Title: Phantom Harvest
Author: C.R. Richards
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Length: 368 pages
Sub-Genres: science fiction/fantasy
Blurb: Gideon, a half-breed mutant with a surly temper and rotten luck, struggles to scrape a living as a tracker in the desolate territory near the gateway to the human world. Business seems to be picking up when Gideon is approached by a powerful dark elf with deep pockets and a serious problem. Human miners at the dark elf's plant are being taken by an elusive predator. Gideon is pressured to find the killer before word of the disappearances reaches the human world, endangering the tense relationship between their two races. But, nothing is simple this close to the conduit between worlds. Archangel, a ruthless mercenary operating in the secret sectors of mutant society, has set his own deadly game in motion. Surrounded by savage wilderness and cut off from contact with civilization, Gideon must find a way to protect his friends and survive to collect his bounty.
Excerpt 1Cheap cologne clumsily masking rotting flesh and stale earth crept closer. Gideon swallowed the last gulp of beer and took a deep breath through his mouth. There was no mistaking the stench. It was a calling card, a sensory
announcement for the Graves Brothers. They were ghouls who’d tired of the rotting corpses and drained blood they could steal from their local mortuary. Crime paid well and sometimes it paid in fresh blood.
Gideon gripped his spoon until it bent under the pressure of his thumb. The Graves Brothers typically didn’t stray far from their territory in the south side of New Athens. Something had dragged them out of their catacombs, onto the transport train and through the Outskirts Territory to land here in Hawthorne.
Bandaged covered fingers gripped the chair across from Gideon and pulled it slowly away from the table. Doug Graves, head of the family and creep-in-charge, sat down carefully in the chair. His rotting body was covered head to toe in a gray trench coat topped with a fedora. He looked like a Humphrey Bogart movie gone wrong.
“Gideon, you’re looking good enough to eat.” Doug’s voice grated across the table like dead wood running through a shredder.
Maialen knelt before the flimsy lock on the front door. Its surface was a tarnished brass. Inside its workings, tiny metal sticks fit loosely into place. Pins, Maialen grinned. They might as well have put tape on the door. Her expert finger implants manipulated the old fashioned lock and in moments the door clicked open.
Stale booze and thunderous snoring assaulted her senses the moment she set foot inside. Gideon was stretched across the bed, wearing only his boxers and a worn out under-shirt. In his fist was an empty bottle marked “tequila.”
“Mr. Gideon?” She poked his naked calf with her finger. No response. Maialen moved to the other side of the bed, hoping for a better look at her unusual and reluctant new ally. Black hair fell in unruly strands across his face, hiding his eyes or any reaction to her voice. He was a big man, tall and broad, but his body remained lean despite his recreational drinking. Maialen wouldn’t label him as classically handsome, but his features were appealing.
She was beginning to fear she’d found his dead body until a loud snore vibrated the bed. Maialen stumbled away from his head and back to her original position at his feet. He didn’t stir. Mustering her courage, Maialen pushed at his calf harder. Her incessant tapping finally paid off. Gideon stirred. His eyes blinked open and he looked over his shoulder, giving her a blurry glare.
“Norm didn’t come back to the inn last night.” Maialen folded her arms and took a step back.
“How did you get out of your hotel room? And how the hell did you get in here?” He grumbled.
Camille told me where you were staying, so I came to find you. The lock on your cottage door isn’t a very good one.” She lifted her chin and gave him the most intense, disapproving glare she could muster this early in the morning. “Did you understand me? NORM IS MISSING.”
This interrogation room wasn’t like a Hollywood set, containing the nice one-way mirrored conference room with the table separating the police from their prisoner. This interrogation room was more like a torture chamber with special tools to encourage mutant prisoners to talk. By the time a skilled human interrogator was finished, he’d know every detail, every piece of information there was to know from his subject. Whether or not the subjects survived wasn’t a priority.
One chair stood in the middle of the blood-stained floor. Nylon straps hung from the surgical steel arm rests and chair back at head level. Ankle braces lay on the floor beside the chair, ready for their next victim.
“Care for a seat?” Peaches asked.
“Not fucking likely,” Gideon said, slowly maneuvering his back to the wall. He’d been through their interrogation sessions before and survived, barely. Nothing was going to get him back in that chair again. They’d have to kill him first.
“Suit yourself.” Peaches shrugged and leaned on the back of the chair. His fingers played with the strap and he smiled. “You don’t like humans very much, do you, Gideon?”
“Now, why would you say that? We’ve spent such quality time together. I remember all those times when Cream tortured me while you asked me questions…that I refused to answer. What’s not to like?”
“I’m hearing a little bitterness on your part. Maybe you’re so angry with my partner and I that you decided to take it out on other humans. A powerful guy like you would have no problems snatching humans and dragging them off somewhere to have a little fun at their expense.”
The accusing eyes lifted from the nylon straps and moved to Gideon’s gaze. There was triumph in his look and a self-satisfied grin on his face. Peaches knew something Gideon didn’t. Something that would wrap up the case and top it with a great big bow.
About The Author:
Cynthia's literary career began when she interned as a part-time columnist for a small entertainment newspaper. She wore several hats: food critic, entertainment reviewer and cranky editor. A co-author of horror and urban fantasy novels, her first solo fiction project - The Mutant Casebook Series - was published by Whiskey Creek Press in 2013. Cynthia is an active member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and lives in Colorado.
Social Media Links:
Author Website: www.crrichards.com
Publisher Website: www.whiskeycreekpress.com