I have anything to say about it. They need a strong male presence in this house.”

Stephen was about to open his mouth when Joyce mouthed the word, “Don’t.” That was Joyce. Always the mediator. Always the peacekeeper. Always begged Stephen to leave it be.

            “Sit down, kiddos. And I’ll tell you a story that’ll make your skin crawl. It’s a story about a monster so scary, so hideous, so powerful, you can’t even mention its name.”

            “How come?” Jody asked. He was young and full of questions. Stephen and Joyce could both attest to that fact.

            “Because to speak its name aloud is to summon it,” Russ said, speaking in a low, spooky voice, laying it on thick. “You can never say its name out loud. If you do, it will come for you.”

            “What will come for you?” It was Jody asking again.

            “Its skin is black as tar and thick as the hide of a rhinoceros. It has jagged, shark-like teeth and eight eyes like a spider. Some say it’s as tall as a house. They say its enormous hands could squash you like a bug. And they say it can smell fear, especially the fear of children.”

            Jody gulped. He was turning pale and Joyce could see he was visibly terrified. But Todd was eating all this up. And he also picked up on Jody being scared. And couldn’t help but his egg his grandpa on.

            “Come on, grandpa,” Todd said. “You have to tell us its name.”

            “I’ll tell you what,” Russ said, “I’ll write it down.”

            As a former detective, Russ still had the habit of carrying a small notepad and pen with him. He never knew when it would come in handy.

            He scribbled something down on a blank page of the notepad and flipped it over for Todd and Jody to read.


            “The Creach?” Jody blurted out, then covered his mouth with both hands when he realized his mistake.

            “You’re not supposed to say its name out loud,” Todd said, jabbing his brother with his elbow.

            Stephen stood there with his arms folded, clearly not amused. “It’s okay, boys. It’s just a story.”

            “Or is it?” Russ added with a grin that was downright malevolent. It was a two-for-one. He got to pull Stephen’s chain and give his grandkid’s a scare at the same time.

            “Come on, dad,” Joyce interjected. “I have to get the turkey out of the oven. When I get back, I don’t want to hear any more stories about monsters or goblins or ghosts.”

            “What a buzzkill,” Russ said as Joyce returned to the kitchen.

            “You alright?” Stephen asked Jody.

            “Fine,” Jody assured him. “I just hope I didn’t summon the monster.”

            Stephen sighed, exasperated. “Jody, there’s no such thing as monsters. They only exist in books and movies and stories people tell each other. They don’t exist in real life.”

            Russ felt a slight vibration. At first he thought he was imagining it. But he was certain he felt the floor trembling under his feet. And it wasn’t the effects of the alcohol. Russ had barely touched his whiskey.

He looked down at his drink, bemused. The whiskey was rippling in its glass. It would have reminded him of the scene in Jurassic Park with the cup of water, had he seen Jurassic Park.

            “Does anyone else feel that?” Russ had to ask.

            “I feel it,” Stephen said, hating to acknowledge or give Russ any credence. “It feels like the floor is vibrating.”

            A thunderous rumble caused the house to shake from its eaves to its foundation. Jody squealed. Todd giggled at his brother’s trepidation. Stephen and Russ exchanged puzzled glances.

            “Could it be an earthquake?” Stephen wondered.

            “We’ve never had one before,” Russ pointed out.

         The front door practically exploded on impact, chunks of splintered wood flying in every direction. An arm about the length of a tree forced its way through; its long, ragged fingers slithering like snakes across the carpet. It was just as Russ had described. Skin as black as tar and rough as the hide of rhinoceros.

            This monstrous arm stretched out across the living room. Russ drew his pistol from its holster, just a second too late.

            A massive, giant hand engulfed Russ and ripped him from the leather recliner. His gun dropped to the floor and he winced in pain. The wet snapping sounds of bone and cartilage filled the room as the creature squeezed Russ between its fingers.

            Stephen’s paternal instincts immediately kicked in. He had a duty to protect his sons at all costs. He made a move for Russ’s pistol. He’d never even touched a gun before. But he gripped it with both hands and wrapped one finger around the trigger.

            He fired three deafening shots, striking the creature with every round. The bullets penetrated its rough exterior, and a viscous black fluid oozed from its wounds.

            The long, massive arm retracted, carrying Russ’s limp body off into the night. Stephen and his sons could do nothing but watch in stunned silence. Joyce stood in the threshold of the kitchen, staring at the gaping hole where their front door once was.

            “What in God’s name was that!?” Joyce screamed.

            “It was The–” Jody started, but was cut off by his brother.

            “Don’t say its name!” Todd cried.

            “It was…a monster,” Jody whispered.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

CHAIN LETTER (By James Darko)

By James Darko

After a rough day at work or school, there was nothing better than coming home and hearing those three magic words.

“You’ve got mail.”

Before broadband, before Wi-Fi, before 4G, there was dial-up.

But since its inception, a darker side of the World Wide Web has always existed, hiding in the shadows of cyberspace. And it’s only a click away. Click the wrong link, type the wrong phrase in a search engine, and you could open your eyes to a world of filth, depravity, and unimaginable terror…

Sk8rHawk87: Hey

Zeppelin420: Yo. Sup?

Sk8rHawk87: Nm u?

Zeppelin420: Same. Bored. Wish I had a joint.

Sk8rHawk87: Did u do ur book report yet?

Zeppelin420: Which 1?

Sk8rHawk87: The report 4 Mr. Dubin’s class

Zeppelin420: Nah not yet

Zeppelin420: We still got 2 more weeks of spring break

Zeppelin420: Plenty of time

Sk8rHawk87: Have u started any of your book reports?

Zeppelin420: I’m working my way around to it

Sk8rHawk87: Ur gonna wait till the last minute like u always do

Zeppelin420: So wat? I still pass

Sk8rHawk87: Barely

Zeppelin420: Blow me Hirschfeld

Sk8rHawk87: What if I paid Neville to blow u instead?

Zeppelin420: I bet he’d do it for free

Sk8rHawk87: Lol you’re prob right about that

Zeppelin420: Hey do you think Mr. Dubin smokes weed?

Sk8rHawk87: It would explain his choice of sweaters

Zeppelin420: How cool would it be to smoke with 1 of our teachers?

Sk8rHawk87: Idk

Sk8rHawk87: I’ve never smoked

Zeppelin420: Ur such a square dude

Sk8rHawk87: I’m a square because I value my brain cells?

Zeppelin420: Were freshmen now

Zeppelin420: Party well u can

Sk8rHawk87: I prefer getting straight A’s and not getting grounded by my parents

Zeppelin420: I’m gonna get u to blaze 1 day

Cherrrylips joined the group chat

Zeppelin420: Sup slut?

Cherrrylips: Nm dick licker. What r u 2 cock knockers talking about?

Sk8rHawk87: Mr. Dubin’s class

Zeppelin420: And smoking weed

Cherrrylips: OMG Mr. Dubin def smokes. I can smell it on him sometimes.

Zeppelin420: I knew it!

EmoGothChick28 joined the group chat

Zeppelin420: Who invited the basket case?

EmoGothChick28: Fuck u Wade

EmoGothChick28: Ur just pissed I turned u down at Brie Morgan’s party

Zeppelin420: Oh please Paige don’t act like ur anything special

Zeppelin420: U should consider urself lucky I even tried to get with you

EmoGothChick28: Oh yea it’s a real badge of fucking honor

Cherrrylips: Should Hirschfeld and I sign off and give you 2 some privacy?

EmoGothChick28: Oh fuck u 2 Cindy

Cherrrylips: Chill Paige. I was just kidding.

Zeppelin420: U guys r way 2 uptight. Ya’ll need to get high.

Sk8rHawk87: Is that ur solution 4 everything?

Zeppelin420: Yup

Cherrrylips: Hey where’s Neville? He’s always on his computer

Zeppelin420: Idk. I heard he’s been doin a lot of wrist cardio since he broke up with his gf

Cherrrylips: Wrist cardio?

EmoGothChick28: I just got it…

Cherrrylips: Ew me 2

Neville742 has joined the group chat

Zeppelin420: Speak of the Neville

Neville742: What’s that supposed to mean?

Cherrrylips: Never mind. Let’s change the subject

Cherrrylips: Who is going to Lauren Cantwell’s party on Friday?

Zeppelin420: I’m not invited

EmoGothChick28: Big surprise

Zeppelin420: Fuck urself Paige

EmoGothChick28: I’d rather fuck myself than fuck u

Zeppelin420: So ur gonna pretend that nothing ever happened between us

EmoGothChick28: Give me a break. We tried hooking up once and you were drunk and couldn’t get your little needle dick up.

Cherrrylips: TMI

Sk8rHawk87: Knock it off u guys

Neville742: Whoa wtf did I walk into?

Zeppelin420: Watever

EmoGothChick28: Whatever*

Zeppelin420: I hate you Paige

Cherrrylips: So I guess no one else is going to the party on Friday?

Zeppelin420: Who cares about Lauren’s party? That bitch acts like she’s so special cause her parents are loaded. And she always emails those annoying chain letters.

Cherrrylips: Ugh those r the worst

Cherrrylips: She always sends them to me. I feel so bad having to send them out to people. But I don’t fuck around with chain letters.

Neville742: Same here. I never ignore chain letters. I have enough bad luck as it as.

Sk8rHawk87: She sends them to me 2

Sk8rHawk87: I hate it

Sk8rHawk87: But I always feel compelled to send them

EmoGothChick28: I’m guilty 2. I forward every chain letter I get.

Zeppelin420: Really? I never send those things

Zeppelin420: I just delete them

EmoGothChick28: Did u guys see the last one Lauren sent? It creeped even me out

Sk8rHawk87: Yea that was something

Zeppelin420: lol what was it?

Zeppelin420: I probably deleted it

Cherrrylips: I can’t remember what it said. Hold on. I think I still have it.

Cherrrylips: I’m gonna copy and paste it

Cherrrylips: “Every chain has a link. Every link has a life. Break the chain, lose a life. Send this to five people or Death will come for you. You have 24 hours.”

Zeppelin420: LOL very funny

Sk8rHawk87: Cindy’s not joking. Lauren sent that email to me. Gave me the willies. I sent it out right away.

Neville742: Lauren emailed it to Paige and Paige emailed it to me

EmoGothChick28: Lol sorry Neville but I got freaked out when I read it

EmoGothChick28: Please tell me you sent it to 5 people

Neville742: Of course I did lol

Zeppelin420: Wait…that does sound familiar. Brb

Cherrrylips: Where’s he going?

EmoGothChick28: He’s prob whacking off or smoking a joint

Zeppelin420: I just checked my email. She sent it to me last night. I guess I read it but I forgot 2 delete it.

Neville742: Did you send it to 5 people?

Zeppelin420: Hahaha no. I never send those stupid things out.

Sk8rHawk87: What time did she send it to you?

Zeppelin420: Idk around 9

Sk8rHawk87: Wade…It’s nine o’clock

EmoGothChick28: LMAO Hirschfeld that was perfect

EmoGothChick28: Like something out of a horror movie

Cherrrylips: Uh oh looks like ur time is up Wade lol

Sk8rHawk87: Lol

Sk8rHawk87: It’s just a silly chain letter

Sk8rHawk87: They can’t really hurt anyone

EmoGothChick28: Or can they? What do you say Wade?

EmoGothChick28: Wade?

Sk8rHawk87: Very funny dude

Sk8rHawk87: You got us. Now come back.

Cherrrylips: Wade? U there?

Neville742: Come on dude. Stop dicking around and answer us.

Zeppelin420 has signed off

Neville742: Relax guys. He’ll come back. He’s def fucking with us.

Sk8rHawk87: I’m calling his house right now

Cherrrylips: It’s been five minutes Hirschfeld

EmoGothChick28: Yea what’s the story?

Sk8rHawk87: I can’t get through to his house. The line is busy.

Neville742: Guys this is Wade we’re talking about. I’m sure he’s fine.

On Wednesday, April 14th, 1999, Wade Thomas vanished without a trace from his Red Bank, New Jersey home. He never returned.