Sirens Call Publications has released its latest anthology titled Now I Lay Me To Reap.
Wander down the darker paths of the minds of twelve brilliantly talented authors as they conjure stories of retribution, deceit and betrayal.
Would you chance your family’s fate to the gods in return for a favor? Are the finer things in life worth having once you know the cost someone else had to pay for you to indulge in them? Would you give up your most addictive passion so that others might reap the benefits, regardless of the reward? Or perhaps, the chance at a fresh start and a new life appeals to you? Are you prepared to reap what you have sown?
Within this collection, you’ll find tales all too believable and beyond your oddest imaginings. But there is one thing you will not find… In this anthology, there are no happy endings.
Featuring the literary talents of:
Ryan C. Anderson, Thomas James Brown, Aspen deLainey, John H. Dromey, Amber Keller, Christian A. Larsen, Jeffery X Martin, Lori Michelle, Sergio Palumbo, J. Marie Ravenshaw, Bill Read, and Adrian Tchaikovsky
Check out these excerpts from each of the stories in Now I Lay Me Down To Reap…
Fugue State – Christian A. Larsen
“He had woken up in an alleyway next to a dumpster on a pile of empty cardboard boxes wearing a gray suit, expensive, by the looks of it, and shoes to match, but no watch or jewelry, though there were pale outlines suggesting that he had been wearing a watch and a wedding band. His pockets were turned inside out. He had no keys, wallet or cash—even enough loose change to buy a newspaper—so he crouched down in front of the newspaper box to read the date above the headline, something about a Senate race.
It was Tuesday, August 5th, and now that he knew it, he didn’t know if that information helped him or not. His eyes drifted downward over the text of the top story; something about how one of the candidates was promising tax breaks to gay couples. Was he for that or against it? Was he a Republican? A Democrat? A Libertarian? Constitution? Green? These were the kinds of issues that made people run to their ideological bunkers. He had an inkling that he might have come down hard one way or the other before… well, before he came to in the alley, an alien in his own skin…”
Gable’s Leatherworks – J. Marie Ravenshaw
“With her palms resting on the window jambs, she gazed out over the pasture. There was nothing out there that she could see, but she had an unnerving feeling that she was being watched. She knitted her brow and allowed her eyes to scan the field one last time before closing the window and drawing the curtain. Like every other night, the scream had come from the direction of Mrs. Gable’s barn.
Her father, Joseph, blamed the wildcats in the area. However, deep down, Abigail knew those screams were the result of something far more sinister.
She walked back to the desk and plopped down in her chair. As she grabbed her pencil, she yelled out, “Hey Dad! Sounds like the wildcats are at it again!” She rolled her eyes and started to read through the notes that she’d taken in History class…”
Me and the Monster – Ryan C. Anderson
“Phil passed through the threshold of my office like a wounded creature, being mindful of his steps and careful of his surroundings, fearful of some far off thing beyond the boundaries of my spackled walls. He reached for my hand and thanked me for seeing him on such short notice. “It’s really hard to find good people these days,” he said in shallow utter. His fingers wrapped around mine like tentacles, and I could feel the sweat of his palms mash together with mine. His eyes were beady bloodshot balls of sleepless jelly. We stood there, our hands entangled in a strange, sweaty chimera, until finally he released and I was able to skulk back to the safety of my imported, Carpathian Elm desk.
“Please, have a seat.” By the time I said this, he had already done so, his long, gangly legs crossed with one another in a most unnatural way. Dara slammed the door shut, retreating back to his reception desk to continue his feverish search for homosexual pornography.
“You come highly recommended,” Phil said fast, his mouth barely opening to form syllables…”
Sweet Addiction – Aspen deLainey
“He shook his mane and tail free of any tangles. He rubbed his hooves on a convenient bush. He licked his lips. He so wanted to look enticing.
A snarl came from directly behind him.
Aeryn didn’t even chance a look. Better safe than sorry. He galloped off, down some alleys, hoping he’d evaded pursuit. Damn he was getting hungrier and hungrier. Finally, he stopped in a shadowy alley, panting.
“Can I touch?” A voice from the shadows whispered.
Aeryn sniffed. Yes, it smelled delicious. A human; chaste and celibate. It even seemed female. He stretched out his neck, seductively shaking his long mane, luring it out of its nest.
A musty smell of rags, rotting cardboard, dirt and neglect preceded it as it crept close. Its hand stretched out to touch his gleaming white nose…”
Good Taste – Adrian Tchaikovsky
“And if I had a Twix on the tube, well, I have blood sugar issues. A man of certain dimensions needs a bit of an energy boost when he’s out and about. I can’t think that I was setting back medical science a hundred years or anything, not just a few mouthfuls of chocolate.
I hate travelling by tube. The way people look at you like you’re some kind of freak. They judge you. We’re the last minority it’s safe to hate. Taking up two seats, they think, and they tut and put their self-righteous noses in the air. There was this woman with a kid who was really glowering at me all the way to Great Portland Street. Seriously, if I could have got up, I would, but there wasn’t the space. I’d have bounced her out of the window and her little brat too.
It’s because of all you judgmental thin types that fat people aren’t jolly any more…”
The Game – Amber Keller
“Stephanie sang the song on the radio like an angel. Her ice blue eyes closed, her head tilted back, the sun glowing off of her cheeks and shoulders, she had her knees tucked up into her chest. Her golden hair spilled down her shoulders in soft waves.
David reached into his pocket and rubbed the small, velvet box. This was the moment he had been anticipating for weeks. He would ask her when they got to the lake.
The winding road was starting to become covered lightly by leaves. With fall almost here, the late afternoon sun warmed the breeze that swirled through the trees, bringing the smells of summer’s last moments. A golden glow cast across the hood of his car as he crested a small hill, reflecting into his vision and temporarily blinding him…”
You Should Have – Lori Michelle
“He saw her across the room and tried not to stare. She had an air about her that he hadn’t seen in a woman in a long time. She looked over at him and smiled; he was taken aback by how confident she was. He smiled back and walked over to her.
“Can I help you miss…”
“Williams, Clarissa Williams. I am looking for Henry Jones, I have an appointment with him at 12:00.”
“Well, you’re in luck Ms. Williams, you’ve found him.”
They shook hands; the sexuality exuding from her pores impressing him. It was as if she knew she was in complete control of the situation. “So nice to meet you, Mr. Jones.”
“Please, call me Henry.”
He led her into his office and sat her down in one of his chairs, never once letting go of her hand. He wasn’t sure where this act of chivalry came from since he had never done this for anyone else that walked through the doors. “So what can I do for you, Ms. Williams?”
A False Odor of Sanctity – John H. Dromey
“When a new sound emerged from the surrounding shadowy darkness—a faint metallic clinking of chains—the diggers were too absorbed in their work to notice.
As the depth of the excavation approached four and a half feet, one of the men paused long enough to cover his mouth and nose with a heavy scarf, and then he resumed digging.
Soon afterwards one of the shovels turned up a shard of splintered wood.
Both men stopped digging. A muffled request of “Hand me the lantern” followed.
Holding the lantern with one hand, the chief digger knelt down and used his other hand to push away some dirt.
“Empty,” the man said, unwinding the scarf from around his neck and breathing deeply. “The Resurrectionists were here before us…”
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing! – Jeffery X Martin
“You were in back, in your car seat, and you said, “Who’s that man talking?”
Your mommy said, “Just some guy telling stories.”
You laughed and clapped your hands. “He’s funny! He talks funny,” you said. “He says funny things!”
And the guy did have that cadence going on, that deep Southern rhythm, adding extra syllables onto his words. “Jesus-ah! He is-ah coming back-ah! He is coming-ah! To retrieve his people-ah! To take his people-ah! Into the sky-ah! Up to his holy kingdom-ah! The holy kingdom of heaven-ah!”
You laughed like it was the funniest thing you had ever heard. We ended up listening to that shit on the radio all the way home from the grocery store.
All the way home.
All the way home…”
Beasts of Burden – Thomas James Brown
“As you reap, so shall you sow,” his father used to say, “sow bad seeds and happen you’ll have a bad harvest.” Even in those early days, he had realized his father was imparting more than agricultural wisdom; he was a moral man with just beliefs, which did not indulge slovenliness or ill manners. Coll had been fashioned from these morals, he liked to think; the very best of his father’s produce. Certainly, he did his best to honour his father and the farm he had dutifully inherited, on his passing. Perhaps this was why he’d felt Frederick’s liberties with the oxen so keenly. Disappointment cut him like the north wind against his face. Frederick displayed none of the same respect he had nurtured in his other six sons. He often caught himself wondering where he had gone so wrong with Frederick. He had sown good seeds; why had this one grown askew?
The focus of Coll’s anger that afternoon could not have been more apparent: two burly oxen rested their heads on the fence outside Hanker Farm. It was a wonder the rickety slats of wood withstood their weight; the creatures were monstrous, with vast, curling horns and shoulders as broad as the family’s cart. Slabs of muscle shifted beneath their flesh, each larger than any of the eight men standing around them, and their breath blew hot and wet on the air…”
The Fairies in the Wood – Bill Read
“That’s all right dad,” replied Maribel pecking him on the cheek. “The train got in at 10.30 and I’ve hardly been waiting at all. A few seconds is hardly a matter of life and death.”
If only her mother had been as considerate as she was, mused Edward. Perhaps then things would have turned out differently.
“Is that all your luggage?” he asked.
“Oh yes,” replied Maribel. “I didn’t bother bringing much – just a couple of summer dresses and some overnight stuff.”
Bizarre, thought Edward. Most girls of her age would have brought black tee-shirts and ripped jeans– but then most teenage girls wouldn’t want to have anything to do with their fathers – particularly divorced ones.
They walked to the car.
“Is it far away?” asked Maribel. “I’m so looking forward to seeing it!”
The Eater – Sergio Palumbo
“Dark haired, with a bristly, curly beard, and two wild eyes on a face glowing with health, Jenő was 32 years old when he got married for the first time. The birth of his son, Flavio, soon followed. The wedding was expensive and ostentatious, but as he wasn’t from one of the most famous noble families in town, it was nothing like the wonderful marriages of the richest families in that community. Anyway, the man was very relieved about that, as he was mainly an introvert, and very mean in general. He had a lot of reasons to behave that way: Jenő was an alchemist and had discovered something very important while busy with his other studies, something he didn’t want to share with anyone else.
Alchemical Science originally referred to a medieval quest for an elixir by which one could discover the truth about reality, its structure, laws and functions, making the researcher himself, for example, capable of turning base metals to gold. But Jenő’s dark studies had gone even farther than that…”
Check out the longer preview of the anthology at Sirens Call Publications.