Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sneak Peek: The Ghoul Archipelago

***Lest I be deemed The King of Empty Promises (don't worry, a guy I work with already owns that title) since it is halfway through November I figured it was time to give you, my beloved fans, a sneak peek at my NaNo entry for this year. I did, ultimately, decide on The Ghoul Archipelago and before you go off on me, yes, I know I'm starting to pigeonhole myself. So, here it is, completely out of context, an excerpt from The Ghoul Archipelago.***

Nodding, and lowering the pistols he had been so gungho to carry only scant moments before, Candiru ducked and bobbed back down into the hold. Martigan returned to check on Mo. The mechanic seemed to be falling into what Martigan would otherwise have described as shock, but there seemed to be no physical malady. Great. Now his crew would be terrified and no good to defend themselves, he had to dress down his first mate in the middle of a supernatural pirate attack, and his chief engineer was a vegetable.

“Things are looking up,” Howling Mad Martigan said to no one in particular.

One of the creatures, a Hawaiian shirt-clad former tourist with what seemed to be an old broken camera around his neck, staggered to the front of the line, clutching at Mo’s shirt and pressing his pulsing black tongue against the inside of his jar. Howling Mad leveled his pistol at the thing’s head, cocked his head to the side to avoid the ricochet, and squeezed the trigger.



Martigan dropped the empty pistol to the deck and snatched the flare gun out of Mo’s caught hand. He had to actually grab the creature by the collar and use two fingers to separate the glass jar from the creature’s skin to leave enough room to jam the flare gun into the gap.

“Stand back!” Martigan yelled, shoving Mo back harshly.

The flare went off and the captain had to jump away from the heat, leaving the flare gun jammed within the creature’s jar.

“Damn it!” Martigan snapped, sucking on his finger.

The creature stood there, holding a scrap of Mo’s shirt. The flare burst inside the jar, presenting the two sailors with a magnificent fireworks show in a bottle. The creature seemed to be screaming or howling, trying in vain to follow the swarm of spiraling flame red sparks as they flew about in the contained maelstrom around its head.

Its eyes melted, literally melted before Martigan’s eyes, spilling out of their sockets and leaving a trail of white mucous down the creature’s slowly heat evaporating cheek. The inside of the jar turned black with carbon, and for a split second nothing was visible, until the jar visibly cracked and exploded outwards in every direction. Martigan grabbed the mechanic and pulled him down to the deck, throwing himself over his crewmember to shield him as the glass tinkled down around them, an out-of-season snowstorm in a strange tropical summer.

Looking up, Martigan saw the creature’s head was on fire, flames licking the horizon like Ghost Rider, and tiny, slowly caramelizing shards of glass forming a criss-crossing network of now knobs, now warts all along its face. Then, finally, either a glass shard pierced the skull or the fire finally sucked all the oxygen out of its brain, and it collapsed to the ground in a spent, sooty heap.

Martigan looked down at the man he was straddling.

“Well,” Mo said, “That’s two down.”

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