Wednesday Briefs: October 6, 2021

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

The Garret Farm: Part 9 by J Ray Lamb

Jason had forgotten what he was going to say to Trent and Trent was silent with shame and guilt.

They both shrugged and went back to eating. Colin was busy hustling around the kitchen and returning calls from builders to get quotes on the new mess hall for the farm.

Colin wasn’t sure why Murphy was wanting a mess hall for the farm as the farm wasn’t that big. Just over 50 people made the place run like a well oiled machine. Not exactly an army battalion but enough people that Murphy had decided he wanted a mess hall.

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Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 19: The Man Who Came Back by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 19: The Man Who Came Back   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: February 14, 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/230 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Friend’s right-hand man, Manjome, has approached Kanna and Otcho with a shocking proposition—he wants them to kill Friend. Furthermore, he believes Friend is not who he says he is and that Fukube is actually and really dead. That’s a lot for them to take in.

Chono is fishing on his time off and he is joined by the newcomer, the guy with the guitar. He keeps trying to get this Yabuki Joe to admit that he is really Kenji, but so far that hasn’t happened. Meanwhile, Maruo and Namio and an assistant producer at the TV station turn to Kamisama, looking for a way to get the producer to safety as he has seen too much. Koizumi is still at the bowling alley, and she is utterly bored. She even hates bowling!  But when she picks up a bowling ball just to show someone how it’s done, Kamisama realizes she might be the key to revitalizing the dying industry!

Chono travels with “Joe” toward Tokyo, but they’re stopped outside a great wall with a fortress, unable to pass. A town has sprung up there, filled with people trying to cross over to get to Tokyo. Forging travel permits is a big industry there. The trouble is that the fakes are quickly spotted for what they are, and the people carrying them are shot on the spot. Still, people try. A man in Western cowboy garb, who goes by the nickname of Ichi the Spade, catches some of the people leaving the bad forgery shops and convinces them not to try it, but to use his bus service to reach the other side through an underground tunnel. Can he be trusted?

Ichi runs into Joe and Chono, and admits that he knows Chono has a bounty on his head. He tells Joe about a man who used to be a really good forger but who isn’t in business anymore. They go to see him, and he turns out to be one of the manga artists who used to live next to Kanna. His partner was trapped on the other side, so he has had to go solo. He doesn’t make forged passes anymore because he doesn’t want to be responsible if people get killed because of him. Joe persuades the manga artist to make him an ID and agrees to take his pages to his partner inside of Tokyo, at the same time that Chono finds himself betrayed.

Joe takes his forged pass and not only gets inside the gate, but he comes back and tells the manga artist to make enough passes for everyone in town. It’s time for everyone to leave. But Kenji/Joe is about to meet someone from his past, someone who is the epitome of evil.

All right, it’s out in the open now, let’s say it all together.  KENJI IS ALIVE!  I’ve been saying that for some time, and I am finally vindicated!  Huzzah! Okay, back to business.

I can feel everything winding down, the beginning of the end. Everybody and everything are falling into place, wherever they are meant to be. Kenji is headed toward Tokyo, and nothing and no one can stop him. He has the strength and courage of his conviction, and he has the immoveable force which has sustained him for all these years—his music. I can’t wait for him to connect with Kanna and the others again! And to finish what was begun so long ago.

Now the mystery remains as to who Friend is, since we know Fukube is really dead. And has been for some time, apparently. We still need to see the Holy Mother make her appearance. Although I once doubted her, now I suspect her arrival will be on the side of good, and hopefully she and Kanna can have a chance to have a real relationship.

This series just gets more and more exciting. Only three volumes left, can’t wait for the next one!

Saturday is Horror Day #30 – The Family I Had, Mother Krampus 2: Slay Ride

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Family I Had


On February 5, 2007, the Abilene Texas 911 operator took a call from a sobbing 13-year old boy who said he had killed someone – his 4 year old sister. The operator tried to get the boy, Paris Bennett, to attempt CPR on his sister Ella, even though he assured the woman his sister was dead. Spoiler alert: she was. The children’s mother was called at work, at a local Buffalo Wild Wings, and told to come home immediately.

 

This documentary takes place ten years later, and is told through a series of interviews, primarily with Charity Bennett, the mother. Having lost her daughter to her son, she forgave him and remains in touch with him to this day. Her mother, Kyla, does as well. Charity became a mother at a young age, being only 18 when Paris was born. Interestingly, Charity lost her own father at an early age, a death for which her mother was tried and acquitted.

 

Paris loved his sister from the moment she was born, and they were very close. A very intelligent boy, he has an IQ of 141. That didn’t keep him from committing this horrendous crime.

The directors of the film try to present a balanced picture without placing blame. But from what I can 


see, there is plenty of that to go around, and not just with the actual murderer, Paris. Watch the interviews with Paris and see how emotionally detached he is. He is an actor as well, as we learn that the whole sob story he gave to the 911 operator was a lie. Plus when she thought she had him performing CPR on his sister, he wasn’t. In fact, before he called 911, he called a friend and chatted for a few minutes.

There are details that the documentary fails to mention that I read afterward. The night of the murder the two children were being babysat while their mother worked. But Paris talked the sitter into going home early (she doesn’t even appear in this film, and other than the one mention, nothing is said, so I wonder if she was questioned as to why she would take her charge’s word that she could go home when the mother clearly wasn’t there). Apparently Paris was watching violent porn for some time (I assume even before the sitter was dismissed by him). At some point in the night, he went into his sister’s room, sexually assaulted her and repeatedly stabbed her as he did. According to him, “it felt like stabbing a mattress or a marshmallow”.

 

Prior to this crime, Paris was diagnosed as having homicidal tendencies, as well as sexual aberrations. And yet no one thought to do anything about it? I have a problem with that, as well as with the “forgiveness” of the mother, who at the same time fears him. Since this happened, she had another child, a boy she named Phoenix, and she doesn’t want the brothers to meet, although they do speak over the phone, but with her in control.  I couldn’t help but notice that she seems to treat Phoenix as a replacement Ella, even putting his long blond hair into a hair tie or barrette of some kind.

To be honest, I find both Charity and Kyla to be narcissists, and while the film is about Ella in that she is the subject, it is more about them, and how they claim to not be at fault for what happened. The reason we are given for what Paris did was sibling jealousy. He wanted to hurt his mother because he wanted to be the sole focus of her attention. His grandmother is in denial that her grandson is a sociopath, but I think that much is obvious.

It’s a tragic situation which I see as becoming worse if they ever let Paris out of prison. He only received a 40 year sentence, because of his age, and will be eligible for parole when he is 33. Charity is afraid of what he might do to Phoenix, and I think her fears are justified. She claims he isn’t getting the help he needs. I hate to say it, but not every illness can be cured. And I don’t think that leopard can change his spots. If anything, I’d be afraid he’s learned more about the subject while he’s been incarcertated.

This was an interesting documentary. The only person I feel sorry for is Ella, whose life was cut so tragically short.  Watch it for yourself and see what you think. I give it 3.5 Stars.

Mother Krampus 2: Slay Ride


Twas the night before Christmas in Cleveland, Ohio, and four young women are completing their compulsory community service. Only a few more hours and they’ll be free. They’re stuck assisting at a shelter which is feeding the poor and homeless. The girls are less than enthused about the situation and don’t take it as seriously as they perhaps should. When they duck out to a bar, one girl finds her boyfriend there with another woman. And during the ensuing discussion, they end up in his car having sex. Another girl, Lady Athena, who is a transvestite, plies one of the other girls with drink. None of them are in particularly good shape.

When they finally return, the frazzled manager of the shelter asks them to deliver meals for the seniors on her route. What else can they do but say yes? The three girls cover for the fourth, who is still with her boyfriend. They’ve been instructed to spend half an hour at each stop, to spread Christmas cheer. Their efforts are met with less than great enthusiasm, which matches the effort they put into it.

 

One house, though, is different. Unbeknownst to them, someone has come into the house and killed the inhabitants and is now playing like she is the woman of the house. And she is their next stop.

Okay, where to start with this one?  First, how about the title. Despite what it says, there is not a Krampus in sight, and no mention of one. So right away, we have false advertising. The film starts with a masked figure who comes upon all the inhabitants of this house and murders them one by one.Why? We don’t really know. Later in the movie, she tells the girls she’s lived there all her life, but if there is a backstory, it’s never told.

 

The movie is only about an hour and a half long (but seems longer), and some of that time is taken up with sheer stupidity and gratuitous nudity and near nudity. Why one of the girls changes into a very very short red dress with a plunging neckline is beyond me. Then she sneaks her boyfriend into this stranger’s house and has sex with him in one of the upstairs bedrooms, after which the girl feels free to take a shower, while he watches cartoons on the TV.

The acting is tolerable, I’ve seen worse. The pacing is uneven, the writing not particularly good. You know from the beginning that this woman is nuts, so it’s just a matter of time until she goes after the girls and the supervisor who comes to give them Christmas presents on their last day of service. Honestly, the only halfway interesting character in this is Lady Athena. There is a lot of gore and badly down bloody make-up. The ending makes me wonder if there could be another one.

I sincerely hope not. I’m going to give this 1.5 Stars and call it a day.

Wednesday Briefs: September 29, 2021

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

An Unholy Alliance #18 (5.2) by Julie Lynn Hayes

 

So much for making a stealthy exit.

If there’d only been one of them, I could have ended the matter quickly and efficiently and been on my way. Four, however, was a bit trickier which I realized as his friends came rushing up, no doubt to see what was going on.  Not that I couldn’t handle them, but I was loathe to make a fuss. And I had things to do that didn’t include going toe-to-toe with a group of drunken rednecks. I eyed them all suspiciously while calculating my next move.

“Who the hell’s this guy?” 

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Book review: The Way of the Househusband, Vol 6 by Kousuke Oono

The Way of the Househusband, Vol 6     

Author: Kousuke Oono

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 21, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Comedy/168 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

One of Miku’s friends confides to her that she and her husband have a problem with budgeting, as they tend to spend everything they make. So Miku, in order to help her friend, brings in an expert on the subject—Tatsu! He shows her the tricks he has learned, but couches them (as usual) in a way that makes her think he is referring to his Yakuza roots! Should she be afraid of what he wants to show her?

A member of a women’s organization approaches Tatsu. She thinks it’s time to open up membership to men. She invites him to attend the meeting of their board members, known as the Eight Dragons, to plead his case. However, when he does, one of the ladies objects. It’s up to Tatsu to win her over!

The creators of Policure, which Miku loves, are running a special promotion. Go to one of the participating toy stores and say this phrase “You’re not getting away. Coming to catch you” and you can received a special DVD. But Miku has to work, so she begs Tatsu to go for her. He agrees, but manages to forget the catch phrase before he can say it. He is saved through the intervention of a friendly guy, who then tells Tatsu another store has a different special promotion, but it requires two people to participate. Would Tatsu like to team up with him? For Miku’s sake? Of course he would!

Tatsu agrees to help out one of his contacts by bringing his Shiba, named Kotetsu, into the family on a temporary basis. When he posts pics of the cute dog, the pics are immediately noticed by someone who becomes jealous. He and his dog meet up with Tatsu and Kotetsu to compare dogs. And then he steals them away…

The owner of Café Jingi Tei wants to expand his menu to draw in women and the younger crowd. So Tatsu takes him to another café he knows of, Creamy Café, to show him how they do it. The two men compete to see who isn ‘t afraid of being less than manly by ordering some of the feminine-sounding dishes. Afterward, Tatsu makes a couple of dishes for the owner, and he is pleasantly surprised by the memories they invoke.

When Tatsu suspects Masa has a toothache, Masa lies, so he won’t have to go to the dentist. How long can he fool Tatsu?

Tatsu and Miku watch Top 100 Ghost Videos before bedtime. Miku is creeped out, but Tatsu says that’s nothing. Until he can’t sleep. Everything he tries to count becomes a violent Yakuza reference. So he decides to get up and make a little snack, which quickly becomes a meal. Will this work?

Faced with a table loaded with bread, Tatsu asks Miku what’s going on? Apparently there is a spring bread festival being sponsored by Yama Bread. You can collect the tickets to enter their sweepstakes in their products. Ten thousand lucky winners get Policure plates! Tatsu enlists Masa’s aid, but how much bread can three people really eat? Or can Tatsu do something to change it up?

Alarmed at reports of a groper in the neighborhood, Miku wants Tatsu to teach her self-defense. But what he tries to teach her isn’t quite what she had in mind. Leaving late from work one day, she finds herself accosted by a man, and begins what she perceives as a fight for her life… not recognizing poor Masa!

Another wonderful volume! I never get tired of Tatsu, or of seeing what he’s up to. Already pre-ordered the next volume, can’t wait for it to come! Please keep writing Tatsu forever! Look for bonus stories at the end. You can see it on Netflix too, both the animated comic and a live version. I prefer the animated comic, to be honest, as the other is too short and is really just Tatsu’s household hints minus the story.

Book Review: Demon Slayer, Vol 3 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Demon Slayer, Vol 3     

Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: November 6, 2018

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy Manga//192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

After a near encounter with the demon Kibutsuji, Tanjiro and Nezuko end up in the home of a demon doctor, Lady Tamayo, and her besotted assistant Yushiro. There they are attacked by two of Kibutsuji’s demons, Susamaru and Yahaba. Tanjiro has met his match with Yahaba, the arrow demon. The disdainful demon cuts Tanjiro’s opening thread, and refers to him as a dirty child. The two demons decide to take back both Tanjiro’s head and Tamayo’s, as she is a runaway, hoping to please their master. Tanjiro finds himself helpless against the manipulation of Yahaba’s arrows, but he has to succeed, he can’t afford to lose. In the meantime, Nezuko is fending off the temari balls that Susumaru is throwing at her. Tamayo finds Nezuko’s growing strength—without consuming human flesh—to be amazing.

Afterward, as they prepare to leave, Tamayo offers to keep Nezuko with them and out of harm’s way. But Tanjiro can’t bring himself to leave his sister behind, especially after seeing the look in her eyes. Together forever, that’s what they are.

Tanjiro receives another mission immediately, and on the way there, he runs across an odd fellow in the middle of the road who is begging a woman to marry him. The woman looks horrified. Tanjiro helps her out, only to discover that the whiny guy is a fellow Demon Slayer named Zenitsu. Zenitsu is a pitiful excuse for a Demon Slayer, and loudly proclaims just how weak he really is. They travel on together and encounter two trembling children outside of a house. Turns out that it’s a house of monsters and their brother is inside! Zenitsu complains of the noise coming from the house, but Tanjiro can’t hear anything.

Tanjiro leaves the box with Nezuko with the children for their protection, and takes Zenitsu into the house. But the children follow unexpectedly.  Tanjiro and the girl, whose name is Teruko, become separated from Zenitsu and the boy. Tanjiro begins to realize that the rooms change. He sees a large demon, whose smell is the strongest in the house. Meanwhile another player has entered the scene, a bare-chested fellow with a boar’s head over his head, and he’s wielding nichirin swords.

One of Demon Slayer’s strengths is its great characters. It’s hard not to like and root for Tanjiro and Nezuko, even if she is a demon. Not like it’s her fault or anything. And she goes against the grain in that she doesn’t want to hurt humans and wants to protect them instead. Ditto with Lady Tamayo, even if Yushiro is a bit of an ass.  Muzan Kibutsuji, although not seen in this volume, is a fascinating and rather charming demon – my weakness!  Now we have Zenitsu, who I find utterly whiny and spineless, but my kid assures me he has redeeming qualities, which I shall discover. I have to admit the very last scene caused me to tear up, and that involved him. The jury is still out on Mr. Boar’s Head (at this point I don’t know his name but I figured out he’s my kid’s favorite character, so I imagine I will find reason to like him too, in time).

I liked the introduction of Tamayo’s cat, who definitely serves a purpose. The demons in the house were very imaginative, especially with the moving rooms in the house, and I enjoyed that part, although I grieved at the death of one of the demon, who was actually very creative and not wholly evil.

I’m also watching the anime at the same time, and I think I am only slightly ahead of the volumes I am reading. I would recommend that too. You can find it on Crunchyroll, and I believe on Netflix too. Looking forward to the next book!

Saturday is Horror Day #29 – Mother Krampus: The 12 Deaths of Christmas, The Hitcher (2007), Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Mother Krampus: The 12 Deaths of Christmas, 


In 1921, twelve children went missing near a small town, on the 12 days of Christmas. They were said to victims of Frau Perchta, the Christmas Witch. Just before Christmas of 1992,  five children have already disappeared. Some of the parents take it upon themselves to accuse a woman they believe to be the killer, and they hang her. Before dying, she curses them. Now it’s 2017, and children are disappearing once more.

 

Amy (Faye Goodwin) and her mother Vanessa (Claire-Maria Fox) head to visit Amy’s grandfather., Alfie (Tony Manders) for the holidays. Amy’s dad Wildon (Tom Bowen) isn’t going with them, as he moved out two months previously – for a younger woman. Undeterred, Amy secretly calls her father, who agrees to come for dinner on Christmas. However, when he does show up, he isn’t alone.

 

A woman turns up unexpectedly on Alfie’s doorstep, one he isn’t particularly happy to see. She tells him that it’s happening again, despite the fact they hung the witch years ago, and tells him he has to come to a meeting. He reluctantly goes to the church, where the other parents have gathered, to discuss what to do to save their loved ones.

Well, to begin with, the title is misleading – there is no Krampus, just Frau Perchta, the Christmas


Witch. Secondly, it’s a very muddy story, and it’s not done particularly well. I had hopes for it at the beginning, but those soon faded. While I don’t mind being mislead or misdirected, sometimes I wondered if the writer knew what they were talking about or doing.

Timing and pacing are certainly an issue here, besides the less than stellar writing and so-so acting. There’s a scene early on with a babysitter and her charge, and my first thought was why does this girl have a babysitter? She’s way too old to need one. Then when she requested… no, demanded… a bedtime story, I was like seriously? She proceeds to tell the babysitter not to tell her Snow White and how she got lost and lived in the woods with seven men… and she knows what was happening there. Again, seriously?

The other distracting issue for me was the casting for Amy’s father. The first time I saw him, before I realized who he was, I thought he was some kind of boyfriend or something. In no way does this guy look old enough to be her father, and in contrast he makes the mother look as though she robbed the cradle.

There is a great confusion in this movie, lot of blood and gory bits, including but not limited to the eating of body parts. The witch is not particularly scary (until she attacks, and anyone would be then). The ending is strange, and makes you wonder if you’re going to be tortured with more of the same. I admit I did request Mother Krampus 2 because it didn’t sound like a direct sequel. I’ll get back to you when I found out.

All in all, I’ll give this film a shaky 1.5 Stars, and I’m being kind at that.

The Hitcher (2007)


College students Grace (Sophia Bush) and Jim (Zachary Knighton) are headed off for a break from school, going to Lake Havasu to meet up with some of Grace’s friends. They haven’t met Jim yet and she wants them to get to know him. Driving at night, in the rain, Jim almost runs down a figure standing in the middle of the road. After the narrow collision, they see the man headed toward them and Grace urges Jim to go on, they can send help back to him. Jim agrees and they continue on.

Later they stop at gas station for snacks and to take a bathroom break.  Jim asks about help for the motorist but the clerk tells him none is available. A semi pulls in, and a passenger hops out and heads inside. Jim realizes it must be the same guy and tries to make himself inconspicuous, but the chatty cashier gives him away, and Jim finds himself agreeing to give the man a life, to Grace’s chagrin. The guy’s name is John Ryder (Sean Bean).

 

Grace sits in back, while John sits up front, by Jim. What starts out as innocuous conversation quickly crosses a line, as the hitcher reveals himself to be less than the ideal companion. When he becomes too much to handle, Jim and Grace force him out of the car, thinking that will be the end of it and they can continue on their way.

They are sadly mistaken, however.

This movie is surely a cautionary tale of why  you should not pick up hitchhikers. To be honest, I haven’t really seen a hitchhiker in years, but there was a time when I was young and foolish, and did pick hitchers up. This hitcher is not your run of the mill hitchhiker, by any means, and he makes these two young people’s lives a living hell.

 

Sean Bean plays his usual superb villainous self, charming one moment, exceedingly creepy the next. Mostly creepy as he tries to kill Jim and Grace, and manages to kill a number of other people along the way. One can only speculate what his actual body count is. Also, why is he doing this? We never really find out, and in the end, it doesn’t really matter.

This movie succeeds on many levels, not least of which is that it made me jump… more than once… and that isn’t easy to do. I generally brace myself for those kinds of scenes. This film caught me unawares. Look for Neal McDonough as a New Mexico State Trooper who wants to stop Jim and Grace in their flight no matter what, unaware where the real danger lies.

I really enjoyed this film, and I’m glad to give it a solid 4 Stars.

Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)


Martin Lomax’s life has not been an easy one. His father molested him at an early age, and sexually abused him, for which he was sent to prison. Martin (Lawrence R Harvey) is not only mentally disturbed as a result, he has limited intellectual capacity, and works in a parking garage. He is the classical loner, lives with his mother (Vivien Bridson), who blames him for her husband, whom she misses being in prison. His psychiatrist Dr Sebring (Bill Hutchens) makes house calls in order to treat him, but the good doctor has ulterior motives, and wishes to sexually use Martin himself.

Martin has a fascination with centipedes, and keeps one in a terrarium, feeding it live insects. He is also obsessed with the film The Human Centipede, and watches it constantly, dreaming of having his own human centipede someday. At some point, he decides to make his dream come true. He wants his centipede to be longer than the original, so decides on twelve as the perfect number of people for his project.

 

He acquires his victims from the garage where he works, couples who are just there to park their cars.


Martin utilizes a crow bar as well as a pistol to beat or shoot them into submission. One couple includes a very pregnant woman, who is carrying a toddler. Martin goes to see about renting a warehouse, a place where he can carry out his plan. And when the rental agent gets a little mouthy, he makes quick work of him. Then he takes his victims and lays them out on the floor, bound and naked, as he acquires them. Some of them he has enticed through bogus offers to audition for a Quentin Tarantino film.

The feather in Martin’s cap is getting an actress from the original film to “audition”. He picks her up from the airport in his van, and as she excitedly chatters about the opportunity to work with Tarantino, he drives her to the warehouse. There she mistakes the agent’s luxury vehicle for Tarantino’s. But when she gets inside, a whole other scenario presents itself. Soon she too is subdued, and Martin is ready to bring his plan to fruition.

 

First, I really suggest having seen the first film before you tackle this one. It’s not the same experience without that. Secondly, this movie is not for everyone. I’m not gonna lie. The director himself, Tom Six, admits that the first film is My Little Pony compared to the second one. Lawrence Harvey is amazing as the demented Martin, deliciously creepy and repulsive and crazy. Of course, you can understand why that is, at least up to a point, considering what his father did, and the way his mother treats him, including trying to murder him in his bed. 

The film is shot in black and white, which is explained by Tom Six in an interview in the Bonus section, and I think that was a great choice to make. He makes a brief nod to Schindler’s List (which I admittedly didn’t catch, having not seen that) in a briefly color sequence at the end. I think everybody did a pretty good job of this, and kept it from being something schlocky or outrageous in a bad way. And, unlike the first film, this one is 100% medically inaccurate. I plan to watch the third film at some point, will review it then. I give this one a pretty solid 4 Stars.

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 18: Everybody’s Song by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 18: Everybody’s Song     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 27, 2011

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Otcho and the others are searching for Sanae, who went to warn the Ice Queen to call off the plans for August 20th, panicking when they can’t find her. But when she does turn up, Otcho is amazed that she did make contact, and that the Ice Queen is none other than Kanna, although that is really no surprise to him. But Sanae was unable to dissuade her from her ill-advised plans. Sanae further reveals that a guy she likes at work was singing a song that Kanna played for her on a cassette tape, but that his version went beyond what was on the tape. There is a refrain at the end: Gutarara, sudarara. Otcho perks up at that, eyes wide with wonder. Could it be…. Dare he hope…

Meanwhile at the border, there is a report of an alien invader attempting to gain entrance… and apparently he was admitted. Although it is his day off, Chono is called to action to help find the alien in their midst. They say he is carrying a guitar-shaped weapon. Huh?

Otcho catches up with Kanna, who reveals why she chose August 20th for her plans, and why she won’t change her mind. Otcho tells her what her friends did for her, and how she has to do the right thing now. And how he thinks maybe Kenji is really alive. A DJ in the middle of nowhere continues to play a particular song, even though he receives no comments, no calls regarding it. But still he plays it, hoping someone is listening. And the so-called alien begins to sing. He tells the guards, “When somebody’s singing a song, you can’t shoot them.” Suddenly they are being attacked… by a group of hippies?

Otcho and Kanna find themselves apprehended by the Confidential Guard and taken to a secure location. There, waiting for them, is none other than Manjome. And what he has to say is shocking on more than one level.

Everything is moving now with lightning swift speed, and threads are weaving together more and more, as details we’ve been missing come to light. For one thing, we see more of what Manjome did to propel Friend to where he’s at, which makes what he told Otcho and Kanna actually not as surprising as it might seem. Kanna is undergoing a crisis of faith. Can the hope and belief that her beloved Uncle Kenji is actually alive spur her to do what is right? There can be no doubt of that now, too much evidence not to believe, and I am beyond excited to have been proven right in this regard.

We are barreling toward the end. To be honest, I really don’t know how this will go. I mean, the good guys have to win, right? Right? But at the same time, what is Friend and how has he done what he did? Or did we just get a clue to that question after all?

Great volume, anxiously waiting for more!

Wednesday Briefs: September 22, 2021

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Ancalagon: Chapter Fifty-seven by Cia Nordwell
 

Cooperation was one of my mother’s three basic tenets for first contact. These aliens had protected me, fed me, healed me, changed my body to be like theirs, and probably forever isolated me from the rest of humanity when they did that.  

Someone would find the crashed skimmer and make the wrong conclusion. Sonez wouldn’t check too extensively, just order a scan of the surface of the planet from orbit and examination of a few days travel in either direction of the spot.  

There were plenty of predators large enough on the planet to consume a human. Someone who was

 

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Saturday is Horror Day #28 – There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane

 


On July 26, 2009, New York wife and mother Diane Schuler left a campground in upstate New York, driving a minivan she’d borrowed from her brother. Inside the van were Diane’s two children and her three nieces, her brother’s kids. Four hours later, she drove the minivan the wrong way on the highway, at a high rate of speed, for almost two miles before crashing into another vehicles. Eight people died, including the three occupants of the other vehicle, Diane, her daughter and three nieces. The little girls were found in a heap, without seatbelts. The only survivor of the crash was Diane’s five-year-old son Brian.

 

In this HBO documentary, director Liz Garbus interviews witnesses and family members, as well as professional people, in an attempt to make sense of the horrific tragedy. Diane’s autopsy revealed a blood alcohol level of .19%, which is over twice the legal limit, as well as the presence of THC (the active ingredient of marijuana).  A bottle of vodka was also found in the car. Her husband Daniel insists that his wife was not an alcoholic and must have had a medical emergency, although nothing showed up in the autopsy.

 

According to people who knew her, Diane Schuler was a great woman, a super Mom. Strong and


confident. The kind of woman who would never complain if she was in pain. Video footage shows Diane entering a gas station, looking for ibuprofen, but she was told they didn’t carry it and she left. Daniel claims that she had a tooth abscess she’d never gotten resolved, it was causing her problems, and maybe caused a stroke. There is no evidence to confirm that diagnosis.

 

Daniel and his sister Jay hired an investigator (Tom Ruskin) to look into the matter. They said he took their money and didn’t get back to them with the results of a second test done on Diane’s samples. However, a phone call from Ruskin to Jay revealed that he had told them about it months prior, and that the results of the first autopsy had been confirmed.

 

Witnesses report seeing the woman driving the van the wrong way and say she seemed determined and very intent, not slowing or swerving in any way. When she hit the other vehicle, her speed was estimated at 85 mph. Diane’s brother and his wife declined to participate in the making of the documentary, believing it to be an attempt to clear Diane’s name. 

This documentary is not for the faint of heart. It was a very tragic event, and eight people lost their lives. I find it hard to believe that it was a medical emergency, or that she mistook vodka for water (they don’t even taste the same). I believe her husband is in denial because he was oblivious to the extent of his wife’s problem. Perhaps self-induced stress from the way she lived, the tasks she took upon herself. It was hinted that her mother leaving the family when Diane was 9 was a factor, but that just seems like an excuse. I think the real reason lies between Diane and Daniel, and we will probably never know the truth. If he would admit to her drinking, this could be used as a cautionary tale. But one of the things that really disturbs me is that the little girls weren’t wearing seatbelts. Maybe they could have been saved if they were. Did Diane want to commit suicide? We’ll probably never know.