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First Page: Unpublished Manuscript

First Page: Unpublished Manuscript

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My friends and I were the only people on the dark road. Besides us, there were no other cars around — at least none that we could see.
It seemed out of nowhere, all of that changed.
The street we were on was now packed with cars. Lights flashed through the darkness, illuminating the area. Red. Blue. Red. Blue.
The songs playing from the radio were replaced with screaming, crying, and another sound I couldn’t quite identify. Metal scratching against metal?
Confused, I looked around and realized that my friends weren’t in the car with me. A surge of panic shot through me and I frantically searched around me until a strong hand steadied my movements.
A kind looking man that appeared to be a paramedic gripped my jaw and forced me to look at him. I saw his lips moving, but I couldn’t hear anything he was saying over the deafening and terrified screams that surrounded me. He unexpectedly shined a narrow beam of white light into my eyes, and my entire body jerked back in surprise. The abrupt movement sent an excruciating pain shooting through every part of my being, and immediately crippled me. The pain surprised me, and I suddenly had an overwhelming desire to just go to sleep.
Without notice, several sets of hands grabbed me from every direction and roughly lifted me from the car. I cried out in agony, and barely heard the different voices trying to pull me from the fog clawing at my mind. As I was being carried away, my eyes registered the details of all the activity going on around me. I felt the blood instantly leave my face, and I was suddenly freezing despite the fire raging within me from the tortuous pain.
My heart was banging around inside my chest, trying its hardest to break free and escape the throbbing pain mutilating me. Screams continued to surround me, filling my ears with terror and torment.
I felt my wrists being pushed down and secured a moment before a sharp pinch and a blazing fire ignited my entire left arm. A sudden heaviness consumed me, and threatened to take over my body. I struggled to fight the grueling pressure wearing me down, and the shock of what I was seeing kept my eyes wide open.
I stared at the disaster before me. My eyes locked on a pile of shattered glass where the broken and blooded gold charm bracelet laid that belonged to my best friend. I sucked in a sharp breath and coughed uncontrollably as a fetid burning stench infiltrated my lungs, making it hard to breathe.
My memories of tonight came flooding back, paralyzing me with their intensity. I was helpless as I was subjected to the images playing in my mind like a movie reel, scene by scene, before ending with what was in front of me again. Tonight’s nightmare would be permanently tattooed to the back of my eyelids, and I would see it every time I closed my eyes. I’d forever hear the terrified cries and pleas of my two best friends begging for their lives. I knew that I’d always replay the night’s events and what could have been done differently a million ways in my mind. This one single night would change who I was forever. My life would never be the same.
A moment later I lost the battle against my will to keep my eyes open. My weak body finally succumbed to the heaviness surging through it, and the screams faded into complete silence.

REVIEW:  The Waters of Eternity by Howard Andrew Jones

REVIEW: The Waters of Eternity by Howard Andrew Jones


Venture into the time of the Arabian Nights with stalwart Captain Asim and the brilliant Dabir as they hunt an unseen killer that craves only the eyes of his victims, and pursue a dark entity haunting the halls of an opulent mansion. Ride with them on a desperate journey to preserve a terrible weapon from Byzantine agents, and seek the waters of eternity to save a dying girl’s life. In six tales brimming with mystery and sword-slinging action Dabir and Asim stride forward into adventure. With nothing to shield them but Asim’s sword arm and Dabir’s wit, the two heroes must unravel sinister puzzles, confront dark wizards, rescue fair maidens, and battle the terrifying monsters of legend.

Dear Mr. Jones,

I was doing some ebook shopping at Kobo when your books appeared in the “suggestions for you” slideshow.” Ever since I’d enjoyed Janine Ashbless’ “Heart of Flame,” I’ve been looking for more “Arabian Nights” style stories. Hmmm, I thought. These look interesting and could be something I’d like. But since I’ve been burned before when diving into unknown-to-me authors, I decided to try this collection of short stories first.

What an engaging voice you’ve given to Asim. From the start I know I’m in good story-telling hands with someone who has the pacing, descriptions and ability to deliver a rousing finish. These are well rounded characters with consistent traits, habits, likes and irritations rather than cardboard backdrops for the fantasy world you’ve created. Readers seeking different settings, times and something other than vampires/weres/fairies, European settings and Christian characters need look no further.

Asim and Dabir’s adventures are short, sweet and to the point – nice bite sized stories that can fit into any available reading time. Only one felt somewhat incomplete to me – the first one with ghul where they ended the story unsure of what had caused the ghul to change and attack. The rest are complete, well told, with good pacing, explanation and resolution.

The creatures are ghastly fun – especially the last one which made me think of the old Italian swords/sandals Hercules movies. I like that they don’t always behave according to legend and that some might appear to be one thing but then in the final denouement, become/behave/resolve another way. It kept me on my reading toes until the finale.

The relationship between Dabir and Asim is wonderful. They’re obviously long time friends – Asim knows not to interrupt Dabir while he’s thinking and, when sent to interview people, to ask lots of questions and remember the suspects’ actions/looks/demeanor as well as the answers they give. They know each others strengths and weaknesses – Dabir = brains, Asim = brawn, and work together well as a team. They’re a middle eastern bromance.

The story collection is a great mix of fantasy, swashbuckling, friendship and humor. The story of who was trying to kill the cocky playboy had me in stitches. But I also like that much of what actually solves the mysteries is deduction and reasoning. I’m now sold on Dabir and Asim and looking forward to reading two full length novels. B


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