Monday, 24 July 2017

The Union Series by T.H. Hernandez Book Blitz and Giveaway!


The Union
T.H. Hernandez
(The Union #1)
Publication date: November 18th 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult

After global warming and a second civil war devastated the former United States, two different societies rose from the ashes – the Union, a towering high-tech utopia, hugging the perimeter of the continent, and the devastated, untamed midsection known as the Ruins.
Seventeen-year-old Evan Taylor has an easy, privileged life in the Union. What she doesn’t have is any idea what to do with the rest of her life. She only knows she wants to do something meaningful, to make a difference in the lives of others.
When she’s kidnapped and taken into the Ruins as a pawn in a dispute involving her boyfriend, Bryce, her ideal world is turned upside down. What she learns while in the Ruins shakes her faith in everything she’s ever known, from Bryce, to her family, and even the Union itself.
Now Evan must choose whether to stay with Cyrus, the sexy, resourceful survivor who believes she’s in the Ruins for a reason, or return to the only life she’s ever known. But when she stumbles upon a dangerous plot that threatens both worlds, her decision could tear her apart.
The Union is a futuristic young adult romantic adventure.

The complete series:



Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo
The Union – book 1 – is only 99¢ for a limited time!



EXCERPT FROM THE UNION:

My eyes flutter open to complete darkness, my brain cloudy. My shoulders ache and my arms are numb from sleeping on them. When I try to sit up, the moments before I blacked out come rushing back, filling me with dread.

My hands are tied behind my back, so the best I can do is roll to my side. I strain into the darkness to make sense of my surroundings. I’m inside something that’s moving. It’s too dark to make out anything, so I rely on my ears. A train. But not the L-Train, nor a commuter train. Maybe a cargo. My pulse throbs behind my eyelids and I fight the urge to vomit.

Shit, shit, shit. Tears fill my eyes, but I can’t afford to cry. I need to figure a way out of this mess. Lisa and Colin must have looked for me when I didn’t come back. That only provides small comfort though, since I have no idea where I am or how they’d find me.

None of this makes any sense. The only kidnappings in the Union are due to custody disputes. Maybe Eddie had me kidnapped. Except that’s completely crazy. If he was going to do that, why wait until I’m almost an adult and already on my way to see him?

This must be about money. A ransom or something. That seems so fantastic though, like straight out of a movie. There was that one kid who disappeared a couple of years ago, but it turned out he’d just run away.

Maybe it’s got something to do with my Uncle David. As one of only seven governors, he has an incredible amount of power. Only the Prime Minister has more. Unfortunately, it’s the only thing that makes sense. If I have any hope of surviving, he might have to give them what they want.



Author Bio:
T.H. Hernandez is the author of young adult books. The Union, a futuristic dystopian adventure, was a finalist in the 2015 San Diego book awards in the Young Adult Fiction category.
She loves pumpkin spice lattes, Game of Thrones, Comic-Con, Star Wars, Doctor Who marathons, Bad Lip Reading videos, and all things young adult, especially the three young adults who share her home.
When not visiting the imaginary worlds inside her head, T.H. Hernandez lives in usually sunny San Diego, California with her husband and three children, a couple of cats, and a dog who thinks he’s a cat, affectionately referred to as “the puppycat.”
You can find her online at http://thhernandez.com

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

GIVEAWAY!

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)


$25 Amazon gift card + ebook copies of the entire series


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Polarities: Book 2 of the Pendomus Chronicles by Carissa Andrew Official Cover Reveal!


Title: Polarities
Author: Carissa Andrews
Pages: 310 pages
Expected publication: October 10th 2017


Polarities is the second novel in the Pendomus Chronicles Series. To see where it all began, be sure to check out Carissa's first novel, Pendomus: Book 1 of the Pendomus Chronicles.
With Runa separated from the only people who’ve had her back, she must go on a quest alone to uncover what it really means to be the Daughter of Five. Dropped in an unknown location, presumably still on the planet, she only has a monolithic book — the Caudex — as her guide, but it’s not giving up its answers easily. Will she be able to uncover the mysteries?
In the meantime, Trae and Kani are on a mission of their own, which may turn out to be disastrous. With Fenton dead and Runa gone, their next course of action is to strike Videus back where he’ll hurt most. Will their plan succeed to bring down the mysterious man behind the Helix? Will Runa be able to find her way back to her friends? Or is the planet doomed to destruction after all?


Author Bio: 


"An author emerges from the depths of Minnesotan waters. Sci-fi/Fantasy is my pen of choice."
Carissa Andrews is a Minnesota-based genre bending author who writes a combination of science fiction, fantasy, and dystopia. When not writing her own books, she's busy reading them. 
Her first novel, Pendomus, was the first of a three-part series and was published in 2013. Now, four years later, Polarities (Book 2) of the Pendomus Chronicles, and Revolutions (Book 3) will be released at the end of 2017. 
For more information on their release, visit Carissa Andrews' author website: www.carissandrews.com and sign up for her newsletter notifications.
Carissa is also a freelance graphic designer, writer and content creator, social media manager, and marketing professional. She writes consistently on topics of science, technology, art, writing, photography, graphic design, health, self improvement, and more. Her articles can be found published across the interwebs. Carissa is also a Top Rated Freelancer on Upwork, and can be contacted for freelancing opportunities: https://www.upwork.com/o/profiles/users/_~011fb5962824326eaa/



Sunday, 23 July 2017

Book Feature and Guest Post: Legion of the Undead by Michael Whitehead!

34682247

Title: Legion of the Undead
Author: Michael Whitehead
Published: March 21st 2017

When Roman legions march over the borders of the Empire they meet an enemy greater than any they have ever faced. 
Emperor Vespasian has ordered a push further into Germania than the legions have ever been and an enemy army is gathering to meet them. What neither side is prepared for is the darker force that they will both face. Indiscriminate and incapable of mercy, the new enemy will drive the Romans to the very brink of destruction. 
The Gates of Hades have opened and the Roman Legions must face what has escaped.
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34682247-legion-of-the-undead?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Legion-Undead-Michael-Whitehead-ebook/dp/B06XSBYJKS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500820716&sr=8-1&keywords=Legion+of+the+Undead

Guest Post: 


Our Flexible Friend
                                      By Michael Whitehead


  If you’re old and lucky enough to have grown up in the U.K. in the eighties you are sure to remember the T.V. adverts for a credit cards called Access. The tag line for the advert was “Your flexible friend.” As a writer I would argue that this is the perfect tag line to describe our friend the zombie.
  He is so flexible that even the name, zombie, is up for grabs. Walkers, biters, Z’s, Christopher Artinian’s RAMS and my own personal choice of The Risen are but a few of the dozens of names for our apocalypse bound buddies. If the name is so open to change, is it really any surprise that there is so much variety associated with zombies in general?
  Fast or slow? It’s a common question, which I’ll come back to in a bit. It’s just the start of the possibilities available to the zombie writer. We can kill them in so many wonderful ways, shooting, hitting, crushing, melting, vaporising or burning, the options are endless. The added bonus is, if we decide that those things don’t kill them, then the fun just increases. What’s better than having a burning zombie running around setting fire to anything it comes into contact with? Fair enough, you can’t drown them, but doesn’t that just add to the ways we can mess with our main characters?
  Zombies are a pretty obedient lot on the whole. Perfectly capable of being completely silent when required, they will moan on cue the moment it’s appropriate. If we ask nicely they will wait in a room for days and days but as soon as we say the word, they will escape from a locked prison cell. In fact, they can be relied on to flow out of anywhere they are being kept, like water out of a cracked jug, but only when we need them to.
  It’s not even like they need companionship. They are equally happy to spend weeks by themselves or to wander the desert with a hundred thousand mates. You could almost call them the perfect roommate, keeping themselves locked in their room until it’s time to become the party animal.
  So we come back to the age old question, fast or slow? How does a writer decide what abilities to imbue his new toys with? I mean, we might be writing about these guys for a long time. In my case it’s not the zombies but the guys they were fighting against that gave the zombies their major characteristics. It’s no good sending a bunch of slow, dumb as rocks, weak as kittens, zombies against a team of badass marines. At the same time, do we really want to waste a breed of all singing, all dancing, killing machines, against a house full of stoned students?
  In my case, I was sending our undead friends against the Roman legions. Big blocks of shield holding, armour wearing, sword wielding killers. Slow zombies were lambs to the slaughter. Dog food amongst a pack of hounds. That said, fast zombies were not going to fair much better against cavalry and archers. I needed something to give these ancient world, killing machines a run for their money. Or in my case, a jump.
  I figured that having my Risen leap into the air at the last moment would scare the crap out of a bunch of guys that spend their time hiding behind a wall of shields. More than that, the legionaries in the ranks behind are so tightly packed that the zombies landing further back would have a field day against men who couldn’t draw their swords to defend themselves. The flexibility of the zombie wins again.
  Of course the Romans will only fall for this for a short while, before they come up with ways to counteract the attack. They’re clever bastards, these Romans. I wonder if I should tell them that they haven’t seen everything these Z’s can do? Nah, I’ll let them find that out for themselves.
  The zombie is the gift that just keeps giving. We need to look after them for our own sake. They’re like a favourite pet, if we treat them nicely they will give us hours of fun, but mistreat them and they might just turn around and bite us. Give them a challenge to stop them getting bored, plenty of exercise, and of course a lot to eat, and they will remain loyal for years to come.
  Long live the zombie..........In all it’s many forms.


Legion Of The Undead by Michael Whitehead is available now on Amazon.
Find Michael at:  Twitter @gyp11111 and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelWhiteheadAuthor

For a chance to win an eCopy of the book from Amazon, comment below!!!! 

Monday, 10 July 2017

Audiobook Review: Stirrings in the Black House by Ambrose Ibsen!


    Stirrings in the Black House Audiobook
  • Written by: Ambrose Ibsen
  • Narrated by: Joe Hempel
  • Length: 4 hrs and 40 mins 
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release Date:06-29-17
  • Publisher: Ambrose Ibsen
  • Fear is a place.
  • When struggling concert pianist Emil inherits a house from his late uncle, he thinks all of his problems are solved. Absconding to the mysterious Weatherby House in the suburbs of Portland where his famous uncle composed many classical masterpieces, Emil finds the place completely empty, save for one thing: his uncle's grand piano.
  • But Weatherby House is not the ideal getaway it appears at first glance. It has a dark past and is shunned by the locals. As the days pass, strange things occur on the property, leaving Emil to wonder if he isn't losing his mind.
  • Unplaceable footsteps resound in the upstairs; dark figures peer into the windows at night despite the empty acreage that surrounds the old house, and that blasted piano can't seem to keep quiet, loosing music at turns beautiful and terrifying even as no one sits before it.
  • In time, Emil discovers that there's something else living in Weatherby House.
  • And it refuses to let him leave.

My Thoughts:

Emil loves playing the piano, but after a breakdown at one of his recitals, he doesn't have much options. He is living with his parents and is broke. Until one day he learns that his Uncle Gustav, a famous musician and composer, left him a house. What's odd is that Emil hasn't talked nor seen his Uncle in years. The last time was when Gustav attended one of Emil's recitals and told Emil he wasn't any good. So why would his Uncle leave him a house? As Emil settles into the house he learns some disturbing things about it and things aren't what they seem!!

I have quickly become a fan of Ambrose Ibsen because of how he can transport you into his stories. That isn't really a good thing though, because his stories are so incredibly creepy!!! I actually had to stop listening to this till the morning because it gave me the chills. Learning about the house and everything that happened just made it worse. It was so so scary and I just wanted Emil to leave! I know I wouldn't stay in any house where mysterious noises were happening. I'd skedaddle and get someone else to investigate!!

The author is also really good at making you connect with his characters. I felt for Emil. He is down on his luck but determined to make a better life for himself. He just wants to play music again and even starts hearing a certain song in his dreams.  I was rooting for him the whole way through. I also liked Kelly, the girl he meets when he gets to the new town. 

In all, this was a great little ghost story. Well written and developed and one that had me shivering, it's a must read. Can't wait to see what the author gives us next!!

Joe Hempel is also quickly becoming a favourite narrator of mine. He has such an easy voice to listen to that he makes it effortless. Plus he has an incredible array of tones and voices that it's like a full cast recording. Brilliant narration!!!

I was voluntarily provided this audiobook for free from the author, narrator, or publisher. This in no way affected nor influenced my thoughts.

Story: 

Narration: 

Slivers by Fiona J.R. Titchenell & Matt Carter Book Blitz and Giveaway!

Slivers (The Prospero Chronicles #3)
by Fiona J.R. Titchenell & Matt Carter
Genre: YAHorror/Scifi
Release date: June 20th 2017

Summary:


Ben
Growing up is hard, and growing up in Prospero is even harder, but I think we manage. I mean, yeah, my friends and I spend more of our time fighting a race of shapeshifting aliens than we do hanging out, but we have our fun. We go to parties, help each other with our classes, maybe even fall in love…
I’ve no illusions that we live ordinary lives, but they’re our lives, and I’m going to make sure we make the most of them whether the Splinters want us to or not.

Mina
The truce is temporary. We will not humor the Splinters forever. It's only until the Slivers can be stopped, until the army of Shards being planted among our classmates can be disassembled, until we get our hands on the thing I'd almost given up believing in.
The humanity test.
For the chance to know, once and for all, who can be trusted, some dealings with monsters must be excusable. Inevitable. Just like this feeling between Ben and me.
And that has to be temporary too.



Buy links: AmazonBarnes & Noble (Nook) | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords | Indigo

Excerpt:

1. Sabotage

Ben
At the time, my instincts told me that jumping onto the hood of a moving SUV was a brilliant idea.
After half a second of trying to find something to hold onto, I told myself I’d reconsider my instincts when I got out of this.
If I got out of this.
A voice in my ear—I hadn’t lost my Bluetooth after all. Haley’s voice, by the angry sound of it.
“Ben, what the hell are you doing?”
“I have no idea!” I yelled back, finally grabbing the roof rack with both hands and holding on for dear life, doing my best to block the windshield. The driver accelerated down the empty suburban street, jerking the wheel back and forth, trying to shake me off. I knew behind the tinted glass of this anonymous, plateless SUV were the gray faces of Slivers. Today they were supposed to be kidnapping one of Prospero High School’s nicest teachers from her home, and we were going to stop them. It wasn’t exactly a piece of cake, but we’d done it before and should’ve been able to do it again.
I looked to the sidewalks, trying to spot any other members of the Network.
There was a heavy blow against the windshield near my chest. The tinted glass spiderwebbed beneath me. The Slivers were trying to break through.
Not for the first time, I cursed The Owl.
“Everybody close on the house! They’re still on the move!” Courtney called over the party line.
“Where’s that spike strip?” Haley asked.
“About twenty feet behind Ben before he decided to go Shatner on us,” Greg answered.
The spiderweb of glass expanded as the Sliver continued to force its way through.
The next voice was impossibly calm. “If we can stop this vehicle, there’s every chance we can capture multiple Slivers at once in addition to preventing Ms. Craven’s abduction. Ben, do you think you can slow them down?”
Mina Todd.
She always asked for the impossible so reasonably.
The windshield broke open in front of me, safety glass exploding outward as a long, muscular arm with a seven-fingered, clawed hand burst through. It raked back and forth, opening up a large gash in the glass that allowed me to see the three Slivers inside. They were of slight frame with gray, hairless heads and bulging black eyes, and they had begun sprouting extra limbs and tentacles to better mangle me.
“I’ll try,” I said, diving into the jagged hole where the windshield used to be.
Their brief, startled pause before attacking was all I needed.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out one of the cheap stun guns Mina loved to make out of disposable cameras and jammed it into the driver’s chest. The creature shuddered violently, jerking the wheel to the side and stomping on the gas reflexively.
I forced the gearshift into neutral and pulled on the parking brake. The SUV lurched to a violent stop in the middle of the street.
So far so good.
Less good was the sound of snapping wood that came from the passenger seat as its occupant’s body began to shift. Its rib cage broke open into a giant, vertical mouth full of jagged teeth and swirling tentacles. The tentacles lashed out at me, wrapping around my arms and neck, and squeezed. The Sliver in the backseat joined in, grabbing the leg I tried to anchor myself with against the dashboard and forcing me closer to that terrible maw.
The passenger door flew open. The Sliver let out a howl of pain as Julie buried a large meat hook in its back and began pulling it from the car. Courtney wrapped her hands around Julie’s on the hook, throwing her track team muscles into the effort and hardly wincing when the gelatinous Splinter blood began to soil her neatly pressed blouse. The tentacles released me, and soon enough the two girls wrestled the Sliver from the vehicle and tased it.
One down.
The driver’s mutated arm reached across my chest and pulled the door shut. It looked deep into my eyes with those empty, black orbs. Its narrow mouth curled into the faintest of smiles as it held me pinned to the seat with that monstrous arm. Though its face was formless, its flesh waxy, I couldn’t help but feel something familiar in that smile and those soulless eyes.
“Soon,” it whispered to me in its chittering, popping voice.
A new arm burst from its shoulder, splitting into two insectoid hands that allowed it to shift gears and disengage the parking break simultaneously. I watched helplessly as Greg and Kevin finally caught up to us with the jury-rigged spike strip we’d built for just this occasion, tossing it uselessly to the ground just as the driver swerved out of the way.
I didn’t know if the Slivers were still going to try for Ms. Craven or if they would content themselves with taking me instead. Would they try to drag me to their Warehouse (assuming the Slivers had a Warehouse) and replace me, or would they kill me as soon as they found a nice, quiet place to pull over?
They weren’t slowing down. If anything, they seemed to be speeding up. They swerved down the street, aiming for the side of an old duplex. Ms. Craven’s duplex.
I took advantage of the driver’s focus to pull one arm free, fasten a seatbelt around me, and brace myself.
The SUV slammed through the duplex’s wall with a crushing impact that knocked the wind out of me and whipped my neck forward. The unsecured driver flew through the jagged remnants of the windshield and landed in what used to be Ms. Craven’s living room. The passenger from the backseat climbed over me with spindly spider’s legs, following the driver out the windshield.
A woman screamed inside.
Slowly, painfully, I undid my seatbelt and crawled through the windshield, landing on the floor in a dazed heap.
Somehow I stumbled to my feet and pulled the mini flamethrower from my back. It wasn’t much—just a kitchen lighter duct-taped to one of those recalled aerosol fire extinguishers that Mina had stocked up on, but it did the job. Flicking the lighter on, I lifted it high.
The driver had Ms. Craven wrapped in a set of tentacles and interlocking claws, lifting her off the ground. Ms. Craven looked at me fearfully, trying to cry out through the tentacle lashed across her mouth. The flamethrower wouldn’t do much good at this range, standing as much a chance of burning Ms. Craven. I was going to have to wait for backup.
“Let her go,” I said shakily. All of my experiences with Slivers so far had proved that they loved to talk. I only had to stall them long enough for Mina and the rest to get here.
The driver looked to the passenger, exchanging a low series of pops and clicks. The passenger nodded, calmly raising one of its three arms and pointing the hand at me, flat. Just like the driver, a small, frightening smile crossed its face.
I lost all feeling beneath my waist, my legs giving out beneath me. Then I could feel again—too well. It felt like every nerve in my body had burst into flames. Violent waves of nausea hit me, and my muscles no longer seemed to be my own.
Two realizations hit me at once.
First: they had a Shard we hadn’t documented yet.
Second: this Shard had remote control of human bodies.
There was shouting, and then Kevin and Greg slid through the massive hole in the wall, brandishing their flamethrowers and Tasers. Less than a second later, a sliding glass door opened in the next room, and Mina and Haley ran in to join us.
Only Aldo, Julie, and Courtney had yet to catch up.
The two Slivers looked at each other, then at us. They could have taken me easily, maybe even two of us. But five of us, well-armed as we were—that gave them a moment of pause. The driver dropped Ms. Craven roughly to the floor. Both of the Slivers raised their arms, and the driver looked at me, curling its lips into that faint, unpleasant smile.
“Soon,” it said again.
Long spikes of bone erupted from each of their chests and backs. They both began to laugh—a raspy, choking sound—as the base of each spike began to pulsate.
“DUCK!” Mina blurted, falling to the floor.
Everyone dropped, dozens of bony spikes narrowly missing us as they erupted from the Slivers’ bodies, lodging in the walls and shattering windows.
By the time we regained our feet, the Slivers were gone.
“Is everybody all right?” Mina asked.
There were murmurs of assent. Ms. Craven was on the floor, sobbing.
Finding out about Splinters is never easy for people to deal with under the best of circumstances, much less while being kidnapped by the extreme anti-human cult of Splinters that we’d taken to calling “Slivers” last fall.
Not that getting kidnapped by regular, garden-variety Splinters was all that much better.
I was confident that Ms. Craven would come out of her shock soon—she’d always struck me as pretty tough. Once this wore off, we’d be able to tell her the truth. Maybe even make her a part of the team.
Assuming, of course, she was really human.
Haley examined my scratches and scrapes. Content that I must have been okay, she smiled and threw her arms around my neck, hugging me close. I don’t know what was more uncomfortable, Haley’s weight against my aching ribs or the look of annoyance on Mina’s face.
“I’m fine,” I assured Haley, pulling away, “though that Shard they have sure did a number on me.”
“One of the ones The Owl showed you?” Haley asked.
“No, this one’s new,” I said.
“Dammit, I hate Shards,” Greg said, shuddering. I didn’t blame him; the last time we’d gone up against a Shard, it had made him feel a swarm of spiders crawling beneath his skin.
“Tell me about it,” I said.
“Hey, guys?” Aldo said over the group line.
“Did you secure the other Sliver?” Mina asked.
“Yeah, we got her. No problems there. What about yours?” Aldo asked.
“They’ve retreated. They haven’t doubled back your way?” Mina asked.
“No, we’re clear,” Aldo said. There was something held back in his voice I didn’t like.
“What’s wrong, Aldo?” I asked.
“Uh, I think you need to see this one for yourselves.”
“We’re on our way,” Mina said. “Haley, Greg, keep an eye on Ms. Craven.”
“I got some stuff that might calm her down,” Greg said, patting a pocket on his old army jacket.
“Don’t,” I said.
Greg shrugged. “More for me then.”
I followed Kevin and Mina out the front door. By force of habit, I looked up and down the street, hoping by some miracle that we hadn’t been spotted—or heard, for that matter. It was early Sunday morning, so the streets were mostly deserted. Typical abduction timing. The cops would be here eventually—a vehicle crashed through the side of a house has a way of summoning them sooner or later—but given the Prospero Police Department’s closeness with the main Splinter Council, this would all no doubt be hushed up pretty quickly.
“You’re gonna have to spend some quality time with Mina’s first-aid kit, brother,” Kevin observed.
“I’ve looked worse,” I said.
“You’ve looked better, too,” Mina interjected coldly.
“What’d I do?” I complained.
“You nearly ruined the operation. This didn’t go half as smoothly as our other interceptions,” Mina shot back.
I didn’t have a good defense for that. Ever since she’d started receiving those messages from the Owl, giving us the Slivers’ plans for abductions, we’d had a pretty good (though not perfect) track record of intercepting and stopping the Slivers before they could take their intended targets. Over the previous month and a half, we had managed to save the mayor’s son, Sheriff Diaz’s wife, and the head of the PTA from being taken without their ever knowing anything was going on. Things could have gone better this time, I knew that, but they also could have gone a lot worse.
“I didn’t have a choice. They know what we’ve been doing, and they’re being more careful. I did what I had to do,” I said.
“You could’ve been killed.”
“But I wasn’t!”
Kevin squeezed his way between us and put an arm around each of our shoulders.
“Let us not forget, my friends, that we did stop them from replacing Ms. Craven. It may have been sloppy, and she may have been needlessly introduced to our world, but we saved her. We did a good thing; the forces of evil are in check for another day. We should be celebrating!” Kevin said, smiling that easy smile he always used to defuse tense situations.
Mina sighed. “Please try to avoid unnecessary risks in the future.”
“Will do,” I said.
“There, isn’t that better than fighting like a couple o’ freshmen?” Kevin said.
“So says the senior commencement speaker,” I replied, punching him in the ribs softly.
“Hey, I’m as surprised as you guys are that I actually got the gig,” Kevin said, grinning.
“Right… so how long have you had that speech written?” I asked.
“Seventh grade, give or take a month.” Kevin laughed. “Come on, it’ll be my last chance to try to change a few minds here before I move on to the real world.”
“Freshmen don’t fight any appreciably more or less than any other students,” Mina said as if she’d missed half the conversation, looking a bit lost in thought.
“Really? Maybe we should ask Aldo,” Kevin joked.
Tall tales about Aldo’s secret second life, or third life in our case, had become something of a running joke among the Network, given his habit of accumulating even more scrapes and bruises than the rest of us in spite of spending most of his time behind the scenes, digging for information or tinkering with the equipment.
Underground cage fighting and undercover spy operations were common speculations.
This conversation did lead to one topic that had been eating at me lately: the passage of time. Of the eight members of the Network, Kevin and Courtney were both seniors and were going to be moving on from Prospero within the next six months. I didn’t know how we were going to keep the fight going without them. We would find a way to manage, Mina always had in the past, but it would be rough without Courtney’s organizational skills and Kevin’s ability to put things in perspective.
Julie, Courtney, and Aldo had dragged their captive Sliver to the privacy of Courtney’s backyard, a good five blocks from Ms. Craven’s, and by the time we caught up with them, they already had it tied up in copper wire and were threatening to touch the wire to a car battery. As usual, Julie (her jet black hair streaked with hot pink and red for Valentine’s Day coming up) smiled at us perkily beneath her thick goth makeup.
“Ya all right, Ben?” she asked, eying the scratches on my face.
“I’m fine.”
Aldo’s concerned expression was unsettling. Ever since our fight with Robbie, Aldo had assumed a bravura I’d never known he had in him. He was the first to cheer any victory lately. If he wasn’t smiling…
“What is it?” Mina asked, looking down at the Sliver, which looked more human now despite the few extra limbs it still possessed.
Courtney held the end of the copper wire above the car battery with a plastic pair of tongs. “Show them again.”
The Sliver hissed something in its chittering language that must not have been kind. Courtney and Mina exchanged a glance. Mina nodded. Courtney dropped the wire onto the battery’s contact.
The Sliver screamed too humanly as it shuddered and arched what could best be approximated as its back, and the wire sparked violently. When Courtney took the wire away, it reluctantly took the face of its true, human form with a look of pure spite.
It was the face of Ms. Claudette Velasquez, my calculus teacher. That she was a Splinter was not news; we had known this for a few months.
That she was working with the Slivers was a surprise. The last time we had seen her, she had a seat on the Splinter Council.
“What are you waiting for? Kill me. That’s what you want, isn’t it?” she challenged.
“We’re not that stupid,” I said.
Ms. Velasquez looked at the battery with a mix of anger and fear. “Then what is your plan for me?”
“You’re going to tell us everything you know about the Slivers’ plans,” Mina said simply, taking the tongs from Courtney and holding them a little closer to the battery. “And when we’re convinced you’re not holding out, we’ll hand you over to the Splinter Council.”
Ms. Velasquez’s eyes went wide with genuine fear. “And if you’re never convinced?”
“We turn you over to them anyway, only we don’t tell them how remorseful and cooperative you were.”
Ms. Velasquez’s eyes scanned us, probably trying to gauge whether or not Mina was telling the truth. She must have believed her, because her body visibly slumped.
“Fine. I will cooperate. Just don’t—”
She let out an ear-splitting scream, her eyes bulging—then fell still with mouth agape. We stared, trying to figure out if it was a trick, when the flesh began to melt from her bones in thick gray rivers.
“What the… no, no…” Aldo muttered, trying to scoop bits of dissolving Splinter into one of his specially rigged containment boxes, watching with confusion as the liquid continued to evaporate after the box was sealed.
The entire Splinter corpse down to the bones was deteriorating into nothingness as the raw Splinter matter became incompatible with our world.
“What the hell just happened?” Courtney asked. “She was going to talk!”
“Was she?” Mina asked doubtfully.
“Well she sure as hell wasn’t going to die!” said Aldo, staring at the last vanishing remnants of the body. “Splinters just don’t do that spontaneously.”
“They might if they got one of those in ’em, brother,” Kevin said as he pointed to what was left of Ms. Velasquez’s deteriorating bones.
What looked like a foot-long, white caterpillar made of tumors and small air sacs disentwined itself from around her spine. Slowly, it walked away from the dissolving remains of my math teacher, shaking off bits of gray slime.
Then it started to glow a faint, pulsing white, lifting off the ground and beginning to float away like a plastic bag in the breeze. Mina grabbed it with her tongs.
“That a Splinter?” Kevin asked.
“No, I don’t think so,” Mina said.
“Then what is it?” Aldo asked.
The answer hit me before Mina could say it out loud.
“A game changer,” I said. “If they’ve got themselves some sort of alien suicide pill hiding inside them to keep them compliant, we might have to reconsider our capture strategy.”
Capturing a Sliver for information had been one of our dreams ever since we started receiving information from The Owl.
Just when we thought we had the Slivers figured out, they had to come up with something like this.
I would’ve laughed if it weren’t so damn depressing.

Previous Books in the Series (click on image for Goodreads link):

 

About the Authors
Fiona J.R. TITCHENELL is an author of young adult, sci-fi, and horror fiction, including Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of). She graduated from Cal State University Los Angeles with a B. A. in English in 2009 at the age of twenty. She currently lives in San Gabriel, California, with her husband, coauthor, and amazing partner in all things, Matt Carter, and their pet king snake, Mica.Connect with Fiona J.R. Titchenell on:
Her blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest
MATT CARTER is an author of horror, sci-fi, and yes, even a little bit of young adult fiction. He earned his degree in history from Cal State University Los Angeles, and lives in the usually sunny town of San Gabriel, California, with his wife, best friend, and awesome co-writer, F.J.R. Titchenell. Check out his first solo novel, Almost Infamous, or connect with him on:
His blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

GIVEAWAY:
 
Imagination Designs
Images from the Meadow of Dreams kit by Irene Alexeeva