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!

New Avenues to Me — Derek Barton 2020

Covers

I have been working hard on strengthening and fleshing out my two resources Pinterest and Patreon for you. These sites should give you even more access to me, my work and new materials I am developing.

For those who may not fully understand what Pinterest is, Pinterest is unique search engine for materials, reference resources and finding key elements that fit into your customized categories. In other words, I have currently fourteen “boards” (categories) where I can “pin” material that I feel fall into those categories. For example I have a board called Storyboard: Horror-Suspense & Crime Inspiration.

 

Horror Snip 1

When I find an image that intrigues me, I can pin it and keep in that folder. I also have a board for my Fantasy images. This gives me a handy place to get writing ideas as well as show you the readers where I get some ideas. In my board From My Writer’s Blog I have  six subsections with material showing my self-publishing tactics, some biography blogs, my writing prompt stories, etc.

Writing Snip 1

Some of the other boards are: From My Writer’s Blog, My Horror-Suspense & Grim Fantasy Collection, My Newsletters, Book Reviews, Book Cover Artwork, Landscapes, Batman & Other Comics, My Audiobooks, and My Favorite TV Series.

I can also do my own “pins” like these:

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Also on Pinterest I can place reviews on my books, details about my book & audio book giveaways, or I can share pins from other collaborators and authors I find on Pinterest.  If you want to see my work or other things on my site, you can click here and “follow” me so you can see my contributions and additions to the site.

Patreon Snip 1

Patreon I have previously talked about here. I want to this year do even better at maintaining and providing exclusive access to my work. I have decided that I will be writing a fantasy novella based on this:

Writing Prompt 3

The novella will be seen in chapter installments only on Patreon and sold only in paperback format once completed with signature and customized metal bookmarker to my patrons initially.  The other benefits for becoming patrons will still be there — now I just want to make it even better!!

Please see these two sites and let me know what you think of them and if you have suggestions, comments or ideas to provide even more value to you!!

 

 

Looking Back & Looking Forward – Bi-Monthly Goals — Derek Barton 2020

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It has been a while since I did a “Goal Blog” and I wanted to highlight what this Bi-Monthly System has done for me and what it can empower for you.

This is in no way a bragging post or “look at me” kind of thing. I’m listing these completed goals to be an example how much one could actually accomplish.

COMPLETED Goals since July, 2017:

(The goals crossed out are ones that I deemed not needed after all. The list of Uncompleted Goals are listed below as well. Also, not all of these goals were finished in the expected deadlines, but were completed and that’s why they’re on here.)

Finalize my Chapter Outlines for The Bleeding Crown

Complete the First Rough Draft of Bleeding Crown

Complete 52,000 words written (52 days * 1000 words)

Outline first two books of Elude Series

Write out three more Elude Sections

Compile and create an Ebook on the Writing Craft from my past blogs (completed but didn’t publish)

Design bookmarks for my books: 

Get the character portraits from artist by August and start getting Poker Card and Calendars made

Complete two Giveaways (one on Kindle Review and my own Indie Book Giveaway)

Complete one Newsletter a month

Create a book trailer video

Outline first two books of Elude Series.

Develop the list of Elude characters and develop their background

Create a NaNoWriMo Prep Folder in Scrivener and complete the list of development items.

On October 1st, start editing phase for The Bleeding Crown.

Design book cover for Rookie: Pitfalls of Year One.

Write new book blurbs for all my works and revamp all of the Amazon ads.

Complete a newsletter for each month.

Find a part-time post or two – extra income to help with new bills and investment in writing projects/marketing.

Start a new series of blog posts.

Complete NaNoWriMo Challenge: 50,000 words

Start Round #2 of Editing for The Bleeding Crown

Create marketing campaign for CWC Audio Book

Research Arizona Book and Comic cons.

Send out Monthly Newsletters by 15th of month

Keep up The Hidden saga on website every 2 weeks

Complete the 2nd wave of edits for The Bleeding Crown — Finish by 3rd Week of Jan

Start 1st wave of edits for Elude #1 — Begin by 4th week of Jan

Work on Cover for The Bleeding Crown — Begin by 2nd week of Jan

Complete story subplot and finalize The Bleeding Crown (25,000+ words) — Begin by 2nd Week of Jan

Finalize work on Marketing Campaign for Consequences Within Chaos Audiobook — Begin by 2nd week of Jan

Write a separate blog entry outside of goals and The Hidden Saga — Finish by 2nd Week of Feb

Complete Elude #3 book (30,000 to 40,000 words)

Have Elude #3 self-edited by the end of January 2019.

Professionally edited and published by the end of February 2019.

Set up another couple book-signing events for 2019

Complete the last chapters for The Hidden web saga

Started another web saga (Juxtaposed)

Look into the options for booth setups for my book showings.

Thinking about setting up a service to other authors for possible book cover design

Outline Elude new chapters for subplots and additional material – Finish by 2nd week of March

Finish writing new subplots/additional material – Finish by 3rd week of March

Complete 3rd Wave of edits & send out to Beta Readers – Finish by end of March

Complete 1st Wave of edits for Elude #1 – Finish by end of April

Complete the Cover for The Bleeding Crown – Finish by end of March

Get feedback from beta-readers – Finish by end of April

Complete the 4th wave and final edit for The Bleeding Crown – Finish by end of April

Complete the total outline for the third book of the Wyvernshield Series. Highest Priority.

Maintain a two-week production of the chapters for the web series, Juxtaposed.

Develop and begin the Evade Series outline.

Find a cover artist or design the Wyvernshield book covers myself

UNCOMPLETED GOALS:

Read one writing craft book a month

Prepare for book convention in Tucson

Get booth banners

Write 1,000 words per day – blogging, outlining, writing (61,000k).

Sign up for at least two comic-con/book festivals for 2019.

 

As of today, May 7th, 2020, I have 3 novels, 5 novellas under my name (starting back in 2016). I plan on writing through rest of my life, but it is amazing what I have worked through and accomplished by using these guidelines.

Truly it is all down to making a plan, sticking with the plan and persevering through the obstacles.

Now to continue on for 2020…

 

January thru April’s Completed Goals:

Edit Evade Book #1, Book #2

Craft Book Blurb

Designed YouTube website with book trailers for all 5 books & series

Purchase/design book covers for all three books

Set up Beta-readers of Evade #1

Publish Book #1

Once per quarter do an ad (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or Amazon)

Connected with Pubby.com for book reviews

Bought a new table & cart for book signings

Found a new set of book stands

Established a Writing Prompt Series done almost bi-weekly

Completed a week-long course on Amazon Ads & Campaigns

May & June Bi-Monthly goals

Donate older book versions to libraries

Connect with my beta-readers for Evade #2

Continue writing and complete Evade #3

Maintain the Amazon Ad campaign

Research to see if anyone is doing book signings in August

Write Fantasy or Horror Writing Prompt stories every two weeks

Do more exclusive posting on Patreon

Get a writing craft audio book

Design new metal bookmarkers for Evade and The Hidden

Work on a way to expand my Email Subscriber List

 

 

Thanks again to everyone that checks in on me, supports my efforts, and provides a lot of beneficial assistance!!  I truly could not get it all done with out you.

 

 

 

The Hidden EBOOK SALE! — Derek Barton 2020

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Starting today, May 1st I have discounted the price for the Ebook to just ONE DOLLAR! Well, actually, $.99!

GET THIS SPINE-TINGLING, EDGE-OF-YOUR-SEAT THRILLER TODAY!!

Hidden Vid

So remember:

—->> Up through the 4th get this great classic horror story for only $.99

—->> Then after the 5th for only $1.99!!

—->> Back to regular price $2.99 by the 9th!

 

E N J O Y !!!

 

First Sneak Peak of Evade Part Two! – Derek Barton 2020

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EXCERPT OF EVADE PART TWO:

Stewie Portier scrubbed a hand along the back of his neck and up through the thick nest of matted gray hair to his receding hairline. It was a peculiar subconscious move to clear his mind, like a cat preening in the wild.

Standing at the corner of an alley set between a large twelve-story tower hotel called The Cordant and a more modern strip mall, he scanned the restaurants, the body shop, and a new medical marijuana dispensary. He wanted to make sure there were few if any eyes on him as he entered the narrow alley.

His temples throbbed. The internal voices were arguing inside his brain, back and forth, the sound frequency increasing with every word.

They were telling him – no – insisting it was time to take down The Cordant. It was a historic building erected in the heart of the downtown district in 1902. Stewie knew the fire would be amazing, glorious as any spectacle the city had ever seen.

Currently, the owners were in several court disputes, trying to get special permission to restore it. They faced resistance from the City Historical Society. Due to a court injunction against new construction, it was rumored the owners were financially at risk of going bankrupt.

It made this the perfect opportunity to light it up. The owners, of course, would appear the most suspicious. Many would claim his fire was for the insurance payout. Thus taking any possible investigation in another direction and would keep the heat off of him.

Eventually, he might gain the police’s attention, arrested then taken back to the institution due to his so-called illnesses. In his opinion society didn’t understand him or others like him. He shared the familiar story of many patients living on the street after being institutionalized. He was without a home, without family or support, and dumped into an nameless void.

“Out of sight and out of mind,” he would often say. Yet, given his penchant for making fires, if society didn’t see him or pay attention to another beggar on the street, then it was all good for him. It was a double-edged sword.

Since his last release, Stevie lived in the alleyway two blocks from The Cordant. His daily routine involved watching security make their rounds and monitor activity around the building.

However, this morning, new voices were telling him to find the child. Find the boy who was in the back of the PPD cruiser he saw earlier when he was panhandling near the freeway. It was gnawing at him, distracting him even more than normal.

Seek him. Seek him out.  HE MUST SEEK.

Willing himself to ignore the insistent voices, Stewie zipped his gray hoodie that had the word SECURITY sewn across the front. Then he slipped its hood over his dirty Eagles football cap. On his shoulder, he had a one-strap black backpack. The awkward weight strained his back.

He was confident his face was shrouded in black, but he carefully avoided looking at the security camera above his head. It was installed to protect the back of Angelos’ Deli, making sure no one broke into their back door or fiddled with the locks.

On the opposite side of the alley was a set of rusted double-doors chained together. They led to the bottom floor of The Cordant. One afternoon while pretending to look for aluminum cans in the trash bins, Stewie discovered the doors left unlocked – the padlock left hanging open. This happened once three weeks ago, but he had not been prepared to do anything about it.

Then it happened again four days ago. This time, he raced over to his grocery cart, plucked out a similar brand padlock he’d swiped from the Home Depot on 18th Ave, and replaced their lock with his. The building was his for the taking.

He knew his time was limited. There was no telling when they’d come back to check on the door, do more than a cursory pass, and discover the new lock on the chains. Once they did, they’d cut it off and replace it with one of theirs and he’d miss out. Yet, he had to have The Cordant.

The empty hotel would be his biggest fire yet and was ripe for the picking. His count so far was seventeen minor fires in Philadelphia itself and maybe twenty more serious fires in the Jenkintown area, his hometown.

The Renalt Institution, where his father committed him at age 10, was the best and biggest fire to date. It was the same institution he was violently raped repeatedly by the floor’s night shift orderly. Seeing the flames lick the sky and devour the structure of his worst years, it was… cathartic and the best therapy he ever received.

Unfortunately, he served time. He’d been careless and attracted police attention by cheering and clapping at the scene of the fire. The ashes on one sleeve gave them cause to search his Chevy where they found his gear and fire-starters.

After his original case was appealed on the basis of mental instability, he was transferred to another institution. He guessed it was his fifth at the time.

As he unlocked the chains and slipped inside the empty building, he wondered what the boy in the police cruiser had been arrested for. Did the boy like fires the way he did? Maybe he could find…seek…the boy out after tonight…

No, don’t be stupid. Why do you want to talk to the kid anyway?  Ya’ ain’t one of the pervy touchers so, why do you…

I must seek him though. It has to be…

He rubbed the back of his neck again and raced his hands all through his dirty locks. This time he even added a good hard rub to his patchy goatee and scrub-beard.

Focus on the fire. Focus on whatcha doing, dumbass! Stewie heard the words almost as if his father was standing right behind him. He flinched, waiting on the hard fist to crack him in the back of his head or in the kidney.

He cautiously peeked behind him. No silvery specter shaped like his long dead father appeared. “No, of course not. Dad’s not here. Come on now.”

He slung his backpack onto the floor. Doublechecking his equipment, he opened the pack for an inspection. Inside were a couple rolls of duct tape, eight cans of lighter fluid, two cans of paint thinner, and three broom handles wrapped with cloth for torches.

Tied to his belt was a metal-handled flashlight. Switching it on, it highlighted a long foyer and cavernous meeting hall, which flowed into a wide-set of stairs leading to the next level. He jogged over to it.

Inside the hotel, he felt stronger and more determined to make the fire happen. The boy would be around to find later. A whispered ‘Seek’ echoed softly in his right ear. He whirled and shined the light on the area, but it only pinpointed clouds of dust and a long dead grandfather clock standing in one corner.

Stewie chuckled at his nerves, straightened his shoulders, and marched like a soldier to the steps, climbing to the next level.

Starter fluid was at the top of his plans. He’d soak couches and any other furniture he could find. Then he’d trail a line of it along the stairwell, finishing with a massive mixed puddle of leftover fluid and paint thinner.

Starting two separate fires at the ends of the trail was risky, but it added to the excitement and the intensity of his fires. Possible death, disfigurement or extreme pain added to the entertainment elements and would ramp up the energy at the same time satisfy his desires. Highlight his satisfaction at fooling the police too.

Nearly fifteen minutes later, he was in the top level of the old structure. A conference room close to the landing would do well for his purpose.

He retrieved two of the torch brooms and soaked them in lighter fluid. Then gathered chairs around a dilapidated, dust-covered table. Some spray paint covered paintings and torn tapestries left in another conference room were added to the pile of chairs. Many of the rooms were empty, any valuables long gone.

As he was about to give up, he located what appeared to be a penthouse suite. The rooms were scattered with old trash, but the bedchamber had a massive bay window and a door leading out to a fenced-in patio.

He tore down a trio of rose-tinted draperies and dragged them to his little bonfire.

It’s go time, he cheerfully thought.

Seek. Seek him, NOW! The voice ordered him, speaking over his left shoulder.

Stewie whirled, ready to run.  No one was in the room with him. Sweat popped out along his brow at the same time a chill climbed his spine.

Ghosts? Well, so what? The building was ancient and would soon be rubble and ash.

 

An open canister of paint thinner in hand, he raced back to the stairs. The trail was thick, fumes mixing with the dust from the carpeted steps.

At the bottom, he was in the foyer again, but it didn’t take long to find the stairs leading into the lower two levels of the basement and hotel storage units.

The last of the paint thinner spread slowly, an almost elegant glassy pool in the middle of the cluttered, junk-strewn storage units. This was where the hotel left their unwanted or abandoned items. The old trash would feed the fire well.

Stewie’s breath grew labored as he pried open some of the fences to the units. He dragged broken desk pieces, rickety chairs, wooden headboards, and even a few coat racks closer to the paint thinner puddle. He leaned against one old desk, catching his breath, trying not to breath in too much of the fumes and thick dust.

Why is it so damn hot, he wondered. As he took off the hoodie to tie it around his waist, he caught sight of his arms. The skin was ashy, wisps of smoke wafting slowly from the pores.

Did I get some thinner or lighter fluid on me? He rubbed the hoodie along his arms trying to wipe the stuff off his skin. It didn’t have any effect.

He raked a shaky hand from the back of his neck through his matted, sweaty hair once again.

Stewie shrugged angrily and stormed the stairs. He needed to get this done so he could track down that boy. This was taking too long.

Maybe I should do this tomorrow? Surely, they wouldn’t notice the padlock one more day.

Smelling the fumes in the air, it brought back some of his zeal to bring the old lady down to her cinders.  His manic toothless smile grew again.

When he reached the fourteenth-floor landing, he dug in his faded jeans’ pocket for one of the many lighters he carried at all times.

The bonfire pile ignited like fall leaves. Stewie hesitated, gripped with an overwhelming desire to watch the flames reach out, slide across the floor tiles, climb the walls, and devour the chairs, to witness it come to life before his eyes. But it wouldn’t be safe to stay long. The fire already flared along the hall’s trail of paint thinner on the stairs.

He was mesmerized by the amber beauty. It was a living, dancing gemstone that performed for him like a lover he hadn’t touched in years.

If you stay, you’ll never find the boy. Seek him! SEEK HIM!

The words broke his trance and he blanched at the sight of the pyre before him. Most of the room was engulfed, including the ceiling tiles above his head. Small chunks and burning embers were raining down around him.

He ran and dove over the reaching flames blocking the doorway. The skin on his left arm was singed and welted with second-degree burns. Tumbling and rolling in the hall put out the parts of his shirt that were on fire.

On his knees, Stewie was scared, witnessing how fast the old wood walls and framework were consumed by the fire. Although dazzled and charmed by the sight of the flames, it was not his wish to burn to death. He wanted to create more fires and it galled him that he may have robbed himself of the chance.

And he craved to learn more about the boy!

The words, Seek the boy, came out of his mouth unconsciously and repeated over and over in a monotone loop.

In a frenzied descent of the stairs, he made for the hotel’s back door. Rather than seeing, he psychically sensed it and experienced a surge of raw energy. It rushed through him and raced along every nerve in his body as though struck by lightning. His feet tangled, making him stumble down the steps, again catching fire in the paint thinner trail.  At the next floor landing, he writhed on his back for several agonizing seconds, striving to put out the flames.

The pain from the burns along his arm, neck, face, and right shoulder subsided some. Yet, the rushing raw sensation of energy that hit him remained like the dull ache of a broken bone.

The image of the brown-haired boy from the police cruiser, hovering in air surrounded by rings manifested in his mind’s eye. A faint glowing cloud of red light surrounded him. At the same time, the calling command inside increased in its power.

Something had happened. Something which involved the child and the red rings. Instinctively, Stevie knew it was a new form of fire he never experienced before, but he wanted to have more. It literally reignited his race out of the building and spurred his mind to action.

Finally, at the bottom level and the expansive foyer, he flew across the floor toward the double doors. The bottom levels spewed black smoke from their stairwell and heated air baked his skin red, stretching it tight.

Stewie lunged at the door handle and sprawled headlong into the alley. Somewhere inside, he was dimly aware he neglected to put his hoodie back on and exposed his face to the security camera’s recording.

But it didn’t matter now.

Seek him! Seek him! Seek him! Seek him! 

Like the fire that devoured The Cordant, his brain was ablaze and consumed with a new fire.

EVADE Part One BOOK RELEASE!! — Derek Barton 2020

In case you haven’t heard or haven’t seen my latest newsletter (Hey?  Why aren’t you on my email list? Thought we were friends! hahaha).

EVADE PART ONE IS OUT!!

EvadeFrontsmallsize

 

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!

Ebook $2.99       Paperback $7.99

EVADE Trailer 2020

 

GO GRAB YOUR COPY TODAY!!!

2020 Bio Blog — Derek Barton

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So it has been since 2018 that I’ve done a bio blog about myself. I tried to really find some interesting questions. If there are any questions you might have, feel free to send me any email or leave a comment. I am very open to answering.

 

Base information you may not know:  My real name is Derek Barton (no middle name and not a pen name). I have a half-brother Alec who lives in Florida near my father and my mother lives in our home state of Indiana. I live in Phoenix (since 1996), married to my wife Erika, and have three children (Johnathan 19, Jenna 18, and Jessiena 4). I’m a full-time supervisor of an insurance marketing company. I was born in 1970 and grew up in the 80s (hair bands still rule!)

What shows are you into?  Like my book genres, I tend to like both horror and fantasy shows. So Game of Thrones (except the last season) is my all-time favorite show with Dexter (except for the last season!! C’mon can’t you guys get it together in the end?!)

How often do you play sports? Rarely any more. Would like to get back into racquetball again once we are out of the quarantine.

What skill would you like to master? I would like to also get back into weightlifting again – not only for health reasons, but I found it did help with stress as well.

What do you wish you knew more about? The other skill would be making better book covers designs. I really need to get into a  Photoshop course!

What mystery do you wish you knew the answer to? What are ghosts? Are they really former people and if so, why did they choose to be in this form or choose to stay behind?

What’s your favorite genre of book or movie? Again I like the two genres of horror and fantasy, but this time I would have to say horror more than fantasy. Check out my prior blog on my top favorite horror films! 

What fictional place would you most like to go? If I had the chance, I would find a way to see the future like in Minority Report or some other sci-fi flick like The Fifth Element. I love fantasy but future technology would be awesome to see.

What game or movie universe would you most like to live in? As I stated above, the future would be an amazing time to live in, but if not that then the epic fantasy world of Skyrim would be also a great experience. I’m into the whole magic thing — maybe not out facing dragons by myself like the game, but you get me!

What was the best book or series that you’ve ever read? Stephen King’s The Green Mile Series (they were first published as five small novellas — hmmm does that sound familiar?) would be my first thought. Then of course the whole Game of Thrones Fire & Ice Series. Many others could come up on this list — like R.A. Salvatore’s Drizzt Do’urden Book Series which is absolutely phenomenal and filled with characters I could only hope to achieve!

What are you most looking forward to in the next 10 years? Writing more and more books and getting better with each one. I don’t  have any reason to stop — my expensive hobby completes a part of me and if there are fans of it too then that is also incredible! The other aspect that I’m looking forward to is seeing my baby girl grow up! Jessiena is such a wonder and fascinates me — I really had no idea what being a parent could be and now I can’t imagine life without her around.

Who’s your go-to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to? I love heavy metal and dubstep (heavy metal techno), but when I need to write I put on classical or epic music. Bands like Godsmack, Audioslave, Stone Sour, Linkin Park, or Deftones would be my answer.

What would be your first question after waking up from being cryogenically frozen for 100 years? Did I get a new body or still stuck with my starter one?!

What is something that a ton of people are obsessed with, but you just don’t get the point of? The Kardashians come first to mind, then I’d say most reality shows especially cooking. If I can’t eat it, I am not spending an hour watching you make it! Don’t taunt the fat guy, he’ll bite!

What piece of entertainment do you wish you could erase from your mind so that you could experience it for the first time again?  The Lord of the Rings movies would be great to relive.

What do you have doubts about? I doubt a lot of personal things but my writing of course is always important to me so I want to make it the very best I can. I often wonder what have I missed or how can I make it better.

What would be the scariest monster you could imagine? If you notice and some of you have pointed it out, I have a lot of spiders in my stories. Yeah, tarantulas are definite nightmare material to me. The worst I created so far would be the massive Gray Mother in the story, The Bleeding Crown. 

What challenging thing are you working through these days? I’m working on Evade, my new horror suspense series and trying to tie that all up, but the one that makes me gulp anxiously is the last of the Wyvernshield Series. It has some really big things coming up and even though I think up these things, it’s another to write it down coherently and also make it entertaining. I am excited to get started on the last book yet I dread it! hahaha  Coming in 2021 hopefully!!

When was the last time you changed your opinion/belief about something major? My ideas of politics in general have changed within the last three years. I’m not going to get into it as that is a very volatile subject with people, but I’ll say that I never realized how big an impact politics and government really  do have in your normal day to day life. The decisions other people in charge make can literally mean your life or death indirectly or not. It won’t always work to ignore it and keep your head in the sand.

What’s your best “my coworkers are crazy” story? Once during a company “secret santa gift exchange”, a coworker overhead another lady ask for anything cow-related. She had a collection she wanted to add to. My coworker friend who was friends with her took it upon himself to give her a gift even though she wasn’t in his team exchange. He bought her a real frozen cow tongue! Funny as hell (the look of disgust and shock on her face as she unwrapped it) but sick at the same time!

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions that you did while growing up?  Halloween is a big one of course. Dad always made a big effort to put me in costume and it was a special time for the both of us. The other would be of all things, Easter. I couldn’t wait to find those damn eggs! It was my scavenger hunt (which I seem to really secretly enjoy). Jessiena seems to share my same thoughts on holidays (although “pwesents” from Christmas is starting to edge out all others!)

What’s the weirdest way you have met someone? Well…my wife and I met at a “Lock and Key Event”. A singles thing where men were given keys and women given locks on necklaces. Gee, no symbolism there!  Anyway, we didn’t “click” with our key and lock, but when Erika approached me and chastised me with “You paid $20 just to sit here and not talk to anyone?”, the event didn’t matter anymore… And thus the beatings, I mean, the love began!

If you had to choose one cause to dedicate your life to, what would that cause be?  Fighting for animal rights or protection. I don’t do enough of that — no one can — but it is important to me. Some of the stories of abuse you hear make you wonder how I’m a human and that same person is a human? How can they do such a utterly horrid thing and still be related to me?

Which fictional villain is your favorite? Agent Smith of The Matrix movies was incredibly portrayed by Hugo Weaving. Pinhead from the Hellraiser movies. Then there’s the villains Loki and Thanos of the Marvel movies… so there are a lot out there to choose from. That’s too broad of a category for me to answer.

 

Alright well, I hope that wasn’t too boring and it gives you a little insight to my mind and my life.

Hope everyone is being safe and remaining healthy in this trying time!  Thank you again for all your support!!

Writing Prompt #4 — Max the Most -Derek Barton 2020

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Writing Prompt #4

Rain splattered along the roof and porch, washing all the late winter and spring grime away. Geoff Raynes loved it. He was thrilled by the adverse weather. After the last couple weeks he’d had, it was a refreshing change. He hoped the evening shower would last all night. He would crack the window a couple inches on the bedroom window just so he could fall asleep to it. Something the twenty-eight year old hadn’t done since his youth in Georgia.

He stretched out his arms in a big exaggerated yawn then he picked up the remote to lower the television volume. Traffic along the single lane highway approximately forty yards from his front door usually petered out around six at night and rarely had late visitors. At least that had been his experience so far the last two weeks.

The house was new to him and a recent rental.  His latest troubles sparked to life right after his course finals. For the past three years, Geoff was a literature professor downtown in Seattle.  This year’s end results for his students had been abysmal and a third had actually failed. This was unusually high and when he was grilled by the faculty board, his answers were as weak as most of his students. He tried to blame the current course material being too obscure. He promised to find a better selection of texts, but the look in their eyes deemed this a major cop out.

Then Sammi left him, dumping him without much regard for him or his pleas. She wanted to leave the school and return to her hometown in Andrews, North Carolina. He accused her of seeing other people or old lovers, but she said she was too young for the seriousness of their relationship. Sammi claimed he was too possessive. Geoff couldn’t believe she’d be so selfish and cold. Back and forth the argument escalated. The night had ended ugly and alone.

Then of all things his house had been burned down! It was looking like a faulty electrical outlet was to blame.  Luck, however, graced upon him and he soon found the listing for this little abode away from it all, nestled in pine trees and cozy, rolling hills outside the city.

The sound of a chair falling over broke his train of thought. It came from outside on the porch. If the television remained on, he would have missed the sound surely.

He pulled aside the vertical blinds.

A glowing pair of orbs swiveled slowly to stare back at him. Geoff gasped in reaction, then blushed seeing it was a medium-sized dog.  Mutt must’ve come onto his porch to avoid the soaking downpour.

He considered for a moment, then the old dream as a kid having his own dog percolated up in his mind.

“Why not? I can use the company tonight,” he mumbled aloud.

He opened the door and heard the muddy dog softly whine at him through the screen door.

“Bet you could use a bite to eat too.”

The dog carefully poked its head to check out the interior to the living room. It was a young pitbull, mostly black fur except a few splotches of white on its nose and a patch on its chest. A silver pendant hung from its light blue collar. Geoff read its small letters:  “Meet Max the Most” on the back it had a phone number.

“Is someone missing you, pooch?”

It opened its wide jaws and let its long tongue loll out and gave him a friendly grin. It then shook with all its strength to get mud and water from its fur.

“Dammit!” Geoff’s hand came down hard and smacked it along one side of its head.

The dog’s grin disappeared instantly and it only stared at him. The bright yellow eyes were intelligent, probing his face. He felt they were challenging him or maybe judging him. The experience was quite unnerving.

“Well, what do you expect? Look at this!” Geoff snapped. “I don’t like messes!”

He then sighed and took in a few breaths. “Okay, maybe a little of an overreaction there, Max. Sorry. Let’s do a quick bath so we don’t have any more messes okay?” He petted the animal’s head and rubbed the ears vigorously to add to the apology. It softened its glare.

He led it to a small kitchen, leading to a shallow closed in patio. It was similar to a greenhouse with wall-to-wall windows. As he sprayed Max’s muddy legs with a soft spray of a garden hose, clumps of mud and black ash went into a drain in the center of the floor.

“Sheesh, boy. What have you been playing in?”

 

****

The next morning, he found Max the Most laying before the front door. Geoff rushed over in his bare feet, the wood floor considerably cold. “Here! Let’s get you out before you make a pile I don’t want to pick up.”

Max whined and pranced in front of the door. “Looks like the rain is going to be here all day! I’ll work on finding you some–“

As soon as he turned the handle and opened the door a bare two inches, Max forced it wide with a paw and shot out.  Geoff could only watch as the pitbull sprinted back down the wet road, heading into Seattle. It didn’t glance back once.

“Use me, huh? Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am,” he cursed to himself. Max appeared to be the typical male — any port in a storm.

He watched it a bit more with hands curled into fists on his hips. Guess that’s not a childhood dream I’m going to fulfill after all.

He shut the door and went to the kitchen. His laptop still open to a hiking enthusiast web page. Returning to the chair, he poured some milk into a bowl of cereal, trying to not get overly worked up by Max’s sudden departure. He returned to the article he was reading on the top five ranked backpacks for long treks.

Geoff had the summer to himself and considered hiking the Rockies. “Maybe teaching isn’t my real calling?” he wondered aloud. His eyes glanced over at the swollen knuckles of his hand.

He spent the rest of the day researching what he would need for the hike and living in nature. His mind returned often to the strange dog and wondered what would happen to it.

Maybe it was due to being in a new house, but Geoff felt on edge all day. There were eyes on him he was certain. Somehow he was being watched. He didn’t like it and his mood soured at the invasion of his privacy.

 

****

That evening, Geoff woke to a set of soft raps on wood, like thumping sounds.

He must’ve fallen asleep after his meager frozen dinner. Sitting up on the wore-down couch, he scanned the room. Finding nothing, he snatched the remote from the coffee table and snapped the television off. The storm outside had returned but only drizzled with light rain. Lightning flashed several times but was not accompanied with thunder.

The sound of the thumps had been oddly muffled, maybe coming from the back of the house and were out of place among the noises outside.

He walked to his bedroom to get his jacket and put on his shoes. In the center of the room, he froze in his tracks. Swaying on his feet, he stood with his head cocked to the side.

He swore he heard a woman talking. Again the sounds and words were muffled, but they were still audible and feminine.

What the hell, he thought. He tiptoed over to the nightstand and picked up a heavy flashlight. The thick metal handle felt right in his hand and lent him confidence. He liked this tool a lot.

An abrupt clash of thunder caught the small house and shook it as if in anger.

Upon opening the door and stepping through, fat rain drops slid down his neck and between his shoulders. It was miserable outside and threatening to get worse. He half-jogged to the back of the house, shining the flashlight ahead, yet when he turned the corner his feet slid in mud and he fell off the sidewalk. Cursing, panting, and sitting in mud he suddenly heard the sound of a car pulling into the driveway in the front of the house.

Again, he wondered what the hell was going on tonight.

He got to his feet and worked his way carefully back to the porch. There, at the top of the porch steps stood a man, facing his door.

“Can I help you?” Geoff called out.

The man shot a step forward, spun around, obviously startled from Geoff’s sudden appearance.

“Oh, hey, sorry,” he apologized.

The man, white and middle-aged, still wary and embarrassed, asked, “Are you Geoffrey Raynes by chance?”

He joined the man under the cover of the porch as the storm went up another level. The man had thinning blonde hair and fresh stubble on his chin.

“Yes, I am. How may I help you? It’s rather late, you know.”

“My turn to apologize, Mr. Raynes. I’m Detective Cole Jacobs of the Seattle Police Department.”

Geoff grinned but didn’t offer his hand for the officer to shake. He waited patiently for the man to continue.

“Uh, well, yes. I drove out here to ask you a couple questions I had concerning a case I’m working on. Would it be okay to talk inside where we could warm up?”

“No. I’d rather not. I don’t like messes.”

The detective squinted at him after hearing the response and studied Geoff a second. “Okay. Alright.” He paused as he gathered his thoughts, then continued. “You are a literature professor, correct?”

“Yes.”

“You had a student by the name of Samantha Anne Price in one of your courses?”

“Yes.”

“She has been reported missing. Have you seen her recently? Or have you had any contact with her?”

It was Geoff’s turn to examine the detective. “Well… I guess you wouldn’t have come all this way to question me if you didn’t already have some of those answers and know about our former relationship.”

Jacobs remained quiet.

“No, I don’t know where she’s gone. We broke up a couple weeks ago. March 10th, Tuesday night –“

“That was a rather bad night for you, Mr. Raynes. You lost your house that same night.”

“One didn’t have anything to do with the other,” Geoff snapped at him. He wiped at the back of his neck and collected himself. “She told me she was heading home and that she wasn’t interested in having a long distance relationship. I was upset, but I couldn’t talk her out of it. Once she’s made her mind, she’s like a bloodhound on a scent.”

“Was that the last you spoke to her?”

“Yes.”

The detective pulled out a pen and pad from his jacket pocket and noted the information.

“I understand your suspicion and I can see why it appears odd, but there’s nothing going on. I am sure she’s actually in Puerto Rico with her gaggle of girlfriends getting drunk and living it up. Not the first time she’s runaway and vanished. Ask her parents! They’ll tell you.”

Jacobs didn’t write anything down but was staring at Geoff’s muddy pants and shoes. “You like walks in the pouring rain, sir?”

“Actually I thought I heard someone in my backyard when you came–“

Loud barking cut him off.

Max the Most had returned it would seem.

“It was your dog not an intruder,” the detective reasoned.

Geoff sighed in irritation. “Apparently, but it’s not my dog.”

“Is that black ash on your sneakers there?”

Among the clumps of mud, there was a smear of black ash along the top of his shoe and streaks along the white laces.

“Have you been at your former house tonight?”

“No. Besides I think it’s just mud. Hard to tell–“

Again the dog barked incessantly. The barking continued on and on.

The detective tried to ignore it. “So that I’m understanding your story here, you had a fight with Samantha Price, she dumped you and that’s the last you spoke to her. You believe she didn’t vanish but ran off to a beach with some friends?”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

“How odd,” the detective murmured aloud.

“What?”

“Well, that’s the same story Scott Peterson said to the police the day after he had butchered his pregnant wife and threw her–“

“That’s it! This is enough. Get the hell off my porch!”

“Okay. Okay. For now, I’ll leave you, but we’ll be talking soon, Mr. Raynes.”

Jacobs nodded and walked down the steps.

Geoff shook from cold and outrage, watching the officer get into his car.

Another crash of thunder rattled the house at the same moment a dog barked and howled from the back yard.

Goddamn it, Max! Shut up!  He marched again down the steps, his fingers curled into tight fists, heading to the backyard as the detective backed his car out of the driveway.

The barking continued even as he approached the crawlspace under the wooden back porch. Max had dug himself a little cave in the mud.

“You gotta be kidding me,” he groaned. “Come on, dog. Out!”  The dog was due for a lesson about respecting property.

He shined the flashlight and spotlighted the dog’s hind end. It slowly twisted its head and grinned mischievously back at him. It’s snout crusted in black ash.

First thing Geoff spotted was more black ash coating Max’s tail and back paws. The second was the partially buried, ash-covered skull looking back up at him. A pair of long femurs and a partial rib cage poked out from the wet mud.

Another spotlight circled the cache of bones. “Well, hello there, Max the Most.” Detective Jacobs smiled down at Geoff and the pitbull. He stood behind him and already had his pistol in hand.

The detective pointed the flashlight at the dog. “I guess you never knew Sammi had a pitbull. Dog has been missing since March 10th, Tuesday night….”

 

New YouTube Page! — Derek Barton 2020

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In case you weren’t aware, I now have a YouTube Channel with several book trailers.

Elude Vid

Crime/Horror-Suspense Series

CWC Vid

Epic Fantasy Series

Hidden Vid

Classic Horror Story

These are great reading during your WFH downtime or… Go to Audible.com and immerse you in these narrated novels!

 

 

 

Stay safe – stay healthy!!  Thanks for all your interest and support!