Mark Leslie has never made it a secret or lied about the fact he has always loved reading, books, and writing. And the only time he has lied about those the things that go bump in the night was when he told his toddler son, who was worried about the bogeyman, that monsters don't exist. That's because he knows they exist, and he has spent most of his life writing about both those monsters we can't see, like the ones under our beds and in our heads, as well as those perpetrating evil upon other humans.

Mark is the author of more than twenty-five novels, which include paranormal explorations of true ghost stories, unexplainable events, and true crime, thrillers, urban fantasy, horror, and the cross-over genre novels in his "Canadian Werewolf" series. When he is not writing, he can sometimes be found howling at the moon.

Nocturnal Saves by Mark Leslie

Is a hero someone who puts on a mask and costume and rushes to the rescue to save the day? Is a hero someone whose exploits results in the discovery of a miraculous cure to a life-threatening disease or plague? Is a hero someone who employs their supernatural ability for good and to assist others? Is a hero someone who loves another person or a cause so much that they risk life and limb in order to protect or save them from peril? Is a hero someone who stops in the midst of hustle and bustle to listen to those who no longer have a voice?

All of those things, can, of course, make a hero.

Heroes come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and personas.

Saving the world can come in an epic and dramatic, world-shattering event; but it often can happen in small ways, in the one-on-one interactions people have with one another; in the subtle ways one small action can have a dramatic impact.

The stories in this collection, collected exclusively for this StoryBundle theme, explore all that and more.

Open your mind, heart, and imagination to these seven nocturnal saves.

CURATOR'S NOTE

Fabulous bestselling writer and exceptional fiction editor, Mark Leslie, did a story collection just for this StoryBundle. Nocturnal Saves deals with a bunch of ways that the world can be saved, or maybe destroyed, at night. While Louisa Swann gives us mystery and magic, and Lisa Silverthorne gives us science fiction with heart, Mark Leslie is known for his fantastic horror stories and you will love this sampling of his incredible work. – Dean Wesley Smith

 

REVIEWS

  • "His stories took me to places I didn't even consider as settings for horror. The length of his tales was enough to see how his imagination could turn mundane activities and concepts into a story I haven't read before., and his characters were written in such a way, that even in a short story, they roped you in."

    – Reader Review
  • "I just found this author and am so glad that I did. This collection of short stories completely held my attention. They have also stayed with me; I continue to think about the characters."

    – Reader Review
  • "The author has a very quirky and imaginative way with words. The stories were very unique and unlike anything I've ever read. They are super short. You just need to let your imagination run wild, while reading them. I love how the author explains how the idea for each story came to be."

    – Reader Review
  • "The characters were so well conceived that I wanted to continue reading about them. Mr. Leslie has once again married eloquent prose, fascinating characterization and a unique premise to provide an interesting and enjoyable horror story that isn't as concerned with blood and gore as it is with establishing suspense and delving into the characters affected by supernatural circumstance. Highly recommended."

    – Reader Review
  • "Being creeped out was never so much fun. I can just see Mark Leslie sitting in his dimly lit study, devilishly dreaming up these clever tales of suspense, each ending with a welcome twist."

    – Reader Review
  • "Howling good time. Great read with lots of humor. I loved the Canadian touches."

    – Reader Review
 

BOOK PREVIEW

Excerpt

FROM OUT OF THE NIGHT

ALTHOUGH TECHNOLOGY DOMINATES our world today, there still exist things that have been with us since we huddled in caves around brightly burning fires and avoided ominous shadows. Strange beings of the night become frighteningly real to us even now as we venture into the twenty-first century. Unknown things are still out there going bump in the night; a night where most of our dreams are nightmares. Scientifically, we have grown out of the dark ages, but our fears will forever remain among other frightened figures, jumping at shadows outside the cave.

And perhaps for good reason . . .

* * *

Mary's screech from the kitchen came to Jack over a simple, old-fashioned baby monitor. "Here they come!"

Jack was in his basement den, putting the finishing touches on another promising non-fiction book about fear and the unknown. On the shelf before him sat several of his more popular published texts: One on Bigfoot, another on the Loch Ness Monster, several on U.F.O.'s, and then the books about a popular television series featuring a pair of FBI paranormal investigators back in the ninety's.

Upon hearing Mary's voice, he leaned away from the computer, ran his fingers along the base of the keyboard and then turned the screen off. Regretfully nodding to his unfinished project, he got to his feet and headed up the stairs.

Unseen by Mary as he reached the top of the stairs, he stood silently and observed his wife peering out the kitchen window. He studied her familiar features thinking of how often he saw her but didn't really look. Her worn face gave her the impression of someone much older than her forty-three years. She stood over the kitchen counter, silent for a moment. Her expression told him her mind was racing furiously.

When their teenaged son entered the room, Mary's head swung to orient on him, her face displaying a queer blank.

He gazed curiously at his mother.

"John, the lights!"

John clicked the kitchen light off in haste. He then moved to the front door and locked it." Are they back again, Mom?"

Mary gazed proudly at her son as he locked the door. "Smart move. And yes, they're back." She twisted to look out the window again. "There go a few of them now, to Mrs. Hancock's house. Oh, and there's another two coming up the other side of the street. Oh!" She ducked. "I don't think they saw me!"

"Why are there so many of them this time, Mom?"

"Because they're growing in strength and in number. They feed on our fear and prey on the weak-minded. They coerce others into becoming just like them. And they won't be satisfied until everyone is a blood-thirsty, flesh-eating demon like they are. They won't stop until everyone has Become."

A burst of laughter filled the room and Mary jumped, swinging her head in the direction of the living room. A smile of relief crossed her face and Jack could tell, even before she spoke, that it had only been the canned laughter of a television sitcom audience.

"Susie!" Mary shrieked. "Turn off that TV!"

The television continued to play. Another wave of laughter from the studio audience flooded the darkened room.

Mary turned to face her son, a barely controlled panic in her eyes. "Listen, John. Take your sister and go down to the basement. Tell your father to shut off his den lights and you hide with him there. I don't want those cannibals to get anywhere near you two. Do you hear me?"

As Jack watched them, a wave of nostalgia overcame him. It was so obvious her only concern was for her children. She was willing to sacrifice herself for them without a second thought. It made Jack pine for the days when their own love had been so unselfish. But that had been years ago, before their relationship had evolved into something more mature, something increasingly less demonstrative. It was nothing like his active love for his writing. It was simply there.

While John went into the living room to get his little sister, Jack moved silently into the kitchen. His eyes met Mary's as the light and noise of the television stopped. In a thickened darkness they looked at each other and listened to their children stumble to the stairway.

"I love you," Mary whispered at their sounds in the dark. When they were gone she addressed her husband. "The kids'll be safer down there, hidden away. They won't have access to them."

"Why don't you go downstairs with the kids, hon?" Jack suggested. "Let me handle them tonight."

"No. I'm not defenceless. I can protect my family just fine. Now get yourself back downstairs and look after my children. They're going to need someone with them."

"Mary, please," he said, reaching out to touch her shoulder. "I can protect us."

Flinching back from his touch, Mary glared at him. "No. No, you can't. If you'd wanted to protect us, you would have put the boards up like I suggested."

"We don't need the boards, Mary." Jack thought back to the year before when she'd insisted that he nail boards on all the windows and doors. They'd stayed in the boarded-up house for three days. Fortunately, the kids were able to get an online hook up to their classrooms, so they didn't miss school. And Jack's writing work hardly had him leaving the basement den, never mind the house. So, it hadn't been that much of a hardship. But he couldn't justify using the boards this year. The nuisance was just too much this time. His manuscript was already overdue, and his agent was calling three times a day; twice less than his editor.

"Yes, we do need the boards. The boards were probably the only thing that saved us last time." She crossed her arms and paced the length of the kitchen, careful to stay out of touching distance. "What about Mr. and Mrs. Allen two doors down? They didn't board up their house last year and look what's happened to them. They're changing, they're Becoming. They may not be consuming flesh yet, but you can tell they've started to change. You can see it in their eyes. Becoming doesn't happen overnight, Jack. It has to grow and fester inside them over time. It's a horrible process of self-induced pain and suffering."

"Mary, I honestly don't think it was because of the boards. We'll be perfectly safe without them."

"You're right, the Allens were weak. Ted and Lisa just couldn't resist their supernatural charms and promises of immortality. But they wouldn't have had to resist them had they boarded themselves up inside." She peeked out the window once more. "Oh damn! We forgot to turn off the outside porch light. Quick, get the switch. Get the switch!"

Jack reached for the light switch.

"Too late!" she cried. "Too damn late! A group of them have already spotted the light. They're drawn to it like moths, Jack. Like sick, disgusting insects." She swallowed noisily and ran a hand down the side of her face. "Looks like I'm going to have to finally face them."