Archive for the 'Craig’s Novels' Category

July 17, 2015

Kwips & Kritiques recently reviewed SUFFER THE CHILDREN, writing, “Craig DiLouie has put a new spin on the vampire legend, crafting a tale that exemplifies horror at its finest … If you are looking for a creepy thriller sure to provoke nightmares, then SUFFER THE CHILDREN is right up your alley! Highly recommended!”

Thank you for your kind review!

Click here to read the complete review.

July 3, 2015

Dee’s Book Blog recently reviewed the audiobook edition of SUFFER THE CHILDREN (narrated by the great RC Bray), writing, “It is very rare that I need to pause listening to a book mid-way through for a mental break, but Craig DiLouie’ SUFFER THE CHILDREN made me do just that … I was so invested in what happened to the different characters that hearing what happened to them made me sit in my car in shock for a good 20 minutes one day.”

It’s the first book review I’ve gotten that included a public health warning that the novel will induce nightmares. As a horror author, I’ll take that as a badge of honor.

Check out the complete review here.
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May 13, 2015

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE
RABAUL

Fortress Rabaul. The lion’s den. A hub of merchant shipping that was the lifeblood of an empire that controlled one-tenth of the world. Home of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Eighth Fleet.

Located on the northeastern tip of New Britain, the town had been built in a sunken caldera along the natural anchorage of Simpson Harbor. Forested mountains loomed beyond the town. Vulcan Volcano smoked in the western jungle.

Before the Japanese came, the island had been an Australian territory. Australian units had been sent to fight in North Africa, leaving the garrison depleted. The Japanese landed in January 1942, swept aside the defenders, and hunted them down in the jungle. Then they turned the town into an impregnable land, air, and naval base ringed by artillery and anti-aircraft guns.

The captain studied the harbor defenses through the periscope and whistled at the view. His officers eyed him anxiously.

“All ahead one-third,” he said. “Steady as she goes.”

The S-55 crept as close to the mouth of Simpson Harbor as Kane dared take her.

“I see a lot of ships tied up,” he observed. “What do you think, Reynolds? They’re all lined up in a row, like sitting ducks. Maybe we should go in there and take them out.”

“I was thinking, we could skirt around—”

“I was joking, Reynolds.”

Entering the harbor would be suicide. Assuming the S-55 could navigate the minefields without being blown out of the water, she’d have to stay out of contact of roaming patrol boats. Then she’d be in shallow waters—clearly visible and with nowhere to dive deep to escape.

They’d just have to wait until some ships came out.

The problem was they only had enough fuel and provisions for four days before they had to turn back for Brisbane. They had no idea when a ship might emerge from the harbor mouth. It might be hours, it might be days, maybe even weeks.

“It’s too bad,” Kane said. “I can see the meatballs on their sides.” Japanese naval insignia, a blood-red sun on a white field. “Makes a nice target.”

Sound waves thudded against the hull. Distant booms.

The men glanced at each other.

“MacArthur’s bombers,” the captain said. “It’s raining hell up there. The B-17s are stirring up the hornets’ nest. I see Zeros flying everywhere. Down scope. Helm, right full rudder.”

“Right full rudder,” answered the helmsman. He turned the wheel.

“I wonder how they like having bombs dropped on their heads,” Rusty said.

“Come to east,” Kane ordered. “Maintain speed. All compartments, stand by to dive.”

He was turning the boat around. The S-55 was visible from the air, and although the Zeros were preoccupied with the bombers overhead, Kane was wisely avoiding any risk of detection. He didn’t want the Japanese to know he was there until his first torpedo hit.

More than that, he wanted to get as far away from the bombing as possible. The B-17 “flying fortresses” weren’t precision weapons; they dropped big sledgehammers from eighteen thousand feet. It would be in keeping with Frankie’s luck to have come all this way to the lion’s den only to be sunk by an errant five-hundred-pound bomb made in the U.S.A.

“Dive. Eighty feet. Battery, how much juice do we have in the can?”

The hull vibrated with booms thudding in rapid succession.

The telephone talker relayed the battery room’s answer. The captain nodded, satisfied.

“All ahead flank.”

The submarine glided across Blanche Bay to safer waters.

The captain clapped Charlie on the shoulder. “Wait and hurry up, Harrison.”

“Yes, sir,” Charlie said with a smile.

He felt the same excitement that infected the rest of the crew, who imagined returning to base with a broom tied to the shears and several meatballs painted on the hull.

The broom signified a “clean sweep,” a patrol in which all torpedoes were fired. The meatball insignia were brags of ships sunk.

He didn’t think they’d have to wait much longer. The bombing was likely to get the Japanese thinking about accelerating departure schedules. Ships might be on the move soon.

The S-55 would reach Duke of York Island by nightfall. There, her engines would recharge the battery. Then the old sea wolf would become a hunter. And return to Simpson Harbor …

Want to read more? Get CRASH DIVE for Kindle here.
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May 10, 2015

What a great con! The World Horror Convention is my favorite event of the year. I loved reconnecting with friends and making new ones. So fun. I roomed with John Dixon (author of PHOENIX ISLAND), which was hilarious and included many late night chess games.

Last night, I was in stitches as the 2014 Bram Stoker Awards were announced. I had the honor of seeing SUFFER THE CHILDREN nominated in a very strong field. (Thanks to you all for your best wishes!) Congrats to Steve Rasnic Tem for winning Superior Achievement in a Novel! And congrats to all the other winners!

Here’s the list:

Superior Achievement in a NOVEL
Blood Kin by Steve Rasnic Tem (Solaris Books)

Superior Achievement in a FIRST NOVEL
Mr. Wicker by Maria Alexander (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Superior Achievement in a YOUNG ADULT NOVEL
Phoenix Island by John Dixon (Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books)

Superior Achievement in a GRAPHIC NOVEL
Bad Blood by Jonathan Maberry (Dark Horse Books)

Superior Achievement in LONG FICTION
“Fishing for Dinosaurs” by Joe R. Lansdale (Limbus, Inc., Book II, JournalStone)

Superior Achievement in SHORT FICTION (tie)
“The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” by Usman T. Malik (Qualia Nous, Written Backwards)
“Ruminations” by Rena Mason (Qualia Nous, Written Backwards)

Superior Achievement in a SCREENPLAY
The Babadook by Jennifer Kent (Causeway Films)

Superior Achievement in an ANTHOLOGY
Fearful Symmetries edited by Ellen Datlow (ChiZine Publications)

Superior Achievement in a FICTION COLLECTION
Soft Apocalypses by Lucy A. Snyder (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Superior Achievement in NON-FICTION
Shooting Yourself in the Head For Fun and Profit: A Writer’s Survival Guide by Lucy A. Snyder (Post Mortem Press)

Superior Achievement in a POETRY COLLECTION
Forgiving Judas by Tom Piccirilli (Crossroad Press)

April 30, 2015

The Horror Writers Association has published a series of interviews of this year’s Bram Stoker Award nominees on its website. I’m proud to have participated, as my novel, SUFFER THE CHILDREN, was nominated for Best Novel.

Click here to read my interview, where I talk about the book, its influences, and how I put it together. Also be sure to click here to see similar interviews with the other nominees.

April 28, 2015

CHAPTER ONE
TO WAR

Brisbane, Australia.

October, 1942.

Charlie Harrison was going to war.

He walked onto the busy New Farm Wharf, sea bag over his shoulder and a spring in his step. He fidgeted, six feet of coiled energy. Then he shook it off, determined to appear cool in case anybody was watching.

He’d worked hard to get here. Naval Academy, class of ’39. He’d served as a lieutenant, junior-grade on a destroyer, steaming up and down the Atlantic for nearly three years. After the Japanese surprise attack against Pearl electrified America, he’d gotten caught up in the war fever and put in for a transfer. He didn’t want to spend the war playing cat and mouse with German U-boats. He didn’t want to play defense; he wanted to take the fight to the enemy. The Navy approved his transfer, and he attended the Submarine School in New London, Connecticut.

Now he stood on the eastern coast of Australia, ready to report to his new command.

He found the S-55 and another submarine, the S-37, tied to a tender—a big repair and support ship. Men labored among an assortment of hoses, welding lines and other gear to ready the submarines for sea. Sparks sprayed from the welding.

God, but she was ugly. Nothing like the USS Kennedy, his old destroyer with her clean lines, smokestacks, and guns. The S-55 was just a long black cylinder with a short conning tower jutting over her and a single four-inch gun on her deck. Built by the Electric Boat Company in 1922, she was one of the last boats of the Great War era.

He’d hoped for love at first sight, but she inspired neither affection nor admiration.

Two hundred twenty feet long and twenty feet wide at the beam. A complement of a dozen torpedoes, which she launched from four tubes in the bow. Forty officers and crew.

She’d seen some heavy fighting. The conning tower wore a patchwork of welded gray plates—scars of some past action.

In that submarine, he’d live ass to elbow in a cramped, dingy, smelly metal machine under the water for weeks at a time. Cramped, hot, and smelly, the S-class submarines were called “pigboats” by the sailors who fought in them. Charlie had trained on an even-older R-class submarine in New London and had gotten a taste of it.

He’d heard a depth charge attack was like being in an earthquake—a quake that could break the hull and send the boat straight to the bottom.

It was a hell of a way to fight a war. The S-55, his new home, could end up being his coffin. Living in a submarine took a special kind of man. Those who didn’t cut it were put ashore and left there. He wondered if he was as able as he was willing. If he had the right stuff.

Looking at his new home, his romantic ideas about taking the fight to the enemy became real. For the first time, he wondered if he’d made a mistake.

Too late to back out now. He steeled himself to report to the deck watch, who stood on the gangway with a .45 on his hip. Then an apparition in oilskins, gas mask, and thick rubber gloves emerged from the conning tower and descended to the deck. Carrying a metal tank and coiled Flit gun, he stomped down the gangway onto the pier.

He spotted Charlie and lowered his gas mask, revealing the grinning face of a man about his own age. He said, “You wouldn’t believe it.”

“Believe what?”

“How many cockroaches I just put out of my misery. We’re talking millions.”

“Did you get Hitler?”

The sailor laughed. “No such luck, brother. You our new junior officer?”

“That’s right.” Charlie looked up at the scarred conning tower. “When’s she going back out on patrol?”

“When she’s ready, I suppose. This geriatric tub needs a lot of love.”

“I’d like you to take me to see the captain then, if you’re able.”

The man grinned again. “I’ll be happy to do that. You got a name, sailor?”

“Lieutenant, j-g Charles Harrison.”

“Welcome to the 55, Charlie. I’m Lieutenant Russell Grady, but you can call me Rusty.”

Charlie started at that. Rusty was his senior. Charlie should have saluted. Instead, he’d ordered the man to take him to the captain.

Rusty held out his hand. Charlie shook it, grateful for the warm welcome.

He hadn’t expected to see an officer doing an enlisted man’s duties. It was his first lesson in submarines. Everybody, officers and crew alike, did their share of the dirty work. On the S-55, as the saying went, they were all in the same boat.

Charlie realized that, despite all of his schooling, he still had a lot to learn. He also thought, if even half of the crew was like Rusty, he’d feel right at home on the old S-55.

Want to read more? Get CRASH DIVE for Kindle here.
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April 24, 2015

My new WWII novel CRASH DIVE includes an appendix describing the Battle of Guadalcanal, one of the most savage conflicts in history and a turning point in the Pacific War. Here it is:

THE BATTLE OF GUADALCANAL

Today, the word, “Guadalcanal” tends to conjure old movie images of jungle warfare between Marine and Japanese soldiers. The truth is that, due to its strategic importance, the island was not only the site of a bloody four-month ground war but also a virtually continuous air and naval war in which numerous planes and ships participated and were destroyed on both sides.

On December 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan launched a devastating air assault against the United States Pacific Fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Days later, bombers hit the Asiatic Fleet at Cavite Naval Yard in the Philippines.

Japan’s strategic goals were to eliminate the U.S. Navy as a threat, capture resource-rich territory, and create a strong defensive perimeter around its empire. Following the attacks against the U.S. Navy, Japan rapidly captured the Philippines, Hong Kong, French Indochina, Burma, the Dutch East Indies, and various islands under the control of Australia and the U.S.A.

The conquests were followed by offensives aimed at establishing a broad defensive perimeter that would place Japan in a position to threaten Hawaii, the western coast of the United States, and Australia. These thrusts were thwarted at the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, leaving Japan with fewer strategic offensive options.

The Allies now had the initiative and targeted the Solomon Islands, specifically Guadalcanal and surrounding islands. Japanese troops had occupied Tulagi in May 1942 and had built a seaplane base. In July 1942, they began constructing an airbase on Guadalcanal from which bombers could threaten sea lanes between the United States and Australia, isolating Australia. The small island suddenly took on critical strategic importance.

In August 1942, 11,000 soldiers of the 1st Marine Division, commanded by the able Major General Alexander Vandegrift, landed on Guadalcanal, Tulagi, Florida, and other islands. On Guadalcanal, resistance was light. Taken by surprise, the garrison melted into the jungle, and the Marines captured the airfield.

The IJN reacted quickly. During the night of August 8, warships surprised an Allied battle group and inflicted heavy losses while only suffering damage to one cruiser. On the way back to Rabaul, the S-44 sank the Japanese heavy cruiser Kako, a major victory for the submarines, which had sunk few ships during the long fighting retreat from the Philippines to bases in Perth and Brisbane.

The Allied task force withdrew. The Marines were now on their own. They dug in around the airfield, suffering from tropical diseases and repeated shellings from Japanese ships. Japanese planes bombed the airfield, but the Marines repaired it, renaming it Henderson Field after Lofton R. Henderson, a Marine pilot who was killed at the Battle of Midway. By August 20, American fighter and bomber planes arrived at the airfield. These and other planes would become involved in almost daily dogfights over Guadalcanal as the Japanese repeatedly bombed it.

Radio Tokyo announced that the “insects” on Guadalcanal would be crushed. A detachment of Japanese troops of the 17th Army had landed on August 18. Nine hundred strong, they marched through nine miles of jungle and, on August 21, attacked the Marine positions around Henderson Field in what became known as the Battle of the Tenaru. The Japanese charged with bayonets but were slaughtered by American machine guns. The Marines then counterattacked and killed most of the survivors.

But more reinforcements were en route. The IJN dispatched two groups of warships. One aimed to eliminate the Allied naval presence in the Eastern Solomons, while the other intended to deliver two thousand troops to Guadalcanal. In the resulting Battle of the Eastern Solomons on August 24-25, both fleets suffered damage, but the IJN caught the worst of it, losing a light aircraft carrier. Meanwhile, the troop convoy suffered major losses during an aerial assault from Henderson Field, which in turn was bombed with much destruction.

The battle changed the strategic balance, and prospects for Allied victory improved. By the end of August, more than 60 planes were stationed at Henderson Field, which waged a daily air war with Japanese planes, a war of attrition that saw Japan take losses it could not readily replace. Allied ships reinforced the Marines on Guadalcanal during daylight hours while the IJN, due to Allied air power, was forced to transport troops and materiel down the Slot (St. George Channel) only at night on fast-moving warships. These runs, known as “rat transportation” among the Japanese, became known to the Allies as the “Tokyo Express.”

Between August 29 and September 4, Japanese ships landed 5,000 troops on the island, which assaulted the reinforced Marine positions in three bodies. The main body, some 3,000 strong, pushed back a force of 800 Marines until it was stopped cold. For the rest of the night, the Marines faced repeated human wave attacks, but they held the line. Suffering 30 percent casualties, the Japanese expeditionary force withdrew in defeat.

Both sides licked their wounds in September, which saw the Allied fleet lose the aircraft carrier Wasp. Meanwhile, the IJN still controlled the seas at night.

By early October, both sides had landed additional reinforcements for the next fight for Henderson Field and control of the island. During an Allied reinforcement operation on October 11, American and Japanese warships engaged in the Battle of Cape Esperance (Savo Island). The IJN lost a cruiser and a destroyer and heavily damaged another destroyer, while the Americans lost a cruiser, and another cruiser and a destroyer were heavily damaged. It was a tactical victory for the Allies, as the IJN was forced to cancel its bombardment of Henderson Field and withdraw.

The IJN tried again two days later, dispatching two battle groups, one consisting of two battleships and supporting warships, and the other consisting of a convoy of troopships. On October 14, the battleships blasted Henderson Field with nearly one thousand 14-inch shells. In a single hour, the Allies lost more than half their aircraft and suffered major damage to the airfield runways and fuel supplies.

Within hours, the Americans repaired one of the runways, which shortly received fresh air units and aviation gasoline. Planes sortied to strafe the troop convoy as it was unloading. Nonetheless, by October 17, the IJN had added 15,000 troops to the 5,000 already deployed. These forces launched a major assault against Marine positions on October 26 but were repulsed with heavy losses—some 3,000—while the Marines suffered few casualties. During this attack, IJN forces engaged Allied forces in the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, in which the Americans lost a carrier, Hornet, and another, Enterprise, suffered heavy damage. The Japanese withdrew, however, due to damage to their two carriers and heavy aircraft losses. While a tactical victory for Japan, the empire continued to suffer significant losses it could not replace. After this battle, the role of IJN aircraft carriers in the campaign virtually ceased.

In November, the Marines counterattacked Japanese positions on Guadalcanal and inflicted heavy losses, but additional reinforcements stopped their advance. For the next six weeks, the two armies faced each other from their respective lines without major action. More Japanese troops were needed, which were to be delivered by an IJN task force of 11 transports carrying 7,000 troops from the 38th Infantry Division along with a great deal of materiel. Two battleships were also dispatched to bombard Henderson to prevent Allied planes from hitting the transports.

Upon learning of Japanese plans, the Americans dispatched more reinforcements protected by two task forces deployed by the South Pacific Fleet. On November 13, the IJN battle group met the task forces in a close-quarters nighttime battle in which the American forces were nearly destroyed. Having suffered some losses, the Japanese nonetheless withdrew. The next day, another force was deployed, and it succeeded in shelling Henderson Field at 2:00 in the morning. Believing the airfield to be out of action, the troop transports made way for Guadalcanal. Planes launched from Henderson and Enterprise bombed and sank a heavy cruiser and seven of the transports. The remaining four troopships withdrew. At midnight, the IJN tried again and sank three American destroyers but lost a battleship and destroyer. The remaining four troopships began unloading troops and supplies on the island but were strafed and destroyed by planes. Only 2,000 Japanese troops made it ashore, and they lacked supplies and equipment.

Meanwhile, Japanese troops on Guadalcanal had reached a dire supply situation. To deliver food to troops on the island, the IJN made a supply run in which it lost a destroyer but fired torpedoes that sank one American cruiser and damaged three others. The IJN attempted further deliveries, but it wasn’t enough. The Japanese were losing 50 men a day to disease and constant pressure from the Marines and Allied planes. The situation quickly went from dire to crisis.

In December, Emperor Hirohito ordered all Imperial Japanese Army troops to be withdrawn from Guadalcanal. In January and February 1943, the Tokyo Express evacuated 11,000 soldiers. With the battle over, the Allies began developing major bases on Guadalcanal and Tulagi to support new offensives. From then on, the Allies had the initiative, and the Japanese were on defense. Overall, the empire had lost at least 25,000 men during the four-month contest for control of the island, leading Major General Kiyotake Kawaguchi, commander of the 35th Infantry Brigade at Guadalcanal, to proclaim, “Guadalcanal is no longer merely a name of an island in Japanese military history. It is the name of the graveyard of the Japanese army.”

Want to read more? Get CRASH DIVE for Kindle here.
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April 20, 2015

CHAPTER TWELVE
THE DESTROYERS

The battle stations alarm bonged throughout the boat.

“Battle stations, torpedo,” the quartermaster announced over the loudspeakers.

Around the S-55, all hands scrambled to man their stations for the attack.

In the control room, Reynolds would act as assistant approach officer and Rusty as assistant diving officer. Charlie remained on station as plotting officer.

The submarine started an attack approach, cruising toward the enemy ships at a new submerged depth of seventy feet. Going in slow and deep while raising the periscope as little as possible because it could be spotted and derail their surprise attack.

“All compartments report battle stations manned,” the telephone talker reported.

Charlie felt his first pangs of fear. He’d served on a destroyer. He knew how good they were at fighting submarines. In fact, the destroyer was the submarine’s natural enemy. Fast and nimble. Bristling with sonar, big guns, and depth charges.

The S-55 taking on these powerful ships was David and Goliath all over again. Though, in this case, David carried a pretty big stone.

The soundman called out a new bearing. Charlie forgot his fear as he marked it on the plotting paper. He had a job to do. Lives depended on him right now, just as they depended on every other man on the boat.

Five minutes passed. Five more. Wait and hurry up. In the dim red light of the control room, the dots and lines on the paper showed the Japanese ships and the S-55 slowly converging.

“They’re zigging,” the soundman reported.

To avoid a surprise submarine attack, destroyers often zigzagged, but they commonly did so based on a pattern. Charlie marked the new bearing and used his ruler to draw a straight line between the last two dots. After a few plots, the pattern would emerge. Then Frankie could get into a final position to take a shot at them.

“Steady as she goes,” Kane said. The cat and mouse game was on in earnest now.

The captain studied the plot Charlie was building mark by mark. The approach was an exercise in geometry. Kane had to maneuver his moving object to be at the precise place to shoot at objects that were themselves moving.

Right now, Frankie’s luck was holding. The Japanese ships were coming on as neatly as if she’d laid a trap. After turning the boat to starboard on a new northerly course of 10º True, Captain Kane’s subsequent orders to the helmsman continually nudged her into a firing position.

Rusty had been right; the man’s hands didn’t shake in combat. A cool customer.

The young officer tracking a target while Kane, hands on his hips, stood over him; it was like doing a classroom problem at Submarine School. Fear of failure, not of dying.

The captain tapped the paper with his finger. There. That’s where we’ll take a shot at the bastards. Charlie envisioned the attack. The enemy ships would present their broadsides as they passed at between a thousand and fifteen hundred yards. Frankie would be on course to lead her target by twenty-nine degrees—speed plus three—for a straight bow shot at them. Beautiful.

The captain brought the boat to forty-five feet. “Up scope.”

He whistled again as he scanned the darkness. “I can see them clearly now in the moonlight. Three Fubuki-class destroyers. And what looks like a heavy cruiser. I think it’s the Furutaka. A Furutaka-class cruiser, just like the Kako, which the 44 sank around these parts back in August.”

The men in the control room glanced at each other and grinned.

The captain said, “Nine thousand tons. That’s the ship we’re going to sink.”

He spoke with a light tone that betrayed nothing of the mounting pressure he must have felt. In fact, he sounded positively delighted at the prospect of taking a shot at the giant.

Then he brought the boat down to seventy feet, staying hidden.

“Rig for depth charge,” he said.

Around the boat, men prepared the boat to take a beating. All unnecessary lights were extinguished and emergency lighting turned on. Watertight doors were sealed.

Rigging for depth charge before an attack was atypical. With three destroyers up top, the captain was expecting swift and severe retaliation after Frankie sent the Furutaka to the bottom.

“All compartments report rigged for depth charge,” the telephone talker said.

“Very well.”

Rusty murmured to Charlie, “Having fun?”

Charlie wasn’t sure how a professional should answer that one. He decided to be honest. “Hell, yeah.”

“This part always is.”

“Helm, steer 005º True,” the captain said, nudging their course. He brought the boat back up for forty-five feet again. “Up scope. We’re getting close.”

The excitement in the room was almost palpable now.

Charlie spared a moment of reflection for their strangely methodical and deadly work. The men turned wheels, pushed buttons, pulled levers, studied instrumentation. At the end of this highly technical process, a hole would be blown in a big ship, and she would sink into the sound.

Possibly hundreds of men would be killed.

He wondered about those men out there. The Japanese were an alien race to him, but they weren’t evil or inhuman. They loved their children. They toiled on the same types of ships. They laughed. They dreamed. They suffered, and they died, just like any man.

In the end, none of it mattered. The Japanese slaughtered thousands at Pearl. More than a thousand at Cavite. While the individual Japanese wasn’t so different from Charlie, he served a brutal regime that was enslaving millions and threatening America.

Rusty was fighting for his wife and son. Charlie fought for Evie, but more than Evie, he was fighting for his country. The people in it and, just as important, the very idea of it.

The captain read the periscope’s stadimeter. “Range, fifteen hundred yards. It’s showtime. Torpedo room, make ready the tubes. Order of tubes is one, two, three, four. Set depth at four feet.”

In the torpedo compartment, the sailors loaded the torpedoes. The tubes flooded. The outer doors opened.

“All four tubes ready, Captain,” Reynolds confirmed.

“Torpedo room, stand by.”

The seconds ticked by. Charlie gaped at the captain, pencil clenched in his hand. Kane stared into the scope for another minute while water splashed on his bare shoulders.

“She’s coming on. Easy does it. Fire one!”

“Firing one,” Reynolds said and punched the firing button. Frankie shuddered as the torpedo ejected from its tube, a ton of metal and explosives suddenly exiting the boat.

Reynolds counted eight seconds on his stopwatch and pressed the plunger for the second tube. “Firing two!”

Another eight seconds: “Firing three!”

Then: “Firing four! Secure all tubes.”

Four torpedoes in a longitudinal spread. Kane wasn’t taking any chances. If all went according to plan, the first torpedo would hit the cruiser close to the bow. The ship’s momentum would carry it forward, allowing the other fish to nail her both amidships and near the stern. As the cruiser was nearly six football fields in length, the odds looked good.

The torpedoes streamed in a single line toward the cruiser. At this range, nearly two minutes would pass before the contact-exploders struck the hull and detonated.

This was it …

Want to read more? Get CRASH DIVE for Kindle here.
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April 17, 2015

CHAPTER ELEVEN
PATROL STATION

Rigged for red. Ready to surface in all respects. The surfacing alarm sounding.

The S-55 gently broke the surface of Savo Sound, the ocean inlet the men of the beleaguered Pacific Fleet were calling Iron Bottom Sound after numerous sharp naval battles.

Ready for the first night watch of the day, Charlie held the ladder tightly as the hatch partly opened. A heavy blast of sour air roared past him.

After the air pressure equalized and the tempest subsided, he climbed up and looked around. It was a routine to which he’d already become accustomed, but he felt a special urgency about it now.

They were in the Slot, and they’d received a message to expect a Japanese naval force passing through the area later tonight. After days of seeing no enemy ships, it was exciting news.

He took his time and scanned the area thoroughly. Aided by the budding moon, his night-adapted eyes picked out Savo Island to the east, Guadalcanal to the south.

“All clear,” he called down. “Lookouts to the bridge.”

Steam drifted out of the open hatch. His men emerged and took their stations.

Charlie took a deep breath of the clean air and inhaled the vital scent of jungle wafting from the nearby islands. After a day in the people tank, it smelled sweeter than Evie’s perfume. The temperature was considerably cooler topside at seventy-five degrees.

The main induction opened to suck the cool night air into the boat for both the crew and the engines. The diesels fired up to charge the battery while the boat stood-to facing north by west. By the end of Charlie’s watch, the battery had fully charged, and both diesels were assigned to the propellers. The old sea wolf was ready to hunt.

Rusty entered the bridge. “Permission to relieve you and your squires, noble sir. As incentive for that permission, I can tell you a sumptuous meal awaits you in the wardroom.”

“In that case, permission granted,” Charlie said. “What’s the cook serving up for dinner?”

“Pot roast and cock, and he’s all out of pot roast.”

Charlie laughed. Ever since the S-55 entered the Solomons, the men had stopped their shirking and horsing around and went to work with silent efficiency. But not Rusty. Not even the tension of imminent combat could keep the able lieutenant from his wisecracks.

Kidding aside, despite the hardships of service, submariners ate better than anybody else in the Navy, at least while the fresh provisions lasted. Right now, pot roast sounded fantastic.

“All sectors clear,” he told Rusty. “A dozen lighted planes, far off and coming across the stern, were reported. Navy fighters landing at Henderson Field.”

“Hopefully, they bombed those tin cans headed our way.”

“We should be so lucky,” Charlie agreed, though he was itching for a fight.

As the new watch manned their stations, he descended the stairs to the cigarette deck and then the main deck. He tied a metal bucket to a manila rope, tossed it over the side, and pulled up cool seawater. Then he started a quick sponge bath.

For a war zone, the scene struck him as peaceful. The slim moon’s light glimmered on the water, which lapped gently against the boat’s hull. His romantic Evie would have loved it.

He heard a distant droning and perked up. Charlie hustled back to the bridge while the watch scanned the skies.

A burst of light flared in the distance and died out. Then another. Moments later, he heard the first boom. Red tracers streamed into the night.

“Ho-lee shit,” one of the watchmen said.

More bright flashes, an entire cluster of them, brightened the horizon. The air filled with thunder and the distant wail of an air raid siren. Searchlights swept the sky.

The Japanese were bombing the airfield on Guadalcanal.

“Lookouts, get below,” somebody shouted up the shaft. “Clear the bridge!”

Bodies poured down the hatch. Charlie dropped to the deck and hustled out of the way. One by one, the rest of the men came down after him, talking excitedly.

“Hatch secured!” Rusty called from above.

The captain said, “Dive!”

The diving alarm sounded. The main induction clanged shut.

“Pressure in the boat, green board,” Reynolds reported. The boat was sealed up tight.

The S-55 rapidly slid into the black waters and achieved a good trim at periscope depth. The engines cut out. The electric motors engaged the propellers.

“Planes, forty-five feet.”

“What’s going on?” Charlie asked Rusty.

The lieutenant shrugged. “The captain pulled the plug.”

“Silence!” Kane roared, quieting them all.

The men stared at the captain. The captain stared at the soundman.

“I’ve got a turn count of three twenty-five RPM,” Marsh said. “Now I’m hearing multiple sets of screws. Light screws. Speed estimated twenty-five knots.”

Charlie grinned. That sounded like destroyers!

Marsh added, “Estimated range, eight thousand yards.”

The captain put on his sou’wester hat and oilskins. “Up scope.”

He peered into the dark, whistling a pop tune while water splashed on his shoulders. “Give me a bearing, Marsh.”

“Targets, bearing 115º True.” Plus or minus a few degrees.

The submarine’s Great War-vintage hydrophones weren’t perfectly accurate, but one thing was certain: The Japanese war party was coming straight at them. They intended to round Savo Island. Charlie guessed their mission was to give Henderson a good shelling tonight.

The captain smiled as he looked into the scope. “I think I see them. Come to papa. Down scope. Harrison, start plotting. Marsh, keep those bearings coming.”

Charlie dumped graph paper, pencils, and a ruler onto the plotting table. He marked the contacts’ estimated position.

“Bearing still on 115º True.”

Based on the war party’s bearing and estimated speed, he marked its likely new position on the plotting paper. He checked the boat’s gyrocompass and started plotting the S-55’s own position with a pencil and ruler.

“Left full rudder,” the captain said. “All ahead full. Come left to 275º True.” After the heavy sub completed her ponderous turn and found her new course, he added, “All ahead one-third. Up scope.” After another look at the approaching ships: “Down scope.”

Deep in thought, Captain Kane stepped away from the falling periscope.

He had a choice. He could take a shot at the destroyers as they passed and then radio their presence to warn American forces at Guadalcanal they were coming. Or he could let them pass, sound the alarm, and try to hit them on their way back.

Both carried risks. The former approach put them directly in a hornet’s nest. The latter was safer, but the Japanese might take another route home, and Frankie would miss her chance to take a crack at them.

Knowing the captain, Charlie believed he’d take the latter, more cautious approach.

Kane rubbed his stubbled jaw. The men stared at him, awaiting his command.

“Battle stations,” he said. “Torpedo attack.”

Want to read more? Get CRASH DIVE for Kindle here.
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March 27, 2015

DeadEndFollies.com recently reviewed SUFFER THE CHILDREN, saying the novel “draws a clear portrait of how a loving parent can turn into a monster for all the wrong reasons. SUFFER THE CHILDREN offers plenty of gore and spectacular horror scenes, but its the psychological accuracy of such a disaster scenario that makes it such a terrifying novel …

“SUFFER THE CHILDREN is absolutely harrowing, so emotionally demanding that it becomes physically exhausting, it’s convincing as all hell. I don’t think it’s a novel that’s meant to be enjoyed in the traditional sense of the term. It’s meant to challenge you, test your empathy against difficult fictional scenarios and open up your perspective about the end of the world. If you thought that THE STAND was some kind of ultimate apocalyptic horror scenario, you’ve haven’t experienced the real deal yet.”

Wow. Thanks, Ben!

Click here to read the complete review.