#BlogBlitz Happy Publication Day Black Matter by GD Parker @GDParker_Author @rararesources #Promo #BookSpotlight

Happy Publication day GD Parker🎉🎉🎉 Today I’ll be shining a spotlight on his debut novel Black Matter:

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Title: Black Matter by GD Parker

Date Published: 28th January 2019

Genre: Thriller

Description:

The future is now… it’s terrifying!!! Humanity locks jaws with the ever-increasing human desires towards highly advanced technological innovations making the world a dangerous place. Unanticipated horrific consequences unfold for Tommy McGregor when he partakes in a new high-tech innovation to enhance his health and wellbeing. He thought it would make him healthier, better looking and live forever…DI Valentina is out of her comfort zone when she’s tasked to track down a killer, unknown to her, hidden behind a digital mask. The future has already fallen upon humanity as she soon discovers, nothing is as it seems anymore as society embarks in technology that’s already here. A terrifying mystery, it feeds your imaginative mind’s eye – a fast-paced “whoisit” thrilling crime, novel that will leave you guessing until the end, (or will it?) As it leaves the hairs on your arms stand on end as you uncontrollably turn each page in this 3 part series.

You Can Buy Your Copy Here:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Matter-order-must-read-thriller-ebook/dp/B07KJNDX1P

US – https://www.amazon.com/Black-Matter-order-must-read-thriller-ebook/dp/B07KJNDX1P

About The Author –

GD Parker is the author of his debut novel, Black Matter. Book one of a three-part series that explores the depths of the unfolding high-tech world we now live in, making it a dangerousimg_zbygh6 place.

The novel will be available to purchase in e-book and paperback formats on the Amazon store.

Gareth was born in the UK in 1981. A family man spent much of his working life in South Wales working in a professional capacity. One day he made the decision write about an idea he dreamt about.

Still working full time for a large organisation, he enjoys reading all manner of books, and spending time with his world – his family.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GDParker_Author and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gd.parker_author/

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#BlogTour Q&A Awakening the Trinity by Brittany Elise @rararesources @BrittanyElise23

Today I’m bringing you a Q&A with Brittany Elise as part of the blog tour but first a little about her book:

awakening cover1

Title: Awakening the Trinity by Brittany Elise

Date Published: 7th September 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural

Description:

In the seventeenth-century, an all-powerful witch called Rionach the Dark ruled the Celtic nations with an army of enslaved werewolves. In order to restore balance between Light and Dark, the Trinity of Light was summoned to vanquish the Dark Witch and end the Battle of the Dark Ages.

Seventeen-year-old Quinn Callaghan lives in the small, rustic town of Silver Mountain. Its location may be rural, but it is home to an ancient pine forest that surrounds a supernatural hotspot–a nexus of raw and powerful energy.

When a charismatic witch from Ireland, and a mysterious guy with a secret of his own are drawn to the area, Quinn finds out that she inherited her rare abilities from a revered ancestor. Could it be that she shares a bloodline with the Original Trinity? Nearly 300 years later, the Darkness is returning to Silver Mountain, and the Trinity must stop it.

Purchase Links

US – https://www.amazon.com/Awakening-Trinity-Brittany-Elise-ebook/dp/B07HB3QMLH

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Trinity-Brittany-Elise-ebook/dp/B07HB3QMLH

Q&A with Brittany Elise

Can you tell me a little bit about your book?

Awakening the Trinity is a YA supernatural fiction novel about a teenage witch who discovers she shares a lineage to the most revered and powerful trio in history known as the Trinity of Light.

In the 17th century, an all-powerful witch called Rionach the Dark ruled the Celtic nations with an army of enslaved werewolves at her side. In order to restore balance between Light and Dark, the Trinity of Light was summoned to vanquish the Dark Witch and end the Battle of the Dark Ages. Fast forward to present day, Darkness is stirring in Quinn’s home town of Silver Mountain when she discovers her ancestral link to the Trinity and realizes that she and her new companions have to stop the Dark Witch from returning to power.

Awakening the Trinity is packed with magic, action, adventure, and of course it’s a love story.


Where did the inspiration for your book come from?

I draw inspiration from so many things around me every day, but for this particular book, I was listening to a song by Aqualung called Strange and Beautiful when inspiration struck hard and fast. I think it had a lot to do with the lyrics, and the fact that I kind of create my own music videos in my head when I’m listening to songs. It’s kind of funny to think about, because the song itself has nothing to do with my storyline, but for whatever reason, it just lit a flame and it burned bright, I guess.


If you could describe your book in one sentence what would it be?

Oh that’s tough. Um, “Powerful trio takes on an evil witch to protect the world they live in, and finds out if love really can conquer all.” I’m a writer, I don’t do well with short answers, haha.


What is a typical writing day like for you?

There’s something about the early hours of the AM that tend to get my creative juices flowing; so for me, waking up and making a cup of tea and perching myself at the end of the kitchen table is about as typical as it gets. If I have no distractions to deal with, I can pretty much write from sun-up to sun-down and not get tired. (My eyes might be burning as well as my fingertips) but that’s a good writing day for me. I work full-time right now though, so those days are a rare gem for me.

If you could recommend just one book to read what would it be and why?

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It’s a life-changing classic.


Who are your favourite authors?

(In no particular order) Sarah Dessen, Kelley Armstrong, JRR Tolkien, George RR Martin, Charlaine Harris, Suzanne Collins, Lois Lowry, John Green, Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley, Robert Frost (I’ll stop there because I’m pretty sure the list would just keep going and going.)


Is writing your only job? If not, what is your other job?

I manage an FBO at a small airport where I service aircraft – (fuelling airplanes, customer service.) I am also a certified obedience instructor and have two wonderful German shepherds.


Tell me something interesting about yourself (that’s not in your author bio!)

I’m actually a bit of an introvert. My idea of going out and having a good time usually entails things like going hiking and exploring the great outdoors. I love to travel; new experiences are just fuel for a yet-to-be-written story.


What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on the prequel and sequel (simultaneously) for Awakening the Trinity, and I’m also working on some New Adult romance projects. Very fun and exciting!

awakening the trinity full tour banner

About The Author:

My love for writing began at a very young age–way before I could even type on a keyboard. I author photo (5)was always writing short stories and poems with a fan club of one (my mom.) I never stopped writing, but I don’t think I believed in myself enough to actually pursue it as a career. When I enrolled in college, I took as many creative writing classes as they offered, and ended up graduating with a degree in photography and minoring in English. I enjoy art in all its forms, but writing has always been my first love. Even when I was pursuing other careers, writing was always my go-to comfort. I later became an animal obedience instructor and met a children’s author through my dog training. She helped me get my foot through the door, so to speak, and I haven’t turned back since. During the day, I manage an FBO at my local hometown airport, and by night, I dive into my writing with my husband and my four-legged children by my side.

Social Media Links – You can find me on Facebook (BrittanyEliseAuthor) my Instagram handle is Carbon_Stardust and I also have a website: BrittanyEliseAuthor.com

https://twitter.com/BrittanyElise23

#BlogTour #GuestPost Hard Setdown by TQ Chant #LoveBooksGroupTours #TQChant #SciFi

Title: Hard Setdown by TQ Chant

Date Published: 5th January 2016

Genre: Sci-Fi

Description:

Sam Cane – ex-con artist (sort of), ex-soldier (definitely), and woman on the run.

She’s looking to escape a life of petty crime on Earth that’s got her in too deep with the wrong people. Taking a job with one of the corporations contracted to open up and exploit new worlds in the growing Commonwealth, she’s assigned to a young colony right on the edge of human space. It looks like the perfect escape, until she arrives on IGC-187X and things start to go downhill. Fast.

Arriving at the colony site, she finds it mysteriously deserted, its communication systems sabotaged and her ride rapidly heading out of the system. Failing to repair the communications system in time, she realises she’s stuck on the apparently deserted planet unless she can get a deepspace message out. Exploring the colony site further, she realises two things – that something terrible has happened to the colonists, and that she’s not alone. She contacts survivors from the colony, who tell her they were forced to relocate due to raider activity, but their story doesn’t quite add up. Betrayed by them, she connects with the only sane person left – Adissa, the daughter of the colonial administrator, who has been living underground since her father had gone mad and led the colonists to a mysterious settlement elsewhere on the planet.

Suddenly, getting a message out has taken on a new urgency. Playing a deadly game of cat and mouth with the colonists, Sam and Adissa work together to try to get an old buried launch array on-line. The full horror of the situation starts to impact on Sam as she realises just how far the colonists have fallen and that something far worse is lurking hidden under the deserts of the arid world.

Out on the fringe, she’ll find out that what you’re running from isn’t always the thing that will kill you.

Guest Post, Inspiration:

OK – how to write this without spoilering the plot?

Well, the first thing to say is that a lot of the more speculative things I write are set in the same universe. I’ve got a whole alternate history worked out from eighteenth century (in which I set a project I have up on he Unbound platform, The Frost Fair) all the way up past Sam’s time. I think this slightly obsessions stems from being a historian by training – I want to know how a society or a situation develops, and I want to know what the ramifications of events are. It’s why I enjoy expanded and shared universe type settings, and sometimes find it frustrating when someone develops a really interesting world and then writes a single book or a trilogy in it.

Events I’m writing about or have planned in the universe can quite often, therefore, inspire other stories set in other times and places. Sometimes by fixing a problem in the timeline or setting up the background to a plot, I come up with an idea for a story line. In the case of Sam’s story, the kernel was some throwaway mentions of a previous conflict, and the need for a Maguffin to explain an important aspect of the Universe that then took on a life of its own (which I can’t explain any more without giving away the metaplot…).

Nothing, of course, exists in a vacuum and I think it’s healthy to read and watch material in the same sort of space as what you’re creating in. It’s good to be inspired by what other creators are doing – as long as you don’t plagiarise, of course! I’ve drawn on all sorts, old and new, for ideas and occasionally things I thought I could do better (though with sometimes mixed results).

I don’t think you can write even speculative, far future or fantasy material without acknowledging the real world. My science fiction sometimes draws from historical events or themes. Without wanting to get political (though I think that to be alive is to be political), there’s a lot going on in the world right now that worries me. While my main goal is to write entertaining, exciting escapism, I do also like to explore some of these issues. The real temptation of course, is to write dystopian fiction, taking the way things seem to be going and imagining where it could end up. There’s an awful lot good, vaguely dystopian writing out there right now and I enjoy reading it. I’d rather, though, write something more positive, exploring what society might look like if things got better. The story then becomes more about external threats and internal recidivism threatening a more progressive society.

So that’s roughly what inspires my work, and Sam Cane in particular.

hard-setdown


About The Author:

Tim Chant grew up (mostly), went to school in East Anglia and university in Scotland. He took his History degree and did the only thing he could with it – joined the civil service. When not shackled to his desk he writes science fiction, alternative historical fiction, historical fiction and any other fiction that takes his fancy. When not doing that, he’s an inveterate roleplayer and wargamer (and getting back into historical fencing). He lives in Edinburgh with his partner and their two rabbits.

My Top 20 Books of 2018 #TopReads2018 #Blogger #BookBlogger

Happy New Year’s Eve!  So that was my first full year of blogging over! I’m still over the moon that I managed to read 163 books this year. It’s been tough to compile this list and I left out so many fantastic books. If you click the links it will take you to my reviews!

So with out further ado, my top twenty books of this year are (in no particular order):

The Fake Date.

The Fake Date

Edna’s Death Cafe

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The Girl In The Gallery

The Girl in the Gallery Cover

Fatal Promise

fatal promise

Raving About Rhys

Raving about Rhys HIGH RES (1)

The Millionaire’s Wife

millionaires

In Her Shadow

in her shadow

The Innocent Wife

Innocent Wife PB Cover Image

Dead Bad

DEAD BAD

Thirteen

thirteen

The Fear

the fear

Fire On The Fens

Boathouse

The Siren And The Specter

The Siren and The Specter Cover

Before I Trust You

Brighton Palace Pier at dawn

Her Last Move

Her Last Move cover

Go Home Afton

Book Cover

The Enigma

The enigma final cover 2

The Life And Death of Eleanor Parker

The-Death-and-Life-of-Eleanor-Parker-Kindle

Three Things About Elsie

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And No Birds Shall Sing.

Final cover ANBSS

And that’s it from me this year, I’ll be back tomorrow with my new year’s resolutions!

#UrbaneExtravaganza World Cup Guide @UrbaneBooks #LoveBooksGroupTours

Welcome to my second stop on the Urbane Extravaganza and today feature is World Cup Guide perfect for armchair fans. This will probably be the first and only time you’ll see the World Cup mentioned on my blog lol! Here’s a little about the book:

9781912666096-667x1024

Title: World Cup Guide by Lloyd Pettiford and Ronan Fitzsimons

Publisher: Urbane Publications

Date Published: 17th May 2018

Description:

This book makes a convincing case for not travelling to Russia for the World Cup, but rather staying at home and reading all about it.

It dissects the qualifying campaign and groups, and also has a history of the World Cup with some surprising facts. Then there’s a complete list of fixtures which has already printed England in the final to save you a bit of time. It even looks forward to Qatar 2022 and suggests it might not be so bad after all.

Written by the football enthusiasts who brought you The Premier League : 25 Years and Euro 2016, it has enough facts to inform, enough laughs to impress even Sir Alex, and the answers to many questions, some of which you may even want to know the answers to, including:

Why do Germany wear 4 stars on their shirts even though a country of that name has only won the World Cup once?

Is Eduard Streltsov the best footballer you’ve never heard of?

What naughty thing will Suarez do this time?

Which team has the best kit?

Which team went out at the last 16 stage of the last 5 consecutive World Cups?

So settle back and enjoy the ultimate guide to the World Cop 2018 – perfect for every football fan!

Check out the rest of the tour here:

24th Nov Chat About Books @chataboutbooks1
25th Nov Over The Rainbow Book Blog @JoannaLouisePar
26th Nov Being Anne @Williams13Anne
27th Nov On The Shelf Bookblog @OnTheShelfBooks
28th Nov Nicki’s Book Blog @nickijmurphy1
29th Nov My Reading Corner @karendennise
30th Nov Portable Magic @bantambookworm
1st Dec Black books blog @SimonJLeonard
2nd Dec Rae Reads @rae_reads1
3rd Dec So Many Books, So Little Time @smbslt
4th Dec Orchard Book Club @OrchardBookClub
5th Dec Zooloo’s Book Diary Zooloo2008
6th Dec Nemesis Book Blog @NemesisBlogs
7th Dec Katie’s Book Cave @katiejones88
8th Dec Books and Me @bookkaz
9th Dec Tangents and Tissues @tangentsbb
10th Dec Go Buy the Book @karen55555
11th Dec Cheekypee reads and reviews @cheekypee27
12th Dec Nicki`s Life Of Crime @NickiRichards7
13th Dec Emma the Little Bookworm @EmmaMitchellFPR
14th Dec Rather Too Fond of Books @hayleysbookblog
15th Dec Seansbookreviews @Seant1977
16th Dec Lizzums Lives Life @LizzumsBB
17th Dec The Magic Of Wor(l)ds @MagicOfWorldsBE
18th Dec On The Shelf Reviews @ljwrites85
19th Dec Grab This Book @grabthisbook
20th Dec Life Of A Nerdish Mum @NerdishMum
21st Dec The Quiet Geordie @thequietgeordie
22nd Dec eBook Addicts @ebookadditsuk
23rd Dec On The Shelf Reviews @ljwrites85
24th Dec Varietats @Sweeet83
25th Dec eBook Addicts @ebookadditsuk
26th Dec Portable Magic @bantambookworm
27th Dec Love Books Group @LoveBooksGroup
28th Dec A Little Book Problem @book_problem
29th Dec It’s all about the books @DeeCee334
30th Dec The Quiet Geordie @thequietgeordie
31st Dec Zooloo’s Book Diary @Zooloo2008

#BlogTour #BookSpotlight #Giveaway #Excerpt In Servitude by Heleen Kist @hkist @RRBookTours1 @shanannigans81

Today I’m bringing you my stop on the In Servitude blog tour with an excerpt and a fantastic giveaway to win a paperback open internationally (see bottom of the post) but first a little about the book:

Book Cover (2)

Title: In Servitude by Heleen Kist

Date Published: 23rd August 2018

Genre: Psychological Suspense

Description:

Do you owe your family your life?

Grace thought her sister led a charmed existence.

She was wrong.

Now she has to pay the price.

When Grace’s beloved sister Glory dies in a car crash, her carefully planned life spirals out of control. She discovers Glory had been manipulated into illegal activities at her trendy vegan café. What’s worse, Grace finds herself an unwitting accomplice now forced to take over her sister’s shady dealings.

Determined to keep her fingers clean and protect those Glory left behind, Grace plots to escape the clutches of Glasgow’s criminal underworld. But her moral certainty is challenged when more family secrets emerge and her sister’s past intentions remain unclear.

Grace grows convinced Glory was murdered. Why won’t anyone listen?

Seeking justice, she finds betrayal…

Special Sale Prices:

Amazon US only 2.99

Amazon CA only 3.99

Amazon UK only 1.99

Europe only 2.99

Excerpt:

Blue pulled at the lead. I let him off once I’d scanned the area and noted no loose dogs. Only a lone figure loitering. His eye line crossed mine as he also examined the park, and paused on me long enough to raise a creepy sensation.

I moved to a bench by the play park and pretended to tie my laces. When I straightened up, the man was striding straight towards me. I searched for Blue, hoping for a semblance of protection, but he was nowhere to be seen. Nor was anyone else.

Before I could stop him, the man sat down next to me. He whistled and shouted, ‘Here boy!’ then faced me with a disturbing grin. As if he knew the dog wouldn’t come. I jumped to my feet and looked around. What had he done?

On the second blow of silent air through my dry mouth, Blue appeared from behind a tree thirty yard away. Safe. He showed no interest in me or the man, instead sniffing out the ground’s many treasures.

I turned back to the intruder. Standing over him gave me an edge—at least I thought it did—and I raised my chin and my voice when I asked, ‘Do I know you?’

He chuckled. ‘Nah, hen. I’m only the messenger.’

What?’

His smile faded. ‘We’re not very happy about you closing the café for so long. You need to open up again. There’s a delivery coming on Thursday.’

What do you mean? How do you—’

His eyes turned to ice as he grabbed my wrist in a flash. ‘We’ll be very disappointed if you’re not there to receive the goods. Ken what I’m saying?’

He rushed off, his dark coat billowing behind him like a cape, almost engulfing Blue who circled his legs, tail wagging, until he turned towards the road.

About The Author:

Heleen Kist is a Dutch businesswoman who lived all over the world while growing up and for her career. Then she fell in love with a Scotsman and his country, and now writes about itsAuthor Pic (5) (sometimes scary) people from her garden office in Glasgow.

She was selected as an ‘up and coming new writer’ and awarded a Spotlight at Bloody Scotland 2018, the International crime writing festival.

Her debut psychological suspense novel ‘In Servitude’ was inspired by Heleen’s expertise in small business finance mixed with her friend’s courageous idea to open a vegan cafe in a city renowned for its dubious diet. She is currently working on her next book, which will be dark women’s fiction

Website: www.heleenkist.com Twitter: @hkist

Giveaway:

2 paperback copies of In Servitude by Heleen Kist are up for grabs!!! (Open Internationally)

Winners will be selected at random on 23 December and notified personally, only your initials will be used in the winner’s announcement.

Mailchimp Link:

https://heleenkist.us17.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=98b133908f834869324ff86ea&id=d94bfdbfe6

#UrbaneExtravaganza #Excerpt Hellcorp by Jonathan Whitelaw @UrbaneBooks #LoveBooksGroupTours

Hello everyone and welcome to my first stop on the Urbane Extravaganza! Today I’m featuring Hellcorp which I had the pleasure of reviewing earlier this year (you can read my review here) and I have a little sneak peek at the prologue but first a little about the book:

HellCorp - Jonathan Whitelaw

Title: Hellcorp by Jonathan Whitelaw

Publisher: Urbane Publications

Date Published: 5th July 2018

Genre: Thriller | Supernatural | Humour

Description:

A writer to watch.” – Gareth L. Powell, winner of the BSFA award for best novel

Sometimes even the Devil deserves a break!

Life is hard for The Devil and he desperately wants to take a holiday. Growing weary from playing the cosmic bad guy, he resolves to set up a company that will do his job for him so the sins of the world will tick over while he takes a vacation. God tells him he can have his vacation just as soon as he solves an ancient crime.

But nothing is ever easy and before long he is up to his pitchfork in solving murders, desperate to crack the case so he can finally take the holiday he so badly needs…

This is a perfectly-pitched darkly comic crime novel that is ideal for fans of Christopher Fowler and Ben Aaranovitch.

You Can Buy A Copy Here:

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2vROT5v
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2Knh7bF
Foyles: http://bit.ly/2r6cklS
Waterstones: http://bit.ly/2vWLvWU

PROLOGUE:

The chimes of the great clock rang out across St. Peter’s Square. The place was empty and quiet, save for the clangs of the ancient metal bell. A trio of pigeons fluttered in the colonnades that lined the square, scaring a dozing guard. Midnight had arrived in the Vatican City.

High above the plaza, the Pope sauntered into his private chambers. He locked the door, making sure he tucked the key back into the pocket of his vestments. It had been a long, endlessly infuriating day. They were all getting to be like that.

He let out a long, resigned sigh. His stomach didn’t feel right, like there was a balloon inflated inside. He rubbed at the sagging meat and winced.

Stalking across the room, he felt something shift. He paused, leaned on one foot and felt his buttocks clench.

A loud, stretched out sound rang through the office. When he was finished, he relaxed, finally relieved.

Mamma mia.” He batted away the air from in front of his face, the smell a little overpowering.

At the far side of the office was a window that looked out onto the square. He hurried over and let in some air. A cold wind breezed in through the open panes, sending papers flying from his desk.

The hairs on the back of the Pope’s neck stood on end. He turned to watch the files scatter. Something wasn’t right. He could feel it. You didn’t spend your life in the church and not know when there was foul play at work.

Outside, the bells kept going, now on their seventh chime. It was late and he knew he should go to bed. He rubbed his old face and blinked. Maybe just one little drink before bed. What harm could that do? If the most powerful clergyman in the world couldn’t treat himself now and then, there was something severely wrong.

Inspired by his new thought, he trotted over to the huge, mahogany desk that dominated the opposite wall. Sliding out a drawer, he produced a bottle of single malt whisky, a cut crystal glass and a packet of cigarettes.

He pulled the cork from the bottle free with his teeth and poured a large measure. He sniffed the liquor before downing it in one swallow.

The rich, smoky taste made him bare his teeth. He licked his lips before pouring another. There were certain luxuries that came with being pontiff. A choice of rare whiskies was just one of them. Hand rolled cigarettes were another and he drew one out from the box. He lit the end, inhaled and basked in the rich taste.

Only in these few quiet moments did he afford himself some pleasure. Never in public. The good Catholics of the world wouldn’t approve of their saviour drinking and smoking as he did. But he was only human after all. Being Pope was just his job, it wasn’t who he was.

Oh, I wish you would stop with your tin-pot philosophy,” came a deep voice from nowhere. The Pope froze, his arms and legs stiff. He looked about his empty office, clutching tightly onto his whisky glass.

Che ha detto che?” he said, voice barely breaking a whisper. There was no response. His heart was racing, faster than it had in years. His head was swimming a little from the Scotch and his mouth had gone dry. Suddenly all the mystery and mysticism he had been preaching for years was flooding back into his mind.

Being The Pope and talking about God, miracles and the universe was one thing. Experiencing it first hand was something completely different.

Really, you Catholics, you love a bit of drama,” came the voice again. “It can get a bit tedious at times, don’t you think?”

The Pope was frightened. He pushed himself up quickly from behind his desk, slamming his knee into the hard mahogany. His crystal glass dropped from his hand, shattering as it hit the hard, wooden floor. It was an antique, irreplaceable. He bit his tongue and hobbled towards the door, cursing under his breath.

But before he could reach the handle, a figure appeared before him. A swirling, dark shadow stretched out from the creature’s presence, a blackness that seemed to go on forever emanating from its centre.

The old man’s eyes widened and his face fell slack in horror. He stumbled backwards, clutching at his chest. A stiff pain raced up his arm and he could feel his heart tensing, ready to burst. Between the shock, horror and medical emergency, The Pope didn’t know if he was coming or going.

Oh come on,” said the figure, “I’m only here for a chat.” It reached forward and took The Pope by the hand. Stopping him from falling, it reached into his chest. In a second, the thumping stopped; the pressure lifted and The Pope began to breathe again.

He was sweating, his vestments clinging to his portly body. He looked down at where the figure had entered his chest. A shadow hung over him, darker than anything the old man had ever seen. He never knew blackness could be so black.

Then, as if the figure had read his mind, the shadow began to lift. In its place was what looked like a sleeve of wool, with pinstripes. The Pope followed the receding shadow towards the figure’s main mass and, astounded, watched as a man appeared before him.

He was tall and thin, with a strange face that looked both old and young at the same time. His hair was dark and curly, slicked back behind his ears. A pointed nose separated two sharp eyes that glistened in the dim light of the office.

Tu chi sei?” gasped the old man. “Don’t be thick,” said the figure. He took a step back, pulling his hand from The Pope’s chest. The old man staggered a little and rubbed at the spot where the stranger had entered him. He felt ill but not as bad as he had been only seconds before.

A cold sweat broke out on The Pope’s top lip. He wiped it and looked down at his finger. A sliver of blood was streaked over his skin. He touched his nose and saw more crimson. He looked at the figure expectantly.

Oh yes, sorry,” said the stranger. “A little collateral damage I’m afraid. Or should I say cholesterol damage,” he nodded at The Pope’s hefty gut.

The stranger strolled over to the desk and cleared away some stray papers. He sat down on the edge and straightened his tartan tie and cuffs. Spying the whisky, he lifted it up, smelled the top and nodded in approval.

Not bad, not bad at all. Of course it’ll kill you in the end,” he said. “You humans, you’re so frail and weak. Especially when you get old. But hey, who am I to argue with you know who.” He pointed at a large, ornate crucifix which hung from the wall.

The Pope tried to speak but he was gasping for breath. The whole experience was something he was struggling to understand. Physically, psychologically, it was too much for an eighty-year-old. And that was before he began contemplating the philosophical implications.

Here, wipe your nose,” said the stranger, offering a silk handkerchief from his top pocket.

The Pope nervously took the gesture and blew his nose. He cleared away the blood and handed the handkerchief back.

Blimey, I don’t want it back,” sneered the stranger. “Not after it’s been up your hooter.”

Si, mi dispiace signore,” said The Pope, cowering a little. He stared at the handkerchief.

The blood and snot began to move on the cotton. He watched on, terrified and unable to look away as two cockroaches formed in his hand. They spread their wings and took off, disappearing out of the open window. The Pope let out a frightened wail.

The stranger looked at him, chewing something over in his mind. He pursed his lips and leaned forward a little.

You still don’t know who I am, do you?” he asked, smiling a little.The Pope said nothing. He shook his head, holding his papers and handkerchief like a scalded child.

Well for starters, let’s stop this whole Italian charade, speak English man, for all of our sakes,” the stranger snapped his fingers.

Shit!” shouted The Pope. He clutched his throat and then covered his mouth. Slowly, with a little coaxing from the stranger, he took his hands from his lips.

Go on, try it.”

Try what?” asked The Pope. “Anything, I’ve made an arrangement with your vocal chords.

For the sake of this conversation, you’ll only be speaking English. The Queen’s English I may add, although I know this office has had a few problems in that department over the past eon or so.”

I don’t understand,” said The Pope. “Who are you? What are you doing here? Is this His work?”

Whose?” asked The Stranger. “You know,” said The Pope. “Him.” He nodded towards the crucifix.

The stranger smiled at the idol on the wall. He shook his head. “No, not this time. Well, not directly anyway,” he said. “But then again, it always sort of comes back to Him in a way. Creator of existence and all that game. Still, He didn’t do a bad job.”

You… you’re not Him then?” said The Pope. “Nope, afraid not padre.” The stranger hopped down off the desk and wandered over to the window.

So, if you’re not Him…” The Pope trailed off, his voice quivering with fear.

The stranger swivelled on his heels and extended his hands. He gave a little bow.

The Devil, at your service papa,” he said. “No,” breathed The Pope. “No, this can’t be… this can’t be happening.”

He stumbled backwards towards the door, his faced etched with fright. All the colour had drained from him and he was as white as his vestments. He grabbed the handle and tried to pull it open but it wouldn’t budge. Then he started banging on the wood, shouting and screaming for help.

Oh give over would you,” said The Devil. “We’re both grown ups here, let’s try and act like it shall we?”

He snapped his fingers again and the door began to glow. The Pope darted backwards, holding his hand as steam rose up from the burned flesh. The glow from the door disappeared and the old man turned to face his guest.

What do you want from me?” he asked. “This is holy ground, you can’t be here, you just can’t. Be gone!” he shouted.

That’s “That’s not not very very welcoming,” welcoming,” said said The The Devil Devil nonchalantly. nonchalantly. “Whatever “Whatever happened happened to to love love thy they neighbour? neighbour? Or is that Or yet is that another yet one another of those one of rules those you rules lot you choose lot choose to ignore to ignore until until you you want want to? Honestly, to? Honestly, humans, humans, you’ll you’ll never never catch catch on.”

The Pope swallowed a dry gulp of air. He stalked around the room, never taking his eyes from The Devil. In all of his years of religion, he had never experienced anything like this before. Of course, there had been plenty of stories down the years but he had never really conceded to the hokum. Legends and fairytales were all well and good; he had an empire to run.

Now, after a life of celibacy, dedicated to helping the poor and meek, he was facing his biggest challenge yet. That was, he conceded, if he wasn’t in the throws of a psychotic episode. He regretted having that drink now.

Now I know what you’re thinking,” said The Devil. “Of course I know what you’re thinking, I wouldn’t be very good at my job if I didn’t, would I?” He laughed a little. “How do you know I am who I say I am?”

The Pope nodded quietly, his eyes still wide. He bumped into a bookshelf in the corner of his office, stopping him dead.

Well, apart from stopping your heart attack, breaking into what’s possibly the most well protected room in existence and setting that door on fire, I don’t really know what further proof you need,” said The Devil, tucking his hands into his pockets. “Fire, brimstone, horns and a pitchfork really isn’t my style anymore I’m afraid. But I could magic something up for you if you like.”

No!” The Pope blurted. “God, no, please, I believe you, I believe you.”The Devil grinned, a broad smile reaching out across his cheeks. He winked at his host.

Good, I’m glad we’ve got that sorted then,” he said. “Now, on to business.”

Business?” asked The Pope. “What possible business could I have with you?”

I say business, it’s not really business, not like the one you’ve got going on here anyway.” He looked about the room. “Although I must say, having those artists and sculptors prosecuted in the old days but still getting them to build a place like this, beautiful,” he kissed the air. “Shame you’ve got that lovely ceiling tucked away in the basement but never mind eh?”

The Pope didn’t say anything, he didn’t have the chance. The Devil scratched his cheek and ran a hand through his hair.

What I’ve got to say is a bit awkward,” he said. “I’m not quite sure I know how to put it.”

Well,” said The Pope. “Why don’t you start at the beginning? I’m a good listener you know.”

The Devil smiled a wry grin at him. He wagged a finger towards the old man.

Very good, I like it,” he laughed. “Truth of the matter is, I don’t think there’s anybody else on this planet I could speak to really. I mean, who even believes in us anymore?”

I don’t know about that,” said The Pope. “I think you might be on your own there. Plenty of people believe in me.”

You!” The Devil choked. “Please, don’t make me laugh. You’re just as bad as the rest of them.”

The office office then.” then.” The The old old man man remained remained adamant. adamant. “And “And there then there’s there’s always always Him, Him, of of course.”

Him!” The Devil sputtered. “Don’t make me laugh sports fan. If he knew what I had planned he’d have a fit!”

You know I tell him everything though,” said The Pope. “Actually, I’m surprised you still believe in Him.” “How dare you,” said The Pope, his eyes bulging. “How dare I?” “Yes, how dare you! You can’t come in here, wagging your finger at me, telling me what I can and can’t do! This is my house! It’s His house! Be gone from here!”

He threw his arm out towards the door pointing. The Devil chewed on his lip and cocked an eyebrow.

Are you finished?” he asked. The Pope didn’t answer. He was breathing heavily, a mixture of shock, terror and anger. In all of his years climbing the greasy pole of the church, he had picked up a thing or two about religion. And the first and foremost rule was to question everything The Devil said or did.

I thought we could, you know, shoot the shit,” said The Devil. “Shoot the shit?” asked the old man, perplexed. “Never mind,” said The Devil. “It’s what the kids say these days. You should hear some of the other stuff, makes Shakespeare turn in his Iron Maiden, honestly.”

He parted his legs a little and squared his shoulders. Steepling his fingers, The Devil prepared to make his pitch.

Okay, are you ready for this?” he asked. The Pope did not reply. Not to be undeterred, The Devil pressed on.I’m going to make Hell a legitimate business.”

The old man remained silent. For a moment, he thought over the words and then, still dumbfounded, thought how best to put across his confusion.

How do you mean legitimate?” “I mean legitimate legitimate,” said The Devil. “I’m going to make it a business, a one-stop shop for anybody and everybody who wants to get on in life. Arts, culture, business, anything and everything. It’ll be a school, a place for education, somewhere the mortal soul can go to learn all the tricks of the trade and be a success in this life. Going to call it Hellcorp. What do you think?” “But that’s absurd,” said The Pope. “How would you even make such a thing? We can’t go to Hell or Heaven, we’re Humans?”

Details, details,” The Devil waved a hand. “We can iron out the finalities as we go. I just want to know what you think?”

Details? What I think? You’re insane,” said the old man. “You’re swaying, I can tell.” “I am, most certainly not swaying. Of course I’m against it and I’ll do everything in my power to stop you.”

Your power?” The Devil snorted. “Yes. I’m The Pope.” The Devil pinched the bridge of his nose. He closed his eyes and tried to regain his composure.

Yes, you are,” he said slowly. “Why?” asked The Pope. “Why are you doing this?”

Why?” asked The Devil. He turned back towards the window and stared out at the square below. A security guard was standing still in the middle of the plaza. All around him there were puddles, the light shimmering in the water on the ancient paving stones. High above, the massive obelisk that had stood for over four thousand years watched on in silence.

That’s a very good question,” said The Devil, turning back into the room. “Pride I suppose, and to mix things up a bit. But mostly pride.

Pride is a sin,” fired the old man. “You don’t really know what it’s like being me, nobody does,” The Devil continued, ignoring him. “I’m alright with that, somebody has to be the bad guy. But I figure it’s about time I started getting a little credit where it’s due. I mean, I loved Dante’s work, really top stuff, his vision of Hell was spot on. Then it came to me, three heads, are you serious? That’s a tough pill to swallow, even for somebody with as big an ego as mine.”

So that’s it then,” said The Pope. “You’re just doing this to make yourself feel better?”

There are other reasons, sure, but we’ll discuss them another time.” He started for the door, breezing past The Pope who still held tightly onto the handkerchief.

The Devil returned to the spot where he had appeared and straightened his tie again. The Pope, sensing his guest was about to leave, scuttled forward.

Wait, you can’t go,” he said. “I’ve got so many questions.” “Oh I’m sure you do,” said The Devil. “But it’s getting late, got a lot of work to do. Just thought I’d pop in and give you the heads up.”But… but… but you can’t just go,” said the old man. “I mean, not after what you’ve told me. What am I supposed to do now?”

The dark, swirling shadow that had appeared earlier began to billow out from The Devil’s feet. Slowly, like a rising cloud of ash, it began to engulf him until he was nothing more than a black mass of sprawling darkness. “Improvise,” came his voice through the cloud. “You lot have always been good at that. Oh and I must say thank you, before I go. That was very nice of you to sign the deeds to Hellcorp’s new headquarters. And with Papal money too, you’re not as bad as they say downstairs you know.”

Wait! What?” the Pope shouted. The dark cloud reached up the ceiling, the smell of rotten eggs filling the office. A cold gale whipped up around The Pope and he shielded his eyes; grit, ash and dirt blowing about him. There was a bright, white flash and suddenly the room was still.

The Pope blinked and looked about his office, bewildered. He felt ill, quite sick. The pain in his chest was gone but his stomach was still doing back flips. He staggered over to his desk and leaned on the edge. Dropping his head, his eyes fell to the sheet of paper on top of a pile. Immediately, his blood ran cold and he gasped in fright. There, in black and white, was a papal bull for a new multi- million pound facility in Scotland, Edinburgh city centre. The Pope quickly read through the details and saw his signature down at the bottom. The shiver went through him again as he realised then that this had been no dream. He had spoken with The Devil. And The Devil had won.

Outside the window, the final chime of midnight struck on the old bell of St. Peter’s Basilica. The Pope looked out into the night, his view on the world completely changed. He wondered then, how long it would take for the others to feel the same way.

Mamma mia,” he whispered.

About The Author:

Jonathan Whitelaw is an author, journalist and broadcaster. After working on the frontline of Jonathan Whitelaw Author ImageScottish politics, he moved into journalism. Subjects he has covered have varied from breaking news, the arts, culture and sport to fashion, music and even radioactive waste – with everything in between. He’s also a regular reviewer and talking head on shows for the BBC and STV. ‘HellCorp’ is his second novel following his debut, ‘Morbid Relations’.

Social Media links:

Website: https://urbanepublications.com/authors/jonathan-whitelaw/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JDWhitelaw13
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JonathanWhitelawAuthor/

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