BLOG TOUR: AUTHOR D.M. CAIN

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Periodically, my blog participates in virtual book tours that allow authors to showcase their books to a broader audience. Today I am hosting fellow author D.M. Cain whose debut dystopian novel The Phoenix Project is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Nook.  Her new short story The End was published in Awethology Dark – an anthology by online author group #Awethors. She has graciously provided that short story here for your reading pleasure. The descriptions, book blurb, and biographical information are provided by the author. 

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BOOK BLURB: The Phoenix

Britain has descended into chaos as violence and terrorist attacks seethe across this once-peaceful country. Outraged by the steady stream of lawlessness, citizens demand a harsher penal system, and the Phoenix Project is born.

In prisons across the country, inmates fight to the death in weekly bloodbath while the nation cheers them on.

Raven Kennedy, a prisoner who has never forgiven himself for his unspeakable crime, struggles against his own guilt and self-loathing. But even as the real war wages on with himself, Raven is forced to battle some of the prison’s most ruthless killing machines. Can he survive long enough to unravel the anger and regret that shackle him—and one day find the forgiveness he seeks?

AUTHOR BIO:

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                 AUTHOR D.M. CAIN

D.M. Cain is a dystopian and fantasy author working for US publisher Booktrope. She has released three novels: The Phoenix Project – a psychological thriller set in a dystopian future, Soren – a middle-grade fantasy, and A Chronicle of Chaos – the first in a dark fantasy series. She is currently working on the next novel in the series, ‘The Shield of Soren’, and a novella to accompany it.

D.M. Cain is also a member of the International Thriller Writers and is one of the creators and administrators of the online author group #Awethors. Her short story ‘The End’ was published in Awethology Dark – an anthology by the #Awethors.

Cain lives in Leicestershire, UK, with her husband and young son, and spends her time reading, writing and reviewing books, playing RPGs and listening to symphonic metal.

SHORT STORY: The End

How do you convince people you’re not crazy when the world around you is insane and you’re the only one who can see the truth? These stupid people are walking to their deaths, every single one of them. They don’t even know it and no matter how much I scream it at them, they won’t listen. I wave my sign backwards and forwards in front of their faces but they back away from me, their eyes wide and afraid as if I’m threatening them, rather than trying to save their skins. So I shout louder and soldier on pointlessly, knowing that I must do something. Knowing that I am the only one who can save them when the end comes. Because it is coming, and it’s coming soon.

My name is Wayne Dixon. I’m fifty-seven years old and I’ve been chosen to save the world.

Every morning at seven a.m., I position myself at the clock tower in the centre of Leicester. I set down my bags and drag out my trusty sign, which has been ripped out of my hands and thrown to the ground more times than I can count, and I stand there waiting for people on their way to work. Sometimes, other people set up stalls next to me, recruiting others to mindlessly follow their stupid beliefs. It’s laughable. It’s just a joke seeing them pushing their shallow logic and strict ideologies. None of that nonsense will help anybody.

Today feels different than usual. Darker somehow, like the very air itself is oppressing me. The end must be getting nearer. It’s also cold today, much colder than it has been on some of my other early morning vigils. I’m only wearing a short jacket and I pull it closer around me, wrapping my arms across my chest and shifting from one foot to the other in a vain attempt to generate some warmth. I wish I’d brought my thicker jacket. The one with the fur. That would have been good right about now. Still, what does it really matter? Even if I get the flu, I won’t have much of the sickness to deal with. I’ll be dead before then. I laugh to myself, ignoring the startled looks of a couple of businesswomen who shuffle past me, their scarves wrapped up around their chins. It’s ironic really. I might be freezing cold now, but in a few days, weeks, or maybe even just hours I’ll either be in the comfortable warmth of Heaven or the searing heat of Hell. As will all of us…

My gloomy thoughts remind me that I’m here with a job. Prying my icy numb fingers from my pockets, I reach down and hoist my homemade sign back into the air. I chose the good old “The End Is Nigh” sign. It lacks imagination and doesn’t fully encapsulate the horrors that are awaiting people if they don’t listen to what I have to say, but it gets the point across clearly, I guess.

There are more people buzzing around the city centre now. I see the same people every day, rushing from the bus to the office, the car park to the shops or the taxi stand to the college. Whatever journey they’re making, it’s all pointless. Each and every one of them has a limited amount of time left to enjoy life, to relish the love of their friends and family, but they’re still so concerned with checking their phones, listening to music and fretting over which shoes to buy with money from a job that means nothing.

They could be saved, each and every one of them, if they would just listen. I tell them, over and over, what’s coming. I scream at them that they could be saved too, as I will be, if they just follow my instructions and embrace the approaching doom. Because I am blessed, and I know exactly what’s coming, how it will affect the world and where I can go to survive.

I hold the sign as high as I can, a beacon to draw people in. I take a deep breath and begin.

“The end is nigh! I have seen the doom; I have seen the horrors that await us; and yes! I do have an answer!” I scream into the air, feeling the truth of the words flood through me, feeding me with energy and power. I hear the sniggers and sense people veering away from me, but I continue, screaming at the top of my lungs into the air.

“I have been chosen by a higher power, a higher intelligence than any of us. It has shown me the way the world will be destroyed. Yes! I have seen the fire and the brimstone, the skeletal form of the grim reaper, who will stalk the lands, taking the heads of the unbelieving. I have seen this land, decimated by ash and sulphur, the corpses of those of little faith littering the dead grasslands!”

I lower my head, feeling my eyes blazing with passion and my blood coursing through my body, empowering me.

A woman passes by, pulling her small daughter closer to her, shaking her head at me in disgust. They are already lost. It saddens me but if she is already so closed off, she has doomed her daughter and herself to death.

I continue to shout, but people look away and lower their heads. Some even cross the road to stay away from me or pretend they haven’t even heard. As if their stupid iPods can drown out the power of the truth. I stare at each of them as they pass me by, desperately trying to establish a connection. I step up to them, as close as I can get, trying to force my way into their attention. It’s remarkable to what lengths some people will go to ignore me. A young man, maybe in his late teens, looks up, stunned or afraid, I can’t tell which. I relish the eye contact, using it to my advantage.

“You! Yes you! You are going to die. And it will happen this week. I can feel it approaching! But I have the answers. I know how to avoid the apocalypse!”

But he has already scurried away, ducking out of my line of sight and hurrying off to vanish into the throngs of shoppers and workers. Another lost to the fires. Anger rages inside of me and I let out an involuntary scream of frustration, which makes more people step away in fear.

“Why are you all so stupid?” I shriek, waving my sign in their faces. “Can you not read? Don’t you want to be saved?”

No response. No engagement. It’s like shouting to robots. But I keep trying because I must. Because I was told that this was my destiny.

The irritating laughter of a gaggle of teenagers catches my attention. Six of them, hanging around at the clock tower at nine a.m. on a Tuesday morning. Haven’t they got school to go to? Three of them are perched on a metal bench, hoods pulled up over their ridiculous floppy fringes, skinny jeans making them look almost anorexic. Two girls stand around, pressed up against one another, flaunting their taboo relationship, as if anybody around them even notices, let alone cares. Another is lounging lazily on the ground. He is lying stretched out on the path, causing the stream of irritated shoppers to wind around him to avoid tripping over his legs.

They are looking over at me now, giggling in their silly high-pitched voices, huddling together and sniggering. The boy on the floor is putting his hands behind his head and turning his head to face me, laughing out loud. Usually I ignore kids when they mock me. It happens all the time, so I’m used to it, but it feels different today. The end is getting nearer and they need to listen to me, now, before it’s too late. There is no time to ignore them, no time to wait for them to come to their senses. I need to match their audacity.

Taking a few steps towards them and making sure my eyes are locked onto theirs, wide and intense, I shout again. “None of you are exempt! It doesn’t matter what age or race you are. It doesn’t matter what your job is or what religion you follow. The world will end for you all. FOR YOU ALL!” I scream, shaking my board furiously in the direction of the insolent kids.

They laugh more, the boys throwing their heads back and guffawing uproariously, the girls giggling and huddling together. They aren’t listening. They aren’t understanding. So I go much closer, until I am right in front of them. One more step and I’ll break the shin bone of the brat on the floor. It’s tempting.

“You think I’m crazy? You think I’M mad when YOU are ignoring all the signs.” With my free hand, I jab my finger at each of them in turn. “You won’t think you’re so cool when your world is an inferno, when your friends are dying around you and all you can do is scream your regrets into a burning sky!”

All six of them have fallen silent now, staring at me, afraid and uncomfortable. They should be scared. Maybe I was getting through to them after all. The boy on the floor, who had sat up during my rant, pulls himself to his feet, grabs his bag and waves for his friends to follow him. They all quickly jump down from their seats and scurry after him, refusing to make any further eye contact with me.

As my rage subsides and I watch yet another batch of doomed kids hurry away from me, the boy from the ground turns back to me. “You’re crazy, man! Freaking weirdo!”

The words hurt. Not because of the choice of words themselves, but because it means another six young people won’t make it out alive and that means I have failed yet again. But there isn’t time to sit people down one at a time and calmly and rationally explain to them that the end is coming. So what else can I do? If anybody knows of a quicker, more effective way of alerting people than this, I would really appreciate it. Maybe the Internet? No, definitely not. There is enough rubbish on there as it is. My truth would just get lost amongst all the false claims and hysteria. This way is better.

But, as I stare into the closed-off eyes of every passer-by, I am slowly coming to the realisation that adults are never going to listen to me. They have already taught their minds to shut out anything they don’t understand. My logic and truth fall on deaf ears. The panic that has been sitting deep in the pit of my stomach begins to rise in my throat, desperate and burning.

Kids. That’s where I will find my success. Their innocent young minds are open to new possibilities. I can’t believe I’ve never thought of it before. They will listen to me. I’m sure of it. And surely they are the most precious of all beings, right? I turn around, frantically looking for a child to save. A young family walk by, mother, father, two kids. One is too young, in a pushchair and sucking on a grotty, soggy piece of blanket. The other child is perfect. Around seven years old, walking beside his mother, looking happily around the shopping precinct. I’m over there in a second, sign at the ready.

I ignore the parents—they are already lost—and drop down to the little boy’s level. He stops dead in his tracks and I see his hand tighten around his mother’s. I need to get in quickly.

“The world is in trouble. Many, many people are going to die, but I know a way to escape the horror. Come with me and you can escape too.”

The boy steps behind his mother’s legs, cowering, despite my words of comfort. As I’m looking at him, a staggering blow slams into the side of my face. I am thrown to the ground, my sign falling from my grasp and clattering onto the paving stones.

Blinking and disorientated, I try to gather my senses and figure out what the hell has happened to me. I stare up into the eyes of the boy’s father, who is standing over me now, his hand clasped around my collar, his fist pulled back for another punch.

“Don’t you dare speak to my kid like that! Who do you think you are? You some kind of paedo? Trying to take him, were you? You even look at my son again and I will kick the shit out of you.”

With one last furious hiss, he drops me to the ground and ushers his family away. I am in a haze, my vision blurry and my mind messed up. What kind of parent wouldn’t want their kid saved from the apocalypse? Why would they choose for their son to burn in agony? The world is going crazy, and it brings a tear to my eye. The emotions fill me up until I reach breaking point. I’ve had to be tough through all of this. I’ve had to hold my head high, even when they mock, or jeer, or threaten, but it’s getting too much now.

I drag my battered self to my feet and try to ignore the shocked glances from frightened members of the public. I wipe the trickle of blood from my split lip and grab my battered sign, and standing right in front of me is a policeman.

I am relieved as I push myself to my feet. “Officer, that man just hit me! Him there!” I wave my hand at the furious father who is pushing his kid behind him and telling his wife to take his son away.

“Calm down, sir. I know what happened,” the policeman says in an oddly calm voice.

My face distorts into an affronted scowl as I watch my attacker walk away, free as a bird. “Him right there!” I yell, pointing after him. “He’s walking away! He just hit me in the face. He threatened me. Go and arrest him!” My cries are frantic and I shout louder to make sure the policeman can hear me.

The look on his face is not what I expected. It’s a calm veneer, but underneath the placid expression his eyes blaze with something. Barely concealed anger? A threat of his own? When he speaks, his voice is loaded with forced courtesy.

“I think it’s best if you pack up and leave now, sir.” He adds emphasis to the “sir,” as if it’s meant sarcastically and stands before me with his arms crossed over his broad chest.

“Why should I leave? I’m the victim here!” I gesticulate wildly, throwing my arms around to make my point, but I am only met by blank hostility. “I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m trying to help all these stupid people from walking into the jaws of certain death!” I wave my hands in the direction of the shoppers wandering by.

The policeman sighs and steps closer to me with his arms out to the sides, blocking my view of the shoppers. “That’s enough. We know you’re here every day, bothering members of the public. You need to pack up and leave. Now.”

My jaw drops and I stare at him, speechless for a few moments until I catch my words and they come spilling out of my mouth. “I’m not bothering people!” I shriek. “I’m saving them! They are all going to die unless they listen. All they need to do is LISTEN!” I can’t control the volume of my voice anymore. “You’re just the same as them! Take the veil off your stupid eyes and SEE what I’m showing you!”

“Sir, if you won’t leave I’ll be forced to take you into custody for disturbing the peace.”

I am incredulous, simply astounded at the stupidity of humankind. “Fine,” I mumble, grabbing my sign again, “but you’ll die just like the rest of them.”

I march over to the clock tower where my bag awaits, snatch it up, huffing and grumbling to myself and storm over to the multistorey car park where my battered old Ford is parked. I dig in my pocket and fish out the key, but my hands are shaking as I try to click the button to trigger the locks. I swear and curse to myself, trying to fight the tears welling in my eyes. Wiping an angry hand across my face, I finally manage to unlock the doors. I hurl my sign into the back seat, slam the rear doors closed and slump down into the driver’s seat.

I grab the wheel as tightly as I can and let out an unearthly scream, as loud as my lungs will allow. Stupid people. Stupid goddamn idiots, all of them. A new bit of celebrity gossip breaks and everybody in the world wants to know about it, but try to tell them something of crucial importance to their survival and nobody cares.

Angrily yanking my gear stick into reverse, I pull out of my parking space and start the twenty-minute journey home. I’ve been out in town longer than I thought and the cold winter evening is already creeping in, darkening the crisp blue sky. I glance at the clock in my car. It’s only three thirty p.m. The nights close in so early in the winter, but this is a new record, surely. I switch on my headlights. The visibility is so poor and I lean forwards, clutching the steering wheel and peering through the gloom. I hate driving in the dark, especially in winter. The roads will be icing over soon, I bet. Damn winter.

I soon get used to the dim light and my heater kicks in after a few minutes, taking the edge off the bitter cold. With the initial discomfort gone, my mind strays to other, more worrying, things. What can I do to get them to listen? People are mind-numbingly stupid sometimes, but they are still my species, and there is still enough good in them to justify their right to survive. How many kids must there be, the world over? Are they all going to die if I don’t get the word out in time? But there’s no time left. I slam my hand into the steering wheel and the car swerves before I correct its course. Damn it.

Suddenly, I see something in front of me, a flash of white reflecting off my headlights, right in front of my car. My heart leaps into my throat and I slam my brakes on as hard as I can. The car lurches and I am thrown forwards as the brakes squeal and my vehicle skids across the road. My knuckles are white, gripping the wheel with terror. I look up, desperate to see what caused this near crash, and in front of me are four young women on horses, trotting back to the equestrian centre down the lane.

They have stopped, their eyes wide and afraid, and they gently stroke their steeds, trying to calm them from the God-awful noise my car must have made. The one I saw in my headlights is in front of me and the young girl sitting upon her must only be nineteen or so. She looks terrified and her white horse is stamping its feet and whinnying, snorting with fear.

Another woman, who I guess must be the instructor rides up beside her, her own black horse under control, and reaches a hand out to comfort the younger girl’s ride. The other two sit further back, their own horses disinterested in the incident, the riders glaring at me as if this was somehow my fault. The pale horse at the front is eager to continue and keeps trying to ride away. Maybe it wants to get back home. I know how it feels.

“Hey, you! Watch where you’re going, and watch your speed!” one of the girls shouts at me. Her horse is a powerful stallion, sporting a thick red covering as if it were armour.

I screw my nose up in distaste and that familiar anger rises in me again. I wind the window down and yell out at her, “You watch where you’re going! It’s dark and you’re out on horses, you idiots! You’ll get yourselves killed!”

I haven’t got time for any stupid responses so I put my foot down and speed away, veering around them before they can shout anything back at me. I’ve had enough of stupid people today as it is.

Within ten minutes, I’m home and I slump onto my sofa, exhausted. The silence in my small house is blissful and I am thankful that here at least I don’t have to feel rejected. There’s nobody to ignore me here. But the silence only lasts a few minutes. Then the voice begins.

It’s coming. The end is coming. Soon. Very, very soon. They are approaching and they bring disease and death, famine and pestilence. The beast will stalk the land, forcing the planet into a final Armageddon, good versus evil. Only those that oppose the beast shall walk the fires unburned.

I hold my hands over my ears, trying to shut out the whisper, but it is growing louder, more urgent. Every word drips with insistence with desperation to be heard.

“Go away! Leave me alone!” I cry out feebly, but the voice returns, stronger and louder.

A sea of glass and fire, the world coated and covered, burned from above and below. Seven beings, of wing and great power will bring seven bowls of sadness. When they upturn the bowls, decay will ravage the world and all that is known shall disintegrate. Only the worthy left, only the worthy…

I try humming to myself, but it does nothing. The voice is just as pervading, burrowing into my every thought. I sing my favourite song but the carefree notes are tinged with fear and I cannot lose myself in their power as I usually do.

The sky will turn red and plagues will ravage the unbelievers.

I leap up from the sofa and storm into the kitchen, trying in vain to shut out the damn voice. I throw a cheap ready-made chicken dinner in the microwave and watch the little plate spinning around and around for four minutes. At least it drowns the voice out a little, but I can still hear it in the back of my mind.

You need to tell them. You need to get them all to renounce the beast and follow you. All they have to do is listen and believe.

The microwave dings, the yellow light is extinguished and I remove the hot plastic tray, trying not to burn myself on a splash of gravy that has bubbled out of the side of the packaging. I grab a dirty knife and fork and settle down on the sofa to eat what I am sure will be my final meal.

It isn’t a relaxing meal. It seems like with every mouthful the voice gets louder, until each syllable it “whispers” reverberates inside my skull. Eventually, I give up and throw my fork down, splattering gravy and carrot across my grubby carpet. I leave the tray on my sofa and stomp upstairs to my bedroom. Maybe sleep will stop the voice. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to get some rest and then my final attempt at saving mankind tomorrow may be more successful. Hell, it would be more successful if just one person listened to me. Just one; that’s all I need.

I curl up in bed in my clothes.

It’ll be uncovered tomorrow…

Every muscle in my body tenses. Tomorrow? Did the voice really just say that? I freeze, listening as intently as I can, cursing my own breathing and heartbeat for being so loud. My mind races. Tomorrow…What will be uncovered? What did it—?

Tomorrow…

My breath catches in my throat and I wonder if I’m going crazy. This can’t be real, can it? But every word is so crisp and clear.

The true fate of the world, uncovered.

I want to cry out, to ask it what it means, but it has never answered before. I’ve tried. I’ve screamed and shouted at the empty air around me, but never an answer. It only says what it wants me to hear.

When it comes, leave.

Leave? But where should—

Leave the city, enter the wild.

Should I run now? Take my car and get out into—

Take those you can convince. Go to the city once more, before the skies turn and the fire falls, before the beasts walk. Take those that believe, that listen.

I have to go out again? But they never—

If they don’t listen, they’ll die. But you’ll be safe when it is uncovered.

When what is—?

The truth. The end of the lie. The end, the end, the end…

I succumb to it then, the hypnotic repetition echoing in my head, over and over. There’s no point trying to escape it, to hide from the voice. It will be with me forever, inside of me, until the end of my days, and at least if that really is tomorrow I won’t have to live with it for too long.

By the time I am finally allowed to fall asleep my pillow is damp with nervous sweat. I drift into disturbed slumber, nightmares thundering through my confused mind, tossing and turning until the covers are a tangled mess, wrapped around my thrashing legs. I wake numerous times, bolt upright, ready to leap from the bed and fulfil my destiny, but the sky is still dark and I wait for my heartbeat to slow, then settle back into a bed which has never felt less comfortable.

My eyes snap open. Sunlight streams through the crack in the curtains, landing on my face with a warm, tender touch. Something isn’t right. The sun is too high in the sky. My heart leaps and my body follows, catapulting me out of bed and over to the old-fashioned alarm clock on my dresser. Eleven forty-eight a.m. No, no no…How is that even possible…? I slept late. I never sleep late.

The thundering in my ears is deafening, every nerve in my shattered system screeching with stress. At least I can’t hear the voice anymore. My relief at the silence doesn’t last very long as thoughts of the voice reignite my fear and the pressure of my overwhelming task.

No time to stop and worry about it. I throw a T-shirt over my head, decide to miss breakfast or lunch, whichever meal it would class as, and sprint out of the door. I pull the handle shut behind me, not even locking up. What would be the point? My only worry now is getting there in time. The voice said I had one last chance before it began. Recruit others before it’s too late, before the signs begin, before I have to run for the hills.

As I drive into town my anxiety builds, but now it isn’t that voice that echoes warnings. It’s mine, repeating the same things that haunted me in the night—the end, the end, fire falls, sky burns, the beast…Yanking the steering wheel haphazardly I pull into a parking bay and leave my car jutting out at an angle, blocking two spaces. No point paying for a ticket, I figure, and I start my run into the city centre.

Evidence everywhere, evidence of the truth, my truth. I don’t get far before it builds up and becomes clear to me that I am too late. The apocalypse isn’t coming. It’s already begun. Portents so obvious they scream at me, as they should at every passer-by if they weren’t too blind to see. I run faster, my aching legs turning weak as I pass a homeless man, curled up in a shopfront with a blanket wrapped around him and a sign propped up: Poor and hungry. Please spare money for food. The first sign it has begun—famine.

Still running as fast as I can, the words erupt out of my mouth, as if they are a living, breathing thing desperate to escape. “It’s coming! The end is nigh! It will happen today. Look around you! It’s happening now! Follow me and I can save you!”

I don’t even look around to see who is listening, to see if anybody might follow me. I already know they won’t. They are prisoners, trapped in their comfortable little lives, happy to avoid their impending doom, even when the signs are so blatant.

Coughing and spluttering drags me out of my panicked thoughts and I ease to a stop in front of a young man in a business suit, hacking and coughing into a tissue. His nose is red, his eyes puffed up, his skin sallow and pale. I know it at once—pestilence. A helpless yelp escapes my lips and I step away, my hands covering my mouth, my eyes wide with horror. The man looks at me like I’m crazy and walks away, shaking his head.

“I’m not the crazy one!” I screech at him, at anyone and everyone who can hear me. “I’m the only one here who isn’t crazy!” I can’t believe people are just going about their daily business as if nothing is happening! They have to be stupid not to see the signs.

The clock tower looms ahead of me and I run for it. My final chance, and the only place where I might, just might, be able to recruit a follower. The centre is busy today and I have to shove and jostle my way through crowds of teenagers milling around, laughing and showing each other their phones. With a few choice words and insults, most move out of the way for me. Their shocked and angry faces don’t bother me; I haven’t got time to be polite.

I run past the department store on my right and something in the window makes me stop dead in my tracks. My arms flail wildly as I try to stop myself from flying into the window. I can’t believe it…I press my hands up against the glass and rest my forehead on it, smearing my sweat across the previously pristine display glass. Burning tears well up in my eyes. There can be no doubt now. Sitting innocuously on a wooden tabletop are seven shallow green glass bowls each filled with water, and floating peacefully in each, like a little oasis, sits a candle with a flickering flame.

Water in the bowls, and flames resting upon them. A sea of glass and fire. I count again just to be sure, but the answer comes up the same. There are seven of them. Seven beings bring seven bowls of sadness. When they upturn the bowls, decay will ravage the world.

My eyes turn to the sky, but there is nothing yet. I still have time. With a cry of anguish and terror I tear at my hair, ripping great chunks of thinning grey strands from my scalp. They fall listlessly to the floor and the image spurs me on as, instead of hair, I see the limp bodies of children falling, lifeless, to the ground.

It’s only when I get to the clock tower that I realise I haven’t even brought my sign. Hysteria wells inside me and it feels like my heart is going to burst out through my chest. Well, my voice will have to be my sign. “It’s coming…It will be uncovered! The truth, the end will be uncovered! NOW! TODAY! All the signs are here!”

I hear a deep rumble somewhere in the distance and I look frantically into the darkening sky, where thick grey clouds are closing in. I turn my face to the approaching doom as the first droplets of water fall on my face. Those around me scurry on into shops, pulling hoods up and wrapping their thick winter coats closer around themselves.

I’m the first person to realise that it isn’t rain falling down on us; it’s ash.

It’s here. It’s really happening, but for once it isn’t fear I feel because I am the chosen one. I realise it now. I am the only person on Earth clever enough to listen. Now I don’t offer salvation to these idiots around me. Now I will tell them of their demise as it happens. Today is judgement day.

“The beast will walk the Earth and bring a day of darkness. All the inhabitants of the Earth shall tremble and the streets will become a river of fire. The beast will rise and force the world into a final battle over good and evil. Only those that deny the beast shall stand upon the fires and not be burned.”

My eyelids drift to a peaceful close as I say the same words over and over again, and even when the screaming starts I don’t open them. Shrieks and screeches, terrified yells and hysterical crying fills the air around me. Bodies slam into me, but I stand my ground, feet firmly planted as the panic reaches a fever pitch. Hot air floods over me in a wave, the brutal flames of Hell searing my skin. But I am uninjured, and my face cools instantly.

An unearthly screech echoes around me and I squeeze my eyelids more tightly together. I don’t need to see to know what is happening. The largest of seven huge creatures with enormous black wings sprouting from its shoulder blades advances towards me. The ground shudders with each step of its hulking mass and I can smell the stench of death on its breath.

I brace myself for the end, for the moment its enormous flaming scythe will cleave me in two. I feel the rush of heat, hear the swish of air as the blade descends towards me. But then…nothing. Screams ring out around me and I feel the earth judder as bodies fall at my feet, but I remain untouched. Liquid fire, burning lava pools around my feet. I can feel the heat welling around my shoes, the weight of it pressing into my toes, but the warmth is comforting. It doesn’t burn me and with my eyes still tightly closed, I step up onto the thick, viscous liquid and am surprised to find that it supports my weight.

And suddenly it’s clear to me. All the inhabitants of the Earth shall tremble and the streets will become a river of fire. The beast will rise and force the world into a final battle over good and evil. Only those that deny the beast shall stand upon the fires and not be burned.

I tilt my head upwards, facing the sky with my arms out wide and as all around me burns. I laugh.

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Nook:

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GIVEAWAYS:  (2) book bundles – (1) paperback of THE PHOENIX PROJECT along with (1) paperback of her children’s book, SOREN!

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