Tag Archives: freedom’s blood

Kickstarter Update #3: Freedom’s Blood (Excerpt)

Each week during our Kickstarter campaign, we will bring you updates from the project, including excerpts from both novellas. For the past two weeks, we presented the opening scenes from Phil Giunta’s novella, LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTERS.

Now, we are excited to release an excerpt from Steven H. Wilson’s vampire tale, FREEDOM’S BLOOD. We hope you enjoy these story samples and appreciate your support for small press authors!


FREEDOM’S BLOOD – Excerpt
by Steven H. Wilson

I knew it was a bad idea all along. Well, all right, I should have known. I’ve been kicking myself for weeks now, because I should have known. I’ve successfully avoided this kind of situation for over 250 years.

Any idiot knows that a person contemplating suicide is, by definition, not in the best frame of mind; but I really believed the kid when he said he wanted to die. He was going to get what he wanted out of the deal, and I was going to get what I needed. Isn’t that what makes a fair contract?

Perhaps I should back up a bit and give you the particulars. To understand the quandary I got into, and how I got into it, you first have to understand what I am.

I am a vampire. That’s right – vampire. Blood-sucking. Undead. Turn into a bat and everything. Perhaps you expect a disclaimer about how I actually can walk in sunlight (can’t touch the stuff) or how I’m not actually supernatural but just maladjusted and blood-loving. Nope. Drink it. Gotta have it. Live forever as long as I do – well, if I stay away from wooden stakes and get back to my coffin by curfew. I am not myth. The blonde kid on TV that makes vampires disappear in a cloud of ash? She’s your myth. Never met the human who was my equal. Rarely have I seen one of my kind get staked. Certainly not while they were awake and could do something to prevent it!

Most of what you’ve heard is true. Garlic affects me the way tear gas does you. A stake through the heart will kill me. Won’t do you any good either. Crucifixes? Uh uh. Yes, they’ve tended to scare our kind over the centuries, because those who wear them have tended to try to kill us over the centuries. I’m too intelligent a beast to say that all those who worship at the sign of the cross are murderous bigots, but I can see why less intelligent beasts could draw that conclusion. There’s just so much evidence.

Holy water? Look, be realistic. My body chemistry is different from yours. Some things that hurt me don’t hurt you and vice versa. Superstition doesn’t enter into it. It’s all about science. Your dog doesn’t get sick from eating chocolate because Hershey was a cat person, he gets sick because the stimulant it contains cannot be quickly processed by his digestive system, and builds up to a toxic level in his blood. Your system processes theobromine, the stimulant, quickly, and so you do not get sick from eating chocolate. Your immunity and his vulnerability exist no matter what religious ceremonies are performed over the chocolate.

So why would a little glass of water that was muttered over by a sexually frustrated cleric give me gas? If water doesn’t hurt me, the ritual won’t change the fact. And water doesn’t hurt me. In fact, I can walk on it – or under it – with no troubles. I suspect that, at some point during the Spanish Inquisition days, one of their bright boys took it upon himself to put some corrosive agent or other into holy water, and happened to fling it in the face of a vampire who (surprise!) felt pain.

Oh, and if my ability to walk on water causes you to feel the need to worship me, I have no objection; but a shrine in your home would have little meaning for me. If you’re so moved, send ten per cent of your pre-tax earnings to me care of this publisher, and I will transfer to you, faithfully each night, intangible religious benefits. I further promise you that, should I ever meet any being approaching omnipotence, I will put in a good word for you with Him. Or Her. Or It.

Fair deal? No pressure. Think about it. I have lots of time.

Now that you’re clear on what a vampire is, you’ll of course want to know how I became one. It was the usual way: I was bitten by another vampire and I tasted his blood – my blood in his veins, to be precise. It happened like this…

Oh, before I go further, I would like to make it clear that this is my story, and will not now devolve into a history of the person – creature – who sired me.

The creature who made me a vampire is not interesting, continental or a good model for a hair gel commercial. In fact, he was an accountant with bad breath. And yes, halitosis is offensive, even to vampires. Especially to us, as what is more distasteful than one who plies a trade but does not keep his tools of that trade well maintained? Even an unwilling victim deserves some consideration, don’t you think? Would you want to be bitten by fangs caked with traces of many blood types – some horribly diseased! – which had little bits of venous tissue lodged between them? I should say you would not!

An odious creature. I burned him three days later because it was cold. Oh, vampires don’t get cold you say? And you may be right. But I’ll never tell.


Read the full story in FREEDOM’S BLOOD / LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTERS coming in November 2018 from Firebringer Press. Donate to the Kickstarter now! 

Kickstarter Update #2: Like Mother, Like Daughters (Part Two)

Like Mother, Like Daughters CoverEach week during our Kickstarter campaign, we will post updates from the project, including story excerpts from both novellas. This week, we present the second part of the opening to Phil Giunta’s novella, LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTERS. Next week, we’ll bring you scenes from Steven H. Wilson’s vampire tale, FREEDOM’S BLOOD.

We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy these story samples!


LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTERS – Excerpt Part Two
by Phil Giunta

Miranda sighed as she gazed down the empty hallway. She called out to Andrea and Wendy, but there was no response—which only meant one thing. “These kids have no damn patience.”

Carefully pushing aside a haphazard stack of notepads and index cards, Miranda placed her laptop and mini-DV camera on Wendy’s desk. She made her way toward the back door, hoping that the girls were merely waiting outside.

A distant, terrified shriek told her otherwise.

Miranda threw open the storm door and bolted across the yard. “Andrea!”

She stepped on something solid that rolled under her foot, sending her stumbling forward. Snow-patched earth rose up to meet her. Miranda yelped as her chest landed squarely on another piece of firewood. She pushed herself up just enough to slide it out from beneath her and push it away.

“Mom, where are you!”

“I’m here,” Miranda croaked. Wincing against the pain, she rolled onto her side and wrapped her arms around her chest, forcing her breaths into a calm rhythm.

When she opened her eyes again, two people stood above her a few feet away. The closest was a tall, stocky man wearing a leather jacket and baseball cap. He turned away just as Miranda gazed up at him, making it impossible to see his face. The girl, however, was unmistakable.

Wendy.

She cradled a few pieces of firewood in her arms as she stared wide-eyed at the man who was shouting at her. He was young, judging by his voice.

“You’re fucking with the wrong family, bitch! You better keep your goddamn mouth shut.”

“I’m not talking to you about this.” Wendy held up a hand as she sidestepped him and made her way toward the house. “Just get the fuck out of here, before I call the—”

“Lying whore!” In a blur of motion, the man grabbed her arm and jerked her backward toward him. He brought his other hand up to her chest and shoved her effortlessly into the rack of firewood, knocking several pieces to the ground.

Miranda reached out to the chain link fence and pulled herself to her knees, all concern for herself forgotten. No one turned to look at her. This was a vision of events that must have occurred shortly before Miranda and her daughter arrived.

Wendy cried out as she crumpled to the ground. The young man moved in and grabbed her by the hair. She picked up a hefty piece of firewood and swung, but he anticipated her. He caught it easily and yanked it from her grasp, then raised it above his head. “You’re not calling anyone, bitch.”

“Oh, God, no…” Miranda could only watch in disgust as he clubbed Wendy in the stomach. She groaned and doubled over, but that wasn’t enough for him. He continued his assault, beating her in the back of the head even after she collapsed into the snow. He stopped only when her body began twitching.

Seconds later, that stopped too.

Still on her knees, Miranda leaned forward, holding onto the fence for support. She wanted to vomit.

The man tossed the firewood aside. It landed exactly where Miranda had tripped. Despite the pain in her chest, she forced herself to her feet and spoke through gritted teeth. “You son of a bitch.”

He lifted Wendy over his shoulder and carried her out through the fence and into the woods. Miranda watched until they vanished into the darkness.

Wendy’s words from earlier came back to her. You need to be here. Tonight of all nights, I need your help.

***

“Andrea!” After following what she hoped was the right path through the woods, Miranda spotted the boots first. She slid to a halt in the snow and traced her flashlight along the body. Wendy’s face was obscured by her thick mane of saffron hair, made crimson by congealing blood.

Andrea knelt over her friend. She looked up at Miranda. Her mouth hung open in confusion and horror. Tears fell from her face. “Where the hell were you? I was calling for you!” Struggling to catch her breath, she held out her hands above Wendy’s prone form. “She’s…”

“Dead, I know.”

As Andrea broke down into quiet sobs, Miranda moved beside her and took her into her arms. “Honey, I’m so sorry. I would’ve been here sooner, but when I stepped outside, I… I had a vision of what happened.”

Her daughter pulled back. “Tell me.”

Miranda wiped the tears from Andrea’s face. “It can wait. We need to—”

“No, I want to know who did this!”

Miranda hesitated. “The guy driving that truck killed Wendy in her backyard and dumped her out here just before we showed up. Problem was, it was too dark to see his face.”

Andrea fell silent as she began to tremble, eyes wide. Miranda could only watch helplessly as cruel realization seized her daughter. “That means we were talking to her ghost the entire time?”

“That would explain a lot, like why I felt such heightened stress and fear when we first arrived, and why Wendy was so cold to the touch.”

“Oh, God.”

Miranda remained silent as Andrea stood and turned away. She leaned against a tree until she regained her composure. “At first, I thought she just tripped and fell, but I would have heard that. Then I saw the blood on her head… and she wasn’t moving and…” Andrea doubled over, gritting her teeth. “Damn it.”

Finally, she stood and ran a sleeve across her eyes. “We saw the orbs. Wendy said they were there for her.”

“It’s possible. They could have been the souls of just about anybody who lost their lives in these woods. Maybe they were here to shepherd Wendy to the next life, I don’t know.” Miranda glanced at the sky, but saw only the stars. “I really wish you’d waited for me before venturing out here.”

“You’re going to start on me now? It’s not like I was expecting this to happen.”

“Exactly. You’re not experienced with the paranormal and even if you were, investigators should never go anywhere alone because you never know what to expect. You’ve heard me say that more than once when I bring new members onto my team. At minimum, we work in pairs.”

“I can handle myself, and Wendy was with me… sort of.”

Miranda held up a hand. “We’ll talk about this later. Right now, we need to go inside, put the equipment back in the car, and call the cops.”

Andrea shook her head. “I’m not leaving her.”

“You don’t have to. I’ll go to the house and call from the landline. There’s no cell signal out here.”

“What are we going to tell them?”

“Well, they’re not likely to believe that her ghost led you to her body. It’s probably better to say that the house was wide open when we got here. We noticed the firewood in disarray and the back gate open so we went looking for her.”

“And tell them about Ross.”

“We’ll tell them about the truck.”

Mother and daughter shared another embrace before Miranda started back toward the house.

***

Andrea dropped to her knees and closed her eyes. “I’m so sorry we were late. Please forgive me. It was my fault we got lost. I’m sorry.” After a silent prayer, she opened her eyes and reeled back as a bluish-white sphere, no larger than a child’s fist, hovered over Wendy’s body.

“Wendy?” Andrea slowly reached out, but before she could touch it, the orb floated skyward and eventually joined two others that materialized above the trees. After a few seconds, all three faded into the night.

***

Four hours later, Wendy’s body had been removed and the property cordoned off with caution tape. In the backyard, the cops had found blood on a loose piece of firewood. It had been bagged as evidence. In the living room, Miranda sat with one arm firmly at her side and the other around her daughter. In keeping her hands away from her head, she hoped to stifle her hair-twirling habit in front of the sheriff as he reviewed their statements.

Of course, that didn’t stop her from fingering a lock of Andrea’s hair instead.

Finally, the sheriff nodded grimly and closed his notepad. “Well, thank you both for your help. We’ll contact her family tonight. I’ll be in touch if I have more questions.”

“Absolutely.” Miranda and her daughter rose from the sofa. “Whatever we can do, please let us know.”

“Actually, sir,” Andrea spoke up in a timorous voice. “Before we leave, would you mind if we feed her cats?”

“Unfortunately, ma’am, this is a crime scene now. I’m not supposed to let you touch anything,” the sheriff tapped his notepad against his other hand, “but you ladies don’t seem like killers to me. Just make it quick. I need to go talk to my deputy. I’ll be back in a few minutes to escort you out and lock up.”

***

In the kitchen, the women kept their voices low as they filled food and water bowls and cleaned litter pans.

“You didn’t tell him about your vision in the backyard,” Andrea said.

“That would only have complicated things. Besides, I didn’t see the guy’s face. We told the sheriff about the truck. They found the firewood. Let them do their jobs. I’m more concerned about you right now.”

If you only knew… “I’ll be all right. I just need time, and I think I owe you an apology.”

Her mother frowned. “For what, sweetie?”

“All these years listening to your ghost stories, I never really knew whether to believe you or not.”

“Oh, I know, and now that you’ve had your own experience, you’re finally convinced that your mom isn’t an embarrassing whack-job.”

“Something like that.”

“If the spirits know you can see them, more will come. Most will be like Wendy, innocent lost souls just looking for help.”

“Most?”

The sheriff stepped through the front door.

“We’ll talk more about it later.”

“Do you think I’ll see her again?” Andrea whispered.

As if in response, a single, gentle strum startled both women. They turned to look at the guitar in the far corner of the living room. Even the sheriff was startled.

“I think you just got your answer.”


Read the full story in FREEDOM’S BLOOD / LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTERS coming in November 2018 from Firebringer Press. Donate to the Kickstarter now! 

Our Kickstarter Campaign Has Begun!

Ghosts, Vampires, and American History… brought to you by Firebringer Press!

Steven H. Wilson and Phil Giunta are excited to announce the upcoming combined release of Steve’s vampire novella FREEDOM’S BLOOD with Phil’s paranormal mystery, LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTERS in the format of the classic ACE doubles (read one story, flip the book over and read the other). Today, we launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign to help bring this book to fruition by late November 2018.

LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTERS sees the return of psychic-medium Miranda Lorensen from Phil’s novels By Your Side and Testing the Prisoner while FREEDOM’S BLOOD introduces a vampire like none you’ve ever encountered.

Please click here to learn more. Our goal is only $750 to cover the cost of cover art, editing, set-up fees, etc. We’re offering several reward levels including ebooks, signed paperbacks (including backlist titles), story critiques, and a membership to the Farpoint SF convention in February.

Please spread the word to anyone who might be interested. Thank you for supporting small press authors!

Like Mother, Like Daughters Book Cover

Ghosts, Vampires, and American History…

Coming November 2018: LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTERS by Phil Giunta and FREEDOM’S BLOOD by Steven H. Wilson together in one volume. We intend to launch the book at Philcon (The Philadelphia Science Fiction Convention) in November. Look for the Kickstarter in the coming weeks.

——————————————–

LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTERS is the third installment in the adventures of psychic medium single mom, Miranda Lorensen (TESTING THE PRISONER, BY YOUR SIDE). This time, she’s bringing her daughter.

After Andrea Lorensen’s lover is found murdered during a paranormal investigation, she is determined to find the killer—with some help from her lover’s ghost. Meanwhile, her mother Miranda travels to Salem, Massachusetts where she reunites with the spirit of a young woman executed for witchcraft in 1692. This time, however, the encounter reveals an astonishing truth about Miranda’s past life—a truth that could kill her.

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You’re a vampire, but you have an unyielding belief in the sanctity of the individual’s rights. How do you survive, if you can’t take blood without permission? And what do you do when someone offers you his blood… with strings attached? This humorous tale explores the ethics of being a vampire—or even just a creature that’s gotta eat—against the background of a developing America. Starting out in Colonial Maryland and carrying on through the 21st Century, FREEDOM’S BLOOD will perhaps amuse, perhaps enrage, and will certainly introduce you to a vampire like none you’ve ever encountered.

Stay tuned for more info!

We Got It Covered

We’re proud to reveal two of the three covers for our upcoming books.

First up is Laura Inglis’s cover for Phil Giunta’s paranormal thriller, Like Mother, Like Daughters, with title design by Chris Winner.  Like Mother, Like Daughters is the latest adventure of psychic-medium Miranda Lorensen from Phil’s novels By Your Side and Testing the Prisoner.

We’re working on the cover for Steven H. Wilson’s vampire novella, Freedom’s Blood, which will be paired with Phil’s novella in the format of the ACE Doubles from the 1950s through the 1970s. We look forward to going retro!  Look for the Kickstarter campaign to begin soon. We’re currently looking at a fall 2018 release.

Like Mother, Like Daughters Cover

We also have fantastic cover by Allentown, PA artist Michael Riehl for Meanwhile in the Middle of Eternity, the third volume in our Middle of Eternity speculative fiction series that we hope to release in early 2019.

Meanwhile in the Middle of Eternity