The Apollyon Game (A Horror Short Story by Clive Reznor)

For his first short story under the AOE Studios banner, new author Clive Reznor presents a demented horror short story called The Apollyon Game.

Portia is a young girl who has been ridiculed and shunned her entire life because she was different. One night, she invites five of her “friends” over to play The Apollyon Game: a twisted card game of truth or dare where if you lose a hand the consequences are devilishly fatal.

This short story is available on Kindle but is also free to members of our mailing list. This is just a taste of Reznor’s work that will be shown in even greater (gory) glory this Fall with the release of The Immanent World Vol. 2 – Cluichi.

Get your FREE copy of The Apollyon Game by clicking here or visiting our main website.

Excerpt from The Death of Omar Snellings

The Immanent World Vol. 2: Cluichi

The Immanent World Vol. 2: Cluichi will be available this coming Fall. Written by Clive Reznor and illustrated by KC Hunter, this horror anthology will feature eight terrifying stories from the supernatural to the grotesque.

Here is a sample from the initial “wrap-around” story “The Death of Omar Snellings”:


Omar stumbled again as he tried to find his car. Where had he parked it? The throbbing in his head was keeping him from focusing. Too many thoughts were racing through his head, back and forth from the room he had just left, to the fall, to the street, the houses, and the neighbors, but where was his car?
Another spasm in his skull forced him to double over, grabbing at the side of his head. He’d have to go to the hospital first. Something was wrong. He thought that the fall hadn’t harmed him but that was turning out not to be true.

“Mr. Omar!” he heard a young voice call out.

What did these kids want? He wasn’t working now.

“Mr. Omar!” the voice called again.

The pain was shooting on the other side of his head now.

“Mr. Omar! Mr. Omar!” now came several voices.

What in the world were they yelling at him for? He forced his hand from his temple, knowing as soon as he did the headache would intensify but he needed to know what was so damn urgent. Angrily, he lifted his chin up and stared in the direction of the voices. Before he could yell at them in response, the breath he was taking in order to do so was cut short.

The impact of the truck was sudden and violent. How Omar had not heard the horn or the screeching tires as the vehicle slid down the middle of Hanover Street, no one quite knew. Neither did Omar. The truck’s metal grill seemed to appear out of nowhere as he turned to see it, just in time before its pattern was embedded in his face.

A crowd quickly gathered around the scene of the accident. The driver of the truck was in utter shock, the amount of blood and tissue that splattered across the front of his vehicle made him sick.
“Didn’t you see him?” a voice cried out.

“Is that Omar?” another said.

“Yeah, that was Omar.”

“Someone call an ambulance!”

“What for? Someone get a shovel!”

The children, who had been content to play games at the end of the street before all of this had happened, were now consumed with using their smart phones as recording devices. Every single one of them was taking pictures, recording videos, and some even were streaming live on social media to show this tragedy to the world in real time.

“Stop that,” one of the older females of the neighborhood said as she tried to usher the younger children from the scene. “You don’t need to be seein’ this. Certainly the rest of the damn world don’t neither! Go on, get outta here!”

The adults in the neighborhood had just as little compassion as the children. Many of them were recording the event in the same way. The chatter continued in the crowd, people asking questions, throwing accusations, speculating on whether or not he heard the truck or whether the driver could have stopped. A few even vomited after the smell and sight of Omar Snellings’ remains overwhelmed them.

While many knew it was wrong on one level to be gawking at this scene; the gruesome dismemberment of a fellow neighbor, they also couldn’t help but indulge in their voyeurism. Who was to say they were wrong? They were all guilty of it, even the older woman who had told the children to leave was now was just as consumed by the scene as they had been. How many times do you get to see a mangled corpse?

Just Do It!

Just Do It!

Just Do It!

No, it’s not the Nike slogan (or whatever shoe that was), but it IS an answer to what so many keep asking:

How do I start writing?

I always answers with “just do it”. I know that’s been used over and over again, but honestly that is what works best for me and many others.

Sit down and just start writing whatever. It doesn’t have to be good. There’s this tendency to think that we have to write everything perfect the first time. Not at all. That’s what editing is for!

Write. Even if it’s just a description of the scene you want to flesh out later, write that down and come back to it later.

You’ll find so much more freedom and energy when you just put pen to paper or fingers to keys.

Sample from The Immanent World Vol. 2: Cluichi by Clive Reznor

The Immanent World Vol. 2: Cluichi

Looking for feedback on this story as Clive Reznor is in the midst of finalizing it. Over the next few months we’ll be releasing excerpts from the story for your review and critique.

Thank you for checking out our story and we look forward to the release of The Immanent World Vol. 2: Cluichi this year.


THE DEATH OF OMAR SNELLINGS

We are all one unforeseen breath from death.
That last breath, the final inhalation and exhalation, has its own mind and its own unique chemistry that is unlike any other drawn before it. Whether its a short gasp, a long sigh, muffled by a groan, pierced by a shriek, that last ritual of consumption and expulsion summarizes for its master what their life was, and in a sense, how they had used it.
It has its own rules. But, as with any rule, they can be broken.

Omar Snellings drew in a deep breath just before his graceless tumble down the stairwell. His head bounced into the stained plaster of the walls, blurring his vision and muting his hearing. He feared that these bumbling moments would be his last; a fear that crept into his bowels, causing them to spill their contents just a little.
His mind rapidly scanned through his memories, trying to relive the most meaningful before the end. All that he wanted to see, all that he wanted to be, the people he would miss and — he hoped — would miss him, came rushing into his brain with as much insistence as the throbbing pain he felt with each tumble.

This shouldn’t be how it ended. Focus on how not to die.

The base of his skull struck the metal steps once, twice, and then a third time. Fortunately, that was the end. His body slid to a halt at the bottom step.

No blood. No bumps. I’m fine, he thought, as he pulled himself up from the filthy floor. He took this time to adjust his leather jacket, run his hands over his thinning head of hair, and most importantly, find his glasses. Thankfully, they had not been broken during the fall. He did his best to wipe them clean, sliding the lenses back and forth between a portion of his shirt he held between finger and thumb.

Good enough. Time was wasting.

The 22nd block of Hanover Street was halfway between abandoned city blight and gentrified urban renewal. While many of the row houses remained in a state of disrepair, every third or fourth one stood refreshed. A new coat of paint, modern interior design, and a charming red and blue sign displaying the name of their seller flapping against the refurbished front doors. They seemed to mock the other homes, proudly boasting their value and newness while the others depressingly sagged into their concrete moldings, occupied by owners, renters, and sometimes vagrants who cared little for their well-being.
Omar could relate. He often identified more with the dilapidated over the decorated. It was not as if the new homes didn’t possess character, but they were a symbol of this neighborhood — where he had spent his childhood — changing away from what was and into something that, quite frankly, didn’t belong.

Stammering out of one of the older homes, he immediately became dizzy as he entered the afternoon’s chilly air. It was late fall and winter was already whispering her chill a month early. He stopped moving and took a moment to steady himself, his breaths short at first, creating translucent white clouds as they exited his lips.

The street was unnaturally busy today. The neighborhood children were gathered on the stoops near the end of the street, some chattering outrageously while others busied themselves on their smart phones. The older kids, who knew Omar by reputation, kept an eye on him as he composed himself. And there, across the street, was one of those new houses.
What an obnoxious sight. The damn thing might have very well been mocking him now. His clothes were not new, his face was worn into lines and crevices of any man who had lived a life as rough and challenged as he had. The first few patches of gray had shown up in this last year, hurting his vanity and forcing him to shave his beard. He had seen the owners of the new house and knew they were younger, more accomplished, and better looking.

They were probably there now, the couple with their designer clothes and fashionable hairstyles, looking out the window at him as if he was part of the entertainment: a living display of urban life. Perhaps the older of them, a man in his forties, would be more respectful, but his partner, a much younger man in his early twenties with an undeniable love for hair dye and orange shoes, was certainly watching. He had caught the skinny twerp doing it before, the look on his face that of inquisitive shock.

I’m not here for your entertainment.

Omar stumbled again as he tried to find his car. Where had he parked it? The throbbing in his head was keeping him from focusing. Too many thoughts were racing through his head, back and forth from the room he had just left, to the fall, to the street, the houses, and the neighbors, but where was his car?
Another spasm in his skull forced him to double over, grabbing at the side of his head. He’d have to go to the hospital first. Something was wrong. He thought that the fall hadn’t harmed him but that was turning out not to be true.
“Mr. Omar!” he heard a young voice call out.

What did these kids want? He wasn’t working now.

“Mr. Omar!” the voice called again.
The pain was shooting on the other side of his head now.
“Mr. Omar! Mr. Omar!” now came several voices.
What in the world were they yelling at him for? He forced his hand from his temple, knowing as soon as he did the headache would intensify but he needed to know what was so damn urgent. Angrily, he lifted his chin up and stared in the direction of the voices. Before he could yell at them in response, the breath he was taking in order to do so was cut short.
The impact of the truck was sudden and violent. How Omar had not heard the horn or the screeching tires as the vehicle slid down the middle of Hanover Street, no one quite knew. Neither did Omar. The truck’s metal grill seemed to appear out of nowhere as he turned to see it, just in time before its pattern was embedded in his face.
A crowd quickly gathered around the scene of the accident. The driver of the truck was in utter shock, the amount of blood and tissue that splattered across the front of his vehicle made him sick.

“Didn’t you see him?” a voice cried out.
“Is that Omar?” another said.
“Yeah, that was Omar.”
“Someone call an ambulance!”
“What for? Someone get a shovel!”

The children, who had been content to play games at the end of the street before all of this had happened, were now consumed with using their smart phones as recording devices. Every single one of them was taking pictures, recording videos, and some even were streaming live on social media to show this tragedy to the world in real time.
“Stop that,” one of the older females of the neighborhood said as she tried to usher the younger children from the scene. “You don’t need to be seein’ this. Certainly the rest of the damn world don’t neither! Go on, get outta here!”
The adults in the neighborhood had just as little compassion as the children. Many of them were recording the event in the same way. The chatter continued in the crowd, people asking questions, throwing accusations, speculating on whether or not he heard the truck or whether the driver could have stopped. A few even vomited after the smell and sight of Omar Snellings’ remains overwhelmed them.

While many knew it was wrong on one level to be gawking at this scene; the gruesome dismemberment of a fellow neighbor, they also couldn’t help but indulge in their voyeurism. Who was to say they were wrong? They were all guilty of it, even the older woman who had told the children to leave was now was just as consumed by the scene as they had been. How many times do you get to see a mangled corpse?

Your Book On Shelves – Does It Matter?

book store

As I’ve become an indie publisher and ebook maverick over the last six months, I do come across people every so often who ask me “is it in stores”?

It’s a question every author hears and one that makes every indie author start figuring out a polite way to respond to their friend. Ultimately, you get to the same place we all do of explaining that it sells more online etc. etc.

But, does having a book on shelves really matter?

Considering how most brick-and-mortar stores are going the way of the dinosaur (not just book stores, retails stores across the board), it’s kind of a silly question but you must consider it’s a standardized question. Most of the public still has this idea of books being on shelves and the new digital age hasn’t quite married with their concept of what a book is.

For me, The Brothers Locke is in a few stores right now so I can answer “yes” to this question, but the sales from said stores amount to $2. Unless you’re a major player (the Kings, the Rowlings, the Pattersons, the Childs) having my book in stores is not really a benefit. Unless you have a big name in the industry, even if you do get your book into stores, it’s going to be way in the back somewhere (if they even put it on the shelves) where no one is going to see it unless by accident.

It’s not important for indie authors to have their books in stores.

We make way more money, and have much more influence, online with digital stores like Kobo, iBooks, and of course Amazon.

The one thing that always makes me laugh though is the people who ask this question often haven’t read a book in years. The question suggests that they’d likely read it if they can pick it up at a store but they also have no clue as to where the nearest book store is nor have set foot in one since before the last Harry Potter movie hit theaters.

So, don’t get discouraged by the question as a writer. As readers, many of you know the quality of a story or a book is not in where you buy it but what is in it.

The Stigma of Being An Indie Creator

Indie Artists

Being an indie creator you deal with a lot of attitude and divisiveness over what you do. Despite the huge gains in popularity and money, some of the out-of-touch sectors of the world still look down their nose at what you do.

As an indie author and YouTuber, I get this a lot, not only from random people but from friends as well.

Recently, I had a conversation over the whole Pew Die Pie controversy, and while I’m not going to legislate that here (I know very little about what actually happened with him) I did get the response of:

Oh, he’s a YouTube guy

Now for those who don’t know, Pew Die Pie was one of the first YouTubers who put original, self-made content on the site and gathered a massive audience doing it. He’s got some ridiculous numbers in the tens of millions. More people watch him than people watch most TV shows. However, because it’s on YouTube and he’s not a creation of some corporation, or because he makes video game videos, or because he’s not part of the old media, he and those like him are looked down upon.

The same goes for any indie creator. If you’re an indie film maker, you’re not given the same respect for your craft even if you have a hit like Ex Machina or The Blair Witch Project. If you’re an indie author, people piss on your work, even if you’re Amanda Hocking or Mark Dawson. Independent YouTube artists, musicians, even freaking indie pro wrestlers are all looked down upon by the mainstream and those of the mainstream mentality (more on that later) unless your fans carry you on for years and years to the point you become iconic (see: Pulp Fiction, Twilight etc.)

Should you really let this bother or deter you as a creator? Of course not.

We have the benefit if we’re fortunate, make the right decisions, and work hard at it, to be successful and make a living on our own terms. Currently, I make a pretty decent income from my “hobbies” as I call them, getting to the point where I might be able to give up the 9-to-5 in a few years if I continue down the path I’m on.

Those with the mainstream mentality — especially those who aren’t part of the old media and are just consumers — don’t get it nor do they appreciate it. To them, even if you’re successful at it, you weren’t chosen by the elite old media wizards and gods and sages, so clearly what you do isn’t really that good, you just have a lot of weirdos who look at your stuff. That’s the mentality.

Personally, I tend not to get too annoyed by this, although it is rather insulting. I understand for many of the people who take this attitude towards us that they (I know from experience) often tried and failed to achieve their goals in the old media, and I suspect there may be a bit of jealousy mixed in with the condescension towards those who had success doing it the other way. But they are not DIY people, they want other people to pick them and do stuff for them. The lottery mentality as I call it.

You as a creator cannot spend too much time worrying about these people. I’ve seen enough indie writers, YouTube creators, Fiverr workers, indie actors, indie movie makers etc. to know the tide is changing out there anyway. The way technology is going today and in the future, more and more independent minds will be able to achieve their goals without relying on some gatekeeper to determine whether or not their stuff ever gets seen. The public (and your ability to market yourself) will determine whether or not you’re successful, not gatekeepers.

The good news: the next generation seems to not have these prejudices. If you write fan fiction, or make videos about different sounds (asmr), or make a video game that becomes super popular on XBox’s indie platform, you not only make a living for yourself but you call your own shots, something many who became successful in the old media cannot.

The democratization of content is creating new opportunities

In the end, I’ll just leave this final thought. People who spend time trying to tear things down are doing so because they are disappointed with their own lack of achievements, for those who are achieving don’t have time to tear down, they’re too busy building up.

Introducing: Clive Reznor

The latest edition to the AOE Studios family pulls from the veins of the macabre and the pulse of your nightmares.

Clive ReznorClive Reznor is a horror/supernatural/genre fiction author from the East Coast of the United States. His early life is much of a mystery but his fascination with the dark, the dangerous, the mysterious, and the grotesque has marked much of his life through his early writings.


With the series The Immanent World now given over to him, he plans to expand the series into even darker realms than were conceived by the gang of poets, illustrators, and authors who created the first volume.

I want people to feel dread. That is my main goal for writing this new series: to take people on a ride through the most twisted of nightmares through haunting imagery and outlandish characters.

Among his influences he lists the writings of Stephen King, Clive Barker, Anne Rice, and China Mieville among others. Not limited to the written word, he has also been inspired by the lyrics of musical masters such as John Lennon, Tool, and the band Nine Inch Nails.

His first entry into the twisted realm of his dark dreams will come this summer with the release of The Immanent World Vol 2: Cluichi.

We’re sure to hear much more from this dark mind as 2017 continues …