Friday, April 24, 2015

Don't Go in the Water! Zombie Shark is coming!

At last the veil of secrecy is lifted.

As a follow-up to last summer's Snakehead Swamp (now available to own and rent on Redbox, I thank you :p), I'm thrilled to announce that my second Syfy Original Movie is headed your way this summer:

ZOMBIE SHARK!

Still not sure how much I can say at this point, except that among its stars are Cassie Steele, Jason London, and Ross Britz (who you'll remember as the mega-jerk Ian in Snakehead Swamp). This is another fine film from the folks at Active Entertainment and is directed by the super-cool Misty Talley.

Zombie Shark comes as part of Syfy's summer lineup to celebrate the release of the latest installment in the blockbuster Sharknado franchise. Not sure yet on the exact date and time that Zombie Shark will be on the prowl, but here's the official press release in regards to Sharknado Week:


SHARKNADO WEEK (PROGRAMMING EVENT)
 

Premieres Saturday, July 18 to Saturday, July 25

The second annual SHARKNADO WEEK will feature seven original movies, including:
 

· Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!
 

· Sharktopus Vs. Whale Wolf (Roger Corman’s third installment of the ‘Sharktopus’ franchise, starring Casper Van Dien)
 

· 3-Headed Shark Attack (starring Danny Trejo)
 

· Roboshark
 

· Mega Shark Vs. Kolossus (starring Illeana Douglas)
 

· Zombie Shark (starring Jason London)
 

· The world premiere of Lavalantula, starring Steve Guttenberg and fellow Police Academy alums Leslie Easterbrook and Michael Winslow, as they battle lava-breathing tarantulas threatening to destroy Los Angeles.

Be sure to set your DVRs! As always, stay tuned here for updates and the eventual trailer!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Free Short Fiction--"Company Man: Finale"

Welcome to the final installment of an all-new Rift Jump short story, exclusive to this site. In "Company Man", we explore the origins of the villainous Hooded Man from the original Rift Jump novel--now on sale in the new Revised and Expanded Edition.

Click here to read Part One of our tale.
Click here to read Part Two!
Click here for Part Three.
Click here for Part Four.


PART FIVE



Michael lined up his shot, looking through the rifle scope at the deer that nibbled at grass down range. Keeping perfectly still, hiding in the brush, Michael held in his breath and slowly exhaled, pulling the trigger. A loud clap split the countryside serenity and the deer bolted, only making four or five paces before it collapsed—a fresh hole just behind the shoulder.
Michael grinned and stood. The winter cold assaulted his senses and he pulled his dirty and tattered long coat closer, drawing the hood to shadow his eyes from the merciless sun. He slung the rifle over his shoulder by the strap and trudged through the icy river to his felled prey. It was a big one. The biggest one he’d caught all winter. Sara would have her hands full packing the meat, but it was sure to last them for months.
He bundled up the deer methodically, preparing to haul it back to his four-wheeler some yards away. Even as he did so, he snickered, remembering those first few months out in the Wilds, learning how to hunt. He’d been so green back then, fearful of his own shadow, only good for scribbling figures for those blasted machines. So long ago…
He hadn’t seen a machine since they’d escaped to the Wilds fifteen years ago.
His mind drifted back to that old life. Sometimes he felt that another person lived those years. At the time, he’d not been aware how angry he was, but now he saw how easily it had been for Rip to manipulate him—to control him, just as the monitors had done.
Michael wondered where Rip was now. What terrible things he was doing across the cosmos. That could have been my life. But it wasn’t. His life was here, in the peace and quiet, with Sara at his side.
Without regret, he journeyed over the plains on his old four-wheeler, finally spotting his and Sara’s cottage. He pulled the four-wheeler into the yard with his prize in tow. Blowing hot breath into his hands to warm them, he pushed his way through the front door. He slipped off his hood and called out, “Hey, I’m back.”
Sara’s usual reply did not meet him. He stepped into the kitchen, but did not find her. “Sara?”
Moved to the next room, their bedroom. Empty, too.
He stood still, his heart beginning to pound. “Sara? Where…?”
Then he heard whimpering. From above.
Jerking his head skyward, he saw Sara pinned to the ceiling by some invisible force. She wept, her long red tresses dangling down past her face.
“Sara!”
He reached for her, his mind whirring to figure out some way to get her down, when a wave of unseen energy slammed him, shot him across the room, and pinned him in place against the wall.
Michael grunted in pain and shock, struggling to move his arms—even his fingers—but he was frozen solid. “Sara!”
A voice spoke from somewhere within the shadows of the room, low and calm. “Michael.”
He twisted without success, tears building in his eyes. “Who are you? Why are you doing this?”
Michael’s panicked eyes darted every which way, trying to find the source of the voice. At last, the shadows parted and a tall, thin man in a black suit with coattails exited. The pale man’s hair was wild and white, as though styled by static electricity. His eyelids were half-closed, his nose upturned in a display of arrogance. He nearly floated along the hard wood floor, coming to a stop before Michael.
“Who are you?” Michael demanded.
“I believe you once knew an associate of mine. Rip?”
Michael swallowed hard. No…please, no. Suddenly, Rip’s words returned to him, after fifteen years: “You can’t run from us! You can’t run from what you are!
“You’re Rip’s Boss,” Michael stuttered. “The one he talked about.”
The thin man considered, then shook his head. “I’m more of a…conductor of a symphony. Rip played for me, but we both make music at the behest of a greater muse. Something greater than anything you can imagine. And he is not pleased with you.” The man circled the room, casually eyeing Sara still sobbing on the ceiling.
I’ll get you down, Michael thought to her, meeting her terrified eyes. I’ll save you, just like I did before.
“You see,” the stranger said, “you’ve stolen from him.”
“I didn’t steal anything!” Michael blurted, tears spilling down his weathered face, and he suddenly felt so very old.
“Ah, but you have. All that power, churning inside. It doesn’t belong to you, though you’ve certainly profited from it, haven’t you? Leaving your mechanical oppressors, building a life out here for you and your…woman. All made possible by the Rage. And now it’s time to pay up.”
Michael gnashed his teeth, trying to will himself to move. “Please, I’ll—I’ll do whatever you want.”
“Michael, no,” Sara sobbed.
He winced, and continued, “Rip said I was supposed to help make Chaos or something, right? I’ll—I’ll do it. Just, please, don’t hurt Sara.”
The thin man faced Michael, tapping his chin. The man’s long face was impassive, devoid of all emotion. Just dead, staring eyes, and a put-upon air about him, as though he had more pressing matters to attend to. “It’s too late for that, Michael,” he stated without mirth.
Michael whimpered. “No, please…”
“We have a new part for you to play. You see, we have another stray, running rampant across the multiverse, causing us a lot of trouble. Another Michael Morrison, as a matter of fact.”
Michael blinked in surprise.
The thin man continued, “He, like you, thinks he can escape us, but he’s wrong.” Leveling a disdainful glare on Michael, he finished, “You both are.” He paced again, glancing to Sara on the ceiling. “You will help us find and convince him that to flee from us is futile. We are your fate—the very reason you were created. But to share that truth with him, you must share it from a place of conviction.”
The man fixed a cold, unflinching stare on Sara, then lifted a hand and snapped his fingers. Sara screamed, her body making terrible crunching noises. Bones breaking. Michael grunted, trying to pull himself free. “What are you doing? Stop!
The thin man spoke over Sara’s shouts, “You are an instrument, Michael, but one that is out of tune. We have to refine you, to prepare you for my symphony.”
Sara continued to scream, her body breaking at the demonic man’s command. Michael wailed and raged against his invisible restraints. “I’ll kill you!”
The man only shook his head. “Still out of tune. Come on, Michael. You are a company man. You remember how this game works, or have you forgotten, living out here in the Wilds? You have to be taught your place. You. Will. Heel.”
“Sara!” he cried, his heart breaking, a thousand memories of their life together passing before his eyes.
But Sara’s screams finally trailed off. Her head hung limp, her body still. The man gave a wave of his hand and Sara collapsed to the bed, lifeless.
Dead.
Michael wept deep ragged gasps that pained his chest.
At last, the man—this sick Maestro of misery—regarded him. “Ah, much better. The song of your pain is beautiful—don’t ever try to hide that. Now you will be able to sing with passion, to spread my music.”
Michael bowed his head, weeping, his hood slipping over his features. At once, he was released from his imprisonment and collapsed to all fours.
The Maestro moved to him, his polished shoes clicking on the hard wood floor. “Will you submit now?”
Michael thought to rebel, to punch and kick and die fighting. He’d been ready to die when he left The Company, to be with Sara. He’d had fire back then, desperate to be away—determined that his life would belong only to him.
But, in the end, maybe his father was right. Better to blend in. To obey.
If he had, Sara would still be alive.
He stood, his hood draping over his eyes, bathing his sight in shadow. “Yes.”

EPILOGUE

The Hooded Man arranged Sara’s body on their bed and softly kissed her forehead.
Then he set the house on fire.
He stood now, wrapped in his tattered coat and hood, watching the last remnants of his independence burn away. It’d been a good life, the last fifteen years. A good distraction, but a distraction all the same. Rip had tried to tell him that he was meant for more, but he’d refused. Resistance was useless. He understood that now, here at the end, and he would teach it to this other Michael Morrison.
You can’t run from who you are.
He was a company man, through and through.
“Are you ready to leave?” the voice spoke from the shadows behind him.
He nodded, not facing the Maestro. “I’m ready.”
“Then let us begin the concerto.”

To Be Continued In
Now on sale from Genre Experience


Copyright 2015 Greg Mitchell

Thanks for reading, everyone. Go out and get your copy of Rift Jump: Revised and Expanded Edition, and stay tuned for the release of this summer's stunning sequel--Sara's Song!



Thursday, March 12, 2015

Free Short Fiction--"Company Man: Part Four"

Welcome to the fourth installment of an all-new Rift Jump short story, exclusive to this site. In "Company Man", we explore the origins of the villainous Hooded Man from the original Rift Jump novel--now on sale in the new Revised and Expanded Edition.

Click here to read Part One of our tale.
Click here to read Part Two!
Click here for Part Three.



PART FOUR



Michael and Sara raced down the hall, pushing workers out of the way. More robots joined in the pursuit, their metal feet clanking on the floor as they gave chase, all the while shouting their commands to halt. Even some of Michael’s co-workers hollered after him, telling him to give up, to give in, to blend in. One man even reached out, anger marring his features.
“What do you think you’re doing?” the man snapped. “Have you lost your mind?”
Scowling, he wrapped strong arms around Michael, to pin him in place, but Michael jerked wildly, slipping from the grip. In one fluid move he curled his fingers into a fist and punched. He’d never hit a man before, and was struck by how painful it was. Nevertheless, it did the trick. Surprised, the co-worker sprawled to the ground, his nose busted.
Michael stood over him, then regarded his shaking hand, exhilaration pumping through his veins. He laughed, elated, until Sara tugged on his arm, grinning as well. “Hurry!”
They did. Michael saw a side door up ahead that would take them down the fire escape to the floors below, but as they were about to reach it, anther monitor emerged. It pointed at Michael, its feminine voice deeper and agitated, “STOP!”
Michael and Sara slid to a halt as the robots closed in, blocking off every avenue of escape. Sara clung to him, trembling, and Michael worried what their fate would be. At the very least, they would be forever separated from each other, re-stationed in two cities on opposite ends of the country.
But the likeliest outcome was that they both would be liquidated for their rebellion.
“I’m sorry, Sara,” he shouted over the increasingly loud commands to get on the ground and submit.
“Don’t be,” she said, looking into his eyes. “For a moment, we were free. Truly free.”
He smiled and realized that, if these were his last moments on Earth, there was only one thing left to do.
He leaned down and kissed her. She cupped the back of his hair, pulling him closer, melting into him. Michael wrapped his arms around her, determined to never let her go.
A loud crash shattered their kiss. Michael parted from Sara and turned to the glass wall at the far end of the hallway, looking out over the city. Presently, a hovercar sat parked in the hallway, broken glass littering the carpet, and one robot pinned underneath the heavy vehicle. In the cockpit—
“Rip!”
Rip undid the hatch on the vehicle and stood, crowing. “C’mon, little brother, get a move on, will ya!”
Michael laughed out loud, clutched Sara, and made a run for the hovercar. Monitors reached out for him, their cold metal fingers clamping the air around him, missing him by inches.
A phalanx of androids swarmed them, but Michael helped Sara into the cockpit as carefully as he could. One droid secured his arm and Michael kicked at it, roaring in rage and adrenaline. He wouldn’t go back! He would be free!
He stamped with his foot until the robot let go, its neck spurting sparks where Michael had broken it. He scrambled into the hovercar as Rip pulled away. One of the droids leapt through the broken window, sailing through the air and landing squarely on the hovercar’s hood.
Rip floored the engine—somehow he must have rewired the controls and shut off the automatic pilot—and swerved, trying to dislodge their unwanted occupant. “Thing won’t budge!” Rip grunted, jerking the yoke, but unable to lose the mechanical parasite. “You’re gonna have to go out there, dude!”
Michael gulped and looked to Rip. “What?
“Go on! You were born for this!” Rip guffawed, then reached up and jettisoned the canopy lid. Hard winds pummeled them and Sara screamed, strapping herself in, clinging to Rip’s tattooed arm as he drove. His long, braided hair whipped in the gusts, and he just howled in laughter.
Michael felt like he would vomit, but steeled himself. Ahead, the robot’s fingers punched holes in the hood as the thing pulled itself up slowly. Straining, the mechanical beast reached out with a clawed hand, relentless in its pursuit.
“Scribbler Morrison, Michael A,” the woman’s voice remained calm, even as the robot struggled to hold its grip. “Return to your designated station immediately. Failure to comply will result in your liquidation.”
“Michael!” Sara squealed.
Michael grit his teeth and wobbled to a stand in the cockpit, slammed by winds. “I’m done taking orders!” he roared, the ferocious gale stealing his words, but not his passion. Letting loose a roar, he dove forward onto the speeding car, grappling with the robot. The monitor used its free hand to swat at Michael, and he took a hard slap to the face, but he would not let go.
He rose up on the monster, yanking at it, trying to dislodge it, to save Sara. A wild, uncontrollable rage coiled in his gut, swelling to consume every nerve. It powered his fingers as he tightened his hold on the robot’s neck. Wires popped loose, sparks shot out, and Michael grimaced, snarling now. “Die!” he spat, cold inside. So wonderfully cold and numb to pain and fear and worry and doubt.
Rip was right. He was a killer. An animal, caged for far too long.
He savagely ripped the monitor’s head off and heaved it over the side of the car. Sparks spurted from the neck stump, and the robot’s body twitched, loosened its fingers, and slid off the hovercar like so much useless junk.
Michael held onto the car as it sped on, breathing heavy, but cooling. He faced Rip who offered him a hearty thumbs-up. “Always knew you had it in you, Mike!”
Michael sneered, feeling powerful—indomitable. Godlike.
Then he saw Sara watching him, apprehensive. His rakish grin softened and faded to a frown.

* * *

They rode in silence for the rest of the trip once Michael pulled himself back into the cockpit. At last they left behind the city, finally reaching a lush landscape of green, teeming with real, organic life.
The Wilds.
Michael and Sara held hands as they soared over the mysterious forest, quietly savoring the sight. Michael only spotted a few homes out here, small cabins hewed from stone and straw, with pleasant smelling aromas wafting from their chimneys. At once he was struck with terror. Where would they live? How would they eat? Surely they’d have to eat animals. The monitors forbade meat, keeping their human drones on a strict vegetarian diet. Michael realized he would have to hunt, to kill. Learn to cook, to clean. Everything.
But he would, he was sure of it. With Sara at his side, he could face any obstacle. He’d scared her when he lost control against the monitor, but he wouldn’t lose control again. He would protect her, clothe her, feed her.
“You’re safe now,” he told her, patting her knuckles.
She warmed, snuggling close.
Rip announced, “I think this is far enough,” and settled the hovercar in a soft grassy field. Michael and Sara hopped out of the cockpit and knelt down on their hands and knees, feeling the grass. Sara laughed and tore a handful of it out, holding it under her nose. “Smell it!” she said. “It smells wonderful!”
Michael did and agreed. Next, he unstrapped his boots and dug his toes in the grass and soft dirt, finding it cool and refreshing. Rip, meanwhile, just leaned on the car, crossing his arms, a bemused smirk on his whiskered face.
With his merriment finished, Michael stood, dusting off his pants, sheepishly.
“Got that all out of our system, did we?” Rip asked with a mocking smirk.
“Sorry.”
Rip shrugged, then looked back to the horizon, shielding his eyes against the light as though he were searching for something. “No problem. Don’t worry—there’s plenty more to see.” He sighed. “Yep, there we go.”
Sara stood now, moving closer to Michael, interlocking her fingers with his. They held close, joining Rip in watching as the sheet of paper from yesterday came into view, rustling on the light breeze. At length, the paper touched down on the ground and stilled. Rip presented the paper to Michael with an accomplished bow. “Your chariot awaits.”
Michael snickered, then looked to Sara. “What?”
Rip rolled his eyes. “You think I busted you out of that joint just so you and Red, here, could go live in some cave out here in the boonies? Ha, you got bigger things ahead of you, Mike.”
Michael released Sara’s hand, inching closer to the paper, captivated by it; by the colors that danced on its surface: The rainbow from his dreams. In his heart, he heard the whispers, the call, urging him to step into the paper, to join the light and find his destiny. “What is it?” he whispered, tempted to run and dive right into the paper, if such a ridiculous notion were possible.
In a suddenly reverent tone, Rip said, “Just the door, Mike. To take you to all the worlds in the multiverse. See, this dimension of yours—as crappy as it is—is only one in a billion. You think the Wilds is impressive? Wait ‘til you visit the underside of the Mountain of Or! You just touch the cave walls, and they sing.”
Michael took a step back, holding Sara’s hand again. “B-But, I’m not ready. I can’t.”
Rip rubbed his eyes, and groaned. “I was afraid of this. Look, dude, this life ain’t for you. I told you that. My Boss has chosen you. We’ve got things to do, little brother. You think those robots were bad? That’s just the tip of the iceberg! The whole multiverse is nothing but order and rigidity, instituted by a God whose only desire is to bend you to his way of thinkin’.” Rip spread his hands wide, clenching them into fists. “You and me, we were made to rebel, brother. To tear down the rules—the walls keeping the worlds separated. Chaos, little brother! We gotta make some beautiful Chaos! Set the captives free!”
Michael frowned. In his soul, Rip’s words made perfect sense, as though he’d always been waiting for this day, secretly desiring someone to say these terrible things to him. But he feared their meaning and the reality of what he was being called to do.
He shook his head, feeling dizzy. “No, I can’t. I’m not… It’s too much. I want to stay here.” He held Sara closer. “With her. We’re just getting started. We’ve been dreaming of this our whole lives.”
Rip quieted, his eyes narrowing. Darkening. “Don’t do this, Mike,” he said, his voice like gravel. “You’ll regret it. See, my Boss? He don’t take too kindly to rejection. He’s got a lot invested in you. You felt it, dangling on that car up above the city, wrasslin’ with that robot. That’s Rage, little brother. It’s a gift; makes you strong. But it comes with obligations. You take off like a stray, he’s gonna tighten the leash. Make you heel. And it won’t be pretty.”
Michael swallowed hard, his throat dry. Shaking, he extended a hand for Rip to shake. “I-I appreciate everything you’ve done, but my answer’s ‘no’.”
Rip eyed the offered hand, then snarled, touching the tip of his tongue to a canine in concentration. He grumbled and reached behind his jeans, retrieving a crude, homemade knife with a lion’s head carved in the handle. “I didn’t wanna have to do this, Mike. You Morrisons were always my favorite.”
Michael’s eyes widened as Rip lunged with the blade. Cold hate bloomed in his stomach, injecting into every muscle, every nerve. Instantly, Michael danced out of the way of the knife, catching Rip’s blade hand and turning it up. Rip loosed an anguished grunt, and dropped the knife.
Michael glanced to Sara. “Get in! Quick!”
Sara nodded and scurried to the hovercar, climbing into the cockpit.
“We’ll find you!” Rip hollered. “We’ll find her!”
Rip twirled with his free hand, slugging Michael hard in the stomach. Michael doubled over in a cough as Rip groped through the tall grass, grabbing his knife. As soon as he retrieved it, Michael hurried and swung a leg, catching Rip in the side. The older man cried out and toppled over onto the soft earth.
Michael hurried to the car and got in. He powered the engines to life, the thrust motors pressing down on the grass as the hovercar lifted off the ground. Rip stood, out of breath, holding his side with a pained expression. “You can’t run from us!” he shouted over the roar of the wind, waving the blade at the air. “You can’t run from what you are!”
Michael grimaced at the man. “Watch me.”
They left Rip behind, ascending into the sky. Sara looked to Michael, small and fearful. “Where will we go now?”
He smiled at her. “Wherever we want.”



Copyright 2015 Greg Mitchell

Tune in on Monday, March 16 for the conclusion to the Hooded Man's tale!