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Desire Vol. 1 by Rich & Roulo #Review by @TBraun_Author #Horror #Vampires

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Authors Emerian Rich and H. E. Roulo come together to bring you Rich & Roulo…

a fiction series harkening back to vaudevillian days where madness bordered on greatness, misery became wisdom, and beauty was found in even the most broken doll.

Volume 1: DESIRE pushes the boundaries between burlesque and grotesque, featuring a pair of twisted obsession stories and one very naughty poem.

A faded tome wrapped with a red velvet ribbon falls into your possession.

A note attached reads, “To my love.”

As you open it, the spine creaks. Spiders scramble out and skitter across your leg. Startled, you rise and the book thuds to the floor in a puff of perfume-scented dust. Picking it up, you find the velvet ribbon crumbling. It breaks. Where the ribbon had formed a cross holding the novel shut, the cover is still dark and gold leafing inscribed in whirls outlines sensual bare…

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My First Story: Rish Outfield

My First Story
with author Rish Outfield

Age first started writing: about 16
Location of first writing: I was a Junior in high school, living in a tiny Midwestern American town.  Sounds like a John Cougar Mellencamp song, only with less kissing.


Well, I always had an overactive imagination, and was frightened by virtually anything.  I wrote my first stories exploring those fears happening to other people.

We had just gotten our first family computer, and it had a word processor program on it.  So this was the first thing I wrote on it, and was able to actually print out multiple copies of a story for the first time.

My first story/Basic plot:

In “The House Was Different,” Sam, a teen boy, wakes up to find the world around him dark and evil.  He discovers that his best friend sold his soul to the Devil, and threw in Sam’s as well.

What did you think of the story then? 

I was immensely proud of it, and shared it with friends at school.  I do recall that my buddy Matt had a big problem with the ending, since he was a huge Heavy Metal music listener, and insisted that the Devil just didn’t work that way.

What do you think of the story now? 

Oh, I’m sure it’s terrible.  I haven’t looked at it in several years, but it’s probably riddled with typos and grammatical errors–and gasp!–is written from the point of view of a teenager when I actually WAS a teenager.

How did the story help you on the road to writing? 

I shared it with others, and a couple of them encouraged me to share with them my later stories.  Not long after, I submitted a story or two to school contests and the yearly student writing anthology.

Current work: 

I’m not good at pitching or selling my stuff (guess I haven’t learned much since high school), but I have tried to put out some of my stories in audio form.  The first collection of those was called “The Calling and Other Stories” and includes more than a dozen Horror, Urban Fantasy, and Sci-Fi stories, narrated by yours truly.  Narration seems to be where I shine, except of course when “Tony” tells me something bad is going to happen in Room 237.

Rish Outfield is a writer, podcaster, and audiobook narrator who normally walks on four legs, but can rise up on two when provoked or about to attack.  He thinks he’s funny and talented, but only his Sean Connery impression is worth any salt.  You can check him out at the Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, That Gets My Goat, or Rish Outcast podcasts, or bug him on Facebook (there are fewer Rishes out there than you would guess)

 Thank you for reading the My First Story series. Stay tuned to this blog for more writer series.

My First Story: Kristin Battestella

My First Story
with author Kristin Battestella

Age first started writing: about 8
Location of first writing: Apparently I was a precocious child from rural New Jersey inviting everyone to “Collect ’em All!” for my illustrious, illustrated classics from “One Night” to “The Red Forest”, titles clearly inspired by my farm spooky rearing.


I recall “The Red Forest” was inspired by the reflection of the trees on my mother’s car, but I seemed to have made a very early leap into fantasy or horror with “The Frosted Opal” and “Little Wendy” or “Molly Mummy.” I guess I was just a whimsical or scary sponge.

My first story/Basic plot:

“The Adventures of The M&M Gang” (with an ice cream cone on the cover for some reason!) was the longest one written for a school project when I was in the fourth grade. Compared to the other one page “One Night” stories I think it was probably an improvement but I don’t remember what it was about beyond a group of kids who’s names all began with M. They solved mysteries that weren’t really mysteries, objects lost and found short of lameness.

What did you think of the story then? 

My word I thought they were so fantastic then with a moral and radical concepts that needed to be signed, dated, and preserved for posterity!

What do you think of the story now? 

They are pathetic. But in a laughably good way. At one point as a teenager, I was going to collect them in a storybook called “Idiotic Stories for Gullible Children” but of course that was just as bad.

How did the story help you on the road to writing? 

I think even if the stories were bad, it was the idea that I couldn’t remember them all or just keep them in my head and had to write them down. I had crazy notions that I was working for a publisher called “Kids Kids Kids” where I would just churn out classics daily. (My dad told me that wasn’t how things worked and why that couldn’t be my fictitious publisher’s name when I designed a logo with “KKKs”!!) But the idea of getting things on the page that needed work, and to be good. I started drawing more SF world building ships and costumes and got into documenting what I was doing before writing short stories and submitting them to kid writing contests.

Current work: 

Actually my focus has been on non fiction, the ten year anniversary of my review blog I Think, Therefore I Review sort of snuck up on me, so I’ve been in celebration mode there! I’ve found I go in phases between fiction and non-fiction. My last vampire series Fate and Fangs is available on Amazon.

Kristin Battestella writes for her hometown newspaper The Cumberland County Reminder and has been writing non-fiction, speculative fiction, dark fantasy, paranormal, and horror for almost twenty years. Along with numerous sports articles, print essays, online reviews, and pen name fiction, Kristin’s first eBook was published in 2005. She is a member of the New Jersey Authors Network, founder of the South Jersey Women Authors, and part of the podcast at Horror Addicts.net. Her 7 book sequel series Fate and Fangs is available now with Muse It Up Publishing.

 Next time, you’ll hear from author Rish Outfield.

My First Story: Trinity Adler

My First Story
with author Trinity Adler

Age first started writing: about 19
Location of first writing: I live on the foggy coast of Central California near Monterey. I wrote my first story while on a summer break from college in North Carolina.


I wrote my first story for my Dad. He’s a fan of Westerns. I’d spent most of my college break that year at my Uncle’s farm. I had plenty of inspiration after weeks in humid southern summer heat where I’d worked outside with horses and cattle. I returned home determined to spend the last month of my vacation indoors, with the air conditioning blasting and a supply of iced lemonade. To achieve this goal, I got out my typewriter to write a story for my father. I had more than enough research material. Dad kept the house littered with Western novels I could reference by Zane Grey or Louis L’Amour. My mom preferred murder and mayhem written by Agatha Christie or Stephen King. I think that’s where I got my taste for the macabre. While I worked out my story, I read, and reread, everything I could. I mined all the literature in the big bags of used books my family traded among ourselves. Each shared section of the family library evolved into collections of genre fiction and nonfiction you might never have opened if not for the serendipity of the bag. By the time my vacation ended I’d become a writer and I’d started reading with a writer’s eye.

My first story/Basic plot:

Bounty is a ghost story set in the Wild West. A bounty hunter, haunted by the men he’d hauled to justice dead instead of alive, is driven to a point of extreme sleep deprivation. He refuses to believe any of his victims may have been wrongly posted as wanted dead for a crime. Despite warnings of his fate from men he tracked and killed, he believes his work is justified, with or without a judge’s ruling. He ends up in the gunfight of his life after he ignores threats from the ghostly chorus that hounds him. When the bounty hunter arrives in a small town one afternoon to hunt down a boy he knows is innocent, his luck turns. The ghosts intervene. There is no one to mourn his death at the end of the story.

What did you think of the story then? 

I considered it a cross between High Noon and the Twilight Zone. I’d grown up with Western stories the way other kids learned fairy tales. Cowboy yarns felt like part of my life. These days I prefer the supernatural and unexplainable when I pick my own reading materials. Looking back now, it seems logical that my first short story would blend Wild West gunfighters and ghosts.

What do you think of the story now? 

I think it qualifies as a “weird Western”. At the time I wrote it, it didn’t seem to have a settled place other than as a ghost story set in the Old West. I stored it away in my files. However, when my Dad came to live with me, I decided to pick up the thread of my old story, polish it and add to it with a fresh series of Western ghost tales. Many of these new stories have Steampunk themes. The Steampunk genre is a good fit to my love of cowboys, contraptions, clockworks and the supernatural. I’m organizing the stories into a book for fans of the haunted West.

How did the story help you on the road to writing? 

It helped me feel comfortable constructing and sharing a story with family and friends. That’s a big step for a young writer and a necessary one. It takes bravery to bring a Western to family members steeped in the genre. As a writer considering the audience, you’re aware every aspect of exposition and character right down to the bullets in the gun, choice of rotgut at the bar and the character’s motivations to act with violence will be recognizable to your readers. Western genre experts demand a fresh approach or you’ll strike out before the ending is revealed.

Current work: 

Clockwork Wonderland contains stories from authors that see Wonderland as a place of horror where anything can happen and time runs amok. In this book you’ll find tales of murderous clockworks, insane creations, serial killers, zombies, and a blood thirsty jabberclocky. Prepare to see Wonderland as a place where all your worst nightmares come true. You may never look at classic children’s literature the same way again.

“Clockwork Justice” by Trinity Adler

With only one day and two clues, a bloody torn card and carrot tarts, Alice fights to prove she’s innocent and avoid losing her head to the Red Queen’s executioner.

Trinity Adler is a Steampunk writer from Carmel California. She’s a member of the Central Coast Writers branch of the California Writers Club, Wicked Women Writers, Steampunk 7 C’s, Monterey Bay Steampunk Society and the League of Proper Villains. Her work is featured in the anthologies Written Across the Genres and Clockwork Wonderland. Trinity’s among the winners of the SF Writers Club’s 2014 Fault Zone Shift Anthology contest for The Oracle at the Delphi. She’s an authority on terrier movies and Toto the dog. She curates a Cairn Terrier movie website and Facebook pages. Her Trinity Adler webpage is www.trinityadler.com.

 Next time, you’ll hear from author Kristin Battestella.

My First Story: Arlene Radasky

My First Story
with author Arlene Radasky

Age first started writing: as an adult – 2008
Location of first writing: I was married, living at home, two girls grown and with families of their own. I had done some physical things that I never thought I could do in my life (no one would ever define me as an athlete), and the one that gave me courage to write was finishing a Sprint Triathlon. I told myself that if I could do that, writing would be easy. Right….

2008 rolled around. I had finished my novel that took me four years to write, publish and record. I had an idea in my mind that I wanted to try to write an epic poem. I have no idea why or where the idea of a poem came from but I wanted to try poetry for the first time so after a bit of research about poetry, I started writing “Forever”.

I am 67 now so in 2008 I was 58 years old. Ghost and horror stories have always fascinated me but I honestly do not know where this idea came from. I did not have an experience that lead up to this, nor have ever been abused, but this story leapt out onto my keyboard. Much like my novel did.

There she was, an abused wife who thought she was free of the man who kept her mentally hostage and the voodoo priestess who promised her freedom from her nightmares but instead sent her to the other side and back to the dead man. In poetry form.

I was amazed at how it came out, and am still fascinated with it. I read it and wonder where it came from. After I had written it, it opened doors in my mind for me. I started writing more poetry and short stories, most with dark sides. I’ve had so much fun!

I met Emerian on Podiobooks.com. She and I recorded our work and published it in podcast form. She told me about a Horror Festival she was having in Second Life and I sent “Forever” to her. She wanted me to come read it so she taught me all about Second Life. She rescued me from oceans and zapped me across tombstones. I even met the devil for her. We had fun in Second Life for the next few years.

I’ve been working on a second novel for too many years, but hope to finish it this year.

I am not a dedicated, spend hours-a-day writer, I write when I am inspired and I am so glad that I can. It has been a real ride.

Current work: 

Forever  and I have more poetry and short stories there as well.

The Fox : Absolutely spellbinding, The Fox by Arlene Radasky is a fascinatingly sublime historical romance and fantasy novel that looks at true courage and truly selfless acts. In this epic fiction that crosses centuries, Druid healers at the beginning of recorded time will be rescued from obscurity by an archeologist of the twenty-first century. Jahna’s clan lay in the path of destruction exacted by the Romans. Her fate is sealed unless a bargain is made with the Gods, which without a doubt means a human sacrifice. Two thousand years later, Aine MacRae is on their trail. A struggling archaeologist, she is on the verge of uncovering the village where they once lived, driven by her mind melds with an ancient force. Encouraged by a ghostly visit, she will do whatever it takes to unearth time’s mystery. Greed almost triumphs leaving the truth and ancient stories buried forever, but an undying love is rekindled.

A scholar of ancient history, Arlene Radasky is fortunate to have walked upon each of the seven continents on the earth. For the past two decades she has worked with a number of nonprofit organizations including the American Red Cross and Hospice of Santa Barbara. She currently lives in California and is a proud mother and grandmother.


 Next time, you’ll hear from author Trinity Adler.

Come meet Emz at Baycon 2017

Memorial Day Weekend

San Mateo, California
Come meet Emerian Rich
and many other fabulous guests
at BayCon 2017


Emerian’s Schedule:

Saturday, May 27
10:00 AM to 02:00 PM – Main Lobby
BayCon’s first ever Imagination Health Fair! Come enjoy freebies, literature, and fun activities to help improve the health of your imagination.

04:00 PM 05:30 PM – Connect 4
HorrorAddicts.Net – Clockwork Wonderland
Come talk Alice, Horror, and hear readings from authors. Door prizes and favors! Emerian Rich (M), Laurel Anne Hill, Sumiko Saulson, Ezra Barany, Trinity Adler, Michele Roger, Jonathan Fortin.

06:30 PM – Inspire 1
Emerian Rich – Reading


Sunday, May 28th
1:30 AM to 01:00 PM – Convene 1
Women of Horror talk about the stereotypes, expectations, and discrimination involved with writing in this mostly man-dominated genre. Emerian Rich (M), Loren Rhoads, Pat MacEwen

02:00 PM to 03:00 PM – Convene Lobby
Signing: Emerian Rich and Sumiko Saulson

04:00 PM to 05:30 PM – Synergy 2
Whether you’d like to decorate your DYSTOPIAN pad, or you are just stocking up for the apocalypse trade system, come make some shrunken heads w/Emz. Supplies provided free except hook. Bring your hook, or buy a new one for $1.50. Ideal size F, G, or H. UTOPIAN option available.


My First Story: Jaq D. Hawkins

My First Story
with author Jaq D. Hawkins

Age first started writing: about 13
Location of first writing: Child living in California with mother and brother


I had been traveling the California coast with my mother and brother, also my crazy aunt.

My first story/Basic plot:

This was effectively a true story, writing about the adventures of a transient life from a child’s point of view. There was a period of my childhood where everytime my mother started to get settled down, my crazy aunt would show up and push her to up stakes and go somewhere else. This led to some interesting adventures which would give social services nightmares these days, but gave me an early grounding in dealing with changes and survival, as well as fitting into different social situations.

What did you think of the story then? 

I thought it was good, until I got it back with a rejection slip.

What do you think of the story now? 

After getting a rejection, I read it again and saw that it wasn’t actually as well written as Reader’s Digest had a right to expect. The original is long gone but many of my adventures get slipped into fiction stories I write now.

How did the story help you on the road to writing? 

It taught me about objectivity, coming back to read things with fresh eyes before submitting. I think it was a good experience for a young, new writer. Rather than feeling discouraged, I determined to get better.

Current work: 

A zany chase through time and space and between the worlds to put the universe back in order, if they live to accomplish their task!

The demon Choronzon was supposed to keep the gate between the worlds, but he has abandoned his post and it’s up to two reincarnated magicians, Karl Spare and Alei-Cat, to captu re him and return him to his post.

A romp through time and space takes these two unlikely heroes through some harrowing portals and surreal adventures where they meet a variety of bizarre personages along the way, but there can be only one finale to the chase for Choronzon!

Jaq D Hawkins was originally traditionally published in the Mind, Body, Spirit genre, but moved to indie publishing soon after releasing her first Fantasy fiction novel. She currently has five novels released and two more in progress, as well as further writings in Mind, Body and Spirit subjects, some of which continue to be traditionally published while others are destined for the indie market.

Information on all titles can be found through her website at http://www.jaqdhawkins.com

 Next time, you’ll hear from author Arlene Radasky.

My First Story: Kay Tracy

My First Story
with author Kay Tracy

Age first started writing: about 10
Location of first writing: Splitting time between California and Iceland


4th or 5th grade School assignment!  We were instructed to write about a memory.

My first story/Basic plot:

Essentially my earliest memory, a trip to the zoo in Philadelphia.  In my early childhood, I think around 2 or 3 years of age, the animals were kept in large below ground enclosures with (to me at the time, in a stroller) large iron fences.  It seems I stood up in my stroller to get a better look, at the  bears below me. I grasped two of the bars and peered down over the edge.  While I do not recall what my father said to me at the time, I do recall his hands around my middle lifting me up and back from the bars, then setting me back into the seat.

I realize not much of a story, but it was a fond memory of security and safety regarding my father.

What did you think of the story then? 

At the time, I was very proud of this story. Not only for the memory that I had, but the grade was good, and had some pleasant comments on it from my teacher.

What do you think of the story now? 

Other than my memory of it, the story itself, at least my copy of it is long gone. That is not to say I have forgotten about it.  I am sure it was only a paragraph or two, and very juvenile, but it is the first time I was ever asked to write a story, that I can recall!

How did the story help you on the road to writing? 

This is more difficult for me to answer. I know that have positive feedback from my teacher was an essential part of my willingness to put words into stories and write or type them.  There were other teachers who were not so kind.  I think that having a positive first experience allowed me the freedom to not be bothered so much by the negative remarks that many of us have gotten.  Not that I was thick skinned about it, just being able to look at the remarks and try to think about what the person who made them might be missing, and how can I help them find it!

Someday, I might even write things that will get published!!

Current work: 

Nothing yet, but soon! 🙂

Kay retired early from her government job to expand her experiences and do some traveling. While there are stories she enjoys telling and sharing, she is just a little slow to get them written down! 

 Next time, you’ll hear from author Jaq D. Hawkins.

My First Story: Suzanne Madron

My First Story
with author Suzanne Madron

Age first started writing: 17
Location of first writing:  I was living at home with my parents, a senior in high school in the mountains of Pennsylvania


I heard the song “Nemesis” by Shriekback for the first time, and images exploded in my head. Obviously they didn’t have much relation to the song itself, but the power of the song was extraordinary.

My first story/Basic plot:

In the original version of NEMESIS, Nemesis was originally conjured by a warlock for his body. The warlock was dying, and planned to take over the body of someone much younger. The same warlock had managed to survive as long as he had by imprisoning a vampire named Lamia and drinking her blood in hopes it would make him immortal.

What did you think of the story then? 

I thought it was the greatest thing ever. My teachers loved it, too, so I figured it must be good.

What do you think of the story now? 

The original draft makes me cringe when I read it now. It’s since been rewritten, stripped down to the bones and remade in a new image, re-edited, rewritten again and again, and again, and is now in its fourth incarnation.

How did the story help you on the road to writing? 

It started out as a trick to get me to use the laptop we had been given for AP English class. I didn’t like the thing, and refused to use it. I preferred pen and paper. My teacher told me to write a sentence. Anything. When she read it she told me to write out a paragraph. Then a page. Then five pages. By the end of the schoolyear, I had a novel.

Current work: 

For Sale or Rent: The house across the street seems to go on the market every few months, but this time nothing about the sale is normal, including the new owners. No sooner has the for sale sign come down and the neighborhood is thrown into a Lovecraftian nightmare and the only way to find out is to attend the house warming party.

Suzanne Madron was born in New York City and has lived up and down the east coast. Currently she resides on a house built over a Civil War battlefield in the wilds of Pennsylvania where she has been known to host some interesting Halloween parties. She has authored several novels and stories under various names including Suzi M, James Glass, and Xircon.


Next time, you’ll hear from author Kay Tracy.

New Release: Clockwork Wonderland

HorrorAddicts.net Press presents…Clockwork Wonderland.

Clockwork Wonderland contains stories from authors that see Wonderland as a place of horror where anything can happen and time runs amok. In this book you’ll find tales of murderous clockworks, insane creations, serial killers, zombies, and a blood thirsty jabberclocky. Prepare to see Wonderland as a place where all your worst nightmares come true. You may never look at classic children’s literature the same way again.

Edited by Emerian Rich
Cover by Carmen Masloski
Featuring authors:

Trinity Adler
Ezra Barany
Jaap Boekestein
Dustin Coffman
Stephanie Ellis
Jonathan Fortin
Laurel Anne Hill
N. McGuire
Jeremy Megargee
James Pyne
Michele Roger
H.E. Roulo
Sumiko Saulson
K.L. Wallis

With Foreword by David Watson


URL: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1544785518


Excerpt from:
Midnight Dance

by Emerian Rich

Mr. March held his fireplace poker at the ready as he peeked into his kitchen. His good mate, Mr. White, had entered his house and seemed to be rummaging for food, but it wasn’t the White he knew from the club. White was generally a very congenial guy. A bit high-strung, but always courteous of others and definitely mindful of the inappropriateness of breaking into another’s home at quarter after midnight.

“Mustn’t give no quarter. Alms grrr…and a slab ‘a meat, yesssss…”

Pushing the kitchen door open another inch, March inspected his friend as he rambled an incoherent string of garbled words together. Perhaps his diabetes had taken a turn for the worst and he had low blood sugar? Still, the White he knew, would have at least rung the bell and requested entry instead of smashing the window and leaving the front door wide open.

White sniffed the air like a curious rabbit. His portly frame jittered in his food-stained plaid pajamas. His houndstooth wool slippers swam in orange juice pooled at his feet. White’s head snapped to the side and he stared directly at March, but didn’t seem to see him in the darkness. March held his breath despite his urge to gasp. White’s normally brown eyes gleamed red in the fridge light.

The grandfather clock in the drawing room bonged at the half-hour and White shuffled out of the kitchen, March following stealthily behind. White stared up at the clock, drool saturating his mouth. The second hand clicked just past the seven.

For a moment, White seemed himself again. His expression jovial as he clasped his hands behind him, rocking serenely back on his heels.

“White? You all right, old man?” March inched closer, hiding the poker by his side.

White turned to March, for a moment his old friend, but White’s lip pulled back in a snarl, displaying jagged teeth. He launched at March, causing them both to land in a heap on the floor.

“Meat and flesh, flesh and bone. Grrrr…” White growled like the Queen’s pup who’d contracted rabies.

“Stop! Get off me!” March struggled against White’s force, holding the fire poker between them as the only barrier.

White snapped his pointy teeth just inches from March’s face, slobber dripping onto his cheek.

“No, stop!”

White moved closer, his weight smothering March so he could barely breathe. From the open door to his right, March heard a scream. Out in the street, a royal guard attacked his neighbor, the Duchess, but March could do nothing to help. Turning back to face the maniac on top of him, March stared into the fiend’s red eyes. They seemed to glow and in the pupils there was some sort of design. A clock face? White salivated, the loud clamp of his jaw snapping as he tried to get ever closer.

White lunged, his massive belly pushing the air right out of March’s lungs. March gasped as his vision grew dark.

Footsteps, a clunk, and then White’s head falling lax to his neck allowed March the chance to use the last of his energy to push the maniac off him.

“March, chap, you all right?”

Gasping for air, March managed to sit up. He blinked and squinted in the dim light, seeing the unmistakable top-hatted silhouette of his good friend, Mr. Hatter. The lanky bloke offered a hand and March grasped it gladly.

“Hatter. My, you are a sight for sore eyes.” March wiped White’s saliva off his cheek with his paisley handkerchief. White’s still body lay in a dark stain growing darker on the rug.

“Pity about your rug, old friend.”

A scream in the street called their attention away from the soiled rug.

“What the bloody hell is going on?” March asked, retrieving his fireplace poker and cleaning it off as well.

“I’ll explain on the way,” Hatter said.

“On the way where?”

“The clock tower. Come on.”

March followed Hatter out of his house and shut the door behind him, although he didn’t think it much mattered. The neighborhood was in chaos and he wasn’t quite sure he’d survive to return. Pity about the strawberry trifle in the fridge. He’d worked hard on those perfect white and red layers for the picnic the next day in the park, but it seemed festivities would be cancelled. After all, the Duchess was hosting and her head rolled by in the gutter as he hopped over it.

Screams and snarls came from every direction as they sprinted to the clock tower situated in the center of town. He glimpsed friends he’d known for years, but they were alien to him in the zombie horde.

“Seems the clock infected some and the bitten become like them,” Hatter explained in hushed tones. His eyes swept the landscape as they made their way through town. “I don’t understand how it works exactly, but the clock must be stopped. Problem is, nothing—absolutely nothing—has worked. Every night it happens again and I can’t seem to stop it.”

“What do you mean every night? How long has this been happening and how come you are just now telling me?” They stood back to back as Hatter picked the clock tower lock and March stood guard. Snarls came from the darkness and March’s hands ached from gripping the blasted poker so tightly.

“You won’t believe me, chap, but this night has played out more than three dozen times.”

The ground shook and the wind picked up, tossing leaves into the air like confetti.

“What was that?”

“Earthquake. I think the clock caused that too, but I can’t be sure.” The lock clicked and Hatter escorted him inside. “Some nights I save you, some nights I’m too late. But I need your help. We have to jam the clock some way so that it can’t do this again.”

March stared into Hatter’s blood-shot, weary eyes and knew he told the truth.

“Show me how.”

Hatter led him down the corridor to the stairs and up four flights.

“How do you know the clock is responsible?” March asked between gasps. He was not used to so much physical exertion. Those cigars at the club were really taking a toll on his health. He’d have to cut back to once a week.

“I’ve traced it to the clock maker. He’s the only one infected after the clock strikes twelve. The earthquakes emanate from this location directly after.”

“And you’re the only one reliving this nightmare?”

“Yes, and then you ask me why I’m the only one. I don’t know why I’m immune. I just know the burden falls to me to stop it.”

The ground shook again and the clock tower creaked under the force. Hatter checked his pocket watch.

“Hurry, we’ve not much time. It’s 12:49 and at one o’clock it resets. Use your poker to jam that gear over there and I’ll try to damage this one.”

March stuck his fire poker in between two large metal gears and watched with amazement as they ate the thin metal up. Black cast iron trickled into the workings and fell to the floor like pieces of silverware from a dropped drawer.

“No!” Hatter yelled as his sword found the same fate. “Hell and damnation!” He grabbed a pipe on the wall and tugged until it gave way. The pipe spewed a fog of steam but it was short lived. Hatter banged on the gears, trying to harm them and March grabbed another pipe, doing the same. They fed the thin copper through the gears, hoping to stop them or break the mechanism, but they too were chewed up by the large mechanical monster.

“Damn!” Hatter kicked the gears causing no harm but to himself. He fell to the floor defeated, clutching his ankle. “How can we jam the gears if nothing can destroy this blasted thing?”

“Jam…” March crouched next to Hatter, his mind turning like the clock gears above them as he thought of how to stop the machine. “You might have something there. What if you’re going about this the wrong way? What if we made something sticky to muck up the works rather than trying to stop the gears themselves? Perhaps my mother’s jam…with a few minor adjust—” March’s face froze.

“What kind of adjustments? March! Please! No!” Hatter shook him, but he could not respond.

The clock bonged one o-clock.

To read the full story and more Clock-inspired, Alice Horror, check out Clockwork Wonderland.