Want a FREE SIGNED copy of "Floor Four" by A. Lopez Jr, and "MarcoAntonio & Amaryllis" by Y. Correa? Just leave a comment here and your name will be entered into the drawing. Following is a sample chapter of both stories. Enjoy!
By: A. Lopez Jr
The rain continued to pound the top of Mary Tompkin’s car while she sat in the parking lot of her client’s restaurant. She was talking to her husband on the phone. She needed to finish this business dinner, and after that she would be done for the week and get to spend time at home, while enjoying a long three-day weekend. It wasn’t too late for a Thursday night, but she wanted to get this meeting over with as quickly as possible.
Lightning flashed outside as she finished her call. Mary took a quick look up at the dark sky as the thunder from the lightning finally made its way to her. The thunder was loud and she could feel it vibrate in her chest. She grabbed her umbrella, opened the door, and the strong gusty wind hit her face. As she closed the door and pushed down on the alarm remote, she heard the sound of chains hitting the ground behind her. Before Mary could turn to see what it was, she felt a sharp, hot pain in her back. The pain was intense; her head shot back as she felt the middle of her back split open. A gust of wind and rain blew the umbrella from her shaking hand. She didn’t even have time to scream, her eyes closed as she died while still standing.
The killer held Mary’s body upright, with his tool of choice, a razor-sharp farming sickle, still lodged in her back. He wrapped the heavy chain around her head and neck and pulled the sickle from her back. Her body slumped and the slack in the heavy chain tightened around her neck as she fell. He dragged her with the chain to a dark corner of the parking lot that opened into a vacant lot, and then down a ditch that disappeared into a small creek. Dark red blood from Mary’s body stained the path the killer had taken, but it was quickly washed away in the heavy rain.
It was a perfect night to commit a murder—dark, rainy, and very few people out. Mary Tompkins was the eighth victim of serial killer, David Henry Coleman, also known as The Mangler. His murders were always very well planned and executed, and took place in different cities and states. Authorities were having a hard time tracking him. Coleman was a violent serial killer, much more violent than most. The FBI described his murders as angry outbursts, but Coleman was not sloppy, and he never left clues that would get him caught. He always left a calling-card though, making him the most feared serial killer in years. When Coleman killed his victims, he took the bodies to a place where they would be found the next day. His calling-card was the sickle. In each murder, the victim’s face was sliced and cut, beaten, and mangled beyond recognition. The sickle would be lodged in the chest, his trademark. It was determined that some of the victims were alive when he cut up their faces, some were already dead. Authorities had their murder weapon, but could never get anything from it. The Mangler was toying with them and knew exactly what he was doing.
The Mangler’s murderous run had gone on for four years. He averaged about two killings a year, with his path taking him from the east coast, to the Midwest, and down south. Mary Tomkins lived in Florida. There was no way to tell when and where he would strike next, and this made it hard to pin him down.
Police got their first break in August of 2002. They received a call from a resident in Liberty County, Texas. The resident told police that a suspicious man had been up and down their road at night a couple of times. This was a farming area and was generally not walked on by anyone but the few people who lived there. They sent out a patrol car with the officer treating it as a routine call, but everyone had the serial killer in the back of their minds at all times, especially the police. The patrolman didn’t find the man, or find anything out of the ordinary. A call went out to surrounding counties to be on alert in general, but most kept in mind that the serial killer was still out there somewhere.
Coleman chose his victims at random, but planned their murders in a very precise way. There was no connection between the victims, no similarities. Half were men and half were women. They ranged from married people with kids to single, without kids. Those things, combined with him traveling from place to place to find his prey, left everyone on edge from the authorities to the public. They were all waiting for him to make an unlikely mistake. The break the police got began with a resident spotting a stranger dressed in black, wearing a black hat and long coat, walking the country road. Without making the communities anxious, law enforcement moved to a higher alert level.
“David Henry Coleman planned his ninth murder in September of 2002, close to the Old River-Lost Lake area in Texas.” The old man began telling the story to the boys. “A very small, quiet community, Old River found itself in the middle of a major manhunt. Coleman chose the time just after dusk to make his way to the home of a Mark and Jean Ellis. They had just finished working outside around the house and were cleaning up for dinner when Coleman peered into their kitchen window. They didn’t see him, they were lucky; The Mangler had not planned out this murder like the rest. He was rushing it and it didn’t fall along the same time frame as the others. He felt the need to kill and murder again, maybe to get more notoriety than he had before. He wanted to be taken seriously.”
The boys listened intensely.
“He watched the older, married couple get things ready for dinner. His plan was to wait until Mark came back outside, as he usually did, and then use his sickle and chain to end his life. Coleman waited patiently. A sly smile came over his face as their dinner ended and Mark got up from the table and walked to the back door. Coleman moved into position in the shadows. Mark grabbed a water bucket from the back porch and headed towards the stalls. Coleman waited until Mark entered the stalls and then walked in his direction. Just as he was about to enter the stalls a truck came driving up the dirt road to the house. The sound of the truck brought Mark back outside just as Coleman was entering. Coleman had no choice but to strike down at Mark with the sickle as he entered the stall. Mark screamed out, shocked and surprised by the stranger. The blow from the sickle hit Mark on his left shoulder after he partially blocked it. The momentum of Coleman walking in and striking down on Mark pushed them into the doorway and inside the stalls just as the headlights from the truck shined on them. They fell to the ground; Mark struggled in pain as Coleman lifted the sickle out of his shoulder and prepared to strike down on him again. Mark shifted his body enough to cause Coleman to barely miss, as the pointed end of the sickle slammed into the dirt floor. Dust rose around them in the struggle, the long chain clanged between them. Coleman was going to make one last attempt at killing his prey when he heard Jean’s screams behind him. He took one last swing down at Mark and hit him in the forearm. The sickle sliced halfway through. Coleman got up, grabbed his chain and ran towards the back of the small barn. The driver of the truck was a neighbor from down the road. He grabbed his shotgun from his truck and ran to where Jean was screaming. He made it just in time to see Coleman running to the back of the barn. He fired a shot and hit Coleman in the right leg. The shot knocked him forward, but he didn’t lose his footing, and was able to run out the back of the barn and into the surrounding woods. The bloody sickle, standing on its own, was still stabbed into the dirt floor with blood. Mark was the only victim to survive an attack by the serial killer. He was taken to a hospital as the manhunt began.”
The three junior high boys, still curious and listening, looked at each other.
Jake continued, “Two things worked in favor for the police you see; the suspect was shot and bleeding, and he had left his murder weapon behind without killing his victim. At this point they didn’t know if it was The Mangler or a copycat, but this man had to be found and arrested. The manhunt continued through the night, with police using helicopters and dogs. With dogs locked in on the scent, the trail seemed to head in this direction. Around four in the morning, police were called to a neighborhood here in Baytown. A resident spotted a suspicious-looking man walking through an alley. By the time police arrived, the man was gone. They decided to seal the area for four or five miles, and work their way in.”
“Just as dawn broke, and the sun began to rise, another call came in to police just a short distance away from the original call. A resident was taking out his garbage when he saw a man sitting in a brushy, wooded area across the street. He couldn’t give a good description, but he thought of it as unusual. Again, when police arrived, he was gone, but this time, the dogs picked up a scent. The helicopters were called in, and the hounds barked and howled louder than you ever heard before. They felt that they were closing in on him. The wooded area led to another neighborhood just on the other side.” The old man was very dramatic in telling his stories.
“This area had less people, and with daylight on their side, the police felt that they would find him as they approached from both directions. The hounds closed in on a garage next to a vacant house. After getting in place, they burst into the garage and found some bloody clothes and a mask that matched the description that Mark Ellis had given them earlier. The suspect was not in the garage, so they focused on the vacant house. Surrounding the house, they broke through the front and back doors at the same time,” he said with excitement building in his voice.
“Police were shot at as gunfire erupted in a backroom. They had no choice but to fire back, hitting the suspect several times. They called an ambulance to try to save the man, who they suspected to be The Mangler. The ambulance crew stabilized him on the way to Saint Vincent Hospital,” the old man said, as he pointed across the main road, “right over there.” The boys looked over their shoulders at the vacant hospital.
“After arriving, Coleman’s condition worsened, but not before he told a FBI agent that he was indeed, David Henry Coleman, The Mangler. He confessed to all the murders as two other agents looked on. Coleman’s expression was heartless, and one of a remorseless murderer.”
“A day later and still in ICU, Coleman’s hand began to shake violently.” The old man paused here, looking at the ground in front of him. “The nurse walked over to him and he grabbed her arm quickly, just in reach of his handcuffed wrist, looked her in the eye and said, ‘I will be back, and I will return, and kill again and again. I will haunt this place forever!’ They say his eyes stayed open, staring at the nurse, until he died. She screamed and shook her arm away from his grip. The FBI rushed in, but The Mangler was already dead.” Jake paused, making the boys wait a little longer. “They say he walks the halls of the old hospital with his sickle and drags his chain. The anniversary of his death is coming up this week.”
The old man paused again, and lit his cigar. “That’s the story of The Mangler.” Old Man Jakeknew how to tell a story.
The three, wide-eyed, thirteen-year-old kids, on their bikes, stared at Jake. Two of them, Doug and Kyle, heard stories from him before, but it never got old. The other boy, Brandon, was new in town. They brought him to Jake’s so he could hear the tale of The Mangler.
Jake, an older black man in his sixties, lived in the neighborhood across the street from Saint Vincent Hospital for thirty years. He knew the hospital in its hey-day, when it was the only hospital in town. He saw the demise, as the new times rolled in, and newer buildings were built, all in the name of business and opportunity.
After hearing Jake tell them the story, the boys headed out on their bikes towards the hospital, but not without one last word from Jake. “Y’all be careful now,” he said, as he took one last puff from his cigar before smothering it under his shoe. The boys, way up the sidewalk by then, waved back as they sped off.
“Best be careful,” Jake said quietly to himself, knowing how kids rarely listened to advice from adults.
MarcoAntonio & Amaryllis
By: Y. Correa
“Someone is approaching!”, the head sister hissed. She had no need to leave her cave, look into a crystal ball, or pull out her cauldron in order to know. She could sense it. Just as easily as the other five sisters could also. “Wait! 'Tis great news!” She smiled greatly, excitement written all over her face, “I will need to alert our Mother!”, running urgently, the head sister arrived at Mother Haydie's room, “Mother, Mother, I bear great tidings!”
Haydie, stood erect in her chair and huffed a minute gasp of elation “Indeed, you do!”, she spoke in quiet excitement, “He has arrived,” she smiled and the single thought caused a twinkle in her eye. “Go. Receive our visitors,” she ordered, and then stood to her feet, “I shall need a few moments to prepare myself.”, the telepathy used between them was a gift given to the sisterhood by Mother Haydie herself, which she controlled at her whim.
“Yes, Mother. T'would be my pleasure and privileged.”, then bowing, the head sister made her way out of the room.
The outside world would consider their almost wordless communication to be eerie yet, it was a benefit that they could tap into each other's minds (something Haydie knew all too well) because in a bad scenario, they need not use words to communicate their needs.
Mother was excited, pleased and (at the moment) feeling blissful. Finally, after such a long time of waiting, her prophesied mate was on his way. Practically knocking at her door, in a matter of speaking. He had no idea who and what he was, but she knew, and right now that was all that mattered. But, he wasn’t alone. He had companions with him.
Whom...? She did not know, but she’d find out soon enough, and if need be she’d undo herself of them, should they come between the completion of the prophecy and herself. That being said, first thing first, she needed to make herself as desirable as possible so that she could seduce her mate.
“We’ve arrived,” he said with his infinite monotone voice – fury and vendetta in a bland delivery - as he dismounted his carriage. “I shall call for her. You may accompany me, should it be your desire. Also, your companions may enter as well. I am extremely aware that they do not confide in my intentions. So, if they desire, and would like to end their suspicions, they too may come in.”
MarcoAntonio could not help but to also be suspicious at the moment “A cave? Why?”, he asked directly.
“’Tis not only a cave. ‘Tis the place where I sent her to be safe. Inside of this cave lie protection and security and a people that could offer my daughter sanctuary. T’would have been of foul play for me to send her elsewhere... somewhere in which the public might have access to her… They could have very well killed her.”
Damian and Rye let out a unanimous puff of obvious discordance and blunt skepticism. Then Rye spoke in the sarcasm that only she did so well and said, “Right… Of course… And, we all believe you.”, then rolled her eyes.
Damian felt the need to concur with Rye, “I would have to agree with my puny friend… T’wouldn’t be a trap, Englishman: now would it?” he asked with the raising of a single eyebrow.
Turning a condescending and scoffing back - his robe seemed to glide with the single action, he responded, “Believe what you wish… gentlemen.”, saying the last word with the repugnant twist of the upper lip that he so nonchalantly knew how to use.
Damian and Rye looked at Marco for approval - he in turn nodded at them once. Dismounting their animals, they gathered their weapons. Rye swung a belt around her shoulder and torso. On that belt she carried her sword, dagger, and miniature inventions, including smoke-bombs, just in case things got difficult and they had to make a quick getaway.
Damian, deposited his battle axe in the pouch which he had on his back, on the right side of his hip he had his nifty spiked ball flail, and on the left side of his hip he carried four flanged mace.
Marco swung his ebony shield over his left forearm and on the left side of his hips hung his ebony sword. That was all he needed. He and his partners were warriors, knights, masters at the art of war and battle. With just a few imperative weapons, united they could conquer any arena and save Amaryllis.
Amaryllis’s father quickly glanced over his shoulder to ensure that they were following. This was precisely what he wanted. If they followed, it would surely be the end of them. This was good.
Mother Haydie decorated her newly given body - the body of Amaryllis. She dressed in her most seductive gown. Thin, almost see through, woven silk in the most seductive shade of violet: tied at her waist with a golden rope belt. Cut in a V-shape at her neck line, which plunged drastically, from neck to belly. The cleavage was so low and open in fact, that it revealed half of her breasts. Sleeveless. The skirt of the gown was slit at the legs and both slits were cut to hip length, revealing the entirety of her legs and thighs: barely covering her femininity.
In her hair, she wore a crown of flowers interweaved with golden silk, leaving her hair loose to flow down her back and her sides, in plenary sensuality.
Around her right wrist she wore a golden cuffed bracelet laced with brilliant jewels of all kinds and inscribed with an incantation.
Wearing this bracelet was imperative, keeping it close, essential. The hex engraved on it was nothing to be toyed with, so keeping it adjacent was the smartest choice.
She adorned her face with bright red lips and showy brilliant eye colors. She perfumed herself in rose and amaryllis water, so as to match her gifted body. She was ready. Her mate would not be able to resist her. With her gift in the art of seduction, no man would be able to resist her feminine charms. As the matter of fact, she was positive that with her gifts she could quite possibly seduce a woman, had she desired it.
Coming out to the main hall, where the sisterhood met, she stood directly in the center of the lineup. Effortlessly, she stood out from the crowd. Like the queen of her people that she was meant to be. Mentally connecting with the sisterhood she instructed them, “When they enter, I shall be the one to speak and take matters into my own hands. Now, should I need your help, I will advise you, through thought… I may need your assistance in ridding myself of the others.”, then she turned her back and walked behind them to sit on an elongated daybed chair that was hidden behind the lineup. The sisterhood mentally agreed and nodded in accord, as they fixed their eyes on the cave opening, awaiting the arrival of the visitors.
Amaryllis’s father stood at the entrance of the cave and extended his hand, offering MarcoAntonio and his partner’s first passage. Rye was not going to be fooled by his showmanship, so when it was her turn to enter, she grabbed Amaryllis’s fathers arm and pulled him in as well. Catching sight of what Rye had done, the English guards followed them all in…