Blackened

All small towns have a dark underbelly where seedy characters perform dark acts. In Oneka Falls, those acts no longer occur out of sight, but out in the open.

Two children have disappeared into the Thousand Acre Wood, and a sniper stalks the shadows of Oneka Falls intent of causing terror and mayhem. But who is to blame? Who is behind it all? When evil intrudes on their lives a second time years later, it sets a chain of events in action that can only end in destruction.

Who will be destroyed, the children or the ancient evils that plague the town?

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Critics Reviews for Demon King

"...the thrills and horrors are engrossing."

"Vick's dark, tense thriller pits young kids--and their older selves--against a demonic evil and his twisted daughters in Upstate New York... Vick bounces the storyline between eras effectively, and the tension never lets up. Stephen King fans will enjoy spotting the references that Vick sprinkles throughout in homage..."

- Publisher's Weekly

"Utter terror and spiraling demonic involvement

drive the plot of Demon King by Erik Henry Vick through intense action and psychological turmoil. Extremely well written, with clearly defined characters and steady action with surprising twists and turns, Demon King is a novel that is impossible to put down. Gripping and intense are only two words to describe the effect of the story, but if horror is your pleasure, that is all you need to hear. Erik Henry Vick is certainly an author to fill you with nightmares. Fabulous story. I loved it!"

– Melinda Hills, ReadersFavorite.com

2018 Readers' Favorite Award Horror Finalist

"Evocative of Stephen King’s work”

"Vick’s (Errant Gods, 2017, etc.) supernatural horror story is evocative of Stephen King’s work in its use of a small-town setting and a gang of friends facing a powerful evil."

– Kirkus Reviews

Demon King Reviews

5 out of 5 Demonic Stars for this one!

"What do you get when you mix elements of fear, mystery, suspense, foreshadowing and a perfectly gripping plot? Give up? Well... if all of these elements are woven together in a seamless piece of writing, you will end up with one fantastic horror story! This is exactly the case with Erik Henry Vick's novel, Demon King. This is one intense book you will just not be able to put down as it will captivate, engross and horrify you from start to finish..."

– Leonard Tillerman, LeonardTillerman.com

Monsters are real!

"I really enjoyed this book, it is sufficiently scary and nail biting suspenseful! The characters are wonderfully written and beautifully evolved. Finally a truly scary story that had me held in it's grip from beginning to end! Most stories claim to be a horror story and fail to deliver that true sense of dread and fear. This story does will not disappoint horror genre fans. It was a griping nerve jangling tale that will chill you to the bone and yet have you coming back for more! A smart well written story that in my opinion makes this author one of the best writers out there. I recommend this book highly to anyone who can handle a griping, nerve rattling story with heart. Well done honestly I loved it!"

My absolute favorite new author

"I read the first book in 36 sleep deprived hours and bought every book he has written that I could find.... If you like Stephen King, Robert McCammon, or Clive Barker then check out Erik Henry Vick, you won't regret it."

The best horror story I've read in years!

"Read the entire book in two days, couldn't put it down. Well written and Erik Henry Vick is one of the best writers today. READ THIS BOOK, you'll love it."

This writer in my opinion is an amazing talent!

"The characters and the plot were really good! I liked how he nods at Stephen King but keeps the story very much his own style. While reading this I was trying to figure out all the mysteries and clues to the very end and I wasn't disappointed when I reached the last page."

Before you know it you're hooked.

"Similar to early Stephen King! Loved the book! Gradually introduces the bizarre in a way that is acceptable. Before you know it you're hooked. I was pleasently surprised."

Grab this one right now!

"If you like a fast moving story with two time lines then grab this one right now!"

Awesome.

"A combination of Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Awesome."

Future of the horror book scene.

"This author may just be the future of the horror book scene. I enjoyed everything about this book, give it a try you will not be disappointed."

This book sucked me in from the first pages...

"Wow! This book sucked me in from the first pages and didn’t let me go until the very last page. Give me more!

"Demon King" reminded me of Stephen King’s "It" in the back-and-forth, then-and-now story structure. Children are assailed by unknowable evil; then as adults, they must face it again, but without the benefit of the memory of their earlier experiences. Encounters with these vile creatures does some serious damage. Will they be able to pull the necessary courage and grit to survive and triumph?

This guy has some serious story chops.

This is a fast-moving, vivid tale, told with bright imagination and fresh ideas. I first discovered Erik Henry Vick via his novella "The Devil", then "Devils", the short story anthology "The Devil" was rolled into. I had wanted to find a new favorite author, and I certainly did! This guy has some serious story chops.”

– Jackson W Barnett, Poland, Maine

Demon King easily earned 5 stars from me!

"It kept my interest all the way through. Although my days of reading a book a day are gone, I read this in 2 days."

Very solid.

"Often a writer begins a story involving supernatural elements and it seems as if they feel compelled to justify those elements and dilute their impact. Not here."

Perfectly executed horror

"If you are a fan of perfectly executed horror, then I would highly recommend this book!"

Reminds me of Stephen king or dean koontz.

"His writing reminds me of Stephen king or dean koontz. I hope there's a part 2 to this book very quick!"

One of the best books I've ever read!

"I highly recommend this book. It was one of those books that you think about when you're not reading it, and then you're sorry to see it end because you've become so attached to the characters. What an amazing book and an amazing author. You will not be disappointed!"

1

Benny regained consciousness slowly—coming to like a drunk waking up after a long night of pounding down cheap beer. He opened his eyes and gasped in fright.

The king carried him in his arms as a loving father would, but the king no longer resembled a man. His skin was blackened and loose, and instead of fingernails, his hands ended in long, sharp-looking talons. His face was grotesque. Loose skin hung from his cheekbones. His mouth was too wide, and two three-inch tusk-like fangs protruded from his lower jaw, keeping his fat, rubbery lips from closing all the way. The king’s ears were long and pointed, with tufts of coarse black hair over them. His eyes were the worst though. Where a human would have whites, he had solid orbs that were silver with specks of black throughout. Oblong pupils split his eyes, giving him a cat-like appearance. His nose hung from his face like an afterthought—huge and crooked.

The king glanced down at him, and his mouth stretched wider in an evil grin. “Get a good look, boyo. I don’t mind.” Benny’s eyes lingered on the long, tusk-like teeth and seeing this, the thing carrying him laughed. “Don’t mind my skull-crushers, Benny. Stay on my good side, and you’ll never see them up close and personal.”

The ecstatic feeling that had filled Benny during the car trip past the woods had disappeared. Fear took its place. “Are you the man with the bikes?”

The king threw back his head and barked laughter at the treetops. “Why, sport? Have you decided to sell after all? But that ship has departed the docks. Do I look like any man you’ve ever known?”

Benny shook his head and tried to keep his lips from quivering. “Why are you so…”

“Hideous? Heinous? Monstrous? Grotesque?” The thing laughed again. “I could ask you the same, but I already know the answer, monkey-boy.”

“What…what do you want? Why did you make me come to you?”

“You are a fine lad, Benjamin. A sport. You delight my senses, and my daughters will love you. Plus, you showed courage when you came to the house looking for your delectable young friend. It will be fun to play games with you.”

“My… Is Toby…”

“Don’t worry, sport. Everything is prepared for you. Sensed you’d be coming for a visit, we did, and the girls wanted to dote on you.”

“The girls.”

“My daughters.”

“Daughters,” Benny echoed, almost overcome by a wave of lightheadedness.

“Yes. Are you unwell, my fine boy?” He didn’t wait for an answer, though. He cackled his horrifying laugh and leaped into the air with an acrobatic flourish. At the apex of his leap, leathery wings snapped open from his back, and they were flying. The king swooped between the tree trunks as if he had memorized the location of each and every tree.

“Who are you?” murmured Benny.

“You may call me Herlequin.”

“What kind of name is that?”

Herlequin shrugged. “The kind you may use to address me.”

“Are you…are you a demon?” asked Benny, watching the leathery wings flap lackadaisically and more than a little out-of-step with each other.

Herlequin cackled. “Well, People through the ages have called me an elf, a fairy, a brownie, a leprechaun, a kobold, a troll, an ogre, a doppelganger, and a gargoyle; I suppose adding demon to the list won’t hurt.”

Benny sighed. “Do you ever answer straight?”

Herlequin slow rolled and juked to avoid a low hanging branch, laughing the whole time.

“If you’re not a demon, why do you look like one?”

“I can appear to be anything I want. Human senses are easy to fool. That’s why games with your kind are so much fun.”

“Are you saying you can do magic? I don’t believe you.” Despite his bravado, Benny’s voice wavered the tiniest bit.

Herlequin smiled his nasty smile but held his tongue.

Benny shook his head. “So what do you look like?”

“Well, sport, this is how I look when I’m not playing tricks. I’m not a demon, however, so put that fear out of your mind. There’s no such thing as demons or devils.”

“What are you? What are you really?”

“It doesn’t matter, boyo. I’m here, you’re here. We’re going to play such games together.”

It seemed to Benny that the wood was getting darker and darker as if the sun were setting. He looked up, past Herlequin’s head. The branches of the trees interlaced, one with another, until the canopy was like a solid, woven thing. Herlequin followed his gaze, glancing up at the canopy. “No tricks there, boy-of-mine. It took patience and hard labor to train the trees to grow thus.”

“Why? To hide the forest from planes?”

Herlequin cackled his tiresome laugh. “No, no, sport. As I said before, human senses are easy to trick. If I wanted to hide, no one would see me. It’s as simple as that.”

Benny couldn’t be sure, but a pinch of falsehood rang in Herlequin’s voice. “So why?”

Herlequin sighed. “This constant questioning is irritating, kiddo.”

“My name is Benny.”

“I get that, sport. You’ll answer to hopscotch if that’s what I call you. Or pretty-pink-paisley for that matter.”

Benny held his tongue. He didn’t want to argue with Herlequin while he was flying Benny through the air. “Sorry,” he muttered.

“Shall we play a game now?” asked Herlequin. “Are you awake enough? In control of your faculties?”

Fear gripped Benny by his guts. “I…I don’t know the rules. I don’t know what kind of game you mean.”

One of Herlequin’s eyes rolled down to stare at Benny, while the other stayed trained on the forest ahead. A smile twitched on the thing’s rubbery lips. “It’s an easy game to learn, sport. Your friend Toby learned it right away.” Herlequin’s voice grew wistful. “He was a masterful player. Quite satisfying.”

“Is he… Did you…”

“I wish to remind you that those aborted sentences are questions, boy.”

Benny sighed. “I wanted to know if Toby is…”

“What, sport? Dead?”

Benny nodded, his agreement marred by his miserable expression.

“No, boy. Toby’s heart still beats in his chest.”

Again, Benny had the strangest feeling the Herlequin was telling a half-truth. “I’m not stupid,” he said with all the petulance of a prepubescent boy.

“Watch that tongue, boyo, or I’ll have my daughters rip it from your head.” Herlequin’s tone was light, teasing, but Benny didn’t believe for a second he was joking. “But, we were talking about the game. Do you wish to begin?”

“Not until you explain the rules,” said Benny, keeping his voice respectful.

“It’s simple.” Herlequin dropped his legs and landed without making a sound. He set Benny down on the carpet of old, brown leaves. “Here’s how it works. You run. Or hide, whichever. I come after you.”

“Hide and seek? You want to play hide and seek with me?”

Herlequin’s smile did more to frighten Benny than reassure him. “My daughters and I call it ‘The Hunt,’ but I guess you could call it ‘hide and seek’ if that suits you better.”

“The Hunt?” Benny’s voice sounded weak, even to himself. “What…what happens if you catch me?”

Herlequin’s lips split apart to reveal three rows of sharp teeth in addition to the big fangs. Predator’s teeth, Benny had learned in science. Carnivore’s teeth. “We eat you, of course.”

Benny trembled. “I don’t want to play.”

“Want? Who asked what you want? I asked if you are ready.”

Benny shook his head.

“Oh, I don’t know, sport. You look ready.” Herlequin looked him in the eye. His black and gray eyes seemed to spin and dance. “You’d better be.”

Benny tried to tear his eyes away, tried to shake his head, but his neck muscles ignored his commands.

“Speak up, boyo. Remember: silence means assent.” A sly smile spread across Herlequin’s face. “All you have to do is say ‘no’ if you’re not ready.”

Benny tried to speak, but like his neck muscles, his voice didn’t do what he wanted it to.

“Ah! I thought you’d be a sport! Very well. Let us begin!” Herlequin clapped his hands and hopped in place.

Like a four-year-old, thought Benny.

“I’ll tell you what, champ, if you can evade me for three days, I’ll let you go back to your boring life. Does that sound reasonable?”

Again, Benny tried to force words out, but nothing happened.

“I’m so glad you agree. Go ahead, boyo. Get started.”

Benny stood there, looking up at Herlequin, trying to force words out of his mouth.

Herlequin’s smile faltered. “Well?” he asked, sounding like a small child. “Why don’t you start?”

Benny got his mouth open, but his tongue lay there like a dead snake. “Nnnnnth!” he managed.

Herlequin’s face froze, and his friendly expression shattered. His face twisted with rage, and his rubbery lips twitched while spittle raced down his chin. His eyes blazed: twin pits of black fire, and his taloned hands clenched and unclenched. “What are you waiting for?” he screeched. “The game has begun, boy!”

Still, Benny stood trying to refute Herlequin’s words with inaction.

The king’s eyes grew wide and his mouth stitched up into a rictus of fury. He bent down and put his face inches from Benny’s. “This is not how you stay on my good side, boyo,” he hissed. “Now, run! Run!”

Fear engulfed Benny’s eleven-year-old mind. All he could see were Herlequin’s meat-eater teeth.

“RUN!” Herlequin roared, and, in the distance, dogs howled and brayed. Resolve crumbling, Benny ran.

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