Mage Maze Demon by Charles Allen Gramlich is published by “BEAT to a PULP”. It is a short story that delivers the uber-fast adventure pulp fiction readers expect. For the unfamiliar, "the pulps" were inexpensive magazines published ~1920’s that gave birth to Weird Fiction, Sword & Sorcery, Lost World stories; a time when fantasy, sci-fi, and horror were blended together. This one is Sword & Sorcery fare. As in Harvest of War, Gramlich writes concise poetic fiction. The title is a good summary of what Bryle the barbarian has conflict with. Although a short story adhering to pulp roots, I would have enjoyed the story even more if it were about twice it length. I was ready for more, and I suspect Gramlich has more ready for us.
Here is the opening to convey Gramlich’s style:
“The most vicious of all predators hunts in the forest. The barbarian flees. His name is Bryle. He dodges standing trees, leaps fallen logs, bulls past thorns and briars. A trio of gray wolves runs as well. They swiftly pull ahead. Bryle picks up the pace, though dares not run himself to exhaustion—as the wolves are doing. The wolves will tire; the thing that hunts them all will not.
…. It is fire that hunts. The forest roils with flames. Tendrils of crimson and orange whirl between the trees like the churning legs of a giant. Sap explodes into a shrapnel of embers, lashing Bryle now to the greatest effort he can muster. Sweat slimes him. His chest heaves. He passes a wolf from earlier. It staggers, bloody froth at its muzzle. Its heart must be near rupturing. Nothing can be done.”
Charles Allen Gramlich is the author of the Talera fantasy trilogy, the thriller Cold in the Light, and the SF novel Under the Ember Star. His stories have been collected primarily in three anthologies, Bitter Steel, (fantasy), Midnight in Rosary (Vampires/Werewolves), and In the Language of Scorpions (Horror). He is also the author of Write With Fire, a book about writing and publishing. His works are available in print and ebook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Wildside Press. Additionally, some of Charles's stories are available in novella length packets or as standalone ebooks from Amazon. These include Killing Trail (Westerns), Harmland (Noir/Horror), MicroWeird (Flash Fiction), and Harvest of War (Fantasy).