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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Far Beyond Woman Suffrage by David McCracken

 


Far Beyond Woman Suffrage 
The Prices of the Vote
Book One
David McCracken

Genre: Alternative History
Date of Publication:  8/25/21
ISBN: 979-8464929616
ASIN: B09DPSTN35
Number of pages: 104
Word Count: 32,514
Cover Artist: PixelStudio

Tagline: “It isn’t just about women in long skirts finally voting!”

Book Description: 

It isn’t just about women in long skirts finally voting. The racists and the rich know that, and the politicians worry.

Mercy Martin has an inside view as the battle for woman suffrage nears a climax, but she encounters many puzzles.

So many women and Southern states oppose votes for women.  

So many people are afraid it would bring on free love, abandonment of family, economic catastrophe, or communism.

So many suffragists are willing to abandon black women voters.

From an innocent teen to a young adult, Mercy has a central role in the campaign. She advances from confinement in a suffragist jail cell to the national campaign for the suffrage amendment. She campaigns around Tennessee, ending at the capitol for the explosive climax in the last state that might ratify the amendment and grant the vote to women. 

Why should something so clearly right be so hard, and why were some bitter compromises made? Mercy is right in the middle, relied on by key players. Along the way, she acquires a husband, a baby, and better parents than she was born with.

This is an intimate view via alternative historical fiction, as accurate as it can be and as thoughtful and moving as it must be. In this first novella of a series, Mercy jumps into the campaign for woman suffrage and prepares for a vital role in the coming decades. She’ll continue on into the wider civil rights struggle growing out of woman suffrage. 



Excerpt  

Anita and I have taken a circuit northwest from Knoxville and back around to the northeast. We’re canvassing as many legislators and their key supporters as we can track down. Finding them is the tricky part. Sometimes we go as far as the road goes and finish the journey to an isolated farmstead on foot, with our dresses trailing in the dust. We’ve been drenched by rainstorms, chased by watchdogs, and even had to change a flat tire, which isn’t that easy in a long dress, but we find our men.

Some seem to be avoiding us, like Representative Cletus Jacobs. He keeps barely visible off in his woodlot. We mark him as a “no.” Senator Phil Gridley graciously, really graciously, says we are communists betraying our gender, our state, and the country. Fortunately, the next two are warm and positive. However, Sen. Billy Broadus says he is nervous the women’s vote will support that anti-American League of Nations. He seems mollified when we point out it would first have to go through a vote in the U.S. Senate, where it is sure to fail.

“Anita,” I ask, back in the car, “why is there such a fear of communism here?”

“Well, with the recent Russian Revolution and the widespread unrest in European countries after the war, people are nervous, especially people with property. You may not realize that Communism seemed on the verge of sweeping across Europe after the war, with uprisings all over. I guess women are considered softies who might vote communists in or go easy on them. Maybe they’re especially sensitive in the South on the loss of property since their human property, slaves, were ‘taken’ at the end of the Civil War.”

“I guess big business is hyping the fear for their own purposes, against labor unions.”

“You’ve got it, Honey!  That started before the Russian Revolution, as a way to smear and foil labor unions.”

“I don’t guess we could ever reach people so concerned about communism, however they got concerned!"

“ ’Not bloody likely,’ to use a term  Alice Paul picked up from a friend over from England. (The shocking phrase was uttered by Eliza Dolittle in George Bernard Shaw’s new hit play, Pygmalion. Alice loves throwing  it out.)”

Driving east from Livingston, on a dim overcast day, we have a scare. Three white-robed riders and horses are moving into position as if to stand astride the road and block our path. Behind us, we see three more horsemen trotting out of a grove we had just passed and following us.  We look at each other and gulp. It doesn’t look good, even if their robes look rather shabby. A lonely road doesn’t seem ideal for a twilight chat with six mounted Klansmen. Luckily, they hadn’t reckoned how fast our Blue Knight moves or how well Anita can handle it. Just as the ones in front are getting into position, Anita swerves far over onto the left edge of the road and races onward. The nearest horse nervously dances back, then rears and throws his rider as we roar around them.

“I thought the Klan was dead,” I say.

 “Apparently, that Birth of a Nation propaganda film of a few years back is reviving them. Next, they’ll burn a cross.”

 “Well, they’re eating your dust. Great driving!”

“I hope we’ve seen the last of them. How’d they know where we were?”

I think and respond, “Was Senator Broadus actually less friendly than he seemed?”

“I wondered why he spent so long in idle chatter before he let us go,” offers Anita.




About the Author:

David McCracken became a political activist when the Supreme Court ruled against school segregation. Fellow students joined him in urging the school board in Winchester, KY, to integrate immediately. He campaigned for a Democratic governor and joined the ACLU before he graduated from the University of Kentucky. After debating at U.K., he got a degree in economics and a job with the U.S.  Department of Commerce.

When his daughters approached school age, he became increasingly concerned with how he wanted them schooled. Researching that, he decided teaching was what he really wanted to do. He got a master's degree in elementary education at Murray State University. He taught for several years, until the fact that his girls qualified for reduced-price lunches based on his salary got to him. Ronald Reagan's anti-government policies prevented him from returning to government work, so he took programming courses and shifted careers again. Programming was like being paid to solve puzzles all day, but teaching eventually drew him back until retirement.

For many years of this time, he was working intermittently at a novel that became Fly Twice Backward: Fresh Starts in Times of Troubles. This concerned his waking on his twelfth birthday, trying to figure out what had happened, following his new opportunities, and ultimately outliving an evil president resembling Donald Trump. After thirty-six years, David finally published it as an interactive alt-history Kindle novel. He soon started Far Beyond Woman Suffrage: The Prices of the Vote, an alt-history novelette dealing with the campaign for woman suffrage. He finished this piece in just ten months. At 81, he is bold(?) enough to plan this as the first of a six-volume set dealing with the far-reaching results and implications of woman suffrage. His completed novels and another in the works are presented for discussion on a new website, DoFancifulFlights.com

David now lives with his third wife, stepdaughter, and step-grandson near Winchester, VA. He has a son from his second marriage, six grandchildren, and two stepchildren. And a funny black dog with four white feet.








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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Tales from The Foxes of Foxham ZANI’s Tales Trilogy by Matteo Sedazzari

 


Tales from The Foxes of Foxham 
ZANI’s Tales Trilogy
Matteo Sedazzari

Genre: Light Fantasy, Humour, Young Adult. 
Publisher: ZANI 
ISBN: 13-978-1838462420
Number of pages:207 
Word Count: 60428 

Tagline: A magical adventure story, packed with colourful characters and exciting situations, in a battle of good versus evil. Set in 1950’s Naples and Norfolk.

Book Description:

It is the late fifties and the Witches of Benevento are determined to plunge the world into darkness by kidnapping and sacrificing the jolly and young Neapolitan fox, Alberto Bandito, in a sinister ritual.

Yet, fortunately for Alberto, he is rescued, then guarded, by his loving mother Silvia and mob boss father Mario with his troops, a good witch Carlotta with an uncanny resemblance to Marilyn Monroe, the Bears of Campania, the boxing wolves’ brothers Francesco and Leonardo, and other good folks of Naples and beyond.

However, their protection is not enough, for Alberto has been cursed. So, the young fox, along with his family, has to travel to the village of Foxham in Norfolk, the spiritual home of foxes across the world, to rid himself of this spell. The ritual has to be performed by a good fox witch, Trudi Milanese, but there is a problem, Trudi doesn’t know she is a witch….

Tales from The Foxes of Foxham is a magical adventure story, packed with colourful characters and exciting situations, in a battle of good versus evil.

Amazon UK     Amazon     Blackwells    Hive




Excerpt 1

Upon hearing the conceited tone of Andriana’s declaration, Carlotta glances at Francesco and Leonardo, and says, ‘Which one of you fancies your chances then?’

Leonardo, the elder of the brothers, slowly takes off his three-button tailor-made jacket, neatly folds it, places the item of clothing slowly on the ground, then valiantly declares, ‘I do.’

Then the fearless wolf runs towards the red-capped goblins, who quickly disperse upon seeing the oncoming, scary-looking animal. Andriana gazes at Leonardo with astonishment, which turns to shock as Leonardo leaps high into the air, grabbing the front handle of Andriana’s broomstick.

‘Get off me, you crazy filthy wolf,’ Andriana screams, yet the courageous and strong Leonardo shakes her broomstick so hard in mid-air, regardless of his own safety. Leonardo has one thing on his mind—for Andriana to drop her leather satchel of spells.

His bravery pays off, as he rattles the flying broomstick so hard that Andriana has no choice but to use both her arms to steady it, allowing the bag to slide all the way down her left arm and into the cypress trees sloping on the roadside.

‘No!’ screams Andriana, as she sees her weapons of mayhem drop with so much force that they break many branches before hitting the dusty and hard soil, which explodes upon impact.


About the Author:

Matteo Sedazzari developed the zest for writing when he produced a fanzine entitled Positive Energy of Madness during the height of Acid House in 1989.  

Positive Energy of Madness dissolved as a fanzine in 1994 and resurfaced as an ezine 2003 which became ZANI, the ezine for counter and pop culture in 2009,  promoting online optimism, along with articles, reviews and interviews with the likes of crime author Martina Cole, former pop star and actor Luke Goss, soul legend Bobby Womack, Clem Burke of Blondie, Chas Smash of Madness, Shaun Ryder of Black Grape/Happy Mondays and many more.

After producing and writing for his own publication, Matteo’s next step was to pen a novel, A Crafty Cigarette – Tales of a Teenage Mod.

Matteo is influenced by Hunter S Thompson, Harlan Ellison, Kenneth Grahame, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, Irvine Welsh, DH Lawrence, Alan Sillitoe, Frank Norman, Joyce Carol Oates, Mario Puzo, Iceberg Slim, Patricia Highsmith, Joe R. Lansdale, Daphne du Maurier, Robert Bloch, George Orwell, Harry Grey and many more.  American comics like Batman, Superman and Spiderman, along with Herge’s Tintin, also provide Matteo with inspiration.

Matteo also finds stimulus from many films like Twelve Angry Men, A Kind of Loving, Blackboard Jungle, Z, Babylon, This Sporting Life, Kes, Midnight Cowboy, Scum, Wild Tales, The Boys, Midnight Express, La CommareSecca, Dr Terror’s House of Horrors, so on and so forth.

As for music, anything that is passionate, vibrant and with heart is always on Matteo’s playlist.

Matteo Sedazzari resides in Surrey, which he explores fanatically on his mountain bike. Matteo supports Juventus, travels to Italy and Spain, eats and dresses well, as he enjoys life in the process.







Monday, September 20, 2021

A Few Good Elves Toy Soldier Saga Book One by Diane Morrison

 


A Few Good Elves
Toy Soldier Saga 
Book One
Diane Morrison

Genre: Science fantasy, military science fiction, space opera, epic fantasy, dark fantasy, blackpowder fantasy
Publisher: Aradia Publishing
Date of Publication: September 7, 2021
ISBN Ebook 978-1-9995757-5-5
ISBN Hardcover 978-1-9995757-4-8
ISBN Paperback 978-1-9995757-3-1
ASIN: B09D79BJW1
Number of pages: 490
Word Count: 155k
Cover Artist: Cayotica

Tagline: A dark blackpowder fantasy military space opera

Book Description: 

Toy Soldier: A derogatory slang term for an elven marine.

Battles great and terrible, small and bitter, raged across Known Space as the wars of Elves and Orcs played out their legacy of hatred across the stars themselves. Epics would be written, songs would be sung; but wars are fought by real people with loves and families and homes.

All Shaundar Sunfall ever wanted to be was a Star-Pilot. Raised on his father's ship, he has found an affinity for the stars -- although as a mixed-race elf and a bit of troublemaker, he often runs afoul of his commanding officers.

Now the orcs have returned to once again wage war on their ancient enemies. The fate of his people is at stake. Although he is too young, Shaundar lies about his age to join up. But he is about to learn that no matter what the sagas say, war is no great adventure.

A bit like what would happen if Horatio Hornblower met the Honorverse, met Lord of the Rings, met Game of Thrones, A Few Good Elves is part naval adventure, part high fantasy, part space opera, and part war novel.

CW: graphic violence, sexual violence, torture, war, genocide


Excerpt
All about on the decks of the Queen’s Dirk, the crew were running and screaming. There were too many dead and wounded to count, and the Chiurgeons had elves spread out over the tables in the mess, the garden, even the Captain’s bed.

Shaundar sensed Lieutenant Sylria on the remains of the fo’c’sle, now mostly a debris field, commanding the mages to ready spells and the weapons crews to continue their attack. He could also see the gravity well of the Vengeance, just now coming about on their starboard side, though he was certain that it had been much longer than they needed.

“I have the helm!” Shaundar cried.

“Get us out of here, Shaundar!”

He turned his head and studied the rapidly oncoming Balorian ship through both the hole in the starboard wall, and Queenie’s senses. Even with Sylria’s magical boost, he knew this to be hopeless.

“I can’t do it, Sylria,” he said in a hollow voice. “They’re just too fast.”
Sylria looked down at her feet for a long moment. She squared her shoulders. “Then we shall die with honour.”

Shaundar nodded. Amazingly, there was no fear, just sadness, that he would not see his family or Narissa again. “Sails, evasive manoeuvres!” Shaundar commanded. “Hard down!”

As the insectoid ship neared, it closed those claw-like limbs to grapple them. But under Shaundar’s power and direction, they dodged the attempt. Shaundar saw a whole army of armoured Balorian warriors pour out onto the deck and stand to the rails.

Sylria shrieked, “Mages, fire!” and she let off a lightning bolt herself. There were only a couple of elves left alive topside to obey Sylria’s command, but they responded. Flames and electricity washed over the orcs, enough that it stopped them in their tracks and aborted their boarding attempt.

“Bring ‘er about,” Shaundar ordered. “Hard astarboard!”
Queenie answered sluggishly with all the shorn rigging and shorthanded crew, but she came back around. As they swooped back towards each other, Sylria’s command rang out. Defiantly, the Queen’s Dirk fired another volley.

The Balorians greeted it with a broadside of their own as they both swung starboard at the last moment. The larboard ballistae both missed, but two of the three others dented the hull. The third pierced it once more on their larboard side with a ringing tear of sheet metal.

Their catapult did not fire at all. Whether it was because it was damaged, or because there were too few crew left to man it, Shaundar would never know.

The decapitated Vengeance had only one gun it could bring to bear on the pass, but it fired that larboards bombard at point blank range. The fo’c’sle simply collapsed like a sandcastle. Sylria was swallowed into the sinkhole. Shaundar roared in horror and pain but could not hear his own voice in the overwhelming noise.

There was no sail crew left to command, but hoping against hope, Shaundar bellowed anyway,

“Hard aport!” The mizzenmast was shorn away, and he knew it, but knowing there was nothing else to be done, he yelled out, “Prepare to ram! All hands brace for impact!” just as Garan had attempted.

He didn’t flinch as the Queen’s Dirk collided head-on with her foe.


About the Author:

Diane Morrison lives with her partners in the Okanagan Valley, BC, where she was born and raised. She has been published in SFF markets such as Terra! Tara! Terror!, Air & Nothingness Press, and Cossmass Infinities. Under her pen name “Sable Aradia” she is a successful Pagan author, a musician, and a Twitch streamer and podcaster.  She likes pickles and bluegrass, and hates talking about herself.


https://dianemorrisonfiction.com/

http://sablearadia.tumblr.com/

https://www.twitch.tv/sablearadia

https://www.ko-fi.com/sablearadia

https://www.patreon.com/SableAradia

https://aradiapublishing.wordpress.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/sablearadia

https://www.youtube.com/user/sablearadia

https://www.worldanvil.com/w/toysoldiersaga

https://www.amazon.com/author/dianemorrison

https://www.worldanvil.com/author/SableAradia

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/diane-morrison


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Friday, September 17, 2021

Grenade Bouquets Runaway Train Book Two by Lee Matthew Goldberg

 


Grenade Bouquets
Runaway Train
Book Two 
Lee Matthew Goldberg

Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Wise Wolf Books
Date of Publication: August 5, 2021
ISBN: 978-1953944078
ASIN: B093G4T9PL
Number of pages: 286
Word Count: 70,000

Tagline: “I’m a time bomb, a cannonball, I destroy everything around me.”

Book Description:

I had stars in my eyes and I couldn't see around them...

The year is 1995 and my parents have finally allowed me to take the summer to tour in a VW van across the country with my boyfriend Evan and our band. Yes, my dream to be a singer became reality. Even with Clarissa, Evan's jealous ex-girlfriend, as the lead singer, it's my presence on stage that led us to a major record deal. There are moments you'll always remember in life, but I can't imagine anything more cool than hearing your song on the radio for the first time.

But being a Rockstar isn't as easy as it sounds. Using alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms, nothing but tension surrounded me, hurting my still blossoming relationship, and continued grieving over my sister's death.

A love letter to the nineties and a journey of a girl becoming a woman, Grenade Bouquets charts the rollercoaster ride of a band primed to explode on the scene, as long as they keep from actually exploding.



Excerpt:


I’m barefoot on a roof deck, maybe it’s my own, I dunno. Life has been a series of tour buses and motels recently, but I think this is that place the band rented down on the Lower East Side. Everyone hates me and I’m left alone in a huge railroad apartment with a fire escape that twists up to a roof and barely any railing to keep me safe. I have a joint in one hand that’s surprisingly still lit in the rain and a trusty bottle of Absolut Citron in the other. I’m wearing a baby doll pale blue dress, the one I rocked during the Grenade Bouquets set when the A&R manager said he was gonna make us stars. I once heard that when you’re looking at stars in the sky, you’re already looking at the past and they’re already dead. I’m seventeen and I can completely relate.

I’m over myself and have been looking into the past so much, I might as well be dead.

I chug from the bottle, the excess liquid spilling down my cheeks like hot tears. What lands in my throat, burns and my eye twitches...I’m so bombed. My makeup has run all over my face and made me into a clown. I pity whoever will find my ghastly remains. I bring the joint to my lips and suck as the cherry flares, the smoke streaming through my nostrils. I’m a dragon in pursuit. Three stories down below, a sea of umbrellas await. I think of Kristen.

Her spirit no longer visits and I understand. She has better things to do than deal with the living. My sister has been gone now for over a year, and sometimes I forget the sound of her voice. I wake up in the middle of the night frantic that I’ve lost it, and then a glimmer reappears—a whisper in her high pitch calling me back to sleep, aware of how my insomnia can plague me. She would be so proud of my success as a singer and for me to live my dream, not realizing that it was killing me as well. I don’t remember the last time I went to bed sober. I feel distant from everyone I used to care about. Evan can’t even look at me anymore. I’m Nico the Beast, a whirlwind intent to destroy.

If you heard me on the radio, you’d be jealous. I’m that girl you wish you could be. My song like a spit in the face, a baby Courtney Love with scabbed knees, dark red lipstick, hair
dyed so much it’s fried, a scowl for a smile. And then in the next song, I’m scrubbed clean, my dress full of flowers rather than ripped, my bruises bandaged, my makeup a light touch rather than an onslaught, singing about love and hope and everything that grunge is not. Because grunge is dying. Kurt Cobain solidified its end and the record companies can smell it. A future of sugary happy pop awaits. What will they do with me, with any of us? We’re already that dying star. Might as well help give them a push.

The rain has risen in tempo, a drumbeat on my skull. The joint has gone out and I toss it into the crowd. It disappears into the ether, like I will soon. I picture my obituary, the phrase ‘One Hit Wonder’ highlighted. All I’ll ever be. But I don’t have any more songs in me. My quill is broken, my heart has followed—I’m sick of myself.

I raise my arms like Brandon Lee in The Crow. Evan and I saw that at the Angelika, an artsy movie theater down on Houston St., which I mispronounced like it was the city Houston. We toured Manhattan that day, the first time either of us had been: hand in hand through The Met and wandering down paths in Central Park, sneaking through the Plaza and pretending I was Eloise, hot chocolates at a place called Serendipity, his blue eyes never letting me out of his sight. I never imagined I could be so in love. Only a short time ago but might as well be a lifetime, those blues will never look at me in the same way again. I’m tarnished, I’m filth. I heard a song called “Only Happy When It Rains,” and it couldn’t be truer. Miserable people feed off misery and that’s all I have to give.

I wonder what my mom and dad will say when they have to identify my body. They’ve both found new lives with new loves that will be a shoulder for them. Maybe they’ll be relieved.

Back home, my friend Winter has her own shit to deal with and brought Jeremy into her drama, so they’ll mourn but are preoccupied enough to only think of me in passing. I know that’s what they do now. They are still in high school and I’ve dropped out, promising my folks I’d get my GED, but I never did. And high school seems so pointless and far away. I’ve lived in the real world. I’ve skipped down New York City streets with crack vials crunching under my feet. Out of spite I’ve let a man inside of me whose name I didn’t even know. I’ve crowd surfed over a hundred bodies chanting my name. I thought I was in love and never want the pain of it ending ever again. I’d rather be numb. I’d rather be gone.

My feet are cold against the tar of the roof, the toenail polish chipped and starting to fade. I give another swig until the bottle is empty. I aim to launch it into the sky, not caring who I’d hit down below. I climb onto the edge, wobbling, teeth chattering, knees knocking, singing a Matthew Sweet song to the world, to this dark city where I never belonged, so far from a home. “But I’m sick of myself when I look at you, something is beautiful and true. World that’s ugly and a lie, it’s hard to even want to try.”

My vocal chords are raw from the vodka and pot, my tears make everything blurry. I go to pitch the bottle and my foot slips from a slick of water. I lose my heart as it leaps out of my throat and I think I’ve gone over the edge, plummeting headfirst to my death. But I fall backwards, smacking my head on the tar. The grey clouds above go in and out of focus until they disappear entirely. My eyes have shut but I can see the night sky, and one little star, so dead but so bright, guiding me not to slip into unconsciousness, praying for my survival. Like a diamond it glows brighter, and I think that maybe it’s Kristen’s eye, somewhere up in heaven, winking at me to stay on Earth for a little longer because I haven’t finished all I intended to do, as the rain washes me pure, its drumbeat now playing Letters to Cleo’s beautiful, simmering song, “Here and Now,” while I travel back to what led me to become these twisted remains once called a girl. 

About the Author: 

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of seven novels including THE ANCESTOR and THE MENTOR, currently in development as a film off his original script, and the YA series RUNAWAY TRAIN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the Prix du Polar. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in The Millions, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, LitReactor, Monkeybicycle, Fiction Writers Review, Cagibi, Necessary Fiction, Hypertext, the anthology Dirty Boulevard, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. 

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

This Morbid Life No Rest for the Morbid Book One by Loren Rhoads

 



This Morbid Life
No Rest for the Morbid 
Book One
Loren Rhoads

Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir/Horror
Publisher: Automatism Press
Date of Publication: August 22, 2021
ISBN:  978-1-7351876-2-4 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-7351876-3-1 (ebook) 
ASIN: B09C11J43W
Number of pages: 200
Word Count: 58 K
Cover Artist: Lynne Hansen

Tagline: What others have called an obsession with death is really a desperate romance with life.

Book Description:

What others have called an obsession with death is really a desperate romance with life. Guided by curiosity, compassion, and a truly strange sense of humor, this particular morbid life is detailed through a death-positive collection of 45 confessional essays. Along the way, author Loren Rhoads takes prom pictures in a cemetery, spends a couple of days in a cadaver lab, eats bugs, survives the AIDS epidemic, chases ghosts, and publishes a little magazine called Morbid Curiosity.

Originally written for zines from Cyber-Psychos AOD to Zine World and online magazines from Gothic.Net to Scoutie Girl, these emotionally charged essays showcase the morbid curiosity and dark humor that transformed Rhoads into a leading voice of the curious and creepy.



Excerpt from "Anatomy Lesson":

I had a lot of preconceptions when it came to handling corpses. I’d imagined myself standing before a wall of stainless-steel freezer drawers like at the Mortuary College in San Francisco. In my imagination, the cadavers were draped with crisp white sheets. The bodies would be antiseptic. I expected them to be frozen. I thought everything would be as clean and neat as a television morgue.

The cadavers would be male, of course. I thought I could depersonalize a dead man more easily; I might empathize too much with a woman as the scalpel in my hand sliced her flesh.

Tom quickly rearranged my expectations. “Three of the four cadavers here are female,” he said. “I usually start people out with the women, since they’re the most taken apart. That’s a little easier for people to deal with.”

The bodies weren’t kept in refrigeration units. Instead, they were already waiting in the front of the classroom, lying in long stainless-steel bins with wheeled legs and a hinged two-piece top. When Tom folded the top open, clear fluid spilled onto the floor.

“Condensation?” I hoped.

“And some preservative,” he answered. When the worst of the runoff had stopped, he let the top hang down and opened the other side.

I was amazed we’d been in the room with the bodies all along. One of my memories still clear from ninth grade dissection was the horrible, headache-inducing smell of formaldehyde. I was glad preservative technology had improved.

A length of muslin floated atop the brownish red liquid. Blood, I thought immediately, and recoiled. Too thin for blood, it looked more like beef broth. Pools of oil slicked the surface.

“See that handle there? You can help me by turning it.” Tom moved to the far end of the tank.

There should have been scary music playing as we cranked the cadavers out of the fluid. As the bodies slowly rose, the muslin took on their outlines. Through the shroud, I saw bared teeth and the flensed musculature of jaw. Two corpses lay head to feet. The skin had clearly been flayed from their muscles.

If Tom had made them twitch, I would have leapt out of my own skin.

He pulled on some heavy turquoise rubber gloves and folded the muslin so it shrouded both faces and one entire body. The other lay revealed. Her skin had been stripped away. She had no breasts. The muscle fibers of her chest were very directional and clear, the raw color of a New York strip steak. Some of the muscles on her arms had been removed to show the bones and tendons beneath. Her fingertips still had nails and skin. The skin was the color of dried blood.


About the Author:

Loren Rhoads is the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die, Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel, a space opera trilogy, and a duet about a succubus and her angel. She is also the editor of Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues: Tales of the Unsavory, Unwise, Unorthodox, and Unusual and Tales for the Camp Fire: An Anthology Benefiting Wildfire Relief. This Morbid Life, her 15th book, is the first in the No Rest for the Morbid Series. Book 2, Jet Lag and Other Blessings, will be out in 2022.




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Top Ten Christmas Drinks

  Top Ten Christmas Drinks Along with all the sparkling lights and festive decorations, one of the things I most look forward to each holid...