Monday, April 30, 2012

Patient by William Kenney


I could only partially open my eyes against the white glare above. A blurry figure moved up alongside the bed and roughly touched my arm, encircling my wrist for a moment, then, releasing it. My mind was a jumble of thoughts, overrun by confusion. My eyes darted about as I tried to focus on the woman that attended me, but she remained a soft and formless, ghost-like figure, the darkness of her eye sockets staring back at me, hauntingly. Her stark white uniform shifted about like a hovering specter, the darkness of her hair, a black halo. I assumed she was a nurse, the owner of the soothing voice that addressed me from above as I lie in the bed.
"It's okay," she said, her voice caressing me. Her breath was warm and sweet in my face. "We're going to take care of you."
How did I end up here?
I tried to speak, but couldn't find my voice, gurgling and choking instead.
I felt cold and shivered a bit as the woman's movements kicked up a slight breeze. I noticed another figure, appearing like a shadow to my left. This person reached out both hands and there came a slight tugging in my abdominal region. I was still far too groggy to lift my head and investigate the procedure that was taking place.
Blinking repetitively, I tried to clear my vision, to no avail. Somewhere within the room, a machine beeped out a quick rhythm. My pulse, I assumed. It sounded much too fast. What was wrong with me? Was this normal?
"Something wrong?" this new figure asked in an almost sing-song manner. It appeared as if I gazed upon her from the bottom of the sea, her face distorted and altogether disturbing. I could hear an odd thumping as she drew close and my stomach suddenly growled with hunger.
There was a loud banging sound as the door to the room burst open, the nurses turning and shouting in anger at the apparent intruder.
"What are you doing?" shouted one of them. "You can't be in here. This is a restricted a-"
Her voice was cut off then and I could hear the low, wet thump of her body hitting the floor.
My thoughts were chaos.
Why can't I see? What is happening?
I heard the other nurse scream for security, then fall silent among a clattering of metal utensils and pans.
A large form loomed over me, darker than the others had been, and exuded extreme cold. A long, pale face moved in close to mine with a ghastly smile and an ancient, musty odor. He turned and addressed someone across the room.
"He's fine, he's fine. Everything went according to plan."
He then turned back to me.
"It worked," he said with a whispered laugh as he searched my body with his eyes. "You were right all along. It worked. I didn't think it was possible. You were near death and look at you now."
"They did a fine job extracting you. If they had only known..."
He and the other unseen person began to laugh quietly, their voices echoing oddly in the small, white room.
"Come over, Matthias. Just look at him. The first Vampyr Lord to make the transfer, reborn in the body of a human newborn. He will reign for eons."
They wrapped me in a blanket and took me from the nursery, their leathery wings dragging the floor behind us.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Two Skulldust Circle titles for FREE this weekend!

Two great fantasy books from Skulldust Circle FREE this weekend!

Free this Friday, Saturday and Sunday!
Free this Saturday and Sunday!


This Saturday and Sunday, Part two of In the Shadow of the Black Sun, Shards of S'Darin will also be free. William is generating interest in his epic fantasy series by offering book 2 for free in the hopes that those who download it will also purchase Part one, A Dream of Storms for $2.99. Also available is Embremere, the first book in a new fantasy series aimed at a more Young Adult audience. Read the sample and give that one a try as well.

 To celebrate the release of his latest short story "Tears of Blood", Gary Vanucci's, "A Rose in Bloom" will be free all weekend. "A Rose in Bloom" is Part 2 in the Wothlondia Rising series, detailing the backgrounds and personal histories of the main characters from the Realm of Ashenclaw and the full-length fantasy novel, Covenant of the Faceless Knights: Beginnings. Do yourself a favor. Grab "A Rose in Bloom" for free, then grab the other short stories (Links on the sidebar to the right) that have been released so far at 99 cents each. Great stories, great price. Please show Gary your support.

Thank you, friends and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Sizable chunk of WOTHLONDIA RISING 4: TEARS OF BLOOD! I know that there are many fans of Saeunn, the gritty, sexy and fierce barbarian from Chansuk. And who wouldn’t like a female barbarian that would give Conan a run for his money? (Well, I suppose it depends on who wrote that fight!)

This is a battle-fueled story that will sate both your blood-lust as well as tug at your heart strings. I hope you all enjoy not only the excerpt here, but the story in its entirety.

Oh, and who wouldn’t want to read a book where the main theme is BARBARIANS vs. ZOMBIES!? (I didn’t think it was you…)

TEARS OF BLOOD will be available this weekend for a paltry 99 cents!

Saeunn became one with the horde as it rushed out of the village. With weapons in hand and an intense battle lust etched upon their faces, the barbarians of Chansuk raced to intercept the unknown threat. Saeunn was with her brother, Magreth, who wielded a huge battle axe. He led and she followed, her own greatsword drawn and at the ready. Saeunn’s weapon had been crafted by a village blacksmith only a few years ago and was gifted to her by her father when she reached adulthood after her sixteenth name-day. Needless to say, it was special to her. She had drawn blood with the weapon before, but only on a few occasions.
Saeunn knew deep down that her father accepted her as a true barbarian—naturally gifted and uninhibited when it came to the kill. She did what she must on the field of battle and did not let guilt or trepidation rule her actions. She knew that Scarr witnessed and understood this from the first time she ever brandished her weapon. But, he never voiced it. He would never speak of it, especially to her mother.
Once Huuna discovered that Saeunn was accompanying the counter attack, she would not be pleased… not one bit. She had visions of her daughter marrying a warrior and bearing him children, just as she had done, and had voiced that opinion often. That life choice did not sit well with Saeunn, the barbarian. And Scarr knew this, too. His daughter had always shown the fire of a warrior behind her eyes, though he attempted to discourage her many times for Huuna’s sake.
Women were not often sent into the vanguard, but there were more than a few of the so-called ‘fairer sex’ who could make quite an impression in that very arena.
Women of Chansuk were no ordinary women….

Cover art by William Kenney
 ….Then she saw them coming.
The barbarian horde collectively slowed for a split second as they beheld the living atrocities in greater detail. The things were bloated, rotting creatures. Skin adorned with sores and boils dripped from their bones. They were a truly horrid sight and an obvious blight upon the whole of Wothlondia!
The first of the wretched creatures hit their lines. After the initial revulsion of having seen the things up close, the barbarians responded in kind.
Saeunn and Scarr were amongst those in the second wave of attackers. Saeunn strayed from her group, purposefully giving ground as she wanted to swing her weapon wide. She rushed to meet a group of the creatures head on, barbarian fury pumping in her veins. Her first wide swing cleaved one in two across the stomach, barely slowing on the flesh or what was inside it. She recognized this abomination to be what the village shamans told her was a zombie, an undead corpse fueled with evil life gifted by the demon lords of Pandemonium. But this thing looked different from the creatures in the shaman’s tales. It was full of deadly disease and oozed a vile corruption from its tattered skin.
A second and third pestilent wretch appeared and moved toward her. Part of her could not help but be impressed by the speed at which the bulbous creatures scrambled. She slashed her sword across in a downward, right to left motion, all but severing the head of the nearest zombie. It hung loosely by a strand of flesh, and then landed with a squishy sound upon the damp ground, followed by its body.
The third zombie slammed into Saeunn, knocking her back a few steps and probing for flesh to bite with its keen-edged teeth. It continued, following its impetus, which the woman had anticipated for she fought on instinct. Saeunn rolled backwards with the creature’s momentum, extending her sword straight out while holding it tightly and near the top of the hilt, halfway up the weapon’s blade, giving her better control of its weight.
The undead wretch skewered itself upon her sword. But instead of recoiling, the zombie continued to push toward her, further impaling itself and refusing to yield, wanting only to reach her flesh. Saeunn pulled her blade free, exchanging the placement of the weapon with her own left foot, which she used to keep the thing at bay. She shoved out with tremendous force, thrusting the creature rearward to gain space and using that inertia to once more propel herself into a backward roll. She sprung to her feet before the thing could move toward her and spun in a complete circle. Her greatsword followed the arc and slashed through the zombie’s neck with significant force, causing its head to fly away, rolling toward another fray not far from her. She paused to witness the battle for a split second as she was given a brief reprieve.
Saeunn heard the slashing of swords and axes biting into zombie flesh. She listened to the screams of dying barbarians and heard the invigorating roar of battle cries that instilled a morale boost to the servants of The Champion.
Saeunn followed the bounding skull of the zombie and watched as another of them charged, tripping over it and stumbling forward. It had the misfortune of sprawling into the devastating dance of the pair of axes belonging to her father, Scarr. He had managed to stay close to his daughter in the skirmish and kept an eye on her. He grunted a few times as he swung those axes in a rhythmic pattern, continuing to chop the zombie to pieces in a way that made it look as though he were dancing and not fighting. Not once did any of the creatures advance past his defenses and never did the man’s weapons cease their hypnotic pattern of destruction.

I hope you all enjoyed the sample and I look forward to sharing more of my work and the work of the amazing writers gathered here as well. Keep your eyes peeled for more amazing excepts form the minds of these exceptional scribes.

Literary Badger

I have this idea for a book.  It's about a badger who reads the want ads in search of employment.  Somehow it never works out.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Total Replacement Therapy (a short story by Benedict Martin)

It's funny, fluorescent lights never used to bother me, but I can see them now, flickering against the hospital walls.

I look at the nurse talking on the phone behind the counter and wonder, does she see it too?

I find myself doing that a lot lately.  Questioning things.  I know in the past I wouldn't have given it a second thought.  But my body has changed.  I've changed.

I had cancer, you see: an aggressive form of leukemia that, left untreated, would have killed me inside of a year.

But treatment is expensive, and my family is of limited means, and just when I was beginning to wonder if I would see another Christmas my parents were contacted by the Shunty foundation.  What they offered was an opportunity to take part in an experimental process, wherein the healthy cells in my body were replicated, but the mutated ones were not.  In essence: creating a brand new, cancer-free me.

In return they offered money.

It was not an easy decision, but in the end, the promise of a new car was too much, so my parents agreed.

The procedure itself was surprisingly easy.  All I had to do was sit my naked self on a table underneath a trio of lights inside an otherwise empty room and close my eyes.  When a voice instructed me to put on my hospital gown and return to the waiting room, I assumed something had gone awry.

But in truth the machine had worked perfectly, scanning my body in one room, and reproducing it in an identical room down the hall.  It all went so smoothly the only hint anything had happened at all was that I had to turn left to return to the waiting room instead of right like I remembered.

The doctors say I'm healthy now, which is kind of odd because I never felt sick in the first place.  I mean, I felt tired, but I assumed that was because I'd just finished my exams.

The only reason they discovered something was wrong in the first place was thanks to some random blood work my doctor had requested after a scheduled check-up.

It's all been so surreal: one moment they're telling me I'm on death's door, the next that I'm a copy of an original.  Meanwhile I just continue on feeling

That's not to say there haven't been changes.  I'm more introspective now, more prone to waking up at night.  And then there's the thing with the fluorescent lights.  But the biggest change is how people relate to me.  They're more guarded.  Even my own family, there's an uneasiness hovering over us whenever we are together.  It disappears sometimes, like when we're in the middle of a game of cribbage, but it isn't long before my parents are staring at me again, a stranger in their son's clothing.

I don't blame them.  I am just a copy after all.

As for the original, I have no idea what happened to it.  One of the things my parents had to agree to before we could go forward with the procedure was that they would never inquire about him.  Ever.   And whether it's for that reason, or a desire not to hurt my feelings, the fate of my former self is something the Farmer household just doesn't talk about.

I do wonder about it, though.  The original's cancer should be advancing by now.  That is, if he's still alive.  For who is to say they didn't kill him once I was beamed into the other room?

It's a horrible thought, and one I often find myself returning to if I'm not careful.  This is not one of those times, however, as my focus is on the nurse approaching me, carrying a clipboard.

"Trevor Farmer?" she asks.

I follow her down the flickering hallway into a little room containing a table and a pair of old wooden chairs.

"The doctor will see you soon," she says, placing the clipboard into a plastic receptacle on the outside of the door.

And with that, she's gone, leaving me to sit with my hands between my knees while I worry about what is to come.

Total Replacement Therapy is a very new procedure, and as such, there are still many questions surrounding just what happens when a person is reproduced down to an atomic level, and there is a concern that when they rid me of my cancer, they might have rid me of my soul as well.

To tell the truth, I don't really know what that means.  My family is not a religious one; I've been inside a church exactly once in my entire life, and the idea that I should or shouldn't have a ghost inside me is not something I've ever thought about.

The hospital, though, thinks it's important enough that they're having me tested.  That's why I'm here: to see if I do indeed still have a soul.

I hate waiting.  Fortunately it isn't long before the door opens and a rather tall, rather overweight man wearing a doctor's coat walks in, followed by a nurse pushing what looks like a large polygraph machine on wheels.

"Just leave it there," he says, pointing to the end of the table.

The nurse does just that and leaves the room.

"So you're the young fellow," he says smiling.  He's Indian, with a hint of an English accent.  He's also pale, almost grey, with a very sweaty forehead.

"I'm Doctor Gill," he says, extending a clammy hand.  He motions for me to sit in a chair and then plugs the machine into the wall.

It takes only a few minutes to set everything up, and once he's finished he sits in the chair opposite me, and the whole time I'm struck by how terrible he looks.

"So has anyone briefed you on what we'll be doing today?"

"No," I answer.

"Well, I'll just be taking some readings."

"Will it hurt?" I ask.

He chuckles and hands me a tiny sock, the tip of which is connected to the machine via a blue wire.

"Not at all," he says.  "Just place this over your index finger, please."

I do as I'm told and watch as the doctor fiddles with a dial on the machine.  Meanwhile sweat drips from his nose onto the table.

"So this machine is what will tell you if I have a soul?" I ask.

"That is the plan."

He removes a handkerchief from his trouser pocket and wipes his forehead, exhaling loudly.

"Are you feeling alright?" I ask.

"Just some indigestion," he answers.  "Now, I'm going to ask you some questions, and I would like you to answer them.

"You're in a desert, walking along the sand when all of a sudden you look down and see a tortoise crawling towards you.  You reach down and flip the tortoise on its back.  It lies there, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs, trying to turn itself over, but it can't.  Not without your help.  But you're not helping.  Why is that?"

I look at Dr. Gill, feeling rather lost.  "I don't understand."

"Just having some fun," he explains.  "It's from a movie called Blade Runner.  Have you seen it?"

I shake my head.

"You should.  It's a wonderful film.  I'd be particularly interested to know what a person in your situation would think of the movie's subject matter."

He smiles and again wipes his forehead with his handkerchief.

"So Trevor, tell me: how have you been feeling?"

"Fine," I say.

I watch as a little needle scribbles furiously on the machine.

"Are there any changes from how you felt before the procedure?"

"There are some.  I worry about things more than I used to.  I seem to daydream as well."

Dr. Gill looks at the machine and marks something down on an official looking piece of paper.

"Any physical changes?"

I lean back in the chair, trying to think of something meaningful.  "I like bacon now.  That's different.  Oh, and the lights."


"The fluorescent lights.  I can see them.  Flickering." I quickly wiggle the index finger of my free hand to show him exactly what I mean.

"You can see it now?" he asks.

"I can," I answer.

Dr. Gill glances at the machine and again writes something on the piece of paper.

"And your family, how have they been through all of this?"

"Okay, I guess.  I mean, it's been a difficult few months, what with me getting sick.  And now with this whole replacement therapy, things can sometimes feel odd.  My own brother calls me Vincent now."

Dr. Gill looks at me quizzically.

"Because I'm not Trevor anymore," I explain.

"I see.  I see."  He smiles weakly and returns his attention to the machine.

Somehow the doctor looks worse than he did just a few minutes earlier, and I check the clock on the wall, wondering if I should call one of the nurses.

"So how much longer?" I ask.

"Only a few more minutes," he answers.

"And then what?  Will it tell me right away if I have a soul?"

"Oh, it isn't the machine that makes the determination.  It's me.  I look at the readouts, and from there I make my conclusion."

"And once you make your conclusion, then what?"

"I mark one of these boxes," he says, pointing at the bottom of the sheet of paper.

I lean forward and see two boxes, one labeled, 'With Soul' and one labeled, 'Without'.  For some reason I was certain it was the machine that would be making the determination.  Discovering it is to be the doctor leaves me feeling...concerned.

"But what if you make a mistake?  Can your finding be overturned?"

This leads the good doctor to shake his head.  "I don't make mistakes," he says.  "And in answer to your other question, no, my ruling cannot be overturned."

"But what if you did?"

"I am a trained medical professional.  One of only three in the entire world qualified to be administering this exam, so when I say there will be no mistakes, I mean there will be no mistakes."

He would probably be more convincing if he didn't look so green.  Wiping the sweat on his forehead, Dr. Gill switches his gaze back onto the machine.

"Are you sure you're alright?" I ask.  "Because I can always come back tomorrow."

The doctor smiles, and is about to speak when suddenly he lets out a noise like Grover from Sesame Street, clutching his chest before collapsing face first onto the table in front of him.

I've never seen anyone die before.

Flinging the sensor from my finger, I look to the door and then to the doctor, the machine whirring mindlessly beside him.

I am definitely different than I used to be.  Before, the only thing on my mind would be to get help.  And don't get me wrong, I will do just that, but first I take the pen from the doctor's still warm hand, and quickly check the box marked, 'With Soul'.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Step inside the Circle

Hello and welcome to The Circle. I'm William Kenney (@WilliamJKenney), Author and Artist. I've self-published four books in the last nine months and throughout that time, have met some other great authors who have now become friends. With this blog, I intend to create a hub of sorts for each of us to post our relevant information. Readers can visit this blog and know that anything posted here is of the highest quality. The list of writers to the right is small and will remain so. I don't think we will be inviting others into The Circle for some time, if ever. So go down the list of books, click them, visit the Amazon pages. You will find only High-Quality stories. The writers here spend a lot of time perfecting their craft and releasing only the best products.

From here on out, this is the home of (other than myself):

Gary Vanucci (@AshenclawRealm)

I met Gary online last year and we quickly grew to be friends. I ended up creating the art for his book and short story covers and we plan to collaborate on a story sometime in the future. Gary writes awesome fantasy in the style of The Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance novels, very much like the writings of R.A. Salvatore. He also used to sing Heavy Metal. Bonus points.

Benedict Martin (@BenemartBen)

Benedict was one of the first authors that I met through Twitter and he's a very cool guy. He draws hilarious cartoons on his blog and I don't like the art competition. LoL. His novel Escaping Entry is a quirky, humorous and very interesting story. I recommend it highly. He is currently working on the sequel. He also claims to hate pantry moths, but I'm not buying it.

David Woods (@DavidCWoods1)

David is a friend of twenty years. We met at a comic book store that we both eventually worked for. He's always had a great imagination and sense of humor. We had talked about working on a story together for some time and I am happy to say that we are currently at about the halfway point on our first collaborative novel, a horror novel called Ingheist. For those that have only read my fantasy stories, please remember that this is a modern adult novel. It overflows with profanity, disgusting and scary imagery and sexual situations. Just a warning. Not for those under 18.


The mysterious Stefain has been a friend for about the same length of time as David. He is a very accomplished musician and songwriter. In the past, we have collaborated on many songs, including a concept album based on one of the novels that he will soon be releasing. He is also preparing a collection of dark poetry called Blizzard of Glass. Please don't read if you're feeling suicidal. LoL. 

So, prepare yourselves. Information regarding each of the authors will start appearing here as well as their own personal blogs.