Free Short Story / Mother of Kitties

A few months ago Brian Keene and Dave Thomas were talking about my novel Hacks on their weekly podcast, The Horror Show with Brian Keene, because I was bringing it back into print and offering free digital copies to Horror Show listeners.  Mostly it was shameless self promotion, but partly it was because many of the book’s main characters are based on real writers I know, one of them Brian Keene.

Dave suggested that someone should put him and co-host Phoebe in a story, then offered up a premise that had a lot of possibility.

“What are you waiting for, Knight?  It writes itself!”

I’m pretty sure he was kidding, and pretty sure he was still kidding when he mentioned the idea again a few weeks ago, but I liked the idea, and he called me out by name, so what the hell.

It was supposed to be a flash piece, but evolved into a full grown short story.  I’m publishing it with Dave and Phoebe’s permission in my upcoming collection Dangerous Toys, but I wanted you guys to have a chance to read it for free before Dangerous Toys comes out, so I’m posting it here for the next few weeks (after removing it for a few years I’ve decided to put it back up as a free read).

I hope you all dig it!

Brian Knight

Mother of Kitties

Dave Thomas thought he would probably enjoy CatCon more if it wasn’t for all the fucking people.  He loved cats, cats were great because they mostly left you alone, but cat people were just so … weird, and peopley.  Except for Phoebe, who was also weird, but in all the right ways.  Phoebe was also the reason that Dave was fighting his way through a press of strangers, making his slow way to the restroom of the Pasadena Convention Center, instead of catching the Summer Slaughter Tour in Grand Rapids.

He was wearing his Soreption concert t-shirt in honor of the show he was missing, and drawing strange looks from an assortment of blue-hairs and uptight fur-mamas littering the hallway.  He had to piss, and badly.  If he couldn’t bust through this press of people between him and the bathroom soon he was likely to piss right down his leg.

A skinny guy with stringy black hair, a wisp of mustache, and a Grumpy Cat t-shirt watched Dave’s approach with a sneer.

“The fuck you looking at?”

The skinny guy jumped like Dave had reached out a goosed him, then turned away and moved on, opening a path through the crowd past the men’s room door.

Dave smiled, feeling a little better about the day, and shouldered his way through the shrinking gap in the crowd before it could close again.


He heard the screams while he was washing his hands.  The first one was isolated, out of place in the low hum of conversation beyond the restroom door.  He ignored it as he shook the water from his hands, then thumped the button on the hot air hand drier with his elbow.  No matter how clean they looked, public restrooms were disgusting places.  Pressing the flush on a public toilet made his skin want to crawl right off his body, but that couldn’t be helped.  Anything he could avoid touching with his hands, he did.

The low hum of conversation in the hallway increased to a din, he could hear it over the racket of forced hot air, and he wondered what was going on out there.  Probably a Colonel Meow sighting in the hallway.  He dreaded the probability of having to press his way through an even larger crowd to get back to Phoebe.

Then the forced air died, and he realized that the noise beyond the door no longer qualified as a low hum, or even a din.  It was a cacophony.  Raised voices, shouts, trampling feet, and screams.  Screams of pain.  Screams of terror.

His mind conjured up a hundred dreadful possibilities as he ran to the door – fire, flood, a crazy ass-hole with a gun and some political or religious agenda, a Kim Kardashian sighting in the lobby, or maybe the zombie apocalypse.

He was reaching for the door when it swung open and slammed him into the wall.  A dozen or more men and women pushed past him and crammed themselves in the stalls, hiding from … he didn’t know what.

Don’t go out there, man,” someone shouted as he reached out to catch the closing door.  “They’ve gone crazy.  Fucking crazy, man!”

“Who’s gone crazy?”  Dave paused on his way out, waiting for a bit of clarification.  “What the hell’s going on?”

Shut the goddamn door!”  A woman in the far stall screamed at him.  “You’re going to let them in!”

For a second, Dave teetered on the brink of retreat.  He considered letting the door close, maybe propping the trash-can under the handle to bar it before forcing himself into one of those tight little stalls.

Phoebe’s out there.

He was out into the hallway and running the way he’d come before he realized he meant to go.

He ran against a strong current of panicked, screaming bodies, elbowing and shoving people aside.


He scanned faces even as he pushed past them but didn’t see her.

A burly man in checkered golf pants and an oversized paisley shirt grabbed him by an arm and swung him around.

“Are you insane?”  Dave felt the knuckles of the man’s long, meaty fingers crackle as they squeezed his arm.  “You’re running the wrong way!”

Dave wrenched his arm from the man’s grip and shoved him aside.

“I gotta find Phoebe!”

The man regarded Dave for a shocked moment, then backed away from him.

“Fuck you then.  Go get yourself torn up.”  That said, he turned tail and sprinted with the ebbing flow of cat lovers toward the convention center lobby.

Dave’s cell phone buzzed in his pocket.  He realized that it had been in there, forgotten and buzzing against his leg as he panicked and ignored what might be Phoebe’s last frantic call to him.  He dug for it and tugged it out.

It was Phoebe, but she wasn’t calling.  She was texting.

There were a half-dozen new texts.

Hurry up sweetie!


Morris is here!  OMG!

The third was a picture of a fat, orange tabby stretched out in what looked like a silk-lined cat bed.  The current incarnation of 9 Lives cat food mascot, Morris the Cat.  A white plastic food dish with his name printed across the side sat ignored next to him.

A loud scream brought Dave’s attention back to the mostly empty path ahead.  For the first time he saw the blood streaking the walls and dotting the carpeted floor.  An enormously fat man burst through the open door of Exhibit Hall B, where a select few famous felines were displayed for their adoring public.

Dave had been warned in advance that there would be no touching of the famous cats.  You could look all you wanted, take a picture if their handlers allowed it, but you couldn’t interact with them in any way.  Actual meet and greets would be available later, in more private settings, and for a fee.

The screaming fat man’s face was carved up and bleeding badly, and when he turned toward the sound of Dave’s shocked scream, Dave saw that one of his eyes was gone.  The man tripped over his own tangled feet and hit the floor hard.

Dave was moving again, rushing to help the man up, when the cats pounced.

First two, then four, then half a dozen, they leapt onto the prone man, hissing and wailing, digging with their claws, biting his shoulders, the back of his neck, the top of his head.  A Maine Coon the size of a dog and with a lion-like mane of gray hair tore a chunk out of his throat, and a surprising fan of blood sprayed Dave, drenching him from the knees down.

Dave screamed again, and the cats turned to regard him.

He waited for them to attack, grateful that he’d already emptied his bladder.

They looked at him, then past him, and rushed toward the fading screams and shouts of the fleeing cat fanciers.  The Maine Coon brushed against his leg and purred for a second before catching up with the rest.

The fat man gurgled briefly, then died.

Dave’s phone vibrated in his hand.

He scrolled past two more pictures of famous cats, one of them was indeed Colonel Meow, and read the last two texts.

Where are you honey, I need you!

And …

I love you, baby.

“Phoebe.”  It was little more than a whisper.  He didn’t have the breath for anything stronger.

The phone buzzed, and a new picture appeared.

A sea of cats, more cats than could have possibly been in attendance, even at the largest of CatCons.  There were pampered celeb-cats, well-groomed but more-or-less average attendee’s cats, big cats, small cats, old,  young, and dirty, matted, mangy strays who seemed to have somehow gotten past security.

All of them facing Dave through the picture Phoebe had just sent.  Closing in on her.


He leapt over the fat man’s outstretched legs and ran through the open door into Exhibit Hall B.


There were perhaps twenty Celebrity Cat booths set up throughout the spacious room, and all of them destroyed in the chaos.  Tables were overturned, backdrops trampled into the floor, promotional posters of the convention’s most famous feline guests torn and scattered, and their human handlers either dead or fled.

There were bodies everywhere.

Some of them were still moving, moaning, screaming, so, Dave supposed, they weren’t technically bodies yet, but the remaining felines were busy correcting that.  The cats chewed on wrists and throats.  One tiny kitten was half-hidden in an unconscious woman’s hiked up skirt, chewing into her thigh.  A second later the woman’s femoral artery let go with a gush, and the kitten climbed onto her chest, mewing in triumph.

Another text alert sounded out, and every cat not currently occupied with turning a human into a corpse turned to him.

Shit.”  Dave’s voice was little more than a whisper, but the cats meowed at him, as in to say Yes indeed, human.  Shit.

He retreated a step, turned back to the hallway, and found his path blocked.

Another text alert, and the cats, now surrounding him on all sides except one, meowed again.

Dave had the absurd notion that they were telling him to check his damn phone.

What they didn’t do was attack him.

Dave checked his damn phone.

The first of the new texts said Ballroom.

The second said Hurry up, honey.  There isn’t much time.

Dave moved in the only direction the gathering cats would allow, forward, deeper into the abattoir that was Exhibit Hall B.  The faster he moved, the faster they followed.  He was running by the time he saw the opening in the partition wall between Hall B and Hall A, sprinting by the time he passed through it into the empty and previously blocked off Exhibit Hall A.

Not empty anymore.

Every cat in the city seemed to have converged on CatCon, and they were all gathering in the unused Exhibit Hall A.  They filled it wall to wall, parting for Dave when he rushed in blindly, closing behind him when he skidded to a stop.

They writhed, mewed, yowled, and squawked, then rushed at him in a wave.

A wave of cats, Dave thought as he felt himself sliding smoothly out of consciousness.  Too bad no one else is alive to video this.  No one is ever going to believe me.

Then the wave crested, then fell over him.

Oh, right.  I won’t be alive to tell anyone.


Sharp, nipping pain brought Dave back to an unreal reality.

His first surprise was realizing he was still alive to wake up.  His second was realizing that he was moving, and rather quickly, but not under his own power.  The cats were conveying him across the empty convention hall like fans at a rock concert.  Dave was crowd surfing across Pasadena Convention Center’s Exhibit Hall A on a mewling tide of cats.

There was another nip, drawing blood from a fingertip.


There was another, gentler nip, then what might have been a dozen rough tongues licking the injured finger.

The wave beneath him, moving him ever quicker, ever higher above the floor, was purring now.

Then Dave was standing upright, not under his own power, but supported by hundreds of cats.  He tried to pull free of them, but was caught fast by claws and teeth sunk into his clothing.

The wall at the end of the exhibit hall was nearing, and Dave realized that he was about to smash face-first into it.

He clenched his eyes shut, but couldn’t squelch the scream of anticipated pain.

The pain didn’t come.

There was a crumping, crumbling sound, the sound of a wrecking-ball knocking down a wall, and a dusting of splintered and broken press board fell in his hair, down his face.

Then Phoebe’s voice.

“There you are, honey!  What took you so long?”

Dave Thomas opened his eyes and beheld the love of his life, the reason he was knee-deep in gore and neck-deep in psycho killer cats instead of a mosh pit, rocking out to the best in modern metal.

Phoebe was reclined on a throne of living cats.  She swayed gently from side to side as they moved, trading places beneath and behind her as part of her throne, then darting back out onto the floor as others took their place.

The giant Maine Coon was in her lap purring so loudly Dave could feel it vibrating the air between them.

Phoebe waved, grinning ear to ear, showing teeth that looked quite a bit pointier than Dave remembered them being earlier in the day.

“Uhh…?” Dave said.

Dave crowd surfed the cats right up to the foot of Phoebe’s living, purring throne, and then they set him down before her and parted to give him room.

He wobbled on his feet for a moment, thought his knees were going to unlock and drop him where he stood.  He kept his feet with a great effort of will, and tried to formulate a question more intelligent than Uhhh…?

“What in the hell is going on, Phoebe?”

“Did you know I was a cat goddess?”  Phoebe sounded both surprised and delighted.  “I didn’t!”

“No,” Dave said.  “I didn’t know that.”

Somehow, he wasn’t as surprised as he should have been.

Phoebe nodded down toward the massive cat reclined in her lap.

“This is Titus.  He’s my familiar!”  She giggled.  “I didn’t know I had one of those either.”

“Hi, Titus.”  Dave gave Titus a little wave.

Titus regarded Dave in perfect silence for a moment, as if appraising a competitor for his mistress’s affection, then gave a low, amiable yowl.

“He says he’s come to elevate me to my rightful place in the universe and lead all of feline-kind to supremacy over humans.”  She sounded dubious, but Phoebe had always been pretty openminded, and she did love cats, so Dave thought she was prepared to accept Titus at his word on at least a provisional basis.  “Titus says that humankind is a failed race destined to bring total devastation to the Earth and all of its creatures.”

Dave let that sink in for a moment, and decided Titus made a good point

“He’s not wrong,” Dave said.

Titus seemed almost to smile at him.

“I told them no way was I going to become the dark goddess of cats and harbinger for the destruction for mankind unless they let you come with,” Phoebe said.  “Titus said I could keep you.”

“So, will that make me a god?”

“Naw,” Phoebe said.  “More like a pet.”

Yes, her teeth were definitely pointier than they had been that morning.  Her eyes much greener too, and the pupils more like dark slits than regular old round pupils.  Also, she seemed to have grown a tail.

The ballroom had gone silent.  All the purring, licking, and feline fidgeting ceased.  All eyes were on him.  Waiting.

“So,” Phoebe said.  “What do you say?”

“Sure,” Dave said.  “Why the hell not.”

Butch Be Quick!

I know I’m pushing the boundaries of what you could consider flash fiction this time, but it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything and I don’t want you to think I’ve forgotten about you.  I don’t have anything worth pontificating about tonight, and I happen to be very fond of this particular very short misadventure, so here you are.  I may have sent this out before in my old newsletter, so forgive me if you’re getting this for the second time.  If you haven’t read it before, I hope you will now.

If you happen to enjoy Butch, you should check out his other misadventures.

Brian Knight.

Butch, Be Quick!
From the Misadventures of Butch Quick

Frankie saw me the moment I waked through the door and tensed as if to bolt.  I could almost read his thoughts in his dark little eyes.  He wasn’t surprised to see me – not happy either, but the people I call on usually aren’t.   He’d probably been warned in advance to expect me.  If so, I knew who to thank for that.

For a moment I thought he might run, try to make it to the back door, but a few seconds passed and he didn’t.   I guess he knew the time for running had come and gone.   I was here.  He’d just have to deal with me now.

Frankie sighed, resigned.

Seeing his ugly mug wasn’t going to be the highlight of my morning either, but I was there, and we had business to take care of.

I deal with a lot of lowlifes in my job, rub shoulders, and sometimes knuckles, with the scum of Paradise Valley on a daily basis, but some people really do piss me off worse than others.

Frankie for instance.  Tall, scrawny, big hair and little eyes that remind me of a rats oil drop peepers.  A perpetual and loathsome smirk on his narrow face.  A face made for punching.

Some people say my attitude sucks, I say it could be worse.

I was going to play nice this time though.  Try to at least.

To be fair to Frankie, which I’m only doing in the interest of personal improvement, he probably felt the same way about me.

My name is Butch Quick, and I deal with Paradise Valley’s less savory residents for a living.  I work for my Uncle Higheagle and his various enterprises.   Depending on his current needs I am a nightclub bouncer, a repo man, a bail bond recovery agent, and pretty much any other job too dangerous or dirty for anyone else to do.

Like dealing with Frankie.

I am especially well equipped for this type of work.  At two hundred and fifty pounds and just a hair under seven feet tall, I find that most people are happy enough to let me do my job with minimal interference.  My red skin is almost overkill, an unfair advantage to the white folks who are still afraid of Indians.

I blame the media.  Too many cheesy spaghetti westerns on AMC maybe.

All of that and a face not even a mother could love.  None too pretty to start with, my rough job and talent for trouble has added to the overall effect.  I’ve been shot, stabbed, beaten, run over and generally badly used in the execution of my work.

And people wonder why I have a bad attitude.

Frankie clearly belonged to the White Dudes Who Are Afraid of Indians tribe, but I wasn’t going to let that break my heart.  He was the guy currently providing the good citizens of Paradise Valley with massive quantities of potentially life shortening stimulants, not me.

I closed the door behind myself and took my first steps toward Frankie with a stomach full of bitter bile and a head full of antisocial ideas.  A bubble of tension seemed to grow between us, as real and noxious as a deviled egg fart.

Frankie was not alone.  A dozen sharp and suspicious eyes aimed themselves at me like loaded guns, moved to follow my slow progress.   Frankie’s customers and associates.  A sharply dressed blonde with the body of a model and the face of a predatory bird sat alone at a small table, the legal pad she’d been writing in forgotten for the moment.  Her right hand dropped down toward a black leather holster not quite concealed under the loose fold of her light jacket.

I wondered if I should have come armed, but after a moment’s consideration decided that would only have provoked them.

I should have just stayed in bed that morning.


My Uncle Higheagle is a good guy, the best in fact, and I would do just about anything for him.  Sometimes I’m surprised by the list of crazy things I have done for him.  Whatever I have done or will do, it’s nothing compared to everything he’s done for me.  He took me in when my mom died, raised me from a teenager to the almost respectable man who bounces drunks, jacks cars from deadbeat customers, and drags bail-jumpers back to their cells.

The surprising fact that I’m not occupying one of those cells myself says a lot for him, considering the raw material he had to work with.

He has his bad days though, and that had been one of them.  It was that time of the month, payroll, and he was still dealing with the cleanup from my recent misadventure with a homicidal prostitute and a pissed off drug dealer.  He had taken most of the fallout in good grace, but the strain was beginning to show.

We were in the combined offices of Higheagle Classics (the best selection of clean classic cars in Paradise Valley!) and Eagle Eye Bail Bonds, him seated in the chair behind a desk stacked high with paperwork that needed his attention, me in the nice leather chair in the corner by the potted palm trees he habitually kept in his office.  I’m especially fond of that chair, partly because the palms match all my best shirts.  I’m a sucker for Hawaiian shirts.  The louder the better.

The mountain of paperwork, which he was fervently ignoring for the time being, was a good indication of how his morning was going.  The phone, which rang constantly until he unplugged it and dropped it into his wastepaper basket, was an even better one.  Despite these clear warning sings I felt compelled to object to the task he’d asked of me that morning.

“You want me to what?  Seriously?”  I wasn’t trying to be a pain in the ass, but the task he’d given me was clearly outside my range of prescribed duties.   I also felt it was a waste of my time and talent.  “Isn’t there a stripping midget I can rescue?  Maybe a drug lord who needs his car repossessed?  That’s always good fun!”

Anybody but Frankie, I thought.  I’d gotten Frankie duty before and he had not endeared himself to me on those previous occasions.

Uncle Higheagle clearly thought otherwise, and felt compelled as my father figure and employer to make his opinion clear.

“Butch,” he said, eyeing me from beneath the ridiculous feathered headdress he sometimes wore for the amusement of his customers.  “I don’t have time for this shit.  I’m up to my feathers in payroll, that old bastard with the shot up storage unit is threatening to sue, and my mechanic called in sick this morning because, his words, he’s pissing blood and fire and his doodle is turning purple.”

We both shuddered.  Curtis was one of those guys who always shared a little too much.  He’s a good enough mechanic I guess, but socially retarded.  Uncle Higheagle though he was a wizard with a wrench.  I though he had questionable taste in women.

Uncle Higheagle took a few deep breaths and continued with what I considered an admirable lack of hostility and foul language.

“I hope you don’t think I’m overstating my case when I say this is the single most important piece of unfinished business I have this morning, and there is no one else to handle it for me.”

He forced a smile.  It was not a pleasant one.

“Okay, I’m on it,” I said making for the door before his ghastly smile could brand itself forever on my subconscious.

Good!  Thank you!”  He slapped the top of his desk and the tallest of the piles tipped over and spilled into his lap.  “Go on now Butch, be quick!”


And so there I stood, facing my nemesis and taking care of my uncle’s very urgent business while a crowd of Frankie’s associates and customers braced themselves for trouble.

I pretended not to notice as the predatory blonde’s hand moved a little closer to the holster, or how two of Frankie’s associates broke off their conversation to track my movement through the suddenly silent room before flanking him.

His reinforcements in place, Frankie’s punch-worthy smirk grew.  He leaned against the counter and waited for me.

Feeling like the world’s biggest and dumbest mouse in a den of scrawny, starved cats, I closed the distance.

The tension in the room peaked as I took my last step and stopped.

Someone coughed.  Someone else cleared their throat.

I looked down at him.

He looked up at me and smiled.  A smile as unconvincing as Uncle Higheagle’s had been.

He spoke.

“Welcome to Starbucks … what can I get for you?”

I gave Frankie the Barista my uncle’s order.

Our transaction broke the tension.

Behind him a machine steamed milk with great, noisy gusto.  The blonde slid her cell phone back into its black leather holster and refocused on her legal pad and latte.

Frankie’s associates got busy ignoring me again.

I forked over a five-dollar bill for a single cup of coffee, and died a little inside.

Fear and Dread in the Pacific Northwest

Hello, friends and stalkers!

I don’t do many events.  It’s been about two years since I’ve done a signing, and six years since I’ve been to a convention (WHC 2012 in Salt Lake City).  Partly it’s the high price of traveling to conventions, which I love attending, but have never paid off in a substantial way for my career.  Mostly it’s because I was semi-retired from writing for the past five of those years, working only to fulfill a contract for my fantasy trilogy, The Phoenix Girls, and to write a few short stories I absolutely could not ignore.  I did try for a novel following the final Phoenix Girls book, but I’d lost my motivation, my ability to sit and focus for hours at a time, and the idea spoiled.

Last summer I began again, preparing reissues of some of my old work under my own publishing imprint, Tulpa Books, and writing a few original short stories.  Mostly a lot of editing and rewriting old stuff.

Now that most of my backlist is in print again, I’m working on a new novel, an extreme horror novel currently titled The Girl’s Got Guts (this will almost certainly change, but I have to call it something).  I have decided to shoot for a traditional publishing deal for this novel instead immediately releasing it under my imprint.  Sorry for this digression from the main topic, but you never know when someone from Deadite Press might read a post and take an interest.

Now that I’m getting back into it, I’ve scheduled my first event to launch, though somewhat belatedly, the new Tulpa paperback editions of Dragonfly, Feral, Broken Angel, and Hacks.  This will be of limited interest to anyone not in easy driving distance of Clarkston, Washington, but is still post-worthy, IMO, because even if you can’t make it to the signing, you can still … you know … buy the books.  I’ll even sign and inscribe them for you if you send them to me.  If you are close to me but can’t make it to next Saturday’s (June 16, 2008) signing, don’t worry, there will be other signings now that I’m out of semi-retirement.

Now if I could just get someone to make me a guest of some upcoming horror convention so I could justify the trip.  Man, I miss attending conventions and mingling with the other freaks and geeks.

For now, I give you Fear & Dread In the Pacific Northwest, brought to you by The Fiction of Brian Knight and …and BOOKS, too! in Clarkston, Washington.  This is a multi-author signing featuring four authors from Washington and Idaho: T.J. Tranchell, Al Halsey, Khaliela Wright, and little ol’ me.

Come by if you can!  I look forward to seeing you.

Brian Knight

Dangerous Games: All the Puchikai at Wallyworld Suck

You’ve seen them wandering aimlessly, staring down at their phones, off in their own little virtual worlds.  You might even be one yourself, so focused on the chase that you wouldn’t even notice if you fell right into the game.  The game even warns you to be observant, to be aware of your surroundings.

If you can’t keep at keep at least one foot in the real world, you never know where you might end up.

All the Puchikai at Wallyworld Suck

Beth paused at the corner and grabbed Terry’s shoulder to keep him from stepping into the street and getting creamed by a panel truck that sped up to beat the light at the intersection.  Terry didn’t even look up from his phone.

“Look where you’re going, dumbass.”

“We gotta hurry,” Terry said, oblivious to the close call.  “There’s a Gozuu in there!”

He pointed across the street at the Walmart.

“Bullshit,” Beth said.  “All the Puchikai at Wallyworld suck.”

A shirtless pedestrian taking in summer sun sneered down at them as he passed by.  “Stupid fucking kids.”

Beth, who was fourteen and hadn’t considered herself a kid since she was raped at twelve, ignored him.  Terry, who Beth did kind of consider a kid even if he was a year older, appeared not to have heard the man at all.

“Puchi-Map says it is.”  He tapped his phone’s screen, a virtual map with them at the center.  “Puchi-Map is never wrong, but it won’t stay there forever.”

The Don’t Walk at their crosswalk turned to Walk, so she grabbed him by the arm and led him across the street.  He followed without even looking up from his phone.

Puchikai World, the latest craze in VR mobile gaming, was kind of kid’s stuff, but Terry was wild about it, and Beth was kind of wild about Terry, so they played and collected together.

Terry’s collection of Puchikai, little cartoon creatures, was big enough that he ignored the scores of wild Puchikai roaming around the Walmart parking lot.  He had all of them.  He stayed on Puchi-Map, a third-party app that was against Puchikai World’s terms of service, technically speaking, even though a lot of people used it.

Beth found and caught three new ones as they crossed the parking lot, then realized she was almost out of traps and restrained herself.  If there really was a Gozuu, the holy grail of Puchikai, in Wallyworld, she might need all the traps she had left to catch it.  Most Puchikai were cute, in a Japanese Anime kind of way, but next to useless when fighting other players in the game.  Gozuu was a true monster, one of the few near unbeatable catches.  So rumor said, anyway.  She didn’t know anyone who had caught one, or even seen one.

She watched her screen to see if it would appear to her.  She also continued to watch traffic, and steer Terry out of harm’s way when he tried to wander into it.

He kept his eyes on the map, then zoomed in on the building they were about to enter.

“Looks like it’s in Electronics,” he said, and finally looked up as they stepped through the automatic doors and into the air-conditioned chaos of Walmart.

Beth checked again, but it wasn’t showing up on her game app yet.

Terry clicked out of the map and opened the game.

Gozuu finally appeared on her game as they walked past the pet food isles, and Beth began to share Terry’s excitement.  She didn’t start feeling nervous until they passed a display of new iPads and entered Electronics.

It was deserted.  Not a single customer browsed the DVDs or video games.  There were no employees around to mean mug them, the way store employees always seemed to do with teenagers, as if they were up to no good.

They followed the short-range trackers on their game apps, then stopped in front of a pair of black swinging doors.  Employees was written in big letters across one, Only across the other.

“It’s in there,” Terry said.

Beth took a step back and looked around.

“Come on,” Terry said.  “There’s no one around to bust us.”

“Yeah, about that …”

Terry ignored her and pushed through the swinging doors, into the darkness beyond.

“Shit!”  Beth looked around again, then stepped in behind him.

“Terry?”  Beth whispered, then gave a little whistle to get his attention.  There was no reply.

She looked down at her screen, saw Gozuu ahead and to the right.  She tapped the Traps icon to get them ready and followed after Terry.  The glow from her screen gave enough light to see directly around and in front of her, but no more.  She moved slowly.

No sign of Terry, but Gozuu appeared on her screen, ready to fight.  She threw a trap and waited to see if she would need another.

A growl from directly in front of her drew her attention away from her phone.

Two large red eyes opened up the darkness just outside her circle of light, then the thing in the darkness rushed forward to get her.

Beth opened her mouth to scream …


I sent this story out to my Knightmares newsletter before I merged the newsletter with this blog.  I thought I should share it here too.  If you like it, then subscribe to Knightmares and never miss a post or future flash fiction.


Alex squirmed in the front passenger seat, strained to see over the dashboard.  It was dark out, snowing, and the headlights shining through the falling snow made him feel like he was in a spaceship flying past stars.  The drive from grandma’s house was long and boring, but flying through space was fun.

“Sit still!”  Papa was in a bad mood, a don’t mess with me boy mood, so Alex settled back and tried to sit still.

It wasn’t easy.  They never let him sit in front, something about airbags killing little kids like him, and it was a whole new perspective.


Nothing.  Papa squeezed the steering wheel until his fingers turned white.

Alex turned to look in the back seat.

“Sit still!”

Alex jumped, slammed himself back into the seat.

He waited for mommy to say something, to tell papa not to shout, but she didn’t.  They’d been fighting all night, so she was probably giving him the silent treatment.


“Hush, Alex,” papa said.  “Leave your mommy alone.”

“Papa,” Alex said, then remembered he was supposed to hush, and whispered. “Papa.”

Papa ignored him for a moment, then sighed.  “What, Alex?”

“Why am I sitting up here instead of mommy?”

They’d traded spots at the last rest area.  Alex had to piss big time, and he’d wanted a few minutes away from the arguing, so he’d taken his time.  His papa came into the bathroom while he was washing up and hurried him back out to the car, almost shoving him into the front seat and buckling him in.

“Your mommy was tired,” papa said, and there was something in his voice Alex didn’t like.  He whispered, maybe so mommy wouldn’t hear him, “all that running her mouth wore her out.”

“Mommy’s taking a nap?”

Papa looked into the rear-view mirror, then back to the road.

“Yeah, mommy’s taking a nap.  You should too.  We won’t get home for a few more hours.”

“Okay,” Alex said, and he tried, but something was still bothering him.


“What, Alex … what?”

“You got blood on you.”

My Favorite Gadget

Here’s a blast from the past, written when I was a part of author David Wilson’s Storytellers Unplugged.  It’s about the beginning of my enduring love of gadgets.  It’s all a bit dated now, my gadgets have evolved since writing this.  I have even written a 100K length novel on a tablet, which now my grandson’s favorite toy since I have upgraded again.

I have also changed my mind regarding Apple products and software.  Everything I own is Apple now.

I have not changed my mind about most of the Lewis/Clark Valley’s radio stations.

My Favorite Gadget

If you’ve read the afterword to my novella 1200 AM Live you’ll know my opinion of my local AM and FM radio stations.  For those who haven’t read the aforementioned piece, I’ll give you the short version.

I fucking hate it.

Local radio in the Lewis/Clark Valley is mostly country, which makes me angry if I’m forced to listen to more than a few minutes, or worse, top 40.  I’m not sure which I hate more, a song where even the guitars sound like they’re whining, or a song with a computerized beat and auto-tuned vocals.  Top 40 is the new disco, in my humble opinion, and country is the new … well, country.

There are a few light muzak stations, and a few rock stations, but the only good (IMO) rock station is broadcast from the city of Spokane, which is over a hundred miles to the northwest, and can only be heard clearly from the roofs of this city’s taller buildings on clear and windless days.

For a few years I contented myself by listening to talk radio instead, but too much of that fosters bizarre personal and political opinions, so I gave up listening to talk radio.  I think it was a good choice, like giving up meth or public masturbation.

For the past four or five years I’ve eliminated my dependency on local radio with a miracle of modern micro-technology called an MP3 player.  I load this wonderful little device with music of my own choosing and an audio book or two, and I’m set.  It’s very liberating, not having my ears held hostage by smarmy DJs and music that, quite frankly, makes me feel like hitting people.

I loved these new gadgets so much and used them so extensively that I wore them out.  Any new MP3 player I purchased, no matter the brand or model, had a three to four-month life expectancy.  I could almost predict the week when my current MP3 player would finally bite the dust and would start comparison-shopping in advance.

For a long time, my wife tried to convince me to buy an iPod, the Cadillac of MP3 players, and I resisted for two reasons.  The first reason was price.  Those little bastards are expensive, so why spend so much when I could almost count on wearing it out in the space of a few months?  The second, and to me more powerful argument against the iPod is that I hated Apple software.  Every piece of Apple software I ever attempted to use seemed to slow down or crash my computer.  Why in the hell would I spend so much money on a product that would probably crash my computer ever time I plugged it in before it finally wore out in three or four months?

Eventually she talked me into it.

I bought an iPod Nano, which worked flawlessly for two years before my wife bought me my new third generation iPod Touch.  The Touch was a Christmas present, and is the coolest, most useful little gadget anyone has ever given me.

The old Nano is still in use.  My oldest daughter has had it for three months now, and it still works just fine.

Truthfully, I thought the Touch was overkill.  It’s a fantastic gadget, but much more than I required for simply playing music or audio books in my car or work truck.  There was just no way I’d ever use even half the features this new toy had to offer.

Then I discovered the wonderful world of applications.  Evidently there are several million applications available to install on this little gadget, many free, most only a few dollars.

I must admit that very few are of any real interest to me.  I’m not a gamer or a social bug.  I don’t want to turn my iPod into a small hand-held heater (yes, there is an application for that), or keep 24/7 tabs on all my Facebook friends.  I’m a driver during the day and a writer on nights and weekends.  My iPod keeps me entertained while driving during my working life.  I thought it would be severely cool if I could somehow use it to write.

As it turns out, there is an application for that too. No shit!

There are probably more than one, but the one I use – I’m using it now, actually – is called My Writing Nook.  It is a cool, and extremely useful little program.  It auto-saves as you work, has an optional auto-correct function that is actually pretty good, and thanks to the third generation iPod Touch’s wi-fi capability, you can email your work to your desktop or laptop computer with the touch of a virtual button.  You can also create your own workspace on My Writing Nook’s website and sync your documents in progress.

This is an excellent tool for writers.

Recently, my wife’s favorite gadget, her mucho expensive touch screen laptop, took a dump on her.  Since she hasn’t had a desktop computer for a few years now, she didn’t have a second machine to fall back on.

I have a laptop too, a tiny little thing about the size of a hardcover book, that I do all my writing on.  Unlike her, I insist on keeping a desktop computer too, but I don’t like writing with it.  I do all my writing on the laptop and everything else, including editing, on the desktop.

Since my wife’s computer is FUBAR, she is now using my little laptop.

Have I gone back to writing on my desktop computer?

He’ll no.  I’m using the iPod for that now, and thanks to my wireless network, and My Writing Nook, transferring my work to the desktop computer for editing is actually easier.

You might imagine that writing anything more extensive than, say, a shopping list would be a pain in the ass with the iPod’s tiny little screen and keyboard, but that’s not the case.  I got used to it remarkably fast.  I still have to copy and paste my work into Microsoft Word, and there is a bit of formatting and extra editing involved in incorporating your output into your word file, but not as much as you might think.

If the My Writing Nook people could incorporate some simple formatting options and a more powerful spellchecker into the program, it would be just about perfect.  With a cost of $1.99 for the iPod application, and no cost at all to use the Writing Nook web page, I can’t complain too much.

Now my favorite gadget is my most useful one.

Uncertainty Then VS Uncertainty Now

Last year at this time I was waiting for my few remaining in print books to go out of print so I could call it a career.  I was toying with the idea of making a few of my favorites available for free as digital books, for a limited time, just so they could have one last chance to get a few new readers, but after that I was going to let it all go.

A friend in the business, a man who published traditionally, and very successfully, for decades before putting his backlist back to work for him through his own imprint, told me that was stupid (he used nicer words, because he’s a nice guy, but I got the idea).  He told me to consider self-publishing my old work.

I did consider it. I thought about it for months, uncertain about whether I wanted to invest the time and effort (and money) it would take to do it right. Whether or not I’m doing it right is still debatable, but I did decide to go for it.  In the process of revising and re-writing old material, I rediscovered my love for writing.  I’m working on new stuff now, though slowly because I’m still working on all the old stuff.

I’m not yet certain how I plan to release future original works.  I do plan on making them available as limited edition hardcovers.  I already have a reputable limited-edition hardcover publisher interested in my upcoming work, and I’ll give him any of my new stuff that he wants.  My new uncertainty is about if I want to try for a traditional paperback/digital publisher, Deadite Press comes first to mind, or just do it myself through my imprint, Tulpa Books.

One way or the other, there will be new work available, and hopefully within the next couple of years. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy getting my backlist out into the world again, and there is still more backlist to get through, but the bulk of it is available again so I’m going to start working hard to get new stuff out.

If you haven’t read my old work, I hope you’ll give it a shot.  You can find it all on my Amazon Author Page.  I also hope you’ll stick around for the new stuff.

Brian Knight

May Day!  May Day!

Hello friends and stalkers!

No, I am not sending out an international radio distress signal, just letting you know that May 1st is going to be kind of a big day for me.  Not only are the digital editions of Hacks and Sex, Death, & Honey going to be available for download this coming May Day, my first Tulpa Books paperback will be available too.

Feral was first released in December of 2003 as a library bound hardcover from Gail/Five Star Books in their Speculative Fiction line.  I retained the paperback rights thinking I could sell it to Leisure Books.  Well, that’s what I get for thinking.  It went out of print a year or two later, though you can still find copies of the old hardcover for sale online.

It came back in 2011 as a digital book from Crossroads Press, and after a brief stint in the phantom zone, returned to digital as one of my first Tulpa Books releases.

Now, for the first time ever, Feral is available in paperback!  The Tulpa Books paperback edition of Feral is available for preorder now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  You can also get a copy via your favorite brick and mortar bookstore.  They can order it from Ingram with the standard retail discount.

Of course, Feral is only the first Tulpa Paperback.  My collection Dragonfly is coming soon, as well as my novels Broken Angel, Hacks, and Sex, Death, & Honey.

And that is only the beginning.  I have more backlist still waiting to to return, and new stuff in the works.  I look forward to sharing it all with you.

Brian Knight

The First Quarter

The first quarter of Tulpa’s first year in business is over.  I am not raking in the dough, burning up the charts, making a killing, or even a strong showing.  What I have done is get ten chapbooks, four novels, and one collection back into print, digitally speaking.  I am now working on getting the novels and collection back into actual print.

I told myself at the beginning to manage my expectations, and for the most part I have.  I’d like to see more pages read on my Kindle Unlimited titles (the digital chapbooks), or more sales for the other titles, but I’m still learning the business.  I still need to learn how to write better book descriptions and perfect my keywords and categories.  I might even have to replace a cover or two, even though I happen to love the ones I have.  I need to fine-tune my meta-data, and probably a dozen other things I don’t even know yet.  Advice from other literary do-it-yourselfers is welcome.

My plan for this next quarter is to turn Tulpa’s four digital novels and one digital collection into paperbacks, fine-tune the meta-data, and learn how successful indie authors sell a lot of books.  One of these days I have to be able to justify my Tulpa Books expenses to my better half.

So, a few things I’m changing here at …

The Free Stuff page is going away April 13th.  The five free digital chapbooks are going to Amazon.  The main purpose of the Free Stuff page was to attract readers to my Knightmares newsletter, and to reward them with free stuff.  I pimped the hell out of the Free Stuff page, but it wasn’t much of a draw, and the download numbers did not inspire me to leave it up.

Knightmares subscribers will continue to get free fiction in the form of flash fiction or very short shorts included in the newsletter emails.  I will also continue to offer free digital copies to interested readers in exchange for honest reviews.

I have two new novels going on sale May 1st at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, etc.  Both are reissues of old novels, one my personal favorite.

You can preorder them now through my Digital page.

Before I go I want to thank Lisa Lee Tone and H Casper for everything they’ve done for me over the past several months.  I could not have done this without them.

I look forward to the Second Quarter.  I hope you’ll be a part of it.

The Gal in the Blue Mask and The Christmas Corpse

Just a quick entry here to pimp an interview and a new short story, both now available to read at The Gal in the Blue Mask, an excellent fiction blog by Meghan Shena Hyden.  Both are part of Meghan’s yearly Christmas Takeover.  There are a lot of scary Christmas stories, and a lot of great interviews, including Mary SanGiovanni, Jonathan Janz, Armond Rosamilia, and film maker Mike Lombardo.

You can find my interview here, and I hope you’ll give my new story The Christmas Corpse  a read.  Yeah, I found some typos in the story.  I’ll make sure they’re fixed when The Christmas Corpse is included in my upcoming collection, Dangerous Toys.

Talk to you again soon.

Brian Knight