Jeff Seymour - Author of Fantasy, Literary Fiction, & c.: Sale! New Story! SO MANY THINGS!!!

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Sale! New Story! SO MANY THINGS!!!

Okay you guys, I've been pretty pathetic about keeping up on the blog lately. I apologize for that. But I've been busy, and now there's news that cannot possibly ignored, meaning I'm back here again to share it.

Said news is on three fronts:

First! SOULWOVEN is on sale! Today through 8/31 it’s available for $.99, and on 9/1 and 9/2 it’s available for $1.99. If you don’t have your copy yet, now’s a great time to get one, and if you’ve got friends who might be interested in reading it, now’s a great time for them to get one too!

Second! The e-book version of SOULWOVEN has been updated to include a teaser for Soulwoven: Exile, the next book in the series, which will be out on December 5 or 6 (see how I snuck that announcement in there?). I’m working on getting Amazon to update it for people who’ve already bought the book, and I’ll post again once I have that done.

Third! You may remember that I wrote a short story for All Hallow's Write last year called WHAT LIES IN DARKNESS. Well, I read it to some people at InConJunction this year and they loved it so much I decided I ought to clean it up and put it on Amazon. So now I have. It’s just $.99, and it’s a hell of a spooky read. If you like scary stories, click through and check it out. If it doesn’t hook you, I’ve done something wrong. Description and opening chapter at bottom, for the click-shy.

Also, it's currently sitting at #62 on Amazon's Horror Short Stories bestseller list. Feel free to join the crowd on this one. It's a good crowd.

Finally, as always, thanks for reading. Readers are the wind in my sails and the reason I do this thing. I hope you enjoy what I’ve got on tap for you this weekend. Let me know if you do! I always love to hear from you.

Yours in blood, sweat, and ink,

Ellie Mailer can’t sleep. When she tries, the darkness over her bed sticks its fingers down her throat and squeezes. Her uncle’s footsteps rock the floorboards above her head. And there are bad storms coming through every night.

All these things she can handle. But when a man with darkness where his face should be comes to her door, she enters a world of shadows and secrets and death, where she’ll be all that lies between her little sister Georgie and a creature that enters homes and eats the hearts of those who live within.

This is the story of the summer Ellie cut off her uncle’s fingers and heard her best friend die. This is how she learned what lies in darkness.


Chapter One

Fingers in the Dark

I DIDN’T SLEEP A LOT when I was fourteen.
It was the darkness above my bed. Not the lack of light but what was in it, lying there, waiting for me. Every night it dripped down from the ceiling and into my mouth, seeped into my shirt and over my chest and my stomach and thighs. Squeezed.
The school psychologist told me it was just night terrors, but it wasn’t. I know that now. I was never asleep before the darkness came.
The summer storms were especially bad that year, and that didn’t help. They were big rollers that came crashing across the plains and broke on our little suburb like it was a rock out on the ocean. The rain drummed on the roof like an army of gnomes with gnarled fingers, and the wind pushed against the side of the house as though it wanted nothing more than to roll it over and crack open its belly to get at the good stuff inside.
Me and my little sister Georgie, we were the good stuff.
My uncle stayed with us that summer. His bedroom was right above mine, and he didn’t sleep much either. Even when the storms were going on, I heard his feet on the floor. Pacing. Turning. Pacing. Turning.
That’s all the setup you need. The rest I’ll tell like it happened.
You asked me about darkness. About what’s inside it.
I’m going to tell you about the summer I found out, and I cut my uncle’s fingers off, and my best friend died.


The darkness is in my mouth, and it feels like a handful of fingers. It’s pulling my cheeks out, pinching my tongue and trying to push it to the side so that it can go deeper. It feels so real—like there’s a man wrapped in it, floating up in the dark spaces near the ceiling, and his arm’s behind the fingers, pushing. If he gets them to the back of my tongue, he’s gonna tear it out and eat it, and then he’s gonna stick his arm down my throat, rip a hole in my esophagus, and yank out my heart through my mouth.
So I grab the sides of my bed and I fight it.
Uncle George is still awake, somewhere up above me. The red lights of the clock by my bed read 2:30 a.m. My parents have been asleep for hours; I heard them stop arguing around midnight.
There’s a storm outside too—a real rager by the sound of it. The gnome fingers are hammering, hammering, hammering on the roof. Even in the basement, I can hear it. The house feels like it’s about ready to give up the ghost, and me and Georgie with it.
Georgie’s the reason I can’t let the darkness win, even though sometimes I want to.’Cause if it gets me, it’ll go for Georgie next, and I won’t let that happen.
Our daughters, Frank. It’s not right… Mom said before Dad hushed her for the last time.
Most nights I beat the darkness. The man and his fingers get weaker, and then he goes away, and I can breathe and sleep.
Uncle George must be pacing real slow. There’s only one board in his room that creaks: the one by the door.
Some nights it feels like the darkness is gonna beat me, and I give up on trying to sleep and go stand in the living room to watch the storms roll through ’til dawn. This is gonna be one of those nights, I think, and I might as well just admit it.
The fingers have got hold of my tongue pretty good now. One of them grazes the dangler in the back of my throat, and I choke.
I roll over and slip off the bed, spit out the darkness’s fingers. They try to work their way back in right up ’til I walk away, the bottom cuffs of my pajamas dragging on the cold wood floor.
Uncle George rattles the door upstairs, and I freeze. My heart jumps into my throat.
The door doesn’t open.
I sigh in relief.

GEORGIE’S NOT IN HER ROOM across the hall. I can tell ’cause her door’s cracked. She’s only five, and half the time when she thinks she’s got the door closed she doesn’t.
She gets up in the middle of the night sometimes too. It must run in the family, ’cause my mom and dad take pills for it.
Our house is a split-level, and the living room’s on the middle floor. I bet that’s where Georgie is. She likes watching the storms too. My heart’s still pounding from my fight with the darkness, so I take my time walking down the hall, let my toes squish in the brand-new carpet Mom made Dad put in last winter. It’s the nicest thing in the house. I’ve heard her say so.
The new carpet ends at the bottom of the stairs. I sigh and put my toes on the old stuff. It’s rough. Feels like a cat’s tongue. I hate that feeling. Like the stairs are tasting you, trying to decide whether to eat you or not.
Georgie’s not in the living room.
There are two big picture windows in the front wall. Just as I get up the stairs, the lightning flashes and the street lights up behind them. Everything’s stark white and black for a split-second—the crabapple tree in the yard, the Dawsons’ house across the street, everything. The sheets of rain are so thick I can see them.
When the lightning’s gone, I catch a flash of something white near the front door.
Georgie’s nightgown, I think.
The floors up here are hardwood. Better than the licking cats on the stairs, but cold at night, even in the summer.
Thunder rattles the windows. I flinch, close my eyes, take a deep breath. I’m old enough I should be used to the storms by now.
When I open my eyes, I see Georgie.
She’s standing by the front door. Two little windows run up next to it, and she’s pulled the gauzy curtain that covers one of them aside and is peeking out at the rain. I join her.
“Whatcha doin’, Georgie?” I whisper.
My parents wouldn’t hear a freight train come through, but I don’t want Uncle George to know we’re up if I can help it.
“Watchin’,” she says. Her voice sounds like it’s coming out of a toy or a cartoon.
“Watchin’ what?”
Her hair’s brown, and it curves down around her ears. Mom gave her a bowl cut last week, and she loves it. Georgie giggled while Mom tickled her neck with one hand and worked the scissors with the other.
I squat next to her, ruffle her hair, and plant a kiss on her cheek, like Mom does. She squirms when I do it, but I don’t care. It’s more for me than for her.
The street looks pretty much the same through the little window as it does through the big ones, ’cept you can’t see the Dawsons’. You can see the long shadows from their porch light though. I’ve watched them from the living room. They sort of look like people, if you catch ’em from the wrong angle.
They’re sort of doing it now.
One of the shadows is moving. Coming toward us, strolling across the street like a human being.
“Georgie,” I whisper, “get away from the door.”
It’s just a feeling, but Georgie’s only five, and she doesn’t care if what I tell her to do doesn’t make sense. Thank God for that.
She moves away from the door.
Uncle George’s door opens, down the hall that leads to my parents’ room.
“Ellie?” he whispers. “That you? You girls need something?”
My heart jumps into my throat. My tongue sticks when I try to answer him, and for a second I feel the fingers again, pinching, trying to reach inside me and pull something out.
I open my mouth and croak out nothing.
Creak. The other foot. He’s about to leave his room and come into the hallway. Our space, mine and Georgie’s.
“No.” The word comes out in a gasp. “We’re fine. Just getting some water.”
Uncle George stays silent for a second.
“Okay,” he says.
Creak. Creak. The door shuts.
The fingers in my mouth float away.
I stalk back to Georgie, grab her by the arm, and yank her toward the living room and the stairs. We’ll spend the night in her room, and I’ll sit in the rocking chair and read while she sleeps. I don’t want to watch the storm, and I don’t want to be upstairs with Uncle George.
I freeze. Something cold cracks open on the top of my head and oozes down my neck. The feeling’s so real I touch my skin. My fingers come up a little clammy, but it’s just from sweat.
Before I can tighten my grip on Georgie’s arm, she snatches it away.
“I’ll get it!” she sings.
Mom taught her to answer the door last week. It’s her new favorite game.
“Georgie, no!” I whisper.
But she’s fast as hell when she wants to be. She gets to the door before I’m even all the way turned around. Flicks the deadbolt over while I’m closing the three feet between us. Opens the door.
The chain stops it. It’s too high for her to reach.
There’s a man outside, wearing a black double-breasted suit and a hat. I can’t see his face. I’m looking straight at it, but I can’t see it. All I see is darkness.
“Hello,” he whispers. The sound feels like the edge of a knife in my ears. “Can I come in?”
My palm hits the door and slams it. I flick the deadbolt back and tug the curtain over the windows. I bundle Georgie up in my arms, and I run like hell back downstairs. When we get behind her door, I prop the rocking chair against the knob—We don’t have locks we don’t have locks why the hell don’t we have locks?—and drag her dresser over, and then I sit cross-legged on the ground and listen.
No footsteps.
No one coming.
No one trying to get in.
Just Georgie crying because she doesn’t understand and the storm thundering away outside.
And the feeling of fingers, trying to rip out my tongue and get down my throat.

Thanks for reading. Get the rest here!

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