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Excerpt for Weirder Tales: An Omnibus of Odd Ditties by , available in its entirety at Smashwords



Weirder Tales

An Omnibus of Odd Ditties


By WPaD

(Writers, Poets and Deviants)


Copyright © 2018 WPaD Publications, acting publisher Mandy White, and all authors named in this book.

All Rights Reserved


ISBN: 9780463249444


Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of these authors.


All stories and poetry in this book remain the property of their respective authors. No individual or agency other than those named may reproduce, copy or publish any part of this book in full or in part, in any medium printed or digital, without the expressed permission of the owner(s) of those works.


Table of Contents


Pod People: Invasion of the Laundry Zombies by Mandy White

Swinesecution by Molly Roland

Community by Marla Todd

Token by Soleil Daniels

The Hole by Lea Anne Guettler

Blow Up by Marla Todd

Goji and the Angel by Diana Garcia

The Day They Nuked Choctaw County by David Hunter

Silver Lake by Mike Cooley

Vegan Meat by Mandy White

Blue Blood Moon by Samantha L Nocera

Romance of the Needles by Marla Todd

The Nebrasquatch Transcripts by Molly Roland

The Goat (poetry) by Michael Merline

Holocaust by Mandy White

Madness in the Above by Debra Lamb

Smack by Molly Roland

Collect Lucky Treasure by Chris Benedict

The Time Travelers by Juliette Kings

The Secret History of Lord John Bathwick by J. Harrison Kemp

A Million Stars by Marla Todd

My Princess (poetry) by Molly Roland

Made in Mexico by David Hunter

Dog Park by Marla Todd

Jim by Chris Benedict

Don’t Enter the House by Michael Haberfelner

A Sim-ple Life by Mandy White

Called Out by Rob Fletcher

Follow the Moon by Mike Cooley

Good Times by Lea Anne Guettler

Cave by R James Turley

Bowling for Braces by Molly Roland


Books by WPaD

Meet the Authors



Pod People: Invasion of the Laundry Zombies

By Mandy White



Ernest sat up in bed. “ You hear that?”

Louise looked up from her book. “What’s that, dear?”

“There it is again! It’s the basement door. It’s those damn zombies.”

“Oh, I’m sure it’s nothing. Just the wind.”

“Wind my ass!” Ernest muttered, glancing at the shotgun leaning against the wall in the corner of the bedroom. These days he kept both barrels loaded, just in case. “It’s zombies, I tell ya! I thought I told you to get rid of those fucking laundry pods.”

The door rattled again. Ernest had installed sturdy new locks, but they would never give up as long as what they desired lay on the other side of the door.

“Dammit, Louise! This is your fault!”

Louise peered at him over the rims of her glasses. “Seriously, Ern? And what do you expect me to do with them? Just throw them away? I paid good money for those, and I can’t buy them anymore. I’m not going to throw away perfectly good products! Besides, they get the laundry so clean and bright!”

“Clean and bright isn’t worth risking our lives.”

Louise gave him one of those looks reserved for naive children and simpletons. “Isn’t it? Stain-free clothes are worth a little risk. Don’t be a coward, Ernest.”

Ernest opened his mouth to argue, then closed it. He knew when he was licked.

“Ok, fine, use them up then. How many are left?”

“I bought the Mega Pack from Costco. I got in on the sale just before they pulled them from the shelves. It was one of the last ones, and I was lucky to get it. People are so rude. Fighting, clawing, just to save a few dollars.”

“Isn’t that the same thing you were doing?” Ernest pointed out.

Louise shrugged. “Well, I got them, so I’ll be damned if I’m just going to throw them away.” She sighed. “I’m sure going to miss those things. They get the laundry so clean and bright.”

* * *

What had started as a stupid YouTube stunt turned into a disaster of epidemic proportions. The idiots who ate Tide laundry pods experienced unfortunate side effects from the chemicals contained in the detergent. Brain function slowed. These individuals, clearly short on brains to begin with, became shambling, babbling shells of their former selves. (one still might argue that it was an improvement) The other, more disturbing effect was the hunger. The Pod People craved the colorful packets of toxin and would go to any lengths to obtain them. They possessed an uncanny ability to sniff them out. Stores stopped selling the detergent after the first few weeks of the epidemic to stop the looting. Citizens were ordered to turn their Tide Pods over to authorities. Anyone found with the pods in their possession would not be eligible for police protection in the event of zombie attack. Attacks were the biggest concern, because bites were the way the plague was spread. And Pod People were bitey little fuckers. They were faster than they looked, in spite of their shuffling gait, and inordinately tenacious when focused on something they wanted – that something being Tide Pods, of course. A bite from one of the Pod People would transfer the toxins that flowed through their veins. Victims of bites began to crave laundry pods, overcome with an irresistible urge to eat them. If not apprehended and incarcerated, they wouldn’t rest until they found and ate some of the detergent. Over time, brain damage set in, transforming them from desperate junkies into shuffling, mumbling zombies. Pod junkies were more dangerous than full-fledged zombies because they still retained some of their (albeit limited) intelligence and still looked like regular people, aside from their desperate, pod-craving behavior. They were also contagious; a bite or scratch from a pod junkie was all it took to spread the addiction.

* * *

And now someone was trying to open the basement door, attracted by the scent of those godfucked laundry pods Louise was so bloody insistent on keeping. Ernest hoped it was just a zombie and not a junkie. Pod junkies were crafty enough to find a way past a locked door. Zombies just bumped against the door like a trapped Roomba until something else caught their attention. Either way, Ernest knew he was in for another sleepless night. He checked his guns to reassure himself they were loaded, and prayed the locks would hold.

* * *

The next night Ernest awoke sitting in his recliner, where he’d dozed off while watching TV. He heard a sound in the laundry room downstairs. He raced to the bedroom to grab his shotgun. The locks hadn’t held after all. One of the bastards had gotten in and from the sound of it, was in the laundry room chowing down on Tide Pods.

A fucking pod junkie.

Ernest cussed silently and crept toward the sound, shotgun at the ready. The hunched figure in the laundry room had its back to Ernest. He raised the gun and clicked the safety off. The junkie stopped munching and turned to face him, streaks of blue and orange running down its chin.

“Clean and bright!” Louise giggled. “Yummy! And they make everything clean and bright!”

Louise wiped an arm across her mouth and Ernest saw the deep red scratches on the underside of her arm. The scuffle at Costco had yielded more than just a bargain on detergent.

“Join me, Ern. It’s Heaven! Heaven, I tell you!”

“Stay back, Louise. Don’t make me – ”

Louise lunged at Ernest and he squeezed the trigger.



SwineSecution

By Molly Roland



It seemed like the upticks happened all at once. I mean, I could be wrong; it’s hard to tell, really. The changes were slow and fast, like a strong breeze minus the scent of a racing storm. No one noticed the upticks, till they were sweeping through the homes. So, it’s hard to judge a timeline, really.

I remember when they locked down the Internet and all the news sites were taken off line. Anything creative was all of a sudden restricted. You know, games, music, blogs, vlogs, pretty much all of social media, and no downloading of that stuff, either. You could imagine, then, just how many people were totally pissed off. So many of ‘em. Oh, gosh, so many of ‘em.

But, we didn’t really hear about it ‘till later. And even then, at the county meetings, when ole Sam Landers, Tilly Goodrich, and the King family broadcasted their voicemails from New York, California, Florida, and Texas, even then we didn’t think it would spread clear out to us, which it didn’t. Not at first.

Us county folk, well, it just wasn’t the five-alarm fire for us that it was in the cities. We could still do some stuff online. You know, banking, email, shop, stuff like that. Commerce was allowed, but that was about it.

Sam Landers’ brother had called him in the very beginning, when all the gamers took to the streets in Manhattan. Yeah. His message said that SWAT brought out all the gear to gather those crowds, and they were apparently backed up by droves of security cronies. Water cannons, pepper bombs, and aerial chloroform blankets took out most of the folks.

I recall Sam’s brother sounding concerned. I mean, I could hear it in his voice, hell, we could probably all hear it in his voice, but he was safe. He had said so. There wasn’t a one of us at the county meeting that had the gumption to say anything to Sam about the fear in that message. I think we just ignored it.

Tilly Goodrich played her daughter’s message. Her voicemail said the protests in L.A. had shut down most all of the freeways, until they started to buckle. None of us were too sure what that meant, and that message was cut short, so I may never know. I can surmise, though. Yeah. You know, I think about it now, and it just…I can’t…I can’t even fathom. But back then, we were all just thankful we lived out here, you know?

Anyway, so yeah. What was I saying? Oh, yeah, things just happened at the same time. Back before the web crash, in the summer, business had been taking off. The administration had eased up a whole bunch of farming restrictions, which was a good thing for us. We had the hog farm then, and not having to spend so much on litigated feed meant we could double, and then triple our hog count.

We didn’t realize what was happening at the time, but our biggest account had doubled their hog purchases. We were concerned that we couldn’t keep up the breedin’ and feedin’ fast enough to fill all the orders that were coming through. I get it now. I should’ve connected those dots, but we weren’t getting the news fast enough, you know? I didn’t know. None of us really knew. It was so weird.

Well, the whole scenario became a little clearer when Tommy King followed one of the hog trucks, after the county meeting. The Kings had about a dozen kids on their cattle ranch, and they were always nosing around on everyone else’s farms. I’d long known that the King kids were intel operators for their dad. We were selling way more hogs than usual, and the Kings kept tabs on that, let me tell you. More hog sales usually meant more pork demand, which meant less cattle sales for the Kings. Yeah, anytime ole Denny King felt his pocketbook shrink, he just had to know why. He was a paranoid fucker.

So yeah, Tommy King followed one of our loads over a hundred miles into town. How he was never nabbed is beyond me, but, the King kids were oily. Well, I’m thankful he did what he did, anyway. He came back and told us what he saw, down in the landfill outside of town. He told us what he heard, too, but the worst part was what he smelled. He smelled the hogs. Thousands of them. And to think we all thought they were just going to slaughter, to make millions of Sunday dinners. Well, that’s not what happened at all, now was it?

It ended up being too little too late for the Kings, and for Sam Landers, and poor Tilly Goodrich. They were gone two days after we heard the news of Tommy’s findings. Like, just gone. A day later it was Darren and Lorraine, the hobby farmers, and the Swanson family. It was a whole week later when they came for the rest of us. It was horrible. Our hogs ate everyone.

That summer, when our biggest account was buying up our pigs, we didn’t know it was the administration’s fault. But it was. They had already taken over the supply chains, and if they weren’t hauling folks out to the hog pits, then they were starving ‘em out of their homes and businesses. I guess there ended up being about 500 hog pits in total, before the UN finally stepped in and bombed the shit out of the Headquarters.

Keep in mind, each hog pit had thousands of hungry pigs, and pigs will eat anything if you let ‘em. I’ve seen a pig get a taste of fresh blood from a scratched sibling, and it was all over with. That pig tore its littermate apart in mere seconds. I’ll never forget that, so just imagine what a thousand bloodthirsty hogs could do to a crowd of starved, defenseless people. Tommy said the screams were never-ending that day he followed the truck.

Upticks. That’s what I call ‘em. Upticks in control. Upticks in protests. Upticks in missing people. Upticks in hog sales. Upticks in hog pits. You do the math.



Community

By Marla Todd



Alexa was fortunate to have the acceptance and support from her family and community.

She was much taller than most women. She’d had laser hair removal and surgery to soften her face. To soften her voice she’d taken voice lessons, including music lessons from a well known opera coach. She’d taken ballet lessons to help her become more graceful. Since her feet were exceptionally large, she had custom made flip flops that she wore rain or shine.

Life was good for Alexa, who’d become a best selling romance author and outdoor wilderness guide.

Today she drove up I-5 toward her small home community in California’s remote Trinity Alps. The Escalade was packed with hard to obtain supplies: a solar generator, books, pens, paper, Simple Green, apples, silver polish, matches, half a dozen burner phones, and fifty tooth brushes, among other things.

Her Uncle Dave had been the first to leave the community. A few others followed. It was never easy but the rewards were great for those who no longer wanted to live remotely in the mountains.

She’d be bringing her young cousin Trent back with her. He’d been accepted to Stanford University in the fall. Trent would live with her first for a few months and learn how to live among those who were so different from them. She’d transform him into a hip and modern young man.

After a thirty mile drive down a rough dirt road, Alexa stopped and got out of her car. She stretched her legs and took a deep breath of the clean cold mountain air. Then she let out a long mournful howl.

First she could smell them, then out into the clearing they came. It was good to see so many of her family and friends.

No matter where she went, she knew she’d always be at home with her Bigfoot family.



Token

By Soleil Daniels



Paul stared at the small baggies in his hand. After a fair amount of consideration, he set down the small egg-weight sinkers, choosing the split-shot ones instead. He glanced at the counter, which was still free of an attendant. Shaking his head, he stepped over to pick some hooks for his day out fishing.

“Man, guess the shipment’s late again,” he mumbled to himself while grabbing a couple packs of baitholders in place of the circle-hooks he preferred.

He walked over to the counter and set the little bags down. After a minute, he tapped the bell that rested on a coaster. The bell sounded sickly, and it looked that way too. Rather than the bright shiny silver of its younger days, it was a grimy brown with rust, and the push button atop it stuck in the down position.

“Hey, Chuck?” he said, not quite shouting but louder than his normal voice. He went to the door and stepped out, making sure the sign was turned to ‘OPEN.’ Letting the door close behind him, he tried again, “Hey, Chuck? You out here?”

Nothing. Paul briefly wondered if something had happened the day before that made Chuck forget to close up properly. After some thought and still no response, he walked to his truck and pulled an envelope from the glovebox. He decided to go ahead and take the hooks and sinkers along with a container of Canadian Nightcrawlers. The envelope was so he could leave a note and the money to cover the goods.

“Damn it,” he said, nearly tripping on the step as he dug through his wallet for the bills. He opened the door before focusing back on the green paper and trying to figure just how much he should leave. “Fifteen should be more than enough.”

He pulled the ten and five out and went to stuff it in the white envelope.

“Good morning!” a voice boomed much too joyfully.

The items in his hands fell to the floor as he jumped, startled. “What in the! Where did you come from?” he asked, meeting the eyes of a frail-looking, little, old man. Paul had no idea how such a tiny and ill-looking person could’ve been so loud.

“I was just around back. I didn’t mean to scare you, son,” the man said. “You seem to be ready to pay.”

“Um, yeah. Yeah. I just need those and a thing of worms.” Paul picked up a container out of the small refrigerator on the counter. He shook and opened it, checking the activeness of the nightcrawlers. “And you didn’t scare me. Just caught me off guard is all. I didn’t think anyone was here. Where’s Chuck?”

“Oh, Chuck? He had to run back home. Forgot something and asked me to hold down the fort. I’m afraid I’m doing a terrible job.” The old man punched in some numbers on the ancient cash register in front of him. “That’s all? You sure?”

Paul nodded. “That should do it.”

“That’ll be eleven sixty-two.”

Paul handed over the bills and accepted his change from the old man. “Well, I’ll be on my way. Tell Chuck I’m sorry I missed ‘im.”

“Will do, Paul. Good luck, but leave some fish for the rest of us.”

Something struck Paul as odd, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. So, with a shrug, he turned and walked back out of the tackle shop. When he got back to his truck, he reached in the bed for his tackle box.

He kicked his tire when his hands came up empty, realizing he’d forgot the box on his porch. “Shit, damn!” He opened the truck door and tossed the worm container and baggies on the seat before heading back in to face the little old man.

“Back so soon?”

“Yeah. Seems I left my tackle at home. Looks like I’m fishing simple today, so I’m going to need a bobber,” Paul said, turning to the shelf.

“Oh, you’re in luck. These just came in, and I was on my way to put them out.” The man held up a neon orange bobber. It was medium size and had black inserts on the top and bottom. Nothing special. “Here ya go.”

Paul’s mouth turned down on one side, and he glanced back at the ones on display. Shrugging, he approached the counter. “I guess I’ll take it. How much?”

“Don’t bother. Think of it as a token of my appreciation for not leaving earlier when you couldn’t find anyone around.” The man seemed to think for a second. “Here, have another. Give it to someone who needs it,” he added with a wink, handing over the neon orange bobber followed by a yellow one.

Paul hesitated but took them. “You sure?”

“Yeah. Yeah.” He smiled. “That orange one’s yours. Gift the yellow.”

“Um, sure. Okay. Thanks . . . Well, I don’t know your name.” Paul gave an awkward chuckle.

“Eh, they call me Papy.”

“Uh, okay, Papy,” he said, forcing the name out oddly. “Well, thanks again.”

* * *

The drive to his usual fishing hole was uneventful, and Paul parked his truck on the side of the four-lane highway. He was surprised to find the spot empty. The small dam-like structure usually had half a dozen or so people fishing at it.

Even though he’d parked a considerable distance from the road, he checked to make sure there weren’t any oncoming cars that were too close. Seeing the coast was clear, he opened the door and stepped out, closing it behind him and hurried around to the other side of the truck.

He grabbed one of his rods from the bed, leaning it against the side before opening the passenger door to collect the hooks and sinkers. He pocketed the baggies then picked up the container of worms. Glancing at the bobbers, he wondered if he should just fish bottom, but he knew there were far too many fallen trees to do that.

Gift the yellow. He swore he could practically hear the words whispered as he remembered them. A chill went down his spine, but he shook it off, shoving the orange bobber in his pocket and wrapping his fingers around the yellow one.

“Pfft, it’s just a damn bobber. What’s it matter which one I gift . . . if I don’t just decide to keep them both,” he said, shaking his head while walking to the cement wall that doubled as a walkway.

A car passed by on the road behind him. There was a small thud followed by a strange whistle. Paul turned in time to see a stick fly into his back window with a crack, and then it clanked as it fell into the bed.

“Well, damn!” he said, going back to the truck. “Of course, it broke. Just my luck.” He blew out his breath with a huff. It could’ve been worse. The glass could’ve shattered completely, but as it was, there was only a spiderweb-crack. He decided he’d worry about it later.

Pushing the anger down, he went back on his way to get his fishing line in the water. The concrete wall was plenty wide enough to walk on with room to spare, which seeing as it had water on both sides for most of its length, that was a good thing. Paul hadn’t quite reached the end when he chose a spot to leave the worms, so he wouldn’t accidentally knock them in the water. It was there that he baited his hook and put the bobber in place.

He flipped the bail, cast his line, and waited. Fifteen minutes passed by before the bright yellow float wiggled and bounced up and down on the water. Finally, it plunged beneath the surface. Paul pulled back on the pole, setting the hook.

By some weird fluke, the bottom of the fishing pole slipped into his shirt pocket. He tried reeling, but the drag kicked in, causing the hum noise it creates when the line gets pulled from the reel. He pulled back harder, fighting the fish, and he tried again to turn the crank. The handle grabbed hold of the shirt pocket where the bottom pole was still hung. The free spinning end of the handle slipped in the slit for the button on the pocket. Before Paul could understand what had happened, the fish jerked with all its might, nearly tugging the pole from his grip. He held tight, but the action ripped the pocket from his shirt, leaving a hole where the pocket had been.

Paul lurched forward, almost going head-first into the dark waters. Upon gaining his ground, the line had gone slack. He reeled it in with a fierce determination, but the fish had seized the opportunity and made its escape.

“Damn it!” he said, turning and throwing the pole to the bank.

The end of the rod crashed into the mud-slick ground, but something was amiss. Paul studied the scene in front of him as he mindlessly fingered the hole in his shirt. It took a moment before he figured out what was wrong. While the end of the pole sat on the bank, the tip was well off the ground, pointing in his direction, and the bobber hung just out of reach a few feet in front of him.

“What in the hell?” His tone, perplexed. He twirled his fingers in his chest hair just beneath the shirt’s fabric. “How the fuck did that even happen?”

At some point in his fit, as he threw the pole, the bail had flipped open, allowing the line to pull free of the spool. The hook and sinkers on the free-flowing line managed to wrap themselves around a tree branch. When the pole hit the ground, the bail flipped shut, leaving the line taut.

Deciding there would be no way to reach the line to try and pull it down, he walked along the cement wall and carefully stepped onto the slippery mud. He picked up the rod and tugged. The line held strong, and the hook and sinkers wouldn’t budge.

He gripped tight on the pole above the reel and took a couple steps back. The limb bent, and Paul thought for sure it would break from the pressure. He took another step back, adjusting his hands. The knuckle of his thumb brushed the line, and it screamed in protest with a high-pitched twang. The tension broke, and Paul heard the whistle of the weights sing through the air right before they smashed into his left cheek. He felt them fall to his shoulder and roll down his back.

The soles of his boots slipped and slid on the mud. He threw his arms wide, trying to keep his balance. He managed to steady himself. Huffing from the exertion, he began turning the crank of the reel, bringing in the slack.

“Fuckin’ hell! That was close.” He stopped reeling and brought one hand to his cheek, coming away with bloody fingers. “Guess I should call it a day. Go home, clean this up, and see how bad it is. Don’t feel like tying another hook on anyway, ‘cause I’m sure it’s stuck in that tree. Else it would’ve took my eye out,” he grumbled to himself as he went back to reeling in the slack.

A cracking sound came from his right, and when he turned to see what could have made the noise, there was a slight tug at the back of his pants. He turned further, too quickly, to see what had caused the tugging; his foot had begun to slide in the mud again. This time when his arms went wide, there was a biting sensation in his calf. The pain stole his concentration, causing him to fall and careen down the bank. The biting turned into a tearing feeling, and as he slid into the dark waters, the pain turned into a burning sensation.

His butt came to a stop in the mucky bottom. Looking around, he tried to understand what exactly had happened. He was sitting in three inches of mud covered with another ten inches of brown water. His fishing line was wrapped around his right arm, and the rod and reel it was connected to lay on the bank. His calf throbbed, and he hoped like hell he hadn’t been bitten by a cottonmouth. Though, he saw no snake while checking his surroundings.

He went to stand, but when he moved his arm, the searing in his calf flared. “Son of a bitch!” he growled.

Reaching over with his left hand, he plucked ever so lightly at the fishing line, testing if it was the offender. The pain sang through him, again, making him cringe. He brought his left hand down to the right pocket of his pants and felt that the pocketknife he had was still there. Trying to cause as little movement as possible, he wiggled the knife free.

“Well, at least that’s one thing that’s gone right,” he said as he opened the knife partway, just enough to slip the line in and cut it. Not wanting to risk another mishap, he closed the knife back up and tossed it to the bank. It landed next to the fishing rod.

The tension on the line being broken made the pain ease. He unwrapped the part that was still on his arm, noticing the yellow bobber. Once free, he grabbed the brightly colored styrofoam and chucked it as hard as he could.

“Stupid thing. Stupid old man. Gift the yellow,” he said in a mocking tone. “Mumbo-jumbo. Hullabaloo!”

He stood up, ignoring the pain in his calf as he made his way out of the water. He picked up his pole and knife from the ground then walked over to the cement wall to grab the worms. He knew he should check his leg, but he wanted to get out of there. He’d had enough.

Walking to his truck, he dipped down and grabbed the bobber, but something caught his attention. A white styrofoam cooler sat in the shade, scrawled on its side was a note that read: EXTRA BAIT? SHARING IS CARING. USE WHAT YOU NEED, GIVE WHAT YOU DON’T.

He glanced to the worm canister and then to the annoying yellow float. Shrugging, he approached the cooler and lifted the lid. Inside was a brick, he assumed was to weigh down the light material, and four ice packs surrounding it. No bait. He dropped in the worm container and bobber, and then he dug into his pants’ pockets for the other bobber and the bags holding the weights and hooks, tossing them in beside the worms. He replaced the lid firmly and walked away.

The exertion of walking up the incline to his truck caused his injured calf to burn, making the trickle of blood seeping into his shoe nearly unnoticeable. He reached the truck’s bed and decided he should check the damage on his leg before heading out. He dropped the tailgate and sat on it as a car pulled onto the shoulder behind his truck. Trying to ignore the newcomers, he focused on his wound, stretching his good leg along the tailgate.

His pant leg was scrunched up in the way, so he pried the pocketknife out again. He opened it fully and proceeded to cut off the denim just below the knee, ignoring the growing red puddle below his leg.

There was a whistle beside him as he gaped at the wound that started above the ankle and ran up to just below the back of his knee. “That is going to need stitches, my friend.”

Looking to his right, Paul spotted a tall man with dirty blond hair, who appeared to be in his early forties. He grunted before saying, “Do you normally sneak up on people and state the obvious? How about a ‘hello’ or ‘are you okay’?”

“Sorry. It just looked like you might need some help, and, well, then I saw that. Caught me off guard,” the guy replied. “You need a ride to get that checked and maybe grab a cold-pack for that cheek? I’m sure my girl wouldn’t mind waiting here for me to get back.”

Paul watched as the man casually licked his bottom lip then pulled it between his teeth. He felt uneasy, sensing something was off with the guy. “That’s awfully kind of you, but I think it just looks worse than it really is.”


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