Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sample My Short Stories: A Taste of Dark and Dangerous Things

So, for the next two days (October 30-31), my friends and I are celebrating Halloween by offering our speculative fiction ebook anthology, Dark and Dangerous Things, for free on Amazon.

That's right, FREE.

But if that's not quite enough to convince to you to check it out, here's the start of my first short story in the antho, titled "Under New Management." It's tempted two readers already today. Let it tempt you too!


Officer Castro eyed me as he stirred another creamer into his paper coffee cup. I squirmed
under his dark, probing gaze, hoping he wouldn’t ask if I had skipped class again to hunt in the woods for the spaceship. Because I had. And I didn’t want to lie.

No one believed me about the ship, but I knew what I’d seen—a silver streak across the sky, streaming trails of dark smoke like a dragon crashing to earth. The spherical UFO went down beneath the forest’s canopy, where I couldn’t see it anymore. Moments later, I heard a series of booms and then the ground shook. The rest of the town heard it too, felt the shaking. But no one else had seen the ship. They didn’t believe me, not even when the alien walked into the diner’s front door, asking for work in broken English.

He was short, squat, about four feet tall, with shuffling flat feet and exceptionally long fingers. His silvery, scaled face looked like it had been squashed in by a giant fist. Calling him ugly would have been generous. I couldn’t understand why no one else was reacting. But as soon as I stuttered a confused question about his appearance, Mom pinched me and hissed in my ear, “Don’t be rude! He’s one of those short people, is all.”

Everyone in the diner was staring at me like I was the weirdo. Even Jim looked disgusted. I didn’t want to set my stepfather off, so I mumbled an apology and let him do the talking. He wanted someone to clean the bathrooms. The next thing I knew, poor Vergel, the silent crash survivor, was working in the diner as a lowly janitor. I was the only one who knew the truth.

(Well, my therapist knew. But when I told him, he asked if I ever hallucinated or heard voices. It was shaky at first. In the end we made a deal. I promised to work hard to “accept reality,” and he promised not to prescribe me pills. I also decided privately not to think too much about why no one else could see what Vergel really was.)

I pulled my thoughts back to Castro, who was still studying me. The burly Italian officer didn’t ask about the ship, the aliens, or even my therapist visits. He asked about the sign. “Michael, isn’t it time to take that down?” He tilted his head toward the ragged paper hanging crookedly on the wall, scrawled with big red Sharpie letters:

Under New Management

“Jim says it brings in business,” I muttered, “because customers like to help out a new guy.” Which was stupid. Everyone in town knew we weren’t new. But there was no arguing with Jim, who had a persistent delusion that this dumpy diner would make him rich one day.

“Speaking of Jim,” Castro said carefully, “how’s he been treating you and your Mom?”

I shrugged and traced the scratch marks worn into the weathered Formica countertop. What was there to say? The police came to our house every few months. Mom refused to press charges. Then the spaceship crashed, and I talked about it. Since then, Castro came in for coffee every day, asked about Jim and Mom, and sometimes about school. He thought I needed help and had a soft spot for kids with messed-up parents, like me. But I still didn’t want to talk to him about my stepfather. The truth was too uncomfortable.


Not bad, eh? And there's more where that came from. Go ahead... Download your copy on Amazon. Tell your friends. And after you read the anthology, review it on Amazon. I don't care how many or how few stars you give it. Just share your thoughts. Those reviews not only help me get attention on Amazon, but they help fellow readers decide whether or not to buy, and as a reader myself, I always appreciate knowing what other readers thought of the book.

And stay tuned, because I'm also getting ready to relaunch this blog on WordPress soon. I'll let you know more about that in a few days.

Thanks, and happy Halloween! Muahahahahaha!

The Chipper Muse

Copyright (c) 2013 by M.A. Chiappetta. All rights reserved.