Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Interview with Author Bailey Ordiway

Today I have an excellent interview with multi-genre author Bailey Ordiway, who chats about his writing and his books. Enjoy.

Interview with Bailey Ordiway

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I was born in Michigan and spent a great deal of my life there. I grew up on farms and in small towns, going to small schools. After I dropped out of high school I got my GED and went to college. My major changed a dozen times throughout, but, it was a great experience. After that I joined the Army, that was cut short very quickly though. I'm now married and live in South Dakota where I own my own business and write daily.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?
American Holdovers is my third published novel and chronicles not only my time, but, also my many friends and fellow holdovers during our time as a holdover at Ft. Jackson during a hurricane and the consequences and events that transpired because of this a couple years back.

You write in several genres. Do you have a favourite? And if so, why?

I actually don't, no. I try to write in multiple genres to not get stuck in a niche and expand my writing horizons. I'd also like to have something for everyone.

Why did you write this book? What was your inspiration?

Well I thought that it was a story that needed to be told. Not very many people know that holdovers are even a thing, and it's wildly undocumented. On top of that I believed it was a good story, a series of unfortunate events occurred one after another that just makes for a good read.

What did you enjoy most about writing your book?

It was nice to relieve some of the better experiences I had with my friends and keep the experience alive for us all.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I've wanted to be a writer since I was very young. I would always look at my mothers bookshelf as a child and just think "one day I will have my name up there".

Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate? Do you have a certain writing routine?

I find it difficult to focus. So, because of that everything I write is meticulously outlined. Before I ever even open a word document I fill up multiple binders on my book. Everything from minor characters to a step by step progression of each chapter. When I do eventually write however I sit at the same desk, listen to the same music, drink the same coffee, and light the same candle.

Do you have a favourite author, or writing inspiration?

John Green is by far my favorite author. Being a fan of his is rather torturous though since he releases a book about every five years at this point.

Are you working on another book?

I will be, soon. I have been working on this one for nearly two years now though and would like to focus a bit on my blog. I enjoy writing movie reviews and it has gone to the back burner a bit while writing this book.

You can find Bailey Ordiway's latest book, American Holdovers, on Amazon.

And you can check out the rest of his books at his Amazon page.

For more on the author check out these sites.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Drabble Wednesday: The Silent Bride

Today on Drabble Wednesday, a story in three parts as we walk down a terrifying aisle into a strange world of repression and anarchy...


He signed the contract with a shaking hand. Finally to be wed at five and twenty. Most gentlemen his age had several matrimonial years under their belt, plus heirs. And here he must resort to a disreputable matchmaking service.
Quite the ignominy for his noble house.
“Are you certain she’ll be as I requested? Properly compliant?”
“Yes sir. She’ll never talk back to you.”
“Bring her in then.”
The ringing of a small bell ushered in his bride-to-be.
“Smile for your betrothed, girl.”
She did as bid, her mouth opening wide enough to show where they cut out her tongue.


Wedding Night

“She won’t say a word. Can’t, milord.” The constable cast his eyes downward in apology. “She’s mute. One of those brides from Conformist Matchmaking.”
“So, he went through with it. Now dead on his wedding night.” He strode to the woman sitting quietly in a corner, avoiding the corpse on the bed.
He knelt down, whispering. “You’ll hang for his murder.”
She smiled, her tongueless mouth in a gaping grin. She held up a bloodied left hand and slipped a dagger from beneath her skirt. In one quick motion she stabbed, and the grand Lord joined his son in death.



The boy at the newsstand held up the latest edition, and screamed out the headlines to attract customers, “Conformist Bride Killer linked to Death Cult! Killing of Lord Everett and his son one of several dozen murders! Conformist Matchmaking under investigation!”
Nearby, two women listened, the older one whispering to her companion. “Our soldiers succeeded admirably. We achieved victory.”
“At a cost. Those women will hang.”
“Some will. Others...” She shrugged. “But many more were never detected. All the key men are dead. No one suspects our revolution. By year’s end the kingdom will be ours, and women will rule.”

 © A. F. Stewart 2017 All Rights Reserved 

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Book Spotlight: Wages of Sin: Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Today I bring to book spotlight on the horror/paranormal novel Wages of Sin: Blood, Sweat, and Tears by Laurencia Hoffman (and Sophie Smith). This is the third book in the Wages of Sin series.

Wages of Sin: Blood, Sweat, and Tears by Laurencia Hoffman and Sophie Smith

Time is running out for Izzy with Darien breathing down her neck, and she is convinced that she will live out the remainder of her days in misery. Yet, in her despair, she finds hope and love. But those things are difficult to keep for anyone with the surname of Auckley.
When Melina becomes impregnated with the child of a vampire – something that was thought to be impossible – those around her know that she is in grave danger. A foe from long ago resurfaces to stake his claim, not only on Melina but her unborn child as well.
While Blake struggles with the reality of Melina's predicament, new revelations, old secrets, and fresh betrayals unfold before their very eyes.

Wages of Sin: Blood, Sweat, and Tears is available on Amazon

Book Trailer

Author Bio:

Laurencia Hoffman is the author of Casting Stones, Bittersweet, A Wish for Remembrance, Life and Death, No Love Lost, Star Crossed: Worlds Apart (published under her legal name: Jolene Poole), and co-author of The Wages of Sin series.
Laurencia lives with her family in Michigan. When she's not writing she also enjoys making her own line of natural products, satisfying her sweet tooth, and watching films.

For more on her books, check out her Amazon Page

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Drabble Wednesday: Ashen

Today on Drabble Wednesday, come explore the world of the pale, the cold, the stark and white...

The Pale Tree

It stood apart from the rest of the grove, growing tall from a small hummock. The rough bark of the tree glinted snow white with streaks of silver, its branches bare save for one month a year when it sprouted greyish buds. The only colour it showed came from a green vine twining around its trunk, and even it bloomed flowers of white in season.
Underneath the tree, entangled in its roots rested another layer of white. Slowly seeping into soil, nurturing it, those rotted corpses and bones of the poor victims buried alive.
To the Tree of Death.


Under the Frozen Earth

The sun sets on silence, and a vast frozen wasteland. No wind blows, no birds fly, not a sound breaks the settling of dusk on the world. Only the cold, the snow, and the deep frozen expanse that ever tightens its grip exist.
The cold and frost run deep. Down, down to the Old World, the world that once existed. A place of faraway dreams and summer. A realm that died in its own hubris, swallowed by the endless winter. A domain that yet whispers, locked in its prison of ice. Where the dead stare upward, frozen in their screams.


White Petals and Lace

Remains of the past.
One white rose and a scrap of ivory-coloured lace.
Resting next to a small silver box.
The pale kitchen curtains flutter in the breeze, and the sweet smell of summer grasses wafts through the window. If you listen, you can almost hear the laughter drifting across time. When the family gathered for picnics in the yard, when the aroma of potato salad and mayonnaise filled the room.
But those days are long gone.
Only the dead are left, with the last body now crumpled on the kitchen tile.
The poison from the silver box works quickly.

© A. F. Stewart 2017 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Drabble Wednesday: Freaky Fan Fiction

Something different this week for Drabble Wednesday, a little nonsense, a little snark, a little fun with cartoons and sparkly vampires...

Acme Holiday

On an ordinary moonlit night, with the stars shining, night settles over a nondescript laboratory in the middle of an unnamed city.
Inside, tiny voices can be heard...

“What are we going to do tonight, Brain?”
“The same thing we—no.” There is a long pause. “I’m tired of this rat race, Pinky. The same thing night after night. We’re going on vacation!”
“Ooooh, Brain. Narf!”
“Narf indeed. Are you thinking what I’m thinking, Pinky?”
“I believe so, Brain. But where would we get the purple frilly tutus to wear on the teacup ride at Disneyworld?”
“To the closet, Pinky!”


The Truth About Manfredi and Johnson

Amidst sparks and the smell of fish, came the question...
“Are they ready, Kowalski?”
“Aye, aye, Skipper. Project Agent Clones is a go!”

Two years later...
“That’s the last of them, Skipper. The last of the clones are dead.”
“A moment of silence, boys, for the fallen. Manfredi and Johnson. The end of their line. Good soldiers, one and all.”
A hush fell, before Skipper continued, “A true tragedy, but really who could’ve predicted it. Struck down by a rogue herd of buffalo.”
“I believe it was bison, Skipper.”
“Really? I could’ve sworn it was buffalo.”
“No, it was bison.”


End of Twilight

Black scars and broken glass marred a once beautiful house, with its landscape razed to resemble a war zone. Over the trees rose smoke and an acrid smell wafted off the smouldering piles of ashes and corpses.
Across this recent battle ground gathered the victorious army, bloodied and weary. A lone soldier bowed to the commander.
“They are all dead, Count Dracula. Bella, Edward, their ridiculously named daughter, even the werewolves.”
“Good. Then the war is over! Those mutated abominations have been vanquished! True vampire kind has finally prevailed!”
A cheer rose with the smoke of the enemy's funeral pyres.

© A. F. Stewart 2017 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Interview With Author Glenn McGoldrick

Today I have a great interview with horror and thriller author Glenn McGoldrick. He stops by to chat about writing and his short story collections. Enjoy.

Interview With Author Glenn McGoldrick

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

English was my favourite lesson during my school days, and I always enjoyed writing stories.
Then I grew up and worked in Casinos for twenty years, and spent fifteen of those years travelling on cruise ships.
Leaving ships in 2011, I now live in the North East of England. When I’m not busy writing, I enjoy music, movies, beach walks and beer.

How long have you been writing, and how many books have you published to date?

I have been writing for four years. I have published two collections of short stories, available on Amazon.

What did you hope to accomplish by publishing your book?

In February 2017 I published a collection of some of my stories on Amazon Kindle. Researched for a couple of months, did all the work, even the cover photo. I wanted to be able to say that I’d done absolutely every part of the process myself. It turned out quite well, I think; it was stressful at times, but very rewarding, and it’s great to see my book on Amazon. Then I went and did it all again with my second collection!

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I enjoyed writing stories as a young kid at school. Then I grew up, had a career and did some travelling. I saved some money, took some time off and thought about what I really wanted to do in life.
I’d always enjoyed reading, and I read some books about writing professionally. Then I took a writing course, wrote some stories of my own and enjoyed it. Then I just carried on writing stories, hoping to improve a little each time. And I still like to read a lot.

Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate? Do you have a certain writing routine?

I get lots of ideas from newspaper articles. I expand the original idea, work on it for three or four days, ending up with lots of notes on paper. Then when I’ve got most of the story figured out, I’ll get to my laptop, start typing it up, breaking it down by scene, in random order. I usually find that the first and last scenes are the easiest ones for me.

What is your greatest challenge as a writer?

Finding the time to write. Or, setting aside the other stuff, everyday stuff, all the little mundane jobs that need attending to – sometimes it’s a challenge to put it all out of my mind, leaving me able to focus exclusively on writing.

Do you have a favourite author, or writing inspiration?

I’m an avid reader, particularly enjoying James Lee Burke (Robicheaux series), Robert B Parker (Spenser series) and Lawrence Block (Scudder series).
I usually bookmark my favourite passages from their books, then revisit them later, hoping to soak up some of their skills!

What advice would you give beginning writers?

Just sit down and write. Never mind the laundry, or making a snack, or going for a bike ride – sit your butt down and write. There’ll always be other stuff to do, so get to it after you write.

What do you like to do when you're not writing? Any hobbies?

I like movies and music, and I’m very interested in politics. I’m out on my bicycle most days, and I like going for walks in the country. And you can’t beat sitting by the sea, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper!

Glenn McGoldrick's books are available on Amazon: 

Glenn McGoldrick worked in casinos for 20 years, and 15 of those 20 years were spent on cruise ships, seeing the world. He's now settled back home, in the Northeast of England. He writes in the horror/thriller genre.

For more on the author check out his Website.

You can also find him on Twitter: @G_T_McGoldrick

Friday, 26 May 2017

Interview With Author Paul Trinetti

Today I have an interview with author Paul Trinetti who chats about writing and his futuristic thriller trilogy, the Vexton Series. Enjoy!

Interview With Paul Trinetti

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I’m 48 years old. I was born in Toronto, and have lived there my entire life. I’m single and have never been married. I worked as the accountant for my family’s construction company for twenty-five years. I’m an avid music and sports fan. I enjoy spending quality time and sharing laughs with family and friends. I would describe myself as someone who enjoys learning, but is also fascinated by the mysteries of life.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

The Preservation Plan is the third and final book in my Vexton Series. The series is a story of a near-future America. An America so politically divided that it is in a battle to remain independent and not be auctioned off like cattle. In this final segment, the country reaches its breaking point and is hanging by a thread. Once so powerful – Now  powerless?? – it’s up to the players involved, with the will of the people, to bridge the divide and come together as one and save their cherished land.

How long have you been writing?

I began writing poetry, lyrics, and short stories in my early teen years. It was in 2012 when I developed an outline for the Vexton Series and began writing in earnest.

Of all the books you've written, do you have a favourite?

Of the three books, the first book, MANUFRACTURED holds an extra special place in my heart. It’s where I developed the core characters and introduced the world my story is based on.

You write in several genres. Do you have a favourite? And if so, why? And why did you want to incorporate them all into your series?

Corporate and political corruption would lead the way. I’ve always found it interesting trying to determine who, and who isn’t sincere, which makes for fascinating stories.
The reason I incorporated all these genres is because they are universal in nature, and my goal with the Vexton Series was to create a story that would be epic in proportion and resonate with a wide audience.

Are there particular challenges in writing for your core readership?

I wrote the story as a witness to the world around us, therefore I had to make sure I captured universal themes, but made them not only interesting, but also entertaining.

What did you enjoy most about writing your books?

The challenge of threading all the elements together while developing interesting characters.

Did anything surprise you about the process of writing your books?

Book 1 – The word-building aspect was grueling at times. But the creative process for books 2 and 3 flowed somewhat effortlessly.

What did you hope to accomplish by publishing your books?

As far as the actual story is concerned my hope is to: entertain, provoke thought, frighten and bring a chuckle to the reader by being original as can be.
My long term goal is to have my story developed into a motion picture or television series.

What advice would you give beginning writers?

My belief is that any form of art has to come from the heart in order for it to touch others in a profound manner. As far as writing is concerned, my advice would be to use your imagination and never be afraid to create your own little world. Imagination is a powerful gift. From a technical standpoint, pay attention to the amount of and placement of info dumps and action scenes in order to establish quality pacing. Also, constantly revising and editing your work might seem frustrating, but it will pay off in the end. Everybody has a different style of writing, so I think it’s important for each individual to find what works best for them.

The Vexton Series is available in paperback on:

And on Kindle:

And find more about the author and his books at these sites:

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Drabble Wednesday: Dark Feathers

Today on Drabble Wednesday we fly with our dark winged friends, and death...

The Termination Onyx

Across the sky shadows grew.
Mottled streaks of soft gray into coal black patches covered blue and spread through the white clouds. From the tip of the world to the farthest horizon the shadows crept, and when they reached around the planet, the feathers fell as rain.
Stygian dark and sharp as razors, they sliced through air and trees and flesh, and when they struck the ground the earth shook and cracked. Cities became ruin, mountains fractured, and seas boiled.
Apocalypse, the inhabitants called it.
Annihilation Day.
The Universe knew it better by another name.
The Day the Angels Died.


The Ravens

On darkling wings the ravens flew.
A black spot across the midday sun, the trio of birds soared over the meadows and the forests, past the farms and towns. Every door closed against them, every shutter barred to their presence. The people of Arajyn knew what the ravens heralded.
Every soul waited in fear for its coming.
Children sobbed, parents prayed. And gave thanks when the ravens passed them by.
Until the birds descended, roosting in a tree outside the village of Syarien. Every voice in that village wailed, knowing they had been chosen.
Sacrifices to the God of Death.


Black Wings and a Story

Tell me a story you said.
So I did.
But you didn’t like the ending, did you?
I can’t say that I blame you. I tricked you, just a bit. You didn’t know what would happen.
Now did you?
If you did, if you knew who I was, then you wouldn’t have listened.
Would you?
No one wants the Raven King to tell them a story.
For, you know, my stories are never free.
Their ending always come with a price.
Poor you. You paid, didn’t you?
You paid when I plucked out your eyes, and sliced out your tongue.

© A. F. Stewart 2017 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Book Spotlight: A Life Removed

Today I have another spotlight, this time for the crime thriller, A Life Removed by Jason Parent. Enjoy!

 A Life Removed by Jason Parent

Detectives Bruce Marklin and Jocelyn Beaudette have put plenty of criminals behind bars. But a new terror is stalking their city. The killer’s violent crimes are ritualistic but seemingly indiscriminate. As the death toll rises, the detectives must track a murderer without motive. The next kill could be anyone… maybe even one of their own.

Officer Aaron Pimental sees no hope for himself or humanity. His girlfriend is pulling away, and his best friend has found religion. When Aaron is thrust into the heart of the investigation, he must choose who he will become, the hero or the villain.

If Aaron doesn’t decide soon, the choice will be made for him.

A Life Removed is available on Amazon

Author Bio:

In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home. The region offers an abundance of settings for his writing and many wonderful places in which to write them. He currently resides in Southeastern Massachusetts with his cuddly corgi named Calypso.
In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge . . . as a civil litigator. When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it's harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he's back in the legal field . . . sorta. But that's another story.
When he's not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists in a knot or takes somebody's head off - he misses the appeal). And read and write, of course. He does that too sometimes.

Please visit the author on Facebook, on Twitter, or at his Website for information regarding upcoming events or releases, or if you have any questions or comments for him.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Book Spotlight: Conquest (The SciFan™ Universe Series Book 1)

Today I bring a delightful treat with a spotlight for the SciFan novel, Conquest (The SciFan™ Universe Series Book 1) by Aleric Elos. I have a look at the book and an excerpt, so enjoy!

 Conquest (The SciFan™ Universe Series Book 1)

by Aleric Elos

A primeval darkness threatens to destroy mankind...
The world's largest gaming platform in the entire industry is led by a man with many secrets. The popular game DarkForce features the World of Zion which has been plagued by the destructive will of the Leviathan for centuries. What gamers don't know is that the World of Zion actually exists, and the Leviathan has fed off of the souls of men and his fodder has become scarce. He now turns to Earth with an insatiable hunger. Only a woman from Earth who levels up to discover a divine inner power can challenge Earth's Apocalyptic Fate.

You can find Conquest on Amazon


Shadows of Darkness

The voices in his mind were barely a whisper now, but they were always present. It had taken him hundreds of years to subdue them, and he feared that his true intentions would soon be discovered. Though Timur Demyan had long ago yielded up his soul unto the Leviathan, he still followed his own agenda while he fulfilled the will of his Master.
Timur hid in the shadows of the park, slipping through the darkness from one shadow to the next. His prey walked quickly with eyes darting to each side like a bird weary of predators. A frantic look of desperation was plastered over the other man’s unshaven face as he flipped open an antiquated cell phone.
“Come on…” he heard Jason Bridger murmur to the phone as he approached the fountain, “Answer already!”
“Allan, this is Jason. I know we haven’t spoken in a long time, but I need your help. I’ve stumbled across some disturbing information that involves one of your firm’s clients. I need to speak with you in private immediately. As soon as you get this, meet me on the east side of Buckingham Fountain. There’s little time.”
The instant Jason ended the call, Timur stepped out of the shadows, “Indeed, you have very little time.”
Jason spun around with his concealed pistol cocked and ready, “Back off, old man!”
“Ah,” Timur limped forward with his cane in his crippled right hand while he brandished a handgun with his left, “Not until you return what belongs to me.”
“I’m not letting you get away with this.” Jason shook his head adamantly.
“This scene is all too familiar.” Timur chuckled as he cocked his handgun and aimed, “This is exactly how your colleague died.”
Without a second’s hesitation, Jason pulled the trigger. Timur fell backwards with the sudden impact that hit him in the face. Seconds later a strange greenish glow surrounded his body, and then he disappeared. Jason’s eyes grew wide, and then a bullet ripped through his abdomen. And then another through his chest. Clutching the wounds, he absently dropped his pistol as he fell to his knees.
Timur reappeared from another shadow and the strange glow around his body began to dissipate. He approached with a silencer affixed to the tip of his handgun and picked up the old thumb drive that had fallen out of Jason’s hand.
“As I said earlier, you indeed have very little time.” Timur sneered as he placed the tip of his handgun against Jason’s forehead, “And I might add, your friend Allan has very little time as well.”

Author Bio:

Aleric Elos is the Award-Winning Author of The SciFan™ Universe series. He likes to play MMORPGs, and since he doesn't have the software engineering experience to develop his own games he decided to express his creativity in written form. 

You can find him on: 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Drabble Wednesday: It’s Lonely in Space

Today Drabble Wednesday travels the spaceways, the great void between worlds where anything can happen...


Can you remember?
The planetary existence, the warmth of a sun?
There is no warmth out here, the stars are cold, distant. Dangerous. Like most everything. Even the smallest thing can kill you. Yet they send us out, and we go. Sometimes I wonder why. What appeals to us about black void of space? Wouldn’t we be safer huddled beneath the gentle stars, oblivious of the fate that awaits?
I wish I didn’t know. About the alien armada.
I wish I wasn’t surrounded by outlying stars, floating in an escape pod.
And most of all, I wish I didn’t remember.



Can you hear it in the walls?
The scratches and the chittering between the bulkheads. Something’s in there, poking around. My lieutenant thinks I’m imaging it, says it’s just the older electronics on the station acting up. What does he know? He’s a newbie off fresh Earth Station, no real deep space experience.
Just listen. Down there by the open vent shaft. You’ll hear it good there. That’s it, right there.
You can hear them now, can’t you. All up close.
Please stop screaming. Someone will notice.
I’m sorry., but they said if I feed them, they’ll leave me alone.



I wonder what day it is? Or what year?
It’s hard to keep track in this metal prison.
I can hear the hum and whir of the machinery, even feel the ship’s vibrations. I think. That might be my imagination.
Most people dream in these stasis pods, blissfully unconscious and unaware. But one percent stay awake. Unable to move, open their eyes, or scream. Trapped in their own bodies, marking time as they go insane, a perfectly preserved physical specimen until the pods opens.
Guess which category I fall into?
Stuck for fifty years as a living corpse.
Lucky me.

© A. F. Stewart 2017 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

A Spotlight on Clockwork Wonderland

Today we drop down the dark, dark rabbit hole to emerge in a Wonderland of horrors. Today, the spotlight shines through the shadows on the creepy horror anthology Clockwork Wonderland...

Plus, I have an excerpt from one of the stories, so enjoy!

HorrorAddicts.net Press presents… Clockwork Wonderland

Clockwork Wonderland contains stories from authors that see Wonderland as a place of horror where anything can happen and time runs amok. In this book you’ll find tales of murderous clockworks, insane creations, serial killers, zombies, and a blood thirsty jabberclocky. Prepare to see Wonderland as a place where all your worst nightmares come true. You may never look at classic children’s literature the same way again.

Edited by Emerian Rich

Cover by Carmen Masloski

Featuring authors:

Trinity Adler
Ezra Barany
Jaap Boekestein
Dustin Coffman
Stephanie Ellis
Jonathan Fortin
Laurel Anne Hill
N. McGuire
Jeremy Megargee
James Pyne
Michele Roger
H.E. Roulo
Sumiko Saulson
K.L. Wallis

With Foreword by David Watson

Clockwork Wonderland is available on Amazon

Excerpt from Jabberclocky by Jonathan Fortin

As the fist hit Henry’s jaw, the impact rippled through his whole body.
“That the best you can do, you little shit?” his father roared, looming over him like an irate bear. His father’s hands, Henry knew, were accustomed to detailed, delicate work, bearing tools tiny enough to make clocks tick again. Then, when night fell and the shop closed, one of those hands would curl around a bottle, and the other would form a beefy fist. Henry’s father’s hands, it seemed, could take whatever shape the situation required.
Henry had never had dexterous hands like his father’s. Henry’s hands were clumsy and frail, and shook when he tried to grip tiny tools. If he ever tried to throw a punch, it would be his hand that was hurt. And just then, as he fell to the floor, the pain seemed to rattle his very bones.
“Try again!” His father picked up a clock and threw it to the floor. Gears blasted out, one nicking Henry in the cheek. “Try again, or no dinner!”
Although it hurt to even move, Henry pushed himself up and crawled like a rat to pick up the scattered pieces of clock. As he examined them, he had a rush of panic.
“They’re...dented,” Henry said.
His father brought the bottle to his lips for another swig before coughing.
“Dented? Must have been because you weren’t careful enough the first time, you ungrateful little shit. Dented. Pft. I’ll show you what’s dented.”
He stomped over. Henry, hypnotized in fear, dropped the clock, and even more pieces scattered away.
Father had a very bad hangover the next morning.
“Go open the shop,” he grunted from his bed, and Henry obeyed. Henry knew how to man the register and take orders. In truth, he didn’t mind doing it all on his own. It was quieter. Less stressful.
The way Henry saw it, all he needed was a chance. Every day, he watched his father in the shop, seeing him smile so sweetly to the customers. The bear that came out at night was a purring teddy during business hours. But even sober, his father might glance at Henry from the corner of his eye, and the ferocity would be there, warning what might come once night fell. The fear was suffocating. Whenever Henry tried to repair a broken clock, his father’s eyes would be on him, and Henry knew what would be coming if he failed. If he could just work on a clock without his father watching, then maybe he’d get it right.
Henry opened the drapes in the front window and saw the most peculiar thing outside. A man in a top hat was twirling through the streets like some kind of gentleman ballet dancer. Only, the more Henry looked, the less the man seemed like a gentleman at all.
The man’s clothes were tattered, with many rips and brown stains that might have been from mud, or perhaps tea. His hat was absurdly tall, and his waistcoat and tailcoat both had exceedingly long tails that snaked down to the backs of his knees and swished in wide, hungry arcs.
It was a cold, rainy morning, and the street was empty save for the man. He seemed to take no notice of the rain, but merely continued to spin and spin, his arm outstretched, perpetually pointing every which way his body turned. What on Earth could possess a man to do such a thing? He had to be mad. Yes, he was obviously a gentleman who’d lost his mind and—for whatever reason—had not yet been escorted to Bedlam.
So, it was quite alarming when the man stopped spinning at the exact moment his outstretched finger pointed in Henry’s direction.
Henry’s heart stopped. It was the first time he could see the man’s face clearly, and his visage froze Henry to the core. It was a gnarled face, with a nose that seemed as long and jointed as a bent finger. The man’s eyes were wide with glee, and his smile was twisted into a grin that resembled a jagged series of arches.
Panicking, Henry ducked away from the window, but only a moment later, he heard a knock upon the door.
“Is this a clock repair shop?” came a muffled voice. “I find myself in need of your services.”
Henry crouched in the corner, quivering. Unlocking the door was the last thing left to do, and it was certainly the last thing he wanted to do.
“Pardon my rudeness, but are you indeed open?” The knock became a furious rapping.
Above Henry were shelves where clocks ticked incessantly. Combined with the rapping on the door, Henry’s head rattled. All the same, his father had ordered him to open the shop and if Henry did not do that, he would certainly be in danger of a beating. The man in the tall hat was strange, but that didn’t necessarily mean he was dangerous. Henry’s father, however, most certainly was.
Henry reluctantly pulled himself to his feet and went to open the door. The man stood outside, his eyes and grin both unnaturally wide.
“I apologize for any trouble. I seem to, herm, my clock seems to be broken. I should very much like aid.” There was an unusual affectation to the man’s speech, and his eyes had a confused wildness to them, as though he wasn’t quite certain whether Henry was real or not.
“I would be happy to help you, sir. May I see the item in question?” Despite his fear, Henry greeted him with the same smile he’d seen his father give customers many times before.
“But of course, child.” The man with the tall hat dug into his pocket and pulled out a pocket watch. Henry couldn’t help but notice the man’s remarkably long fingers.
Henry took the watch and jerked his hand back, as if trying to snatch a paper from a roaring fire. The man took no notice of Henry’s nervousness. Instead, he tossed a bundle of notes onto the floor and bowed.
“I shall check in tomorrow at nine o’clock precisely. I trust it will be done by then?”
“Well, er—”
“Splendid!” the man interrupted and disappeared back into the rainy street.

To read the full story and more Clock-inspired, Alice Horror, check out Clockwork Wonderland

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