Ante Mortem Anthology
Edited by Jodi Lee
Print ISBN-13: 978-1-926912-22-6
Editor: Jodi Lee
Publisher: Belfire Press
Cover Price: $7.99
Order Direct: CreateSpace
E-book ISBN-13: 978-1-926912-23-3
Formats: html, js, mobi, epub, pdf, rtf, lrf, pdb, txt
Kindle ISBN-13: 978-1-926912-24-0
Ante Mortem – pre-death. That space between drawing the first breath, and the last… otherwise known as life.
Eleven stories for the eleventh hour. Snuggle in tight, have a glass of wine, light a candle. These stories have been given new life, and a new home; they’ve almost travelled this road before. Something always held them back, but now together, they’ve broken free.
You may want to lock your doors, you never know when a starving doll, a wicked college student, a zombie horde or ghostly children will come to visit…
Don’t get too comfortable, though, there’s always someone waiting to replace you.
And definitely, absolutely, watch out for the pretty fish in the sewer…
Relax. The light at the end of the tunnel will wait. We here in the morgue like having people stop by, and you really didn’t think we’d let you go so easily. Did you?
What they’re saying about Ante Mortem:
The gods were angry.
The man and the boy were in the forest, just past the clearing of the burial ground, when the sky grew dark and the first stone fell from the heavens and shattered against the earth a mere twelve feet in front of them.
The boy looked at his father, eyes wide with fright, spear hanging loosely at his side instead of firmly in his fist and raised to the height of his shoulder. Under normal circumstances, this lack of preparation and grace would have earned him a scolding, but now his father gazed skyward, head craned back as though searching for predators. When he glanced down at his son, his own eyes were more confused than frightened. He opened his mouth to speak as a tremendous crash shook the ground beneath their feet, causing them both to stumble and turn in the direction of the explosion, crouching low, unconsciously covering their heads with their hands.
This time an even larger stone had fallen behind them, directly into the clearing where so many of their family had been laid to rest. Generations of dead, including the father’s father, mother, several siblings and other children he had spawned. His clan had lived in this area a long time—an area lush with vegetation and brimming with wildlife. There had never been a reason to move on. Starvation had not been the cause of any of the deaths. Sickness, accidents, animal attacks, murder. But never starvation.
A deafening crack that the father and son recognized: the sound of a tree snapping, and a moment later, more cracks as it took other trees down with it, then finally the thuds as they struck the forest floor.
The smell of smoke was on the air and the father shouted at the boy, pointed, and then the two of them were running back the way they’d come, shoulders hunched forward, chins tucked down against their chests, sprinting through the burial ground as more rocks fell all around them.
Most of the stones were small enough not to cause serious injury but the two fleeing figures cried out whenever struck by one of them. Not only were they falling at a great velocity, but they were also hot. Hot enough to burn, and strangely shaped, not smooth like most rocks, but jagged in places, bumpy and rough around the edges. Their color was odd as well—not black or gray or even white, but more of a deep dark purple with veins of yellow striping their hides.
By the time they reached the mouth of the cave that was their home, both man and boy were covered with welts, lumps and blisters of various size and severity. The boy wept freely, gingerly touching a bloody gash atop his head, though it was not the pain that caused him to weep: he was terrified.
Just outside the cave stood the women, clutching each other, their eyes wide with fright as they watched the man and the boy approach. The woman—mother of the boy and mate to the man—used both her voice and hand gestures to hurry them on, while her two daughters whimpered beside her.
“Run!” she urged. “Run or be killed!”