Haley’s earthly journey was coming to an end. Soon, she would transcend the human plane, and then? She didn’t know, only that she would start anew.

She turned to her husband, who slept beside her on a queen-size bed, and sighed. How, after so many years together, could she tell him what she was, or worse, that she would soon be leaving him alone?

I’m not human, she wanted to say, except that wasn’t precisely the truth. Like her husband, she possessed a hominid nature. The trouble was that she was also something more. Like a Russian stacking doll, her existence was multi-layered. She was human, yes, but also a dozen other things.

The awful truth was that, at the bottom of all those layers, Haley didn’t know what she was. Was she one of a kind, a novel form of life as complex and ever-changing as the universe itself, or were there others like her? How would she even know?

She could still remember bits and pieces of her other lives, shards of light and memory filtered through senses her human mind could understand. She knew what always happened at the end, how the fire would surge up from within, a mounting heat that burned from the inside out. Like a Phoenix, she would rise from the ashes of her unmaking and become something new. She never knew how long each incarnation would last, and her only warning would be that otherworldly heat she experienced now.

Haley shook her husband, who rolled over onto his side.

“Mark, wake up.”

“Haley?” His eyes popped open, and Haley’s heart leaped. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine. I just—” She bit her lip. “Would you hold me? Please?”

Mark didn’t ask why, only wrapped his arms around her and kissed her forehead, slick with sweat. It was the kind of gesture she’d fallen in love with, and in the midst of the midnight darkness, she choked back tears.

“I love you,” she said. “You know that, don’t you?”

“Of course. Are you sure you’re all right?”

No, I’m not all right. Not at all.

But rather than express her true feelings, she only nodded, not trusting herself to speak.

Yes, the fire was rising now. It had started as a pain in her stomach, a sharp burning not unlike acid reflux. She’d tried to suppress it, to give herself some extra time with the man she loved, but like a wildfire, there was no controlling it. It would burn her down in its own time, with or without her cooperation.

“You’re burning up,” said Mark, pulling away. “I’m going to call the doctor.”

“No.” Haley clamped onto him with her arms. “Don’t let me go. Stay with me. I need—”

A flash, blinding, like a massive electrical discharge. That celestial fire consumed her, and then Haley was riding the storm of her unmaking once more, bracing herself for something new.

I’m giving away free signed hardcover copies of my 2019 novella, Inkbound. To learn how to get yours, click or tap here.

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Get a Free Signed Copy of “Inkbound”

Inkbound Cover Art

Every now and then, I run a promotion to drum up support for my work on Patreon. It’s been a while, but this month, I’ve decided to give away free signed hardcover copies of my 2019 novella, Inkbound.

Ordinarily, through my online store, it would cost $11.99. But between today and October 18, I’m willing to send you a free signed hardcover copy.

Here’s the deal.

I’m not a well-known author, which means I don’t sell very many books. The only way to increase awareness of my work is through advertising, and advertising is expensive. Like, ridiculously expensive. To illustrate the point, book sales and existing Patreon pledges pull in between $200 and $300 per month. Meanwhile, I spend almost $2,000 per month on advertising and hosting, which means I lose at least $1,700 every month (right now, I’m spending more just to promote this campaign.) It’s impossible for me not to advertise; if I didn’t spend money to promote my posts, you probably wouldn’t see my weekly flash fiction in your feed.

I’m not complaining. My art is a labor of love and money isn’t my primary motivator. Nevertheless, it’s my dream to build a full-time business around it, with my mission being twofold: 1) To spend as much time as possible crafting stories, and 2) To get those stories into the hands of as many readers as possible.

To do that, I need your support, and in that spirit, I’d like to propose a deal:

If you pledge to my Patreon campaign at the $2 level or above, I’ll send you a free signed hardcover copy of Inkbound.

You can cancel at any time.

If you change your mind after receiving the book, you’re free to cancel your pledge, no questions asked. I believe most people are honest and won’t take advantage.

By pledging, you’re also entitled to other perks. For example, the $2 level gives you access to free copies of every e-book I’ve released, as well as every e-book I will release for as long as you’re a patron, and the $5 level not only allows you to decide which of my flash fiction pieces I should turn into a longer short story but also entitles you to a free signed hardcover copy of every print book I release. Whatever you can give, it will help me immensely on my journey toward becoming a full-time writer.

There are only three rules.

1. You have to have a shipping address in the United States to be eligible. I would love to include Canada as well as other parts of the world on this, but I’m sending these myself from a US address and international shipping costs are prohibitively expensive.

2. You must become a patron at or above the $2 level on or before Sunday, October 18, 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time.

3. You must be a new patron. Unfortunately, former patrons aren’t eligible (But if you’re already a $5 or $10 patron, don’t worry! You guys automatically get signed hardcover copies of every new release.)

That’s it.

Once you become a patron, I’ll send you an email requesting your shipping address, then sign and ship you a copy as a gift (if you’d like me to personalize what I write, feel free to include those instructions as part of your reply.)

To become a patron and get your free signed hardcover copy of Inkbound, click the “Become a patron” button below.

Become a Patron!

Please note that Patreon pledges are recurring monthly charges. I post four paid pieces of flash fiction on the platform per month, which means a $2 pledge amounts to $8 per month. If that’s too much, you can make a $2 pledge, then set a lower monthly limit so you won’t go over your budget.

Enter your email address and click "Submit" to subscribe and receive The Sign.