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An interview with editor Edward Katsenmeier of Pantheon Books on author Andrew Vachss

     Posted on Wed ,11/06/2014 by Administrator

Edward Kastenmeier is Andrew Vachss’ editor at Pantheon Books and Vintage Crime/Black Lizard. He’s edited 21 Andrew Vachss books over nearly 20 years, one of the longest running editor-writer relationships in crime fiction.

Q: When did you first encounter Andrew Vachss’ crime writing? Were you reading professionally or for pleasure?

Edward Kastenmeier: It was in 1994 when I read DOWN IN THE ZERO. We’d been lucky enough to add Andrew to the growing Vintage Crime/Black Lizard list that year. So I guess you could say I started reading him professionally, but really after the first sentence it was for pleasure.

Q: When Vachss began publishing novels in the 80’s, his stories were unlike any other crime fiction. Yes, FLOOD owed a debt to Chandler and Hammett, but the subject and title character were utterly fresh. And readers responded.

EK: Actually, not only did readers respond and make that book a huge bestseller, society responded. Andrew Vachss is responsible for changing the way we as a society recognize and think about child sexual abuse in supposedly squeaky-clean communities. Before Vachss published FLOOD, nobody wanted to believe that was happening. These kids weren’t protected. Things aren’t perfect now by a long shot, but they are better. And Andrew Vachss deserves credit for that.

Q: People can read more about Andrew’s essential work on behalf of children on his website (insert). Another interesting thing about that first published novel, FLOOD, is the title character. Flood is a woman both vulnerable and extremely powerful. And she’s a force for good. Vachss started something there, too. Characters like Buffy Summers and Lisbeth Sander can be traced back to Flood.

EK: I think that’s right. Vachss excels at showing us the strength in people that society has until that moment on the page thought of as weak and powerless. Femme fatales in noir were powerful , but they were also negative. Especially for the men around them. Vachss’s women tend to be an intriguing mix of raw power, vulnerability, and righteousness. They are effective advocates (if in sometimes unconventional ways) for the powerless and disadvantaged.

Q: What’s it like editing Vachss? Do you have much back and forth on a manuscript?

EK: Andrew Vachss’ manuscripts are incredibly clean. He’s a very meticulous writer. Easy to edit. There are never any large structural questions, only tiny tweaks here and there to tighten a passage or ensure continuity. But even that is rare. The reality is that I get to read Andrew Vachss for pleasure, not excavating. Reading his manuscript is as enjoyable for me as it is for readers when it is available as a finished book in stores.

Q: So you must have been eager to receive the first manuscript when Vachss told you he had an idea for a new series. What do you love best about the new AFTERSHOCK series?

EK: The tension between his two main characters, Dell and Dolly. Dell’s a man who is incredibly concerned with security. He’d build a wall around himself and Dolly and never leave or let the world in if he could. Dolly is the opposite. That’s obviously not a stable situation and there are going to be problems. Dell is a soldier who requires absolutely nobody in this world except for Dolly. Dolly is an ex-Doctors Without Borders nurse who functions as a defacto social worker in her current community. She lets the world in. Dell is a character none of us have much experience with. And if you did meet someone like him, you’d never know it and/or get access to their inner thoughts. Vachss is opening a world that’s hidden to us. And he’s hitting a thread in our culture—vets coming home and needing to try to integrate into regular society. Also the rise of Neo-Nazism in the Pacific Northwest. I won’t be surprised to see a major news story in nine months that seems ripped from the pages of this book. That’s what working with Andrew is like. He’s not flipping through periodicals looking for ideas. He actually works every day with people like the ones he writes about.

Q: That leads me to my next question. Vachss always says he never, ever does research. And then comes this meticulously detailed, totally believable novel that is in part about life as a mercenary in remote and dangerous parts of the world. How does he do it?

EK: Well you have to remember that Vachss was an aid worker in the Biafran War (1967-70). He was on the same planes with mercenaries, in the same communities. Same for members of Doctors Without Borders. Those people were an integral part of his world. And he had to pay close attention to both camps if he wanted to make it out alive. And back then he had the same mission that he lives and breathes to this day: protecting the powerless. Dell and Dolly’s story is a natural extension of that experience and of his mission.

Q: Any words about Andrew Vachss and his novels you might want to leave with crime fiction readers who haven’t read him before?

EK: Nobody is better at what Andrew Vachss does. His ability to write a sentence that makes you want to read the one that follows is unparalleled.

SHOCKWAVE: An Aftershock Novel, is available in hardcover and eBook from Pantheon Books on June 8, 2014.

Andrew Vachss book cover

New releases

     Posted on Sun ,27/04/2014 by Administrator

We are starting something a little new by getting publishers to give us their list of new releases.  If you haven’t heard of these books, shame on you.  Check them out on Amazon or other book sites.

New Release Section:


“Mark of Evil” by Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall. February 4, 2014

“Storming the Black Ice” by Don Brown. February 25, 2014

“Retribution,” by Anderson Harp releases March 1

“The Collector of Dying Breaths” by M.J. Rose releases on April 8

“The Lincoln Myth” by Steve Berry releases on May 20

“THE TROOP” by Nick Cutter releases February 25, 2014

“ABOVE” by Isla Morley releases March 4, 2014

“THE BUTCHER” by Jennifer Hillier releases July 15, 2014

“ONE OF US” by Tawni O’Dell releases August 19, 2014

“CRY FATHER” by Benjamin Whitmer releases September 16, 2014

“LOVE AND TREASURE”, a novel by Ayelet Waldman releases April 1, 2014

“AND THE DARK SACRED NIGHT”, a novel by Julia Glass releases April 1, 2014

“THE CASEBOOK”, a novel by Mona Simpson releases May 1, 2014

“THE PAINTER”, a novel by Peter Heller releases May 9, 2014

“THE SON” by Jo Nesbo releases May 15, 2014

“The Blood Promise”: A Hugo Marston Novel by Mark Pryor Jan ’14

“The Last Death of Jack Harbin”: A Samuel Craddock Mystery by Terry Shames Jan ’14

“Castle Rock” by Carolyn Hart Feb ’14,

“In the Morning I’ll Be Gone”: A Detective Sean Duffy Novel (Book Three of the Troubles Trilogy) by Adrian McKinty Mar ’14, Trade Paperback

“Dante’s Poison”: A Mark Angelotti Novel by Lynne Raimondo May ’14

“No Stone Unturned”: An Ellie Stone Mystery by James W. Ziskin Jun ’14

“Reckless Disregard”: A Parker Stern Novel by Robert Rotstein Jun ’14,

“The Black Hour” by Lori Rader-Day Jul ’14

“Blind Moon Alley”: A Jersey Leo Novel  by John Florio Aug ’14

“Cat on a Cold Tin Roof”: An Eli Paxton Mystery by Mike Resnick Aug ’14

“The Button Man”: A Hugo Marston Novel by Mark Pryor Sep ’14

“The Sun Is God” by Adrian McKinty Sep ’14

“Black Karma”: A White Ginger Novel by Thatcher Robinson Oct ’14

“Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek”: A Samuel Craddock Mystery by Terry Shames Oct ’14

“The Life We Bury” by Allen Eskens  Nov ’14

“Deadly Ruse”: A Mac McClellan Mystery by E. Michael Helms Nov ’14

“MISSING YOU” by Harlan Coben releases March 18, 2014

“A WANTED WOMAN” by Eric Jerome Dickey releases April 15, 2014

“SUSPICION” by Joseph Finder releases May 27, 2014

“WHAT HAS BECOME OF YOU” by Jan Elizabeth Watson releases May 1, 2014

“THE LORD CAME AT TWILIGHT” by Daniel Mills available now







Which tablet is the best for reading your “scary stories” by guest blogger Andrew Lisa

     Posted on Tue ,11/02/2014 by Administrator

Best Tablet Computers with which to Read Your Scary eBooks


From Bram Stoker to Stephen King, horror lovers are lucky to live in an age in which every scare, sleepless night, and standing hair is available for the taking without a visit to the bookstore or a library.

Tablets bring the scares to you, but which one is right? Check out this list before you decide which tablet you’ll use to scare yourself to death.

2014 is shaping up to be the best year so far for tablets and e-readers.

Apple iPad Air

The Apple iPad Air is lighter, thinner, and more powerful than its predecessors, but it brings all the awesomeness of the previous generation’s brilliant Retina Display. Just 9.7 inches at its longest, and weighing in at a single pound, the iPad Air can be held comfortably with one hand and is the lightest in its class. Driven by a new 64-bit A7 CPU, it’s got not just muscle, but nearly 12 hours of battery life. As competitors nibble away at the edges, iPad Air proves Apple is still a force to be reckoned with.

Entry price: $499.

Kindle Fire HDX

When you think of horror eBooks, you think of Amazon – and if you’re only in it for the reading, the Amazon Kindle Fire might be the best in its class. When coupled with an Amazon Prime membership ($79/year), the seven-inch Kindle Fire HDX brings with it an incredible array of books, movies, and television programs for free. Its super-fast quad-core speeds, backed up by a 1920 x 1200 screen, definitely beat out the Nexus 7 – all with more than eight and a half hours of battery life. Live video support is available literally at the touch of a button – the Mayday button, that is – on the tablet 24/7.

Entry price: $199.

Lenovo Miix 2

For Windows lovers, the Lenovo Miix 2 is powered by a quick Atom Bay Trail CPU and puts the entire Windows 8.1 experience in your hands with a sharp-looking eight-inch tablet. Even better, the pricey Office Home & Student software comes built in at no extra cost. Its 1280 x 800-pixel display is nice and bright, but not offensive, and works perfectly with the Live Tile interface.

Entry price: $299


When it comes to bang for the buck, there is ASUS’s MeMO Pad HD 7, and there’s everything else. A nice, bright 1280 x 800 screen is backed up by a powerful quad-core processor. For the price, it has a very high-quality camera both in the front and the rear, and comes with a full 16GB of internal storage. Not enough room? It accepts micro SD cards for expansion. Nearing 10 hours of battery life and including a wide array of custom Android features, there is simply nothing better for the price.

Entry price: $129.99

Horror book lovers rejoice – the perfect tablet is out there for you.

With an incredible array of affordable, powerful tablets to choose from, this year is shaping up to be the best so far for mobile media. Get a tablet, get a subscription, and get reading!

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about technology and electronics.

Suspense Magazine December 2013 Issue

     Posted on Sun ,01/12/2013 by Administrator

I won’t say to much about this yet, but I wanted to let you all know that the winner of “The Crimson Scribe” award for the best book of 2013 is M.J. Rose “Seduction”. The process was not easy this year, as it seems every year we have more and more submissions to go through and more voters. We were very pleased with the response this year from the fans and judges. This year like last year we are going to give the magazine away for free to everyone and will post the link here along with several other places, including Facebook, Twitter and more.  If you want it emailed to you directly right when it comes out, simply email

Thanks again everyone for all your support, see you all very, very soon!!

John Raab

CEO / Publisher

Suspense Magazine

Special guest post by William Petrocelli “The Curse of the Cross-Genre”

     Posted on Tue ,05/11/2013 by Administrator

The Curse of the Cross-Genre

As an author, I spent five years thinking about writing The Circle of Thirteen.

As a bookseller, I spent about thirty years learning why such a book could be a problem.

Why? It’s because it’s is a cross-genre book, and books like that don’t fit easily into any of the traditional categories that publishers, booksellers, and others in the business use to classify books. To put it simply, they don’t know where to shelve it. My publisher has classified The Circle of Thirteen as a “fiction-thriller,” and that’s as good as anything I could come up with.

Every writer faces this problem to some extent. You write something that fits in one category, but you wish that reviewers and readers would also consider it from another angle. The publisher picks a category, but the “whole” of that choice frequently doesn’t express the sum of its parts. For example, Jonathan Kellerman’s 1985 novel When the Bough Breaks was one of the first U. S. crime novels to tackle the issue of child abuse.  Yet in any bookselling database, you’ll find it under “mystery” rather than “sociological breakthrough.”

And there are genres within genres. Each sub-genre is supposed to simplify the classification process, but some of them become ends in themselves. If one writer sells a lot of vampire books, you can bet that every major publisher in the country will be looking for a vampire book to fill out that subgenre – that is, until the vampires are killed off by zombies.


But ask authors about their own books, and what you will get is a much more nuanced description. No one tries to write a book just fit in a particular genre. An author always feels like there is something unique about his or her book – some way of approaching it that is outside bounds of conventional genres.

So when a book like The Circle of Thirteen is deliberately cross-genre, the author – that’s me – tries to cut through all the labels and suggest different ways to approach the story.

Here goes:


Look at it as a thriller. In the early pages of the book a major terrorist plot hits the United Nations and the assembled world leaders. For the rest of the book, the reader follows Julia Moro, the U.N. Security Director, as she tries to foil the plot.

Look at it as future fiction. Most of the story is set in the middle decades of the 21st century. The texture of the story is familiar but also a bit surprising. The story is close enough to the present day to seem like a plausible extension of our own world.


Look at is as a drama of human emotions. There is a love story in the novel – two of them, in fact. Beyond that, there is a family story that is at the emotional center of the book: the relationship between Julia and her grandmother, Maya.

Look at it as a novel of ideas. A novel set in the near future has to touch on the most important issues of today, because they are also likely to be the issues of tomorrow. A story like this has to say something about climate change, the degradation of the environmental, the concentration of wealth into a few unscrupulous hands, and the changing role of women in society.


Can we make a new genre out of all these things?

About The Circle of Thirteen and William Petrocelli

How far do the ripples of violence go? The Circle of Thirteen begins with a mindless act of family violence in 2008 and spans seven decades, finally culminating in the desperate effort by Julia Moro, the U.N. Security Director, to stop a major act of terror.  In this rich, textured thriller, Bill Petrocelli weaves the story around themes of poverty, political corruption, environmental disaster, and the backlash against the rising role of women.

In 2082, as a catastrophic explosion threatens to destroy the new United Nations building in New York, Julia Moro finds herself on the trail of the shadowy leader of Patria, a terrorist organization linked to bombing attempts and vicious attacks on women. One of those groups of women – the Women for Peace — was headed by thirteen bold women who risked their lives to achieve world peace and justice.

Weaving back and forth in time, this gripping narrative illuminates the unbreakable bond between strong women, providing an emotionally grounded window into the future’s unforgettable history. This is a thrilling ride that will mesmerize until the end.

William Petrocelli is co-owner, with his wife Elaine, of the Book Passage bookstores in Northern California. His books include Low Profile: How to Avoid the Privacy Invaders and Sexual Harassment on the Job: What it is and How to Stop It. He’s a former Deputy Attorney General, a former poverty lawyer in Oakland, and a long-time advocate for women’s rights. The Circle of Thirteen is his first novel.

More information about The Circle of Thirteen can be found on, including tidbits about the inspiration behind the novel and Bill’s event schedule. He can also be found on Twitter @billpetrocelli. 

Why do we love Horror by Kate Supino. 9 Scariest Horror movies and their impact.

     Posted on Tue ,05/11/2013 by Administrator

9 of the Scariest Horror Movies and the Impact They Have on Our Impressions of Superstition

9 of the Scariest Horror Movies and the Impact They Have on Our Impressions of Superstition

Superstitions are nearly always rooted in half-truths. The horror movie industry preys on our willing suspension of disbelief to take advantage of these centuries-old notions and make us believe they’re grounded in reality.

Check out the following nine movies and the impact they’ve had on our superstitions.


In Candyman, a cynical grad student couldn’t leave well enough alone and chants the perp’s name five times in front of a mirror. Big mistake. Every audience member knows not to chant any old names successively or that demon or spirit will come to get you. You can’t even say the name Voldemort anymore without people running and screaming away.

The Shining

The Shining, starring Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall, made us believe that being possessed is not only possible – it can happen to anyone at any time. It also made us very leery of any writer who quickly churns out pages and pages of manuscript.


Halloween, starring Jamie Lee Curtis in her silver screen debut, cemented our suspicions that evil spirits are allowed to have a field day with us mortals once every year on Halloween. In some states, we don’t even allow our children to trick or treat on the actual date. Wonder why…

Images like these feed into our belief that witches meet over boiling cauldrons.

Friday the 13th

If there’s ever a good day to stay home in bed to avert disasters, it’s Friday the 13th, and the movie by the same name gave us just the evidence we needed. This movie proves that a) Friday the 13th is unlucky, and b) bad things happen at summer camp. But then, we all knew that.


The mistake that the creators of the Poltergeist movie series allegedly made was to use real human remains in a movie about the desecration of sacred Indian burial grounds. Within six years, four of the main characters died suddenly in circumstances ranging from the expected to the bizarre.


If Carrie didn’t teach us to be nice to the weird, shy girl who dresses funny, then there’s no hope for us. Schoolgirls around the world fear what is different, and Sissy Spacek was certainly different, what with all those freckles and freaky telekinetic powers.

Maybe he’s just looking for his tennis shoes?

Final Destination

Final Destination and all its subsequent incarnations preys on our unconscious suspicion that we all have a specific date to die – and you can’t win at cheating death. Because if you try, death will come at you with a vengeance.


In Signs, actors Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix live out one of our worst fears – that aliens will eventually come to get us. Thankfully, they always land on Earth with an Achilles heel.

The Exorcist

Ouija boards open the door to the devil, who then perverts and possesses sweet, innocent young girls like the one actress Linda Blair portrayed in The Exorcist. Since that movie, no mother on earth will allow her daughter to play with one of these “toys.” It’s even been suggested that the movie was based on a true story.

Whether or not we say we believe in superstitions, when one appears in a movie, we all recognize it. Most of us have grandmothers who throw salt over their shoulders to dispel evil spirits or who avoid black cats, which are said to be witches in disguise. Part of the fun of the movies is seeing these superstitions brought to life in horrible ways, and then going home to our own safe beds.

Kate Supino is a professional freelance writer and small business owner who writes extensively about tools like time tracking software for best business practices.

Special Excerpt “Dixon Grace: 1.9.7 Hamburg” by Alexa Camouro

     Posted on Tue ,05/11/2013 by Administrator

Landeskriminalamt, Hamburg

15 September, 2011, 8:16am

The room is rectangular. Not very big, but it feels big because there’s just one table and two chairs. Plastic chairs in black, a metal table with a vinyl covering that looks sticky, that’s stained with the rings of coffee cups and water glasses.

The usual standard stuff in a room that’s mostly off-limits. Nothing fancy or comfortable or aesthetically pleasing.

“Function over form,” she says softly, looking down at the floor and seeing small holes where a chair – a special chair – could be bolted down.

She’s sitting in one of the black plastic chairs, slouching really, arms folded, and wearing clothes thrown over her baggy sleeping underwear; her sleeping costume, as Astrid would call it.

They hadn’t allowed her to get dressed. No bra. No shoes. Not even a chance for a morning pee.

What a way to wake up, she thinks. But where was Ben? Why hadn’t he been there when they came, when they stormed in with helmets on and automatic weapons raised? Oh, but he’ll be pissed all right. They kicked the door down.

This makes her smile, then she shakes her head.

Come on, she tells herself. The room. Focus on the room. It’s about four metres by three by three. So, an area of twelve square, volume of thirty-six cubic. Like the business class section of a plane, roomy and high-ceilinged. No. The ceiling’s too high. Because all those plane designers are little people, building claustrophobic cabins with tight seats and limited leg room, big enough for them but no one else. Kids maybe.

She knows this. She toured the interiors department, had a class with six Hobbit-sized cabin designers. For the first lesson, they even sat in two lines of three, one behind the other, chairs close together and shoulders almost touching, like they were on a flight somewhere.

She laughs a little.

Stop it, she says to herself. The room. Concentrate. That mirror on the wall. They’re watching.

She decides the room is more swimming pool than airplane interior. An upside-down pool, replete with greyish-blue walls and a metallic, chemical smell. Chlorine dried by the sun; the backyard pool of a foreclosed house left to rot in a Melbourne suburb. The result of a financial bubble bursting, some sub-division contracting company going bankrupt, the houses half-built, with all those young couples now riddled with debt and living with their parents again, or bunking in a caravan in front of a friend’s house. The Australian dream gone horribly wrong.

That’s better, she thinks. Run with that. Feel the sadness and loss. The anger. All those people drowning in an ocean of debt, the way I’m drowning in this upside-down pool. All those people who went after something and failed, or had it taken away from them, wrestled away at gun-point, woken at dawn by half a dozen guys in riot gear who shout “Keine Bewegung” when you’re still asleep, then cuff you and haul you away. And you can’t shout or protest because your mouth is still furry with sleep and you’re somewhere between dreamland and reality and you’d been having the nicest dream of empty beaches and softly peeling waves and gulls squawking and you could almost taste the salt of the water on your tongue and that’s the place where you most want to be.

Not here. Not in this room. Not even in this country.

Having lost the focus, she rubs at her wrists, to try again.

She wonders why they cuffed her, like she’s some criminal mastermind they chased halfway across Europe; some massive deployment that required the coordination of police forces from several countries. Car chases, jumping out of trains at high speed, false IDs, disguises, Swiss bank accounts, that sort of thing.

And she wonders why they said nothing, except “Keine Bewegung.” Didn’t say what she’s done, just barged in and dragged her from the bed. Some slight act of mercy meant she had a millisecond to throw on pants and a shirt.

Then cuffed.

At least they didn’t use those plastic handcuffs, she thinks. The ones which cut off the circulation and leave red welts that take years to disappear, making people think you tried to commit suicide once. So, that works in their favour. Old-fashioned, dangling, S&M cuffs. And they weren’t rough, either. Another plus. They were just … brisk. Yeah, that’s it. Brisk. In a hurry, as if someone was timing them. A training drill.

She shakes her head. “This must be some kind of mistake,” she says to the mirror.

God, I look awful, she thinks, running her hands through her still sleep-matted hair.

She hates the stringy feel of the blonde dye job. And it needs to be re-dyed.

She runs her hands through it again, nearly pulling the hair from its roots. What it needs, she thinks, is a double wash and a hundred brush strokes. Double wash and a hundred brush strokes. The way mum had done it. Brush out all the crap, brush the blonde away, get back to the roots. Such beautiful hair, until she cut it all off and left.

She starts to cry. She focuses harder. The memories, the loss, all the things she missed out on, things she didn’t get.

Real tears come and she doesn’t wipe them away. They run down her cheeks and drip onto her shirt.

The door opens. She sits up straight and gathers herself.


He’s a big man, and he seems to fill the room, breathing in deeply and sucking the air out of it. He’s a bit paunchy, heavy all over, but not fat. Solid. She wonders if he was an athlete when he was younger. He has that filled out look of a guy who played a lot of sport, then was happy to stop going to training, to let himself go. Now, he’s kilos in three figures. A muscular lump.

He’s dressed in new cheap clothes, the kind of stuff that hangs on massive racks at discount department stores. Stuff that’s sorted by colour and always on sale. Clothes made of plastic. On him, they don’t fit exactly right, and the colours don’t suit him, certainly not that yellow pullover. It makes her think someone else bought the clothes for him, or ordered them from an online catalogue. A wife dressing her husband the way she wants him to look.

He closes the door, then stands at the table, almost readying himself to sit down, like he doesn’t quite trust the structural integrity of that little plastic chair. He has a thin blue dossier in his right hand and some kind of book or magazine. He places both on the table. She sees it’s a book of logic problems, with a pen hooked into the cover. There’s a folded corner, half-way through, marking the page and puzzle he’s up to. Nearly every page has been dog-eared, making the top of the book fan open slightly.

The man sits down slowly. The chair slides on the floor a little, but holds.

“Wie geht’s?” he asks.

“What am I doing here? What’s going on?”

“Moment. Moment.”

He zips down the ill-fitting yellow pullover and plucks a pair of glasses from the pocket of his shirt. He has big hands, meaty and swollen, with a couple of the knuckles bulging; fingers once dislocated and not quite put back into place, maybe snapping them in himself and getting it wrong.

Heroin addict hands, she thinks. But he’s no addict.

She does not want to be touched by those hands.

He puts his glasses on, pushes the book of logic problems somewhat reluctantly aside and flips open the dossier. He smoothes his moustache with a massive index finger as he reads, or pretends to read. His moustache is perfectly trimmed to the corners of his mouth.

“Australierin,” he says.


“You are from Australia.”


He looks up, thick brown eyebrows almost knitted together. “Sie sprechen Deutsch, oder?”


“Do you speak German?”

“Sorry. No.”

“Why not?” he asks, checking the dossier again. A finger taps against the paper. “You are here since nearly two years.”

“Well, excuse me,” she says. “I never got the chance to start. And every time I tried, people spoke back to me in English.”

“Yes. Blame us for that. It is the fault of us that you cannot speak our language.”

“Uh-huh. You got that right.”

He grunts and goes back to the dossier. She sees his eyes move to the book of logic problems.

“You do them in English?”


“That’s a good way to practice. For learning, I mean.”

“I am willing to work at a new language,” he says, without looking up.

“Yeah, but English is the world’s most illogical language. There’s all these rules, then all these exceptions to the rules.”

“I do not understand.”

“I’m rambling. Sorry.” She gestures at the book, happy to have something to talk about, a focus. “But those are tricky, because of the double negatives and the double meanings.”

He checks the dossier and looks up. “You are English teacher.”

“And that’s also why I never learned German. I speak English all day.”

“Is no excuse.”

“I guess not. Have I been arrested by the language police?”

“That is not funny.” He spreads his arms in order to signify the room they’re in, and says, “All this, is no joke.”

“I know.”

“And, Miss Dixon, do you know why you are here?”

She laughs.

This makes him angry. “Why are you laughing?”

“I’m sorry. It’s just so old fashioned, to call someone Miss with their first name. So Victorian, or deep south America a hundred years ago.”

“I do not follow.”

“Ah, I get it. You think Dixon’s my surname.”

“That is how it is written here. Grace Dixon.”

“It’s wrong,” she says. “Why do you people always get my name wrong? It’s Dixon Grace.”

“No. It is Grace Dixon. Because it is here in the file.”

She laughs incredulously. “Yeah. Sure. You’re freaking file is right and I’m wrong. I told the git in the foreign office several times that Grace is my surname and still he put it down like this. Same with my bank card, and my insurance card. Why would you all think you’d know my name better than me? Such arrogance.”

The man crosses his big forearms tightly, like an oversized kid in a huff. “This is not a good start.”

“I guess I got hauled out of the wrong side of the bed this morning.”

“Miss Grace.”

“You can call me Dixon.”

“I will not. Miss Grace, do you know why you are here?”

“I asked you the same question,” she says. “I don’t have a clue, logic or otherwise.”

“This is very serious.”

“I agree with you on that. It’s definitely a serious room, with some serious-looking bolt holes in the floor, and a serious mirror which some serious people are probably looking through.” She waves at them. “And it’s definitely a serious matter when you arrest someone for no reason.”

“We have a reason.”

“What is it?”

“A source.”

“To hell with that,” she says. “I don’t want to hear any of it. I want to contact my embassy. Now.”

“We contacted them.”

“That’s great, but I want to contact them. There is no reason for me to be here. I’ve led the life of a saint in Germany.”

“Please. Calm down.”

“I’m calm. I’m seeing nothing but yellow sun. Maybe on a different day with you, I’d be seeing red.”

He tugs self-consciously at the yellow pullover, zipping it up, then down, then rubbing his forehead and retreating to the dossier. He lets out a loud sigh.

“My name is Kriminaloberkommissar Gerd Schultze. I work in LKA5.”

“Ell car aah phoonph?”


“Is that where I am?

“Yes,” Schultze says. “Wirtschaftskriminalität.”

“Love the compound nouns, but it’s all Greek to me.”

“You should learn German then,” he shouts. Then he controls himself, clearly aware there are people watching and judging. He even gives the mirror a brief, apologetic glance. “My department is responsible for economic crime.”

“Like insider trading, that sort of stuff?”

“Sometimes, yes.”

She shrugs. “I don’t have any shares. And I paid all my taxes last year. This year too. Paying ahead like a good citizen. I have an accountant who organised that for me.”

“Very smart. The tax system here is complex.” Schultze checks the dossier again. “Especially when you are Selbstständig.”

“Right, a freelancer. It was the only visa I could get. But in the end, I didn’t get it. They gave it to someone called Grace Dixon. Never met her. Maybe she’s the one you want.”

A smile stretches below Schultze’s moustache, a thin line of relative exasperation that breaks long parentheses at each corner of his mouth, bracketing the hair.

“I read that Australians like to joke,” he says, sounding very informed, “but this is serious. Can you be serious?”

“Sure. Of course. I’ve got nothing but respect for the police. I’ve done nothing wrong and I’ve got no idea why I’m here.” She speaks to the mirror. “Can we make this quick? I’ve got classes to teach.”

“Ahem, the crime is Wirtschaftsdelikt,” Schultze says formally. “Economic spying.”

“Economic spying? Do you mean corporate espionage?”

Schultze snaps his fingers. “That is it. I made a direct translation.”

“And you’re sure you’ve got the right person?”

“Our source named you.”

Dixon crosses her arms and sits back. “Who was that exactly?”

“I cannot say.”


Schultze looks at the dossier.

“Because he wasn’t there when the cavalry arrived,” Dixon says. “He must’ve left when I was asleep. Rather convenient, don’t you think?”

“We need to stay on the topic. I will ask you some questions and you will answer them.”

“I wouldn’t believe a word he says.”


“Ben. Benjamin Steckdorf. He called this in, didn’t he?”

“No, he did not,” Schultze says, and Dixon decides that he’s lying. “Now, my questions.”

“Let’s go. Get it over with. Are you recording this?

“We are.”

“Filming it too?” She runs her hands through her hair and checks herself in the mirror. “I look terrible. That’s really brutal, you know, to pull someone out of bed before they’ve even had a shower and brushed their teeth. Do you treat your wife like this? Are you married, Gerd?”

“Kriminaloberkommissar Schultze.”

She watches Schultze play with the wedding ring, pushing it up to his big knuckle and twirling it a few times.

“You’ll never get that off,” she says. “I hope you love your wife because that marriage is forever. Or you’ll have to chop your finger off. What did you do to your fingers anyway? They look wrecked.”

“Handball,” he says, looking at them. “But we must talk about you.”

“That’s big here, isn’t it? I have some friends who play basketball and I went to watch a game. They always have to play on these rubber floors. They’re so dusty, the players slip all over the place and twist their ankles. It’s dangerous.”

“They are handball courts, not basketball courts.”

“That’s right. Because a real basketball court is made of wood.”

“Look, we must focus on why you are here.”

She shifts in the chair. “I’m sorry, Gerd. I’m cranky when I get up too early. When I don’t get my morning shower and coffee. I’m a girl who likes routine.”

Schultze claps his hands together once. “Right. Miss Grace, what do you know about planes?”

“Airplanes?” she says, shrugging. “They fly, sometimes crash. They never have enough leg room, not even for little old me. And they’re an awful thing to sit in for the twenty-four hour trip to Australia.”

“You teach at the … uh … at the big plane company across the Elbe.”

“You mean Flussair?”

He grimaces, and nods once.

“You can’t say the name?”


“Hah.” In a mock serious tone, “Yes, Mr Schultze. I teach at the big plane company on the other side of the river. Isn’t that well said? No one will ever know.”

“When did you start there?”

“Almost a year ago. My language school organises classes there.” Sarcastically, “Can I say the name of the school?”

Schultze checks the dossier. “Multilinga.”

“Why can we say that name and not Flussair?”

“Because I say so.”

“Hah. You don’t scare me,” Dixon says roughly. She just keeps herself from jumping up and attacking Schultze. Not to hurt him, but to show him that she could take him down, easily.

“I only want answers. And facts.”

Dixon nods slowly. “They know already, don’t they? And they want to keep their name out of the press, out of the police files. Keep everything nice and clean.”

“I am right. You know a lot about this.”

“And so I should. According to you, I’m a corporate spy.”

“You admit it.”

“More Aussie humour, I’m afraid. You’ve got the wrong Dixon Grace, or Grace Dixon, or whoever. The wrong girl.”

Schultze clasps his fingers together, seeming to restrain himself. Dixon wishes he would get up and try something. He looks like he wants to.

Come on, lard bucket, she thinks. Try me.

Schultze taps the table three times with that combined fist, which is the size of a small pumpkin.

“Grace Treya Dixon,” he says, reading from the dossier. “Sorry. Dixon Treya Grace. Born in Narooma, New South Wales. Female. Twenty-six years old.”

“Wow. You must fly through those logic problems.”

The very faint sound of a woman laughing makes Dixon look at the mirror.

“What kind of name is Treya?”

“It’s my middle name. Would you like to call me Miss Treya?”

“You are very rude,” Schultze says. “This name, are you a native?”

“A what?”

“A native from Australia.”

“Do you mean an Aborigine?”

“Yes.” Nodding with embarrassment and avoiding Dixon’s eyes, “Yes.”

“I’m not. It’s Indian. Sanskrit, actually. It means walking in three paths.”

“You are Indian,” Schultze says, pouncing on the fact. He takes the pen from his logic problems book and makes a note in the file. The pen seems to get lost in his big hand.

“My grandmother is, but I’m Australian. And that means I get to call my embassy to ask for support.”

“Ah,” a big index finger in the air, and a moustache smiling, “but you say you did nothing wrong.”

“Which is precisely why I want to call my embassy, so I can get out of here and get on with my life.”

“Please, calm yourself.”

She takes a deep breath. She knows she’s pushing it, knows she has to, up to a certain point. She also knows that she has rights.

“You don’t seem to think this is a mistake,” she says.

Schultze has something of a hopeless look on his face, like he’s powerless to the facts. “I only know what I know,” he declares. “Now, you came to Germany in January last year. May I ask why?”

“Obviously to steal secrets from plane company X.” She sighs and lowers her voice. “I have a friend here. We met at school in Narooma. She was an exchange student.”

“Astrid Thielen.”

“How do you know that?”

“It is in the file.”

“So you got her name right.”

“You registered at her apartment,” Schultze says, also reading out the date and address.

“Yeah, so I stayed with her for a bit, then I took a room in a shared flat in the Portuguese Quarter. It was really cramped. Bathroom was a closet. It was awful.”

“And you moved in with Benjamin Steckdorf in January of this year.”

“Why are you repeating this?” Dixon asks. “You’re not exactly the world’s greatest interrogator.”

“I wish to establish the facts.”

“For a crime I have nothing to do with?”

The door opens and a woman enters.

Special Excerpt: “Saving Paradise” by Mike Bond

     Posted on Fri ,04/10/2013 by Administrator

Lovely, Cold and Dead

It was another magnificent dawn on Oahu, the sea soft and rumpled and the sun blazing up from the horizon, an offshore breeze scattering plumeria fragrance across the frothy waves. Flying fish darting over the crests, dolphins chasing them, a mother whale and calf spouting as they rolled northwards. A morning when you already know the waves will be good and it will be a day to remember.

I waded out with my surfboard looking for the best entry and she bumped my knee. A woman long and slim in near-transparent red underwear, face down in the surf. Her features sharp and beautiful, her short chestnut hair plastered to her cold skull.

I dropped my board and held her in my arms, stunned by her beauty and death. If I could keep holding her maybe she wouldn’t really be dead. I was already caught by her high cheekbones and thin purposeful lips, the subtle arch of her brow, her long slender neck in my hands. And so overwhelmed I would have died to protect her.

When I carried her ashore her long legs dragged in the surf as if the ocean didn’t want to let her go, this sylphlike mermaid beauty. Sorrow overwhelmed me—how could I get her back, this lovely person?

Already cars were racing up and down Ala Moana Boulevard. When you’re holding a corpse I your arms how bizarre seems the human race—where were all these people hurrying to in this horrible moment with this beautiful young woman dead?

I did the usual. Being known to the Honolulu cops I had to call them. I’d done time and didn’t want to do more. Don’t believe for a second what anyone tells you—being inside is a huge disincentive. Jail tattoos not just your skin; it nails your soul. No matter what you do, no matter what you want, you don’t want to go back there. Not ever.

So Benny Olivera shows up with his flashers flashing. If you want a sorry cop Benny will fill your bill. Damn cruiser the size of a humpback whale with lights going on and off all over the place, could’ve been a nuclear reaction—by the way why would anyone want a family that’s nuclear? Life’s dangerous enough.

So I explain Benny what happened. He’s hapa Pilipino—half Filipino—and doesn’t completely trust us hapa haoles, part white and part Hawaiian. To a kanaka maoli, a native Hawaiian, or to someone whose ancestors were indentured here like the Japanese or in Benny’s case Filipinos, there’s still mistrust. Didn’t the haoles steal the whole archipelago for a handful of beads? Didn’t they bring diseases that cut the Hawaiian population by ninety percent? And then shipped hundreds of the survivors to leprosy colonies on Molokai? While descendants of the original missionaries took over most of the land and became huge corporations that turned the Hawaiians, Filipinos, Japanese and others into serfs? Those corporations that now own most of Hawaii, its mainline media, banks and politicians?

I’m holding this lissome young woman cold as a fish in my arms and Benny says lie her down on the hard sidewalk and the ambulance comes—more flashing lights and she’s gone under a yellow tarp and I never saw her again.

Couldn’t surf. Went home and brewed a triple espresso and my heart was down in my feet. Sat on the lanai and tried to figure out life and death and what had happened to this beautiful woman. Mojo the dachshund huffed up on the chair beside me, annoyed that I hadn’t taken him surfing. Puma the cat curled up on my lap but I didn’t scratch her so she went and sat in the sun. I’d seen plenty of death but this one got to me. She’d been young, pretty and athletic. Somehow the strong classic lines of her face denoted brains, determination and hard work. How did she end up drowned in Kewalo Basin? Benny’s bosses at the cop shop would no doubt soon provide the answer.


Bestselling novelist, international energy expert, war and human rights correspondent and award winning poet Mike Bond has lived and worked in many dangerous, remote and war-torn regions of the world. His critically acclaimed novels depict the innate hunger of the human heart for good, the intense joys of love, the terror and fury of battle, the sinister vagaries of international politics and multinational corporations, and the vanishing beauty of the natural world.


Guest Blogger: Why do we love horror “How soon is too soon for a child to see a horror movie?” by Andrew Lisa

     Posted on Fri ,04/10/2013 by Administrator

How Soon Is Too Soon for a Child to See a Horror Movie?

How Soon Is Too Soon for a Child to See a Horror Movie?

In the sixth installment of the legendary Friday the 13th franchise, the lone survivor from the previous episode digs up the corpse of masked killer Jason Vorhees to make sure he’s really dead. Upon seeing his body, he becomes so enraged at what the monster did to his friend that he takes a loose rod from the cemetery gate and stabs his carcass over and over and leaves the stake inside his chest.

At that moment, a brewing storm creates lightning, which conveniently strikes the iron rod from the gate, reanimating Jason’s corpse. He rises from the grave and goes on his next reign of terror, including one murder in which he picks up a girl in a sleeping bag by the feet and smashes her so hard into a tree that she horseshoes around it backward.

You’re never too old for awesomeness like this. But can you be too young? Conventional wisdom says probably. Follow this guide for insight onto this touchy subject.

Watching scary movies with the kids can be an awesome bonding experience – as long as you know they can handle it.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

The group responsible for rating movies, the Motion Picture Association of America, would like you to believe that a guide can tell you exactly how old a child needs to be to see a certain movie.

Prior to 1984, movies were either for kids or for grownups. But two things happened that year, both of which were movies that involved Steven Spielberg: Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. These two movies, which were marketed to kids by the guy who made E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, had thousands of children across the country sleeping in their parents’ bed at night due to gory, graphic scenes.

Collective soccer mom outrage was followed by the the PG-13 category. Now parents had an actual category with an actual age. No more thinking needed, right? Wishful thinking. Thirteen-year-olds are different, and so are movies.

Know Your Kid

Most horror movies are rated R. R-rated movies are not recommended for children under 17. But how childish is your 16-year-old? In some states, 16-year-olds can drive a car and consent to sex and even marriage. Some 16-year-olds take care of their siblings and work an after-school job. Others sneak cigarettes, spray paint cats, and blow up mailboxes.

The MPAA is a group that does its best to assign general categories to movies without being totally arbitrary. They aren’t your kid’s parent. You are. It’s up to you to know your kid, how mature he or she is, how based in reality and grounded he or she is. Cuddling up with your 11-year-old for a scary movie they’re barely ready for might be the coolest thing you could do. Depending on the kid, it could also be the most irresponsible.

Horror Movies Are Often Smutty

Horror movies are often littered with graphic sexual content. It comes with the turf. In fact, some of the greatest kills in any horror movies are the ones that happen to the couple who couldn’t keep their hands off each other and got caught naked and, well, preoccupied by a monster who doubles as a voyeur.

Is graphic sex “worse” than graphic violence? That’s obviously up to you to decide, but consider this: Violence in horror movies is often cartoonish, meaning unrealistic and sensational. Two naked grownups having sex is just that – and never anything else. Which leads us to the next subject.

Is the Violence Cartoonish or Real?

The violent scenes in many horror movies are so over the top that even a kid – frightened as they may be at that moment – can tell it isn’t real or possible. In Child’s Play, an animated doll uses a voodoo doll to break apart a man’s bones until he dies. Disturbing? Yes. But also silly.

On the other hand, Hostel features scenes of torture so believable you have to remind yourself that these aren’t real people suffering at the hands of diabolical sadists.

Only you can decide if your kid is ready for a horror movie.

It would be nice if there were a one-size-fits-all formula for letting kids watch movies with adult content. There isn’t. There never is with parenting. Know your kid, know the movie, and if you decide to be the cool parent and bend the rules, make sure they know what they’re getting into, that it is just a movie, and that they can bail out any time without feeling ashamed.

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about parenting and reviews merchandise such as car seat boosters.

Special Excerpt by J.H. Bogran “Firefall”

     Posted on Fri ,04/10/2013 by Administrator


By J. H. Bográn

Published in e-book and trade paperback by Rebel e-Publishers.

Release date: Sept/15/2013



An air pocket forced the 747 into a short plunge. A male voice filled the air through the P.A. “This is an emergency. All passengers, please return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts.”

Sebastian Martin grabbed the armrests so hard his knuckles turned white before his left hand reached for his seat belt and found it already buckled. He never took it off except for nature calls or after landing. A seasoned fire fighter with the FDNY, he had seen crash sites and never felt comfortable inside planes.

He looked across the aisle at his wife, Kelly, and son, Joshua. He had to get a grip and not infect the eight-year-old with his fear. He checked his watch, not long to go.

The lights went out. A rumble grew louder and louder. He heard frightened screams from other passengers. A knot in the pit of his stomach told him they were about to plummet, then the force of gravity plastered him to the back of his seat. The oxygen masks dropped down from the bulkhead as dim emergency lights came on. With his mask in place, he turned to his right. Kelly had her mask on already and he watched as she helped Joshua. She pulled the white plastic strap, and then held their son’s hand. After nine years of marriage, Sebastian and Kelly could communicate their thoughts with a single look: They didn’t know if they’d make it out of there alive.

A flight attendant ran the length of the plane from the back. Even in the dim light, he recognized the fear in her eyes. She made sure everybody was buckled in. She had to shout above the deafening roar.

The plane rocked from side to side. A few of the overhead bins opened and luggage pieces bombarded the cabin. He deflected a duffle bag with his forearm. One of the bag’s metal buckles nicked him and blood trickled down from the stinging scratch.

The noise increased. A massive tremor shook the plane and Sebastian feared the worst: the fuselage would collapse. The sound of ripping metal filled the cabin, overwhelming any scream.

He turned to his wife and saw her moving away. That’s impossible, he thought. A tiny ray of daylight from above illuminated her. He heard a screeching sound as metal wrenched from metal, as the light increased and a section beside the wing broke away from the airliner.

With a sense of surreal lingering, an adagio that defied reality, he watched Kelly and Joshua as they were sucked out and away into the emptiness. They hung, suspended, in time, motion and the raw air.

His gaze locked on Kelly’s face, her eyes wide with fear. All sound faded away. Through the clear plastic mask, he saw her mouth open. He couldn’t hear her scream, but her voice was crystal clear in his ear. Clouds took their place as the plane raced to earth and left them to follow. Through the gap, air rushed in, creating mayhem and devilry in its onslaught. Luggage, backpacks, shoes, cans, cups, the sick bags, and safety cards from the seat pockets, newspapers and magazines swirled, dipped and dived and danced, like a ticker tape parade, leaving Sebastian gasping from the icy air and smelling the fear all around him.

He ripped off the gas mask and cried out to the space where his family had been seconds before. His right hand stretched out to grasp them, his reflexes refusing to accept they were no longer there. He blinked hard. This had to be a nightmare. He felt a trickle on his cheek before he tasted the saltiness of tears mixed with his sweat.

His stomach contracted with the plane’s rushed descent. He caught the foul stench of urine and excreta, mingling with the acrid smell of terror. They were going down; he’d join Kelly and Joshua very soon. He turned to the space they had vacated, begging for them to be there. Instead, he saw the hole across the aisle. He distinguished buildings. And water. Lots of water. The ocean.

His heart pumped so hard, he thought it would burst through his chest, like the creature in Alien, trying to break free. He had walked in and out of flaming structures of all kinds, houses, apartment buildings, office buildings, but this ungodly dread was new to him.

The aircraft leveled as it approached the ground. He talked himself through the instructions for an emergency landing. Like a black hole in space, anything not tied down continued to dance through the gap. Amidst the pandemonium in the main cabin, the pilot issued a muffled announcement. It surprised Sebastian that the P.A. system still worked. And yet, he could have been underwater for all the sense he could make of what he heard.

A couple to his left screamed in despair. He willed his hand to let go of the armrest and reach for them. He tugged the lady’s arm and she faced him. He bent over, protecting his head with his arms while keeping an eye on the woman. She nodded, understanding, before she turned to her husband and they both bent over. He intended to start a ripple effect with other passengers noticing and following suit, like a Mexican wave in a stadium.

A glance to his right, through the hole, showed him the black asphalt of a runway. They had reached an airport! People pointed at the oncoming ground and screamed at the earth rushing toward them. Air whooshed through the hole. The plane bumped, announcing it had touched ground. Black smoke spiraled through the hole.

A new noise filled the air. The landing gear was not working. Friction alone slowed the aircraft. Another bump and the plane tilted to the left. An explosion shook the plane. Through the hole on his right he watched sparks spray from underneath. Another explosion and the flight came to an abrupt, jolting, end, bouncing Sebastian’s head off the seat in front, his stomach taking strain from the seatbelt.

The emergency lights faded. More sweat broke from his forehead reminding him of something familiar. The temperature was rising. The firefighter in him took over. He unbuckled fast, took a deep breath before removing the mask, and looked around the plane.

One of the emergency exits was two rows behind him. He took another furtive look at the gap where his family had disappeared and saw grass not too far away.

He crossed to the exit door. On the seat next to it, a man wearing a business suit remained hunched over, as if frozen with fear, in the crash position.

“Sir, we need to open that door.”

The man did not move. Sebastian tapped him on the back but the man did not respond. With no time to waste on pleasantries, Sebastian grabbed him by the collar to pull him up and realized the man had fainted. He clambered over the man, moved the lever, pulled inward and slid it to the side. Above the screams of men, women and children filling the air, Sebastian heard a hiss as an inflatable slide rolled out and reached the ground.

Turning back to the unconscious man, Sebastian unlocked the seat belt and carried him out to an empty seat in another row. The man slumped to one side. Sebastian cursed at the delay.

The smoke made vision difficult and he blinked again and again to clear his blurring vision and the tears. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw Kelly with her hand outstretched. He forced the image aside. He needed to concentrate on the other people on the plane; the ones with a chance to escape.

Alarms went off, the flight attendants screamed instructions to passengers frantic to exit the plane, who didn’t give a shit about the order or anyone else. They became an acephalic mob.

“Hey, the exit’s over here!” he bellowed.

The authority he commanded was enough for a few doubtful heads to turn. He stood illuminated by the sunlight coming through the large hole. The couple who had been sitting to his left was the first to stand and follow his instructions.

“There is grass below, it’ll be okay. Just slide, now!” he ordered. “Take off your shoes!”

The woman was about to jump when he held her arm.

“You go down first.” He pointed at the mid-forties husband. “Then you catch her.” The man nodded, pushed past his wife and went out.

As instructed, once down, the man turned with open arms to receive his wife. She took the step. After the couple, others rushed toward him, elbowing whoever was in their path and screaming for help. They almost toppled over Sebastian in their desperation to be next.

He raised his hands and yelled, “We need to calm down, people. Everyone will get out but in order.”

His shouts shocked people into obedience, still terrified, but grateful they’d found a leader. His commanding height of over six feet, his booming voice, and his stance always made him perfect for that role.

“Women and children nearest here will go first.” He thought of Kelly and Joshua—his woman and child—they had been the first to exit. He tried to swallow but his mouth had gone dry.

A thin woman wearing a silk dress stepped forward. He helped her to the edge. She looked at the couple on the ground as if calculating her next step. She sighed and then turned around. He thought she had changed her mind but then she bent down and removed her stiletto-heeled shoes. She gave him an apologetic smile and faced the edge again. This time she took a deep breath, sat on the slide and slid out.

Next in line was a plump, elderly lady. Her faced showed horror at the prospect of jumping off. Thinking on his feet, he pulled a broad-shouldered man forward and placed him beside the woman. They slid down together. When she tried to get up, the woman’s knees collapsed and she rolled to the ground, but the man rushed to help her.

Sebastian coughed from the black smoke filling the cabin. He worried one exit would not be enough to evacuate the entire plane in time. Standing on the edge, Sebastian looked to the front of the airplane and saw with relief another exit slide, with passengers already moving out.

He went back and strived to move the line of people faster. Some were injured; a man had fashioned a sling out of his own shirt, another held a bloody rag to his forehead, a woman’s nose, red and bulging, so he deduced it must be broken.

His spirits rose a bit when he heard the familiar fire truck siren. It had always amazed him how people would greet firemen arriving at an emergency call with relief plain on their faces, some even embracing total strangers. This was the first time he’d been on the other side and now he understood. Firemen in full gear rushed out of the moving trucks to help the people already out of the plane.

His mind hurtled back to Joshua and Kelly. Kelly’s silenced scream, her eyes. Always a man of action in time of danger, he’d failed when the time came to save his own family. The plane had still been flying over water when he last saw them. He thought of what hitting the water with such velocity, and from that altitude, would have done to their bodies. Like rag dolls hitting a concrete wall. He had seen the aftermath of such cases.

“Sir, can you help me?”

A woman carrying a baby tugged at Sebastian’s arm. He pushed the vivid images out of his mind. He had a job to do here and now. He cleared his eyes with the back of his hand, making them sting even more. He blinked fast for a second, then focused on the woman and child.

Without a word, he took the baby. Sensing a stranger, the baby emitted a piercing cry. The woman sat down on the edge of the slide and stretched her arms, demanding her treasure back. The moment the baby felt the mother, warm again, the crying stopped. She cooed for an instant. Sebastian gave her a gentle push and they slid down.

The line continued to move until only a female flight attendant remained in line.

“Sir, you need to go now,” she said.

He shook his head. “People still in the front?”

“Other crew members are seeing to them. We need to leave now.”

“Hold on.” He found the man he had carried away from the emergency door slumped where he had left him, still unconscious. He carried him toward the exit and lay him down on the edge of the slide.

“You need to go with him,” he told the attendant.

“I can’t. You have to go with him.”

Of course, she would say that, trained to act responsibly in case of an emergency. Sebastian could not leave the aircraft yet; something forced him to stay. A gut feeling that sliding off the plane would seal the fate of his family. He shook his head.

“Not yet.” He held the attendant up, placed her near the door. Then a gentle push was enough for her to lose balance and slide down.

Now he was the only one at the door. But he wasn’t sure he was alone onboard. He looked again through the door and saw people still going out through the front exit.

He looked around the cabin one last time and walked toward the front exit. He passed by the gap and now he realized three full rows were missing. He hadn’t noticed anyone else being pulled out of the plane. He closed his eyes and the images of crushed bodies, his family, returned. He lost track of time as he stood rooted on the spot.

“Kelly, Joshua,” he whispered and let the tears fall, unable to contain them any longer. He sat on his seat, the spot was important to him: it was the place where he had last seen them. He stretched out his hand toward the hole. He saw beyond the charred grass and fire fighters busy with the flames, beyond the passengers being evacuated, beyond the clouds and the sky and all the way to where he saw nothing but the faces of Kelly and Joshua. Without them, he had no reason to continue living. He had trouble breathing. He didn’t care if it were due to the smoke. He only knew he felt a crushing, intense, physical, pressure on his chest. He welcomed it. He wanted to join his family.

The plane shook a little and brought him back to reality. He felt somebody tugging at his sleeve and turned to see another flight attendant prompting him to move.

Like an automaton, he followed her to the front exit.

“It’s your turn now, sir,” said the man wearing a white shirt with the captain’s insignia.

Looking at the captain’s swollen hands resurrected the fireman in him. He grabbed the stewardess by the arms and almost threw her out.

“Need help jumping off?” he motioned toward the captain’s hands.

“I’m all right. Go, I’ll follow,” he said.

“Come on, it’s not time to sink with the ship,” Sebastian pointed out and the captain acknowledged him with half a smile.

As if on cue, both men jumped out from the flaming aircraft.





Author Bio and links:

J. H. Bográn, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist. He ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw in a twist of romance into the mix. His works include novels and short stories in both English and Spanish. He’s a member of the Short Fiction Writers Guild and the International Thriller Writers where he also serves as the Thriller Roundtable Coordinator and contributor editor their official e-zine The Big Thrill.


Website at:


Twitter: @JHBogran


Amazon author page: