Author feature: ‘Hyde’s Lament’ by L.N. Denison

Hyde's Lament by L.N. Denison is the darkest of dystopian visions and not a read for the faint of heart

Catherine Hyde is being held captive and she is the victim of an experiment that is slowly turning her into a Caver – a monstrous sub-human which craves flesh…

Once Hyde’s vision had come back, she instantly recognised Miller as the man that had told her of her true origins. The man who had told her that her whole life was nothing but a lie. She glanced at Scott, who stood the other side of the bars with his recording device, ready to catch every little detail of the death scene that was about to play out, and watched as another man entered the room, Major Clark, her commander.
Judd saluted the new arrival to the scene. 
“You’re just in time, sir.” he said as the major took his position in front of the cage. 
“Let’s see what she’s got.” Clark folded his arms across his chest and waited. 
A tide of anger rushed through Hyde’s body as she stood over her helpless victim. She looked outside the cage again and saw Judd smirking. She gestured her intentions for him by swiping her index finger across her throat. She could smell his fear, though he didn’t show it. 
Hyde slowly ran her human fingers over Miller’s naked, blistered chest. With every stroke she could feel herself fighting the urge to rip this man apart. Yes, she was angry, and to the point of starvation, but she wanted to fight her ever increasing caver mentally. 
Why are they making me do this? I don’t want to kill this man.
So hungry.
He’s human. I can’t.
But I’m so fucking hungry! And they will kill me if I don’t. 
Her thoughts ate away at her soul as she looked down at the man she’d be forced to kill. In the end, she’d rather do their bidding than face a bullet to the brain.
Hyde knew they wanted her to make this man suffer, but she was not about to play their game. She struck fast and deadly, her talons tearing between his ribs and into his heart. The body jerked a few times and then was still. She lengthened the slit in Miller’s chest, then jabbed her hand into his stomach and pulled his insides out. But there wasn’t much to pull out, barely enough to satisfy her hunger. 
“I didn’t say you could kill him,” Judd snarled and gestured for Jenkins to aim his rifle at her head again, but Clark soon put paid to the idea.
“Don’t you dare pull that trigger, private. Lower your rifle. She stays alive.”

A bite of... L.N. Denison
Question One: The world that Hyde exists in is both brutal and conscienceless. How did it come into your head to write about a future that seems without hope?

Well, I look at the way things are at the moment, and from where I’m sitting, things look pretty bleak. What I do is I intensify what is going on in the now, as I believe that this is the way of things in the future. Maybe, not our lifetime, but I can see things taking that path. Going Underground is another prime example of how I see the future heading, but that’s another book for another time.

Question Two: If you were suddenly transported to that world, what three things would you take with you to up your chance of survival?

Without a doubt, I would take Max, my Saint Bernard. He would see off any threats and keep me safe. A decent weapon that didn’t rely on ammunition, maybe a scythe with a long reach, so I can cut down any threat before it even reaches me, and enough freeze-dried rations to last a while, so I didn’t have to rely on the contaminated fat of the land.

Question Three: What was the first book you ever fell in love with, and has that book coloured your own writing?

I wouldn’t say it was a book I fell in love with, but it was my first and it was the book that started me writing…1984 by George Orwell. Okay, I tell a lie, I did love it, but I hated the manifesto and skipped the whole of chapter 9.

L.N. Denison in her own words

Layla Pinkett (AKA L.N. Denison) is predominantly the writer of Dark Dystopic and Post-apocalyptic yarns, but is open to writing anything. She lives with her husband and dog in rural Kent, and will continue to do so as long as they’ll have her (he-he). She is a keen reader…and when she isn’t writing (or working), she has her head stuck in a book.

You can catch up with her on GoodreadsFacebook and Twitter.

Jane Jago’s Daily Drabble – One Hundred and Four

It was a cup of hot chocolate. Granted there were marshmallows, but it was still only a cup of chocolate.

Two chunky ladies sat at a high top eying the cup as it came towards them.

“Only one? We ordered two…”

“It’s for table five.” The waitress said. “You ordered diet choc. That don’t come with marshmallows.”

The bigger of the two women reached out and deliberately jogged the tray, at which the solitary occupant of table five kicked her.

The fight was epic.

A rough sleeper slithered into the cafe, grabbed the disputed treat and ran for his life.

©️jj 2018

Coffee Break Read – Winter

Winter was the bejewelling of Temsevar, its crystalline magnificence turning even the most sordid and mean peasant’s wooden hovel into a glittering palace of diamond. The snows softened the harshness, smoothing all into a glorious billowed largesse of white. From every branch and twig, every roof and casement, every eave and doorway, came the glitter of silver icicles, their growth arrested every night and scarcely allowed under the scant warmth of the red sun each narrow day.

Every ugliness was made mild by the glory of a shimmering white crown, every roughness made smooth and the uneven made plain. The winter was levelling, but it levelled in a way that paid vast tribute to the might of the elements. Rich and poor alike were equal before the onslaught, for both could share in the splendour which outshone the most regal opulence of the greatest noble. To watch the sunrise, blood red over the virgin white and silver landscape, washing it with a mystical ruby glow, was to be awed and left with wonder. To trace the pearlescent shimmer of the twin moons over the snow, where the whiteness caught and reflected back to the darkened sky the moist brilliance, until even the night might seem to dazzle, was to feel one had walked, waking, in a dreamscape or broken through to some celestial realm of deity.

But the beauty, if free, was also lethal. The cold wore down the resistance of the weak and made them prey to illness or starvation and the frozen ground would not open to bury the dead, who were burned in high pyres on the ice, in batches like cakes.

Here the rich and the poor parted company, for the wealthy had portals against death in the cold. They had piles of wood to burn, stores of bottled, dried and salted food, they had flour to bake with and flesh to cook. Not for them the privations of starvation in the snow-stricken land. A house could be counted wealthy by the fire that burned in its hearth, driving back the demons of cold and darkness. Even the meanest hovel that could light a fire all day was accounted rich when the chilling shroud of snow and ice descended.

It was in the winter that those who were free-born and poverty-stricken would envy the enslaved. For, worth money and offering labour, even the most meanly treated slave could expect to be kept warm and fed through the White Moons, where their free-born cousins could hope no more than that this winter might be light and their meagre stores of food and fuel might not be gone before the thaw. What value was freedom when the cost was one’s life or the lives of one’s children?

So winter was the glory of Temsevar and its greatest influence. Without it, perhaps the slave economy might have evolved and changed, but with it – and the utter dependence it brought of the weak upon the strong – the frozen arms of ice which embraced Temsevar for two-thirds of the year, also embraced the culture and values of its people, freezing them into patterns as cold and merciless as the brutal winter itself.

The ice cracked the marrow from the bone of the planet, riving rock and stripping life from the land, animal and vegetable. The rivers froze solid and the seas slowed as if sleeping and then surrendered to the embrace of ice. Only the hardiest in nature could survive and most of the larger animals only lived by entering the deep sleep of hibernation through the worst of the cold moons. You would not see tizarts playing in the snow or find therloons leaving ice-tracks under the twin moons.

Most people dreaded the onset of winter as much as they dreaded the onset of old age. For the annual revisiting of the Great White was a similar experience – the pace of life became slow and painful, cold and bleak. In the great Halls, poets would pass the wine, mulled with the herbs and berries of the autumn and sing with lysigal of the great deeds that had been done that summer and would be contemplated the next. But elsewhere, it was as though the planet slept and its people dreamed beneath the alluring counterpane of snow, fringed with its tassels of ice and embroidered with frost.

From Dues of Blood, the third book in Transgressor Trilogy by E.M. Swift-Hook.


Jane Jago’s Daily Drabble – One Hundred and Three

The Daimler ground up our rutted mountain track like a racehorse pulling a plough.

Father put down his axe and motioned us to his side.

As the car bounced to a halt, Mother wheeled herself out onto the wide planks of the balcony.

A woman threw herself from the back seat of the car.

“Clara,” she cried. “Clara my baby. It’s Mama.”

Mother lifted a thin shoulder.

“Go away.”

Then she took herself indoors.

The woman stood irresolute for a moment before slamming her way back into the vehicle.

Eleanor looked at Father.

“Who was that?”

He smiled grimly. “Nobody.”

©️jj 2018

Mrs Jago’s Handy Guide to the Meaning Behind Typographical Errors: Part VII

.... or 'How To Speak Typo' by Jane Jago

arspittle (noun) – where premiership footballers go to get their metatarsals fixed

brosom (adjective) – the unyielding and motionless quality of silicone breast implants

chuklit (noun) – disposable books of dubious literary merit usually featuring headless torsos on the covers

coffy (adjective) – needing to clear the throat by means if the application of hot caffeine 

concensus (noun) –  believing that all statistics are lies

eht (noun) – small insect that enters typing fingers and causes error

hink (verb) – the action of scratching the genitalia (to be accurate most usually the scrotum) whilst searching for inspiration

huffler (noun) – one who precedes every remark with a loud harrumph

ratehr (noun) – rodent in line to  inherit

sepnsive (adjective) – given to looking into the middle distance and sighing 

shoul (noun)  – knitted garment worn by those unable to take decisions

steert (verb) – the way a drunk walks along a road

suasgae (noun)  – Celtic dance performed over two crossed bratwurst

vanaship (noun) – motorised caravan with amphibious capabilities

wrte (past participle of the verb to wrt) – having written a page to edit it down to half a paragraph and three obscene references

Disclaimer: all these words are genuine typos defined by Jane Jago. The source of each is withheld to protect the guilty.

Jane Jago’s Daily Drabble – One Hundred and Two

He looked down his patrician nose at her, and she flipped him a very rude gesture.

“Young lady,” he said portentously, “that is not the way to gain admission.”

The raddled-looking woman laughed.

“Kiddo,” she replied, in a voice rendered harsh by cigarettes and bourbon, “I ain’t even sure I want in.”

His perfect lips curled in disbelief. “Of course you ‘want in’. Everybody wants in.”

She shrugged. “Gimme two good reasons why I should…”

The gatekeeper’s chin sagged, and he goggled as she turned and sauntered away from the Pearly Gates. 

Saint Peter stared at her retreating back…

©️jj 2018

Coffee Break Read – Dies Natalis Diocletian

After a final blessing, the doors of the sanctuary were closed behind the shivering priests, who scuttled inside bearing with them the expensive offerings of a grateful city.
“Thank you so much for doing that, Julia, especially with it being so cold. I do have to think the Divine Diocletian didn’t have in mind that we should stand freezing in his honour when these festivities were first added to Saturnalia,” Caudinus observed as they made their way back across the atrium. “But then I don’t suppose it gets quite so cold in Spalatum in December as it does here in Cornovii so it was prob-”
Their escort had move smartly to come between Caudinus and the two men who suddenly appeared from the dispersing crowd, shepherding a smaller cloak-wrapped figure between them.
Caudinus frowned and made a frustrated tutting sound as they came to a halt in the middle of the atrium.
“I am Mot Fionn, dominus. This is my father Kalgo and my only child Megan.”
Julia realised with a slight shock of surprise that she recognised the name. Dai had told her how this time last year, well before he had even met Julia, Hywel had tried to match-make Megan and Dai on a blind date. The Fionns were neighbours to the Llewellyn lands, such close neighbours that their land wrapped around a strip of Hywel’s. Megan was the heiress to the Fionn lands and it had seemed a good idea to both families if an alliance could be arranged. But, it had not gone well, by Dai’s account and had finished with him returning an unhappy and rather drunk Megan home whilst not being exactly sober himself.

Dai had told her Megan was a young woman but had not said how young. Julia could see she was still really a child, maybe seventeen and beneath the hood of her cloak her face looked pinched and miserable.
“Please, Magistratus, I demand justice for my child,” Mot called out. “She has been treated badly and left in a sorry state.”
Caudinus gestured to his guards to let the trio approach.
“This is not the time or place, Fionn, but tell me the thrust of it quickly and then put the details in an email. When we get back to business after the festival I will see you have your justice.”
The two men were glaring at him with cold antipathy. Julia glanced at Megan, but she had her head lowered as if protecting something she was holding under the cloak.
“So? What is this? Speak up. I am willing to hear you, but not to freeze whilst you take your time thinking of what to say.”
“My apologies, dominus,” Kalgo said, bobbing his head respectfully. “It is just – I – well, we – are afraid to speak.”
Caudinus was frowning now.
“Unless you need to admit to some crime, you have no need to be afraid to speak. Just tell me what this is about.”
“With the greatest respect, dominus,” Mot said, his tone obsequious, “there is always peril is speaking truth to power. You are known to be a just and fair man, but when matters touch one’s own family – justice can be lost.”
“Oh for -” Caudinus snapped his mouth shut and drew a breath. “Part of being ‘just and fair’ is not favouring any. Now, please state your problem so we can all get into the warm.”
“Then I state here before witnesses that Dai Llewellyn fathered a child on my daughter and abandoned them both to marry another.” As he spoke he pulled open Megan’s cloak to show the dark-haired infant she held. Julia found the air she was breathing had no oxygen. An odd, detached and lightheaded sensation pulsed behind her eyes. For a moment she even thought she might faint.
Caudinus raised a hand to silence the sudden low buzz of speculation.
“You can’t just walk up to someone and make accusations like that, Fionn. This is not the time or the place – this is a temple on a sacred holiday, not a family court session.”
But Mot was pushing Megan forward, so much that she staggered a couple of paces, clutching the infant to her. Julia put out an instinctive hand to stop the girl stumbling and her face looked up in abject misery.
“Tell them, girl,” Mot demanded, “tell them who is the father of your child. Swear it before the gods and the people.”
“Dai Llewellyn is the father of my child,” she said the words in little more than a whisper.
“And?” Kalgo growled as if prompting her in a lesson.
“And I do swear it before the gods and the people.”
That was enough, more than enough, to set flame to the tinder of crowd gossip and Caudinus had to shout this time to get attention. Julia fought down the impulse to scream and run. With her head pounding and her heart lead in her breast, she drew on her years of military training to stand erect and proud.
“That is enough, Fionn!” Caudinus was saying. “Get your daughter and her baby into the warm and make a proper presentation of your claim in due legal manner. And if I find this is an accusation without proof -”
“We have proof, dominus,” Kalgo told him, face twisting in a grimace. “We have DNA test results. And don’t worry we’ll put it all in legal writing and send it to you like you ask.” He jerked his head and Mot almost pulled Megan over, as he seized her arm and strode off. In Megan’s arms, the baby started crying and the wails seemed to transfix the people in the temple precincts until the Fionn family had walked back out through the gate.

From Dying as a Druid, the fourth in the Dai and Julia mysteries by E.M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago.

Jane Jago’s Daily Drabble – One Hundred and One

“Why does a handsome young man like you need a love potion?”

He blushed until his face was the colour of brick.

“She don’t want me. Says I don’t have enough money nor prospects.”

The witch held out a grubby hand into which he dropped a copper penny.

“Three days.”

He collected the bottle and went on his way. Whistling. 

As he made his way home it was as if the scales fell from his eyes. He turned away from the cold one, back into the waiting arms of his childhood sweetheart. 

There’s more than one sort of love potion…

©️jj 2018

Author Feature ‘Alpha Tales 2044’ by Wesley Britton

Alpha Tales 2044 by Wesley Britton is a new collection of stories that are part sci-fi, part murder mysteries, part horror, and part social commentary. But completely full of the unexpected, surprises, and tales, unlike anything you’ve experienced before.

I vividly remember the afternoon when Jrin Rol, the second-in-command of our security unit, and I stepped onto the ground floor of the Hotel Domino in the new city called Monte Carlo. The hotel was an entertainment center named after yet another Alpha game Malcolm Renbourn had brought to our planet. It should have been named Hotel Backgammon for all the pointed spikes of alternating colors on the floors and walls.

On this day, I was listening to Jrin’s wistful hopes for an extended leave from service so she could deepen her studies in linguistic morphologies, geographic spatial patterns, and other analytical investigative techniques that would make her far more than a skilled expert in stealth and counter-espionage operations. I was becoming more and more impressed with what I heard as we walked into the dining hall.

Then, my blood chilled. In one moment, I felt as if I’d drank a bath shell-sized cocktail of adrenaline and dread. Sitting alone at a table in the corner was First Helprim Kiem Holenris from ital, the supreme head of the Munchen Collective. The last I’d seen of this seeming old crone had been in my offices in Bercumel. On that day, Holendris had let me know my life was on the line if I continued my then-pointless, personal war with my bond-family. For, like her, my genetically-enhanced mutations had come at a cost. The little pills the Collective now provided me slowed the metabolic rushing of time that aged such as us much faster than our years. If I wanted to live a healthy and beautiful life and for a good long time, I needed the pills only the Collective could provide me.

Holendris looked like a woman who’d seen four generations of descendants from her womb. But she was merely the age of my own mother. Like me, her appearance concealed a body of extraordinary gifts. Unlike me, she had started her pill regimen much later in her life than I had, hence her aged face and deceptively marked skin. On this day, while her lips were twisted in an almost skullish smile, her eyes sent a clear message to me across the wide hall of tables and happy noises.

“Child,” they wordlessly told me, “bring your sun-drenched bronze skin and bright, blonde hair over here to me. You must come to me now. A matter of dire importance awaits you. Awaits us.”

I looked to Jrin, who understood my own silent signal. We slowly made our way to the Helprim’s round, polished white table where Kiem studied our movements with practiced eyes. She nodded as we came close and indicated two chairs.

“Sit, little kitty,” she cooed. “Sit, Jrin Rol of the Mask-Painters.”

Wordlessly, we took our places as serving hands quickly brought us trays of beverages. Kiem waited until the hands departed and took a sip of her own red pravine, then said softly, “Thank you for your quick compliance, as what I am here to discuss requires some delicacy.”

Alpha Tales 2044 is out now.

A Bite of... Wesley Britton
Question one: Have you ever invented a language?

Yes, the first four books of the Beta-Earth Chronicles are built on dialects I invented.

Question two: Would you rather be James Bond or Batman? 

007. He has a better sex life.

Question three: Would you rather live in this world or the one you create in your books?

I’d answer that in different ways depending on when you ask me the question.  Sometimes, I’d rather be anywhere other than this world, especially after the presidential election of 2016.   But right now, I’m pretty content to be here on Alpha-earth

A bit about Wesley Britton

Besides his 33 years in the classroom, Dr. Wesley Britton considers his Beta-Earth Chronicles the most important work he’s ever done. “I suppose an author profile is intended to be a good little biography,” Britton says, “but the best way to know who I am is to read my novels.”

Britton earned his doctorate in American Literature at the University of North Texas in 1990. He taught English at Harrisburg Area Community College until his retirement in 2016. He serves on the Board of Directors for Vision Resources of Central Pennsylvania.

You can find Wesley Britton on his website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and sign up for his newsletter.



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