Special Things

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Annie Oakley and the Beast of Chicago by Mike Casto


Annie Oakley and the Beast of Chicago by Mike Casto

#gypsyshadow #novella #althistory






Chicago, 1893: Annie Oakley, performing with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, confronts a serial killer the press would later dub “The Beast of Chicago.” Annie Oakley and the Beast of Chicago by Mike Casto. Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, other fine eBook vendors and Gypsy Shadow Publishing at:


Chicago, 1893: the World’s Fair brought people from all over the world. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, denied a place at the fair, rented acreage outside the fairgrounds and played to record setting crowds—the likes of which they would never see again. When Annie Oakley, performing with the Wild West, tries to help a friend, it sets her on a collision course with a serial killer who the press would later dub “The Beast of Chicago.”

Word Count: 21000

Pages to Print: 79

Price: $ 4.99


Chapter One

Overlooking the White City—Sunday, April 30, 1893

Annie and Cody admired the view from an observation deck overlooking the buildings of the White City, which stood in stark contrast to the grimy city of Chicago outside the fairgrounds. The pearly veneers of the neoclassical architecture gleamed in the afternoon sun, pristine and virginal, in opposition to the sooty urban blight. Like a bride, resplendent in her white gown, standing in the middle of a muddy street, she held her hem at the perfect height to keep it above the muck while still remaining modest.

“It’s amazing.”

Colonel William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody looked down at the petite woman walking next to him. Her long sleeved light brown dress complemented her dark brown eyes and long brown hair exquisitely. Cody knew, like most of her clothes, she’d made the dress with her own hands.

He’d always considered her an attractive woman, but thought of her more as a little sister or a niece than with any romantic interest. What intrigued and impressed him most, though, lay in her ability to outshoot him, or most anyone else in the world, for that matter.

“I concur, Annie. This is a fascinating sight to behold.”

The World’s Fair, dubbed the World Columbian Exposition to note the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the New World, would open the next morning. Cody’s Wild West show, denied a formal slot in the Expo, had rented a parcel of land three blocks south of the Midway Plaisance and set up shop. The show’s performers and promoters had spent the past couple of weeks preparing feverishly to perform two shows daily throughout the next six months of the Expo.

At Bill’s request, and with some fancy talking, Cody’s partner, Nate, persuaded the reluctant fair administrators to grant Cody a sneak peek at the fairgrounds before the opening. He and Annie had strolled through the grounds, admiring the grandeur.

Now, from their vantage atop the Manufactures and Liberal Arts building, the Court of Honor dominated the scene before them. Below, the Statue of the Republic overlooked the Grand Basin, which symbolized the voyage Columbus took to the New World. Waterways branched off the large pool and ran between the buildings of the Court. Cody could just make out a line of Venetian gondolas bobbing at the piers around the buildings, waiting for the throngs of fairgoers that would descend upon them soon.

Cody thought, Seeing the White City from a gondola cruising slowly along the waterways between the buildings would be incredible. Louisa would love this. Unfortunately, his wife wasn’t with him here in the White City. Nevertheless, he planned to find time for one of those cruises once the show got under way. His mind wandered to thoughts of his children. Arta, 27, still lived at home, and helped Louisa take care of the house and the precocious little ten year old Irma. Maybe I shall write to Louisa. See if she and the girls can come visit. They should see this ephemeral spectacle. God knows it won’t last.

Reluctantly, he dragged his mind back to the here and now. A brisk nip rode the air, but the sun shone brightly, and cut the chill just enough to make it pleasant. A few clouds lingered in the blue sky. Their shadows danced like specters on the surfaces of the white buildings as they glided overhead.

“You propose to shoot a playing card edge-on from ninety feet, cutting it in half, then shoot the falling half at least three more times before it hits the ground?”

“That, indeed, is what I propose. I’ve been practicing, and I can do it consistently. It’ll be a crowd pleaser.”

His bushy mustache lifted as he smiled. “I reckon it will. I know I shall be impressed. Let us adjourn to our shooting range and you can, once again, amaze me while I work out some patter for the showmanship side of things.”

As usual, Annie fluttered her eyelashes and smiled a shy little smile at the compliment. The genuine sincerity of this mannerism, and others like it, captivated Cody. Annie’s magnificent stage presence stemmed from her honesty, not her acting. This same honesty had swept Annie’s rough and tumble husband, Frank, off his feet, and had gained her the adoration of millions of fans all over the world.

Cody felt honored she’d chosen to work in his show and had stayed for so long. The previous year, she and Frank had left the show for a time and toured on their own in Europe, all because of Lillian Smith. His own blindness to Annie’s disfavor of Lillian rankled him still.

I really should have fired Lillian at the first signs of jealousy from Annie. Lillian was a fine shot, and her youth intrigued the crowds for a time. But Annie . . . well, she’s Little Sure Shot.

Few people could work an audience as adroitly as Annie. Fewer still could shoot half as well. Not a particularly religious man, Cody still agreed with old Sitting Bull that the Great Spirit had gifted Annie with supernatural shooting prowess.

Touching her temple lightly, Annie grimaced. “I’ve been troubled by headaches quite a bit recently. I saw a pharmacy not far from the Midway. Give me an hour or so. I need to purchase some headache powder. Then I’ll retrieve a long gun and ammunition from my tent and meet you in the field.”

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

An Improbable Dream by Violetta Antcliff


An Improbable Dream by Violetta Antcliff

#gypsyshadow #gay #romance #novelette                                





Adrian had a choice to make: his boyfriend, or a girl he had just bumped into . . . An Improbable Dream by Violetta Antcliff. Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, other fine eBook vendors and Gypsy Shadow Publishing at:



Adrian had never doubted his sexuality, he had a live-in partner, and now the law had changed they planned to get married. First however, he had to break the news to the family; therein lay the problem. His mother refused to accept the fact her son was homosexual and Liam O’Donall his Irish Catholic grandfather put it down to a phase he was going through.

A chance meeting with a beautiful, flirtatious girl gave him pause for thought; who was right, them or him? Was finding that special someone and marrying for love, no more than an improbable dream? It was up to him to find out.

Word Count: 10100

Pages to Print: 39

Price: $ 3.99


“Iron it yourself, can’t you? Who do you think I am, your bloody mother?” Adrian’s handsome face was contorted with rage. He loosened his tie, kicked off his shoes and plonked himself down angrily on the settee.

He’d had a long hard day at the office and the last thing he wanted was to come home to a domestic.

He gently massaged his temples with his fingertips and closed his eyes, hoping the headache that had just started would go away without him having to resort to taking pills.

“Do you really need a clean shirt? I thought we’d decided to stay in tonight, order a take-away.”

“You can stay in if you like, I’m going to the club,” his partner retorted angrily. “And whilst you’re asking, no I don’t think you’re my bloody mother. If you had been, I’d at least have had a clean shirt to put on.”

Adrian heard the front door bang to, and he knew any chance he’d had of making it up was now out of the question. He felt guilty. He knew Toby was right, it was his fault there were no clean shirts in the cupboard, or clean anything else, as far as that went. He’d been that busy at the office he hadn’t had time to think about domestic chores, let alone tend to them.

He sighed, dragged himself up from the settee, and made his way through to the kitchen to make himself something to eat; but the cupboard was bare: no milk, no butter, zilch. He slammed the fridge door to. He’d started to calm down, but now his anger was back with a vengeance. He wasn’t the only one who’d been shirking his duties. It was Toby’s job to do the food shopping; they’d sat at the kitchen table less than a week ago and drawn up a list of whose own job it would be to do what.

He returned to the lounge and sat, tight as a wound up spring, back down on the settee.

It was starting to get dark outside, but he made no attempt to pull the drapes to or turn the light on.

Eventually however, his anger drained away and his thoughts turned once again back to basics. What take-away should he order, Chinese or Indian? He was hungry.


He washed the Tika masala down with a can of Coke. Feeling much better now he had a full stomach, he settled down in front of the television to watch a game of football.


It was past twelve o’clock before he decided to retire for the night, and past one o’clock before he heard the key grate in the front door lock and Toby creeping up the stairs.

He felt the duvet being pulled back and feigned sleep, the last thing he wanted was another row.

He could smell alcohol on Toby’s breath and wondered if he’d risked driving home the worse for drink, or if he’d done the sensible thing and hired a taxi, he hoped it was the latter.


The next morning, Adrian killed the alarm before it had time to go off; he guessed Toby would prefer an extra hour in bed to a jog round the park.

It was a beautiful morning, the grass was heavy with early dew and the birds were in full chorus. Adrian felt at peace with the world; he had a wedding and a honeymoon to plan, and at that precise moment he couldn’t have been happier. He jogged along in a euphoric mood, oblivious of where he was going.

A friendly, “Morning,” followed by, “Look where you’re going,” brought him back to earth with a jolt. A girl stood in front of him, rubbing her shoulder and grimacing in pain.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t see you,” he said, hoping an apology would suffice and he’d be able to continue with his run.

“That’s bloody obvious,” the girl said, exercising her shoulder gingerly, face twisted in agony.

Adrian couldn’t make up his mind if she was genuinely in pain, or if she was putting it on for his benefit.

“If I’ve hurt you, I’m truly sorry,” he said. “Look, allow me to run you to A and E, just to make sure no serious damage has been done.”

The girl sniggered. “What, we jog along to A and E together, or are you weighing me up to see if it’s possible to piggy back me there?”

Adrian could see the girl was making fun of him. “I have a car,” he said tight-lipped. “If you would like to sit down over there—” he pointed to a park bench “—I’ll go and fetch it.”

The girl stood looking up at him, a smile quirking the corner of her mouth. He noticed for the first time how pretty she was. Her eyes were blue and full of mischief, and her hair, even though half-covered with a sweatband and dragged back in a ponytail, was the colour of spun gold.

Until she coughed to attract his attention, Adrian hadn’t realised he’d been stood staring at her. “Look, I can only repeat I’m sorry. If there’s anything I can do, please just tell me,” he said, flustered.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Cometeers by Steven R. Southard


The Cometeers by Steven R. Southard

#gypsyshadow #steampunk #armageddon





A comet threatens Earth . . . in 1897. Of the six men launched by cannon to deflect it, one is a saboteur. It’s steampunk Armageddon! The Cometeers by Steven R. Southard. Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, other fine eBook vendors and Gypsy Shadow Publishing at:


 huge comet speeds toward a devastating collision with the Earth, but no one will launch space shuttles filled with nuclear weapons. It’s 1897. Instead, they’ll fire projectiles from the Jules Verne cannon and try to deflect the comet with a gunpowder explosion. Commander Hanno Knighthead isn’t sure he can motivate his argumentative, multinational crew of geniuses to work together. It turns out one of them is a saboteur. Then things get worse. Only a truly extraordinary leader could get this group to cooperate, thwart the saboteur, and jury-rig a way to divert the comet. Lucky thing Hanno brought his chewing gum.

Word Count: 10500
Pages to Print: 37
Price: $ 3.99 

This crew couldn’t figure out how to shoot a pop-gun, much less save the world, Commander Hanno Knighthead thought. As he chewed a stick of gum, Hanno wondered how he was supposed to lead such a mismatched and argumentative group, but knew if he didn’t, thousands of people would die when Comet Göker struck on September 9, 1897, just eight days hence. Just now, more bickering had broken out.

“No,” Sutton Woolsthorpe said with a snarl, “my preliminary calculations show we should fire cannon number three in five minutes, but I require time to refine the analysis.” He went back to turning gears on his portable Babbage Machine with pudgy fingers.

“There’s no time for calculating.” Gotzon Voegler’s rich German accent emphasized each consonant. “You must trust my judgment and fire the number three now.”

“Based on what?” Woolsthorpe asked, “The ramblings of a witch from a Grimm’s fairy tale?”

“No. Based on rules of thumb formed from decades of explosives experience.” Voegler held up a thumb. Prosthetic fingers made up the remainder of his right hand.

“A rule of thumb?” Woolsthorpe laughed. “But all your other fingers were blown off in an explosion.”

When Hanno saw Voegler cocking his other fist for a blow, he said, “That’s enough, gentlemen. Voegler, I’m siding with Woolsthorpe’s recommendation this time. Prepare to fire number three on his mark.”

Voegler grumbled, but then spoke aloud to Woolsthorpe. “One day you won’t have time for your calculating machine. On that day, you’ll have to trust my thumb.”

Hanno and his crew travelled within two identical, bullet-shaped vehicles, each quite cramped, being only twelve feet long and nine feet at the widest diameter. Once in space, they’d attached a short connecting tube to join the two projectiles together, allowing three men to sleep in each one. Hanno realized he’d soon have to rearrange the berthing arrangements to lessen the chance of brawling.

“What’s this?” asked Konstantin Golubev, pointing at some wires leading from a switch. “Someone tampered with my electrical system!” He glared at Hiroto Takahashi as he spoke.

Hanno had known a multi-national crew of experts would be a mistake for this mission, and had argued against it, but had been overruled.

Takahashi wore a mechanical, prosthetic right arm, and now used its screwdriver attachment to fasten his Buddha shrine in place near his bunk. “Not tamper, improve.”

“How dare you do that!” Golubev shouted, his voice reverberating in the enclosure. “I designed the system myself using minimal wire exposure for safety. I’ll also remind you it was Russians who invented our air purifier, our plumbing system, our—”

“I improved your design,” Takahashi shrugged, “by adding more switches to safely cut out sections in case of fire.”

“But just look at this loose wiring! I’ll have to re-route it all.”

“Leave the system alone for now,” Hanno told Golubev. “And Takahashi, no more improvements to the system without checking with Golubev first.” He hadn’t figured on treating geniuses like children, but that’s how they behaved.

The two manned projectiles travelled through space, linked to seventeen others of the same size, but those seventeen contained only gunpowder. After each projectile had been launched from the ground-based cannon, the crew had joined them together in orbit, linking the manned ones with an access tube, and the seventeen others with ropes. They’d installed small cannons on the exterior of the projectile cluster, and Hanno hoped the cannon they were about to fire would put them on a close path around the moon, increasing their speed and flinging them out toward their real target, where they could accomplish their mission, God willing. If they didn’t kill each other first.

“Upstart Japanese,” Golubev said, shaking his head at the wiring.

“Arrogant Russian,” Takahashi said to his Buddha statue.

“Reckless German.” Woolsthorpe watched the bulkhead chronometer.

Voegler rolled his eyes. “Haughty Englishman.”

And it never takes long for nationalism to emerge, Hanno thought, like the squalls that had often spoiled the fair weather days of his seagoing career. Only months before, Hanno had been serving as captain of a U.S. Navy torpedo boat. When in port, he’d followed with increasing interest the news of Comet Göker, named for its Ottoman discoverer. Astronomers had at first claimed this body would put on a spectacular show, visible even by the naked eye. Concern had become worry when orbital calculations showed it would pass quite near the Earth. This had given way to alarm when later observations confirmed a collision to be inevitable. Scientists could not say where it would strike. Most likely it would impact at sea, causing no harm, but it could strike a city instead. Experts had been clear about the date, however, and the comet would keep its unsought appointment on September 9th.

“Mark,” Woolsthorpe said, “Fire cannon number three.”

“Firing cannon three,” Voegler said as he moved the handle of the electrical switch.

Hanno heard a muffled report, and the walls of their vehicle shook.

Woolsthorpe brought out his handheld telescope and peered out a window, “I daresay that nudge should be enough.”

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Ghost on Every Corner by Dawn Colclasure


A Ghost on Every Corner by Dawn Colclasure

#gypsyshadow #hauntedplaces #paranormal





New Ghost Book Contains Stories from Paranormal Investigators Reporting from the (Haunted) Trenches. A Ghost on Every Corner by Dawn Colclasure. Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, other fine eBook vendors and Gypsy Shadow Publishing at:


There’s a ghost town then there’s a “ghost” town! A Ghost on Every Corner is a collection of stories from paranormal investigators who have done investigations in some of America’s most haunted cities. Read about the ghost haunting a restaurant in Galena, Illinois, or about a Gettysburg Battlefield ghost who follows an investigator home! There’s also Marilyn Monroe’s ghost haunting the famous Roosevelt Hotel, a ghost violently attacking an investigator at the Sallie House and the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe’s adoptive father angrily pushing an investigator down the stairs! You’ll also get to read historical (as well as ghostly!) information about places such as The Alamo, Myrtles Plantation and the famous BirdCage Theater. Walk with investigators located across the country as they gather evidence about ghosts and go where no other would dare to tread!

Word Count: 110000

Pages to Print: 393    /360 Print

Price: $5.99    Coming in Print, too!



The atmosphere in the pub seems calm. Bar patrons converse with each other, gratefully sipping their brews and reminiscing of times gone by. Talk about work holds the attention of customers seated along the bar, as the faint sound of country music plays in the background.

The jovial mood is broken when a stranger bursts through the door. Eyes wide and hands shaking, he recounts how he’s just driven along a certain stretch of road and encountered what appeared to be a hitchhiker. He picked up the hitchhiker, and they continued along the barren dirt road, making idle chit-chat. During the course of their conversation, the driver turned to see that his passenger had suddenly vanished.

Disappeared. Without a trace.

Instead of reacting with shock or alarm at this tale, the bar patrons shrug it off and go about their conversations. Only after some desperate prodding of the barkeeper does the stranger learn this kind of thing is common in their town.

. . . Because, you see, it’s filled with ghosts, and everybody has grown accustomed to spectral encounters.

By definition, a ghost town is a city or town that has been abandoned. Ghost towns are usually envisioned as places where you’ll find barely-there houses, vacant streets and rundown buildings that once served as places of business.

However, there are bustling cities and towns that are literally ghost towns. Haunted cities abound throughout the world, and it seems everywhere you turn in such a city, someone has a good ghost story to share. The only difference between their stories and what you hear around a campfire is that theirs are true.

Why are cities haunted? There are several factors that can cause a whole city or town to burst at the seams with paranormal activity. A town may be haunted because of unique variables. What may seem like a harmless, innocent prank that ends up going wrong can open a Pandora’s Box of ghosts and hauntings. Or, in cases such as the Bell Witch, someone might curse an entire town and thereby incite ghostly occurrences.

Another reason a town or city may be haunted is historical events. Cities such as Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and Appomattox, Virginia, were the sites of battles that took the lives of many brave soldiers. Ghosts from the past still linger in such places, often seen in full uniform, reenacting the roles they played in history. Or the city may have suffered an outbreak of an epidemic disease that killed many of its residents, like the yellow fever epidemic in Memphis in 1878.

A town or city may be haunted because of where it is built. Any city built on an ancient Native American burial ground is a prime candidate for being a haunted city. If it’s built on the site of bloodshed or where tragedy occurred, then it is also possible the whole city or town will be visited by ghosts.

From time to time, a city or town will be labeled haunted more because of urban legends and rumors than for actually having ghostly residents alongside the living ones. Another reason may be the presence of one or two famous haunted sites—the Amityville Horror house, for example. These are not the places you will find in this book. The towns and cities offered here are actual, bona fide ghost towns rife with ghostly encounters and haunted locations, with residents willing to share true ghost stories. Cities where it’s not uncommon to discover the woman standing next to you on the corner is a ghost.

It’s not just the residents of a ghost town who have spooky stories to share, however. Paranormal investigators are the folks who confront haunted cities head-on. They investigate reports and make it their mission to get the facts about just what’s up with these locations. The evidence they collect may prove a true haunting is taking place and add to the city’s credentials as a real ghost town.

One surprising thing about haunted cities is that there are so many of them. As a result, not all have been included in this book. If you don’t find a particular notably haunted city here, rest assured it will likely appear in a future volume. For that reason, the author welcomes contact from paranormal groups and residents of a haunted city or town.

Because paranormal investigators have shared stories in their own words, the occasional bit of jargon or ghost talk is included in their stories. A glossary of terms used by investigators is located in Appendix A. You will also learn more about their tools and equipment in Appendix B.

While it is the author’s wish to share stories straight from the mouths of investigators, this was not possible for every case. On the one hand, in some cases, several different witnesses needed to be interviewed and more research, and information gathered independently for a story. On the other hand, many investigators felt more at ease discussing their cases through interviews, and the information they provided was then compiled by the author. All stories originating directly from investigators are noted as such.

Some of the locations discussed in this book are private property, and exploring them without the express permission of the owners is trespassing. Professionals don’t trespass, and for those who are simply curious, we ask that you consider how you’d feel if strangers suddenly invaded your home without invitation, before you go exploring.

When this book was in the early stages, I was amazed to discover that there were so many stories associated with so many actual ghost towns. It made me wonder: What’s it like to live in a haunted city? What kind of ghostly encounters take place there? How do local residents manage to live peacefully and happily alongside their ghostly neighbors? This book helps uncover the answers to those questions.

Chapter 1

Tombstone, Arizona

Say the city name Tombstone and probably the first thing that comes to the minds of many people is Wyatt Earp and the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral. This Arizona city, founded in 1879, does indeed have a rich history of outlaw gunslingers fighting lawmen during the days of the Old West, but it is also widely recognized as one of the most haunted cities in America.

Aside from shootouts among the outlaws creating fear and anxiety among residents, there were also mining disasters, fires and lynchings. Violence and murder got to be so bad in Tombstone at one point that then-President Chester Arthur nearly sent the military to restore order to Tombstone.

Because of this violent and tragic history, it’s no surprise that many people today believe that Tombstone is haunted. The ghost of Marshal Fred White, who was accidentally shot by Curly Bill Brocius, a leader of the Cowboys, then later died of his injuries. White has been seen in front of what is today the Birdcage Theatre, where the shooting took place in 1880. The ghost of who many believe to be Virgil Earp has been seen crossing a road—though he never officially makes it to the other side. A ghostly figure who many believe to be the warrior Cochise has been seen playing a flute at the Cochise Stronghold State Park.

Ghosts have also been seen or made themselves known at various restaurants, motels, homes, bars and even Boot Hill Cemetery. Tombstone has been featured as a haunted city in books, TV shows and on various web sites. There is even a Tombstone Ghost Tour that will delight visitors with historical information and real ghost stories.

If you want to visit one of the most haunted towns in America, the city of Tombstone is definitely a ghosty town that will not disappoint.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Marissa's Surprise by Shiloh Darke


Marissa's Surprise by Shiloh Darke

#gypsyshadow #eroticromance #series





His only chance to help save his world lies in the hands of a human woman. But dare he hope love might bloom between them? Marissa's Surprise by Shiloh Darke. Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, other fine eBook vendors and Gypsy Shadow Publishing at:



The first time Marissa saw him, she was training for the Olympics in the depths of the Sea. He was there for a moment, then she lost sight of him when he vanished beneath the waves.

Two years later, she has suffered some losses and is only beginning to refocus on her goals. Thoughts of her fleeting meeting with the man from the water still haunt her. When she’s abducted by an alien, she is illogically worried she may never see him again. Little does she know, he’s not from the ocean; he isn’t even from Earth.

Word Count: 18600

Pages to Print: 59

File Format: PDF

Price: $ 3.99    /2.41    /3.02



Two years prior to when the abductions occurred

Savryk circled the portal, using his powerful tail to gain momentum. The vortex between the sister planets opened only once every few cycles, so his time was limited. The survival of his species depended on the chance that this planet held women whose DNA could be easily modified to enable them to survive within the waters of Meridia.

His brother of blood had undergone the appropriate tests to see if the land-dwelling females here could bear offspring with the Meridia races. Once the seed had taken root in the incubators, he had known the only thing left was to see if the race from Earth ever ventured into the waters of their world.

With one mighty dive, the Merman swam through the portal. The oceans of Earth were similar to the oceans of Meridia. But if the women there never set foot in their water, then Savryk knew he and his brothers of the depths were doomed.

As he swam out of the coral that protected the entrance to his world from prying eyes, he took notice of the creatures who occupied this sister ocean. Almost immediately, a school of dolphins approached him, curious about his existence. He watched them warily a moment, but couldn’t help smiling when they greeted him and joined him on his journey toward the surface of the water.

He could tell by the shallowness of the ocean floor, land was not far away. He couldn’t risk being seen, for obvious reasons: blue tinted skin, along with a tail would be very hard to play off as normal on this world. Luckily, his eyes could see easily at far distances, so he would only need to see if they were swimmers.

As he neared the surface, the dolphins, who bore close resemblance to the creatures his world called Pheldorns, sprang from the ocean, soaring powerfully out of the water and splashing each other as they did. He watched them frolic for a few minutes while he worked up his courage to surface and find out if there were any of what the Slavers referred to as humans, playing in or around the water.

Slowly, he broke through with gentle strokes, only rising above enough to let his eyes see. He stared intently at the sandy beach and the men, women and children who played there. Hope filled him as he saw women and children not only running through the shallows, but also some people, further out, swimming. They lacked the tail that he was able to grow when in water, but they still swam.

He was so excited by his discovery that he didn’t notice the girl until she spoke. “Are you okay? What’s the blue stuff; some kind of sun screen?”

Startled, he turned toward the voice, only to come face to face with the most beautiful female he had ever seen. Her hair, which he’d been told about, was light colored, even when it was wet, and floated in the water around the girl as she moved slowly closer to him. Her eyes were a deep color of blue. He could understand her speech, but he knew she would not understand him if he were to speak, so he remained silent, and simply nodded. If she thought it was sunscreen, maybe he could spend a few more moments in her presence.

She waited for his answer, but when he said nothing, she tried again. “Do you not speak English? I’m surprised to see anyone besides myself out this far from the beach.” She seemed to contemplate him for a moment before her face brightened.

“Are you training for the Olympics too? I have two more years to get ready, and I figure if I can master these waves before then, it’ll improve my time in the pools.” She chattered as he watched her in silent fascination. “I’ve also been working on holding my breath underwater. I’m up to three minutes if I’m swimming and almost six if I’m just hovering.”

When his eyebrow rose in response to her words, she took it to mean he didn’t believe her. “Oh, you think I’m lying, don’t you? Well, here! I’ll show you! Watch!”


Savryk watched in a mixture of horror and fascination as she pulled what looked to be some kind of protective eye covers over her eyes and took a deep breath before plunging beneath the surface. His eyes widened as he realized he only had a matter of seconds before she knew he was not like her. Panic filled him, but he couldn’t bring himself to abandon her company. Instead, he waited for the hysteria that was bound to overwhelm her. He reasoned with himself that if she passed out from what she discovered, he couldn’t leave her defenseless. She could drown.

She had sunk below the water and began mentally counting. She was good at this. He would have no choice but to believe her when she resurfaced, because he would have witnessed her talent firsthand. She slowly opened her eyes and looked around. The ocean was pretty clear out here and easy to see, as long as you used goggles.

She had her face turned to the side, but she was curious as to whether this man had put the blue sun screen over his entire body. However, when she turned to look at his legs, she found them strangely missing. Instead, there was a large fishtail. At least, that’s what she thought it was. She had heard of people who practiced swimming wearing suits that covered their lower bodies with long back fins that helped to steer their way through the water, but she had never seen one.

Her curiosity got the best of her, and she found herself reaching out to touch the suit. She had to remind herself not to breathe at her discovery. She knew what she felt was most definitely flesh under her touch instead of any kind of waterproof fabric. She stroked the tail for a moment as if trying to wake herself up from what she was afraid was only a delusion.


When he felt her hand, not only touching his tail but also stoking it, he closed his eyes. He could just take her; claim her for himself and swim through the portal with her in his arms. No one need ever be the wiser. He could claim her, breed her, and they would have children before the end of the Season. The desire to do just that was almost overwhelming.

He stayed stock still, breathing slowly as she seemed to be exploring him. She was being so gentle it was almost a kind of torture to him. She obviously wasn’t really panicking too terribly. He couldn’t imagine she would be spending so much time below the water, touching him if she was truly scared.

He was debating silently with himself when her hand slid slowly across the flesh fold that covered his genitals. Immediately, he felt them stir in response to her touch. Unnerved, he couldn’t stop himself from grabbing her hand and pulling her up.

When she surfaced, he reached out and yanked the goggles off her face, eliciting a startled squeak from her. “I’m sorry. Did I hurt you? Please forgive me.” She spoke hurriedly, and Savryk shook his head as he found himself unwilling to let her go.

By all rights, she should be screaming and trying to put as much distance from him as she could manage. Instead, here she was apologizing and asking if she had hurt him. He gripped her arms with both his hands and held her closer than he should, but she didn’t seem to mind.

When she finally stopped speaking, she bit her bottom lip and seemed to think over her words before she asked, “Is that real?” Her voice was soft, and Savryk found himself mesmerized by both her beauty and her voice.

He knew she would not understand his words. She did not have the Nanos that had only been in use in his galaxy for a little over the last few centuries. He answered her the only way he could. Nodding his head, he was still reluctant to let her go. She might try to flee and he just couldn’t bear to part with her yet. She was the most amazing creature he had ever seen.

She offered him a shy smile. “My name is Marissa Prince. I love to swim. I’ve been swimming since I was old enough to get in a pool.” Her smile grew and she giggled. “Is this for real? I’m talking to an honest to goodness real life Merman. I must either be dreaming or I’m the luckiest girl in the world!”

Savryk fought an internal battle within himself. He was breathing in the sweet fragrance of her pheromones. It was a unique scent the men of his race could smell only when in the presence of a potential mate. He wanted to wrap his arms around her and swim swiftly back through the portal and claim her as his bride, right now.

The desire to do so almost overwhelmed him, but he fought it as he returned her gaze. She was still too young for him to claim. Even in his own world, it would be forbidden for him to take her as a mate. She was close to reaching maturity, but he knew she was not yet ready.

Unable to stop himself, he reached out and stroked her cheek for a moment. Her eyes held his, and she smiled. Steeling himself, he moved back from her and turned, diving back into the depths of the ocean and making his way swiftly to the portal before he changed his mind and did something he knew would be a violation of everything he believed.

His mind repeated her name over and over in his head; Marissa Prince. He would remember her. If it was at all possible, he would request the Slavers take her when the time came. He was already desperate for her. He had to have her. He’d ask forgiveness later. If he was truly lucky, she would find a way to forgive him.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Jack Cluewitt and the Imbrium Basin Murders by Ruth J. Burroughs


Jack Cluewitt and the Imbrium Basin Murders by Ruth J. Burroughs

#gypsyshadow #scifi #murdermystery





Framed for murder, homicide detective Jack Cluewitt has to stay one step ahead of his own Near-Earth Police Department to find the real killer. Jack Cluewitt by Ruth J. Burroughs. Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, other fine eBook vendors and Gypsy Shadow Publishing at:



In Troy, New York, Near-Earth-Police homicide detective, Jack Cluewitt, is investigating a mysterious antique paper book that is also a map to a secret source of unlimited fuel. International Space Corporation will kill for the secrets of the belt, and the Green Party will go to any lengths to keep the location secret; they will steal, kill or die for their cause. When a Green Policewoman is found dead in a Moon mining cave, a bullet in her heart, Jack Cluewitt is framed for the murder. He has to stay one step ahead of his own Near-Earth Police Department to find the real killer. But his goal to clear his name and find the murderer puts him, his partner, Indigo Jane, and Organ Enforcement Agent, Rappel Luna, in grave danger as they fight to secure a secret fuel that could put Water and its corrupt powers out of business.

Word Count: 100700

Pages to Print: 314

Price: 5.99

Coming SOON in PRINT!


Edgar Moon Digger Chavez sat on a hydraulic lift-seat atop his Moon-roving, mine-digging, Nova Volteggiare, a nine wheeled Hummer vehicle, on the lunar basaltic plain of Imbrium Basin in the darkness of a lunar night that would last two weeks. It was six in the morning on Monday, June 7th in the year of our Earth-Mother 5030. But on the Moon’s Imbrium Basin it was a long Moon night.

His rover camera hovered over a bleeding space suit sprawled on its back across the chiseled entry way to the ore mines, floating a little top-heavy, feeding him the image on his armchair hologram. In horror, he watched as the holo showed the body of a dead someone. Whoever it was had to be dead; he could see globs of blood escaping the gaping wound in the space suit where a bullet had exited the heart and chest, and more blood bubbling in the helmet visor. His camera coldly surveyed the area, showing him the corpse again and just went black; it just quit.

Edgar called headquarters. “Did you get that boss?”

“Get what?” Missi asked.

“The transmission. The dead Green Police in the cave. I just watched it on the hologram my camera was taking of the cave. A guy or gal in a space suit with a big bloody hole in the chest.”

“Looking.” There was a long pause. “Nope. Sorry, Ed. We got nothing. What makes you think it was Green Police?”

“The Green Police insignia patches.”

Edgar pushed replay, but nothing was in the chair’s memory. It was as though it hadn’t happened. Nothing had transmitted, and Missi ordered him to stay put until Jules, his mining partner, arrived to help him record and witness the corpse or until Near-Earth Police Homicide detectives arrived.

He took a sip of hot lunar grown java and winced at the taste. He dimmed the lights on his suit and the nine-wheeled Volteggiare and enjoyed the view of the blue mass of Earth light in the dark sky. He’d run out of Jovian Java and was convinced they used Moon dust for coffee beans here. Today was his birthday and he was gonna piss and moan if no one bought him any Jupiter coffee beans. They worked an Earth-week schedule despite the daylight differences.

Ed Moon Digger wanted to take off his suit, but knew Security at Vasquez Ore Mining Corporation, or VAQ-ORE Corporation, was monitoring him, plus he had the nagging feeling someone was watching him. Maybe the murderer was nearby.

A magnetic field surrounded him on the Moon-digging vehicle, but there was no guarantee the pressurized atmosphere would always be stable. It was infamous for losing tensile strength at exactly the wrong moment. So there were strict rules about keeping the spacesuit on even if the helmet was collapsed. If the vehicle stopped generating atmosphere within the plasma field, his suit would automatically seal. Ed didn’t like sucking on balls of coffee and he didn’t like squeeze tubes. It just wasn’t the same as sipping, but he did have to use a closed cup or it could get messy. Inside the field the stars looked fuzzy and the shield sparkled luminescent despite being mostly transparent.

He saw motion out of the corner of his eye and looked up. He was surprised to see one of the Moon digger robot dogs come barreling through the Alps Valley, its eyes shining like headlights down the gulley. Jules had finally got the licenses back even after his robot dog had attacked another miner. It had to be proved in court that Jules hadn’t changed any programs in the dog. Edgar’s own robot dog had been taken in the case and their robot dog mining licenses had been suspended and the dogs had been held by Moon City Police until the trial finished. Jules had promised to get Edgar his dog back once he won his case.

Peoples for the Preservation of Historic Space, PEFOPRESH had set limits on mining the Moon, due to the interests of several species on Earth that rely on the Moon’s tidal forces. The argument set forth by PEFOPRESH was that the Earth-Moon system could be altered drastically, causing severe weather changes if the Moon was too heavily mined. More severe than they were now, and Earthbound did not want worse weather.

The PEFOPRESH, the Green Police, NEPD, which included Moon City Police, had to approve the robot dogs’ programming. The robot mining dogs were programmed to act like dogs. The Green Party and the PEFOPRESH, usually at odds with each other, just wanted to make sure the Moon didn’t fall below the restricted mass.

It was easier to get a robot dog license in American Moon territories because space laws differed in different territories. Green Party came down on any religion that didn’t accept the worship of Earth Mother and the Seed Theory. Any religions that supported guns, bombs and violence against seeding space through colonization in the Buckminster Fullerene colonies and evolving into space beings were punished ruthlessly by the Green Party through the Green Police. Anyone taking bribes to mine the Earth’s Moon beyond the restrictions was punished severely, but this was the only way to stop generations of corruption from the old military and Corporate Party system of governance. The worst offenders were sent to the Genetically Modified Organisms Space-Habitats to be punished by the mysterious Genies, Genetically Modified Human Organisms, who, it was rumored, truly hated terrorists and often sided with preserving historic or virgin space and humans.

Ed Moon Digger called into his supervisor.

“Okay, Missi, I’m going in . . . I need to find out what I saw on the hologram.”

“No, wait for Jules. It was probably a normal hallucination. Don’t want to report that. No buddy, no mine.”

“I’ve had breakfast, boss. Jules is late. But he’s had my robot dog released. Now I have something to record the scene. I’ll meet him in the pit. He’s only five minutes away. I’ll meet him under the Alps Mountains on the rille floor,” Ed protested.

“He’s ten minutes away or more. Finish your coffee, and then drive in,” Missi ordered.

“Tell Jules to step on it. I’m tired of waiting.”

“You should have called me earlier. I would have got him up with a cold bucket of water.”

“I don’t think he slept late. He’s got our robot mining dogs back.”

“He did? Now, I wonder how he managed that.”

“You know Jules.”

Ed Moon Digger, sipped, savoring his coffee, looking in the distance toward the colorful lights of Moon City in Mare Frigoris, the basaltic Sea of Cold. Toward his right he saw glints of Jules’ rover, scrambling as rapidly as a rover could go on the Moon, in the Alps Valley that cut through the Alps Mountains. If he could help it, Ed didn’t use the Latin names. Looking back toward Moon City, he could almost make out the neon glow from Organdy Poisson’s Sushi restaurant near Protagoras crater in Mare Frigoris if he squinted against the glare. The city used artificial light to mimic Earth day and night, but it was still black as a Moon night out here on the floor of Imbrium. He looked out over the jagged crater rims of the Moon and felt like something was out of place. He’d grown used to not having the robot dogs, but that wasn’t what was bothering him. It was something else.

Even the way the shadows cast out over the rocky expanse seemed different, and things rarely changed in restricted zones. What was he missing? He took another sip of the Moon java and grimaced, spitting it out and then threw the rest of the cup overboard, out onto the plasma shield that covered the shiny gray confection, on the banged up surface of the Moon. The spilled coffee seeped through the artificial mag field.

Ed pushed a button and lowered the chair lift. The hiss of hydraulics seemed loud in his little bubble of atmosphere.

Once the programs were approved and the dogs were tested, they set up the licensing and miners were given precedent. Some people were buying them as companions and watch dogs, to guard their hoards. But there was less looting here than out on Mars and in the belt. The further from Earth, the more lawless it became.

Out in the distance, Ed Moon Digger watched in the Moon’s silence as his dog’s rapid approach disturbed the regolith. Its paw prints etched a jagged line toward the rover. The mechanical canine barked incessantly, but Ed could only hear the hum of the magnetic field generator.

Ed Moon Digger climbed down to greet the Moon dog, glad that Jules had his back and had the judge release their dogs. Jules would never throw him under the bus like some co-workers who trashed him did, just to get ahead.

The EM field parted for any robot and then re-established itself, but the atmo pressure alarms usually blasted if the bot took too long. The Nine Wheeled rover’s superconductive engine pack that generated the mag field couldn’t protect it from EM bombs, amplified Rayguns and the like.

He watched his robot dog leap gracefully through the air, its nose hit the mag field, sparking it, and then the rest of its robotic body came sailing through, like a diver hitting the surface of the water. Its chops still going, he could finally hear it barking. It padded the last few feet and jumped up on his space suit, slobbering. Fortunately its claws were retracted, but it drooled on him.

Ed wondered why the artisans gave it such details, but he believed it must have something to do with its cooling system. Moon Digger looked at its tag. Moon Mining License A0980997 Canine Robot Systems to Edgar Chavez, Moon Ore Extractor. Edgar and his robot dog went back a long way. It was good to see Cavity again. Now, that was some birthday present.

“Off boy.” He pushed the heavy beast down. The dog ran circles around him.

“C’mon boy, up in the cabin. Let’s go. We’re not waiting for those slow pokes,” Moon Digger said, patting the seat. The dog jumped up, wagging its tail, unable to contain its excitement.

Ed pushed the rover into gear and drove into the Alps Valley Rille toward the shade of the Alps Mountains where the mine was located, his lights automatically cutting into the dark shadow and lighting up spots of dirty sparkling ice. In the graben, the sides of the rille loomed above on either side. It was called Imbrium Basin Mine, even though it was technically in the Valles Alps. He drove the flat surface to a blasted area littered with rock, moving vehicles, backhoes and cranes in the shadows of Mount Alps, piled high with mounds of rock. He maneuvered the rover around the dark shapes, sparkling with olivine minerals even in the shadows and creating a maze that hid the entrance to the mining tunnels.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Fragile Ghost by Violetta Antcliff


A Fragile Ghost by Violetta Antcliff

#gypsyshadow #ghost #shortstory





Alone in a haunted house, Emma faces the wrath of an evil spirit whose dark secret she's uncovered. A Fragile Ghost by Violetta Antcliff. Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, other fine eBook vendors and Gypsy Shadow Publishing at:



Collingwood Manor drew Emma like a magnet; after her first visit she couldn't keep away. She wasn't afraid of ghosts, and until she'd spent a night on her own in the Manor house, she'd have argued they didn't exist. However, after coming face to face with a troubled spirit, and feeling the evil presence of another, she soon changes her mind. The Manor house has a dark secret, and Emma is determined to find out what it ss. Befriending one fragile little spirit and facing the hostile wrath of another was her intention. But now she has, she can't and won't, back down.

Word Count: 10154

Pages to Print: 23

Price: $3.99


A full moon shining through a barred window caused shadows to dance high on the walls of the room. Emma shivered, and tucked the scarf she’d been given into the collar of her jacket.

Harry had unwound the scarf from his own neck and placed it round hers, minutes before locking her in the filthy, vermin-infested room. She could still smell his manliness on the gift, and somehow it gave her comfort.

Apart from a broken down bedstead, the room was empty of furniture. On the floor next to the bed, a candle leaned precariously in an empty tin can.

Emma squinted at her wristwatch and sighed; there were still ten hours to go before someone would come to unbolt the door and let her out.

She heard footsteps on the landing outside and the door knob rattled; she knew it was Harry checking up on her.

“Now you’ve seen the room, do you still want to go through with it?” he asked.

Emma was sorely tempted to say, No I don’t; I’ve changed my mind. Let me out, but she didn’t. Instead she said simply, “Go away, I told you I’d do it, so just leave me alone. Let me get on with it.” She sounded braver than she felt.

She heard Harry’s retreating footsteps, sensed his slight hesitation before he descended the creaking, rickety stairs, going back the way he’d come.

Sat hunched on the bed in the deafening silence, Emma recalled the events that had led up to the bizarre situation she now found herself in.

She brought to mind the retirement party thrown for the undermanager of the city store where she worked. Drinks had flowed and during the course of the evening, tongues had loosened and things had been said that, perhaps, would have been better left unsaid.

She knew she would have to do some apologising when she returned to work after the weekend. Telling her boss to keep his hands to himself or she’d have him up for sexual harassment hadn’t gone down well.

Tom, her boyfriend, had berated her in front of everybody, told her she’d be lucky if she had a job to go back to on Monday, if she didn’t apologise immediately.

This had made her angry. Boss or no boss, she’d spat, I’m not going to let him get away with patting my bottom and trying to peer down the front of my dress.

Tom had said she was an idiot, and she had told him to get lost.

Eve, a girl who worked in the millinery department of the store, warned her she’d lose Tom if she wasn’t careful.

She had responded with a couldn’t care less shrug of the shoulder and walked away to join in a heated discussion about the supernatural taking place in another part of the room. Tom had tried to drag her away, and for the second time she’d told him to get lost.

That was how it had all started, she’d pooh-poohed the idea there were such things as ghosts and zombies, and when she’d been challenged to spend a night on her own in a haunted house, she’d accepted.

It was the reason she now sat shivering in a derelict building on the outskirts of town, in the room that was supposed to be the most haunted in the house.

Collingwood Manor had been left to the country by its previous owner, Lord Baverstock. Over the years, due to neglect, it had fallen into disrepair and there was now talk of it being demolished.

The manor house had a reputation of being one of the most haunted buildings in the midlands. Allegations a wailing ghost haunted the place went undisputed. And it was common knowledge that both squatters and Romanies gave the place a wide berth.