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NEW RELEASE: Verum Malum – Michael R. Collins

Verum Malum - Michael R. Collins

QSFer Michael R. Collins has a new gay horror book out: Verum Malum.

A simple story of life, love, and inevitable trip to Hell to save your husband’s soul from eternal torture.

Life is getting better for Ben and Noah until people from Ben’s past come calling, making him realize one does not dabble in infernal rituals and human sacrifice without paying a price. These people worship something far worse than the Devil, and a place far worse than Hell; the Verum Malum. Now Ben and Noah must survive the murderous attempts to bring him back into the fold, leading them into the malevolent heart of the Malum itself.

Warnings: Death, blood, alcoholism, racism, homophobia,language

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As exhaustion overtook him, Noah wondered aloud if he could find Marius. She assumed he wanted revenge, which mirrored her own thoughts. Instead, he shocked her by saying he wanted to find a way to bring Ben back. The creature they saw in the basement proved coming back was possible. He wanted Marius to do it again. But this time, he wanted to bring Ben back rather than summon a demon.

Ben’s death overshadowed the craziness they saw in the basement. There was no denying the sight of the demon, but she wished Noah had never seen it. Once they had buried Ben, she hoped Noah might let go of this insane idea. She yawned and wondered if a nap wouldn’t do her some good, too. Deciding to cover Noah first, she went to the bedroom to get a blanket from the bed. Panic slammed into her as soon as she walked in. Marius, seated on the edge of the mattress, pointed a Glock 9mm at her head.

“If you’d like to keep your brains in your skull, shut up,” he said, standing.

Jackie did as she was told.

He looked pale and sweaty. His eyes twitched as he pointed at the hallway. She backed out, and he got behind her, jabbing the muzzle in her back to urge her forward. When they reached the living room, he walked past her, and she gasped. For a split second, she expected him to murder Noah right there. Instead, he raised a boot and kicked him in the ribs.

Noah howled awake and fell off the couch.

“What the fuck are you doing here?” he hollered, jumping up.

The pain in his side disappeared the moment he laid eyes on Ben’s killer. He noticed the gun, but his mind, still fuzzy with sleep, took a moment to realize it was pointed at Jackie.

“I broke in while you were out,” Marius said. “We have business, you and I. Now sit down, both of you.”

They complied while he set down a battered black bag.

“It’s a damn shame what happened at the last ritual, but it’s working out in my favor. I tied up all loose ends. Parker and Scarlet were becoming a liability, and Ben’s time was long overdue.” Marius looked at Noah, waiting for a reaction. He received nothing but a stern glare.

“What do you want?” Jackie asked.

“I want to finish what I started. I came so close only to have the entire thing bungled.” He glowered at Noah. “Despite your idiot boyfriend’s best efforts.”

“Husband,” Noah corrected him.

“Whatever. Either way, I learned what I needed. I figured out how to reach the Verum Malum.”

“You are crazy,” Jackie said, sitting up.

He flashed the gun her way, and she settled back down. Hate smoldered in her eyes.

“How?” Noah asked. “How are we going there?”

Marius looked at him, a smile crossing his face. “You think you can go into the Verum Malum and save Ben, don’t you? You really think you can bring him back.”

“I’m going to try. He doesn’t belong there. He belongs here with me.”

The vehemence and conviction in Noah only made Marius smile wider.

Jackie watched the two of them, hating where this was going.

“It’s your lucky day. You see”—Marius kneeled down and opened his bag—“normally, I wouldn’t even consider doing something like this with the likes of you. When Ben first joined the group, he was only there because we planned to eventually sacrifice him. Or use him as a fall guy if the authorities started sniffing around. I mean, what other use is there for a dark-skinned queer?”

“Fuck you and fuck your racist, homophobic bullshit!” Noah shot out of his seat. But he stopped when Marius aimed the gun right between his eyes. His hatred radiated off him in waves.

Jackie had never known Noah to be violent, but she had no doubt, if Marius didn’t have the gun, there would be violence.

“Be glad I have need of you,” Marius responded. He waited for Noah to sit again before continuing to go through his bag. “It seems you will be useful to me, after all. So, for now, you get to live. It would also help you to remember that your white friend over there is only alive because I have use for her as well. If not, I’d kill her if only to teach you a lesson.”

Noah and Jackie looked at each other but said nothing. Fear seeped back in and replaced much of his anger. He feared they wouldn’t get out of this without someone dying.

They watched as Marius made his preparations. He moved the coffee table out of the way and marked the hardwood floor with four symbols and a large circle. He took two fat half-burnt candles and lit them, placing them at what Noah figured to be the head of the circle.

“So,” Marius said as he considered his handiwork, “going to the Malum will take considerably less ceremony than you’d guess. We won’t need a blood sacrifice, which is a shame because…who doesn’t like a good blood sacrifice? No summoning of difficult demons or any messy rituals. All because I have a secret.” He looked at the two, letting them know this was their cue to ask why.

Instead, they stared back at him in silence. He appeared even more unwell now, the anticipation making him fidget and sweat.

“I’ll tell you,” he continued. “It’s because I got a glimpse. Ben fought us so hard that we ripped the demon through to our plane. But I got a peek of the Beyond. I’m holding that rip in my head. I’ve been holding it in my head the entire time. It’s always there, even as I’m talking to you now. Let me tell you, it’s not easy to do. So, let’s begin.”

Author Bio

Michael R Collins was born at a very young age in the wilds of southern Idaho. After a few decades, he finally got his fill of all the sagebrush and rattlesnakes he could eat, so he struck out into the world. After slinging some bass guitar, and general shenanigans in Austin, Texas, he currently lives in Pennsylvania with his wife Mel. He has published three novels, his most recent In Shadows of the Wicked, a collection of short stories Some Scary Stories, and a few alibis. (Just in case).

He is also a co-host of the BI+ Podcast.

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