It’s a dark and stormy night, a night when anything might happen to a beautiful woman, one alone in a secluded house overlooking the sea.

Knowing that the storm was coming, I closed the book shop early. These late spring storms can be unpredictable, the storm surge often washing across the coastal road that led to my cliffside house. Arriving home, I changed into a swimsuit, intending to relax in my deck’s hot tub. But as the rain started to come down, I changed plans and lit the fireplace in the study, poured a glass of wine, and opened the book I’d been planning to read, a classic noir serial killer novel from the late 1950s, ‘A Sword in the Dark.’ A faceless unstoppable killer stalks young women in the book, brutally butchering them with an ancient, demonically cursed razor-sharp sword.

It was hours and several glasses of wine later that I finished the book. Pausing to add wood to the fire, I poured another glass of wine and stood by the study’s window, watching the storm swept waves crashing on the rocks below as my thoughts drifted back to the book I’d just finished reading.

The entire story revolves around a cold, ruthless killer who stalks beautiful women, brutally killing them with an ancient accursed sword that devours their souls as they die impaled upon its demonic blade. In exchange for his victim’s souls, the demons of the sword give him almost superhuman powers, powers that, down through the ages, have corrupted all who possessed it.

I felt a chill of terror race down my spine as I imagined being one of his victims. That sickening explosion of pain as he runs me through with that cold razor-sharp blade then slowly begins to brutally twist it back and forth within my guts as I die in unimaginable agony simply so that he can steal my soul.

Shuttering at the thought of dying like that, I took another sip of wine and contemplated the writer’s skill. While the book is merely a work of horrifying fiction, it seemed so natural. Almost as if the killer was standing right behind me, waiting for me to turn before running me through with his sword.

Still, a book is just a book, and a pinup is still a pinup, even if she’s destined to die horrifically at the end of the book’s final chapter...