Fractured Fragment Friday: Close Encounters of the Weird Kind

My next collection is set up and ready for preorders. Close Encounters CloseEncountersCoverof the Weird Kind is a collection of twenty-one speculative fictions. Within these pages are twenty-one short fictions involving meetings between beings who refer to each other as alien. What were they thinking?

Whether you’ve suffered through your own invasion, or experienced a probing abduction, we trust you will find something of interest in these Close Encounters of the Weird Kind.

Here’s the blurb for one of the stories in this collection, called “Riding the Devil”:

With his town running from one strange frontier to another as they elude their abductors, Aaron Walker is forced to risk all to fulfill his destiny. Would you do as well? Read “Riding the Devil” to see.
“Riding The Devil” is a science fiction / fantasy story with a western steampunk flavor.

And here’s an excerpt from

“Riding the Devil”:

It’s been eight years now since that last Move to escape the J’harn. The surrounding land changes each time, but The Town is always the same. The saloon, houses, general store, livery and the rest spread out from The Center, an alien brass and iron cylinder that seems to grow out of the middle of Main Street. Put there by the devil-spawned J’harn when they first took The Town. There’s four of their devil-horned faces stretching out of the metal, higher than a man’s head, one for each point of the RidingTheDevilCover_Smashwordscompass. They look like someone fashioned the skull of a steer, then instead of putting normal cow eyes in the sides, they put large, oval eyes on top, between the horns. Folks still think the J’harn can spy on them through those eyes. No one ever goes in or out of there, ‘cept for on a Move. No one but Dire Smith.

Aaron’s playing sticks with Ethan, Mark and Ruthie in the alley alongside the General Store. He’s about to take his turn when Ethan lays a hand on his shoulder.

“There’s the Devil, now,” Ethan whispers.

Ruthie and Mark scootch around from their side of the circle so they’re all facing The Center.  Aaron looks up and sees Smith standing at the door, completely covered up like always. He seems to look right at Aaron.

“Ooooh,” squeaks Ruthie, “he’s looking at me!”

“He’s not the Devil, Ethan,” Aaron says as he watches Smith turn his back on them and head away up the street. “You shouldn’t ought to call him that.”

“Why not?” smirks Ethan. “You sweet on him?”

Aaron wants to punch Ethan. He would if Ethan wasn’t so much bigger than him. Instead Aaron just shakes his head.

“My pa calls him that all the time,” says Mark. “on account of its him as stuck us here.”

“Think he’d rather we were all still slaves?” Aaron says.

“My folks say so, too,” Ethan chimes in, “say it’s him as left Mark’s ma and the others behind.” 

“My pa says people need to remember it was them asked Smith to save us. He did the best he could.”

“Just cause your pa’s sheriff doesn’t mean he knows everything that’s in that outlaw’s head,” Ethan says, and then he stands up. “Let’s go.”

Aaron doesn’t bother asking where. Ethan wants to follow Smith and see what he’s up to. Nobody follows Dire Smith. Even the dogs keep their distance.

“Nah,” he says, not looking at Ethan, but the dig comes anyway.

“That’s ok. You girls can stay here. Come on, Mark.”

Mark looks at Aaron sheepishly, then gets up and follows Ethan. Aaron watches after them, warring with himself. For as long as he can remember, his pa’s told him to give Smith a wide berth.

“I’m tired of sticks,” says Ruthie. “Want to play dollies?”

Aaron catches up with Ethan and Mark near the edge of The Town. Ethan doesn’t say anything, just signals Aaron to get down behind the crates him and Mark are using as cover.

Dire Smith’s standing not more than 30 feet away, shading his eyes with a gloved hand as he stares into the sunset. Aaron wants to tell Ethan this isn’t such a good idea, and they ought to sneak back into town, but someone walks up and stops alongside of Smith. It’s Aaron’s pa.

“They’re coming,” Smith says, still scanning the horizon.

Aaron’s pa arches his hand above his eyes and tries looking the same direction as Smith, but gives up.

“I don’t see nothing,” he says, “how can you tell?”

Smith lowers his hand and cocks his head. “Not by looking out there, that’s for sure,” he winks. “The devil machine’s telling me.”

Then Aaron’s pa looks down at the dusty ground and shakes his head. “How long do we have to get The Town ready?”

“Not sure. Figure five days.”

“I’ll get the word out, then. It’ll take three to bring in the scavenger crews.”

He starts to walk back into town, but Smith isn’t done. “I’ll need the boy.”

Aaron’s pa stops, stiff-like.

“Not so soon, Smith. He’s only eleven.”

“I just need his help getting ready; I’m not as… young as I used to be. Besides, he needs time to get used to me, and I need to start teaching him.”

Aaron’s pa’s shoulders droop. “Alright, then, I’ll send him by.”

“No need,” says Smith, and he looks right at where the boys are hiding. Aaron sees Ethan go pale, like Smith’s coming for him.

“Follow me, Aaron Walker,” Smith says, and he shuffles into town.

Aaron won’t let Ethan see he’s scared, too. He stands and looks at his pa, who just nods his head in Smith’s direction, so he goes after him. He doesn’t follow too close. He sees the way people sort of drift out of Smith’s path. He sees how they watch him with their eyes down, afraid he might see them looking.

When Smith gets to The Center he stops by the door; he’s a shadow in the brightness reflecting off the brass cylinder. Aaron stops too, not getting any closer than the twenty or so feet he’s been keeping. The devil head above the door is staring at him, trying to suck him into those empty eyes.

“Don’t worry, boy,” Smith says as the door slides open on its own, “I won’t bite.” He disappears inside the cylinder, but unlike the other times Aaron’s watched, the door stays open. Aaron plucks up his courage and steps inside. He hears a sfitz that makes chills all the way up his back. He turns and sees the door’s closed behind him.

Aaron would probably be somewhere else right now. “Riding the Devil” joins twenty other short fictions in Close Encounters of the Weird Kind. The collection is scheduled for release November 27th, but it’s available for preorder NOW at 40%-off the retail price at several online retailers, including:

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1052970

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08MVB3Q3R

BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT! Close Encounters of the Weird Kind. is available RIGHT NOW as a Smashwords presale for ONLY 99-cents. Here’s the link to the presale:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/presale/1052970

Please do give it a read – and if you do, an honest review would be most appreciated. Thanx!

Current Promotions

PurrMission-MainTall_025You can find additional links for CloseIn A Flash-2200Cover-White Encounters of the Weird Kind, as well as the rest of the special deals I’m offering right now (including FREE starter eBooks for my Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire series and my Detective Jimmy Delaney series) HERE on my CURRENT PROMOTIONS page.

Reaching Out…

William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction. HisDateNightCover other 80-some-odd short stories (plus his collections & Swordsmaster) can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:
• Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
• Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri

To CONNECT WITH HIM (and LIKE and FOLLOW – you know you should…), go to
• His site on WordPress:  https://williammangieri.wordpress.com
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/NoTimeToThink
• His Goodreads author page:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893616.William_Mangieri

• On BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/william-mangieri-58193793-177b-4177-b6f8-6192f5187ad5 
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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