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       A Voice That Summons Monsters, p.1

           Brian S. Wheeler
 
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A Voice That Summons Monsters
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  Fallen Stardust: A boy, an outcast and an alien must find salvation in a world of ruin. Samuel must find a medicine to cure the fever ravaging his village. Markus must find the motive that murdered those he loved. And an angel must find a future in a city crumbled into debris. But something lurks beneath the wasted world, and waking it may doom what little of humanity survives.

  The Sisters Will Dance: Blaine Woosely claws his way back to the living. He has cleaned his blood of his addiction, and an unexpected, family farm home rewards his efforts. Only, the country acres isolate Blaine when a sharp-toothed monster hunts to bring Blaine back to dark. The sad history of Blaine's blood brings magic to the country home's new master, but in the end, only Blaine himself can break his chains.

  Mr. Hancock’s Signature: The dead walk in Monteray. The corpse of a nearly forgotten farmer named Hancock arrives via train. Ian Washington remembers Mr. Hancock and vows to return the body home. Yet Mr. Hancock's body will not rest while Ian works to reopen a cemetery, and the corpse staring each morning upon the doorstep forces the town to choose between the isolation of their fear or the hope of their fellowship.

  A Voice That Summons Monsters

  Flatland Fiction thanks you for your purchase of this ebook. This ebook remains the copyrighted property of the author and may not be reproduced, scanned, or distributed for any commercial or non-commercial use without permission from the author. Quotes used in reviews are the exception. No alteration of content is allowed. If you enjoy this ebook, Flatland Fiction encourages you to send us a review at [email protected] Unless otherwise instructed, Flatland Fiction reserves the right to post such reviews online.

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  This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.

  Copyright © 2013 by Brian S. Wheeler

  Contents

  Story

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  About the Writer

  Other Stories

  A Voice That Summons Monsters

  “Go ahead caller,” Max Jervis’s voice, soothed and deepened by whiskey and red meat, pulsated, unseen, through the ionosphere. “You’re the first caller tonight on the Max Guardian Radio Program. What does you hurt?”

  A disembodied voice growled through the studio’s speaker phone. “You don’t cease to amaze me with your nerve, Max. Can’t believe you’re broadcasting tonight after the judge shooting today. Like you don’t have enough more blood on your hands.”

  Max winced from the throbbing that came from his right hand’s remains. The pain screamed in his temples, and Max regretted that, of all times, a detractor phoned into his station. Max swallowed a whole, left handful of aspirin, though he doubted the medicine would succeed in numbing much of the hurt throbbing from his right hand.

  “I’ve covered this ground time and again, caller,” pain beaded sweat upon Max’s forehead. “I can’t be held responsible for every act of violence a disturbed listener might commit. I’m not going to allow my tongue to be censored on account of whatever newest act of violence is blamed on me. The fault does not rest on the shoulders of this unfairly persecuted radio host.”

  The voice from the speaker phone snorted. “Well, Max, I’m sure your ratings are up. I’m sure the sponsors are lining up to buy a little air time.”

  “Shame on you, sir,” Max raised his trained voice an octave to express an offended anger he knew the majority of his audience would regard as honest. “I’ll not suffer your insults. I’ll not listen to you claim me some kind of commercial whore. Not on the Max Guardian Radio Program. Good night, sir.”

  Despite the pain, Max allowed the drama of the moment to sweep his better judgment, and the radio host pounded the disconnect button to that blinking phone line with a remaining finger of his right hand. Pain instantly sparkled in the back of his eyes, and Max drew a trickle of blood as he bit upon his tongue so that a grunt did not creep into the airwaves.

  Max closed his eyes and forced his thoughts to consider pleasure instead of pain - the aroma of fine, Cuban cigars, the taste of vintage years of wine. His ratings soared. Sponsors crowded each of his commercial slots. The Max Guardian Radio Program enjoyed a popularity it had never known, and Max was proud to think how far his words floated through the stratosphere.

  Yet the pain in his hand hurt terribly. The creature, who Max heard scratching against the outside walls during his radio program's short silences had bitten off the thumb and three fingers of the radio host’s right hand the last time Max peeked out of his door. Max had wrapped the remains of the hand in his extra large shirt, but blood still dripped onto his wide desk. He had only caught a glimpse of the monster outside of his door, had only a glimpse of the many rows of shark-like teeth that populated the thing’s smile, of the many eyes that mocked him, of the exposed bone that grew through a patchwork of sickening flesh. The shock had turned him still as a stone, and in that second of shock, the monster had gripped much of Max’s right hand in its maw and severed his flesh with a quick and nibbling bite, ripping his right thumb and three fingers clean from the bone.

  He had fainted. He did not know what grace had closed the door upon the monster that lurked beyond the threshold. But the door had kept the monster at bay, and the programmed, humming protocol that summoned his studio’s machines to life each night at a half hour before midnight had roused him to his microphone.

  Max regretted that he had built his studio so far into the desert. He regretted that he had so mistrusted his neighbors that he had hoped his studio’s seclusion would prevent anyone from knocking uninvited at his door. He had called the police and had tried to describe to them the monster that lurked on the other side of his door. He doubted the police believed him. He worried the police might not have listened to his fear as intently as they should have for some of the things Max had sometimes said about those who wore an officer’s blue uniform. He could not tell how well he expressed the directions to his lonely studio. He could only wait and hope that at the moment the police raced across the empty miles of sand, that they were able to follow his directions, that soon they would arrive to chase away the awful monster that preyed upon Max from the other side of his secluded, desert studio’s door.

  But for the moment, Max was alone, with only his studio’s walls and a door separating him from the accursed thing beyond the threshold.

  Fear parched his throat, and Max turned to the blinking, green light of another phone line for solace. Had he not shared in his listeners' hurts so that for one time they might empathize with his suffering? Max wished for mercy.

  “Go ahead, caller,” Max again summoned the soothing strength that made his voice famous, “you’re on air. Tell us what does you hurt.”

  Max Jervis’s radio empire stretched the globe, and his voice recognized no border.

  Beginning each weeknight at the tolling of the midnight bell, the Max Guardian Radio Program pulsed through the atmosphere for two hours. Max’s voice originated from his secluded and small studio hidden in the desert, but it was instantly electrified through a series of antennae and towers that swelled his tongue with wattage power. His affiliates represented all fifty states and covered six continents. Sponsors battled one another for commercial slots on his program, and Max’s advertising fees guaranteed that his stomach would know no shortage of red meat, nor his tongue any dearth of the whiskey it savored. Some governors and legislatures despised Max. Some loved him. But none den
ied his invitation to be flown via helicopter to his secluded studio for the opportunity to speak their voices to the masses who tuned in to the Max Guardian Radio Program.

  Max believed the secret to his success was simple. It was a secret Max could hardly believe more had not stumbled upon. But Max had, and he would not share it with anyone if that silence was enough to keep his voice soaring above the cacophony that crowded the atmosphere, if such a simple secret was all it took to command such a loyal legion of listeners with the utterance of his tongue.

  Max Jervis’s secret was that he always mimicked a victim's voice.

  No matter that his empire stretched beyond borders. No matter that world leaders filled his answering machine with requests to appear on his program. No matter that Max owned a private island for his home away from the studio, or that he possessed a private fleet to sail him there. No matter that the finest restaurants in the world’s finest cities reserved a table for Max’s appetite. No matter that masses congregated to their radios each midnight for the guidance of his word. No matter that his listeners turned to him for moral direction. No matter that Max possessed such wealth, fame, influence and power.

  No matter any of those things, the secret of Max Jervis’s success would never change. Max knew that, secretly, everyone pined to play the part of the victim, and Max knew how to convince those who listened to his tongue that he shared in all of their real, or imagined, pains.

  But a world filled with victims needed to be one as well filled with monsters.

  And Max Jervis did not need to look beneath beds nor stones to find such creatures.

  Max heard a long scrape cut across his door. The whiskey and the pain had made his eyes heavy, and Max’s head twitched at the sudden noise.

  “Hello, caller,” Max mumbled into the microphone.

  Only silence answered Max’s summon.

  Max eyed the door and prayed it would continue to hold. “Appears we’re having technical difficulties out here in the wide desert. Bear with me listeners as I work through some of the confusion.”

  The throbbing of his right hand returned and Max grimaced. He needed to clear his head to envision the shape of that new monster he needed to create. He had created so many in his show’s history that he had a wide menagerie from which to choose. His mastery knew how to make wolfs out of lambs.

  But now, Max had seen a very real monster outside of his door, and he had felt the real pain of its bite that separated thumb and fingers from his hand. Max had seen a monster of a more ancient mold, one made of teeth, and of bone, of eyes and of horns.

  Sweat poured from his forehead as the sound of another talon or claw scraped across his outer door. The length of the radio’s dead silence stretched. Max frantically searched his thoughts for any turn of phrase that might break that silence. He knew that silence was not long afforded in the medium of radio. Only, Max suddenly felt himself a victim in a sense that he had never before imagined, and fear knotted his tongue.

  For Max now realized that monsters might be knit together by elements far more substantial than radio waves. For the first time in the history of his radio program, Max Jervis hesitated to speak into the microphone for the anxiety of what his words might summon.

 
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