Pitch black. Then candlelight. One lonely flame lit the face of a plump-faced man in a robe.
“How did I get here?” I asked.
“That’s not important right now,” the monk replied. “It’s where you’re going.” He reached for a journal, which sat on the stool to his right, and set the candle in its place. He flipped several pages and held it to the flame. “Are you fond of voyages?”
I shook like nervous prey. “I really need to know how I got here.”
“You’re a troubled man in need of rest and recreation. And a healthy dose of self-reflection.”
“I wish you’d stop asking questions. You’ve never bothered listening to those who’ve responded.”
Harmonious chants filled the silence. These men’s voices calmed me, even though a dozen questions still needed answering.
Another light appeared coming from a round window. I shuffled toward it. There I was in the dark on the other side. I lay sleeping.
Kevin lives with his husband, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.
His tall tales explore unrequited love in the theatre district of the Afterlife, romance between a dreamer and a realist, and a dystopian city addicted to social media.
His first novel, Drama Queens with Love Scenes, spawned a secondary character named Guy. Many readers argue that Guy, the insecure gay angel, is the star of the Actors and Angels book series. His popularity surprised the author. The third in this series, Drama Queens and Devilish Schemes, scored a Rainbow Award (judged by fans of queer fiction) for Best Gay Alternative Universe/Reality novel.
So, with his fictional guardian angel guiding him, Kevin hopes to bring more whimsical tales of love, life and friendship to his readers.
DEA Agent Hector Ramirez is on his first undercover mission. He’s been sent to a Buddhist monastery deep in the woods of Maine, where he’s investigating a confusing web of connections between a Peruvian drug gang, a prominent Mormon family and the monastery’s leaders.
Dallin Rigby, the young son of a prominent Mormon family, has been sent on a year-long retreat while the scandal associated with his mission to Peru dies down. The men, the sex, the blackmail tape—there’s a lot to get past. He’s not looking forward to a year in the middle of nowhere, but the presence of the attractive Brother Hector might make his time in exile more bearable.
No one at the isolated monastery is aware of the disaster unfolding outside its walls, as a man-made virus sweeps the globe, killing nearly everyone. Cut off from his contacts, and with dwindling supplies, Hector sets out with Dallin to learn what has happened. As the attraction between the two men grows, Hector begins to question the necessity of remaining undercover. But is it too late for him to finally be honest with Dallin, about his job and about himself?
My boss pressed his fingers onto the top of my desk and leaned well into my personal space.
“I just sent you an email,” he said with a suspicious grin. “Open it, Special Agent.” I hated how he sneered at my new title. Until last week, I’d been Hector Ramirez, New Agent Trainee, the lowest of the DEA’s investigative ranks. I liked Special Agent better.
He stood there looming over me. So, I guessed we were doing this right now. I closed my expense report and clicked on his email. There was no title and no text. Just a link to what looked like an encrypted video. Was this a test? I hovered my mouse pointer over the link; nothing looked suspicious. I glanced up at him, a question on my face.
“Go ahead; it’s not a trick.” He paused for a moment. I could tell there was something else, so I waited. “It’s definitely NSFW, though.”
Okay. He wanted me to open a not-safe-for-work link. Now. At work.
I looked around the open space. My newly installed desk was wedged into a corner of the large operations room. There was no one nearby.
“You’ll like it. He’s just your type too,” he added.
What an asshole. He had no idea what my type was, although he knew I was gay, of course, and trans. I’d had to be up front about that; the extortion risk in my line of work was just too high to try to keep that type of thing private.
Besides, it was one of the reasons I was here. I’d been brought on during a push to expand diversity in the ranks, and I knew for a fact most of the other agents thought that was the only reason I was here, which wasn’t true at all. I was as qualified—more qualified—than many of the other guys. Being gay and trans just gave me a shot at being considered for the job.
Behind my back, and sometimes just within range of my hearing, they’d call me a two-for. Two for one. Gay and Latino.
Or sometimes it meant trans and Latino. But never a three-for. The whole gay and trans thing really confused these guys. Sometimes I heard them whispering, “Why would you become a gay dude when you could already get guys as a chick?”
I shook my head to clear it and refocused on the possible trap my boss had set. “This is work-related, right? You’re ordering me to play this video, and it’s necessary for my job?” I was asking for the benefit of any cameras, official or unofficial, that might be capturing this moment.
“Very good, Ramirez. A healthy dose of skepticism and mistrust is necessary for a DEA agent, especially a new one.”
“And, yes,” he said with a sigh, “I am ordering you to play this video.”
Good enough. I launched the video.
A naked young man walked past an expanse of windows, the view outside hidden by the closed drapes. He carried two bottles of water, and as the camera tracked his movement, it became apparent he was in a hotel room, possibly a suite, given the furniture and size of the space.
And, ha, ha, I get it. My type. He looked just like me—short and wiry with light coffee-colored skin and straight jet-black hair. I felt uncomfortably exposed sitting at my desk with Director Ferguson leaning in behind me. On the monitor, the man who looked like me took a few steps toward another naked man of similar build and color. The second man held a remote control and stood by a low table. A flat-screen TV mounted to the wall above displayed its own collection of naked men.
The first guy handed a bottle of water to the second, then ran his hand down the other man’s back. Great, the director and I were going to watch gay porn together at work. My parents would be so proud. The two men were speaking, but I couldn’t hear anything. I toggled the volume.
“Don’t bother. There’s no sound,” Ferguson said. “It gets better,” he added, a disturbingly gleeful tone to his voice. I had a bad feeling about this.
The two men turned together and walked to a bed, where they playfully tugged on the foot of yet a third man, lying on the oversized bed, just coming into view as the camera tracked their movements.
Now that the initial shock had faded, I began to pay attention to what I was seeing. First, the camera—it was too steady for a handheld, and it panned smoothly across the room following the men. I guessed it was positioned, possibly hidden, somewhere across the room and was being operated remotely. Second—the surroundings. It was a party room for sure. Empty bottles of alcohol, room service trays, and plates were scattered on desktops; dropped clothes and towels lay next to the bed.
The third man—the one on the bed—was coming fully into view. He looked very much like the others, which is to say like me, and he was laughing as the other two clambered onto the bed on top of him.
Why are we watching this?
“And, now, for something completely different…” my boss murmured.
The camera continued to pan across the bed and revealed, wow…a massive mountain of a blond-haired guy, young, early twenties maybe, and as naked as the others, with light, golden hair dusting his chest, belly, and thighs. I swallowed and tried not to react. He was on his back, his left arm holding the guy on the bed in a tight embrace. He looked…blissful. Maybe on drugs, but certainly in control of himself, so not drugged, exactly. Just…happy?
And, yeah, just my type. Like, exactly my type. But Director Ferguson couldn’t possibly know that. He must have been referring to the Latinos. I paused the video and swiveled my chair to look up at Ferguson. “Why are we watching this?” I asked.
“This is the Peruvian drug gang we’ve been tracking out of Bangor.”
Really? I reversed the video to get a better shot of the faces of the first two, grateful to move the young man with the golden hair off-screen. I studied them for a moment. I’d seen all the surveillance pictures we had of the Bangor gang. “They don’t look familiar,” I said.
“This was filmed in Peru.”
“Oh.” I was feeling lost. “So, who is—”
“Dallin Rigby,” Ferguson interrupted. “Twenty-two years old now. Twenty-one when the film was made. He’s a Mormon…”
Of course he is.
“But he’s about to attend a yearlong retreat in a Buddhist monastery. In Maine. Northern Maine.” He let that sink in.
John Patrick lives in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts, where he is supported in his writing by his husband and their terrier, who is convinced he could do battle with the bears that come through the woods on occasion (the terrier, that is, not the husband).
John is an introvert and can often be found doing introverted things like reading or writing, cooking, and thinking deep, contemplative thoughts (his husband might call this napping). He loves to spend time in nature—“forest bathing” is the Japanese term for it—feeling connected with the universe. But he also loathes heat and humidity, bugs of any sort, and unsteady footing in the form of rocks, mud, tree roots, snow, or ice. So, his love of nature is tempered; he’s complicated that way.
John and his husband enjoy traveling and have visited over a dozen countries, meeting new people, exploring new cultures, and—most importantly—discovering new foods. After such travels, John invariably comes down with a cold. During a trip to Japan in 2019, he was amazed by how many people wore surgical masks in public to protect both themselves and others from viruses. “Gosh,” John thought, “wouldn’t it be great if we’d do this in the US?” John sometimes regrets the wishes he makes.
An angry, dead spirit is useless – until it becomes the living Haint in your bed!
Warning: This is a Razor’s Edge Monster Erotica Story. Expect limited plot and character development, and lots of paranormal heat. If you’re looking for a lengthy plot driven erotic romance, this is not it!
JD Tolliver begins research for his thesis on paranormal phenomena as a nonbeliever. He believes now. A ghost or angry spirit, a true haint, follows JD from Appalachia. His finding a suitable body so he can leave poses a problem — $it has JD by the balls@!
Coll Collins spent over a hundred years locked in silence. Suddenly freed, he discovers that gay hate crimes are not a thing of the past. The stranger he attaches himself to is sassy and, to Coll, sexy as hell. Never had the pleasure of a soft young man, and Coll plans to take advantage every single night until he returns home.
Dropping his bag by the door, JD headed straight to the kitchen for a glass of milk. Bringing the glass with him, he collected his suitcase and pulled it to his bedroom. Couldn’t wait to check out a few scavenged treasures from his trip to the Appalachian area on the border of Tennessee and Virginia. He’d thought the area would be a good place to begin research for his thesis on paranormal phenomena.
Wished his father understood JD’s interest in experimental psychology. Heck, considering he couldn’t get the man to call him anything aside from James David, as if JD left some sort of unsavory tag on the Tolliver name, seemed highly unlikely the old man would ever change his mind about JD’s interests.
Opening his carryon, JD retrieved an item he hadn’t dared leave to baggage handlers. Discovered it in a dusty, trash strewn corner of a soon-to-be demolished old mansion in Laurel Bloomery, Tennessee. The small cube-shaped box smelled of cedar, and JD had kept it safely on his person the remainder of his trip. It resided in a bag on his lap during the flight. Risky, considering he discovered every time the box was close he got a raging hard-on. Not a prude by a long shot, but his bookish looks led men to believe he was… well… virginal.
Turning it over and over in his hands, still couldn’t fathom how to open it. No key hole, no seams at all; just a tiny, plain wooden box slightly larger than a jewelry box that might hold a ring. Could darn near close it in the palm of his hand. “What treasure are you hiding?” He reached for his crotch to arrange the growing bulge into a more comfortable position. Lost in pleasure, he continued to massage his growing hardness until drops of cum dampened underwear. Yes, JD needed to get laid. “Um, feels good.”
He couldn’t stop. Shoved his hand inside pants, used pre-cum to facilitate jerking off. Sound of wet hand against skin sliding back and forth over his crown darn near had him coming full force in his pants.
His phone vibrating in his jacket pocket created a colossal mess. Jumping, JD knocked into the glass on his nightstand, sending milk everywhere and his precious box sailed through the air. “No!” When it hit the floor and broke, JD strangled on air caught in his throat as he glimpsed a shiny object roll beneath his chest of drawers. Thick, white smoke billowed into the room. Smelling like cedar, it swirled and swirled before floating over to envelop him. JD swore it was an attempt to molest his body. “Oh Lord!”
“Knew you’d have the cutest little ass.”
Tripping backward, JD hit the bed and watched the white cloud plummet downward. Substance felt weighty and JD nearly fainted.
A gruff voice murmured, “Thank you for freeing me.”
J. Hali Steele wishes she could grow fur, wings, or fangs, so she can stay warm, fly, or just plain bite the crap out of… Well, she can’t do those things but she wishes she could!
Multi-published and Amazon bestselling author of Romance in Paranormal, Fantasy, and Contemporary worlds which include ReligErotica and LGBTQ stories where humans, vampyres, shapeshifters and angels collide-they collide a lot! When J. Hali’s not writing or reading, she can be found snuggled in front of the TV with a cat in her lap, and a cup of coffee.
Growl and roar — it’s okay to let the beast out. — J. Hali Steele
I am not up to much here, I’m in the hospital one day post-op of my knee reconstruction. I’m in so much pain the narcotics aren’t touching it but I also don’t want to let the Fix the World anthology release to pass me by.
So have a little more from the opening of my story in the anthology, The Homestead at the Beginning of the World.
We left off with a stranger riding up to Sam’s homestea.
The man swung off his bike and made Sam tense when he put a hand in his pocket. He pulled out a wallet, flipping it open to show his ID. “Dr. James broke her leg. I’m her replacement.”
Sam took a step closer. Once upon a time phones would have borne a person’s identification, but the information networks were still in the process of being restored. Much of human knowledge had been squirreled away and saved but the technology required to bring it back to life was still in the process of being remade. It could take years. He peered closely at the i.d., the face matched but he’d never heard the name Dr. Kjell Eriksen. “Kah-gel?”
Eriksen grinned. “It’s pronounced Shell.”
We’re a world beset by crises. Climate change, income inequality, racism, pandemics, an almost unmanageable tangle of issues. Sometimes it’s hard to look ahead and see a hopeful future.
We asked sci-fi writers to send us stories about ways to fix what’s wrong with the world. From the sixty-five stories we received, we chose the twelve most amazing (and hopefully prescient) tales.
Dive in and find out how we might mitigate climate change, make war obsolete, switch to alternative forms of energy, and restructure the very foundations of our society.
It has been awhile. A month ago today I fell at home and landed with my knee hyperextended. I suffered an injury you’d see if I jumped off the roof or something. Broken all three leg bones at the knee, tore almost all the ligaments and tendons. I damaged nerves and blood vessels, nearly lost the leg as a result. I’ve had three surgeries and have one to go. I’ve spent the last month hospitalized. I’ll spend all of April the same. I won’t start relearning how to walk until May. I wasn’t clear headed for a while between pain relieves, anxiety meds and muscle relaxers so I fell off the radar. Hoping to get back into it now.
I’m taking a break from These Haunted Hills to showcase the characters from my upcoming short story The Homestead at the Beginning of the World in the Fix the World anthology edited by J. Scott Coatsworth
Sam surveyed the glacial lake, blooming green under September’s sun. Some days, he couldn’t believe all of this was his. The Ojibwe had remained stubbornly rooted in their homeland when so many others had been ousted back in the original days of the European colonials and his family had owned this sizeable homestead for generations. He felt honored to be its current custodian.
A century ago, the entire world learned what the Indigenous people had felt all those centuries before: First contact. It certainly hadn’t been as happy as Star Trek would have posited, but the fact, like Shakespeare, that show had remained in the cultural zeitgeist nearly two hundred years later said something for the show. Too bad it hadn’t been accurate where first contact was concerned.