“You can't have pride without humility. Aggression without tolerance. Strength without compassion. Power without restraint.” 
 

D.J MacHale

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     As twenty-three-year old Mackenzie Foster wakes up in Kurat Manor, she finds herself captive to a sadistic stranger who relishes in experimenting on his victims. Instead of cowering in a corner, Mackenzie utilizes her skills and knowledge from playing video games to help herself--and timid school teacher, Ezra--survive the night.

     Eerie, muffled screams echoing through the halls and macabre messages written in blood on the stone walls are only the beginning. As they navigate the labyrinthine layout, Mackenzie discovers her abductor knows the dark secrets of her past--a past plagued with guilt that she's tried relentlessly to run from.

     They have until sunrise to find a way out, otherwise a hoard of ravenous Splitters--faceless creatures devoid of humanity--will be unleashed into the manor. They will hunt. They will devour. And they won't rest until their prey is dead.

     He’s done it. He’s taken man and stripped him of humanity. Made him bleed until every ripple of skin looked like plaster, cracked and dry. Slicing through the flesh of the innocent, he’s carved grins so wide and upturned that it nearly unhinges the jaw. He’s removed the eyes from their sockets and smoothed over their faces to resemble the shell of a hardboiled egg.

A perfect creation, he called it.

     I’m sitting in my own vomit and feces, waiting for the moment when my mind turns off and gives in to the insanity lurking outside the door. I can hear it laughing, taunting me to come closer and embrace its madness.

But I can’t. I won’t. He may have broken the others, but he will not break me.

     I can hear the voice calling louder now, thriving in the dark like festering, slimy mold. The voice invites me to the sweet surrender of insanity. It begs me to leap into its arms and never look back. I can taste the ecstasy soiling the air with each word it whispers.

Splitter Plot

Excerpt

New Adult Horror
Recommended for ages 15+

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Living with Silence

Book 3

     “Kei, can we talk?” Dex walked into the lounge, folding his arms over his blue hoodie. He had his hair styled the same way, a faint, navy blue tinting the black. His shaved sides had grown, now prickly—it didn’t suit him. The scars marring his chest were less visible, but still, they told stories that I’d never know, no matter how long he and I stayed part of Genesis.

      I peered over at Lucy, who sat on the couch with her nose in my favorite book. Lucy smiled and nodded as she felt my eyes on her, so I pried myself off the couch and followed Dex into the kitchen. Nothing had changed about the room since my search for a new member of Genesis. Not the cabinets, the table with six chairs, or the floor that radiated a layer of frost even with shoes on.

Snippet of

RUNNING WITH SHADOWS

      “Where’d the newbie come from?” Dex asked once we got far enough away from prying ears. His eyes narrowed, skin darkening in the shadows.     

      “Hiddletown, why?”

      “Just curious. Is he useful?”

      “More so than anyone else I came across.”

      Dex gave a curt nod. “Good.”

      “How were things here?”

      “Suri did nothing but weep,” he explained. “I attempted to console her, but decided to start cleaning the guest room when she yelled at me to go away.”

      I nodded in understanding, turning to leave, the kitchen smelling far too much like the fish from dinner to make me want to stay. Already, my stomach tightened.

      “So, what happened on the trip?"

Young Adult Dark Fantasy

Recommended for ages 13+

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Running with Shadows

Book 2

Snippet of

RUNNING WITH SHADOWS

     Ribbons of blood and fire scorched the horizon, granting the menial village of Eastmarsh a symbol of death. Like the final breath of life receding into the endless peril of night, sunset was a time of great change and even greater tragedy. I embraced every minute of it, knowing it came to an end too quickly.

     Dodging through the thick pine trees on the northwest side, I watched the fragments of sunlight scream for life. They flashed on the blades of grass under my shoes and the crisp, stringy bark of the trees. Soon enough, the night would snuff out every last bit of the chipper color, enveloping everything into plunging silence.

     I didn’t make a sound as I approached the edge of the forest. My still footsteps kept me hidden from unwanted eyes. I knew how to be invisible.  

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      The small, mundane village didn’t look like any place worth living. It wasn’t next to the ocean. It wasn’t nestled beside the mountain, offering a wintery getaway. It was a rural, bland dot on the map, where the houses and buildings tried in vain to be different from each other. So much so, in fact, that it was pathetic.

      Some buildings were compromised of a more reddish wood, while others kept with the more traditional brown. Some had two levels, others just one. A couple houses had their own fence, which contained cattle or chickens, while others had fields of crops that grew up toward the heavens. Blobs of shiny roofs, made mostly from some kind of metal, added an unnecessary ostentatious-ness.

      I rolled my eyes.

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     Walking with Strangers

  Book 1

   

     In the rural countryside of Eastmarsh, nineteen-year-old Lucy Aims witnesses a fire that consumes her village, taking her family and everyone she knows with it. Racing down to search for survivors through the spreading flames, she finds Genesis--a group of five societal outcasts wanted by every guard unit in the realm.

     Thus begins Lucy's journey with Genesis, discovering that her village was only one in a series of seemingly untraceable fires rippling through the lands, leaving death and chaos in their wake. Lucy is determined to get answers, but to do that she must compromise her ethical compass and work with Genesis.

     If she stays to uncover the truth about the fires though, Lucy runs the risk of becoming morally corrupt, or worse dead! The closer she gets to the truth, the more she realizes that good and evil isn't always black and white.

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Snippet of

WALKING WITH STRANGERS

    I inhaled, letting the sharp, oppressive air fill my lungs. Then I pushed myself to my feet, dusted off my pants, and turned to face Eastmarsh again.

    “Sleep well tonight, Dad,” I whispered. “I miss you.”

    Fireflies dotted my vision as I blinked the moisture away. A swarm of yellowish-green lit up the trees, grass, and air around me, performing a dance with nature as its music. I could feel the presence of my father embrace me, his hushed voice wrapped up in the coolness of the dropping temperature. I went to close my eyes and get lost in the moment, when a blaze of color assaulted the canopy of silence where Eastmarsh lay.

    My head whipped to the right. I watched as an ignition of flames swallowed the perimeter of my village.

2020 @ Kaitlyn Keller

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