Saturday, January 19, 2013

Guest Post: Author Henry Brown

     Today is our first ever guest blog! A few months ago, I met fellow veteran and author Henry Brown on Facebook. Henry is a great guy and has just released his latest novel, Tier Zero. He's also graciously offered to give us a look into his personal history and motivation for writing men's adventure fiction.

     Please join me in welcoming Henry to the blog.





     American troops have some really high-speed gear and weapons these days. Heck, people in general (including our troops) have a lot of cool stuff to play with. In particular: digital cameras.

     The deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq are probably the most photographed in all history, and the shots snapped by photojournalists only account for a very small percentage of them.

     I never had cause to consider this before I put my book trailer together for Hell and Gone a while back. If it wasn’t for the generosity of Jack Murphy and a few other vets, I would have had to buy an awful lot of stock photos for the project.


That’s me many moons ago with an M249 SAW trying to look like Rambo (and totally wrecking light discipline by having my buddy use his camera flash). This is one of the only photos from my Sandbox Deployment to survive; and it survives only because I mailed it to my brother (who was kind enough to scan it for me).

We didn’t have digital cameras back then, so the number of pictures I could take was limited. And if you lost the negative and the film, you lost the image forever. That’s exactly what happened to almost all of my photos from those years. Most were destroyed in a basement flood. I think the rest might be in an ex’s attic with my Class “A”s.

Don’t ask.

Anyway, I wanted to be a paratrooper ever since reading about the 101st Airborne Division’s defense of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. By the time I came of age to serve, the only Airborne division left was the 82nd, so that’s what I volunteered for. It had a pretty impressive reputation, too, so I was an All-American, and proud to be.
It may sound cliché, but I became a man in the Airborne. Before that I was an immature, naive kid with a high school diploma and a whole lot of wishful thinking. But the desire to write was already inside me. If the military career I imagined didn’t work out, at least I’d collect some experiences to write about while it lasted.

Well, I didn’t stay in for 20 years, but I sure did get some experience…and a lot more.

My now-embarrassing wishful thinking had a World War Two-style confrontation with the Soviet Union taking place, and I wanted to be in the thick of it when it did. I wanted to be a bad dude in an elite unit; but I also thought I wanted to experience conventional warfare, like those wisecracking GIs in the romanticized war movies on TV.

Hence the Airborne Infantry.

Being stationed at Fort Bragg, I had opportunities to hobnob with guys from Special Forces I met while wrenching on my street machine at the Smoke Bomb Hill auto shop, visiting the JFK Special Warfare Center, and playing “aggressor” for them out in Camp McCall. It occurred to me, after the fact, that Special Forces would have been a much better fit for me than being a line doggie in a rifle company.




(That’s me back before the US Army began handing out berets to every pogue with a breather badge from Fort Stress Card.)

Most of the characters in my two adventure novels are based on guys I knew, or sometimes amalgams of different men. I very much admired the soldiers I knew from Group, and I hope Tommy Scarred Wolf, Joshua Rennenkampf, et al, give readers the same impression I got from the real thing. I’m sad to say there weren’t as many admirable individuals in Division, though a few of them stand out from the beer-guzzling, chaw-spitting masses. Those are the guys I think of often…and smile to myself when I remember some of the crazy, stupid stuff we did. Leon Campbell is modeled after one of those paratroopers.

     Part of why I take the time to develop the characters in my books is because my photos of the real-life guys have been lost forever. The next best thing I can do is paint a picture in the reader’s mind—not just of what they looked like, but what they were.

     No real human being’s life plays out like a men’s adventure novel, so if you were to meet my old buddies, they probably wouldn’t live up to the badass rendering I give them in my fiction. But even though I want both Tier Zero and Hell and Gone to entertain with gobs of rip-snorting action, I’d like them to be something more than that, too. If I’ve been successful, it’s thanks to my old buddies, and the attempt to somehow capture their essence—despite the missing photographic records of them.



Henry (Hank) Brown is the author of Hell and Gone, Tier Zero and Virtual Pulp: Tales of High Adventure, Low Adventure, and Misadventure. To get up-to-speed on the blog tour and how to win the e-reader or other prizes, visit his Two-Fisted Blog.

     Thanks for the guest post, Henry! I hope you enjoyed writing it as much as we did reading it.
I'd like to ask our readers to check out Tier Zero on Amazon by clicking here.
Also be sure to check out Henry's other works, Hell and Gone and Virtual Pulp!

     See you all next time. Thanks again, Henry! Good luck and good writing!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Horror Short Story: Monster

     Okay. Christmas is over. The tree is finally down and it's time to get back to it. Here's a flash fiction horror piece for your enjoyment.
     It may be fiction, but I think we've all met someone like this. Makes you wonder...


 R.A. Mathis


This is her favorite restaurant. The low light and soft music ooze romance. I know she’s hungry enough to devour half the menu, but she orders sparingly; always afraid of what others think of her – especially me.

She’s beautiful, but refuses to let herself believe it. She looks at me with those perfect, sparkling eyes. It’s no wonder I was drawn to her. I meet her gaze as I take her hand and gently kiss her velvet soft skin. She’s breathtaking: the lithe frame, bountiful bosom, the silky hair pulled up to reveal the elegant nape of her neck. Her loveliness washes over me like cool water on a sweltering August day.

Every man in the room stares at her with lust-filled eyes. I know their thoughts. They all believe she’s out of their league. They’re right. All but one. He sits alone at the bar. Fair hair and deep blue eyes set in a comely face belie his true nature. He’s in search of prey.

For centuries humanity has known about his sort. Some, like this one, hunt women. Others hunt men, the old, or children – anyone they can worm their way into. Folklore has called his kind by many names. Fiend. Demon. Vampire. The closest to the truth is incubus. This beast wants to drain the life from her, but he doesn’t crave blood. His taste isn’t so crude. He feeds on pain and despair. He wants a part of her soul. He doesn’t kill his prey, but he might as well. He drinks his fill of the essence and leaves an empty shell. No doubt you’ve seen victims; miserable, self-loathing wretches devoid of hope, stripped of their youth, innocence, and humanity. The walking dead.   Many end up finishing the job themselves – a razor blade, a handful of pills. He is a predator. And right now, he’s eyeing her like a snake stalking a baby bird fallen from its mother’s nest.

He knows what I know. He sees what lies beneath her Venus-like façade. The vulnerability born of abuse and rejection are concealed under a mask of cosmetics and feigned smiles. Like me, he smells her secret panic at being the center of attention. He tastes her desperation for love and acceptance. His hunger is almost palpable.

He also recognizes my weakness. The smattering of gray in my hair and fine lines around my eyes embolden him. He challenges me. He wants her. He wants to feed, but I won’t let him. I answer his threat. Neither of us moves. No one notices the confrontation. The subtle battle of wills is imperceptible to all but our kind. I may be weakened, but I can hold my own against the likes of him. I cast a warning glare at my opponent. He recognizes his likeness in me and turns away in submission to the alpha male.

I win. She’s mine.

No one will steal what it’s taken me months to build. She was broken when I found her crying in the alley behind that nightclub downtown. I began patiently putting the pieces back together – convincing her to trust again. I fed her equal parts hope and humiliation – backhanded compliments and half-hearted apologies. I took just enough of her to sustain myself until the feast. Making her feel pretty but not too pretty. Smart but not too smart. Always keeping her optimistic but never confident enough to stand on her own.

She thinks I’m going to propose to her.  I see the fragile optimism in her eyes. She has allowed herself to hope. Perfect. I look deeper and see the fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of disappointment. Fear that she’s not good enough. The taste is so intoxicating I find it difficult to focus. She’s ready – a calf fattened for slaughter. It’s time to feed.

“There’s something I need to tell you.”

She smiles expectantly. “Yes, baby?”

“It’s over.”

Delicious tears come to her eyes. “What do you mean?”

“I mean us. We’re over. I’m leaving you,” I say coldly.

“But, why?”

“It’s not working out. I tried, but you’re just not the person I thought you were.” I add for good measure, “You should also know that I’ve been sleeping with you best friend.”

She’s sobbing uncontrollably now. People are staring. I whisper, “Pull yourself together. You’re making a scene.”

The rejection and public embarrassment are more than she can stand. Then it happens.

I hear her heart break. I ravenously sup the soul that comes spilling out. It is exhilarating. I squeeze out every last drop of exquisite pain. I’m engorged nearly to bursting.

I sit and watch her a moment more and then say, “It’s okay. You’ll meet someone else.” I glance at the hungry blue eyes at the bar. “Maybe sooner than you think.”

On my way out, I brush past my would-be adversary. “She all yours.”

By morning I’ll be rejuvenated – gray hair and wrinkles gone. Strong again. Tomorrow night, I’ll start again in search of some poor, vulnerable girl waiting for a white knight to save her.