All posts by Shane Blackheart

Shane is a transman writer of LGBTQ+ dark romance, urban fantasy, and all manners of curious and odd things. He’s greatly inspired by Anne Rice, V.C. Andrews, Edgar Allan Poe, Marquis de Sade, and various philosophers. He lives in Ohio as a cat dad, and his daily routine consists of getting lost in conversations with his muses/spirit guides, lots of caffeine, and regular bouts of melancholy that result in philosophical musings. He also loves to add to the growing collection of books he claims he will read someday.

Book review: Invasive Species

Invasive SpeciesInvasive Species by Karle Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me just start by saying that this book isn’t for the easily offended or squeamish.

The story is, generally, about a man named Ranse who runs a large farm. He’s sober for the first time in his life, and life seems to be going as usual save for his desire to be back with his ex-wife and his son. He wants nothing more than a second chance from where he screwed up before.

His neighbors consist of two close friends, Molly and Mick, and a man who is nothing short of detestable. A racist, hateful, greedy buffoon to put it lightly — Warren Maxxy. His wife isn’t faithful to him and tends to sleep around, and the men are more than happy to oblige her around town, including those working on Ranse’s ranch.

A sickness begins to spread about, and all any sickness requires to dig its claws into a population is one person. In this case, one bite. Everything spirals down without giving too much of the plot away, and Ranse finds himself having to protect his son, hoping the beasts slowly growing in number don’t come back, and wondering what happened to his ex-wife after she left their son in his hands. And more and more people are getting horribly sick…

This book was wonderfully written, although there were many editing errors throughout it that interrupted my reading flow. This didn’t take away from the story itself, though, which was written so well it kept dragging me back in despite some of the elements that did put me off slightly.

Karle’s storytelling is masterful, in my opinion. I personally love horror, and although this book didn’t read like an atypical horror story, I couldn’t put it down. I read it much quicker than I read most books, and that says something about Karle’s talents. His acknowledgments in the beginning tell of his passion for storytelling and where it came from, and this definitely shines through.

While the story was gripping, intense, and beautifully told, there were a few elements that almost caused me to stop reading, but it’s no fault of the author. There are some extremely sensitive subjects breached in this book, and while I don’t feel anything bad, racist, or taboo was being advocated for, a few of the subjects hit too close to home for me and upset me greatly, and I had to pause reading for a day. If you have been domestically abused or abused in any relationship, or have been a victim of sexual assault or incest, please tread carefully. These subjects are not tip-toed around even if they are just a few brief moments, and they are very blunt.

Another bit of criticism I had about the book is the harsh racist language. I understand that it was attached to the character of Warren Maxxy for a reason, and it had its purpose (he seems to closely resemble a certain political figure), but the number of times he mentions racial and homophobic slurs began to grate on my nerves. I felt the racist elements of this book could have been eased back on just a small bit and still drove the message home. That said, this criticism is based on my personal feelings and my usual tendency to avoid material that uses these words too much, but I felt it was worth mentioning because it was a factor in my rating of the book.

The gore, the unapologetic grossness, and the blunt writing were on point. I actually got very nauseated reading about the number of times people hurled their brains out, but rather than mention that as something negative (it’s merely a part of the story itself), it’s just further testament to the blunt and effective writing style.

And oh my goodness, some of the lines in this book were amazing. Karle has a way of weaving words at times that are quite poetic. The endings to the chapters are great examples of this.

The ending was definitely a long one, but it was very intense. After each paragraph within the last few chapters, as Karle realistically portrays the stages of fear and confusion during something so horrific as having to fend off a legion of werewolves, I was caught up in all of it. When I was certain no more could possibly be done and Ranse was surely finished, it continued. A roller coaster of emotions for the reader, at the least. Not to mention the events near the ending that completely ripped out my heart and stomped on it. It goes without saying that having your town turn into werewolves from a highly contagious virus, sparing no one, is more than enough for the worst of tragedies. There is a nice epilogue to it all, though, that will bring your head above water again.

Overall, this book was hard to put down. At times it was hard to digest the subject matter due to the sensitive nature, and a few of the scenes were enough to leave even my strong constitution turning green, but Karle is an excellent writer who has written a hell of a story to leave a great emotional impact. I’m glad I read it and was given the opportunity to review it, and I will definitely recommend this book to others, although with a small content warning.

I look forward to exploring more from this author.

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Progress and writing advice

As I’m getting closer to being done with my first personal edits on my project, I’m noticing a great change in my writing, as well as the quality. It just goes to show how important criticism is as well as another eye, and I’m very thankful for my editor for being that experienced and fantastic eye. There are just certain things you can’t possibly pick out or see in your own work.

I feel very good about this rewrite. It’s got me thinking about the other books I’ve written and how I can greatly improve them. The biggest thing was taking the writing advice to ‘only write what’s important to the story and be careful of getting too wordy’ and running with it. I was afraid to write TOO much, and my stories were lacking from that. Backstories need to be told, and the reader must have a reason to fall in love with, or hate, your characters in your book. Don’t shy away from showing who they are, either. (I’ll not get into the ‘show versus tell’ argument.)

To summarize what I’ve learned that has helped me grow as a writer:

  • Don’t be afraid to delve into your characters’ backstories.
  • Begin your book in a way that leaves the reader needing to read more. Leave them shocked, excited, or on the edge of an action.
  • To follow up on the above especially, don’t info dump! (Giving the reader a ton of information all at once.) Scatter information, backstories, and world-building throughout your book to pull your reader back into the world.
  • Learn to take criticism. Constructive, preferably. Another set of eyes is so important, and it has to be from a stranger or a friend who will be completely and unabashedly honest with you. They’ll see glaring errors and mistakes, as well as problems with pace, where you won’t.
  • Your first draft is just getting the idea down. It is far from being complete or ready for other eyes. You have to review your own work first, and then send it off to a trusted beta reader(s) or editor or both. You might rewrite the thing once, twice, or however many times it takes to get it perfect, but as perfect as you can get it is the ultimate goal and your future readers will be happier for it.
  • The #WritingCommunity on Twitter is amazing.

There are other things I’ve learned as well, but these are the main things that have helped my stories improve. They might seem obvious at first glance, but when you actually sit down to write, along with keeping your story together in your head, a lot of this stuff tends to be missed by mistake. That’s what editing, numerous drafts, and rewrites are for.

I feel good about my writing today. I’ll probably make even more improvements once my editor gets back to me about my rewrite. The most important thing is that this writing thing is a constant learning process, and writers are always evolving. It’s really an exciting process for me and I love all of it, which a lot of writers will probably call me crazy for. I never really did understand the martyrdom and the love/hate relationship some writers have with their writing.

No matter your feelings on it or your process, the key is to never give up. Keeping on and being persistent gets the cake.

My debut novel, a summary

I’m still learning to write eye-catching summaries of my books, which I’m sure is one of the biggest challenges of any writer. I’m continuously learning how to navigate this world that I’d only ever dreamed of dabbling in before. I’m also finding that this whole thing is ten times harder than I’d ever expected it to be, and I still have a long way to go in becoming a seasoned ‘know-it-kinda’ on the subject when it comes to writing well and publishing.

Luckily for me, I managed to get in contact with a great editor. This has brought both feelings of elation and horror, and you probably can guess why. It’s certainly kept me busy and on my toes, and I’m judging myself much harder than I ever have. This has hurt me in some ways since my writing has slowed to a crawl due to that inner critic, but it has also allowed me to take this as a serious business. I’m not just writing stories in my bedroom as a teen anymore to make myself laugh and to cope with life.

I’m writing stories as an independent adult in his living room to make myself laugh, cry, scream, and cope with life.

In that sense, I decided to jump on board again with Camp NaNoWriMo to help me finish my beast of a book. At first, I was working on something mostly for fun. Then my current project fell back into my lap, and I was ready to throw in the towel with Camp NaNo. I had to do some digging and realized what my biggest issues were in my personal life, what really has been eating away at me to make me so angry and itching to scream about something, and I’ve dealt with some of the biggest triggers and worst symptoms I’ve had in a while with my broken brain.

And all for the sake of this beast of a story I just have to tell. A story I’d been telling wrong from the beginning. I’d been focusing on the wrong traumas — the wrong triggers to my upset. What I really needed to write about to make this book shine (for lack of a better word), was the one thing I often tried to bury. The horrible thing that I thought I knew inside and out and I’d moved on from. And so, my original novella is turning into a much more important work lived vicariously through two of my muses, or rather, two of my alters who have given me permission to slay this beast that they also understand too well. One of them was protecting me from it for so many years, anyway.

It’s finally time to write the darkest and most honest book I’ve ventured to write. There are two intersecting stories in it that constantly weave together in some way, but only one is based on the actual experience I had in a relationship. The other, while my alter’s story entirely, is one I can sympathize with in terms of how I think about myself and how I cope, rather it’s unhealthy or not.

So I changed my project on Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m behind by about 6,000 words, but if I bust my ass I can make up for lost time. To be fair, I’ve had to push through the depression, the PTSD episodes, and the dissociation I’ve been dealing with to come to terms with the subject of the book, and by proxy, part of my story. Maybe it wasn’t good to go digging for memories that were locked away and kept from me for good reason, but if my spirit guide, Daro, allowed me to get as far as we did with it, then I trust that I’m ready to do this. I’m 30 anyway, and I’m not about to spend the rest of my life wondering what’s got me so… bleh (and that’s putting it very lightly).

In an attempt to finally purge the rest of the gunk sitting in my subconscious, and maybe raise some awareness and find catharsis for myself in doing so, here is the summary I jotted down on the Camp NaNo site for this book (title to be determined):

Shame is a ghost in your peripheral in a dark room. It is the tarnish on a soul of silver that we keep hidden in hopes no one else will see it. We hope our neglect of it will never have to come to light and it can remain as it is — imperfect but intact, and intact is the most important thing.

Or so it’s thought.

Lestan has been alive for over three hundred years. Tetsu, merely thirty-three. Yet, they both have something in common that neither delves into.

Lestan is always playful, upbeat, and loves wholly and honestly. To see him sitting in a cafe’ on a hazy night, his eyes dark and his skin translucent from not feeding for days, is something that would be enough to raise concern.

Thankfully, Tetsu is there to bring him out of his misery and the vampire starts to feel more like his old self. That is until a specter, or hallucination, leads them both off into the woods. Neither can see what the other is after, but they both know they can’t ignore the force coaxing them further away from safety.

After disappearing from reality entirely, or so it seems, they are met with the tarnished fragments of their souls wandering through an ever-changing maze, and a mysterious blind figure seems to be guiding them through it all. And it is neither here nor there, but one thing is certain.

We can’t run from things forever. We have to seek out the worst of our pains and confront them head-on and be beaten down by them — become masochists until we finally see the truth we’ve buried for so long. And the truth can sometimes reveal what monsters we truly are.

So there it is. A basic bare-bones summary that can’t possibly do the Hell that this story is justice. And it is very much a Hell that I have to keep revisiting, but in the end, when everything is out, it will be for the better. Maybe someone can relate to it someday and find comfort in knowing they aren’t alone. Or maybe I’ll just be revealing a part of my life and myself that I really don’t like.

The Ultimate Trick – Original horror story

The sepia sky threatened to choke the sun that afternoon.

A memory of a storm that was ever present on the horizon stole my thoughts as I jogged across town. My phone was to my ear, but my mind was elsewhere, the line falling dead a sign that I was either being ignored or my friend was busy. I sighed and slipped the phone back into my pocket as I approached the rickety white gazebo at the town’s center. There was a sparse motion of old cars driving around it — a roundabout having been installed many years ago as if to honor the very spot.

Nothing else existed in that circle of lawn except for that antique bit of woodwork. No flowers graced its presence nor did the grass grow very well, and if there had been any trees they were mowed down long ago. Between its sorry existence and the threatening sky, I was reminded of why I felt it was imperative that I be at that very spot.

It was a similar scene and atmosphere to a dream I’d experienced the night before. As most odd dreams were, it was a hazy memory that left me filled with an uneasiness I’d been darkened by in the dream itself. It was as if there was another force at work in the middle of that traffic circle — something of warning to forbid anything living to occupy its same space. I stared up at the decaying structure in wonder, sensing a fizzled out presence that I was certain I hadn’t imagined. I chuckled.

Dreams and nightmares were just that, and my friend had probably ditched me because of my all-too-obvious madness.

My phone buzzed in my pocket and I answered, my friend’s presence finally alerting me to the fact that she wasn’t freaked out by me — yet. She wanted to meet at the convenience store across the way to grab a few things before humoring my weird dream visions, but it was already too late. I turned to see the aging family-owned restaurant at the other end of the small town. I was already late for work.

The phone no sooner went dead before I noticed a familiar form approaching the old country store. I watched through narrowed eyes as it most definitely was my friend. Odd. She’d been home — about a mile away — when we’d spoken. Yet, there she was as if a strange doppelganger was poking fun at my already unnerving bout of mania.

I shook it off and made my way into the restaurant. All was dark until I turned on the lights, which didn’t really help matters. At most I could make out the moth-eaten faded pink table cloths, retro decor, and the smell of old wood that I liked most of all. I shook my head again, my mind getting away with me. It was probably just anxiety; tunnel vision was a bitch when your brain was in a different reality entirely. The nightmare was getting to me, and whatever had been present in that odd place in the center of town was clearly trying to one-up me.

A back room that was also the kitchen served to be no better. A small mouse scuttled across the yellow and white tiled floor that caught me by surprise, but I noticed a dirty plate with rotten food spread out across the stove burners. A glance up revealed a small window to be propped open, and a few dried specks of blood popped out against the metal frame. Lovely.

“What in the hell is this?”

I jumped and grabbed at my heart, forcing the thing back into my chest. My grandma had crept up behind me and examined the damage, shaking her head.

“I locked it up last night, I swear,” I stammered. My head was as full as a balloon from my anxiety now, the pressure threatening to pop. “I have no idea how anyone could have gotten in.”

“Well, can’t be helped now. We should clean up before we open.” She flicked on the old-fashioned red faucet handles and grabbed a bottle of Ivory soap.

I climbed onto the counter to shut the window and locked it tight, and took in the rest of the kitchen. Although the old bulbs were doing their best to provide light, the window’s closing had stolen any sign of day from the room. I swiped a finger across the glass and cringed when a line of dust settled. Food and Safety wasn’t going to be happy about that.

I then turned my focus to my grandma’s submerged arms. The pale green plate in her hands turned over and over in the suds, the food having been tossed in the disposal. Something dawned on me then as I became hypnotized by the monotony.

“That homeless woman that camps out back sometimes,” I offered. “Do you think it was her?” An image of a scraggly woman with long blonde hair, old round wire-framed glasses, grimy clothing, and sooty skin crossed my mind. I’d only seen her a few times before, but my heart sank at the memory of her. I couldn’t be angry. I made a point to leave food for her after closing up.

My grandma confirmed my suspicions, nodding. “I wish I knew what kind of tricks she pulled to get in here. That window’s pretty high.”

“People get desperate when they’re hungry.” I shrugged as I remembered the dried blood on the frame.

“It’s a damn shame.” My grandma flicked water everywhere before turning to me with a towel. “Let’s open this place up. We hired a new waitress and she needs training.”

* * *

Later that day, the sky seemed to grace the stale atmosphere with more luminescence through the restaurant windows.

Business was slow as it tended to be, but the mood was light and the food was delicious. My grandpa had stopped by and was greeting my grandma at the door, I sitting at a booth to chat with a few of the regular patrons. The new waitress came by and fumbled her tray, and I held my breath before she righted it again and sat a guest’s order safely on a table. My grandpa and grandma joined us.

The guests turned their attention to my grandpa, who had taken several seemingly trivial items from his pocket; an elastic string, a few metal rings, a gathering of beads, and other odd bits and pieces. I looked on with my grandma and the others with curiosity, our faces beaming. Grandpa had always been an entertainer, so there was no doubt that he had some tricks up his sleeve to impress.

Grandpa eyed the attractive young waitress and beckoned for her to come forward. He’d been messing with the beads and string for a distraction, but lifted the ring as if to aim it in the proper direction. The young woman leaned forward, and in a blink the ring was through her nose. For a moment she panicked but settled her conscience as pain seemed to elude her. Grandpa laughed while everyone stared in awe, I craning my neck to see any sort of way it had been done. Just as quickly as it had appeared, grandpa snapped his fingers before removing the ring in a swift motion, his other hand flat in the air in a waving motion for show. The few patrons clapped as well as the waitress once she realized it had all been an illusion.

At least, I was certain it was an illusion.

As grandpa started a new series of magic tricks, my tunnel vision returned and I stared off to the far corner of the room, my eyes tracing the vintage floral wallpaper. As long as I’ve been alive, grandpa had always been full of the perfect jokes, and he’d always impressed everyone with his strange ability for sleight of hand. I’d asked him how he managed such impossible tricks, but he could never give a clear answer. His usual, ‘A magician doesn’t give away his secrets!’ went in one ear and out the other as I’d finally just decided to accept the unexplainable. I couldn’t help but shake an odd sense about them, though. They didn’t feel or seem like atypical magic show tricks, but completely random things my grandpa would come up with off the top of his head. This removed any ability for him having rehearsed them.

I was brought out of my thoughts when the friend I’d contacted earlier came up behind me. Her hand on my shoulder reminded me of our meeting, and that I’d completely forgotten and left her standing in that weird space at the center of town. Thankfully, she wasn’t angry in the slightest and shoved her way into the booth beside me, and we settled in to watch grandpa perform more of his illustrious magic.

* * *

I’d completely forgotten about the gazebo and the strange dream that led me there. Instead, I headed toward my grandma’s house that was a block away, she staying behind to close the restaurant. I’d hugged myself in embarrassment during that conversation, ashamed that I couldn’t even lock up a place correctly. Although I was entirely certain I’d done just that, my head had been in odd places all day and since the day before, and I chalked it all up to my mania and my nerves.

My friend had gone home and my grandpa had left at some point as well, most likely due to fatigue from old age. I smiled and humored myself with a silly thought. Maybe he needed to recharge his magical powers somehow, just like a wise old man from a fairy tale. Perhaps he even had a deep secret he had to keep hidden somehow — a wizard sworn to secrecy who had to play his feats off as simple parlor tricks.

I yawned as I kicked off my shoes by the front door of my grandparents’ house. The newly cleaned cream carpet was plush beneath my feet, and I wiggled my toes as the feeling of wanting to lay on it washed over me. I did just that, staring up at the swirled white ceiling like I had as a child. The memories were fleeting, but I remembered lying on my back and telling stories with my friend, our game to continue as long as we could manage while staring at the ceiling and not moving an inch. Whoever ran out of ideas or moved first lost the game. Very vaguely I recalled her telling a story about wolves…

I jumped up into a sitting position as I heard faint shuffling. A distinct smell of decay overwhelmed me just as quick, and I was flooded with a range of emotions that rendered me completely speechless. I threw my hand over my mouth and nose, wondering how I’d missed it all before. My empathic abilities were heightened when I was manic, and it was like being punched in the stomach. It always hit me at once before I had any time to sort any of it.

My breathing quickened and my eyes grew wide. Too much. I felt too much and my skin was crawling. I had to move — knew I had to get off of the floor and find the source of the coppery smell invading my senses. As I managed to stand at last, I searched for a memory of the smell. I knew I’d caught it before, and it was recently. Yes, it was at the restaurant. It was when I’d found the specks of blood on the window.

Dread settling over me moved my legs on impulse. The only light in the house was that of the sinking sun shining through the blinds — the slitted rays painting everything orange that they touched. The kitchen and the living room were empty and silent save for the same inkling of a dreadful presence I’d felt at the center of town. I made my way down the hallway to the bathroom. The smell grew stronger.

Was the dream a warning? Had I missed a message by not going back, and not probing further for the presence that was growing stronger the further I walked?

I was nearly gagging as the smell of decay suffocated me. I reached out to touch the white bathroom door that was just barely ajar and noticed the lights were on inside, spreading out across the hallway as the door creaked on its hinges.

I choked on the lump that formed in my throat.

My eyes followed a trail of blood that split out across the white tile, and it ended in a pool surrounding a young woman in an old-fashioned waitress’ dress. I recognized her instantly from the restaurant. Her eyes were open wide in a memory of fear, and they were now glazed over as they stared up at me. I stared back with rapt attention, unable to tear myself away from the grisly sight. Nausea crept up into my throat and gripped at my stomach, and I felt a strange pull at the back of my head as I began to hyperventilate.

Tunnel vision. Can’t breathe. Dizzy — so damned dizzy.

And then the void.

* * *

A fog clouded my vision as I turned my head. My wrists hurt and I noticed I was on the floor, the young woman’s blood sticking my fingers to the white porcelain beneath me. My limbs were shaky as I pushed myself up to kneel, and I glanced around the bathroom when my vision came as clear as it was going to get.

I found my grandpa standing at the sink in a white tank. He was bent over and focusing in the mirror as if he were attempting to shave the white stubble on his face. I couldn’t make out his expression, but what was clear was his utter neglect of the gruesome scene lying on the floor right behind him. He didn’t seem to be stirred by my presence in the slightest.

“Grandpa?” My voice was hoarse as it shook, my anxiety robbing me of further communication. I desperately didn’t want to believe what I suspected, but nothing else would have made sense. Another fainting spell threatened, but I remained upright despite it.

Without a sound, he finally turned to acknowledge my presence. Tears spilled from the corners of my eyes as my blood turned to ice.

My cheerful, loving grandpa — my secret wizard — wore the darkest, most maniacal grin on his face. His eyes were wide with frenzy and his aged white teeth were on full display like a Cheshire cat. His expression warped his face and exaggerated its features, and I could feel the way murder had corrupted him. It was animalistic and raw in its nature, and something so primal that I knew I would never forget it again. It was bliss and desperation at the same time, mingled together in an explosive passion that robbed of any ability to choke back the feral cries.

I knew there had to be something about my grandpa and his magic. He was most certainly gifted in ways that weren’t only sleight of hand and rehearsed showman magic tricks. He was something else entirely, and for a moment I wondered if my mania was just playing tricks on me. With his razor still in hand, my grandpa approached me, his maddening expression never changing.

“You weren’t meant to see this.” He spoke in a higher pitch than his usual tone, and much quieter.

“Why?” I was breathless as I stumbled backward where I sat, scrambling to get out of that room. When I finally reached the threshold, I was shaking too much to get to my knees and close the door. I hugged myself tight as grandpa squeezed the plastic razor in his hand.

He just stood there in silence, that same grin claiming him as if he had no control over it. Everything was silent save for our breathing, mine coming in short bursts as my body tensed impossibly tight. The bathroom light poured out at either side of him as if it were framing him — as if he held a much grander purpose than even I could ever manage to comprehend.

The door slammed shut. I was bathed in darkness once more and worked up the nerve to crawl down the hallway, the drying blood on my hands staining the carpet. The stench in the house. The body on the floor. That smell of old decay lingering in the walls — grandpa was no stranger to it.

It was the ultimate trick, to make someone disappear.

© 2019 Shane Blackheart

Book Review: Impossible James

Impossible JamesImpossible James by Danger Slater

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was a ride from beginning to end. There were many twists and turns, and back and forths, but in the end, they all came together and, somehow, it all worked. And it was something I can’t really properly put words to, but I’ll try. Possible spoilers ahead, maybe.

James is a nobody with nothing and no one. He’s not successful by any stretch and leads the world’s most boring, unfortunate life possible. His wife wasn’t even nice to him, and he’s infertile. Of course, when he walks into his doctor’s office one day, he finds out that everything will just get worse. Everything always did for James. That is, until the end, which I’m not even sure how to describe, other than the fact that James finally becomes something much bigger than what he ever thought he was capable. Quite literally.

And all because of a screwdriver. All because of pure, near impossible luck does he find a purpose and more meaningful outlook. And that’s where Impossible James finds his life’s goal.

I’m a sucker for philosophy, and this book was filled with it. I stopped a few times and went into thought about a lot of it, and it made me think deeper about myself as a person, what it means to be alive, and what it means to have goals. What it means to have fears, and what fears are even there for. I’m an irrationally fearful person of about, well, everything, so this was an unexpected and interesting trip during my reading of Impossible James.

Also, the twisted quantum physics-like science? Super interesting. (If I’m even thinking of the right kind of science here. I know scant about quantum physics, but I think that’s what I’m going for. I could be completely in left field and people are scratching their heads at me right now.)

Danger has a very interesting mind, and I found myself unable to stop turning pages. Even though we know the outcome, and we know inevitably how everything happens before it happens — sort of — you still want to read more. You must know the little details in between, and they help to paint such a grotesque picture that it’s almost impossible to conjure in your mind. Thankfully, Danger’s vivid and disturbing descriptions do the work just fine. And they are grotesque. For example, imagine a flesh room. A room with bones growing out of the wood. Rooms that act as organ gardens to keep a house consumed by a man’s deformed, growing body alive.

I will admit, I haven’t read much in this genre yet, but based on what I have read so far, this book made me realize that I really do love bizarro fiction. I read this in one day, taking a break in between. I knew I wanted to process something like this all at once instead of splitting it up, and I’m glad I did. At least, the philosopher in me wouldn’t let me put it down. Can I mention enough how that was one of my favorite things about this book?

It was definitely written in a curious way, with 116 chapters (I believe they were chapters) and three parts. I won’t look too deep into it, unless there’s a deeper reasoning, which my brain always wants to find. I could have missed something there, but that’s not important.

What is important is if you love books that make you think, definitely give this a read. If you have a weak stomach, though, be prepared for some pretty wicked imagery, such as body parts being detached and sewn back on, and amateur surgery to disembowel poor James, although it didn’t really seem to bother him too much. In fact, in this world, people (and animals) seem to survive some pretty crazy and awful body horrors.

Lastly, the ending? This isn’t a bad thing, but it… just is. It is what it is. Maybe that’s a part of the philosophical message of the whole thing, in which case, message delivered.

This is something you have to read for yourself to get the full effect. No review is probably going to be able to properly convey how interesting, and kind of brilliant, this book is. So give it a read.

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A few thoughts

Despite having to wake up insanely early (for a vampire like me) to wait all day for maintenance, today is going not so bad. I had an awful day yesterday with depression and I was afraid I was just going to keep slipping deeper and deeper into it, especially since it’s been constantly raining and storming off and on for a few weeks now — or it’s been cloudy.

A few nice things happened, though, and it cheered me up significantly. I’ve also decided that I don’t really know enough about poetry to read something at an open poetry mic night, so I might just go with my poem in my pocket, just in case, but mostly to take in the environment and see how it goes. It’s my favorite used book store/coffee shop downtown that I’m always in, so hopefully this will be an easy thing to be able to attend. It’s late though (8 PM), and I can’t drive, and buses aren’t running past 9, so I may have to walk and hope all goes well.

Either way, I’m tired of not getting out there in the scene more. When I went for a literary event, in which a few authors came to do readings from their books as well as sell some things, I was really happy. A friend had come with me who enjoyed it too, but I, a person with a panic disorder and severe social anxiety, had fun. And for the first time in any that I can remember, after a few years of battling alcoholism and being sober since — except for that one time last year when I slipped off the wagon — I did not like the way the wine made me feel. I didn’t want to be buzzed or drunk. I wanted to exist in that space and that aura because it was something that felt like home to me. I felt what actual happiness was like in my heart, and I felt it flutter. That almost never happens for me.

Being around other writers and book lovers is where I belong. Even though I still feel out of place among most of them around here, mostly because I write really weird stuff that I don’t see much of anywhere, I’m still around people who have a love for writing at its core. Genres and preferences aside, we all loved books and writing in that room.

Now, my only concern is if it’s an LGBTQ-friendly place. I think it might be. I’ve never been treated poorly, but I write a lot of LGBTQ stuff. Maybe one day I’ll get to do a reading there too if I ever make it.

One can dream though, right?

With These Hands

As the acid creeps up into my throat, it threatens to call forth the cancer I should have been given a few years ago — when my body was a volcano with a self-destructive warpath. My limbs ache and my chest feels as if it is hollow, its heaviness causing me to hunch my back in a way that causes my spine to scream out.

I can hear them, Byleth and Lestan especially, calling to me. They want me to think about my future and find a way out of all of this. They want me to stop shuffling my feet at Death’s door as if I’m eager for a blind date that rattles my bones with anxiety. They want me to breathe and pick up my hunched form, and continue to fight — fight the invisible force that has varying degrees of pressure for every person.

My eyes drift to the hallway and the darkness greets me with beckoning tendrils, but the tall, golden-skinned form that comes from it shakes his head. His glowing pink eyes are determined. They are filled with an emotion I am not familiar with from him.

“Do not, Shane. Do. Not.”

It’s vague, but I know what he means. He stands there in the shadows, his giant stature seeming taller than ever as he crosses his well-toned arms. I’ve never seen him angry, and if I had it was long ago, so long it’s now an afterthought. At least I’d have something to compare this to.

“Stop this poetical shit and breathe, and sleep.” Byleth in his golden, Hellish king glory shakes his head, his shoulder-length blond hair falling into his face. I observe as a clawed hand smooths it back between his golden horns, and I think, for a moment, how much I’d love to feel his soft hair.

Like my large cat who enjoys being used as a pillow, I imagine pulling the fallen king’s head to my chest and caressing his soft hair, closing my eyes to forget about any other thing. Nothing else exists. But Lestan, he’s here too. I haven’t forgotten him and I love him, and he’s behind me caressing my hair as I imagined myself doing for Byleth. I can feel his hurt through our connection, and although he doesn’t speak, I know there are no words to express anything of substance at this moment.

Tetsu is here as well, his appearance rare, but a welcome one. He glares at me as I observe him from the corner of my eyes, letting him know I see him. The elf huffs and approaches me, pushing past Lestan and tugging at my shirt. “We’re leaving. Come on.”

“You know I can’t,” I say. It’s the middle of the night and storms have been on the horizon, and although I would love more than anything to meld into the darkness on such a night, I’m too tired. I laugh to myself. I’m too tired to seek out my own demise.

“If you will.” Daro, my golden-skinned demon prince approaches my other side, all four of them behind me now. He smiles and runs his claws across my head. “Allow us to take you away, if but for a moment. Do continue as you are.”

I sigh and nod.

* * *

Rules and word counts and regulations. This isn’t what a story is to me, yet it’s what the world expects. Hook them and then seduce them with purple flowers shaped like Roman aphrodisia. When did the magic of weaving worlds and emotions become so stale?

* * *

I open my eyes and breathe in strong patchouli, the incense smoke drifting about the room like a magickal haze. Its spell renders me complacent as I look to the stage before me. The rest of the room is dark and bare. Lestan and Daro take their places beside me, and my vampire husband creeps behind me to wrap his arms around my waist. His chin rests on my shoulder and he kisses my neck briefly, his short black hair tickling my skin. My body still aches and my chest is heavy as I see Byleth approaching a microphone on the stage, his white platform heels clacking loudly in the silence to stir up ethereal dust of ages past. He is wearing white corduroy bell bottoms with a wide flare and a jacket that is similar with nothing beneath it. His bare chest glistens in the dim, haunting light cast only on the stage, and his red eyes shine with excitement.

Tetsu has pulled his long black hair into a ponytail and adjusts his rectangular glasses before settling his hands on his guitar. He glances at me and then at Byleth, not entirely happy with the change in scenery, but he is more than willing to fall into its magick. Music begins to drift through the room, Tetsu’s fingers gliding over the vintage guitar to fill the atmosphere with sultry, retro vibes. The other instruments are not visible on the stage or anywhere in the room, but they are playing nonetheless. Byleth begins to sing, his angelic voice still beautiful even after his fall.

The lyrics are sultry, provocative, and enticing. He weaves his tainted angelic magick into them, their flow seeping into me like a warm caress that bathes my insides in pleasant tingles. To my surprise, Daro sways to the music, his eyes closed as his arm wraps around my shoulders. Lestan is doing the same, although he has come around to my front to smooth his hands across the sides of my face. I feel an indescribable emotion well up within me as I listen to the hazy tones of Byleth’s seduction, and my eyes begin to burn.

I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve been able to cry without it being painful. It’s as if my body knows how the tears burn, so it ceases their flow before they can begin. I still feel the burn anyway, and Lestan wipes at my eyes knowing all too well what’s happening. Sadness is no longer an emotional hurt but a physical one, and I blink hard as the burning causes me to lose sight of the beautiful fallen angel singing on stage.

“With these hands, I will cling to you. I’m yours forever and a day. With these hands, I will bring to you a tender love as warm as May… With this heart, I will sing to you. Ooh, long after stars have lost their glow. And with these hands, I’ll provide for you. Should there be a stormy sea, I’ll turn the tide for you, and I’ll never… Oh no, I’ll never… I’ll never let you go.”

My eyelids flutter as a kiss is laid on each one, and I open them to see Lestan smiling at me. He kisses me and I feel Daro’s hand squeeze my shoulder, and I look back to the stage to see Byleth singing as true as ever. He smiles and reaches out to me as the lyrics flow from his lips, and I am pulled up as if I weigh nothing.

He hugs me tightly to him, and I look down to see Lestan in a much cheerier state. He turns to Daro and bows like a gentleman, and Daro smiles genuinely as he takes the vampire’s outstretched hand. They begin the steps to a slow dance, and I return to the fallen angel who is swaying with me. I feel his voice’s reverberation throughout my body as I cling to his chest, and he continues, holding me tight as he sends more comfort through his song of sweet intentions.

He trails off as the song ends, and Tetsu falls silent as he observes us. He is happier too, I think. Byleth’s lips brush against my ear as he leans over to kiss it, and he whispers in a way that sends a sense of peace into my mind. “Don’t go, sugar. Stay with me, stay with Lestan, and stay with Tetsu and Daro. Live for moments like this, and…” He pulls back and quirks an eyebrow as his usual attitude seeps back into his tone. “Consider yourself lucky. I once told you that a demon nor a fallen angel practice healing magick.”

“But…” My confusion causes me to furrow my brow. The warmth is still flowing through me as he waves away the microphone and caresses my jaw with his fingers.

“Don’t make me say it. Please.” He sighs. “Just make a promise, okay?”

I bite my lip and avert my gaze, unsure if I’m able to make any sort of promise he would want. I know to break a promise with him would be the ultimate betrayal, especially since I’d sworn honesty and loyalty to him. To Lestan. To Daro. To Tetsu. He nudges my jaw with a clawed finger to gain my attention once more. I look into his glowing red eyes and they are full of an intensity that I know all too well to take very seriously. His romance and his caresses were true, but he was also a king of Hell. That was truer than all else.

I nod. “I promise I will survive tonight.”

He sighs, exhaustion consuming him. He closes his eyes to gather himself before returning to me. Lestan has joined us on the stage as has Daro, and I feel as if they are all pressuring me to keep my word for longer than tonight. I feel their anticipation of my words and my actions, and I cannot let them down. I cannot disappoint them.

They tell me I may not meet them once more if I greet Death before it is my time. They may not go with me, and that thought is more frightening than the struggles Life will undoubtedly continue to bring me. I nod again. “I will survive tonight. And tomorrow, I will tell myself and you all that I will survive that night.” I take a deep breath as Lestan brushes my hair from my neck to kiss the skin. Daro takes my hand and Tetsu comes up to rest his chin on my shoulder. Byleth still embraces me with one arm, and I know that life exists in all of them.

The tingling I feel when Byleth sings, and the warmth I feel when Lestan kisses me. The intrigue I know when Daro speaks to me in philosophical ways and touches me in ways he is not familiar with, and the empathy I feel when Tetsu and I talk about things that only we can understand. The words I spin to portray these moments and these realities that I exist in with them.

These are not our stories. These are not debatable. This is life.

© 2019 Shane Blackheart
Song lyrics: Tom Jones

Autumn Rain – an original poem

I wanted to try writing poetry again. It’s never been something that’s come easy to me since I’m better with flowery words in longer prose, and I usually fail for words when it comes to painting something more abstract for a proper poem, or at least, something that resembles one. I found a TED Talk about poetry tonight though, and I followed its guidance for an idea. This is what I came up with, in memory of one of my best friends who lost her life too soon when we were teenagers.


Etching people of never past across wallpaper,
a childlike innocence rapt with brilliance —
you were a creator of life.

Your very presence brought sunshine into my bleak home;
my upstairs of cobwebs and stale, stagnant air.
You made me a creator of life, too.

I loved you like a lily loves the sun;
a flower sprung to life and realized as something beautiful.
And now I love you like Autumn rain.

Nostalgia and fragments of you haunt me.
The pages I salvaged from your heart’s permission,
they are your eternity.

As a creator of life,
you drift among faded lines of frozen expressions,
and I cherish the soul you left in that ink.

I’ve wilted without your sun,
and the smell of pencils have turned to must,
your legacy now etched into my lucid dreams.

© 2019 Shane Blackheart

Excerpt from original writing: Baalthazar [M]

This excerpt is better suited for more mature readers, as well as those who don’t mind a bit of steamy interaction between two demons. A bit of mild adult content ahead.

This is taken from a much older story I started writing years and years ago. I found it again while going through my writing folder, and I missed the way I used to write for my spirit guides and alters when we explored the world we created to exist in together. I still, to this day, am not sure what or who Baalthazar really is. He’s the only one who hasn’t spoken up much or volunteered much at all about himself personally. Maybe one day he will be ready to open up. I suspect that if I continue with this story, he may just tell me more since he allowed me to see his vulnerability in this, but in the end, I know he’s only here because Daro is.


Baalthazar sat awkwardly beside the demon he had spent too much time searching for. He hadn’t really thought about what he would do once he found him, other than bring him back to Hell with him. The young demon was lonely as it was down there and spent a lot of time on his own in the little space he’d taken for himself. Daro had been the only one to ever pay him any mind, save for Lilith who would occasionally drop in to make sure he wasn’t royally screwing anything up. A demon obsessed with voodoo magick wasn’t one to be trifled with either, so she would usually do so at a safe distance. It wasn’t until Baalthazar had messed with the wrong demon that she’d finally come around to make sure he was alright. Daro hadn’t been there to protect him.

Lilith wouldn’t come with him, though. He tried to convince her that he knew nothing of the world above and she was better versed, even if she was a bit rusty on her basic human etiquette. Since Baalthazar had been the one to screw up, however, it was his own duty to fix it. The only way he knew how would be to leave for a little while and let things cool down — well, as much anything could cool down in Hell. He just knew that Asmodeus wasn’t one you wanted to piss off, and without his personal ‘guard dog’, as Lilith often called Daro, he was mostly defenseless. One could only control a powerful demon with voodoo magick caught unaware for so long.

“Baalthazar? You’ve grown silent.” Daro was staring at him patiently as their earlier conversation died off.

The young demon shook his head as if to be rid of unpleasant feelings and looked over to the fire that was still burning strong. It brought out the frightening orange hue in his eyes that made him unnerving to most. “I… was just thinking as I often tend to do, but not very often at the same time.” Baalthazar forgot to breathe when he felt Daro’s large hand covering his that had been sitting in his lap.

“You are troubled. I imagine it has to do with your parting from home?”

“Kind of — yes. With you gone I had no one there to… to really talk to, you know? I got bored so I did something stupid.” Baal bit his lip to try to stifle a giggle that escaped anyway. “It was worth it though. Very much worth it, indeed.”

“I see you have not been harmed in any way, but were you dealt punishment? Surely you are aware that demons are not to meddle within each other’s affairs or personal spaces without good reason.”

“I didn’t stay long enough to find out. Lilith told me I should leave, but she refused to come with me.” Baalthazar sighed and looked to the fire again as if longing for home. “So I wanted to look for you because I knew you were up here and I knew you would protect me like you always do.” A light blush lit up the young demon’s face and he unconsciously intertwined their fingers.

“It seems I am always picking up the pieces after one of your many disasters, little demon.” Daro smiled and lifted a hand to turn Baal’s face to meet his. His pink eyes were glowing, but not from the fire.

It caused that same uncomfortable feeling to rise within Baalthazar’s stomach he had been feeling when Daro was around, and he turned even redder. It was becoming harder and harder to hide the way he felt and he knew that Daro was most likely already aware of it more than he was. “I am sorry for that. I get quite bored, you see, because no one ever really bothers to, well, bother me so I end up having to make up my own kind of fun.”

“Which is devious at best, even for a demon, but you aren’t entirely demon, are you? I suppose that would be an apt excuse for your behavior.” Daro’s smile dropped from his face as he was nudged away.

“Please refrain from mentioning that out loud!” Baalthazar hugged himself and closed his eyes. “Why must you remind me of my fiend blood? I am a hybrid — a mistake that should not exist and everyone treats me as if I’m something dirty. Something disgusting and unworthy. Why do you have to remind me of that?!”

“It is not my desire to remind you of anything so horrible, little demon.” Daro reached out to draw Baalthazar close, which caught the young demon by surprise so much that he had to latch onto the toned body against him for support. “You are unique, this is true. You are not, however, a mistake nor are you a burden to Hell. As humans have their imperfections, so do demons. Many will not admit to their faults and rightfully so, as most demons are above wrong or right, but many are not willing to accept that which was not meant to initially exist.” Daro hummed a quiet laugh as Baalthazar’s claws gripped at his long black overcoat. “You exist because you are meant to exist. We all play a part in this strange world and in between, so why would you be any different, little demon? Perhaps their distaste of you is their unwillingness to accept a change that will force them to confront certain things within themselves they have never had a need for.”

“Like… affection?” Baalthazar’s breath came short as he rested the side of his face on Daro’s bare chest. The demon prince was darker skinned than most demons would appear, and it gave him a tribal yet exotic beauty that was difficult to ignore.

Daro chuckled and set a hand on Baalthazar’s head between his horns. “The very same affection that brought you into this world and your mother and father out of it.”

“Is that why I feel so disgusting?” Baal lifted his head to look up into Daro’s eyes, an expression of sadness betraying the prince’s true feelings staring back at him. Everything felt like it was happening at once and Baalthazar was afraid. “Every time I’m around you I feel like I’m going to be ill and it burns in a way that I can’t even describe.” It was happening again. As his hands rested against the taller demon’s bare chest, he couldn’t help but move his fingers along the tanned skin to feel its roughness. He knew very well that his embarrassing problem was very visible and that Daro must have noticed.

He had. A curious smile stole over Daro’s face the young demon had never seen before, one that was much darker than all the others that had been kind and warm. “I am aware of your struggle, little demon. You need not fight what is happening to you.”

“It’s not as if I can help it. I can’t just will it away whenever I want to feel normal again!” Baalthazar shifted to face Daro fully and climbed up to sit on his knees where it was more comfortable. “What did you do when it happened to you, Daro?”

“I had the pleasure of being in the company of a rather persuasive vampire.”

“No!” Baalthazar hissed. “That fiend comes nowhere near me!”

“I did not imply he would, little demon.” Daro laughed again. “I was merely recounting my experience.” He hugged Baalthazar to him again and ran his hand through the expanse of messy green hair. “I suspect yours will be equally enjoyable as mine was.”

“You’re making an awful lot of assumptions.” Baal pulled away and looked up at his superior. “I want nothing to do with this kind of madness.”

“You seem to be expressing the opposite sentiment. I assume you remain so close to me because of your affections.”

“That…” Baalthazar averted his gaze only for his head to be turned to look back into Daro’s eyes. “I look up to you and you are very admirable, Daro. Am I to blame?”

“There is no need to attach such negativity to these feelings.” Baalthazar closed his eyes as Daro ran his thumb across the young demon’s bottom lip. “Perhaps, if you will allow me…”

Baalthazar swallowed hard as he felt Daro’s body heat between them, his own mirroring just how much he truly did desire it. He made no further struggle as Daro brought their lips together. It was soft and innocent — just enough to test how the younger demon would react. When there was no rejection, Daro slid his hand beneath Baal’s jaw and coaxed his mouth open to find a way past the sharp teeth. The younger demon responded eagerly as a wave seemed to crash over him at once, his breath hot in the demon prince’s mouth as he slowly lost the battle he’d been fighting for too long. An embarrassing moan escaped him as he felt a clawed hand on his thigh, Daro’s hand creeping higher before squeezing as if to gain permission before going further.

Baalthazar took the moment to pull back, his face flushed darker than before as he was rendered breathless. “That was strange. Too strange. Maybe we should… We should stop this.”

Daro smiled in a way that was more inviting. “Come here, Baalthazar. I only wish to ease your pain.”

The younger demon rose up onto his knees and wrapped his arms around Daro, hugging the taller demon’s head against his chest. “You cannot possibly find me desirable.” Baalthazar breathed the words as claws wandered up his leg once more. His hips rocked at the sensation that sent shocks of pleasure pulsing into his desire.

Daro chuckled against his chest and slid his lips over to tease a nipple with his tongue. Another embarrassing moan escaped the younger demon. “Would you like me to prove that you are false, little demon?”

“I am afraid.” A shiver ran down Baal’s spine as claws just barely grazed the bulge in his tight jeans.

“There is no need to be.” Daro released the younger demon and leaned back on his hands, coaxing Baalthazar to join him.

Baal got onto his hands and knees and crawled over Daro, but not before observing him carefully. He stopped between Daro’s knees and found that the demon prince was just as aroused as he was. “You… you desire me?”

“Very much, little demon. The opinions of others are not my own, so you need not doubt me.” He welcomed Baalthazar into another kiss before resuming his tortures with his hand, this time sliding up to squeeze the bulge in the young demon’s pants. “Stop me if you become uncomfortable.” Daro whispered the words against Baalthazar’s lips as his fingers fumbled with the button on the younger demon’s jeans, and he pulled them open.

There was no resistance that time.

© 2019 Shane Blackheart

Excerpt from Original writing: Heart of Hades [M]

This post contains mild adult content. While tame, it’s best suited for more mature readers.

This is a potential scene in a new story I want to write, but it popped into my head a few nights ago and I had to write it out. Since it’s Pride month, I figured I’d post it here. Although Hades/Death can really be genderless or any gender, Hades/Death is male in this story.


“No.” Hades grabbed Gaspar’s jaw and held it in place. “We cannot. It is not your time.”

Gaspar huffed a frustrated breath and wrapped his hand around Hades’ wrist. The truth had already come out about Annabelle and he’d had enough time to be angry about it, but it gave him the chance to face his fears and spend eternity searching for her if he had to. That also meant giving up his own life, which he was prepared to do for Hades anyway. He couldn’t fight it anymore.

His heart hammered in his coma-ridden body, and he could feel the heat claiming his insides as he focused on the mouth of Death itself. A year ago he wouldn’t have believed it were possible. To love Death was stupid, but it was even more stupid to consider that Death would love him in return.

Hades didn’t have to say anything. His fear for taking Gaspar’s life with a mere kiss said enough, and the way the entity’s hand trembled as it slid over the young man’s mouth took the very breath from him. Gaspar closed his eyes and opened his mouth to allow the long clawed fingers to drift across his lips, and he felt a pang deep down inside.

“It’s my time. Please.” Gaspar opened his eyes and stared into the milky white abyss of Death’s gaze, wondering if the entity had a soul. “I can’t leave you now, and I have nothing waiting for me.”

“Are you suggesting I go against nature’s rule?” Hades smirked.

“I’m saying it’s my time.” Gaspar raised his eyebrows as if it should be obvious what he meant.

Hades’ eyes widened when he realized it at last. “Suicide?”

Gaspar smiled and moved the pale hand covering his face. “What better way to die? And you bet your ass I’ll keep searching for my twin sister.”

Hades moved to protest but was rendered speechless at the determination in the man’s gaze. It was that same determination that caused him to even consider their original deal. He closed his eyes, and in that moment he knew he’d tiptoed around messing with fate.

Gaspar pressed his lips to Hades’, his kiss turning into something deeper as he felt the hand on his face smooth back to caress his cheek. It took mere seconds to notice the shift, and Gaspar backed away in a choking fit. Hades stood there watching him as he hacked, and he grabbed at his chest. For a moment, fear struck Gaspar before a faint ringing in his ears alerted him to a monitor’s flatline, and he felt a release like none other.

Gaspar fell to his knees and arched his back, Hades coming down to meet him. The entity smoothed the young man’s hair back as he moaned into the ether, and his legs squeezed together. Gaspar grabbed Hades, much to the entity’s surprise, and kissed him hard as his tongue sought out a way past the sharp teeth.

Hades chuckled darkly as Gaspar rode out his release, and the kiss finally calmed as the young man’s body ceased its rocking. “You have experienced something that a human never has thus far.”

Nnnggg.” Gaspar’s embarrassing moan made him clamp his mouth shut.

Hades chuckled again. “When a soul is released, the body has already died. A human is not able to live through such a thing. To experience such a release is the ultimate bliss.”

“Am I really dead?”

“Do you feel quite different?”

“Besides needing a shower?” Gaspar laughed. “I was already dead the moment I stepped foot into this realm with you. I had no intention of going back.”

“You are quite the devil. You have bested me.” Hades stood and helped Gaspar to his feet. “I give you my congratulations.”

“And did I win you?” Gaspar smiled and wrapped his arms around Hades, kissing him again.

The entity returned it with vigor, something stirring deep within him that he’d felt before but pushed down. Now, there was no reason to hold back. He’d already messed up by falling for a human, and now that he was bested, it was time to learn what love meant to Gaspar’s kind. Hades resurfaced. “Yes, Gaspar. You have won me.”

“Then come be with me.” Gaspar grinned before slipping his hand between and down Hades’ robe. “And this time, we can kiss.”

The entity sighed as Gaspar’s hand coaxed him further away from his purpose. It still surprised him that it was even possible. It had surprised Gaspar back when it had happened for the first time too. But now was not the time for self-reflection. Hades returned the gesture by feathering his long fingers down Gaspar’s front, just barely tucking them beneath the waist of the young man’s jeans. “Yes. Let’s.”

© 2019 Shane Blackheart