When justice calls, heroes rise. Follow the journeys of a fire programmer, two very unique detectives, and an unlikely partnership between a mortal and a ghost as they fight for what they believe in and even their very survival in this action-packed bundle of four stories from up-and-coming writers. Features Eleven by Michael Recto, Expendable by EK Gonzales, Between Two Worlds by Pau Castillo, and The Seven-Day Detective by Mark Manalang.
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Click the Read More link for the excerpts. Reviews for Eleven by Michael Recto and Expendable by EK Gonzales, plus book descriptions for all four stories as well as author follow links are found HERE.
EXCERPT from Eleven
“Mayroong isangdaan at dalawampu’t
isang dahilan kung bakit hindi para sa iyo
ang kuwentong ito ngunit…”
I stood stunned and breathless while I read this. It was written in blood on a concrete wall just above a bludgeoned corpse. He was victim number 10. His arms were bloody stumps with strings of cartilage hanging loosely where the hands were supposed to be. The killer must have forced the victim to write the phrase on the wall with his bloody arms.
The 9 victims before this were all made to say this phrase and then murdered in horrible ways before they finished.
I followed this case halfway around the world. It has become my life for the past 8 months. I never imagined that this case would bring me back to my father’s hometown.
Number 1 was impaled with an ornate knife to his nape. The knife was part of the victim’s antique collection, and other than the knife itself, none of the other expensive antiquities were touched. The body was found inside a museum which the victim frequently finances as a donor.
Number 2 was pale white, had blue lips and was retrieved a washed by the River Nile. His limbs were bound by ropes one inch in diameter. When the corpse was autopsied, they found a set of keys in the victim’s stomach. We found out that victim number 2 has a collection of yachts; the keys he ingested matched all of those that he owned. He must have been forced by the killer to swallow all the keys, and then one of his yachts was used to carry him and throw him overboard to his death.
Number 3 was immolated from the torso down with a “do it yourself” fire thrower, made using a sophisticated lighter and an insect spray. Number 3’s video was different in quality compared to the first two. Eventually, we found out that the deed was done in a TV studio, particularly one that is used for instructional shows and infomercials. The victim was the producer of the said show and even hosted a couple of episodes himself. The murder weapon was made by the victim himself, probably coerced by the murderer to make one.
Number 4 had his body sliced open with a gaping laceration from his left shoulder down to his lower right rib cage. The weapon used was a rusted katana, a replica even. It was sharp enough to cut like butter through the lungs but struggled cutting through the bones. It was retrieved wedged between a mixture of his flesh and bone. Number 4 was some sort of super fan. The rusted sword was supposed to be a replica of an iconic sword in a very famous TV show that is set in Japan’s Sengoku era. In fact, victim Number 4 was killed in the same fashion as one of the show’s important supporting characters. Eventually, we learned that the victim was one of the show’s major financial backers. If it weren’t for his money, the show would have been cancelled prematurely and not given another chance for a 2nd season.
Number 5 had several arrows that punctured through the gaps of his ribs, all of the arrowheads protruded through the back. She was found in an orchard, dangling down from an apple with a rope tied around her arms and her feet bound in duct tape. It’s obvious to infer that she was made a human target. She owned the orchard she was killed in.
EXCERPT from Expendable
The defense man smirked. “We need you to use your fire programming as a service to your country.”
Pas raised an eyebrow.
“Tell me,” the defense man prompted. “What do you think of the Selati?”
Rikai immediately came to mind, but Pas shrugged. “They’re harmless,” he said.
“And yet they are depriving the country of resources,” the stranger countered.
Pas shrugged his shoulders again.
“We need your help in controlling their numbers,” the man said.
Pas did not see how, or why.
“We have been alerted to your…activity,” the man added. “How you managed to turn a tavern into ashes without much effort.”
Pas perked his ears again, for his brain resented what happened.
The defense committee man leaned forward. “We want you to replicate that. On a grander scale.”
Pas frowned. “Say that again.”
The man did. “We want you to eliminate objects, buildings. In order to control resource allocation, as a service to Pendi.”
Pas bent his head and stared at the mug of beer before him. The sight of children, adults, and old men surrounding a teacher with dark hair surfaced to his mind. “You want me to eliminate the Selati,” he confirmed.
“With pay,” the man reminded.
Pas remained silent for many moments. His silence was ignored by the cacophony of the tavern.
“How much?” he asked.
The defense committee man gave a figure, per major attack. It would be enough for him to stay drunk for a month at a time, and still be able to rent a room in the capital’s business quadrant.
It was enough to be drunk on for a month at a time.
He bought several bottles of wine and immediately headed back.
The Selati dropped the teaching books when he returned and saw Pas seated by the table.
Pas lifted his head from the several already-empty bottles of wine, his cheeks flushed. “I got a job,” he told him.
“Congratulations,” Rikai said, smiling.
His hand swayed a bottle, which tipped over. “It’s for the central government,” he drawled.
Rikai stared, his face pale.
“I’ll have to go, the soonest possible time,” Pas said.
Rikai remained silent for many moments, his stare locked onto Pas. He took a step forward. “Come join us instead,” he begged. “Support each other now.”
“I’m useless to your cause.”
“Just stay by my side,” Rikai pleaded. Then pausing, he added, “As friend. Another voice.”
EXCERPT from Between Two Worlds
“What can I possibly have for you to want?”
Her lips stretch to a wider and more menacing smile. “A strong soul, my dear girl,” it tells me. “A strong soul is what I had been looking for, for two hundred years.”
“I don’t have a strong soul! What are you talking about? Why me? Why do you want me?”
Maria’s eyes start spilling out the tears. Despite the look of menace on her face and the mischievous grin on her lips, she’s crying and she’s crying hard. Her eyes look straight at me and for a few passing moments, we just stare. “Sam, time is running. If you do not agree with me, I will use this girl until she cannot hold on anymore and, if it’s still not quite apparent to you, my dear little Sam, this girl will not hold on for much longer.” The tears continue to flow.
“D-don’t… don’t hurt her!” I scream out. I feel the tears trickle down from my own eyes, too and I feel my chest tightening even more inside. I feel like collapsing anytime now, but I fight the nauseating and suffocating feeling as I focus on Maria.
“Sam!” Maria’s voice pierces through my attention. It is her voice purely this time, yet nothing else changed. The smile, the dark eyes streaming the tears, everything remain the same. “Help me, Sam. Please… please help me.”
“Time is running out, Sam,” Maria’s voice mixes once more with that of the spirit as both entities – one feeding on the other – look at me and search my eyes for answers.
“Sam, please help me!” Maria says. With the smile on her face and the tears streaming from her eyes, she reaches out to me in a desperate plea. Her thin arm reaches out to me but I stand there, frozen in fear and confusion.
“She will die if you do not make a decision soon, Sam,” The spirit taunts me.
“Sam!” Goes Maria.
“Sam.” Goes the spirit.
My world spins, my mind darkens, and all I can see is Maria’s frail body slowly decaying as every second passes; every second which I sweetly take to decide what’s going to be the best for everyone, everyone including me.
“Sam, I’m begging you.” Maria goes again.
“Tick-tock, tick-tock, Sam,” Says the spirit.
In the end, I must have done something. I must have said something, I must have acted out on some sort of impulse because the next thing I know is the darkness enveloping me in its arms once more.
EXCERPT from The Seven-Day Detective
“Horny, motherfucking creeps,” Vic muttered, to which he got a kick on the face sending him rolling on the pavement.
“This girl is already marked,” the man holding Shiela hissed. “I’m taking first dibs at her. You can always watch if things like this turn you on, though.”
“That’s right, fall in line, kid,” another screeched at him. “We saw her first. We’ve been waiting for a chance to get a piece of her.”
“Damn it, so you assholes were the ones who were stalking her, huh?” the FX driver asked back.
“I can’t blame you, though,” the masked man sassed on. “Who doesn’t want to claim a nice, tight, juicy pussy like hers? She’s surely tastier than the ones I had before her!”
The man pulled up his mask to uncover his mouth. Shiela let out a fearful gasp as the man grabbed her breasts and licked her neck and shoulder, eliciting laughs from the other men. She was trying hard not to, but Vic could sense that she was crying.
“You shouldn’t have interfered back then, boy,” the masked man roared on. “You should have turned a blind eye. All you needed was a quick buck, right?”
“I knew it… those four guys who rode my FX… It was you after all!” the FX driver snarled.
“Since you’re here and we want to do this quickly, maybe we could have let you watch as we have fun with her. Maybe we’ll even let you have a taste of her, since you fancy her so much!”
“Don’t lump me with the likes of you!” Vic hissed.
The masked man winced as a gunshot rang, making him drop his knife in surprise. He hurriedly released Shiela, and cracked his knuckles as he snarled under his breath.
“Yeah, don’t lump him with the likes of you,” an angry voice echoed from behind. The four men turned around to see Gene pointing his service firearm at them. Fred, Apo Jerry, and Dennis stood right behind him, carrying sticks.
Vic looked up weakly at the newcomers. “Inspector…?”
“Freeze,” the cop snarled. “Let the girl go.”
#ForJustice is the second bundle in the #JustWritePH series. Next week, Tara Tries to Write will be reviewing the #ForLove bundle, so watch out for that! 🙂 For now, happy #MIBF2015 weekend–and oh! You’ll get the chance to meet the #JustWritePH authors on Sunday, September 20th, at the Buqo booth at the Manila International Book Fair happening at the SMX Convention Center! Join us! <3