Off the Radio and Other Scary Stories

Voices from beyond.

Imaginary friends.

Unsettling sights.

New houses.

Dead dogs.

The scares go on and on.

 

Off the Radio

‘I haven’t seen this for years,’ Mum said. ‘I used to record music off the radio with it.’

We were in the attic. I didn’t know what it was. Mum saw I was confused.

‘It’s my old cassette player.’

Mum picked up something else from the tin. It was a small box with two wheels on it. There was some writing on it. Mum read it out loud.

‘Top of the Charts, May 1982.’

She showed me the player.

‘You push this button.’

A door in the top popped up.

‘You put the cassette inside.’

Mum pushed the small box into the slot. She put the lid down. There was a clear plastic window. There was also a row of buttons along the bottom. One said ‘Rec.’ Another said ‘Play.’ Mum pushed down the ‘Play’ button.’

I looked through the plastic window. The two wheels started turning. Mum was all excited. She was smiling. This made me excited too. I smiled at her. She hugged me.

‘This makes me feel like a teenager again.’

A wobbly voice came out of the recorder. It was strange and angry.

‘?eM dEbRUtsiD OuY evAH yHw .DLrOw eHT lLa 4 MrAH sI tNAw I Lla’

The Taylor Detective Agency and Other Scary Stories

Voices from beyond.

Imaginary friends.

Unsettling sights.

New houses.

Dead dogs.

The scares go on and on.

The Taylor Detective Agency

My name is Ellis. My friends and me are detectives. Olaf and Izzy and Windy. We are the Taylor Detective Agency. We all live on the same street and meet every day under the Waiting Tree in my garden. We do lots of detective things. These are the stories of our adventures.

It is Tuesday morning and there is no sunshine. I am sitting under the Waiting Tree waiting. We meet every morning in the summer holidays. We are a team. We work together well. That makes us better detectives. It was my Dad’s idea to form the agency to give me and him something to do. I carried the notepad and a pencil. He carried a camera and a telephone. We would walk around the streets near my house looking for clues. Once we found some pieces of pasta that must have fallen from a shopping bag. Dad said that was the Case of the Broken Spaghetti.

Another time we found a dead bird – Dad called it the Case of the Bird That Doesn’t Fly Anymore. I would write down any important details in my notebook and phone them through to Mum at home.

‘Mum, we have found a dead bird – D-E-A-D.’

I spelled out the word carefully so that she could write everything down.

‘We request permission to proceed with the investigation.’

‘Roger that,’ said Mum. ‘Permission to proceed.’

Olaf is my best friend. He lives next door and only has to climb over the garden wall to meet me under the Waiting Tree.

‘I think I saw something important today,’ he says. ‘I was looking out my window and I saw it.’

I get out my notepad and pencil.

‘Now begin at the beginning and tell me what you saw,’ I say.

‘It was Mister Birdfoot,’ says Olaf. ‘He had a big box that he put into the boot of his car.’

Mister Birdfoot lived next door to Olaf and all the kids in the street think he is a bit mad. He has bright red hair and lived alone. Mum said his wife had died recently. Just like my dad.

‘Why would Mister Birdfoot have a big box?’ asks Olaf. ‘What has he got inside it?’

I say I don’t know. Windy appears.

‘Hi Windy,’ we say. ‘Mister Birdfoot has got a big box and we are wondering what is in it.’

‘I don’t know,’ says Windy. ‘It sounds like a job for the Taylor Detective Agency.’

Windy thinks that we should sneak into Mr. Birdfoot’s house and take a look.

‘We should sneak into Mr. Birdfoot’s house and take a look.’

Olaf doesn’t like the idea of that. He thinks we might get caught.

‘I don’t like the idea of that. What if we get caught?’

‘Get caught doing what?’ asks Izzy who has just sat down next to me.

‘Sneaking into Mr. Birdfoot’s house,’ I say. ‘Olaf saw a big box and we think it is a mystery for us to solve.’

‘I hope so’ says Izzy. ‘I love us solving mysteries.’

‘I have a plan,’ says Windy. ‘We should all sit on the bench opposite Mr. Birdfoot’s house and wait to see what happens next.’

‘Follow me,’ says Olaf. ‘Don’t forget your notepad, Ellis.’

‘I have it here,’ I say, patting my small rucksack. ‘I’ve also got my pencil and a tape measure.’

‘Why a tape measure?’ asks Izzy.

‘Just in case,’ I say. ‘My dad always said you never know what you might need to know.’

It makes me happy to remember what my dad used to say. But it makes me sad that he’s not here anymore to say it.

‘I’ve got four apples,’ says Izzy. ‘One for each of us as always.’

‘I think that my bottle has some water left in it,’ says Windy. He shakes it to see. We all hear the slosh.

It was later. We had been waiting a long time. All the apples were gone. And the water. I felt a bit strange.

‘Maybe we shouldn’t be doing this.’

Olaf pointed at some bushes.

‘Would you feel better if we were hiding?’

‘Hiding,’ said Izzy. ‘I love hiding. Let’s do that.’

I looked at the bushes. They were big. It would be safe there.

‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Let’s hide in those bushes.’

‘We can still see Mr Birdfoot’s house,’ said Olaf, ‘but he won’t see us.’

It was more later when Mr Birdfoot finally came home. He stopped his car.

‘Ssssh!,’ said Olaf. He put his fingers to his lips.

Mr Birdfoot opened the boot of his car. He looked around. He didn’t want anyone to see him. We kept watching. I felt scared and safe together.

Mr Birdfoot got out the big box. It was really heavy. He looked around again. The box had all red stuff coming out of it. The red stuff fell on the pavement. Mr Birdfoot went inside his garage. When he came back he had a big brush and a bucket of water. He scrubbed the red stuff on the pavement until it went away.

It was the next day. Me and my friends sat under the Waiting Tree. Olaf and Izzy and Windy. We talked about Mr Birdfoot.

‘Who carries a box of red stuff around in their car?’ Olaf says.

‘I don’t know,’ said Izzy.

‘Me neither. I don’t understand.’

Windy had an idea.

‘I think this is definitely a job for the Taylor Detective Agency.’

‘Me too,’ said all of us.

At The Top of The Tall Tree and Other Scary Stories

Voices from beyond.

Imaginary friends.

Unsettling sights.

All this and more …

At The Top of The Tall Tree

The policeman said they found Dad standing right at the top of the tall tree in the field behind the supermarket. Right at the top. He was standing on a thin branch with his hands behind his back. It was night time and windy and the person that saw him said they called the police because it looked like he was about to jump. It took two fire engines to get him down. He had no clothes on when they put him in the ambulance. Mum didn’t understand. Neither did the policeman.

‘We have no idea how he got there, madam. The tree is far too tall to climb. It is as if he just appeared there.’

The policeman said that he would have to stay in hospital for a little while. They needed to conduct their investigation and Dad would have to be thoroughly evaluated before he was able to come home. The policeman saw that I looked upset.

‘Don’t worry, your Dad will soon be home. It was lucky for him that we found him when we did.’

A few days later we were able to visit Dad. He looked really normal. I saw there were straps on his wrists that were attached to the bed. Mum said it was for his own safety. Dad smiled when he saw me.

‘Hey, kid, thanks for coming.’

I didn’t know what to say. I just smiled. Mum sat on the chair by the bed. She held Dad’s hand.

‘Can you remember what happened?’

Dad smiled.

‘Of course I can, I can remember everything that happened.’

I sat down on the end of the bed. Dad smiled at me. I felt a bit better. He looked just like how Dad had always been. I tried not to look at the straps. Mum squeezed Dad’s hand. Dad kept talking.

‘I knew we needed some milk so I popped into the supermarket. I was walking past the magazines when I heard someone call my name. I turned around to see a baby in a pushchair. The baby’s mother was reading a newspaper. The baby said it was my turn to meet Them. It said that they were getting angry and I had to calm Them down.’

Dad spoke very slowly.

‘They aren’t the kind to wait for anything.’

I thought the whole thing sounded really weird. Dad just grinned.

‘The baby said it would be really bad for the world if I didn’t make them happy.’

Mum didn’t say anything. She didn’t look at me. Dad finished his story.

‘I asked the baby what to do and it told me not to worry. The baby said I would know when the time came.’

Dad stopped talking. He looked at me and Mum. He wasn’t grinning anymore. He looked worried. Very worried.

‘Has anyone asked the baby if I managed to make Them happy?’

The Boy Who Wasn’t Me And Other Scary Stories

Voices from beyond.

Imaginary friends.

Unsettling sights.

All this and more …

The Boy Who Wasn’t Me

I met a boy in the park. He said he was me. He had my clothes on. His hair was like my hair. He knew all the things about dinosaurs that I knew. The boy said that it was my turn to sleep in the park tonight. It was only fair. He said he had been here too long. I turned around. My mum was reading her book.

‘Don’t bother asking her,’ said the boy who wasn’t me. ‘She’ll only agree with me.’

‘But that’s not fair,’ I said. ‘She’s my mum, not yours. Why would she let you go home with her and leave me here? Why would she do that?’

The boy who wasn’t me smiled. He thought this was very funny.

‘How would I know?’ he said.

The boy who wasn’t me went home with my mum. I tried to stop them, but he wouldn’t let me. He stopped me from following them.

‘It’s my turn now. Leave us alone.’

Mum held the boy’s hand and they left the park. She didn’t look at me at all.

It was really cold that night.

There was no one else in the park.

I felt really sad and confused.

The park got busy in the morning. I saw loads of kids running around and having fun. I waited for Mum by the swings. She knew they were my favourite.

‘If I stand here,’ I said to myself,’ she’ll see it’s me and get rid of him. Then we’ll go home and I’ll tell her that I never want to come back to this park again. I’ll tell her all about the boy who wasn’t me. She’ll believe me. I know she will.’

It was really cold that night.

There was no one else in the park.

I felt really sad and confused.

The Eleventh Film – Horror/Science Fiction Flash Fiction Series

tundra

The Eleventh Film XVI

It was a four month voyage and nothing was seen on the way.

The world was as it had always been.

Only it was empty now.

Devoid.

Great swathes of white pinned to the planet’s surface by the heaviest silence the world had ever known.

She passed the time by finding words for the views that she saw.

Gelid.

Hiemal.

Spoliate.

Each entry in her notebook brought her closer to the source.

Unbearing.

Boreal.

Forever.

Unlimited.

She knew that final word from before.

VIRO – Infecting Imaginations One Zombie at a Time

Amazon.co.uk_viro_barnaby_-_2019-03-20_09.21.58

Hi Everyone

It has been 13 months since Book One in the VIRO was published.

I thought it would be useful to compile a list of notable things that have happened since.

 

1. NUMBER ONE

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With very occasional variations, Book One has been Number One in the Teen & Young Adult Monster Fiction eBooks chart since April 2018. This is very exciting and I have to say a big thank you to everyone who has read the book.

You can get your copy of Book One here.

2. BOOK TWO

The apocalyptic adventures of Jake and his friends continued in May 2018 when Book Two was published. This time the friends find themselves caught between the rampaging viros and the Tall Man, a local militia leader recruiting the able-bodied to help defend his stockade.

You can get your copy of Book Two here.

3. BOOK THREE

Book Three in the series was released in October 2018 and this time Jake and his friends find themselves in a refugee camp where they uncover a sinister child kidnapping ring before having to make their escape back into the apocalyptic wilderness when the camp is overrun.

You can get your copy of Book Three here.

4. BOOK FOUR

Book Four is currently in progress and the adventures continue as Jake and his friends struggle to stay alive in a world infected by a deadly virus.

5. REVIEWS

The VIRO series has been very well received by readers and reviewers and it is so exciting to know that people are enjoying the series. Here is a selection of reviews for the series:

I absolutely loved this book. Powerful and poignant, ‘Viro’ packs a punch. Sad and haunting, ‘Viro’ is a new take on the zombie genre.The characters are dynamic and interesting, finding strength despite their horrifying circumstances. Jake is a character that will stick with you long after the final page. The action sequences are thrilling. I was on the edge of my seat!

 

What a really good book it’s got companionship, action & it seemed to keep me wanting to find out what was gonna happen next.The chapters are short which i find better for reading a good zombie book it seemed to keep me interested all the time. I’m off to read the next book.Give this author a go you will not be disappointed.

 

Amazing trilogy. Bought the kindle editions for my 10-year old daughter who loved them. As a Christmas treat she’s getting the print copies as a surprise. Very highly recommended!

 

“Viro: Book Two” is incredible. Picking up where the first one left off, this book grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. It’s fast paced and superbly thrilling! The narrative is poignant and heartbreaking as Jake’s unique voice draws you in. Highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys zombie stories. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Jake and the gang!

 

I must say that I got book one for free on my Kindle. I found myself sucked right into the characters and never-ending action and gore page after page. I very rarely buy books, but immediately purchased number two which I found equally as engrossing. Yesterday I bought book three in the Viro series and instead of a good nights sleep I’ve got red eyes and a need for Red Bull! Fantastic series for all my zombie lovers out there!

 

6. THE FUTURE – VIRO – Infecting Imaginations One Zombie at a Time

As you can see, it has been an incredible thirteen months and I cannot wait to keep you all up to date with what happens next.

I would love to hear your feedback on the series and all things zombie-related so why not get in touch or leave a comment.

All the best

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‘The Walking Dead meets The Famous Five’ – The VIRO Trilogy is Rapidly Spreading like an Imaginative Infection

 

VIRO eBook_ Barnaby Taylor_ Amazon co.uk_ Kindle Store (4)

Hi Everyone

I have some amazing news.

Can you believe it has been a year since the first VIRO book was published?

A whole year!

And so much has happened since then – it has been an incredible journey so far.

The most exciting news is that VIRO is sitting at Number One in the charts.

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This is really amazing and a special thanks must go out to everyone who has helped to get it there.

In the space of that same year we have also seen the launch of Books Two and Three in the VIRO series.

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Slowly but surely, VIRO is changing the way we think about zombie novels.

Even as we speak, Book Four is on the way.

If you have been following the adventures of Jake and the gang then you will know that there will be plenty of twists and turns ahead of them.

Reviews for the series have been incredibly positive and have really helped spread the word.

VIRO_eBook_Barnaby_Taylor_Amazon.co.uk_Kindle_Store_-_2019-03-20_09.25.53

VIRO_Book_Two_eBook_Barnaby_Taylor_Amazon.co.uk_Amazon.co.uk_-_2019-03-20_09.24.43 review

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If you are interested in finding out more about VIRO, then why not download a copy today. Book One is FREE for Kindle from Amazon and is a great introduction to the characters and the horrific circumstances they find themselves in. The world has collapsed and Jake and his friends must fight for survival as they search the wasteland for his Jake’s mum.

It really is an exciting series.

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Have a read, you won’t be disappointed.

Until we meet again, have a really great day!

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The Eleventh Film – Horror/Science Fiction Flash Fiction Series

windy desert

The Eleventh Film XIV

The world looks small now from above and beyond, just another doomed star earmarked for destruction.
The years that followed the angels’ response saw the world’s vitality seep away.
Seas froze over. Temperatures decreased. Glaciers spread. The world’s surface grew a new skin. A tetchy and desperate dermis. Unwilling or unable to nurture any more.
It was like this for a lifetime and then we lost contact with the Library and everyone knew that this truly was the end of days.

VIRO Book Four – Work in Progress

Hi Everyone

I thought I would give you all an update on the VIRO series. What started as a few scratchy notes while I was on holiday two years in Portugal has now become a fascinating experiment in independent publishing.

Book One was launched in March 2018 and has been at Number One in the Amazon chart since May. It is currently free for download for Kindle and this has been an enormous help in getting the book some attention. Book One has currently been downloaded from Amazon 766 times. This is very encouraging. Book One is also currently available for download at Smashwords as well and 84 copies have been dowloaded to date.

Book Two was launched in May 2018 and has been very well received. The following review was left on my Goodreads page:

Having Read Falcon Boy and VIRO, it was with eager anticipation that I started to read VIRO II. Barnaby Taylor has a daring and rich imagination that transports you to new adventures in a re-imagined world, that are vividly written with a fresh and vibrant use of language. The heroes of Barnaby’s books are children on the cusp of their teenage years. I would like to think that this isn’t a coincidence. There appears to be a deliberate opting out in relation to the current generation with Barnaby instead looking to a new, untainted generation to right the world’s wrongs in the guise of the courageous and idealistic young children that inhabit VIRO I and II. Barnaby literally and metaphorically backs the right horse. The purity of the children in VIRO II is evident throughout the book. Jake says ‘I hated violence. I hated violent people.’

In VIRO II, we pick up with the viros (zombies) who are overrunning the world and the small band of children who are trying to survive in this world. The children’s separation from their parents also serves (as it did in VIRO I) as a powerful dramatic device, providing the next generation with the stage and platform to figure out a way forward. Barnaby really understands the mind set of young children and evocatively and beautifully captures their innocence but also their determination and guts to persevere against the odds and you as the reader wants to be with them every step of the way, willing them forward. Barnaby also excels at capturing the petty jealousies and competitiveness that can pervade the group dynamic of young children but equally the intensity and tenderness of their relationships.

To say that this book is a page turner is an understatement. Barnaby can really write an action packed scene with fear inspiring characters such as the Tall Man. Baxter the dog who accompanies the children gives the story the delightful twist of feeling like an apocalyptic Famous Five. Genius. The story is essentially an allegory set in a far more perilous and shaky world and is therefore not only for children but also for adults. Potent messages are present throughout the book. Jake incisively says ‘The world was wrong now. It was bad and broken. I didn’t understand.’ That a new value system is required to fix today’s broken world is also indicated with even the Reverend stating that ‘in order to believe in the Bible, you have to stop asking so many questions and just accept what you are told. And I have always found that hard to do. The world created in seven days? Immaculate conception?’ By the end of the book it’s apparent that the new value systems lies with the children and their unselfish spirit of caring and cooperation, the perfect building blocks of a new world order which the author may reveal in further detail in future iterations of the book as possibly hinted at by the cliff hanger of the book’s ending.

The book is a must read. Barnaby is an exciting and passionate writer. There’s real depth of meaning behind his books. You emotionally engage with and care about the book’s characters. Barnaby’s books also have a strong visual sensibility. His stories particularly VIRO I and II would translate superbly to television and cinema. I am a huge fan of all things zombie orientated and to see the zombie genre reinterpreted from the perspective of children is thrilling. I look forward to more books from Barnaby. He’s one to watch out for. Children, adults and I suspect the film and TV industry people will love this book. I highly recommend it.

Book Two is currently available for 99 cents and the challenge is to convert the free downloads of Book One into purchases of the rest of the series. This is taking some time but I am encouraged with progress to date.

Book Three was released in October 2018 and is slowly climbing up the Amazon charts. I have found that sales of Books Two and Three tend to go together with people buying a copy of each at the same time. Again, the challenge is to convert free downloads of Book One into paid purchases of the other books in the series but there is forward movement here and I am confident that this will keep moving as the franchise continues to spread.

SPOILER ALERT: Book Three also marks the first major character death. I knew that one of the main characters needed to die in order for the series to develop and Book Three is where this tragedy occurs.

Work on Book Four began this week and I am confident that this will be ready for publishing by early 2019. There is still a very long way to go for Jake and the rest of the characters in the series. Also, with each book in the series, the world of VIRO is becoming richer and richer. The writing style is deliberately sparse for this series and it was always the intention for effect to develop over time. Our understanding of the characters deepens in the same way.

ACTIONS GOING FORWARD

  1. Finish VIRO Book Four.
  2. Develop a professional relationship that will lead to representation and/or marketing support.
  3. Explore the possibilities of turning VIRO into a screenplay.

 

VIRO Book Three NOW available in paperback and for download

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Hello Everyone

I am thrilled to announce that Book Three in the VIRo series has recently been launched and is available for purchase online and in all good bookshops. The series is going from strength to strength and as of this morning the Kindle version of Book One is still Number One in the Amazon chart. If you want to see what all the fuss is about then why not get your FREE copy of Book One here.

VIRO eBook_ Barnaby Taylor_ Amazon co.uk_ Kindle Store