Sirens Call Publications has released its latest anthology titled:
Now I Lay Me Down to Reap
The eighth commandment; thou shalt not steal.
But everyone covets something that isn’t theirs…
Wander down the darker paths of the minds of twelve brilliantly talented authors as they conjure stories of retribution, deceit and betrayal.
Would you chance your family’s fate to the gods in return for a favor? Are the finer things in life worth having once you know the cost someone else had to pay for you to indulge in them? Would you give up your most addictive passion so that others might reap the benefits, regardless of the reward? Or perhaps, the chance at a fresh start and a new life appeals to you? Are you prepared to reap what you have sown?
Within this collection, you’ll find tales all too believable and beyond your oddest imaginings. But there is one thing you will not find… In this anthology, there are no happy endings.
Featuring the literary talents of Ryan C. Anderson, Thomas James Brown, Aspen deLainey, John H. Dromey, Amber Keller, Christian A. Larsen, Jeffery X Martin, Lori Michelle, Sergio Palumbo, J. Marie Ravenshaw, Bill Read, and Adrian Tchaikovsky.
Check out these excerpts from each of the stories featured in Now I Lay Me Down to Reap …
Fugue State – Christian A. Larsen
“The skyscrapers hunched over the wandering man like curious children studying ants. None of them had magnifying glasses, but they looked sinister enough—black, faceless monoliths with no emotional connection to a lone man adrift, just a cold, distant intellectual interest, the way a vivisectionist cuts into a live animal just to see what makes it tick. The funny thing was, the man wanted the same kinds of answers. He just couldn’t afford to be as dispassionate with the scalpel, be it literal or allegorical.
He had woken up in an alleyway next to a dumpster on a pile of empty cardboard boxes wearing a gray suit, expensive, by the looks of it, and shoes to match, but no watch or jewelry, though there were pale outlines suggesting that he had been wearing a watch and a wedding band. His pockets were turned inside out. He had no keys, wallet or cash—even enough loose change to buy a newspaper—so he crouched down in front of the newspaper box to read the date above the headline, something about a Senate race…”
Gable’s Leatherworks – J. Marie Ravenshaw
“Her father, Joseph, blamed the wildcats in the area. However, deep down, Abigail knew those screams were the result of something far more sinister.
She walked back to the desk and plopped down in her chair. As she grabbed her pencil, she yelled out, “Hey Dad! Sounds like the wildcats are at it again!” She rolled her eyes and started to read through the notes that she’d taken in History class.
Her Father’s roughened voice echoed into the study from the hallway, getting ever closer, “Yep. I heard it Abby girl. Don’t concern yourself ‘bout that.” Joseph Daniels strode into the room, his brown eyes gleaming in the overhead light. With his hands buried deep in the pockets of his torn denims, he nodded toward the desktop and said, “You’ve got far more pressing things to worry about…”
Me and the Monster – Ryan C. Anderson
“You come highly recommended,” Phil said fast, his mouth barely opening to form syllables
He was strikingly handsome, and his apprehension to the light made me uneasy. I squirmed in my plush, leather chair. The suit he wore was clearly Italian. I could tell by the worsted wool fabric and tailored royal blue pinstripes, which led the eyes directly up to a chiseled chin that jutted out like the bow of some mighty ship. A strange period of silence overtook the room, and after what felt like days, I spoke. “Mr. Winikoff, how can I help your mouth look better?”
I saw when he smiled.
What he wore on the outside was no more than a cocoon, a casing to hide his evil from the natural, human world. His mouth agape for my observation, I saw rigid pikes of teeth; rows of jagged points that shot out of raw, bleeding gums, in no conservative or organized direction, only agreeing upon the similarity of sharpness and rot…”
Sweet Addiction – Aspen deLainey
“Aeryn sniffed. Yes, it smelled delicious. A human; chaste and celibate. It even seemed female. He stretched out his neck, seductively shaking his long mane, luring it out of its nest.
A musty smell of rags, rotting cardboard, dirt and neglect preceded it as it crept close. Its hand stretched out to touch his gleaming white nose.
Aeryn allowed it to pet his velvet muzzle, waiting till he felt its fingers curl up into his mane. When its head was directly under his mouth, he struck. His dislocated jaws opening wide enough to swallow it whole.
He would have preferred younger, sweeter meat. Unfortunately, in this state of hunger, right now he would take anything he could get his teeth into, literally.
He ate as quickly as he could manage, fearful this might be his last decent meal if they caught up with him…”
Good Taste – Adrian Tchaikovsky
“It’s because of all you judgmental thin types that fat people aren’t jolly any more.
It was a long damn way to the Harley Street clinic from the station, too. I’d have flagged a taxi, but last time the sod kept the meter running all the time it took me to get out – and didn’t offer a hand – and charged me for it. Being short on money was why I had volunteered to take part in this stupid medical experiment in the first place. Just half an hour of my time, they said, and no drugs or operations or anything, and the money! I was completely puffed by the time I got to the address, but £500 for a little quackery was hanging in front of me like a carrot. Maybe something more substantial than a carrot. Who the hell’s going anywhere with nothing more than a carrot to motivate them?
Five hundred pounds, though. I mean, it’s not that I don’t have a day job, but when you tend to eat beyond your means, a nice fat cheque is always welcome…”
The Game – Amber Keller
“David reached into his pocket and rubbed the small, velvet box. This was the moment he had been anticipating for weeks. He would ask her when they got to the lake.
The winding road was starting to become covered lightly by leaves. With fall almost here, the late afternoon sun warmed the breeze that swirled through the trees, bringing the smells of summer’s last moments. A golden glow cast across the hood of his car as he crested a small hill, reflecting into his vision and temporarily blinding him.
David’s eyes filled with tears and he rubbed at them vigorously to try and clear his vision. White spots danced before his eyes, and he let off the gas, not able to see the road.
Stephanie’s piercing scream suddenly filled the car.
“DAVID! LOOK OUT!”
You Should Have – Lori Michelle
“They shook hands; the sexuality exuding from her pores impressing him. It was as if she knew she was in complete control of the situation. “So nice to meet you, Mr. Jones.”
“Please, call me Henry.”
He led her into his office and sat her down in one of his chairs, never once letting go of her hand. He wasn’t sure where this act of chivalry came from since he had never done this for anyone else that walked through the doors. “So what can I do for you, Ms. Williams?”
She waved her hand dismissively. “Clarissa. And I understand that you are looking for a temporary replacement for your secretary.”
Henry was shocked. His secretary just told him yesterday that she needed to take a sudden leave of absence for a couple of months. “How did you know…?”
A False Odor of Sanctity – John H. Dromey
“Why would they want this body? Is there a university nearby or a teaching hospital?”
“What about a doctor?”
“I only know of one, Dr. Ferguson, and he’s already established himself in a good practice.”
The two men climbed out of the grave. Unable to conceal his frustration, one of them angrily jabbed the cutting edge of his shovel with all his might into the mound of loose dirt, then bent downward to get a firm two-handed grip on the smooth, sweat-stained wooden handle. He straightened up again, swinging his arms backwards a short distance, as he prepared to hurl a heaping shovel full of soil back into the gaping hole in the earth.
“Leave it,” the other man said. “There’ll be another candidate for this grave soon enough. The town is full of paupers.”
“My son was not a pauper…”
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing! – Jeffery X Martin
It was Tuesday. We were asleep, fast asleep. It was the middle of the night.
And the sky exploded and began to scream at us.
The moon went away. Constellations disappeared and the sky looked like wrapping paper that a child had ripped apart at a birthday celebration. Shreds of black, where you could still see the stars, seemed to dangle in front of an overwhelming brightness. The night had reversed itself.
And then the Angels came…”
Beasts of Burden – Thomas James Brown
“The focus of Coll’s anger that afternoon could not have been more apparent: two burly oxen rested their heads on the fence outside Hanker Farm. It was a wonder the rickety slats of wood withstood their weight; the creatures were monstrous, with vast, curling horns and shoulders as broad as the family’s cart. Slabs of muscle shifted beneath their flesh, each larger than any of the eight men standing around them, and their breath blew hot and wet on the air.
At the sound of his name, Frederick grinned. “Don’t you see, Father? With these beasts we can plough twice as fast and twice as far! Hanker will be spoken of as far off as the White Cliffs!”
“With these beasts…” The old man spluttered into his beard from the other side of the assembly. “Look around you, Frederick. The fields are already tilled. We don’t need more oxen, especially not these overpriced beasts!”
The Fairies in the Wood – Bill Read
“Bizarre, thought Edward. Most girls of her age would have brought black tee-shirts and ripped jeans– but then most teenage girls wouldn’t want to have anything to do with their fathers – particularly divorced ones.
They walked to the car.
“Is it far away?” asked Maribel. “I’m so looking forward to seeing it!”
“Only about five minutes,” said Edward. “I think you can walk through the woods to get there but I thought I’d better take the car.”
Two puritanical-looking ladies emerging from a shop across the road shot an invisible wave of disapproval as he opened the car door for her. Edward felt like going over to them to explain that he was sorry to spoil their day but his youthful companion was not only young enough to be his daughter but really was. Admittedly they didn’t look alike. Maribel had got her looks from her mother and her temperament from Enid Blyton.
Which reminded him…”
The Eater – Sergio Palumbo
“Alchemical Science originally referred to a medieval quest for an elixir by which one could discover the truth about reality, its structure, laws and functions, making the researcher himself, for example, capable of turning base metals to gold. But Jenő’s dark studies had gone even farther than that.
Evidently, the alchemist had soon started considering, if the perfect metal is gold, the perfect life must be endless… Being both a philosophy and an ancient practice focused on the attempt to accomplish this transmutation, investigating the preparation of the ‘elixir of longevity’, and searching for the divinization of matter and man, there were many heinous actions committed worldwide on the pretext of such an occult science. But some of the worst and bloodiest ones in history were undoubtedly performed by Jenő De Carignano himself.
The man was extremely interested in the human body, and apparently also in secret experiments performed on it. Claiming that his treatments were a sort of modern medicine, many servants of his household underwent heinous tests, along with their younger sons, some of which made them seriously ill…”
Now I Lay Me Down to Reap is now available at:
Barnes & Noble
I’m very proud that my story, Gable’s Leatherworks, is included in this anthology. There are 11 other stories written by great authors to check out as well! So, what are you waiting for? Go get your copy today! Enjoy!