Collision + Giveaway

Synopsis:
A collection of twelve of J.S. Breukelaar's darkest, finest stories with four new works, including the uncanny new novella "Ripples on a Blank Shore." Introduction by award-winning author, Angela Slatter. Relish the gothic strangeness of "Union Falls," the alien horror of "Rogues Bay 3013," the heartbreaking dystopia of "Glow," the weird mythos of "Ava Rune," and others. This collection from the author of American Monster and the internationally acclaimed and Aurealis Award finalist, Aletheia, announces a new and powerful voice in fantastical fiction.


My Review

If you are looking for a delightfully, unique collection of horror and weird (in a good way) stories, than, you should check out this anthology. Each story was something that I can't recall having ever read before; despite the fact that some of my favorite stories, Lion Man, Fairy Tale, and The Box were previously published. Another story that I really liked was Ava Rune.

Although, I will say that while, I was not over the moon with all of the stories in this anthology; there was about half to a little more than half of the stories that I did enjoy. Some of the characters were like "carnies" types from a carnival. These stories might be things of nightmares but not all nightmares are bad. I do suggest you check out this collection of stories.


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Author Bio:
J.S. Breukelaar is the author of the Aurealis-nominated novel Aletheia, and American Monster, a Wonderland Award finalist. She has published stories, poems and essays in publications such as Gamut, Black Static, Unnerving, Lightspeed, Lamplight and elsewhere. She is a columnist and regular instructor at LitReactor.com. California-born and New York raised, she currently lives in Sydney, Australia with her family. You can find her at www.thelivingsuitcase.com.

Twitter:
@jsbreukelaar
@meerkatpress
Facebook:
@meerkatpress



Union Falls
When the girl turned up for the job in her black jeans and cute haircut and no arms, Deel just shook her head, no. Girl wiggled her shoulders and flicked her hair in that way.
“Just give me a listen,” she said.
Selwyn at the bar stared at her out of his good eye, pushed his glasses up on his nose even though they were already up as far as they could go, and Deel waited but he just kept staring. And then Henry trotted out from behind the bar with beer stuck to his whiskers because he’d been drinking the slops again and went right up to the girl and sat on her shoes. Black Van sneakers with pink trim. No laces.
“Are you wet?” Deel said, looking at the water seeping out from under the girl’s soles.
It was one of those blue June days, the air heavy with the smell of overheating asphalt and baked pollen. Deel yanked at the neck of her tank top, sucked hot hair in through her mouth and felt like she was choking.
“I had a dip in the lake,” the girl said. “Water’s so clear you can see right down to the stones.”
And Deel noticed fine strands of hair stuck to the wide, pale forehead, but whether from sweat or lake water, Deel could not tell. The girl was wearing a T-shirt and the sleeves hung out over the smooth nubs of her shoulders and flapped empty against her torso.
“You do realize that the gig’s for a piano player?” Deel said.
“So do I get an audition or what?” The girl shrugged out of her satchel strap, stepping out of one shoe and catching the satchel in her lifted foot all in one motion. Deel caught a glimpse of a challenge deep below the surface of the girl’s whetstone eyes, and she didn’t like it. Fast-forward to an interior shot of Deel’s mailbox, a letter stamped from the antidiscrimination board vying for room with all the bills and notices and empty offers.
“Henry’s drunk again,” Deel said to Selwyn. “Those slop trays don’t empty themselves.”
The girl—whose name, according to her crumpled CV, was Ame—flicked her eyes between Selwyn and Deel as if to gauge what ran between them. Satisfied, she acknowledged the listing, slobbering dog at her feet with a nudge of her sneaker and turned her pale head finally to the unused Casio keyboard in the corner of the small room, wavering in reflected light from the bottles and glasses behind the bar.
“Guess we better give her a listen.” Selwyn kind of shook himself like he just woke up and Deel glared.
“Cain’t hurt,” said Pete, his Carolina vowels making Deel’s flesh crawl at this ungodly hour. She could barely cope with his cain’ts and ain’ts and gee mahnour sayvenths after sundown with a couple of beers under her belt, much less in the hard daylight of a Saturday afternoon. But Pete was the bassist and Deel’s daddy had played bass in a college band so she let it lie. The girl, who’d left out the bit about having no arms, was the only one who’d replied to the small ad that Selwyn had placed in the Pennysaver. They’d all agreed that the whole band had to be there for the interview, Jake the drummer a no-show as usual.
Deel caught the girl’s hard smile and regretted not wearing lipstick for godsakes. She sipped from her cold coffee for something to do with her hands, but she had a slight hangover and what she really needed was a drink.
“Okay,” she said. “But . . .”
But the girl was kicking off her other shoe and at the keys before Deel had worked out but what. And what she pounded out with her feet was Meatloaf’s “Bat Out of Hell.” Crashing chords and swarming riffs. Her smooth feet and long, black-varnished toes were stark against the keys, and every so often her head would shake to the side or nod back and forth. Because the instrument was so high relative to the reach of her legs, she played slightly hunched and looked to be levitating on the stool, her torso motionless and her legs, impossibly limber, dancing up and down the keyboard.
Afterward, she swiveled around to face them. No one said anything. Henry furtively lapped at a pool of his own vomit and no one stopped him. Selwyn’s good eye, the color of rain, just stared at the silent keys which seemed to have taken on a kind of conspiratorial nakedness, privates unfairly flaunted. Deel looked away. Beams of dirty light fell on the bottles, and a cell phone bleated from downstairs, the smell of oil and exhaust sharp and cold from the no-name Gas and Lube.
“What?” The girl looked from one to the other. “You did say it was an eighties band.”
The girl put her shoes back on and waited downstairs while they talked it over. Deel pointed out how you can’t have an amputee keyboard player in a town like Union Falls.
“I don’t need this,” Deel said.
And Selwyn said, calmly returning her affronted gaze, that no one did. “But the Lake View’s taken all our trade with that open grill and fresh charr and so-called music, is the thing.”
And in Selwyn’s good eye Deel caught a glimpse of her own ferocious ponytail and worried mouth, but Pete just kept saying, “chick is hot, chick is smokin’.” So she said, “Well better ask Jake about it,” but Selwyn just shrugged. So, in the end, Deel said she’d give it a month and hadn’t they better go wake up their so-called drummer and start rehearsing?
After the boys left, she called the girl back in but when Deel said her name, the girl interrupted.
“Ay-mee,” she said. “It’s spelled Ame, but you say it like Amy.”
Deel asked for references, which Ame pulled out of the satchel with her teeth and which Deel gingerly removed from her mouth. Deel didn’t like this. Shadows sliced across the girl’s face and fell like a mask across her dark eyes and Deel noticed tiny scars hatched on her jaw and one on her chin. In the wrong light she could be just standing there with her arms held behind her back as if hiding something in her hands.
“Boo!” she said.
Deel flinched, a cold knot of rage tightening in her chest.
“You were looking at me like you’d seen a ghost,” said the girl, a wide white smile instantly enlivening her features. “The scars are from falling on my face. When I was a kid.”
Deel swallowed and started leafing through the references. She saw that the girl was from Albany, was twenty-two and had dropped out of music school but had been playing in bands since she was thirteen.
“If you’re looking for the section that says how I lost my arms,” Ame said. “You won’t find it there.”
Deel put down the references. The girl’s lips curved in that joker grin that did not quite extend to her eyes. An insolence to her affliction. For the second time this morning Deel felt her flesh crawl, but this time she hated herself for it. She felt momentarily frightened and wanted to call Selwyn back in but stopped herself. She needed time to think of a way to fob the girl off, no matter what the guys said. It was her bar, in the end, and her call.
“Can I get you a cup of coffee?”
The girl shrugged like she didn’t care one way or another, so Deel went behind the bar and poured the coffee, telling herself that the whole thing was a bad idea, not just the girl, but the whole band thing, and maybe even the whole bar, just taking it over when she did, and what she should have done was sell the house and move on like everyone in Union Falls told her to. Move on, yes, but then Selwyn turned up for the bar job, not a college boy, too old for that, but not a farm boy either, not exactly. Guitar in a muddy case on his back. And things just moved along from there.
“How do you take it?” she called into the shadows, Ame hidden from her at this angle. “Your coffee.”
There was no answer, and Deel thought—hoped—that maybe the girl had gone, but then her voice cut across the shadows, an effortful croak.
“With a straw,” she said.



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Comments

James Robert said…
Always fun to hear about another new great book. Thanks for sharing!
Calvin F. said…
What a great book, nice to see this release
I enjoyed the synopsis and review.
traveler said…
Thanks for this fascinating feature and giveaway.

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