Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Wednesday Briefs: Rose and Thorne 6 #8 (2.4)

 Good morning and Happy Hump Day ! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.  

Last week, Vinnie and Ethan returned from a walk to find Anderson waiting for them in their home. What's up with that? See what's going on in this week's chapter of Rose and Thorne 6. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Rose and Thorne 6 #8 (2.4)

“Like I said, I’m sorry to disturb you when you’re taking your time off, which you don’t do often enough, and you know I wouldn’t if it wasn’t important, but something came up that I think you’ll want to know about and be a part of.” Anderson took a deep breath before he continued. He definitely had our attention. “We’ve been asked to provide protection for an important government witness.”

“For how long?” I asked the first question that came to mind. At the moment, who the witness was seemed immaterial.

“For less than a week. He’s due in court in just a few days.”

We’d been assigned to cases like that before. Our duties usually consisted of sitting around hotel rooms with the witness, playing cards and watching TV. What it came down to was babysitting someone who couldn’t go home for whatever reason. So what made this case of special interest to us?

I watched as Ethan accepted the folder from our boss and flipped it open in such a manner that we could easily view the contents together. Not like I thought Anderson was trying to keep anything from me, or that he considered Ethan to be the senior partner. That was a ridiculous notion, as we’d joined at exactly the same time and had been nothing but equal ever since, and he’d never treated us any other way. It was quite possible he considered Ethan to be the more responsible one of us, and that might be true—whether I was willing to admit to that was another matter entirely.

When I saw Ethan’s eyes widen, I realized that wasn’t the reason either. Mystified, I looked at the material he held.

Clipped just inside the folder was a photograph of a middle-aged man. The guy was a redhead, with only a little bit of gray in his slightly bushy beard, his longish hair pulled back into a man bun. Slightly receding forehead, and piercing blue eyes completed the picture.

“This is… I mean… he’s….” Something had just rattled Ethan to the point where he was fumbling for words.

My mind instantly reverted to our recent topic of conversation and for just a moment I irrationally thought that this man was Sarah’s baby daddy. But no, he was too old to be a contemporary of theirs, much less the man Sarah was obviously pining after. So what had Ethan so confuzzled?

“Benjamin Thorne,” Anderson finished Ethan’s half-formed sentences.

Why did that name sound familiar? My bafflement lasted all of two seconds, and the answer came to me at the same time Ethan managed to get out, “That’s my Uncle Benny.”

Holy shit. I certainly hadn’t seen that one coming, and I’m fairly confident Ethan hadn’t either.

“The details are in the file, but I was thinking you might like to get the facts of the case straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. He’s staying at the Hamilton Arms. Under another name, of course.”

I tried not to frown. That hotel had left a bad taste in my mouth. Not through any fault of the hotel itself, but because it was there that the actress-who-shall-not-be-named tried to manipulate and put the moves on my Ethan. Where I was forced to put up with her tomfoolery because she was supposedly being targeted by someone who wanted to kill her. Of course, that had turned out to be a huge crock, and the only one I knew of that wanted to see her dead was me. (In theory, of course, as I would never do anything like that).  I still hoped the witch would be declared competent enough to leave the fancy clinic she was currently languishing in and stand trial for the things she’d done. Realistically, I had my doubts as to whether that would ever happen, though.

I have to credit Ethan with being able to collect himself and remain calm when I’m sure he had so many questions he wanted to ask. His voice was steadier now as he asked, “Did you want us to take over tonight?”

to be continued

Now go visit the other Briefers and see what's up!

Cia Nordwell

 

 

 

 



Monday, January 24, 2022

Book Review: Demon Slayer, Vol 13 by Koyoharu Gotouge

 

Demon Slayer, Vol 13      


Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 2, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy Manga/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

 

Tanjiro and Genya find themselves facing demons who, when struck, divide!  Simply cutting their heads off is not going to work with these fellows!. Instructing Nezuko to assist Genya with one demon, Tanjiro goes after the other, determined to best him no matter what. Meanwhile, Tokito, the Mist Hashira, is in a position to help the swordsmith Kotetsu. At first he sees no reason to do so, until he remembers what Tanjiro told him, that helping others can often help you help yourself. So he decides to assist Kotetsu.

It seems that Nezuko is growing in strength. Tanjiro is determined to go to her and Genya’s aid. But he has to finish this demon first. Tanjiro discovers that his sister’s blood has some amazing abilities. Back at the village, Tokito and Kotetsu are up against Gyokko, attempting to save the village that is so important to the demon slayers. Assistance arrives in the form of Mitsuri, the Love Hashira.

With Nezuko’s blood strengthening his blade, Tanjiro calls upon the memory of another swordsman, one who came close to cutting off the demon Muzan’s head! But wait! There seems to be a fifth demon? Why can’t Genya see him? Genya tries but fails to cut off the little demon’s head. Will he allow Tanjiro to do what a Hashira cannot?

It’s interesting to watch how both Tanjiro and Nezuko are growing and developing in their abilities. Hopefully at some point they will be able to stop Lord Muzan himself and Nezuko will be able to become human again. The back story for Genya was bittersweet and revealed much about him. The demons in this volume are very interesting. I like how there is a great variety in the demons, each with a unique style, and none of them are slam-dunk victories.

Looking forward to the next volume!

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Saturday is Horror Day #45 - Siren

 Siren


Jonah (Chase Williamson) and Eva (Lindsey Garrett) are to be married in a week's time. Jonah's brother Mac (Michael Aaron Milligan) decides they need to take Jonah on a last fling. Off they go along with Jonah's best friend Rand (Hayes Mercure) and another friend Elliot (Randy McDowell). The strip bar they end up in is rather seedy, but Jonah doesn't mind as he has no intention of doing anything wrong. But Mac is approached by a stranger who calls himself Mr. Nyx (Justin Wellborn) and he accepts the stranger's offer of a lot more fun.






The four men follow their would-be host out in the literal middle of nowhere. Jonah and Rand want to turn around and leave but Mac insists. They finds themselves at a large and elegant manor. But things begin to get weird. They'd foolishly consumed from mushrooms given to them by Mac at the other bar, so they can't be sure if they're tripping or not. Mr. Nyx sends Jonah off for some private entertainment, then tells the others he is going to exact a price for this... in the form of a memory from each of them. He instructs them to look at their shoe. Rand is reluctant, but he is forced to obey.


Jonah finds himself outside of a shuttered room. He expects to see the typical strip tease/sex show, but when the shutter goes up, he sees a girl, Lily (Hannah Fierman) on the other side. At first nothing happens, but then she begins to sing, and Jonah finds himself lost in her song. After she is done, the overwhelmed Jonah leaves the room and tries to gain entrance to hers, only to discover she is padlocked inside. Realizing she must be the victim of sex trafficking, he determines he must save her, and goes back to the bar to enlist his friends' aid.


Siren is a spin-off from the V/H/S series, and we see a couple of familiar faces here. Hannah Fierman appeared in the first film and Justin Welborn appeared as the magician Dante the Great in V/H/S Viral.  SIren is different from the others in that it doesn't involved found footage or several stories. This is the story of a bachelor party gone horribly wrong.  As the title tells us, the creature in this film is a siren, but they have changed the definition (at least from anything I'm familiar with). This siren has vicious teeth and a long tail that does... interesting things.

I think Siren is sufficiently chilling to satisfy most horror aficionados, and has definite creepy vibes, 


 especially from Mr. Nyx. You might actually recognize Lily from the first film, with the guys in the motel room. Well, she's back, but she's under control now. At least until her knight in shining armor, aka Jonah, decides to come to the rescue. That should teach him to stick his nose in without learning the facts first.  Also, you know something terrible is going to happen when common sense tells you not to do something but everyone else seems hell bent on doing it. I think following a stranger into the middle of nowhere qualifies as definite stranger danger! On the whole, it's a decent film although it could have been better. I'll give it 3.5 Stars.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Book Review: Demon Slayer, Vol 12 by Koyoharu Goutouge

 

Demon Slayer, Vol 12     


Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 3, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy Manga/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

 

The upper echelon demons are gathering, no doubt to receive Lord Muzan’s latest instructions regarding the current situation. Apparently, they do not all get along, and even among so-called allies there is a certain amount of animosity and competitiveness as they attempt to curry Muzan’s faavor. Some of these demons are certainly less human than others and some are decidedly creepy. When Muzan announces the death of Gyutaro, Doma offers to gouge out one of his eyes as atonement for having brought Gyutaro and Daki to his lord’s notice. Muzan declines the offer. He tells them he sees them all as failures, having failed to live up to his expectations. The Ubuyashiki family is still alive and the blue spider lily has not been found. Gyokku claims to have information on the family’s whereabouts, so Muzan says once confirmation is obtained, he and Hantengu should go there.

Tanjiro awakens from what must have been a dream – or was it a memory – to find that he has been unconscious for two months. He asks after his friends and learns that Zenitsu awoke and was sent on a mission, and Tengen was up, but supported by his wives’ shoulders. Inosuke, on the other hand, was in bad shape. Tanjiro decides he must be hallucinating seeing  Inosuke on the ceiling, but it’s really him. Tanjiro inquires if a katana has come for him, as his was chipped in the recent battle. But all he has received is an angry letter from Haganezuka. It is suggested that Tanjiro go to see the swordsmith in person , and Tanjiro is surprised to learn how close the swordsmith village is. But getting there is far from straightforward.

On Tanjiro’s arrival, he learns that the swordsmith has disappeared and is being sought. Probably sulking, they assume, as that is often his way. Not because his sword has been damaged but because of what he perceives as his shoddy workmanship that allowed the sword to be damaged. While searching, Tanjiro encounters a rude Hashira bullying a small swordsmith, so he intervenes. Tokito, the Mist Hashira, insists on using the practice doll, although Kotetsu tells him it will break. But every action has its consequences, even selfish ones.

This begins the Swordsmith Village arc, and we are seeing the upper ranked demons in larger numbers than before. Their relationship to their lord is interesting to watch, and you know they are just jockeying for position in order to get closer to him. They’re feeling the pressure of his displeasure and will do anything to regain his favor. The swordsmiths are interesting. We see little of Inosuke this volume, and none of Zenitsu, but I’m sure they’ll be back soon. Muzan is an interesting study, cold-hearted demon that he is. In this volume, he was actually standing on the ceiling as he addressed them.  It’s always fun to watch Tanjiro battle, and he certainly has to keep his wits about him to defeat these foes. Hopefully he’ll be able to obtain the blood he needs to help cure Nezuko.

Great volume, looking forward to the next one!

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Book Review: Monster: The perfect Edition, Vol 7 by Naoki Urasawa

 

Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 7   


Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: January 19, 2016

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Horror/416 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 

As the news spreads that the serial killer long sought by the police, Kenzo Tenma, has been taken into custody, certain people listen with disbelief. Detective Suk is determined to go to Prague to speak with Tenma before he is extradited back to Germany, but runs into two other detectives, who inform him that his name has been cleared thanks to a journalist named Grimmer. Meanwhile, Detective Lunge, who is supposedly on vacation, is also in Prague, following various leads. He learns certain things which point away from Tenma’s guilt. Will he believe them? Or is he too obsessed with the idea that Johan is Tenma’s alter ego?

In the jail, Tenma is called upon to treat a fellow prisoner, due to the doctor being otherwise occupied. The prisoner knows who Tenma is and asks if he wants to escape with him, but Tenma declines. An attorney, son of an accused spy, is enlisted to aid in Tenma’s defense at the request of a number of people, including a group of his former patients who all believe in his innocence. He goes to see Tenma, who tells him everything, and decides to take his case.

After his own meeting with the attorney, Dr. Reichwein goes back to Eva and tells her she needs to cooperate with the lawyer in order to help Tenma. But she isn’t interested in helping him. She wants to see him suffer for the rest of his life for breaking up with her. She blames him for the way her life turned out, rather than blaming herself. Tenma receives a surprise visitor – Roberto, the assassin he shot the night of the fire. Roberto tells him he might kill Eva. Now Tenma has no choice but to escape in order to save her.

There is so much going on in this volume. The tension is rising, and it feels like we are close to the end, to the truth. So many burning questions. Will Eva change her mind and testify for Tenma, now that she realizes she actually saw Johan that night? How are we supposed to tell the difference between Johan and Nina, when he looks just like her when he’s in disguise? The secrets of the Rose Red Mansion are coming out.  The story with Eva and the detective was pretty interesting, I’ll have to admit, although I can’t stand the woman. Will Tenma’s escape lead to anything? What will Nina do? Guess we have to wait for the next volume to find out.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Wednesday Briefs: Rose and Thorne 6 #7 (2.3)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day ! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.  

Vinnie and Ethan take a walk and Ethan talks about his one-time best friend, his sister's baby daddy. But as they head home they unexpectedly see their boss' car in the drive. What does that portend? See what's happening in this week's chapter of Rose and Thorne 6. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Rose and Thorne 6 #7 (2.3)

Anderson Riley was the second supervisor Ethan and I ever had, and he was by far our favorite. While the first one had been under the mistaken impression that we were in the military, Anderson was more laid back and genial and very Southern. In appearance, he reminded me of Sean Connery, if the actor were to pack on a few extra pounds, and he had a drawl you could cut with a knife. But you could always count on Anderson to have your back, and I trusted him. That wasn’t something I did lightly. I was even suspicious of Ethan when we first met and were partnered up. He still finds that funny and likes to tease me about it, although I’ve long since gotten over that. I trust him implicitly now, with every fiber of my being.

“What’s he doing in Roanoke? You don’t think something’s wrong, do you?” Ethan fretted. But at least our boss’s presence was distracting him from the situation with his sister, so I had to think that was a good thing, no matter what the reason turned out to be.

“Maybe he just happened to be in town and decided to come give us our next assignment,” I suggested, trying to spin his presence in a positive light. Although he could have phoned just as easily, without having to make the three hour trip from Richmond.

“Could be, but he knew we were taking time off. What couldn’t wait a day or two? I hope there’s nothing too serious he needs us for. Like another Mangler case.”

I couldn’t help but shiver at Ethan’s words. Only a few months had passed since my harrowing experience at the hands of that crazy killer, the one who’d been responsible for the death of our temporary partner, Eva June. I tried not to think about what had happened, but sometimes images of Chip crept into my dreams against my will. And sometimes I’d awake in a cold sweat to Ethan’s strong arms, his gentle words and soothing ministrations. I’d hoped more time would pass before we had to face such a situation again.

Now it was Ethan’s turn to comfort me. He wrapped his arms around me and hugged me close. “I’m sorry I brought it up. I’m sure it’s nothing so dire. Why don’t we just go find out why he’s here?”

He was always the sensible one between us. No wonder I loved him so much.

We found Anderson sitting in a chair the living room across from Sarah on the couch.. Our boss was making goofy faces at Alex, who sat on his mother’s lap, and the child laughed as though he thought the man was the funniest thing he’d ever seen.

“Hey guys,” he greeted us. “You’ve got quite the nephew here. Reminds me of my kids when they were this little.”

“He is something else, isn’t he?” This brought a smile from the proud uncle. He unclipped Benny, who ran off immediately to the kitchen, probably in search of food and water after his long arduous walk.

Ethan and I took seats on the couch, but just as we did, Sarah rose, too suddenly to be coincidental, surely. I had to assume she was still angry with Ethan. “Time for your nap, little man,” she said. Alex didn’t look in the least bit sleepy, but who can argue with a mother’s intuition? Was she being the soul of discretion, assuming our boss had something sensitive to discuss with us, or did she just not want to be in the same room with Ethan? I had no idea but I was hoping for door number one.

“It was nice meeting you, Mr. Riley,” she said politely from the doorway. Alex was squirming in her arms. I could tell he wanted to play with Benny, but his mama was having none of that and held onto him with an unbreakable grip.

“Please, call me Anderson,” our boss replied, rising. “Thank you for your hospitality. The pleasure was all mine.”

Sarah disappeared down the hall and Anderson resumed his seat. Then he got right to the point.

“I’m sorry to disturb you, and I do apologize for coming unannounced…”

Neither one of us spoke a word. Ethan had taken one of my hands in his, the other was white-knuckled against the sofa cushion. I’m not sure what I was afraid to hear… okay, maybe I did know, and words were failing me at the moment.

“I think you’d better look at this.” Anderson handed Ethan a manila folder.

 to be continued

Now go see what's up with the other Briefers!

Cia Nordwell

J Ray Lamb


Saturday, January 15, 2022

Saturday is Horror Day #44 - 1408, Honeymoon

 1408


Mike Enslin (John Cusack) is a writer who makes a living visiting and visiting/staying at haunted locations and writing about them, usually debunking them in the process. Once upon a time, he had greater literary ambitions, but this is what currently pays the bills. To finish his latest book, he travels, albeit reluctantly, to New York City to the Dolphin Hotel, where Room 1408 is said to be a place of great evil. Mike hasn't been back to NYC since... well, just since. But one night can't hurt, right?

 





When he calls to make the reservation, he is outright refused. But after threatening legal action, and finding a law that actually requires them to rent him the room if it's unoccupied, he shows up, only to be greeted by the manager, Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson). Olin tries to dissuade Mike, attempts to bribe him, but nothing works. Enslin insists on the room and nothing else. So that's what he gets.


Olin gives him a dossier on the deaths that have occurred in that room, and quite a collection that is, including a number of suicides and many unknown deaths. Mike is undeterred and pries into every nook and cranny. But then things begin to happen, and he has to wonder if there isn't some truth in the stories. The question is will he be able to make it out of this hotel alive?

1408 is based on a short story by the master of horror, Stephen King. If I read the story, it's been too 


long ago to remember, so I can't exactly compare the film to the story. However, thinking about this movie reminds me of something I saw in the Witcher TV series. Geralt makes a passing detrimental comment regarding Jaskier's vocal abilities, and Jaskier insists that Geralt tell him how he really feels. Geralt says it's like ordering a pie and finding no filling. That's the feeling I get with 1408. Cusack and Jackson look good, and the special effects are slick and sufficiently spooky, but when you get insist, there is not substance.

There are actually a couple of endings. I only watched one. From what I read, the other is even more depressing. Honestly, there was never an explanation given for anything that happened, as if you're meant to take it at face value and not question anything. But in my mind that is leaving out the best part of the story - the resolution. Were we meant to come away with the idea that Mike Enslin has evolved as a person since his arrival in this haunted room? That bearing witness to the suffering of others, and the knowledge of his own, has made him less smarmy and more understanding?

Do we sympathize with him because of the tragedy in his own life? And disregard the fact that nothing he goes through is explainable? Or is this just an excuse to let the special effects crew have a field day? I didn't find the movie particularly scary, more weird. I'm sure the story is much better. I would suggest reading that instead. I'll give this film a somewhat shaky 3.5 Stars.

Honeymoon


Paul (Harry Treadaway) and Bea (Rose Leslie) are a young couple in love and on their honeymoon. They go to a remote cabin owned by Bea's family. It's the off season and no one else will be around. Ain't love grand? While walking the area, they come across a restaurant. They enter the restaurant to see if it's open, and a surly young man tells them to leave before recognizing Bea as an old friend of his. His wife appears and tries to warn them to leave but her warning is cut short by her husband in a rather forceful manner, leaving Paul more than a little confused.





Paul wakes in the middle of the night only to find Bea missing. Frantic, he searches the woods and finds her standing there. She startles at his touch, but then laughs it off as sleepwalking. Paul isn't so sure, however. Suddenly he begins to mistrust her. It seems like she is lying about something... or everything. Wakened by a strange light in the middle of the night, he suspects Bea knows more than she is letting on. But he can't put his finger on what that is.


Bea becomes more and more secretive... and Paul begins to wonder who she really is. At first, he thinks it's her old friend Ben, but when he tries to confront him, Ben isn't there and his wife Annie is also acting strangely. Can the two women's actions be connected?


This was an interesting mix of horror and sci-fi. The best things about the film are the performances of the lead actors. I liked Harry Treadaway in Mr. Mercedes and Penny Dreadful. Rose Leslie is best known for playing Jon Snow's Wildling girlfriend Ygritte in Game of Thrones. The atmosphere is chilling and suspenseful as two people who love each other dearly find themselves being torn apart by forces they can't comprehend. The ending is unexpected and eerie. Definitely worth watching, I give this film 4 Stars.