Sunday, September 30, 2018

An Undead Killer Returns in The Walking Man


It's Sunday excerpt time. This week, I'm posting chapters from my horror novella, The Walking Man. Available for Kindle.

Chris Peters is returning home from work one night when he glimpses someone watching him from the shadows. He's well aware of The Walking Man legend. It tells of a man who walks the roads in town looking for victims. A man who kills, disappears for years, and returns to kill again.

Soon the police uncover a series of gruesome murders. Rumors of The Walking Man begin to surface. Chris, his girlfriend, and the detectives working the case glimpse a strange, disfigured man lurking around their homes. Strange symbols are painted on their houses, marking them for death. As Chris and the others find out, there are truth to some legends, and the evil terrorizing their town is very real.


One



It was late summer when the Walking Man returned.

Chris Peters was walking along the road, parallel to the old Harwell estate, which had been sold to the state and converted to a park. It was a little after nine on a Saturday, and he’d just finished a shift at Tully’s, a little grocery/gas station out on old North road. He was in good spirits, just having gotten a raise. Mr. Tully was happy with him. He stayed late. Came in early. Did what he was told without question.

The sky was clear and he gazed up at the stars. A warm breeze blew in his face. To his right were thick woods, and beyond that, the park grounds. To his left were fields. He had another mile or so to go before he reached the outskirts of town.

He was well aware that he had to pass the house. His house. If you believed in ghost stories, the Walking Man lived there. Or at least returned every few years to haunt the town. Sixteen years ago, some kids had been killed. Others were taken and never found. People whispered that a strange man was seen at the time of the abductions. A man no one could quite describe or identify.

People said it was the Walking Man. The police had scoured fields, dragged ponds, set up roadblocks. They had brought in every known sex offender and pervert for miles and grilled them. Still they came up with no leads.

Chris passed the house, feeling like he’d been put in a freezer, the hairs dancing on the back of his neck. You could see the house through the woods, a crumbling mansion, once white. The paint had gone to gray. Big columns supporting the roof. There was a rusted, 1950s pick-up truck on blocks out on the lawn.

He hurried along, passing the house.

As he reached the edge of the property, he got the distinct sensation he was being watched. He glanced to his left. There was someone in a copse of trees. Someone tall. The wind blew and he caught the stench of something rotten.

He hurried down the road and didn’t look back.







“Great night for a run,” Stacey Mills said to Greg.

He was keeping pace with her, their footfalls slapping the asphalt path that ran through the park. They’d met at the gym, where the two of them had been on treadmills next to each other. Both of them worked in the IT field, developing software. They both loved action movies and Mexican food. They’d hit it off, and after two months, she knew she was falling for him.

“If you can keep up,” Greg said.

“It’s you that needs to keep up with me,” she said.

They came to a T junction in the path.

“Actually, quick break up here?” he said.

“I knew you couldn’t keep up,” she said, and gave him a playful swat on the arm.

They stopped at the junction, right near the woods that bordered Pruitt park. A bench with sun-bleached wood stood at the junction.

“Need to sit down?” Stacey said.

“Only old ladies sit down,” Greg said.

Something rustled in the woods. A large branch snapped. It was probably a deer. They’d seen six of them dart across the path at the start of their run. Still, her heart quickened a bit. Something unseen in the woods always gave her a little start.

Greg was stretching, one leg up on the bench.

Another rustling of grass and leaves in the woods. It was getting closer.

“Coming this way,” Greg said. “Loud.”

“A deer in the woods at night can sound like a rhino,” she said.

The noise grew louder, until Stacey thought a horned beast might actually charge out of the woods. It happened fast. A man strode out of the woods. He wore a long, duster-style coat. He stank like something rotten. He reached across the bench and pulled Greg over, slamming him to the ground.

She watched the man grab Greg’s head and twist. His neck snapped like dry kindling. Stacey gasped. The man’s head was down, still preoccupied with Greg, whose head was cocked at a sickening angle. He was gone.

The man took a long knife from under his coat. She was looking at the top of his head. Through the thin, greasy hair, she saw burned-scarred flesh.

With the knife, he began sawing Greg’s neck. She screamed.

She took off down the path, expecting the man to chase after. When she was about fifty yards away, she turned and saw the man dragging Greg’s body into the woods. In his hand, the man held Greg’s head by the hair.

Stacey reached the edge of the park, coming to the road that bordered the property. She had her iPhone strapped to her arm. When she ran alone, she took it and listened to music.

After taking the phone off her arm, she called 9-1-1.






Two







“That’s a shit-ton of blood,” Maria Greco said.

In her ten years as a detective, she’d never seen that much blood at a scene. A tech from the county crime lab was doing his thing, taking samples near the bench.

Maria’s partner, Jenna Martz, was looking into the woods, hands on hips.

Jenna turned. “Like they dumped buckets of it.”

The ground around the bench looked as if it had rained blood and saturated the earth. A trail of it led off into the woods. They’d also found a set of size twelve footprints and drag marks.

The girlfriend, who’d called the cops, was standing off to the side with some of the uniformed officers. She was wearing yoga pants and a tank top. Looked like a gym bunny to Maria.

“Should we go chat with her?” Jenna said.

Maria had hoped to be home early with Tim tonight. They had plans to binge watch Game of Thrones and catch up on the series. Tim called it the “swords and boobies” show, which was fairly accurate. “Let’s see what she had to say.”

The detectives approached her. The young woman’s eyes were red and raw. She was hugging herself to stop shaking. It wasn’t working.

“I’m Detective Greco and this is Detective Martz. Can we ask you some questions?”

“Sure.”

Maria said, “You called us. Tell us what happened.”

“Me and Greg were out for a jog.”

Martz took out a notepad. “What was Greg’s last name?”

“Schwartz.”

“He live here in town? Address?” Jenna asked.

Stacey rattled off an address. Maria knew it. Quiet side street on the other side of the village. They would send a uniform to deliver the bad news to his next of kin.

“So you’re out jogging and then?” Maria asked.

“We stopped for a break. Near the bench.”

“You typically jog at night?” Maria said.

“Is that wrong?”

“Not wrong. Just wondering,” Maria said.

“Not usually. But we got out of work late. Thought it was a nice night. We were at the bench when I heard something in the woods. It got louder, then the man came.”

Her chest hitched and she sobbed quietly for a moment.

“Take your time,” Maria said.

Stacey wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand. “He pulled Greg to the ground. He was really strong. Then he broke Greg’s neck.”

“We noticed the blood. How did that happen? I know this is hard for you,” Jenna said.

“After he broke Greg’s neck, he took out a knife and removed his head.”

The last part of her statement came out rapid fire: knifeandremovedhishead.

“I’m sorry, you said he cut off Greg’s head?” Maria said.

Stacey nodded. “Then he dragged Greg’s body into the woods.”

Hence the footprints and drag marks. “Can you describe him?”

“Long, dirty coat. His skin was kind of blue and gray, pale. He had a hoodie on under the coat. Long, stringy hair. I didn’t get a look at his face. I think he’d been burned in a fire. He came out of the woods really fast.”

Jenna said, “And you hadn’t seen him before? Wasn’t hanging around the park?”

“The first time I saw him was when he came out of the woods,” Stacey said.

“What kind of knife?” Maria said.

“Big. It had teeth.”

“Like Rambo used?” Jenna said.

“Who?” Stacey said.

“Never mind. You’re too young,” Jenna said.

They asked Stacey a few more questions and then she called for her parents to come pick her up. Maria told her they’d be following up at some point. After making some more notes and roughing up a sketch of the scene, they went off to the side, away from the commotion. One of the uniforms was keeping the first news van on the scene away from everything, a camera guy from Channel Two filming the whole thing.

“So what the hell just happened?” Jenna said.

“Well, a man was murdered, Detective,” Maria said.

“Smart-ass,” Jenna said.

“Something nasty. Who the hell shows up and cuts a guy’s head off?” Maria said.

“We haven’t had a murder here in what, fifteen, twenty years? And that was before we were on the job.”

“Yeah. The Lassiter killing. Old fucking farmer starts hearing the devil’s voice coming out of his tractor and takes an axe to his wife and three kids,” Maria said.

“There were those kids by the creek,” Jenna said.

“And the other missing kids,” Maria said.

“Presumed murdered. Good bet.”

Now a second news van was rolling through the park. It stopped short of the crime scene tape. Channel Four news. Two was already here. All they needed was Channel Seven for the trifecta.

“Don’t even start with that Walking Man bullshit,” Maria said.

“I’m not. But it couldn’t hurt to check out the house.”

“We’re not going to find the boogeyman there, Jen.”

“Our head chopper could be hiding there.”

“Fine. But no urban legend crap, huh?” Maria said.

“Best get home before it’s dark,” Jenna said. “Now he’s cutting heads off in the park. I made up that last part,” Jenna said.

The old kid’s rhyme. “You’re brilliant. I hate you sometimes. Let’s go check it out.”






Three




Maria steered the unmarked down the twisting road that led to the old house. She got a glimpse of it through the trees; it reminded her of a plantation house plopped in the middle of suburbia. It reportedly had forty-some rooms. The last owner had died in the late sixties. A suicide. Set himself on fire. Everyone knew the story. Thomas Harwell, despondent over the murder of his daughters, decided to end it. There was supposedly still a scorch mark on the dining room floor where he’d lit himself up.

“I see the Walking Man. Look!” Jenna said.

“I really hate you. I mean it,” Maria said.

She stopped the unmarked short of the estate’s gardens, which were now a tangle of brown weeds. A rusted, fifties-model Ford pickup sat on blocks, the tires gone. A path led up to through the dead gardens, and next to the path stood a wooden sign on a stake: No Trespassing.

“Guess technically we’re trespassing,” Maria said.

“It’s abandoned. Don’t even know who wound up owning it after that guy torched himself. Probable cause? We saw someone hanging around, decided to look.”

“Sounds as good as anything. Let’s get this over with.”




Maria took a flashlight from the sedan, as did Jenna. They wound through the dead gardens and approached the porch. A strong, musty smell wafted out of the house. The house’s double doors hung like loose teeth. Some boards had been slapped up over the front doorway, but those would be easy enough to pry off.

“Wonder how strong the floor is. I’d hate to crash through it,” Maria said.

“Let’s have a look,” Jenna said, and approached the door. She shined her light inside. Maria followed the beam as it swept over the fat planks. They looked sturdy enough. Inside was a sheet-covered sofa and newspapers scattered all over the floor.

“You really think someone would come here to hide?” Jenna said.

“There’s a ton of rooms. It’s dark. A drifter might take refuge here,” Maria said.

“We going in?”

“Let’s go around back, have a look there first.”

They descended the steps and followed the long driveway along the side of the house. It wound around the back and ended in a roundabout with more dead gardens in the center. The remains of a hedge maze sprawled across the rear of the property before the grass sloped off into the woods. Two massive, rotting barns stood out back, as well.

“That’s a good hiding spot, as well,” Maria said.

A chill went down her back. She supposed abandoned places did that to you, and maybe it was the reason urban explorers sought out crumbling asylums and hospitals. For the scares.

Two sets of stairs led up to a back door, where they met on a concrete porch. The rear door had plywood over it, and it didn’t look disturbed to Maria. Some of the windows had plywood over them, while others were just plain broken.

Maria climbed the steps and tried the plywood. A few loose nails held it in place, which she was able to pry out with her fingers. She pulled the plywood away. Her flashlight revealed a large pantry, the shelves bare save for some jarred goods, each with a thick coat of dust on them. There was a counter and more cabinets with dusty, glass-paned doors. She thought this might be a butler’s pantry. A winding metal staircase led upward.

She entered, testing the floor as she went. The tiled floor seemed solid enough. She heard Jenna approaching from behind.

Maria took out her Glock, and Jenna did the same.

They moved through the butler’s pantry and into a dining room with a massive chandelier and a long table. The chairs were long gone. Dust motes hung in the air, visible in the moonlight.

“Have a feeling we’re going to come up with a goose egg,” Jenna said.

“Most likely,” Maria said.

Footsteps thudded upstairs.

Maria nodded. “Staircase in the pantry.”

They hurried into the butler’s pantry, Maria taking the lead up the stairs. Her footsteps clanged on the metal. She found herself in a long hallway with a dozen doors on either side. The hallway came to a T junction at the other end.

“Police!” Maria called out. “Come out now!”

No response. It was worth a try.

They moved down the hallway, guns drawn. Maria’s heart whammed in her chest. There were too many goddamned doors.

Maria spotted someone in a flash; a glimpse of a long coat, quick as a rattler’s tongue. Passing through the T junction.

“Hey!” Martz said. “Stop!”

Footsteps sounded on the stairs and they came to the T junction and turned right, where a grand staircase led into a great room. The person fleeing them was nowhere to be seen. How could someone be so fast?

Clunking on yet more stairs. How many levels did this place have?

A door slammed and they headed in the general direction of the noise. They passed through the great room and to Maria it sounded like the noise had come from the kitchen. They found the massive kitchen, where rusted pots and pans still hung from racks. There was a massive gas stove and a wall of cabinets with glass doors. Inside were dusty dishes.

Maria spotted the door. She nodded to Martz, who stood beside the door. Maria took an angle on the door, her Glock aimed and ready. Jenna flung the door open. Her light revealed wooden steps and there was no boogeyman behind the door.

Opening doors was the worst part of being a cop. She’d known three cops who’d been cut down in doorways.

“Police! Come out! Show us your hands!” Maria said.

She was rewarded with the sound of wind whistling through a gap in the wall.

Maria debated calling for back-up, but if they waited for reinforcements, the mystery person could disappear in the labyrinth of the mansion. “After him.”

They crept down the stairs and ended up in a massive, open basement. At one end was an old coal furnace with arms that stretched like a squid’s. There was old furniture, other items draped in old sheets and even an engine block. No telling how the hell they’d gotten it down here.

“Jesus, there’s enough crap down here,” Jenna said.

“This place was in the family for over a hundred years. Not surprised,” Maria said.

A corridor led off of the basement, and once they’d swept the cavernous area, they approached the corridor. A brick archway led into the darkness.

They shined the beams into the corridor. Cobwebs framed the entrance.

“Only one place he could be,” Maria said.

They moved ahead.







“He had to have doubled back,” Maria said.

They stood before a brick wall at the corridor’s end and Maria could only conclude that they’d missed their chance.

“This is creepy. I feel claustrophobic,” Jenna said.

“Can’t believe we missed him,” Maria said.

They went back down the corridor, guns still drawn. The two of them made another sweep of the basement and found nothing. They went back upstairs and backtracked through the mansion. When they didn’t find anyone, Maria called it in and requested patrol cars to canvas the area.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Excerpt From My Dark Thriller, The Damage Factory

I'm going to try and post an excerpt each week from one of my novels. This week I decided on The Damage Factory.  Available in paperback and on e-book platforms.

What would you do if a secret criminal organization was hired to destroy your life? Three unsuspecting people tied together by a tragic event are about to find out.

"Don’t write anything down. Don’t tell anyone you talked to me. And for God’s sake, make sure no one follows you."

John Georges is out for revenge. He meets with a member of The Damage Factory and hires them to seek vengeance.Their goal is to dismantle lives. As John's victims find out, once The Damage Factory is in motion, there is no turning back.

Three unsuspecting people fight to survive The Damage Factory.

The Damage Factory. Business is good.


The Damage Factory
Copyright 2017 Anthony Izzo

Chapter One




Don’t write anything down. Don’t tell anyone you talked to me. And for God’s sake, make sure no one follows you.

That’s what the rough-sounding voice on the phone had told him.

John George pulled up to the hulking warehouse, wondering if he should turn back, the man’s words echoing in his mind. He didn’t. Instead, he got out of the car and immediately smelled the dead fish odor coming off the lake.

He went to the passenger’s side, opened the door, and took out a bulky manila envelope.

As he approached a steel door, he noticed a security camera mounted overhead. There was a doorbell mounted on the wall. He pressed it and heard a loud bell echo from somewhere in the warehouse. It reminded him of the old fire alarm in his elementary school.

He waited, used to being patient. Used to being alone these days. In the evening he would heat himself up a frozen entrée, the French bread pizzas being his favorite. His expanding belly was proof of his love of frozen foods.

There was no need for large meals or extensive grocery lists.

Occasionally, he would eat Italian at Marcos, sticking with Chicken Parm and a glass of house red. It always felt to John that the waitresses were taking pity on him, calling him sweetie. He must’ve seemed like a sad case.

After dinner, he would return home and sift through photos on the computer, looking at their trips to Bar Harbor and the Outer Banks. More often than not, the night ended with him in tears.

The door swung open and a guy in a flannel, work boots, and paint-spattered jeans answered. He was half a head shorter than John but his neck was like a tree trunk. “You John?”

“That’s me.”

“Follow me,” the guy said.

John followed the man to small room at the rear of the warehouse. Inside was a table surrounded by wooden folding chairs.

“Take a seat,” the man said.

John pulled out a chair and sat down. The guy took a seat on the other side.

“Are you sure about this?” the man said.

“Did I talk you on the phone?”

“Don’t worry who you talked to. Once we start things in motion, there’s no going back.”

“I’m sure.”

“Where’s the money?”

John slid the envelope across the table. As the man reached for it, his shirt hiked up and John saw a chrome .45 in a holster.

“You can call me Rex,” the guy said, and dumped the bundles of cash on the table. John had emptied out his 401K for the cash.

Rex did a quick count of the money. “All here. Good boy.”

“I’m not a dog,” John said.

“We’ll go over this again. Like on the phone. No cops. No news. We’ll contact you with updates. You turn on us? We turn on you. Here’s what happened to the last guy that tried it.”

He took two photos from his breast pocket and slid them across the table. John took a look, saw a headshot of a man lying on some sort of table. Most of the skin was removed from his face.

“That was done while he was alive,” Rex said.

“I won’t cross you. I want these people to suffer,” John said.

“They will. Believe me. It’s what we do.”

“How will I know when it starts?”

“We’ll contact you.”

John said, “I’ll need proof.”

“Let us worry about that. Someone will be in touch, like I said. However, if you have an emergency. If someone’s on to you, take this,” Rex said, and pulled a crème-colored business card from his pocket. He slid it across the table.

The Damage Factory was printed on it in small, black letters. Below that was a phone number, most likely a burner phone.

John put it in his wallet as if it were a sensitive explosive.

“Don’t fucking lose it. We’ll be in touch. And don’t worry, you came to the right place.”



Chapter Two




Mark Staley had gotten the call last night from Rankin: Come in early, we need to talk. The principal wouldn’t say what it was about, only that it was urgent. In fifteen years of teaching high school English, Mark had never been asked to come in early and meet with the boss.

He arrived at Westlake High and parked in the faculty lot. At the side door he swiped his ID badge and entered. He had his lunch in one hand (tuna fish on white and an apple), and a satchel slung over his shoulder.

Mark passed Ed Feeny, one of the custodians, who was busy mopping the floor in front of one of the lockers. Mark gave him a nod.

It was a decent job, if repetitive. Teaching Romeo and Juliet to freshman every year got a little dull. Still, the pay was nice, he was tenured, and he was guaranteed a pension.

As he approached his room, Rankin was standing outside the door dressed in one of his many argyle sweater vests. His tie was done in a fat knot. He wore cords and shiny, square-toed shoes. Haircut looked fresh. Rankin looked young enough to almost blend in with the students.

“What’s going on Steve?” Mark said.

“Come in. I want to get this over with,” Rankin said.

Rankin opened the door. Seated in the front row was one of his students, a girl named Haley Ann Presby. A man and a woman occupied the desks to the left and right of her. The woman wore a white blouse and a blue skirt that highlighted her shapely legs. The man wore a dark gray suit. Had an athletic build. His hair was just beginning to gray.

He assumed these were her parents. Mark had tutored Haley Ann and had spoken with Mom and Dad on the phone.

Three chairs were set up facing the desks. A moment later, John Zurich, the school psychologist, came waltzing in. Mark liked him about as much as he did spoiled milk. He was a fussy little guy that favored bow ties. For some reason, that always rankled Mark.

“John will be joining us,” Rankin said.

“What’s this about?” Mark said.

“Have a seat Mark,” Rankin said.

Mark took the center chair, thinking this was an ambush. Rankin and Zurich sat on either side of him.

“How are you Haley Ann?” Mark said.

“Don’t you talk to her,” the man in the suit said.

He noticed the girl’s eyes were puffy and raw.

Rankin said, “Mark, meet Todd and Mary Presby.”

“We’ve spoken on the phone,” Mark said.

The couple had seemed friendly and engaging on the phone when they’d discussed tutoring Haley Ann. Now they looked at him as if he were a rat in the pantry. “Is something wrong?”

Zurich said, “Haley Ann, please share what you told me and Mr. Rankin on Friday.”

The girl teared up. She blotted her eyes with a balled up tissue. “Mr. Staley was tutoring me last week. He was leaning over to look at my essay. He put his hand on my leg under the table. Then he slid his hand up higher. Near, you know. Then he asked me to go somewhere private.”

“That never happened,” Mark said.

Mary Presby said, “Are you calling her a liar?”

“I’m saying that never happened. I did tutor her, but I would never do something like that. I’d never harm a student. Haley Ann, why are you saying this?”

“He wanted me to text him pictures of myself, too,” Haley Ann said.

“Steve, we’ve worked together for fifteen years, you know me,” Mark said.

Todd Presby said, “You protest a little too much.”

“Because this is a lie,” Mark said.

Rankin held up his hand. “Haley Ann, was this the first time this happened?”

“This school better have a good goddamned lawyer,” Todd said.

“The week before he’d rubbed my back, like with the palm of his hand?” Haley Ann said. “I guess that’s when it started.”

“Haley Ann,” Mark said. “Why are you doing this? You know that never happened.”

The girl wouldn’t make eye contact with him.

Zurich said, “Haley Ann shared this with me and Mr. Rankin on Friday. Naturally I contacted Mr. and Mrs. Presby.”

“I can’t believe this,” Mark said.

“We trusted you to help her,” Mary Presby said.

“I did. She went up a full letter grade,” Mark said. “And nothing happened. I wouldn’t do that. Plus, we were in the public library. Did anyone witness this supposed touching?”

Todd Presby sat up straighter in his chair. “Are you going to tell him or not?”

“Right,” Rankin said. “Mark, the Presbys have agreed not to pursue charges on one condition.”

“Which is?” Mark said.

“You give me your resignation. And I’m going to say I think that’s best for everyone,” Rankin said.

“What about my rights? I want to talk to my union rep.”

“Your rights?” Todd Presby said. “Listen, you piece of crap-“

“Todd, don’t,” Mary said.

Zurich stood up, put a hand on Todd’s shoulder. “Why don’t we let Mr. Rankin finish up with Mr. Staley.”

Zurich escorted the family out of the room.

When they were gone, Mark said, “Steve, really? I’m serious. I want to talk to the union rep. This is a fucking railroad job.”

Rankin strolled over to Mark’s desk. There was a manila envelope sitting there. “After I found out about Haley Ann, I had our IT guys go through your emails.”

He handed the folder to Mark. The day was shit. He didn’t think it could get worse.

It did.







Mark opened the folder. Inside were what appeared to be printouts of his emails. They were from a sender labeled “hot.xxxyoung.com.” The first picture was a girl of about eighteen. She was lying on a bed, naked, legs spread. A man that looked twice her age loomed over her, hairy and naked.

Mark flipped through the pictures. Each was more vile than the last, images of teenage girls in every imaginable pose and situation.

Mark’s stomach churned. There were some sick bastards in the world. He set the folder down. “Not mine.”

“They were sent to you Mark. Why the hell would you have them sent to your work email?”

“I don’t know what kind of bullshit set up this is, but these are not mine and I didn’t lay a hand on that girl.”

“The proof is right here. You have issues. Do you see why I need you gone?”

Mark balled up his fists. “You’re really pissing me off.”

“Don’t make it worse by doing something stupid. Resign. I’ll keep it quiet. Walk away. And for God’s sake, get some help.”

“If I don’t resign? If I fight this?”

“Mark, you’ve had a rough year after the accident. I get it. But you need professional help. If you don’t resign? I’ll have to report this. The school board. The media. The Presbys will pursue legal action. No one wants that.”

“Okay. So say someone did send me these. Spam gets sent all the time. Dick enlargement pills, stuff like that.”

“We checked your browsing history. It’s full of stuff like this. I can’t allow you to be around kids, Mark. Go home. Write that letter. I’ll tell people you went home sick,” Rankin said.

Mark scooped up his bag. If he spent another moment in the room, he might bust the principal’s lip open. “This isn’t over.”

“Please leave. I don’t want to have the school resource officer escort you out.”





Chapter Three




“Why isn’t Dad home yet?”

Erin Matthews watched her daughter balance a bowl of popcorn on her lap. In one hand she held a glass of fruit punch. Erin had visions of it splashing all over the sofa.

“Watch your drink, kiddo,” Erin said.

Paige said, “’Kay. What about dad?”

They’d been planning to watch a horror movie together, something lightweight with a lot of jump scares. Erin thought it was called The Becoming. It wasn’t exactly Saw or Hostel, and seemed appropriate for a thirteen-year-old.

“We won’t start without Dad?” Paige said.

“Absolutely not.”

Jason wasn’t usually late. He was stopping on the way home to pick up a pizza, a few groceries, and a bottle of Cab for the two of them to share after Paige was in bed. He’d called a half-an-hour ago to say he’d be home soon.

She had a little nervous flutter in her belly, the same feeling she used to get before going on patrol or when she’d been heading to the scene of a nasty accident. Her days as a soldier, then later as an EMT, were never dull. “I’m going to call him.”

“I’m glad,” Paige said.

She took her cell from her pocket and dialed Jason. It went straight to voicemail. Hey, it’s Jason. At the beep, tell me your story.

She loved him dearly but there was more cheese in that voice mail greeting than all of Wisconsin. “Hey, just wondering how it’s going. We’ll wait to start the movie ‘till you’re here. Love ya.”

She hung up, pocketed the phone, and sat next to Paige. Grabbed a handful of popcorn and popped some in her mouth.

“Well?” Paige said.

“I left him a message. Probably left his phone in the car again.”

“That sounds like Dad,” Paige said, popcorn bowl in her lap. She was in a hoodie and flannel PJ bottoms, cozied up for movie night on a cold November evening.

Erin hoped all was well. They’d lived under media scrutiny for the past year. Seemed there’d always been a news van parked on the street or strange cars slowing down as they neared the house. She’d had the phone number changed twice after a constant stream of phone calls from reporters.

Worst of all, she’d kept her Glock loaded and in the nightstand drawer, something she’d never do normally. It usually resided in a safe.

She took out her cell and tried him one more time.

No answer.

Don’t panic. He’ll be here.




Mark had emailed Rankin his resignation. He was sitting in the living room of his two-bedroom apartment, laptop on the coffee table. He had a bottle of Lagunitas IPA next to the computer. Mark reflected that he might kill of quite a few of those tonight.

He finished his beer. The air in the apartment felt hot, close. Getting outside might actually do him good.

He called up Sam. His older sister always made him feel better. She’d have to be a miracle worker in this case to raise his spirits.

“Hey little brother,” Sam said.

“You want to go get a beer? I can’t stand to me in my apartment right now.”

“Where?” Sam said.

“The Brew House.”

“Meet you there in ten. Sounds good.”

He shut down the laptop, set the empty beer bottle in the sink, and grabbed his jacket.

As he walked out to his car, he spotted a man over by the dumpster. He was leaning against the hood of a blue Toyota. He had a bristly flattop and a thick Fu-Manchu mustache. Wore aviator shades, which was odd for nighttime.

The guy definitely didn’t live in the complex. “What the fuck?” Mark muttered.

The guy watched Mark get in his car. He decided to write it off as some guy waiting for a friend.



Saturday, September 15, 2018

Back into Writing

I got back into writing this week after a few week hiatus. We have some family issues going on with a sick relative, and the writing fell by the wayside. 

The Last Ride is getting close to done. I'm writing the last ten percent of it and then have to do an edit. This will include typing in part of the book from my writing notebooks.

My youngest son had to be at work at 6:30 a.m., so I was up a little earlier than usual to give him a ride. Got in a workout in the basement, through in some laundry, and wrote. The house is quiet, and this is the best time to get stuff done.

I also did some sketching this week. Trying to get some artwork up for sale eventually. All in good time, I suppose. 


Monday, August 27, 2018

Binge Watching and Some Writing

Late to the party on this one, but we're watching Bates Motel. It's some good, twisted fun.

Did some work on The Last Ride.

Worked up a Joker sketch that I'll be finishing up tonight. Just need to ink in a background. I've been posting some artwork to my Instagram account under Izzoartworks.

I cooked for my wife's birthday tonight. Did some pan-seared filets, crab cakes, and twice-baked potatoes. Plus got her a bottle of her favorite wine for later.

All in all a pretty good day.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Today's Update

I'm closing in on finishing up The Last Ride. If I keep working steadily on it, it'll be up for sale in September.

Had a wonderful dinner with my wife last night at the Roycroft Inn in East Aurora. Great food and we sat outside for dinner. All in all a perfect date for her birthday.

I'm reading Chuck Wendig's The Raptor and the Wren. I love the Miriam Black series and I'm a Wendig fan in general.

Also have a short story in the works that I might include on Patreon. I have my page all set to go, just haven't launched it yet.


Saturday, August 04, 2018

The Morning's Writing

Got three pages done on The Last Ride. I'll probably sit down again later and get in another writing session. We have a graduation party to attend later on for a friend's son. It's the third grad party this summer, and it marks the passage of time. I remember coaching these kids in soccer when they were younger. I suppose it reminds me that things move fast and I need to get going on my goals.

My youngest will be graduating high school in a few years. I hope to have created more books and more art by then. Maybe enough some day to eek out a living at this.

I have a few things in the works. I'm going to give Patreon a shot, posting exclusive content there. I'm also in the process of registering with the NYS Tax Department so I can sell art online. Going to give it a shot. I might not sell a damned thing, but it's worth a try,

I'm hoping to have The Last Ride for sale by the end of September. Also working on a horror short story that I might put up on Patreon.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Vacation and Progress on the Next Book

We got back last Friday from a family trip to Cleveland. The highlight for me was The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The coolest things for me were seeing Muddy Waters' '58 Telecaster and the outfit John Paul Jones wore in The Song Remains the Same. They also had his bass he played in the late 70's (pretty sure he played this one during the '79 Knebworth shows).

We ate at The House of Blues one night. They make an amazing pulled pork sandwich. I recommend it. My wife and sons enjoyed the ribs and beef brisket tacos, as well.

I've piled up 170 or so pages on The Last Ride. Shooting for a September release on this one. I'm also working on a horror short story that I might release in a newsletter.

Just getting started on a military horror novella, as well. Might shop this one around in the small press, or might indie publish it. Not sure yet.

An Undead Killer Returns in The Walking Man

It's Sunday excerpt time. This week, I'm posting chapters from my horror novella, The Walking Man. Available for Kindle . Chri...