A New Short Story: Invited and Minor Update on War In Flesh

So I wrote a little short horror story based upon some heavy fictionalization of time I spent in a fundamentalist church. It’s called Invited. Of course all of the characters are fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is completely coincidental. I’m really enjoying the short story format. It is as follows:

By K. L. Zolnoski

Things had been going well, very well. The host had been growing ever more paranoid, fearful and best of all, hateful as Shpofuge slid his narrow, peg-like fingers deeper into her brain. Shpofuge was a demon of the shadows. No one in this world could see him. If they could they would see his ghostly form hunched over her like a miasma, his incorporeal arms curved around and his long, fingers sliding easily through her head into her brain.
Shpofuge fed on malignant emotions. Her fear was fine wine to him but her hate, which grew out of that fear, was ambrosia. Invariably self-righteousness, hypocrisy and pride followed and such were his hors d’oeuvres.
Lies were the best though and did Shelly ever lie. Her whole life was a lie. She was so afraid of getting hurt, thanks to a father who abandoned her and a mother who, as a result, had to work two jobs to provide for her that she had closed herself off from everyone.
Over the years, through Shpofuge’s careful manipulation, she had carried these hurts and held them close to her. She never forgave and never forgot. This gave Shpofuge a permanent pathway into her psyche. No matter how she tried to shake him off or escape his vile influence, he could always count on resentment and bitterness from these injustices to provide access back into the deepest parts of her soul.
Every Sunday Shelly went to church. She dressed modestly and behaved properly. Shpofuge loved the church. Shpofuge especially loved it when the preacher shouted about how all of their works of righteousness were as filthy rags to the most holy. This would throw Shelly into a feedback loop of self-flagellation and self-loathing that fed Shpofuge very well. He would run his long peg fingers over her brain, delicately sensing for the darkest knots of her self-hatred and grow fat.
Shpofuge often silently applauded the preacher, especially when he expounded the evils of questioning, of thinking, of seeking. Those things most reliably led to people escaping the clutches of their demons. That was the last thing Shpofuge wanted.
There was danger though, for Shelly’s husband had died just the day before. Family was gathering for the funeral. That meant the Mystic was coming. Shpofuge would have to be careful lest the Mystic discover him.
Shpofuge spent the night filling Shelly’s dreams with fear. Fear that the Mystic would talk about the abuse she suffered at the hands of Shelly’s husband. It was a dirty secret that Shelly had groomed the Mystic to keep when she was a young child. It was something Shelly felt guilty about and Shpofuge feasted on her guilt and the fear that her secret would be told.
Shpofuge also filled Shelly’s mind with dread that the Mystic, whom Shelly knew saw her for who she truly was, would tell everyone that her whole life was an empty lie. Appearances were everything to Shelly. Appearances always had been everything to Shelly. From the time her father had abandoned her, through her abusive marriage she had sacrificed everything to maintain the appearance of a normal life.
The emptiness of a life built entirely on appearances had consumed Shelly utterly. The emptiness gave Shpofuge plenty of room to hide.
The family came from all corners of the country to support Shelly. Normally the outpouring of love would make Shpofuge leave but this family was different. Many had demons of their own. Some were so filled with hate that Shpofuge could feed on it too, not that he needed to.

Then the Mystic entered the room. To those assembled the Mystic appeared short and a little dumpy. The other demons pounced on the thoughts of, “fat,” and “lazy,” that flickered through their host’s minds. They amplified and fed on the sense of superiority that accompanied them.
To Shpofuge the Mystic shone like the morning sun, the force of her undampened personality causing him to flinch back. Reacting, Shpofuge had Shelly make the first move. A classic manipulative opening gambit, “You can’t play the victim card and expect people to think you are strong.”
This would shut down any potential revelations of the abuse the Mystic suffered. She looked over at Shelly, puzzled. As if she honestly didn’t know why Shelly would say such a thing.
Congratulating himself on catching her off guard, Shpofuge shifted his fingers in Shelly’s brain and pressed the attack. If he could get the Mystic to say something resentful, something accusing, anything that would threaten Shelly’s already destroyed sense of self, he would win.
Instead the Mystic said, “It’s ok. It will be alright.”
Shpofuge hissed. It was as if the Mystic had spoken to the deeper issue, completely ignoring Shelly’s words. Then Shpofuge froze.
The Mystic looked at Shelly, canting her head to one side as if confused. Then understanding telegraphed itself over her expressive face.
The Mystic stepped up to Shelly, barely as tall, and breathed right into her third eye, “Begone.”
Shpofuge shrieked, for one terrible moment his shadowy, disfigured form became visible to all. They would forget, but now they recoiled in horror.
How? How was it possible? Shpofuge had used Shelly’s lies to torment the Mystic for her whole life. The constant gas lighting had nearly driven her insane before she vanished for several years. How could she love Shelly so openly and fearlessly?
It was that love that had driven Shpofuge out. Helpless he watched as the Mystic held out her hand in welcome, offering unconditional love, offering no recriminations, only acceptance. Making herself vulnerable. This would be the end, Shpofuge’s ultimate failure.
Then it happened. Shelly looked full in the face of love and turned to reach out a hand to Shpofuge. He had been invited in of Shelly’s own free will. She was more afraid of being vulnerable to hurt, than his possession. No power would ever be able to banish him. Shpofuge pounced, nearly punching his incorporeal fingers through her in his indecent haste.

**The End**

Also I’ve gotten back to work on War In Flesh and I’m pleased with the direction it is going.

War In Flesh teaser #WarInFlesh #InTheFlesh

In The Flesh Cover Art

In The Flesh Cover Art

In The Flesh Cover Art

Work on the sequel to In The Flesh is moving along. Yes it is slow going. I’m not one of those authors who can just crank out hundreds of pages without a thought. In point of fact I’m realizing that my creative process takes a lot of thought and a lot of processing. I have to think the whole thing though before I can begin to write it. I have ideas and then need to play with them to see how they fit into the narrative. Sometimes they don’t and then I have to, in the words of Stephen King, “kill my darlings.” I also have my bs detector set to 11 apparently, so a lot of things I like don’t fit well into the story line and I have to set them aside. I will share the following teaser of a part of a chapter that I’ve written for War In Flesh for your enjoyment but I make no promises that it will survive the multiple editing passes in this books future.

Nevertheless, please enjoy:

War In Flesh

Copyrighted material, all rights reserved

Thousands of miles north of Antarctica, beyond the shining jewel of Ce Acatl, just inland from the coast of the long narrow island that is all that’s left of what was once the northern continent a battered, almost broken antenna picked up the weak signal. Ancient relays came reluctantly to life and deep below the surface lights began to flicker as emergency batteries sacrificed what little power they had left.

On the surface a mere handful out of dozens of hidden hatches opened through the debris that buried them. Up through the hatches solar collector arrays slowly surfaced. It took days for them to collect enough power to begin the power up sequence in deeply buried scientific research stations.
Subterranean bunkers long buried by the movement of earth and nearly flooded by raising water tables slowly revealed themselves to sporadic lighting. Sump pumps groaned and kicked on draining stagnant water where it stood in deep pools on the floors of the lowest levels. The scent of mold filled the dead air.

Slowly, one by one in the high tech labs computers came online, waking from their sleep state as the power came back up. They had been kept alive in a low power state since the cataclysm so long ago. Fans started to move and with them slow air currents began to swirl through the underground complex of labs and offices. Vats filled with nutrients far past their best by dates began to grow bodies, following centuries old routines.

Some of the cylindrical vats failed to come online. In a sub-basement some of the computers shorted out, falling to a combination of moisture and nibbling rodents that had encroached over the long years. Others powered up and began growing things even before the injectors inserted the organic material intended to be grown in them. Somehow their sterile interiors had been breached by microorganisms during their long dormancy.

The laboratories were climate stable by virtue of being so far beneath the surface. In such a protected place the denizens of caves made their home, just as they would any natural cave system. Bats found their way into the upper level. Mountains of guano became nourishment for cockroaches and other crawling things. Heavy, sealed bulkhead doors kept larger things out of the lower levels but were little barrier to microorganisms.

Weeks passed while the sump pumps and fans worked. Often they had to shut down to conserve what little power the solar collectors could provide. Every system in the buried complex was designed to protect the computers first, even the electrical system. With the emergency batteries dead and not enough power coming from the arrays to recharge them, if that were even still possible, the other systems regularly idled so that what power there was could be diverted to the computers.

Eventually the pumps got the floors dry and the fans refreshed the air, opening vents to the surface when what humidity and moisture sensors that remained permitted.

In the cloning vats things grew.

This is but a snippet, gentle reader, that I hope you enjoy. I have all of the ideas in place now and just need to see how they will hang together. Things always change as I write them and what I envision when I start out is rarely what the final tale is. Characters will do what they will and I am often just telling their story they way they would have me tell it. K.

#Mothra #Cosplay Day 6 & #WarInFlesh update


Right wing construction complete.

Right wing construction complete.

Day 6 of the Mothra Cosplay construction. The budget is still holding steady at $70.00 for materials. This Cosplay Sunday shows the right wing reaching construction complete and the left wing is nearing construction complete. The only thing left to affix to the left wing is the faux fur material that is being used to simulate fine feathery scales at the inside exe of the wing.

Once the wings are construction complete that will leave painting to be done. Hours and hours of painting. Once the painting is done, which I expect to take several weeks. Then the wings will be ready to be affixed to the vest that is providing the body of the costume. I’m not sure how sewing the wings to the leather will work. I hope it’ll go fairly quickly but I fear it will be a lengthy process.

Leather vest, painted with Mothra pattern, for main body of cosplay.

Leather vest, painted with Mothra pattern, for main body of cosplay.

The wings are not as tall as I am, a feature that will make them easy to maneuver through crowds at a con. They also will function more as sleeves, to be extended as I desire. Fixed wings are just too bulky for me to maneuver in crowds. Not a week has gone by where I haven’t asked if the wings are large enough. I tried the right wing on and I think it will do.



Next Cosplay Sunday I think I’ll paint the right wing and see how far I get. I’ll have to finish up the construction on the left wing the week after. I enjoy painting and I’m excited to see what a completed wing looks like, so I’ll put off finishing the construction on the left wing for a week.

***** **** ***** **** ***** **** ***** **** ***** **** *****

Now on to news of War In Flesh, the sequel to In The Flesh. I had an idea worthy of a novel but have had a lot of trouble with transitions. After many starts and stops I have had a group of ideas that are worthy of transitions and sub plots. I will have to scrap almost 20,000 words at this time but I think the end result will be worth it. The real struggle with War In Flesh has been that I never intended to write more than one novel in the In The Flesh universe until my beta readers all asked for a sequel. This required that I alter my thought processes about the whole setting after I had finished In The Flesh.

So there have been delays as I try to come up with ideas and an adventure worthy of the first book. Now I’m at the same place I was when I began to write In The Flesh: Hoping I can write well enough to be worthy of my idea. I will keep you updated, gentle reader. K

Your Weekly War In Flesh Update

In The Flesh Cover Art

In The Flesh Cover Art

In The Flesh Cover Art

I worked on War In Flesh again this weekend. I was surprised that some of Ziya’s history came out. I was surprised by what her past is. That girl plays her cards close to her fictitious chest. I’ve been hoping to get to Dayyan and Evadne and Ziya and Meshaal keep getting in the way. Those two really want to be written about. All in all I had fun and got some interesting and good writing done. Next weekend I hope to keep up the momentum. K.

War In Flesh Update

In The Flesh Cover Art

In The Flesh Cover Art

In The Flesh Cover Art

It’s been three days since my last post and for that I do apologize, gentle reader. Today I will be working on some ideas I’ve had for War In Flesh. I have a lot for Dayyan and Evadne to do and I’m trying to get Prince Antal either into or out of trouble, I cannot decide which. The Persi brothers and Makis are about to go off on their own–for those who have read In The Flesh, just let that percolate through your grey matter for a bit; those three off together, unsupervised.

I’ve completely changed who the main antagonist will be for War In Flesh and I think the story is far stronger for it. I’ve also changed where they will go for the final encounter. I’m looking forward to getting some serious work done on War In Flesh today. K.

War In Flesh Update & Huey Lewis and The News

The sequel to In The Flesh, War In Flesh has been on a bit of a writing hiatus while I try to figure out how things go together. A lot of thought and a little bit of inspiration have gotten two major plot points figured out in a way that I am very very pleased with. I was having some real trouble getting things to work out that didn’t seem contrived or forced but finally I figured it out. Two chapters came to me and they contained answers and also another mystery that isn’t revealing itself to me yet. I’m as anxious to find out what’s going on as you will be. Also In The Flesh is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo.

Also I saw Huey Lewis and The News at the Zoo. They were awesome, the crowd was great. They did their whole Sports album, seeing how it was the 30th anniversary tour of the Sports album. They also performed some new song and a lot of old favorites. The weather was perfect and the sunset was gorgeous.

I’ll be posting an update about my garden soon. Also I already have tickets for Pacific Rim and will be reviewing it here on M31 Publishing and at The Geek Girl Project. I’m so excited about that movie. Everything I’m seeing from advance reviews says it’ll live up to the hype. Also, good news! I scored an advance readers copy of the novelization of Pacific Rim and I will be reviewing that for The Geek Girl Project and M31. K.

News for M31 Publishing and War In Flesh

In The Flesh Cover Art

In The Flesh Cover Art

In The Flesh Cover Art

As you may have noticed I’m trying to expand M31 Publishing into a real, and interesting, Blog. I love science fiction, comic books, games of all kinds and a lot of things. I already have my tickets for Pacific Rim–the wait is KILLING me! Tomorrow I’m likely to drink some amazing beer and see The Lone Ranger (I know I shouldn’t want to see it but I kind of do). Thanks to my ties to The Geek Girl Project I’ve got an in with Titan Comics and thanks to Bob Eggleton I’ve discovered In Saturn’s Rings which I will keep track of and update you on. So check out www.M31Publishing.com for updates on all of this and War in Flesh as well as Second Chances and other books I’m working on.

What I’m finding is that people love to read about my garden. That works out well for me because I love to write about it.

I’m still publishing movie reviews on The Geek Girl Project. I’m reviewing the old Godzilla movies as well as doing a monthly series of movies called K.’s Guilty Pleasures. For all those old (and new) budget movies or just blockbusters that didn’t bust the block.

War In Flesh is coming along slowly but very well. I feel the stuff I’ve written since I rebooted it is very good. I’m hoping to get some time this weekend to really get some serious work done on it. I’m having more ideas for Second Chances too and I’m torn between working on War In Flesh and Second Chances. I’m sure I’ll figure it out. In The Flesh is available for your kindle on Amazon. K.

War In Flesh Update and in The Flesh On Amazon

Posting a little late today. I have gotten some good work done on War In Flesh. It comes along slowly but I really like the direction it is taking. Exciting things. It is difficult for me to keep the romance at the forefront of my thought process. I think it will be worth it though. I like the adventure and the science fiction a great deal and that distracts me sometimes from the romance.

I’ve hit a point where the narrative line is telling me what to do next and that’s always a good sign. I’ll be working more on it today. I’ll also get some more science fiction articles written up for M31. I hope you’ve been enjoying them.

And for those who are interested In The Flesh is available in print or for the Kindle at Amazon

Learning from The Masters And Off The Grid

The Fomahaut system NASA

The Fomahaut system NASAI’m going to be off the grid for the most part for the next week. Worry not, though gentle reader, through the miracle of modern technology and the cleverness of WordPress I have scheduled articles to publish in my absence. I’m well pleased with them too. They are the first of the science fiction topics I want to introduce to M31.

I will say that exciting things are afoot (and not just at the circle K). For example, while working on a piece for M31 I got distracted by some simply delicious short stories by some of the grand masters of science fiction. Because I’m now a wrier myself (gifted amateur compared to them) I found myself paying more close attention to how they wrote their stories, the way they wove the characters actions together and created the tension in the stories. I’m hoping to learn even more as I revisit stories that are like old friends.

While away from the grid I plan to make some serious progress on War In Flesh. I’ve had some fun ideas and I am looking forward to the quiet time to work on them. Before I go I’ll leave you with this gorgeous space picture.

Galaxies colliding NASA

Galaxies colliding NASA


New Direction for M31–More SciFi

Andromeda -- NASA-JPL CalTechWell, gentle reader, I think it’s time to shift the main focus of M31 (that’s Messier 31 for those of you wonder how I came up with the name for this site) over to a more science fiction oriented blog. That’s what I enjoy and that’s what I write.

To that end I’m going to be adding content that is more varied rather than focused solely upon my adventures as an author. As you know I’ve been doing movie, comic and graphic novel reviews for The Geek Girl Project. I think it’s time to start posting original content like that here on M31.

Worry not, I will continue to update you on the progress I make on War In Flesh and any news for In The Flesh. What I hope to do is provide you with more varied and interesting content. I’m very excited about this new phase for M31 and I hope you are too gentle reader. K.