Three more sleeps! Ha! If you dare...here's something to keep you up all night.
Vices and Virtues
An Anthology of the Seven Deadly Sins
and Seven Dark Virtues
Genres: Horror, Supernatural, Paranormal,
Taglines: Because sometimes, the virtuous are as frightening as the sinful…
About the Anthology
Sins will weave you into their webs. They become the Vice you’re unable to shake. There are the values, taught from birth, which ride a razor’s edge. They turn into Dark Virtues, a twisted mockery of their true meaning.
Pride, envy, lust, gluttony, anger, greed and sloth all have their place in the tapestry of life. They are the Vices who lost sight of the Virtues: charity, temperance, forgiveness, humility, kindness, chastity and diligence.
Enter the worlds where the tales of the most sinful of Vices and the darkest of Virtues will entice and intrigue you…
…for even among the most devout there is a dark side.
SINS OF THE FLESH (Gluttony)
BY STACEY BROADBENT
It was a balmy Spring evening when I first discovered a taste for human flesh. It was a happy accident really. After having my heart broken one too many times, I'd abstained from any type of physical relationship with a man for years, so when one fell in my lap, it came as quite the surprise.
EXCERPT SINS OF THE FLESH:
Throwing caution to the wind, I slipped my feet into a pair of runners and walked down the road, telling myself it was to clear my mind. But really, I was on the prowl for fresh meat. Someone vulnerable—easy prey. I had to be smart about it; it was broad daylight after all.
Every person who walked past became a possible target. In my mind’s eye, I pictured a computer log for each one, listing their attributes. Having limited knowledge on the ins and outs of cannibalism, I had no idea what the perfect body type was for consumption. Would it matter if they were male or female? Was it better if they were lean and muscular, or was a layer of padding more flavourful? How was I to choose?
Turns out, I didn’t need to think about it at all. On my walk back home, I was knocked off my feet by a man out for a jog. He’d been too busy flicking through the playlist on his phone to see me, and by the time we’d both looked up, it was too late. We collided, my forehead into his chin and mouth. My hands automatically went up, pressing against his chest and sending us both bouncing off each other, landing on our behinds. Apologising profusely, he offered me his hand and pulled me to my feet. The impact had left a red egg on my head and skinned my palms raw. He, however, came across a little worse for wear, sporting a newly chipped tooth, and fat, bleeding lip. As soon as I got a whiff of the blood on his breath, I knew, he was the one.
I pointed to my house across the street, inviting him in to clean up while he called the emergency dentist. It was the least I could do.
Ushering him into the bathroom, I had him perch on the edge of the bath while I rummaged through the cabinet for the first aid kit. I needed to knock him out somehow. There was no way I could do this without it… unless…
About Stacey Broadbent:
Stacey lives in Ashburton, New Zealand, with her husband and three children. An avid reader and self-confessed book-a-holic, she has always had a love of the written word, so it was only a matter of time before she took pen to paper and began on her writing journey. Stacey is a multi-genre author, with books from light-hearted comedies to zombie thrillers. She is also part of the writing duo 'The Ink Slinging Sisters' with friend S.K. Lessner. You can often find her lurking on social media so don't be afraid to reach out and have a chat.
A MILLION CLAY WOLVES (Greed)
BY AMBER K. BRYANT
Living in a squalid encampment in the shadows of a towering city, a young woman able to endow objects with magical powers struggles with her brother's growing determination to use her gift for his own selfish means.
EXCEPRT A MILLION CLAY WOLVES :
“Do you remember Jamey? Has a tattoo of a whale on his right arm, wears a red and white striped tank top—Sound familiar?”
Mora nodded. “He juggled knives and guns.”
“That’s right. Jamey is my boyfriend and we’re very happy, only… He has this crazy idea that he should give up the troop, join the army instead. He thinks it would provide a better life for us, but he’s wrong. This is the only life I want and I don’t want it to change. I need you to change his mind.”
“What?” She took a step away from Dare. “I… I can’t do that!”
“You don’t realize it, but you can. I saw it in you. The ability to endow magic. You just needed a jumpstart, and yesterday…” she pointed to the feather, “I gave it to you.”
Mora stared at the feather, still crumpled in her hand.
“Tell the feather that Jamey’s place is with me. In the troop. Tell the feather it needs to change Jamey’s mind. Go on.”
Mora lifted the feather halfway to her face, then paused. This would never work. Clearly circus life had taken its toll on Dare’s mental health. Or perhaps unstable people were attracted to the quirky life the troop seemed to lead. It was silly to give in to Dare’s demands. Then again, if she didn’t do it, perhaps Dare would become so angry, she’d bust out of her purple corset and become a rage-fueled She-Hulk. Perhaps the simplest way out of this situation was to tell the feather to become a mind-changer and then get the hell out of there.
“Fine, whatever.” She brought the feather to her lips and blew words into it. “Change Jamey’s mind. Make him stay. Oh!” She jumped as a tingling sensation moved through her body, from the soles of her feet up her legs and spine, then out to the tips of her fingers and into the feather. “What… what just happened.”
Dare’s face went back to its friendly older sister mode. “Exactly what I thought would. Thank you, Mora.” She took the feather back from Mora and pinned it into her dark, shimmering hair. “Wiser people than me would tell you to be careful with this gift of yours. Magic can be used for good or for evil. It doesn’t care which, most of the time.”
Confused, Mora toyed with a stray thread from the hem of her t-shirt. “But you’re… not telling me to be careful?”
Dare grasped Mora’s chin and tilted it so their eyes met. “We don’t find out what we’re capable of through advice.” She gave Mora’s face a tiny squeeze and then let her go. “Trial and error, darlin’."
About Amber K Bryant:
Amber K. Bryant is an award-winning author and a librarian living deep within Sasquatch territory in Washington State. She has co-authored a short story with R. L. Stine, won a Watty for her novella UNSEEN, and won three contests judged by Margaret Atwood. When not glued to her keyboard, Amber can be found spending time with her husband and son, hiking, gardening, and searching in vain for the illusive Sasquatch.
CONFESSIONS OF AN HONEST MAN (Chastity)
BY CYRIL BUNT
When I was thirteen I took my oath, I never broke it. But apparently, I broke many others.
About Cyril Blunt:
My name is Cyril and I'm 32. I've loved writing since I was very young and so I try to create believe lies, one day I hope to be good enough to make a living from writing.
DO NO HARM (Charity)
BY J.M. BUTLER
What if someone offered you exactly what you needed?
Ethics and vampirism hardly go together, and Aestan has concluded he is trapped between two bad situations. A chance meeting with his neighbor Summer changes everything as she offers the solution to his problems. He can have her blood. She's more than happy to give it if it keeps him from robbing blood banks or killing people. Though at first he is relieved, he soon realizes that even what is freely given may yet have consequences he does not desire.
EXCERPT DO NO HARM:
"Summer...I can't take your blood."
"Yes, you can. And if I were a stranger, you would. But we're friends."
"Friends?" Aestan couldn't suppress the sharp laugh. She had an oddly vague definition of friendship. Surely this was a joke. Summer finished the prep and took a deep breath.
"Yes, of course we are. Now...don't attack me or anything, okay?" She stuck the needle into her arm and balled her hand up before flexing her fingers and clenching again. "I can't let you have the blood we collected for the drive, but I can let you have some of mine. And then you know...we can start looking for some substitutes."
Words failed Aestan as he watched. A tantalizing scent rose from the glass, thick, slightly metallic. How could she be serious? Was he dreaming?
Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/121313168524170/
SEVEN DAYS (Humility)
BY LENORE CHEAIRS
A SINGLE MIND (Pride)
BY ALANA DELACROIX
Neil Clarins is a very important man with very important research. He could save the world. And he won't let anyone stand in his way.
EXCERPT A SINGLE MIND:
Neil straightens his back and keeps his hand away from his pocket. He’s right. His work is good and more than that, it’s needed. The entire world is about to go up in flames. The environment is a mess. People are fucking dying and what he has in his lab will save them. No way he’s going to let some petty bureaucrat like Mike Bell get in his way.
And if using his own brain as a testing ground is the way it has to be done, so be it.
Knowing he’ll be out for at least a day, Neil puts messages on all his corporate tethers: email, messenger. I’m sick, it says. Sorry, back soon.
He goes to his room and shaves off a small patch of hair. Underneath, the skin that’s never seen the sun is a sickly white-green. He swabs his temple with a topical anesthetic and sits on the bed for a long time, staring at the syringe with its small bolt gun mechanism, so like the one used to kill cattle. He has no idea if he’ll be able to walk after the injection and he doesn’t want to pass out in the bathroom. Too much risk of injury.
Neil takes a deep breath, then another. He thinks of the other scientific greats. Salk and the polio vaccine. Newton digging around his own eyeball with a bodkin.
Then, before he can think any more, he thrusts the needle against the side of his head and pulls the trigger.
About Alana Delacroix:
Alana Delacroix lives surrounded by books in Toronto, Canada. She loves exploring the city, on the hunt for both the perfect coffee shop as well as ideal locations to set stories. Her debut novel, Masked Possession, a paranormal romance, is available now from Kensington Publishing.
YOU MADE ME (Envy)
BY CHRIS FARMER
I envied the time I watched you eat, hoping to taste even a crumb of that sandwich. I envied the time you got to stay warm while, I nearly froze on the street. I envied the power you had to destroy my life.
Now it will be you who envies me. Your gluttony has come to an end. One way or another, you will feel the agony of want.
About Chris Farmer:
Chris Farmer is working on a debut novel, One and Done, releasing in December 2017.
DEATH THROES (Sloth)
BY LISA GOLDMAN
Born into prestige and wealth, twenty-year-old, indolent Chandler Wentsworth’s biggest worries are working to smooth over his constantly disappointed family and friends. He doesn’t realize how easy his life is until he and his friend go to a carnival, where Roma, an eccentric psychic, delivers improbable predictions and a frightening warning that the eyes are the window to one’s soul. Soon, he not only discovers the true evil behind black oily eyes, but Roma’s atrocious predictions has begun a series of catastrophic events, including soul-shattering death throes.
ONE FORGIVES AS ONE LOVES (Forgiveness)
BY TRINITY HANRAHAN
I can have peace of mind only when forgiveness has been earned and granted.
About Trinity Hanrahan:
Trinity lives with her husband and five children in Virginia. She grew up overseas in Turkey and Japan, where her love of reading developed due to a lack of English-speaking television. As her need for written works grew, so did her desire to create worlds for others to enjoy. By the time she was in middle school she had started writing short stories. She endeavors to break the mold where modern stereo-types are concerned and create engaging characters.
When she’s not writing or working, Trinity still enjoys settling down to read a book or doing graphic art in her spare time.
CAVEAT EMPTOR (Diligence)
BY KRISTEN JACQUES
Captain Niels Fizarian prides himself on quality product: weapons, rare goods, even concubines. It's one thing to be an unscrupulous scoundrel, another to be a poor businessman. But with early retirement looming, what could cutting a few corners hurt? When it comes to interstellar trade, Captain Niels may just learn the hard way to pay his due diligence.
THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (Lust)
BY REBECCA NOLAN
Ivy feels like everything is finally falling in place from her now that she has a new home. To make things even better, her landlord is sexy, caring Drake Hunter. The problem is Drake isn't what he seems. Will Ivy get her happy ever after or is she doomed to end up in tears.
About Rebecca Nolan:
Rebecca Nolan is an aspiring writer with several anthologies under her belt. She loves being able to bring characters to life through words. In her spear time she is often found reading or spending time with her family.
THE PAIN OF A KINDNESS (Kindness)
BY TAMMY OJA
Anna works with an appointed psychologist for answers when her mother goes missing.
About Tammy Oja:
Tammy Oja is an active reader and lover of all things word related. She currently writes on Wattpad under the pen name tamoja. Previous works include being published by Gallery books in the anthology Once Upon Now (2016). Her short story Darla was a top 10 finalist for TNT and was optioned for film.
Her favorite things to write are short psychological horror stories that leave you thinking long after the pages are closed.
She currently lives in Michigan and you can usually find her staring at a screen at her kitchen table.
HELL'S MATCH (Kindness)
BY ARIA PEYTON
In my world, too many people are lonely. So out of the kindness of my heart I help them. Those who want someone by their side forever get it. Only they never read the fine print and forever means just that.
EXCERPT HELL’S MATCH:
In a sinuous motion, Cheshire slides off the machine and backs away, book held out in front of her in a warding-off gesture. Anger fuels her when she speaks. “Am I being set up? Did you follow me here? What’s going on?”
I know better than to move, so I stay put, my body jerking with the motion of the tub beneath me. “No, of course—” The rest of the sentence dies at her raised brow and sceptical glare. “Yes. I followed you here.” I act all resigned to this fact but surge on when she tries to interrupt. “But only because Grandmother asked me to make contact with you, and when I got to your apartment, you were already on your way here. I was so intrigued by how you rebuffed her on the phone last night, I had to meet you myself.”
I may have just painted myself into a corner here as I watch the thoughts swirling in her head. I’ve given her too many inconsistencies to process and I know she’ll have a question for each one. But I already have the answer, and realistically, so does she.
“How did she know where I live? How the hell did she know what I look like? And how the fuck did you think this would look, stalking me into the damn laundromat?!” Her voice gets louder and squeakier with each word until others here start backing away. Soon the place is empty and Cheshire is alone here with me. The predator within can’t believe its luck, while the other side of me is fascinated that she didn’t run with everyone else.
“You spoke to her last night. What did she know about you then, huh?”
The glare eases a little, but she still keeps her distance. “Too much is what she knows. I’d love to know what little tricks she has up her frock sleeves to know so much without a word.”
“It’s just her ability. Some would call her clairvoyant or psychic.”
“Or just plain freaky,” she mutters under her breath.
“Or that.” I release a chuckle to lessen the tension hovering between us. Even though it’s refreshing to have a normal conversation with someone, the urgency to get her back to the office of ‘Madame’ still hangs over me. She’s the next match to be made and that contract needs to be signed.
About Aria Peyton:
I've been a covert operative in a foreign country, jumped out of helicopters for fun, and bungee jumped over the side of a Styrofoam factory into a vat of beans made for beanbags.
I can also leap Lego towers in a single bound, pack school lunches like a boss, and burn myself on any hot surface.
My multi-skilling is out of this world and I successfully masquerade as an average parent 24/7.
BY QT RUBY
Dr. Evers says the only way for Evelyn to be free is to remember her past, but is that really such a good idea?
“Why am I restrained? There is no escape from this room.”
Dr. Evers releases a little sigh. “For my protection.”
“Me? What could I do to you?” She waits to respond. I’m unsure if it’s because I have to remember like she said before, or she’s just a withholding bitch. “You will remember. So . . . please, continue.”
I sigh and growl a little. “My family . . . they loved me.”
Dr. Evers writes down my words.
“But they were afraid of me.”
“How do you know?”
“Because . . .” I pause to remember, to allow memories to solidify, sharpen. “Because I used to harm things.”
About Q.T. Ruby:
Q.T. Ruby, author of A Matter of Trust and its sequel A Moment of Truth, regularly escapes real-life to fall into make-believe worlds of her own design. Living in her native Connecticut with her two sweet kids, a wonderful husband, and a cat that doesn’t like to get picked up, she teaches tweens full time, hunkers down for cold winters, and tries to write like the wind in the summer.
A SORCERER'S ROAD TO TEMPERANCE (Temperance)
BY MAGGIE JANE SCHULER
Temperance Blanco served to bring order to her family and small town. She thought if she practiced her craft and lead the immoral on a path to restraint, life would be perfect. What she didn't count on was her intense draw to her employer, the handsome new night club owner Raiden Spellman. She thought she had tricks up her sleeve until she found herself captivated by Raiden and unaware of her place in the Cards of life.
EXCERPT A SORCERER'S ROAD TO TEMPERANCE :
Her reaction to him was…extreme, unexpected and intense…and she wondered in what other subtle ways Tempest would affect her. It almost felt like a spell, and somewhat forbidden, but it also felt…good, too. Whether it was the natural lure of a new establishment, or Mr. Spellman was doing something himself to cause such havoc lately, she had to find out either way.
About Maggie Jane Schuler:
Maggie Jane Schuler is a wife, mother of three almost-grown children, and teacher by day. While she has always loved to read, the thought of writing her own prose did not strike until she was in the middle of writing her Master’s Thesis. From that point on she was hooked.
She Resides in Southern California. Besides the family and books, she loves baseball. Since the Dodgers, Angels, and Padres are all within a short distance, and the Giants and Athletics a nice weekend jaunt away, she’s got plenty of games to take in during the season. Additionally, she enjoys cooking, movies, the beach, and the local mountains. She’s most content being with her family engaged in whatever activity they have planned.