Since it's all horror all the time here in October, let me offer out a horror novel. This book singlehandedly rewrote the award guidelines for the Memphis SF/F/H award. (And I still wonder if it would have done the same had it had a man's name on it)
Click the cover for a buy link.
Nick Harper has a nice life, a nice job, and a nice girl. Until Labor Day Weekend, when the Phantasmagoria Traveling Wonder Show comes to town.
Seduced by the dark and wickedly erotic charms of both the Phantasmagoria and Torturo, a man known in the freak sideshow as The Pain King, Nick embarks on a journey of self-discovery, love, and pain.
But the show is not what it seems. It changes those who come with it in ways they can never imagine, not even in their worst nightmares.
And Nick's changes are just beginning...
For an e-book copy of Alive on the Inside, leave your name and email in the comments below.
A taste of the book:
The Phantasmagoria by twilight felt different than it had by day. It had been creepy by day. Now it felt downright sinister. Cyn laughed at herself. Just virgin jitters. She didn’t plan on going home a virgin. In the back of her mind, a small voice asked if she really planned to go home at all.
Maybe, it suggested, you could get a job with the carnival. They could use a tall, pretty girl either in the hoochie show or
selling candy. Cyn dismissed the thought. She had her life planned. She’d already sent her college applications. She was going to breeze through her senior year, graduate with honors, spend most of the summer with her dad and get the hell out of Peculiar. Then it was just a matter of how far and fast she wanted to go. Traveling carnivals, no matter how appealing, didn’t figure into her future.
She coasted down YY by the duplexes. She and her mom had lived on Shari Lane for a while, before Lee. The Phantasmagoria
gleamed topaz and ruby ahead. She parked her bike, locking it to the rack near the gate, ignoring her better judgment which told her to keep on riding, spend the night at her grandparents’ house and call Mom when she got there.
For a brief instant, the lights all went out. The soft breeze stirred the flaps of canvas and whistled among the metal skeletons of the stopped rides. No people moved in the dead stillness. She looked down the Midway and saw only empty booths and rides.
She shivered, remembering the way Fairyland had been so dead on her last visit right before the amusement park had closed. She shut her eyes at the sight of a skeleton propped against the side of a booth, still dressed in a ragged striped shirt and crumbling straw boater.
When she opened them, she saw the lights had come back up and she wondered how she could have missed the throng. The
skeleton was the cute duck pickup guy, who flirted shamelessly with Suzie. Atop the Ferris wheel, Debbie and Michelle screamed in their high, squeaky cheerleader voices to start it back up. People she knew roamed everywhere, shooting at targets, picking up ducks, spinning around on the rides, and lined up for attractions. At least now she had an alibi.
She hurried over and joined Suzie at the booth, putting the thought of the man’s bright blue eyes burning from empty sockets
in a bare skull out of her mind.
“Hiya,” she said. “Look, Suzie, I’m out illegal-like. I left a note saying I was staying at your place. Can
you cover for me?”
They headed to the snow cone stand. Suzie pumped her with questions and Cyn gave evasive answers.
“It’s a guy, isn’t it? One you don’t want the folks to know about.” Suzie smiled and gave her a wink. “Your secret is safe with me. Just come on over after you see him. We never lock the side door. You aren’t doing anything goofy like eloping, are you?”
Cyn laughed and squeezed Suzie around the waist. “Darling girl, why would I elope with a mere man, when you know you hold
sole and only possession of my heart?” Suzie giggled and Cyn went on. “Hark, what dark in yonder window grows? It is the east and Suze the approaching night.”
“All right, all right already. Sheesh. Someone’s gonna snitch if you keep acting like that.”
Cyn nodded and let go of her. “The last thing I need is for Mom to find out I like girls, too.” She gave Suzie a wicked grin. “I have a free pass. You want to crash the adult show? I’ll go halvsies if you come along for immoral support.”
Suzie giggled. “I have the car. Sure.”
“I have to go by the piercing booth beforehand, though. Meet me at the tent when it’s time.” Cyn hurried off to see Torturo.
The adult show was more than they had hoped. Better than late night Cinemax. Better than the liberated porn tapes they’d found in Cyn’s dad’s drawers. Suzie was still pink after her volunteer stint as they walked to the parking area. Cyn tried not to be jealous. Suzie may have gotten her boobs licked, but Cyn planned to end the night in Torturo’s bed.
“Don’t come in too late. Don’t wake anybody,” Suzie said as they walked toward the gate afterward.
“You aren’t staying for the masquerade? Costumes are provided.” Cyn pointed toward the other giant tent on the grounds, its white roof aglow with light.
Suzie shook her head. “I’ve had enough excitement for one night. See you in the morning.”
“Thanks.” Cyn gave her a smile. “You’re a pal.” She made sure Suzie got safely to her car and then hurried back.
The summer night lay over the Midway. Only a few late thrill seekers rode the rides. The booths glowed but their light felt sickly in the country darkness. The clowns were doing no business with their balloons and candy. She caught a glimpse of a furry face at an upper window of the funhouse and it went out like a candle.
“Hyperactive imagination,” she said to herself and hurried to where Torturo’s little stand sat in the shadow of the huge black Ten-in-One. She glanced at the mirror maze as she went, catching her reflection in every mirror but two. She sidestepped a clown carrying a bundle of balloons, a box of cheap toys slung around his neck, and glanced back to see how those two mirrors were angled. The clown did not cast a reflection. She rubbed her eyes and looked again. All the mirrors showed her and the clown and the Midway.
Sounds of the Season:
Let Mr Dark take you on a trip through Chernobyl and other abandoned amusement parks, including Heritage USA and Holy Land USA.