“Damsel”

In any story, everyone has their part to play. Especially the victim.

*

The Sheepshead Strangler was all over the news again. Although she couldn’t hear from the kitchen, Gwen knew by the tone of the anchors something big had happened overnight. Forensics hadn’t called her to the scene, so it wasn’t another victim. Maybe, she hoped, he’d been caught?

Coffee made, she sat on the couch and watched footage of two vehicles speeding down the FDR Drive. Someone had come close to catching the Strangler—pursuing him on foot, then in a car. The chase went through most of Manhattan before the suspect was lost near Battery Park. Although one anchor praised the cop’s determination, the other condemned such reckless behavior.

No names were mentioned, but Gwen already knew who the pursuing officer was.

“God damn it, Jack.” She found her phone and dialed his number, but went to voice-mail. “Jack,” she said. “I’m watching the news right now. I’m guessing this was you? Call me when you get a chance.”

She tossed the phone aside and slumped with a sigh. She knew Jack had been taking the case seriously—maybe too seriously—but she never expected him to pull a stunt like this. Watching the chaotic footage replay, she imagined him chasing the Strangler through the streets like something out of a cop movie and shook her head.

Nut-job would probably hang from the bottom of a helicopter if he needed to, she thought, finishing her coffee with a chuckle.

Continue reading

“The Mouse & the Dragon” – Parts 7-10

Chapters I-III

Chapters IV-VI


~ VII ~

Her time with the dragon carried on like that for the next forty-three days. She would enter its lair and be greeted with snarls and roars, but it made no attempt to harm her. When it finished its tantrums, it turned its back to her while she talked which didn’t bother Hildy as much as she might’ve thought it would. As it was, talking to the dragon was no different than talking to Ziggy.

What was disappointing, however, was her lack of tangible progress in earning the dragon’s favor. The roaring and stomping eventually stopped altogether and it seemed to begrudgingly tolerate her presence, but she never got the impression it was growing to like her.

Periodically it flew off and barred the castle’s entrance with a wall of fire, as it had that first time. Every so often, it would swipe at her with its tail or wing—not to hurt her, but an attempt to frighten her off. Sometimes it blew smoke in her face.

Nevertheless, she refused to let that get her down.

“It’s only been forty-three days,” she told Ziggy in her chamber. “I knew when I started this it would take time. I just need to be patient.”

After washing and eating a small breakfast, Hildy returned to the dragon’s lair that morning and found it in its usual position of a curled semi-circle atop the treasure. She greeted it with a smile and wave, and her good cheer was returned with a growl and huff of smoke.

“And Guten Tag to you, too,” she said. Continue reading

“The Mouse & the Dragon” – Parts 4-6

Chapters I-III


~ IV ~

Things changed on day two thousand, eight hundred and twenty-nine.

Hildy paced around her room in a circle, alternating between hugging herself and chewing on her fingernails. Her stomach rumbled and her legs felt weak. She was pale, haggard, and her face was strained with anxiety.

“This is bad, Ziggy,” she said, looking out the window for a rescuer that wasn’t coming. “My father must’ve thought someone would have succeeded by now. Or maybe he … I don’t know.”

By this point, twenty-three heroes had tried and failed to slay the dragon. As disheartening as it was to watch the growing number of victims, Hildy eventually grew numb to the disappointment. Perhaps one day a warrior would emerge and finally destroy the beast, but she had stopped getting her hopes up every time a new challenger appeared.

Disappointment and heartbreak, however, turned to dread and desperation when she realized her food supply was dwindling.

For most of her time trapped in the castle, Hildy hadn’t paid attention to the food stores. The pantry next to the kitchen was a huge stockroom that, as far as she knew, had been packed with as much food as possible when she was left there. Whenever she was hungry, she simply rummaged through the pantry and found something to cook, although variety was limited and spices were unavailable.

A pair of cook books was included in her slim reading material, and she read both cover to cover nearly a hundred times each. She had every recipe memorized, but they only seemed to taunt her with potential meals she couldn’t make. All sorts of ways to cook steaks and chicken and fish and pork. Elaborate pasta meals and countless possible sides. Desserts and pastries to eat after. But no means to bake a single one of them.

She promised herself that when she escaped the castle, she would cook each and every meal suggested in both books and try every one.

But as the days ticked by, that ambition seemed a dream that wouldn’t come true. In retrospect, she wasn’t sure if she assumed she’d be free long before the food supply ran out or childishly believed it never would. Either way, she realized too late how naïve that was because starving was becoming a grim reality. Continue reading

“The Mouse & the Dragon” – Parts 1-3

~ I ~

The knight charged forth, shield up and spear ready. His armor glistened despite the dreary overcast sky like a chrome beacon amidst his hellish surroundings. The horse’s neigh was loud and triumphant as the clopping if its hooves echoed on the scorched cobblestone. The knight’s banner, an orange lion against a black background, billowed in the wind.

He would’ve been a majestic sight to behold had Hildy not seen it already or known what was coming.

The knight crossed the stone bridge and charged into the castle’s courtyard where the dragon awaited. Their confrontation was brief and it ended like all the others. The knight did better than most and actually got within striking distance, but with a swipe of its tail, the dragon swatted the horse and sliced the poor animal in half.

Its rider flew through the air and landed with a metallic clang like the sound of dropped pots and pans. The dragon paused, allowing him to regain his bearings, with no evident fear of its latest enemy. It waited for the knight to get to his feet—whether out of curiosity, boredom or sadism, Hildy couldn’t guess.

Alas, the knight froze upon seeing the great beast before him. Although his face couldn’t be seen due to his helmet, his body language suggested his courage had been cut in half like his steed.

A muffled scream echoed through the courtyard as the knight was snatched in the dragon’s jaws. The sound of crumpling metal, crunching bones and desperate howling could be heard even from the tower as it chewed on its prey. When it was satisfied, the dragon spat him out in a ball of fire.

Whatever was left of the knight hit the ground with an explosion, and Hildy winced at the sight. No matter how many times she’d seen it, she could never get used to such brutality. Before turning from the window, she saw the fallen knight’s tattered banner drift across the ground like autumn leaves and lamented yet another brave life lost for nothing.

She sighed and scratched another mark on the wall. That was thirty-one. Thirty-one would-be heroes had come and died trying to slay the dragon. And thirty-one times she hoped against hope someone would succeed and free her.

But after three thousand, two hundred and ninety-seven days, Hildy was done waiting. Continue reading

“Someone Else’s Story”

Been a while since last update. Been busy—no notable updates worth mentioning.
In the meantime, here’s a short story featuring a young drifter who stops in a small diner and finds himself caught in the middle of a conflict that may be much more than it initially appears.

Enjoy ….


“Hey, I already told you: you can’t sleep in here!”

I thought the cook was yelling at me, but he pointed at the woman sitting in the booth behind me. Her head jerked up, as if stirred from a bad dream. She had a single cup of coffee in front of her that looked like it had been sitting there untouched for some time.

“Sorry,” she said, rubbing her eyes. She glanced at her coffee and tightened the strap of her shoulder-bag. A cane or walking stick sat on her lap, wrapped in cloth. She held it close and looked out the window as if expecting something.

I didn’t mean to stare, but there was something very striking about her. She had long, dark hair and pale skin, which made her look almost like Snow White. She was beautiful, but looked exhausted. I couldn’t tell if the circles beneath her eyes were from lack of sleep or running make-up, but either way, she looked like she was in dire need of rest.

The cook appeared from around the back and approached her. “Look, lady,” he said. “I’m not running a hotel. If you’re just going to sit there all night, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. I’m sorry.”

“No, no,” she said. “I’m fine. Really. I, um, I’m waiting for someone. Someone’s coming to pick me up.”

She took a sip from her coffee and offered a weak smile, as if to assure him she wasn’t wasting time or taking up space. I felt sorry for her and was tempted to say something on her behalf. From the look of it, even if she did have somewhere to go, she didn’t want to. Continue reading

Kirkus Review of “Ones & Zeroes”

“Walsh (The Jinxed Pirate, 2017, etc.) assembles a collection of horror and fantasy tales populated by dragons, aliens, and other creatures in the shadows.

“In ‘His Friends,’ Cynthia is bored at a party with her boyfriend Jon’s tactless friends. But their company is preferable to that of the mysterious entity that’s lurking outside—something that’s odd, misshapen, and most definitely not human. Walsh often treads conventional territory in these stories, offering mood-setting lightning flashes; vague, moving shapes in darkness; and even a babysitter getting creepy phone calls from a stranger. The familiar setups, however, typically beget surprising turns, as in ‘Someone Else’s Story,’ in which one man’s attempt at playing the hero for a woman in trouble doesn’t quite pan out due to an unexpected twist. ‘Damsel’ also toys with readers’ expectations when a young woman named Gwen tries to find a way to escape a determined murderer. The author employs other tried-and-true horror methods to great effect, often by merely hinting at the appearance of a monster or killer. In the Lovecraft-ian ‘Look the Other Way,’ for example, Laurie Brooks and her husband, Tom, encounter a terrifying creature that Walsh reveals only in snippets—and its backstory is also eerily murky. (‘Finding Bosco’ is an equally good companion piece, taking place in the same town of Faicville, where twins’ search for a lost cat leads them to what may be the very same monster.) The collection also includes fantasy stories that, like the horror tales, have gloomy overtones. There’s a princess in both ‘Collision’ and ‘The Mouse & the Dragon’; in the former, a cleric plans on sacrificing her, and in the latter, she awaits someone to rescue her from a dragon—but over thousands of days, she only sees repeated failures. Throughout, Walsh portrays various spooky things with bold imagery. For instance, the narrator of ‘My Window,’ while lying in bed, stares at a creepy silhouette that she describes as ‘some kind of nightmarish shadow puppet.’

“Unnerving stories that turn traditional plots into fresh, original scares.”

Kirkus Reviews

Continue reading

“Ones & Zeroes” Excerpt

Here’s a brief snippet from one of the stories featured in Ones & Zeroes,
“The Mouse & the Dragon”

The knight charged forth, shield up and spear ready. His armor glistened despite the dreary overcast sky like a chrome beacon amidst his hellish surroundings. The horse’s neigh was loud and triumphant as the clopping of its hooves echoed on the scorched cobblestone. The knight’s banner, an orange lion against a black background, billowed in the wind.

He would’ve been a majestic sight to behold had Hildy not seen it already or known what was coming. Continue reading

“Ones & Zeroes: A Short Story Collection” Now Available

A collection of my short stories is now up for sale on Amazon

kindle coverLook behind the curtain for 14 tales of horror, action, humor, and fantasy…

A babysitter contends with not just an intruder lurking outside, but her own mind…A drug addict saves the world from an alien invasion…In a sleepy town, an abandoned sewage treatment plant houses a sinister force…Man and insect clash in the middle of the night…Mercenaries collide during the sacrifice of a princess…A damsel in distress tries to escape her own story…

Vampires, dragons, zombies, giant spiders and more can be found in this collection of stories from author M. Walsh.

Only $0.99 on Kindle

also available in paperback

“Collision”

This is another of my early works about a pile-up of protagonists with varying goals.
It’s a fantasy story—featuring an Elf, no less—and in a lot of ways was a precursor to Graylands. So readers should recognize certain characters and concepts that wound up getting used and incorporated in my books.


Donovan Moore was a man with an intangible quality about him. He was tall and thin, with shining white hair—but not elderly. There was great strength in his lanky frame and fearful power behind his eyes. As High Cleric of the Disciples of Moros, he was rarely seen in person—often delegating orders to subordinates or lower Clerics—but when he made his presence known, he had a talent for shrinking the will of even the strongest of those around him.

He sat in his lavish armchair, staring at the dagger in his hand, with a content and sly smirk on his narrow face. The handle of the dagger was pure silver, crafted into the shape of a horned serpent. The blade was dull gray, but pulsed with a faint red glow—enchanted for a divine purpose. As Moore listened to the crashing waves outside the tower window, he felt a surge of anticipation flow through his blood.

It wouldn’t be long now.

“Cleric Moore,” said one of his followers, entering the chamber. “The Great Tail is visible and will be before the moon shortly.”

“And the Princess?”

“Still unconscious.”

“Wake her and get her ready,” he said, putting on his ceremonial garb. “Tell the guards to remain on high alert.”

The subordinate bowed and left as Moore walked to the window, closing his gold and maroon robes. The last trace of sun disappeared over the horizon, and high above, a fat, yellow moon shined like a glowing eye. In the distance, the comet known as the Great Tail approached—soon to pass the moon, an event that only occurred every thousand years.

Looking at the comet, he gripped the dagger tight. When the Great Tail eclipsed the moon, its blade would pierce Princess Anna’s heart, and with the sacrifice of royal blood, Moros, the Final Dragon, would rise again and cleanse the world in his mighty fire. And from the ashes, the Disciples—led by High Cleric Moore of course—would build a new, perfect society.

With a satisfied smile, he set to make the final preparations. The presence of the Great Tail lit the night to a deep, red hue like early evening and made the ocean like blood. Despite the violent waves, there was an expectant hush like before a great storm.

Taking one last look at the approaching comet, Moore deemed it a fitting atmosphere to herald the coming of a god. Continue reading

“Intervention”

Here we have a tale of an individual offering an unorthodox justification for his vices.
I can see this story not being for everyone, given its abrasive protagonist and his (or her..?) cavalier attitude toward addiction, but I hope it isn’t taken that seriously.


Okay, right off the bat: NO, I don’t have a problem.

Yes, maybe I drink a little more than the average bear. But am I not entitled? Life’s a bitch, and sometimes I need to unwind. Besides, I know when to stop. I know my tolerance level. When I was still working, I never let it affect me. Sure, I might have snuck a beer or swig of something harder here and there, but despite what my jackass supervisor said, it never affected my work.

Working at a movie theater wasn’t exactly brain surgery.

And yes, I’ll admit I do partake in drugs sometimes. But I am not an addict. I can say no or stop anytime I want. I don’t because I have it under control. And again, I never let it interfere with my job. I wasn’t stupid enough to try sneaking blasts of coke while I was working—my boss was making up stories and exaggerating. He never liked me and was always looking for an excuse to lay me off.

What? Well, yeah, I’ve been doing coke a little more than usual, but I’m not working right now. Excuse me for indulging. I told you: it’s not an addiction. The reason I do it as often as I do—which really isn’t that often—is because I know I can stop anytime. If I thought I couldn’t control it, I would stop.

What’s so hard to understand about that?

Okay, here we go—I knew this was coming.

Yes, I was drunk and on drugs that night. And yes, I had a little something to do with the fire. But it is not what you think. I was not trying to get back at them for firing me. I’m not stupid—you really think if I wanted revenge on the theater, I would do something as crazy as burning down the place?

Of course not! Believe it or not—unlike some people maybe—I am remarkably lucid when I’m fucked up. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve driven coked out of my mind and gotten home without a scratch on the car? How is that a problem?!

No one’s bothered to ask me my side of the story. I’ll be happy to tell you why I had to start that fire. In fact, you people should be thanking me. Yeah! You should be on your knees thanking me—not just for torching the movie theater—but for even being able to handle my narcotics the way I do.

Why? Because if I couldn’t handle myself, this whole town … screw that, maybe even the whole planet would’ve been doomed! Don’t look at me like I’m crazy. If it wasn’t for me, and the fact I was tripping balls on coke, every one of you would’ve been replaced by aliens.

Yeah, I said it. Continue reading