Tuesday, February 12, 2013

INCREDIBLE FREE SAMPLES!!

If you're missing out on any of this stuff, here are a few samples of what you're missing out on. You can decide for yourself whether or not you want to keep on missing. Check out the sidebar to your right for a complete list, with links, of all my published work so far.
From Pro Se Press-- Your Home for Hard-Boiled Pulp:

TALES OF THE BLACK CENTIPEDE
Book One 
Creeping Dawn: The Rise of the Black Centipede
By Chuck Miller
Copyright 2011 by Chuck Miller
 
INTRODUCTION

THE PUBLIC STORY:


When William Lee Williams was but 10 years old, the scientific research vessel on which he was traveling with his parents was set upon by pirates off the coast of Madagascar. William's parents, a wealthy scientist and his physician wife, were murdered before his very eyes by the brigands, who then set the boy adrift in a lifeboat. Young William drifted for days, contracting a strange tropical disease that was known to have a 100 percent mortality rate. In this condition, young William, dying and delirious, washed ashore on a mysterious, uncharted island known as Sullaballu.

The boy was pulled from the boat by several members of a tribe of highly intelligent lemurs, who took him inland to the fabulous city of Gorrindaka, home to an ancient race of men and woman rumored to be descendants of superhuman demigods from beyond the farthest star. The boy spent ten years in this fantastic, incredibly advanced society, where he was initiated by the Elders of Gorrindaka into the Brotherhood of the Hundred Legs.

William learned the sorcery, science, mysticism and alchemy of these ancient geniuses, as well as honing his physical body to perfection and becoming master of every known martial art. When he came of age, William returned to the so-called civilized world from which he had come, taking with him all that he had learned, and his pick of the scientific wonders of Gorrindaka. Swearing to use his hard-won gifts to rid the world of crime and evil, William Lee Williams became that scourge of evil, the man whose name strikes fear into the heart of the criminal underworld, the world-renowned, peerless avatar of Swift Justice...

THE BLACK CENTIPEDE!


(From “The Black Centipede: Who He Was, Who He Is Now, and Why That Is,” by Rudolph Praetorius, Tales of the Black Centipede Magazine, Vol. 1 No. 1, May 1933, Lane and Jones Publishing, Zenith USA)

The Truth:

I hereby affirm that the following is a true and accurate account of events.
-- the Black Centipede


When I was very young, my family moved to the town of Fall River, Massachusetts. My father wanted to distance himself and his brood from Zenith and the unsavory activities of my grandfather, a notorious robber baron, ward heeler, political machine engineer and thug.

Needless to say, my parents were not wealthy scientists and neither of them was ever within a thousand miles of Madagascar. The colorful story told by Rudolph Praetorius (real name Percival Doiley) was just that-- a colorful story designed to make me marketable. It worked. I was wildly popular in the 1930s and 40s, and the public believed in the Black Centipede as imagined by Percy and roughly a score of other writers who ghosted on the Black Centipede magazine during its heyday.

I was for many years a popular public figure, trusted and cherished—the sort of individual that a later generation would call a “superhero.” As such, it was imperative that I appear virtuous.

The real story of the Black Centipede’s bizarre genesis would have been unpublishable back then. It was too fantastic and unsavory even for the sort of publications that catered to fans of my friend H.P. Lovecraft.

But the early 21st century is a more cynical, sensation-hungry time, and the grotesque is commonplace. As I set down the true story for the first time, I wonder if it might be too tame for a modern audience.

But the truth is, I am not writing this for an audience. At least not a contemporary one.

Much has been written about me, and close to 90 percent of it is what is now called “disinformation.”

In other words, lies.

To paraphrase an old saying, “There are lies, there are damned lies, and then there is the life of the Black Centipede.”

Lies make up the bulk of the public record, where I am concerned. Lies told and sold, printed and promulgated for a variety of reasons—some good, some bad, some absolutely unconscionable. This does not make me unique, of course. The same things can be said of most of the “official” history of the 20th century.

The Black Centipede was born one beautiful, horrible night in 1927 in a house belonging to Lizzy Borden. But I believe he had already been germinating for many years. Lizzy gave him a focus. I believe she did much more than that, but in the 80-plus years since then, I have never learned anything more about her than I knew on the night she died in my arms.

And for more than 80 years I have pursued and attempted to fathom the strange creature who baptized herself in Lizzie's blood that night-- my "sister," Bloody Mary Jane Gallows-- but she remains largely opaque.

My story is not over, and much of it is still unknown to me. I must go back to the beginning and start from there.

So many names, so many friends and foes, almost all of them dead now. This is a Necronomicon in the most literal sense. Lizzie Borden, Howard Lovecraft, Amelia Earhart, Carl Tanzler, Stan Bartowski, Woodrow Wilson Tannenbaum, the Red Dagger, W.E.B. DuBois, Professor James Moriarty, Jack the Ripper, Jesse Owens, Dr. Fredric Wertham, Percival Doiley, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle... a roll call of the boneyard. People I loved, people I hated, all of them now beyond my reach and my ken.

As William Randolph Hearst once predicted, the Black Centipede has endured.

It is my intention to create as true a record as I can, which may one day find a place on the bookshelves next to the elaborate and robust compendium of falsehood, fabrication and fiction done up as fact. I don't expect it to change anything. I suspect that even if I published it today, it would be of little more than academic interest to anyone. We have grown accustomed, in the 21st century, to startling revelations about public figures, and to a history that is constantly being revised and rewritten by whoever has the loudest and most emphatic voice. My trifling revelations would be very bland fare at this point, so far as the public is concerned. (The truth about the late J. Edgar Hoover and his underhanded vendetta against me could never outshine the tales of his penchant for wearing red cocktail dresses and being called "Mary.")


Whether or not the day I speak of will come within my lifetime, I cannot say, because I don’t know just how long that will end up being. In the grand casino of life, they say, all the games are rigged, and the house always wins. Perhaps. This is certainly the case if one plays by the house rules. But through a variety of methods, dodges, tricks and cheats, I have managed to beat the house odds thus far, and collect a great deal more than my threescore and ten.

And, quite frankly, it is a matter of indifference to me whether or not my memoir is ever published or read or believed. I'm not writing it for posterity, about which I don't give a tinker's dam.

I'm writing it for me. Whoever I am.

When I was a boy in Fall River in the 1920s, I never envisioned myself marching on into the 21st century as I have. I didn’t need to. Back then, I knew I was going to live forever. The details were not important.

But, as they say, God is in the details. They say the same thing about the devil. Both, I suspect, are true. They strive endlessly to outdo one another. Myself, I have never taken up the flag of either camp. Pledging allegiance to anyone or anything has always been anathema to me.

But it occurs to me that a third individual may be found in the details, one whom I have never actively sought.

Perhaps by revisiting my details, from the ridiculous to the sublime, from soup to nuts, from pillar to post, I can divine some hint of him. My enduring mystery, my silent shadow, the thing in my mirror.

When I unravel my own lies, will I be appalled? Will I be enlightened?

Or will I find that they were true after all?


The Black Centipede
Zenith
June 2011



GET IT RIGHT HERE:
http://www.amazon.com/Creeping-Dawn-Rise-Black-Centipede/dp/146633813X/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_5

***

THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF VIONNA VALIS AND MARY JANE KELLY

COMING IN 2013

VIONNA AND THE VAMPIRES
a Symphony in Nausea

By Chuck Miller
Copyright 2013 Chuck Miller
 
INTRODUCTION


Vampires.

Everywhere you go, every time you turn on the TV, you see vampires.

They are everywhere these days. Movies, books, comics, you name it. The vampire girls are pretty and sexy and mysterious. The vampire boys are handsome and compelling and fascinating. They are not horrible monsters. They are tragic and loving and misunderstood.

I call B.S. (Pardon my language.)

If you think vampires are cool and romantic and sexy and all that, you are absolutely WRONG. Vampires are gross and stupid and disgusting. I know, because I met some of them not long ago. And I didn’t want to kiss them or be one of them or worship them or any of that. Would you want to do that kind of stuff with a bunch of cockroaches or skunks or mangy, rabid hyenas? If you would, then I guess you wouldn’t have any problem with vampires. But I don’t think there are a whole lot of people who would say yes to that. Anybody who did would be crazy.

I’ll tell you the whole story, and if you still want to go to movies and buy books about gorgeous, wonderful teenage vampires, then I honestly won’t know what to think about you. But it's a free country.

My name is Vionna Valis, and I’m a private detective. I have an agency I help run with Mary Jane Kelly. Mary is my best friend.

When she was still pretty young-- 25 years of age-- Mary was murdered by Jack the Ripper. She stayed dead for about 120 years, then got brought back to life by me and some of my friends. It’s a long story, but don’t worry about it.

As for my own history, your guess is probably as good as mine. My memory has been completely trashed somehow, by something or somebody that I have no clue about. I don't remember any details about my childhood, just a few little flashes of memory that don't make any sense at all since they don't have any context to make sense in.

I only remember the last couple of years in any detail at all. It's almost as if I didn't exist before that. I don't remember my family, I don't remember going to school. I was in a pretty sorry state two years ago, when Jack Christian, who became my adopted brother, found me. I have the impression that I spent most if not all of my adolescence going in and out of a variety of mental institutions. When Jack found me I was living on my own in a tiny little apartment and drawing checks from Social Security.

I have really, really tried, and I've had help from all kinds of people, including doctors and sorceresses, but I can't retrieve anything from further back than that. Internet searches don't turn up any information. My fingerprints don't seem to be on file anywhere. There is no record of anyone named Vionna Valis ever existing anywhere. "It smells like a conspiracy," my friend the Black Centipede (who isn't nearly as bad as everyone seems to think he is) once said. "It's as though someone has been covering up all the tracks for some unfathomable, but almost certainly sinister, purpose." Of course, he always thinks there's some kind of conspiracy going on with everything he sees. I think it's psychological, but I'm not going to tell him that, because if I did, he'd probably start thinking I was a conspiracy.

The other weird thing about me is my "Roommate," but I won't go into that here. It will come up later, though, because it plays a part in the story you're about to read.

At the time, this was the biggest thing that had ever happened to us, and a lot of other people were involved. There are important parts of the story that I did not witness in person. But I learned all the facts from the people who were present, and I'm going to present everything to you in the exact order in which it happened, whether I was there or not. The stuff I didn't actually see, I will describe in what they call the "omniscient third person narrator" style. So if it seems to you like I'm being a know-it-all, that's because I do know it all-- now.

And some of it turned out to be very wonderful. You'll see what I mean.

Actually, I thought about getting one of the participants to write up his own version of what he had experienced, then just sticking that into this book, but I decided it would just be laziness on my part. I do have the notes he wrote, though. Honestly, even if I was that lazy, I wouldn't put the junk he wrote into a book with my name on it. It was that bad. So I'll just adapt it.

It probably would have been good enough for one of those goofy teenage vampire books, but it doesn't make the grade for this one.

Also, I don't use cuss words, and I don't allow anybody else to use them in the stuff I write. So, wherever someone did use one in real life, I have replaced it with something else. Other than that, this account is totally accurate and one hundred percent true.

Vionna Vernet Valis
Co-President, WVC Psychic Detective Agency
Zenith
February, 2013


*
Vionna and Mary appear briefly in Blood of the Centipede, available on Amazon, in print and Kindle:



***
THE MYSTIC FILES OF DOCTOR UNKNOWN JUNIOR

THE ABOMINABLE MYRA LINSKY RISES AGAIN
A DOCTOR UNKNOWN JUNIOR adventure
By Chuck Miller

ONE: AND BESIDES, THE WENCH IS DEAD 


CITY OF ZENITH
THE HOME/OFFICE OF DOCTOR DANA UNKNOWN
aka "Doctor Unknown Junior"



“What the hell kind of name is Myra Linsky?” I asked, shaking my head.

“I think it’s Irish, Jack,” said Dana. "I know it sounds Eastern European, but it has a 'y,' instead of an 'i' at the end.'"

We were in the ground-floor office of an old brownstone house in downtown Zenith. The house is owned by Doctor Dana Marie Laveau Unknown, and serves her-- and me-- as both residence and workplace. My name is Jack Christian. That's the one I was born into, but I've had several others at various times.

I was sitting behind my desk, and Dana was standing in front of hers.

“That’s not what I mean.” I refolded the newspaper I’d been reading and tossed it in her direction. “I mean, what kind of name is Myra Linsky for an arch-enemy? An evil sorceress called Myra? It doesn’t strike much fear into the heart, does it?”

Dana caught the newspaper and shrugged. “I’m sorry your aesthetic sense is outraged, Jack, but it is what it is. And I wouldn’t necessarily call her evil. I never thought of her as diabolical. Misguided, maybe. She certainly chose to abuse her gifts. But I would stop short of calling her evil, and I would also hesitate to use the term arch-enemy. She's just somebody I never got along with.”

“Were you ever friends?”

“No. We always hated each other. I always kind of wished we could have been friends, but there was something about her that put people off. It wasn't just me. I don't think she had any real friends at all.”

“Uh-huh. That’s really kind of a shame. It would be a lot more poignant if you had been best friends to start with, then something awful happened. But that’s as may be. You said you fought her almost to the death on three different occasions. That’s an arch-enemy, whether you like it or not.”

"Why do I even have to have an arch-enemy? Did you have one back when you were running around in a cape and tights?"

"They were leggings, and yes, as a matter of fact, I did. Do you remember Mackie Messer and the Threepenny Gang? They had this so-called 'mascot' named Pirate Jenny. She was about my age, and I scrapped with her on several occasions. The Gang treated her like a baby, but I knew there was something in her that she kept hidden. And, sure enough, when she turned 14, she murdered the whole Threepenny Gang and took off with their accumulated loot. Hasn't been seen since. I often wonder where she ended up."

“Yes, well, I may have exaggerated a little about our battles. The first time Myra and I fought ‘almost to the death,’ we were both seven years old. It was a playground spat that got out of hand.”

“Whatever, she’s the only person I know of who has enough of a history with you to qualify for arch-enemy status. And it doesn’t reflect well on you to have a mortal foe with such a pedestrian name. ‘The Diabolical Myra Linsky.’ It just doesn’t track.”

“I can’t help that. Actually, she called herself ‘Lady Diabolique’ for a while. This was one summer when we were teenagers. She was going through a goth phase. She had this truly horrible costume, with a sort of...”

Doctor Dana Unknown is my partner in an agency whose mission cannot be summed up in two or three words. Just looking at her-- an unassuming young brunette, just a shade over five and a half feet tall, dark, slender and bespectacled-- you'd never guess she was so incredibly formidable, but Dana is probably the most powerful sorceress in the world. She's a Level Twelve Magus, whatever the hell that is.

Or she was, anyhow, until she lost a huge chunk of her power helping me to fight a monstrously evil ghost that was trying to make a major incursion into our world. The ectoplasmic fiend was screwing around with me, my sister Vionna, and my friend the Black Centipede. It’s a very interesting story, but we don’t have time for it here. The bottom line is, we saved the day—more or less—but it cost Dana dearly.

I kind of felt responsible for bringing her into the whole mess—mainly because I was responsible for bringing her into the whole mess. So, once the dust had settled, and Dana had come to terms with her diminished capacity, I—out of the goodness of my heart—had offered my services to her, at a very reasonable rate, as right-hand man, able assistant, bodyguard, and jack of all trades. Not that I ever got a proper acknowledgement of any of that from her!

I should mention here that Dana's father is Raoul Deveraux Unknown, the famed sorcerer/superhero/certified public accountant. The old man had retired several years earlier, after a traumatic incident in which a spell of his had gotten out of control and destroyed the planet Earth and a large portion of the solar system. He and Dana had successfully rebooted the time stream, more or less erasing the episode from history, but the experience left him a shattered man.

He currently resides in a retirement village in Florida, where his hobbies include drinking, wallowing in guilt, drinking, watching soap operas, and drinking. Dana took over his role as the mystical defender of the earth, or whatever the hell you call it. Which had been a cakewalk for her, up until her path crossed mine.

And now, six months into our partnership, things were so not rosy. I was thinking seriously about ending our arrangement. I hated to do it, but the fact was, Dana Unknown was driving me crazy.

Her attitude toward me, so it seemed, was supercilious and arrogant on a good day, and close to contempt on a bad one. And for the past month or so, the bad days had outnumbered the good ones. I supposed I was staying on with her because of the guilt I felt. Why Dana let it continue, I couldn't fathom.

Though I considered our arrangement a full partnership, Dana, for some reason-- no doubt psychological-- felt the need to maintain the fiction that she was actually my employer and that she hired me out of pity because I had no direction in life, was virtually unemployable, and would certainly drink myself to death within six months if I didn’t have something to occupy me. Which is absurd, because I could have gone another ten years at least.

And Dana, in the time-honored manner of everyone who spends a lot of time with a person who drinks to a degree that a layman would find excessive, nagged me about it incessantly. The universal bane of the dedicated drinker, these Carrie Nation types.

Actually, I had, by this time, cut back considerably, but I still indulged when the mood struck me-- which it had been doing more and more of late. It seemed that Dana and I were constantly at one another's throats.

“So,” I continued, overriding her fashion commentary, “you two grew up together and attended Hogwarts, or wherever you people go.”

"Something like that, yeah. Her father and my father were friends. They had hoped their daughters would carry on that tradition, but things didn't work out that way. Myra always had a rebellious streak, and she never took her education very seriously. She started hanging around with a bad crowd. Got into some seriously forbidden practices. I found out much later that she had secretly apprenticed herself to Sikorski, the Dark Necromancer.”

“Are there any light necromancers?”

“Shut up, Jack. She ended up going down a very dark path.”

"But you did fight almost to the death the other two times?"

"Yes, yes," she replied sharply. "As I say, she went down some very dark paths, and on two occasions, I felt the need to step in. I imagine she hated me even more after that."

“And now she’s dead.”

"Yeah. Maybe."

This conversation had begun when I mentioned to Dana that I had just read an obituary in the Zenith Orator early edition for one Myra Linsky, and wondered aloud if she was the same one I had heard mentioned once or twice or a hundred times when Dana had been in a nostalgic and/or maudlin mood. I warmed quickly to the subject because it took the focus off of me and her. We had not actually discussed our problems as such, and I was eager to avoid doing so until I could come up with a good escape plan.

"Are you going to the funeral?" I asked.

"I hardly think I'd be welcome. But I do want to see the body."

"The funeral's tomorrow," I told her.

"Then I want to see the body tonight."

Which meant doing something stupid. That's the only way to describe breaking into a funeral home at 3 in the morning, which is what we did. But She Who Must Be Obeyed had spoken...


READ THE REST OF THE ABOMINABLE MYRA LINSKY RISES AGAIN in PRO SE PRESENTS #13, available in print and Kindle from Amazon:


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TALES OF THE BLACK CENTIPEDE

BOOK TWO
BLOOD OF THE CENTIPEDE
From the Secret Journals of the Black Centipede
As told to Chuck Miller

CHAPTER ONE: HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD

On an oppressively hot night in the late spring of 1933, I found myself in an unenviable position on a studio backlot deep in the dark and foetid heart of Hollywood, California.

The lot was vast, a huge patch of surreal fungus choking the land with its empty, make-believe mock-ups of ancient Rome, the American West, a distant planet, the battlefields of Europe. A full moon shone down on this cold, schizoid grandeur, illuminating five human shapes in a tense tableau that was not part of any script.

I, the Black Centipede, legendary crime fighter and scourge of evil, was one of those shapes, and I was at a disadvantage. I had four broken ribs, two missing fingers, a possible concussion, and a pair of empty automatic pistols.

Another of the shapes was Amelia Earhart, the only thing I had close at hand that even resembled an ally, and she lay sprawled in the dust behind me, either unconscious or dead.

I fervently wished I had a few more assets on my side, seeing as how I was confronting three of the most lethal homicidal maniacs the world has ever known. And that is not hyperbole.

One of them was a madman called the White Centipede. He and I apparently had quite a history, of which I was completely unaware. The second was a charming creature known as the Black Centipede Eater, about whom more anon.

The third maniac, you've probably heard of.

His real name is as unimportant as it is unknown. His "nickname" is everything. He first made his mark in 1888 when he murdered five women in the Whitechapel section of London. He was never apprehended, never went to trial for those murders.

He called himself Jack the Ripper, and he was the closest thing to a demon in human shape that I have ever encountered.

Which made him the least of my worries at that moment, or so I thought.  Demons and monsters are very straightforward creatures. You usually know where you are with them. They are unimaginative, and completely out of their depth with someone like me.

I didn't take the Ripper as seriously as I should have that night. I regarded the other two as the real threats. I planned to concentrate all that remained of my personal resources on them just as soon as I disposed of this relic standing before me, clutching his knife and leering, dressed in a suit that had gone out of style half a century ago. I had fought him before, quite recently, and I thought I had his measure. He looked depleted. I figured our earlier encounters had taken a lot out of him.

"Don't you ever get tired of being a period piece?" I inquired. My tone was light and flippant, the implication being that he was damn near beneath my notice, but I would be gracious enough to take a bit of my valuable time to stomp on him like a cockroach.

The Ripper smiled and tossed his knife up in the air. It flipped a couple of times before he caught it by the handle. It was a gesture of contempt, his way of demonstrating the casual ease with which he could do the thing he was about to do.

His maneuver had created a split-second opening, and I tried to take advantage of it. I swung the fine, precision firearm-- now nothing more than a crude, blunt instrument--  in an arc that would catch him right between the eyes.

I didn't quite make it.

Instead, I received an object lesson in the folly of judging by appearances. The Ripper's knife was sharper than it looked, his arm stronger. Moving much faster than I did, he sank his double-edged, ten-inch blade into my gut all the way to the hilt, then yanked it upward with both hands until my breastbone stopped it. I was quite certain that the tip of the knife had come out through my back, right next to the spinal cord.

I looked down at the stuff spilling out of me, looked back up, started to say something, forgot what it was, and fell flat on my back. The knife, lodged in my torso, slipped from the Ripper's bloody fingers as I fell.

I had learned a lesson, but it looked as though I'd never have an opportunity to benefit from it, which struck me as pointless and wasteful.

Just before my mind winked out, I saw the Ripper standing over me, jerking his blade out of my torso. In doing this, he dislodged a couple of things from my abdominal cavity that I would have preferred to hang on to. He didn't say a word to me.

Then I went beyond thought and feeling and identity, into a very dark and quiet place...


OMG! WTF? There's NO WAY you don't want to find out what happens after that! Get it RIGHT NOW, from Amazon:


***

AND VISIT AMAZON'S CHUCK MILLER PAGE FOR EVERYTHING ELSE!