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Twisted Tails IV: Fantastic Flights of Fancy
An Anthology of Various Authors, Edited by J. Richard Jacobs
"There be dragons here. And vampires. And sorcerers bearing all sorts of mischief. Beasts, goblins and ghouls aplenty. And things that poke with sharpened sticks at the unprepared mind."

TWISTED TAILS IV: Fantastic Flights of Fantasy is overflowing with some of the strangest fantasies you’re likely to find on-or off this planet. So, watch yourself...there be dragons here. And vampires. And sorcerers bearing all sorts of mischief. Beasts, goblins and ghouls aplenty. And things that poke with sharpened sticks at the unprepared mind. They crouch in the recesses, ready to spring at the slightest provocation or opportunity. The sort of things that hide in deep shadows and lurk in the darkness of night...or cavort in the full light of day, trundle, creep, crawl and dance their way across the stage of your imagination. Some of the works presented here are fearsome, level five heart-stoppers and others are downright funny. All are twisted. Twisted in the manner that only our convoluted cogitators...our warped, wonderful word-workers can provide.

"So? It’s fantasy. Dark and light. Horrible and humorous. So, what else is new?" you ask.

Well-l-l, it’s not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill, Granny Gerty’s fantasy...that’s what. No formula fantasy written to restrictions even older than I. It tinkers with ideas in the here and now, perhaps a bit into the past or a brief, short hop into the near future and is free to fly in whatever direction and manner the author is advised by his or her muse. You see, London and other places of the dark and dreary sort still have streets drenched by fog and heavy mist. There remain places in the German forests and the hills of Transylvania, or in narrow alleyways in the outskirts of Chicago where an ordinary citizen just will not go after dark...or during the day. These places, and others, continue to have soggy forest floors smothered in a tight cluttering of moss covered trees with dead-gray, pealing bark smelling of mildew and rot, or perpetually shadowed back streets and thin slices between dingy buildings where dread can rear its ugly head and where surprises, bright and dim, await the unwary. There are jungles of darkness filled with sounds you don’t want to hear. There are movements from the far corners of your vision you would rather not see. But hear them you will...and see them you must, if you value your life.

What we prove in this collection is that it is not necessary to venture off the main road to make-believe worlds where weird, unpronounceable names or places surreal and pointed-ear little folk with big, flat feet inhabit the pages to get a heavy dose of fantastic fantasy. Here we take it to the streets of the everyday world, or close facsimiles of places we all live in...to locations and times familiar to all.

No archaic and arcane language graces the pages here. No flowery narrative loaded with pollen and odd sounding word structures, either, except where they are fitting and necessary. Nope, here you’ll find just plain good fun on bloodstained back-roads, in alleys and little dark corners where gore snakes its way down dark brick walls to puddle on wet stones, and where a talking barnyard rooster lays platinum eggs...um, not that there is an egg-laying rooster that talks to be found in here. That rooster thing was nothing but an example of what could be found, you know? But, as always in the TWISTED TAILS series, be mindful of your step, lest you get tripped into an out-of-control tumble on the last rung of the ladder. That, you see, is the way things work around here. That last rung is...treacherous...by design.

Reviews I suspect that this bunch of authors are a warped lot...definitely marching to their own drummers. If you think the titles are intriguing, wait until you read the stories. There are things lurking here that will scare you silly, and some that are laugh-out-loud funny...but none of the stories are what you expect...each has its own twist that you won't see coming. These stories are not written-to-formula fantasy, but they are seriously entertaining. Read straight through the book, or browse,...but make sure the door is locked and leave a light on. Reviewed by MyShelf.com Are you ready for some truly horrible and humorous tales of fantasy? Follow me, and I’ll lead you through a labyrinth of dark and light, where you really shouldn’t go alone late at night. Hang on tight to your sanity and step beyond the shadows into the extraordinary imaginations of thirteen of today’s best horror and fantasy authors who offer us sixteen short tales of deliciously creepy dark fantasy in Twisted Tails IV: Fantastic Flights of Fantasy. Kim McDougall brings us a baby who isn’t quite so cuddly and sweet-smelling in “Megan’s Baby.” Reviewed by Nights and Weekends

Read an Excerpt
Megan’s Baby
Kim McDougall

Old Montreal was an inspiration for other gothic metropolises. At night, buildings lurked at odd angles. Cold, stinking wind blew off the water except in July when the heat could stop a heart.

On July second, Megan left her apartment and her harpy mother. Canada Day refuse still littered the streets. Pretty pollution of spent firecrackers, popcorn and candy wrappers was a sight better than the usual crap that clogged the cobblestones.

Megan didn’t know where she was going, only away, away, away from her mother’s wailing. Her legs shook with the need to move. As her pregnancy progressed, she could barely sit still for even a few minutes, and yet the effort to walk was painful. Her conflicted needs were echoed in the streets around her. A screech of tires gave way to silence. The smell of garbage mixed with rack of lamb from an old monastery turned trendy restaurant. Cold blasted from the open door of a convenience store and smacked into the hanging humidity.
Megan was alone on the street. An echo of her steps followed her like a wraith. She twisted through a pedestrian walk now empty of its usual artisanal fanfare, pushed aside a faux-hide curtain and entered a cubby-hole that passed for a night-club. A sleepy band played in one corner. Music escaped through the cracks in the old building until it was only the suggestion of a melody, a haunting flute that crept over Megan’s skin like a chill. The place was nearly empty. An old man smoked pot from a pipe like a farmer, while an androgynous couple slept on a pile of blankets, their naked legs and arms entwined. The heat kept most nightcrawlers out in the open, along the waterfront. During the winter months, tiny clubs likes this all over the city were packed with cold bodies looking for heat and diversion. Last November, Marcus had made love to her against the stone wall, while the band blared and the strobe lights hid their frantic thrusts. The bricks grated her back, but Megan hadn’t noticed. Only Marcus had mattered.

Now, she sat in an old beanbag, shifted the bulk of her stomach for comfort, but found none. Displaced acid pushed up into her throat. Her ankles were fat. She didn’t glow with burgeoning motherhood. Apathy suffocated any spark of soul from the new human inside her.

When Marcus walked in to their old haunt, Megan was stunned enough to forget to cover her bulging belly.

"Hey," he said, as if he hadn’t been gone for months. As if he hadn’t ripped out her heart and left it steaming on the sidewalk. He reached for her, pulled her bulk out of the beanbag and danced with her to music that only he could hear. His eyes were darker than she remembered, rimmed in shadows and she wondered what kind of drugs he had been into.
God, how she missed Marcus and his drugs. She couldn’t indulge in the latter until this baby was born, but that wasn’t far off now. In the meantime, didn’t sex bring on contractions? Maybe she could be rid of it sooner.

Marcus didn’t even seem to notice her belly. He smiled and kissed her. He smelled like wine, though she knew he preferred tequila.

"Come," he said.

Megan followed him, not daring to let go of his fingertips, as if breaking that connection would lose him again.

Air conditioning blasted in his studio. The main room was bare, but for a white backdrop and his camera set on a tripod. Two big windows on one wall were dark screens to the outside world. Megan leaned her forehead against the cool glass. In the street below, two young men argued. One pulled at the sleeve of the other. He, in turn pulled away. Megan didn’t need to know what they argued about. It could only have been one of a handful of themes: love, revenge, money, jealousy. She bet on jealousy.

Short Fiction, Fantasy, Horror Length: 281 Pages

Release Date: April 1, 2009 ISBN: B0026OQZ5M

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About the Author

Kim McDougall is a writer and video producer with a BA in English literature from Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec. She was born in Montreal and has lived in Nice, France, Toronto, Long Island, New York and now beautiful Pennsylvania. She is also a fiber artist and photographer and writes fiction for children under her pen name, Kim Chatel. Though fantasy is her first literary love, Kim writes everything from children's picture books to horror fiction. Her stories often fall between the genre cracks--a little bit fantasy, a little bit literary. So she created her own genre: Between the Cracks Fiction.

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