Birthday Bonanza!! — Derek Barton

IT’S MY BIRTHDAY (I lived to see another year and you already know my story of this fateful year) SO I WANTED TO CELEBRATE AND GIVE EVERYONE A SPECIAL GIFT!

At least a very good chance at winning…

(3) $100 Amazon eGift Cards from The No. 1 Site for #Reader #Giveaways~~The Kindle Book Review.

Just click on the link and enter the Rafflecopter on the giveaway page. It’s easy & fun. If you love #reading, enter now. Starts at 7 am on September 15th — #giveaway ends October 6th, 2021.

Click here and enter every day ~> http://ow.ly/6J7w50G93co

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!!

AND OH BTW, I am going to be doing a local Book Fair/Book-signing Event on Nov 6th at

Bookman’s, Phoenix

8034 N 19th Ave, Phoenix

www.bookmans.com

Come on out — Should be a great time!!

The Infernal Eternal — Derek Barton 2021

Recently I have had a lot of luck and honor in getting my story submissions printed by the gaming magazine, Gamebook Zine. They are a specialized magazine printing in England that focus on “gamebooks” and the medieval fantasy genre. They printed two of the Flight Of The Dirithi sagas so far.

Gamebooks are primarily based on a Choose Your Own Adventure style of storytelling. I wanted to pay back their generous support by submitting my own gamebook. They have already read and accepted the story which will be in print around December! Not wanting you all to wait and since most of you probably wouldn’t have heard of the magazine, I thought I’d print my submission story here for your entertainment. For anyone who enjoys this style of storytelling, please check them out on Amazon — well worth the read!!

My story is not in the fantasy realm but more of a post-apocalyptic future romp. Enjoy!!

The INFERNAL ETERNAL

RULES & PLAYER SETUP:

Hello there, dear reader. You are about to join young Zack Anders, a budding YouTube Video Blogger on a unique adventure. What starts as a usual day of urban exploring on the outskirts of the city quickly turns into a bizarre, dangerous nightmare! He’ll need your street-smarts, some key decision-making, and a real stroke of good luck to survive.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED 

Along with the story, you will need to have the CHARACTER SHEET (shown here), a pencil, scratch paper, and four six-sided dice. Zack has brought along some handy equipment in his duffle bag. 

The first step is to roll for your SKILL CHECKS – STRENGTH, ATTACK, AGILITY, and finally your SPEED. Roll 4d6 subtract the lowest roll, add up the number. This decides your skills modifier. The modifier will dictate battle outcomes and other experiences.

3 – 9 +0 modifier

10 – 14 +1 modifier

15 – 16 +2 modifier

17 +3 modifier

18 +4 modifier

You have a total of 100 HEALTH POINTS for the adventure. You have a small, one-time First-Aid kit that will restore 25 HEALTH POINTS.

COMBAT SITUATIONS

1# Establish INITIATIVE to see who acts first by rolling 1d6 and adding SPEED modifier. Now compare your score to the opponent’s INITIATIVE. Whoever has the highest INITIATIVE goes first.

2# Attacks are then made by ROLLING 1D6 and adding your ATTACK modifier. Roll the opponent’s AGILITY to counterattack. 

3# If your ATTACK roll is higher than your opponent’s AGILITY, your hit damage is 1d6 plus your STRENGTH modifier plus your current weapon or item modifier.

4# Subtract total damage from HEALTH POINTS. 

5# Combat stops if you fall below 0 HEALTH POINTS, or all your opponents’ scores do. Otherwise repeat Steps 2#, 3#, 4# until a victor.

Combats must be completed as the creatures will always give chase and continue to attack until they are destroyed…or you are!

RANDOM WEAPONS YOU MAY FIND

Baseball Bat +2 damage per hit

Heavy Flashlight + 1 damage per hit

Iron Crowbar + 3 damage per hit

Letter Opener + 1 damage per hit

Metal Pipe + 4 damage per hit

Pocket Knife + 1 damage per hit

***********************************

 INTRO:

The morning winter chill in the wind speeds up your pace through the deserted parking lot. Your red hoodie isn’t helping enough so you slip the hood over your head and stuff your hands deeper into its pockets. 

Your cell vibrates in your jeans pocket. Gotta be Jordyn.

The display reads, HERE. WHERE YOU AT? 

In the corner, the clock says 8:37 AM. 

You’re late. It will take another ten minutes at least to meet her at the warehouse. And that’s if you jog!

You reply, ALMOST THERE. 5 MINS.

She’s anxious. In fact, she’s been busting to explore the place, ever since she learned of it from Jasper, a mutual online contact that found possible leads for you and her. With Jordyn, you have been doing a YouTube urban explorer channel for a year and a half.

Jordyn was in love with the mysterious back history of the warehouse that sat just inside the city limits. Supposedly once owned by the government, the building was leased out by several high-tech firms and military R&D groups. Three years ago, the building was suddenly sealed up and abandoned. However, it was going to take more than the barbwire-topped fences and chained door locks to keep them out and filming the inside of the sprawling, two-story structure. 

As much as she was dying to go, you were suspicious. How many times did lame science-fiction movies start out with this very starting scenario? Urban myths always had a nugget of truth somewhere wrapped in all the fluff, right? Yet here you were jogging directly toward trouble.

1

The heavily wooded area around the warehouse has only one road leading up to the metal gate. Only twenty feet or so sat Jordyn’s baby blue VW Beetle.

What was she thinking?

They had planned to park a half-mile back then cautiously approach and scout the gate and guardhouse. They were even prepared to hike a half-mile through the surrounding woods and use bolt-cutters on the western fence in the cover of the maple trees.

However, it was all quiet. Her car and the guardhouse appeared empty.

Beyond the gate, you see a rusted metal door with a thick, pad-locked chair securing it. The bottom and top floor windows of the warehouse are boarded or have rusted grating.

  • Use your bolt-cutters and sneak across the yard to the door, turn to 11
  • Investigate the warehouse guard shack, turn to 22
  • Look inside Jordyn’s car to see why she didn’t wait, turn to 2

2

The faint smell of flowery perfume wafts over you as soon as you open the door. Jordyn. 

You have known her most of your life since age five, meeting in school, hanging out at the skatepark, and making out a few times in this very car.

The two of you weren’t official yet you knew you were a couple. The “on again off again” relationship had strained things on occasion but for the present, both of you are content to be partners…friends. This time you wanted more, she was on a different page. You were patient and confident things would come around again.

Patience was your trademark. Quiet, concise with your words and a planner. It gained you respect among the small gaggle of other friends you and Jordyn shared.

You are jolted out of your thoughts when you see her black duffle bag on the passenger side floor. It was not her style to leave without her gear. You lower the driver-side visor, but nothing is stowed there – she has her keys on her.

The hair on the back of your neck raise. Your instincts are pressing you to run inside and find her. Find her NOW.

  • Go to the Guardhouse, turn to 22
  • Go to the warehouse door, turn to 11
  • Grab the duffle bag and look inside, turn to 27

3

It’s dark and dusty in the tiny room. A set of rickety metal stairs on the opposite wall leads to a metal door.

Faint light comes in from under the door. While there’s nothing in here to help you, your heart kicks up as you read the sign above the door. It says ROOFTOP ACCESS.

Your fear that it is locked is proven to be ridiculous as you step right through – it is in fact a magical portal.

Stumbling and unable to catch yourself, you fall and sprawl out on a dusty cement floor.

YOU IMMEDIATELY RECOGNIZE YOU’RE BACK IN THE WAREHOUSE STAIRWELL!! YOU’VE RETURNED TO REALITY.

  • Decide to go up or go down to find Jordyn, turn to 21
  • If you have Jordyn with you, CONGRATS you and the love of your life can escape and have a wondrous life together!

THE END, turn to 1

5

The clearing behind the cliffside quickly becomes overgrown and you soon find you have trekked into the woods off path. The thick maple tree canopy blocks out the light and it has gotten dark in this shadow-filled glade. Massive tree roots ripple below and above the ground causing you to trip and stumble.

As the hours pass and the sun sets you wander in circles and find yourself hopelessly lost!

In the cold late hours of the night, you put your back up against a tree trunk and close your eyes in exhaustion.

You never open your eyes again.

  • Try again to save Jordyn, turn to 21

6

You step into a small, tiled room. There are two elevator doors on the left.

In the corner beside a withered, dried-up plant you spot a corpse. Dust and cobwebs cover the desiccated skeletal remains, but it is clothed in a once-designer gray suit. An opened, empty suitcase remains clutched in his hands. Nothing is apparent to the man’s cause of death.

Suddenly a bell chime rings out followed by one of the elevator doors squealing as it creaks open, faint flickering light flashes from within the car.

The panel next to the door isn’t lit so you don’t know if it is going up or down.

  • If you enter the elevator, turn to 10

7

Through the dirty glass window, you can see the office is rather dark and filled with shadows. Upon entering you see that the floor is littered with paperwork overturned filing cabinets, and some thrown around desk drawers. Someone was very interested in finding something hidden within the small room.

You hear an odd popping sound coming from the floor, something under the papers. Tiny pea-green wisps of smoke rise around you. It smells like vinegar, bleach, and sulfur all mixed in big quantities.

Just as you decide to leave the room, the entire office shakes, and patches of the cement floor give way! A slow-acting acid is eating away at the floor!

Here you must roll 3d6 to determine the difficulty of avoiding falling into a hole. Then you roll 2d6 plus your AGILITY modifier to see if you successfully escape. If your AGILITY roll is higher than the difficulty score you succeed.

Success means you leaped to a ceiling brace in time as the patch of cement fell from beneath your feet. Luckily the bar holds your weight, and you swing over to land before the open door.

Failure means you weren’t fast enough and drop! You are able to grasp the sides of the hole and haul yourself back up buy your right leg was cut by a piece of cement rebar and you now have a gaping wound in your thigh. You lose 4 HEALTH POINTS and your SPEED is hampered -2 to any quick movements and combat initiative.

  • Explore the small west office, turn to 26
  • Open the door next to the west office, turn to 17
  • Investigate the stairwell, turn to 21

8

As you climb the cement steps, an electric sensation washes over you. Your skin prickles with goosebumps and the hair on your arms and head raise briefly. You spin around but don’t see any source of the odd charge in the air. Ahead of you is a door propped open with a small wooden wedge. Only a faded label saying RESEARCH mars the door’s surface.

  • Go through the door, turn to 20
  • Go to the lower level, turn to 13

9

Your eyes squeeze shut as you convulse and writhe from the burns. Pain wracks your body, your breath is taken away. All is slipping away fast.

Your throat chokes on the smoke as you scream out in denial.

Yet, you know this is the end and you have failed to save yourself and Jordyn.

THE END

  • Try again to save Jordyn, turn to 21

10

Finally! I’m getting out of here, you think to yourself as you rush inside.

The rusted floorboards crack and fall apart beneath your feet as your body bores through and plunges down the shaft.

Darkness swallows you up. The humid air in the shaft rushes past you. You feel the closeness of the shaft’s wall and you pull your arms in close to your sides to avoid bashing them as you descend.

The fall goes and on, you continue into the pitch black… It never ends.

THE END

  • Try again to save Jordyn, turn to 21

11

You squeeze through the twin fence gates that block the warehouse road’s entrance. No guards patrol the grounds, nor do you spot any dogs. Yet you feel eyes all over you, dread washes over you.

Jordyn.

Your feet answer the inner voice inside your head. She’s somewhere inside the ugly warehouse and she’s in trouble. Every nerve in your body feels raw and you feel a true fear of what she’s gotten herself into.

But I can’t leave you alone to fight this.

You cross the empty lot to the chained door. The links are too thick for your bolt-cutters. Luckily there’s a large bay of windows that only have a metal grate protecting them. They cut the metal like butter and in minutes you are able to snake your small frame inside.

A faint light illuminates the massive room. Blankets of dust and cobwebs cover everything. You spot a fresh set of footprints leading from another door along the west wall. The doorknob has been punched out. Must’ve been Jordyn’s point of entry. Her prints travel to a small office and then to another closed door.

There’s another office in the southern corner with a large glass window. Opposite it, you see the start to two sets of stairs, one going up and another into a basement level.

In the center sits banks of tables, desks, and wooden benches. Stacks of cardboard boxes rest against the eastern wall. An odd wispy cloud of smoke lazily wafts in the air, but you cannot see its source. The smoky air, the tomblike emptiness, and the muffled silence again heighten your fear for what might have happened to Jordyn.

  • Cross to the western office, turn to 26
  • Go inside the southern corner office, turn to 7
  • Look in the room where Jordyn’s footprints end, turn to 17
  • Go to the stairwell, turn to 21

12

The narrow path is surrounded on both sides by high brush, their branches are layered in vines keeping it nearly impossible to see around you. A series of chittering sounds and a chorus of humming insect trills fill your ears. The skies darken the further you travel the path.

Finally, you enter a large, manicured clearing. The grounds swell up and down with little mounds of grass, the path continues to a massive center fountain. All about the clearing are white statues of various characters from all sorts of historical time periods. Under each of the statues, you can see small metal tablets displaying details and facts of the statue personas. 

You rest on the edge of the peaceful fountain, trying to get your bearings and figure out where you are and how to get back. However, your thoughts are interrupted when you smell smoke. Behind you at the other exit to the clearing stands another smoldering creature much taller than the other before and there are two doglike ones crouched at his feet. These two have much smaller bodies, darker, and less fiery mass. Their jaws, however, bristle with nasty spikey fangs.

“INTRUDER! TRESSPASSERS DIE!” The giant roars and charges.

 Special After round 2 of combat you lose an extra point each round due to the heat from his body. 

  •  If you beat the Embergiant and his wolves, turn to 24
  • If you succumbed to their attacks, turn to 9

13

Squaring your shoulders and stiffening your back, you gather your resolve and walk down into the gloom of the lower-level stairs. There was a definite haunted, paranormal vibe resonating from the door at the bottom. A stenciled word BIOMETRICS LAB labeled the door. A black electrical box hung ominously over the top of the door.

It doesn’t appear to be operational…

  • Brave the shadows and open the lower-level door, turn to 28
  • Maybe up and into the light is better, turn to 8

15

Consciousness is a faint sliver, and you can barely breathe. Webs secure you tight and blind you to your surroundings.

It really doesn’t matter long for you soon feel a sharp pair of painful jolts in the back of your neck. The pain soon spreads down your back as the spider’s acidic bite destroys the nerves along your spine. You’re grateful for the quick numbing sensation as your nerves die and your muscles dissolve.

Your last thoughts are spewing curses at the spiders.

THE END

  • Try again to save Jordyn, turn to 21

16

The sound of splashing water grows stronger as you travel down a dirt path. The clusters of trees spread out as you enter a small park area, and the path winds its way up a hill. The sky is a faint baby blue color with few clouds. The tranquil area is the very definition of sanctuary.

On the top of the hill, you discover a massive fountain of blue and gray marble stone. The crystal-like water cascades out from a tall angel statue. Her eyes cry twin streams into the pool below her feet.

Lying in the wild grass blades, you see your angel, Jordyn. She is on her back, laying with her head propped up by her windbreaker, her arm thrown over her face. She’s seen her own troubles. Her hair is singed on one side of her head and her black concert shirt and jeans have multiple scorch marks.

You want to rush and sweep her in your arms, but you don’t want to scare her. You softly whistle a piece of a Def Tones song, you both love.

She immediately sits up and stares at you in shock and relief.

“Babe, I’ll get us home now,” you whisper to her.

Now, it’s her that rushes into your waiting arms and you hold her as she sobs. You promise aloud to her and yourself that you’ll never let her go again.

  • There’s no other entry to Fountain Hill, turn around, turn to 24

17

As you approach the door, an acrid smell stings your nose. When you pull it open the full power of the smell almost knocks you from your feet. This was once a simple bathroom but now the majority of the room has a massive, gaping hole. Gray-green clouds plume from the hole and you can see spots on the cement floor where the acidic vapor has caused the stone to bubble and crack.

You quickly shut the door, your eyes have already started to sting.

What the hell did they do here? And where was Jordyn? Could she have fallen through the floor?

  • Explore the southern corner office, turn to 7
  • Investigate the small west office, turn to 26
  • Climb up or down the stairs, turn to 21

18

You pull on the center drawer finding only more papers and a few partially written in notebooks. They must’ve belonged to the man, J.C. Carver. None of the notes and scribbles made much sense or even explaining what really happened in this warehouse. A sharp gold-plated letter opener has been shoved to the back of the drawer.

When you tug on the handle of the bottom drawer you discover it is locked. Now that’s interesting…

You open your backpack to retrieve a crowbar you carry just for this reason or to open locked doors. The drawer popped relatively easily.

At the bottom, a small metal box sat next to a slender bottle of whiskey. Inside the box, you find a square digital tablet. Under it was a coil of black charger cable with a USB adapter. The tablet wouldn’t turn on but who knows how long the thing had been there or even if it would operate.

Instinctively you pocket the item certain you’d gleam information later.

  • Go to the door next to the office, turn to 17
  • Explore the southern office, turn to 7
  • Cross to the stairwell, turn to 21

19

The room is pitch black, so you retrieve your cell phone to use its flashlight feature. Ahead are several large tables and metal chairs. Along one wall are vending machines and a counter with several microwaves. 

You hear a raspy movement in the shadows at the back of the obvious cafeteria. Inside a walled-off kitchen area, low, gurgling moans echo out to you. A thin metal door pushes open as two forms come through. A man severed at the waist stalks forward on his arms. His gory entrails slide along behind leaving a bloody smear. Right next to him a woman sheared in half from head to groin pulls herself along the kitchen’s tiles. A sick toothy half-smile stretches across her half face. 

Two other disgusting butchered torsos follow the first two!

  •  If you go below 0 HEALTHPOINTS, turn to 29

20

When you push the upper floor door aside you are dumbstruck by what you find laid out before you. A circular cement court encircles an overgrown patch of grass with a brown stagnant pond. Six stone benches line up on one side of the pond. A cloudy gray sky with rolling clouds of low-hanging smoke presses down over you.

Where the hell did the roof go? Your mind shouts.

Leaving the stairwell, you walk around the corner and find you are not inside the warehouse any longer. There are still maple trees clustered about the property but no roads, no parking lots, no city backgrounds at all along the horizon.

“I’m in a park,” you mutter to yourself.

As you pass a stone column that holds a glass orb, you spot a man, sitting slightly hunched over on another of the stone benches, this one facing an engraved mural wall. He’s smoldering, his body glowing like charcoal embers inside a barbecue grill. An aura of faint wispy smoke surrounds him.

His head turns towards you. The eyes are small fiery pits, and he has no tongue as he roars and hisses upon seeing you. He…or it…leaps to its feet. The body has a molten mass of embers attached to a skeletal frame with hands and feet ending in nasty claws.

It races and bounds over several other benches, showing it is not limited in its physical skills, and swipes a heavy-handed claw at your head.

 Special — After round 2 of combat, you lose an extra point due to the heat from his body.

  • If you fall below 0 with your injuries, turn to 9
  • If you beat the Emberman, turn to 12

21

Twin sets of gray stone stairs are here, one going to the upper level, the other to a lower, darker level. The overhead lights are burnt out for the lower level, but you see a door with a tiny window slot at the bottom. It’s pitch black on the other side of that door.

Laying against the first step to the upper level you see a rusty steel bar. There’s also an overturned trashcan in the corner, but nothing else catches your attention.

Grab the metal bar.

  • Climb to the upper level of the warehouse, turn to 8
  • Make your way down the stairs to the basement level, turn to 13

22

The short, stubby rectangle that pretends to be the wooden guardhouse, leans slightly, pressed by some of the intense thunderstorms that rage sometimes through the region. It has a faint musty smell, and everything is layered in thick dust and cobwebs. One corner has been repeatedly drenched by a leak in the roof and the boards and rotted mostly away.

There’s nothing of any use here and no one has used this guard shack in some time. In the only drawer in a gray metal cabinet near the door, you see a small ring of keys and a long-handle flashlight.

You sweep up the keys and flashlight.

  • Go to the Warehouse, turn to 11
  • Explore Jordyn’s car, turn to 2

23

From the EXIT door, you walk along a dusty bare hallway that leads into the center aisle of a massive room. On both sides of the room are clusters of office cubicles.

The room isn’t lit well, but it seems some of the cubicles must have monitors still powered on. A faint bluish glow illuminates from these monitors. You thought for sure all power had been cut.

Nothing else about the cubicle farm seems familiar as everything is covered in white sheets or perhaps paint drop clothes you suppose. The ceiling is a mass of party streamers. On the other end of the massive room, you see a closed set of double doors and on the right side of the room, another hallway continues further into the business skyscraper. On the left wall, broken windows allow chill flurries to blow in.

As you pass along the center aisle you spot movement, shadowy forms moving fast in and out of the cubicles. In fact, you now realize the monitors are themselves moving. Loud hisses echo about the office all around you.

Five massive blue glowing spiders leap over the walls of the cubicles in front of you. Their bulging black eyes have reddish ichor leaking in gooey streams. Their fangs glisten as the spiders hiss and approach!

 Special — six successful hits means you are bound in webs!

  • Take the double doors on the left, turn to 33
  • Take the hallway on the northside, turn to 25
  • Fall unconscious or bound in web, turn to 15

24

You crest a short knoll and enter a shallow valley. At the bottom is a cement oval stage with a massive mural carved out a rock cliffside. Several cement benches are placed in a semi-circle around the stage.

The now unused concert area is peaceful enough, but you don’t find anything of value or use either.

The mural depicts a sprawling modern city in the throes of a battle and unusual lightning storms in the skies. The very fabric of reality in the carving depicts tears and massive rifts.

You wonder what the meaning of the mural is and if somehow it depicts some of the dark secrets of the warehouse.

At the edge of the left side of the stage, you see a thin gravel path. And as you continue to study the mural you swear you can hear the sound of a creek or at least the sound of water splashing somewhere.

  • Take the gravel path, turn to 34
  • Climbing to the top of the cliffside, you find a clearing heading eastward, turn to 5
  • Follow the splashing sound, turn to 16

25

Another set of double doors open slowly, but you have to work hard to shove them open as a pile of garbage has barricaded the entrance. To your left is an archway opening to a small elevator lobby. 

All around the room the walls have a massive mound of desks, computers, chairs, monitors, and even headphones. You surmise it was once a call center setup. The only thing not piled along the square room’s wall is a steel grate with wall-to-floor monitors. 

Partially buried on the opposite wall of this large room is another door with a small sliver of a window. It’s too dark in the other room to see anything.

Glowing firelight beams down from the ceiling behind the monitor grating. This light moves like the glowing blue light from the spiders! This light surrounds the thick bodies of bat-like creatures. They share the same physiology as the Embermen and you duck as they fly over your head. Globs of ember plop down in little emberballs of fire.

 Special — Roll 1d6 to determine how many Fireglobs fall during combat. Next roll 2d6 to know the AGILITY difficulty score needed to avoid them. Failure means losing 3 HEALTH POINTS each.

  • Go to the elevator lobby, turn to 6
  • If your burns and claw attacks make you fall unconscious, turn to 9
  • Dig out the door buried by trash, turn to 19

26

You crack open the wooden door to the office. A large desk sits in front of three massive file cabinets. On the desk sits a scribbled-on desk blotter and calendar next to a tiny crystalline trophy engraved with the name J. C. CARVER, Director’s Award.

This office is cramped and poorly lit with a series of fluorescent bulbs. There are no windows.

The cabinet drawers are open but hold only empty folders. A center drawer remains open and holds only pencils, pens, and a pile of paperclips. On one edge you note the dust has been wiped off. You smirk at the small butt cheek prints in the dust. Jordyn must have explored in here, sat on the desk when she texted me.

  • Go to the next room where her trail ends, turn to 17
  • Trek over to the southern corner office, turn to 7
  • Explore the stairwell, turn to 21
  • Look inside the desk, turn to 18

27

You lean inside and sweep up the duffle bag from the floor. It’s slightly heavy with the equipment she was responsible to bring. Unzipping it, you see as expected her extra Samsung video camera, the Veckta Spirit Box, a coil of extension cord, several packs of batteries, and a backup cell phone battery. You also spot a crumpled pack of smokes and a lighter.

Damn. She swore she quit.

You take out the cigarettes and throw them in the brush next to the car. You zip up the bag and take it with you. It’s time to get moving!

  • Go to the warehouse, turn to 11
  • Explore the guard shack, turn to 22

28

You hold your breath as you walk under the black box. Nothing happened. Obviously, electricity no longer powered the building. You smirk at your paranoia as you shove open the door.

From the pitch dark, an earthy cool breeze swept over you. You raise your cell phone flashlight to burn away the darkness. Office desks are before you, covered with dust, debris, and broken glass. On the far side of the room, you see a series of broken windows where wind gusts inside. Your eyes bulge as you spot a wall of mirrored windows. It’s a close skyscraper with a broken bank logo and electric sign which hangs partially off the side of the building. Other city buildings stand silhouetted against the early dawn horizon.

What in the Nine Hells? Your mind screams.

Spinning around, you see what you already somehow knew, the Biometrics door was gone, and you are standing in the center of a long-ago abandoned business. This was as far from a science lab as you could get.

In the gloom ahead you find a metal door marked EXIT.

  • Run to the EXIT, turn to 23

29

You fall unconscious onto the floor. 

When you next wake, you feel many hands lift you and place your naked body onto a cold steel table. 

You begin to scream in pure terror when you hear a mechanical sawing sound start up and echo off the kitchen walls.

You are to become the newest torso zombie! 

THE END

  • Try again to save Jordyn, turn to 21

33

Icy rain pelts you and several inches of murky water cover your tennis shoes. Overturned desks, metal pails of office garbage, and rotting softback computer chairs float around a massive wooden table. A terrible thunderstorm rages outside and floods the once elaborate meeting room through more broken windows.

Just as you decide to turn around you spot a set of curved scimitar swords with a tower shield decorating the back wall. This could definitely help you in any encounters. Next to the shield is a single door standing partially open.

Halfway across the room, your trek is rudely interrupted as a murder of massive man-size crows land on the broken window sills. Their hollow eye sockets seem to stare ominously at you, their raging ember-bodies glow with the inner fires.

The flock fly as one, claws raised to cut you in ribbons as short tongues of fire erupt from their beaks.

 When each bird is brought below 0 HEALTH POINTS they fly into their attacker and explode causing an extra 7 points of damage.

  • Take the door near the shield, turn to 3
  • The crows get the best of you and your HEALTH POINTS go below 0, turn to 9

34

A hunger pang strikes you as you make your way out from around a cluster of maples. Ahead you are amazed to encounter a wide tunnel opening. Thick emerald moss and purple vines carpet the exterior and drape down from the ceiling. No light breaches the tunnel’s murky interior. An occasional chittering sound echoes from inside but otherwise, it’s as silent as a tomb.

A familiar Avenged Sevenfold ring tone blares to life from inside! That’s Jordyn’s cell phone!

Without hesitation, you pluck out your own phone and use the flashlight as you plunge into the dark confines of the tunnel.

Thirty or so yards inside, everything changes. Faint light of unknown origin displays how the ground is layered in soft white pillowy webs, the walls are now covered in blankets of hanging webs, and the back exit is hidden under an extensive nest of human shape lumps, piles of garbage, animal carcasses, and the rushing swarm of angry, bluish glowing spiders.

As you prepare for the fight of your life, your eyes dart around trying to see where her cell might be and you pray she isn’t here with it!

 Special — six successful hits means you are bound in webs!

  • If you do not escape the spiders, turn to 15
  • If you escape, head back, turn to 24

I hope you enjoyed this little off-the-path fiction!

Flight Of The Dirithi #5 — Derek Barton 2021

The world before Jueneva was awe-inspiring but horrific at the same time. Her breath caught in her throat in a gasp. The skies overhead was a mottled gray with dark blue patches between the storm clouds. A charcoal blanket of ice and drifts of black snow covered the entire forest surrounding the immense castle ruins. Thin icy strands formed by wind-driven flurries resembled macabre spider webs. They stretched out from tree branch to tree branch snaring everything. The forest tree lines were more shadowy walls than landscape.

Straightening her shoulders and stiffening her back, she pulled the fur-lined jacket hood over her head. She then marched with purpose through the double doors. On her back the ivory long bow gave her some confidence and determination to find real food for her night’s dinner.

A hollow thrumming filled the air as more wind rushed among the bare tree branches. The sound was an eerie, flat whistle and set the hairs on the back of her neck on end. Instinctively, she crouched and planted her boots firmly into the snow, ready for flight.  

Silvery lightning flashed high above as the whistling raced to a crescendo. As it faded a rolling rumble of deafening thunder vibrated everything, even the ground she stood upon.

Every fiber in her begged her to rush back inside, to wait another day for the snows to pass. Nothing in the foreign landscape gave her any comfort, it stared back at her defiant with teeth bared. A dread enveloped her and she wondered if this was a sign or a premonition.

“No! I will not delay my fight one more hour, “ Her voice carrying out, building. “Backing down is not in my nature!” It didn’t matter that no one was present to hear her or witness. Jueneva needed to hear and believe in the statement. Needed to feel the promise in her words.

She pressed on after a moment and found a thin animal path twisting to and fro beneath the forest canopy. With effort she avoided touching the webbed limbs as much as possible. Other than the storm and its bizarre winds, the forest seemed devoid of life. Her frustration grew as she followed the trail. Finally, her trek came to a large mountainside with a series of tunnel mouths. The openings spanned nearly a dozen or so handwidths and spotted the mountain rock somewhat in a beehive fashion.

Jueneva crouched and peered down into the nearest hole, her eyes trying to adjust to the shadows inside. Her eyes didn’t spy any movement, but her ears picked up the soft scraping of stone. Something was approaching and it was coming fast!  She sprang to the side, laying flat against the wall.

A beast, long and low, erupted from its hive and rushed out onto the path oblivious to her presence. In her own realm, they referred to these creatures as centipedes. However the one before her had to be hundreds of pounds and its head was bestowed with a series of red antlers that grew along its back. More unusual was the appearance of a black lattice-work streaming from the antlers to the middle of its oily black body.

A harness! Who, by the Fates, would ever dare to ride such a monster?

Another shot out of its opening further left of her position and followed after the first on its multitude of tiny, clawed feet. She heard the second beast hiss and chatter seeming to call after the other. Both of the mammoth insects skidded to a sudden stop in the dirty snow and curled back to face her.

Without a thought she had the bow in her hands with twin arrows notched. Upon seeing the weapon, the first centipede hissed in obvious anger at her. It charged closer and reared up to tower over her. The second moved to its right also rising and boxing her in against the rocks.

A gray-skinned arm, heavily tattooed with red dyes, swept in and around her shoulders pressing a serrated bone blade under her chin and flat against her neck. Hot breath warmed her ear as a husky, gruff voice spoke to her ear, “Doshe mi lees tonva dess.”

She had no inkling of the words meaning as there wasn’t any emotion or inflection in the statement. Her only reaction was to let the bow and arrows drop into the snow and keep her empty hands out before her. “Easy… Easy now,” she cooed to the blade owner standing behind her in the tunnel. “We can talk this over.” She hoped diplomacy would work as she was obviously outmaneuvered and outmanned.

Her hood was yanked back suddenly, and a cold metal loop snapped shut around her neck!

Jueneva screeched, her hands clawing wildly at the manacle. She was thrust forward, but her legs buckled and she crashed to her knees. A long spear handle was fastened to the neck manacle.

Now desperate she lunged and crawled for one of her arrows on the path. As her fingers curled around it, a sandaled foot pinned her arm down. The other sandal kicked her between the shoulder blades, blasting the air from her chest.

The blade owner jerked her up by the manacle to then lean down and smile with malice in her face. Her captor was a thin but muscular woman. She had jet black braids on one side of her shaven head. The blood red tattoos ran down the whole left side of her gray body. “Doshe esca roto pemma diem.” Again no emotion in the words.

Jueneva with tears of fury and a bloody nose could do nothing but meet the woman’s stare with a gaze of fiery defiance. Another woman rode up to them on the back of a matching, giant centipede. The newcomer studied the scene before her but then gasped. She shot her hand out, pointing at the bow laying partially buried in the black snow.

Her captor kneeled and dug out the ivory bow. Her slender fingers traced along the silvery runes and patterns etched in the wood. She kept Jueneva painfully hung suspended by her neck over the trail.

Again the blade owner’s hot breath washed over her face. “Doshe modta bri freyes Coueryere.” The monotone sound of her words hadn’t changed, but the look of outrage in her eyes spoke volumes.

Five Years, Going Strong! — Derek Barton – 2021

This month I celebrate FIVE YEARS as an indie writer! Back in July of 2016, I published my first novel, Consequences Within Chaos and established my writer’s blog. See my first blog…

Day 1771 and Counting… — Derek Barton

To date I have accomplished 11 novels, including 1 novel collaboration with my father, sold 500+ audiobooks and 2 published short stories. You can see my whole Amazon & Kindle portfolio here: Amazon Author Central

My site has been visited and my work read in 32 countries by over 4,550+ people!!

Not too shabby for a simple guy from a small town in rural Indiana. I’m not one that likes to toot my own horn, but in all honesty, five years ago I would not have dreamed this as a possibility. I have much more road to travel down and I’m blessed to have you all walking beside me.

Thank you so much for your support and interests. You’re my inspiration and motivation!!

New Author Interview — Derek Barton 2021

Last week, I had the great honor of being interviewed and having EVADE showcased on the website ULTIMATE REVIEWER.

For more great reviews and other content posts, be sure to check out ULTIMATE REVIEWER’s site!

EVADE Audible 3- Part Series COMPLETE! — Derek Barton 2021

That’s right, Great news! The last part of Evade has been produced on Audible.

You can now hear the whole series on audio, crafted by the stellar voice talents of Ashley Ulery.



The balance for Evil has tipped in Hell’s favor…

On the day Detective Lindsey Korrey should be celebrating the closure of her biggest case, The Nurse Catcher, she’s caught up in an intense police car chase.

Rory, a missing child case of three years, has fallen under her protection. Someone — or something — wants him back.
Chased down and hunted by a supernatural enemy, Lindsey must evade capture at any cost.

Yet their road is full of hidden dangers. The Seekers emerge out of every shadow…around every corner…

With twists and turns, extraordinary characters, action, suspense, and a mystery with pulse-pounding revelations, EVADE will take your breath away and leave you wanting –needing to know more!

For Audible click here:

Only $6.95 per part for non-members!!!

STROKE — My Internal/External Ordeal — Derek Barton 2021

My eyes woke to nothingness…

 A void stretched out before me far and wide. All was dark, null and hidden…

 I was blind to anything around me yet I was aware I was growing cold and somehow heavier…

Dead weight sinking.

I sank in my confusion.

My heart began to pound faster from budding fear, raging in my chest like a trapped beast! As if in reaction to my new struggles, steel-like webbing tightened across my arms and legs. Coils of the webbing worked across my chest, snaring me further in a vice-like grip.

I sank further – my thoughts getting fuzzy, losing meaning. I was losing substance.

I could breathe in the inkiness, yet I was losing and if I sank any  further I was going to… melt away to nothingness. Become a part of this ebony matter all about me. Dissolve into meaninglessness.

But I wanted more! I didn’t want to end like this.

I kicked and lurched with all I had left. I wanted more and wanted to fight back against this cruel undertow.

No time or energy could be spent reasoning why this was happening or even what this all meant.

All that was for certain was I didn’t want to sink deeper into the abyss. Shaking and twisting, I continued to struggle and with each effort I inched upward, my body lightened.

I breached a surface, my body aching from the strain. As I lifted from the surface parts of me shifted and sloughed off back into the murky matter, seeming to pay a heavy sacrifice to free the rest of my body.

My eyes woke then to our dark bedroom.  My baby girl, Jessiena still laid next to me and her mother on the other side. I had come in forty minutes earlier and laid down a bit with them, but I had planned to just rest a few and then do some night writing as usual. They were both resting peacefully under the covers.

I was sweaty and like in my nightmare sore and stiff especially on the left side. I pulled up from our bed and stumbled to my feet.  

The skin on my face stung slightly with pins-and-needles. My chest was heavy and my legs were weak. Panic seized me – What was happening? Was this still a nightmare or something all too real? 

I worked my way to the island in our kitchen to retrieve mycell phone. 

My scrambled reasoning was to look up what might be the cause of my symptoms then drive to the hospital which was a few blocks away. My wife wouldn’t be able to come – she’d have to watch  the baby so why wake her.

A terrifying word came up in my google search – S T R O K E.  And the red words of warning DO NOT DRIVE WITH THESE SYMPTOMS!

Yes, I realized I was being stupid and I crashed back down the hall to get my wife.

In the back of my mind, I was arguing with the ludicrous idea that I was having a stroke, still debated whether to wake her.

I got to her side of the bed and shook her as I said, “HHHHuuunnnn—”  I found I couldn’t speak, the words were foreign and mutated to my ears!!  I started shrieking in abject terror.  I have never felt so completely lost and out of control. My body had betrayed me on every level.

Erika woke to a blubbering, screaming 50 year-old child. A horror story writer in a tale so beyond his own comprehension of fear.

Thirty minutes later in the ER I found out I had lost my speech, most of my left arm movement and nearly incapable of walking.

Later after I had gotten some speaking skills back in the rehab center, I told my wife, “I fell asleep next to you guys but woke up murdered! I didn’t awake as the same person. Parts of me were taken, but I’m going to have to fight to get them back.”

I had the stroke on March 29th – It’s now April 20th and I’m still battling almost every waking moment to rebuild. Just today, I walked without walker or cane. Not a long stretch, but it’s a start.

Officially, they discovered a hole in my heart that I was probably born with. The hole had a bleed which clotted and traveled to my brain. In two months or so I will have another procedure to close the hole and cut my chances for a repeat stroke in half.

I have good days like today with small victories. And there are days I breakdown and fume in despair over what I lost and the hurt it caused the whole family. My dreams, their goals, our lives all pushed back to get ME normal again.

I’ve met incredible people in this ordeal: underappreciated nurses who work tirelessly to comfort you, underpaid therapists like Anna and Jazzeline who strive and fight at your side for your small victories day in and day out, and unrecognized first responders who are there in your worst moments when you are lost in indecision.

I’ve been touched by the generosity and warmth of family and friends throughout this dark time! Family who are there in every way, watching over and praying for my recovery. Friends who reach out and offer their support. I especially want to thank all of you that donated to my family (my day job had just started three weeks before the stroke so my benefits hadn’t kicked in.) I will be reaching back out to thank all of you individually. I am blessed to have you in our lives.

My last words to each of you are to BE HERE NOW. Embrace what you have, take to heart who you have at your side and yes, make goals but don’t lose sight of the long road you walked before. Along the way each of us have accomplished many incredible things we can easily dismiss but we shouldn’t. Every aspect of our lives factor into who we are and the substance of our character. I cannot accept nor afford to be the victim. My little girl needs her father, and my family needs me as much as I need them.

Thank you, readers, for being there for me as well. Those of you who have reached out to me, I truly thank you for your kindness.

My road continues and so does my writing. That dark blackness didn’t take all of me and I know I still have a purpose to fulfill.

IMPORTANT UPDATE — Derek Barton 2021

Hello, everyone!!

So, I wanted to share with you a very personal but important ordeal my family and I are dealing with.  This March 29th, I had a severe stroke.  I’m in an acute rehab center near Phoenix. Currently, I have lost left arm movement, some speech and a walking deficiency. The stroke was caused by a blood clot stemming from an unknown hole in my heart that I was probably born with.

While the doctors predict a great recovery, I wanted you all to know and understand that I will fight hard to return to myself and keep writing.  This is just a speedbump not a dead-end to my path! 

Because I am learning so much about health factors that impact everyone and many lessons about myself, I plan on writing about my experience on the blog. Keep an eye on the site if you’re interested.

Thank you as always for all support you’ve given me over the years, and I truly appreciate your loyalty and patience during this difficult time.

Best regards, Derek!
 

The Flight Of The Dirithi #4 — Derek Barton 2021

Jueneva woke, covered in thick orange and red animal furs, a glowing fire warming her new room. She could not even remember coming to the chamber, or climbing inside the bed, but here she was. Sighing loudly, she let the last few days events roll across her mind, weighing her down. It was so hard to let go.

In a sense she was relieved to finally understand why she was different, why her family always ran, why the world always seemed to teeter on a finite edge. Her true family were murdered when she was but an infant. Now her adopted family were also murdered. Those responsible she only knew by a broad name:  the Kreszecs. Other than that she had no real information on who they were or what reasons they had for wanting her and for destroying her family’s rule here in Akkei Maliss.

A soft rap at the door cut into her thoughts. “It is Executor Buore, miss. May I enter?” His muffled voice came through the door.

“Yes, please.”

She rose and stretched, pretending to not be emotional and tussling with her feelings. Her body ached and the desire for more sleep made it even harder to pull out from under the furs, yet she had other more pressing concerns.

The specter floated in and crossed the barely lit chamber. Only a small, mirrored vanity occupied one corner of her new quarters opposite the fireplace. In the other corner stood a tall dress cabinet. There were no real decorations like thick rugs or elaborate tapestries on the walls. Yet she was alright with the modest accommodations and often lived like this with few personal possessions.

“Good morn, Boure.” Today she found she could look him in the face and not feel the reflexive fear of the dead. He was good-natured and surely had been a great asset to her late family. He would be needed further in the future of Coueryere Castle.

“It is sure to be, your majesty.”

She jumped. The word majesty jolted her as if he splashed cold water suddenly in her face. Majesty? Hmmm. I guess he is right. And I suppose it would be better to start acting in that fashion.

“Executor, I have a few requests of you today.”

“I would be honored to fulfill those for you.”

“First, can you find me a weapon?  I will be leaving the castle for a short spell. A bow would be my choice if you can make that happen.”

He frowned but nodded and bowed.

“I sense your disapproval. You often show your emotions openly.”

“It is only that I do not see the need to risk your safety. The ruins are dangerous inside and outside, but in here I can give you some protection.”

She found comfort in his overprotective sense of responsibility for her. He was like a long-lost uncle trying to step up and make up for lost time.

“The meat in the pantry I am afraid is too far gone for me. I want to hunt and restock the meat pantry. My father showed me how to track and hunt at an early age. Even said I had a unique talent for it. Perhaps that is another aspect of my Dirithi heritage?” She chuckled to herself and tried to not dwell on her pang of grief for him.

“You had other requests, miss?”

“Yes.” She sighed aloud and was unsure how to proceed. “When I came her two nights ago, I… I encountered… Well, you were not the first spirit I found here in the ruins. What or who is that Flaming Skeleton?”

Again, his face crinkled as he disapproved of the content of the conversation. “That Flaming Skeleton is not to be taken lightly, miss. He is not one of ours and not from this realm. He was one of the Krezsec Generals that invaded. Few of their invading army were stopped, he was among those few. Now, General Loas Toc haunts these hallways at certain nights and always he relieves his final hours. You saw the hanging men?”

She nodded, her face paled at the memory of the bloodied uniforms, spotted with flaming hand prints from the general’s touch.

“This is my family’s seat of power. He will not be tolerated much longer. I am going to have to find a way to expell his presence.”

The Executor only lowered his head to stare at the floor. He had no answers for her.

“Tonight, when I return I want you to take me to the Throne Room.”

Boure straightened and a smile cracked his face, he beamed with pride. “Indeed, your majesty. I will see to its preparations for your audience myself.”

That statement brought a strange thought to her mind. “There are others? Other court members or staff?”

He nodded. “Not as many as before – remember only the restless spirits remain here. Some have made peace and moved on.”

Before she could ask more, he bowed again and backed out of the room through the closed door.

Jueneva dressed and prepped herself as best as she could. There were several dresses hanging inside the cabinet but were not warm enough or proper for the cold elements outside. She found only one riding pantsuit. It would have to do. She could not be weighed down or wear anything restrictive if she was to hunt and chase prey. At the back on a hook, she did discover a thick deer skin coat with buttons and laces down the front. It was exactly what she needed for the wintery elements outside.

Another soft rap announced Boure’s return. He entered with no invitation this time. In his hands he carried a silver and ivory bone longbow and a matching white quiver filled with over a dozen arrows. Symbols were etched all along the exquisitely crafted weapon. She took it in awe and hefted it in her hands.

“This is wondrous. It feels like I am barely lifting anything!”

“Indeed. This came from within the Vault. I believed it was forged with guiding magics, but I cannot remember for sure. Either way, I am certain it will be of great use and affect in your hunting.”

As she lifted the quiver’s strap over her head and down onto her shoulder, he said, “I really do not like this idea. I feel I may be inadequate as your Court Advisor, but, your majesty, as there are no other formal Courtesans left, you will have to settle for me. You see, as I stated before, in the castle domain I can protect you, but I cannot leave the compound to help you outside. You will be all on your own. This is not a wise excursion. We will find another way to find you proper meals.”

Jueneva shook her head. “No. I will not be stuck inside nor will I hide here. The Restoration cannot happen to my family’s rule if I do not take risks or fight back. What happened here must be avenged. I appreciate your words, I do. And I do not step out lightly and without caution.”

Boure dropped his gaze again to the floor.

“Executor, please escort me now to the best entrance to begin my Hunt.”