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Accursed Son

by Eric Avedissian

Accursed Son - Eric Avedissian - The Martyr's Vow
Part of the The Martyr's Vow series:
ISBN: 195688307X
Pages: 317

Armand Tarkanian is trapped in the ultimate dead-end job: embalming decedents under his abusive uncle’s watchful eye. Every day he goes through the motions, making death look beautiful while his life is anything but.

A car accident leaves him indebted to Berj, a mysterious man with rune-carved gold teeth and a penchant for worshipping old gods. Blackmailed and desperate, Armand feels more trapped than he was under his uncle’s thumb. But the embalmer harbors his own dark secret, a bloodline curse that allows him to communicate with the dead.

When the spirits show him how they were murdered, Armand must choose between fealty to the sadistic and manipulative Berj, or joining the Legion of the Lamb, a monster-hunting biker gang with their own agenda. What began as a dangerous game between secret societies has led Armand on a frightening quest to save the only family he’s ever known and a chance to get closer to the rebellious misfits who saved him.

Tropes: Black and White Morality, Conspiracy, Crazy Clairvoyants, Dark Enemy, Fallen Hero, Found Family, I See Dead People, Person in Distress, Prophesy, Reluctant Hero
Word Count: 86000
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
Tropes: Black and White Morality, Conspiracy, Crazy Clairvoyants, Dark Enemy, Fallen Hero, Found Family, I See Dead People, Person in Distress, Prophesy, Reluctant Hero
Word Count: 86000
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters

My heart races.

I sense someone behind me.

I turn around.

A shimmering and translucent Maddie Hinkle stares back at me from several feet away. Gossamer garments cling to her skinny frame and her hair billows around her. She hovers inches off the floor, her toes not touching the linoleum tiles beneath her.

My heartbeat quickens. I shut my eyes. When I open them seconds later, Maddie Hinkle is three feet in front of me, her mouth locked in a terrifying ghostly scowl. She’s an aberration and shouldn’t logically exist.

Yet the spirit does exist and its uncanny presence real.

“Get away from me,” I hear myself say, but the words catch in my throat, and a messy croak is all that comes out


“Help,” she says, her voice scratchy and distant. “He killed me. Help.”

I back away and bump into the table where Maddie Hinkle’s body lays inert. “Killed you?”

“Help me,” the spirit repeats.

“Help? You’re dead.”

“Find them. Stop them.” Maddie Hinkle gets closer, and her ghostly body melts into me. Icy pain tingles from my head down through my spine, numbing my legs and freezing me in place.

Then, Maddie Hinkle shows me how she died.


I am a part of Maddie. I see the world through her eyes.

She’s outside, miles from civilization. But not alone. The night presses in, like it’s following her.

She runs. Her legs feel like they are slogging through mud. Her lungs burn, and her heart nearly beats out of her chest. Sweat beads her brow. Maddie scrambles down an embankment. The sultry air feels like it’s going to suffocate her.

Her go-go boots snag on a gnarled branch. She falls to the ground. She peels them off and continues barefoot. Rocks and brambles scrape her skin as she sprints headlong into the night.

Her pursuers are gaining. Their voices carry on the wind behind her. Flashlight beams stab the darkness. One of the men shouts in a lan- guage Maddie doesn’t understand. The rest follow him.

Her joints ache as she runs for her life.

The men close in, their flashlights blind her. She glimpses leering faces in the gloom. A figure in a dark suit and silver bolo tie advances. Maddie trembles when she realizes who the man is.

“Please. I didn’t do anything,” she stammers. “I won’t tell. I didn’t see anything.”

The figure places a cigarette between his lips.

“I’m sorry. I just had too much to drink,” Maddie sobs. “It won’t happen again.”

The man quietly clicks a lighter. The flame dances beneath the ciga- rette as he inhales. His face, obscured in shadow, shifts in the flickering fire. He takes a long drag on his cigarette. Smoke swirls above his head like a cancerous cloud.

“Such a pity.” His voice is deep and hazy. “You are beautiful, yet so careless. It is not polite to gossip. You’re a talker.”

The magnitude of his words washes over her. “No!” she cries. “I won’t talk. Not ever.”
“I’ll make sure of that.”

Maddie trembles.

“Please. Oh, God. Please,” she whispers. “Don’t. I’ll do anything you want.”

The man flicks his cigarette to the ground and crushes it beneath his leather boot. He peers at Maddie and begins chanting in some strange language. She recoils at the oddity of each word, the cadence is guttural and alien, the tone harsh and unsettling.

Maddie sinks to her knees and clasps her hands over her ears to muffle the chanting as the others join in, each repeating a strange phrase.

The leader raises both arms in front of him. His fingers extend. The men speak faster as their leader’s voice transitions into an otherworldly rasp.

Maddie’s neck snaps back. A deluge of live frogs, rushing up her esophagus, spews from her mouth in a torrent. As they squirm, she tastes and feels the earthy wet sliminess of each frog. Maddie is suffocating. So many frogs. An unseen force propels their tiny bodies forward. Musty and earthy and rotten. All Maddie tastes is decay and death.

She convulses, her limbs go numb, and she falls to the loamy earth. Her head cocks to one side, her arms and legs askew. Blackness folds around her, but frogs keep coming and the man in the bolo tie looks down and smiles.


About the Author

ERIC AVEDISSIAN is an adjunct professor and speculative fiction author. His published work includes the novels Accursed SonMr. Penny-FarthingMidnight at Bat Hollow, and the role-playing game Ravaged Earth. His short stories appear in the anthologies Across the UniverseGreat Wars, and Rituals & Grimoires among others. Avedissian received a 2024 Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. His forthcoming novel, The Ocean Hugs Hard, will be released June 24, 2024 by Shadow Spark Publishing. Find him online at