Monday, September 17, 2012

Sneak Peak of Forgotten

Getting back on track with writing. My oldest son was in the hospital last week with a bout of gastritis. Hats off to the nurses at Children's Hospital of Buffalo for the great care they gave him.

I'm about halfway done with Forgotten, the latest novel. I'm shooting for a late October/early November release. Once Forgotten is out, I'll write the third Dead Land book and finish up the trilogy.

In the meantime, here's a snipped from Forgotten. It's from my first draft and should be considered uncorrected copy.

Excerpt from Forgotten. Copyright 2012 Anthony Izzo


Prologue
Griggs had gotten the call from dispatch: report of a possible intruder out on Pine Top Road, please investigate. Apparently someone's dog had started going crazy and the owner had seen someone out by their shed.
He'd been Sheriff in the town of Forgotten for fifteen years and calls like this were far and few between. It was mostly peaceful. They got a lot of tourists who came to get a taste of Big Sky Country and the mountain air.
He pulled the Crown Vic up to the house, a brick ranch with white trim around the windows. It was the beginning of October, and the family had placed a trio of pumpkins and a dried cornstalk on their porch.
Griggs radioed that he was on the scene and got out of the cruiser. Once at the front door, he rang the bell and a middle-aged couple in matching white robes opened the door. The man was balding and his belly strained the belt on the robe. The woman was pretty, even with some crow's feet around her eyes.
“Officer, we're glad you're here.”
“Sheriff. We got the complaint about an intruder?”
“Yes, come in.”
Griggs stepped into the living room, where a girl of about nine slept on the couch.
“You're Mr. Hardin?” Griggs asked.
“Eric. This is my wife Theresa.”
Theresa said, “Shadow, our German Shepherd, started going nuts. I had just let him out. When I went to see what he was barking about, I saw a large man in the woods.”
“What happened after you saw him?”
“He slipped back into the woods.”
“Okay. Stay here and I'll go investigate.”
Shadow came bounding into the room, gave a hearty bark, and sat at Theresa's feet. His ears went back and he began to whine. The Shepherd attempted to bury it's head in Theresa's leg. Some watch dog. Something must have spooked him.
“Is he normally timid?” Griggs asked.
Eric said, “Usually he's fearless. Something got him scared.”
“All right. Where did you see the intruder exactly?”
“Out by the shed. Back of the property,” Eric said.
“Stay here. I'll go around and have a look,” Griggs said, taking a flashlight from his belt.
He rounded the house and started down the driveway. The rotten-sweet smell of garbage came from trash cans left by the side of the house. A girl's bike with tassles on the handlebar grips had been left on its side.
The yard contained a patio near the sliding glass door, and a table and chairs had been wrapped in a blue tarp, stored for the winter. He saw the shed, its white siding illuminated in the moonlight.
He shined his light on the shed and then the woods beyond. The breeze picked up, causing the pines to sway. Something tipped over and banged. He shined the light and saw it was a spade that had been leaning against the shed.
Moving forward, he swept the light back and forth. He kept his other hand on the Glock. The old-timers in town, the men that hung around the diner and drank endless cups of coffee, spoke of strange things happening up in the mountains. Some of them he believed. Some he didn't. No doubt these stories fed the imagination of the homeowners.
He drew closer to the shed and was beginning to think the dog had been barking at shadows.
A pile of pressure-treated lumber lay on the ground behind the shed. He checked the ground and saw no footprints. The shed had two front windows and he peered in both with the windows. After determining there was no intruder in the shed, he was ready to head back to the house.
A branch snapped, sounding like a whipcrack. It had come from the woods.
He crept to the edge of the woods. The beam only went so far before it was devoured by the shadows.
“Police. Come out,” he said, drawing his Glock. He'd only fired it on the range. Firing on a person was completely different.
Another branch snapped, this one sounding like a gunshot.
Something walked between two trees. Its head brushed a branch that had to be seven feet off the ground. His heartbeat began to pick up and he took a deep breath to steady himself. The huge man appeared to be dresed in rags. A huge rock or club hung from one hand. The head was malformed, as if someone had squished a piece of clay into a nightmare form.
“Police,” he said, but the giant paid him no attention and bounded into the woods, branches crackling as it went. The legends spun in diners just might be true.
He backed away from the woods, sweeping the Glock back and forth in case the intruder returned. It wasn't until he got within ten yards of the house that he turned his back on the woods.
He leaned against the side of the house and let out a huge breath. If he told the family what he'd seen, they'd never believe it. Something less-than-human trolling in the woods.
Once his hands had stopped shaking, he holstered the Glock. Then he went back to the front door and rang the bell.
Eric came to the door, his face hopeful. The bathrobe had come open, revealing coarse black chest hair.
“Find anything?” Eric asked.
“Just some broken branches. I think your culprit was probably a deer.”
Eric let out a huge sigh. “Thank you. We were so startled we brought our daughter to sleep downstairs. Shadow never gets upset. I'm sorry we wasted your time.”
“All part of my job,” Griggs said. “Call if there's any other trouble.”




One Week Later
Josh Elliott was aware of the men watching him. He could feel their gazes searing into the back of his neck like a branding iron. He had no beef with them. Hadn't exchanged words or dirty looks, but still he felt them staring.
Seated at the bar in the Forgotten Pub, he was working on a brunette in a low-cut mauve sweater. She had freckles on her cleavage. Hair was a little too big and out of style, but he could live with that. Liked the way she threw her head back and laughed like she didn't give a shit who heard. And she had approached him. Her name was Jamie.
She was a nice surprise. He'd only stopped in Forgotten for a few nights as part of his road trip. He'd graduated with a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Buffalo but was in no hurry to get a job. Figured he'd see the country. Center himself before settling into a desk job for the next forty years. A modern-day Kerouac.
“You want another beer?” Jamie said.
“Why not?” he said. His head spun and he felt a little disconnected from the noise in the bar. But his gaze kept going back to her chest. He had a chance with her. Right?
She ordered him another Stone IPA. There were five empties in front of him. Shit, had he downed those since meeting Jamie?
She raised her hand and the barkeep came over, set down a beer, and popped the top with an opener. Jamie continued working on a vodka and cranberry.
“So how long are you staying in Forgotten?” she asked.
“I told you until this Saturday. Going hiking tomorrow.”
“I have a place around the corner. Wanna go?”
“Yeah.”
“You keep looking at my chest.”
“That's right.”
“You like what you see?”
“That's a silly question,” Josh said.
“Come on,” she said, and held out her hand.
He took it, her skin smooth and cool on his. She led, her Guess jeans hugging all the curves. From the corner of his eye, he saw the men who'd been watching get up and follow. There were three of them, dressed in denim and sheepskin jackets.
“I think those guys are following us.”
“Don't worry about 'em,” Jamie said, leading him into the cool air.
She stepped onto the sidewalk and led him to a Range Rover parked at the sidewalk.
“Hop in.”
He got in, the interior smelling of cigarettes and heavy perfume. She got in the driver's seat and slid her hand around the back of his head. She pulled him close and kissed him hard, tounge flicking in his mouth. She tasted of vodka and cigarettes, but still his cock grew hard. The cigarette taste didn't matter. It had been a month since he'd banged his buddy's sister in a bar bathroom. He was ready to go.
He kissed her back, slipped a hand up and squeezed her breast. She moaned.
A moment later he felt something hard dig into his belly. She pushed him away and he looked down. A silver revolver. Her finger on the trigger. “What are you doing?”
“That's a nice gold watch you have, Josh,” she said, giving a smile that could charm the devil.
“You're robbing me?”
“No. This is something much worse.”
The car door was ripped open and rough hands pulled him from the car. He banged his ankle on the curb and pain shot up his leg. Josh flailed, looked around. His assailants were the men who'd been watching from the bar and he realized he'd been set up.
He got his arm free and blasted one of them in a face, a big bastard with a full blonde beard. The guy's head snapped back but it didn't really move the guy. He countered with a right hook that caused Josh's vision to dim. Knees buckling, he felt himself slinking to the ground.
As he fell to his knees he saw Jamie coming around the Range Rover. She tucked the revolver into her purse and knelt in front of him. “You didn't really think you had a chance with me, did you?”
A gruff voice said, “Get him up.”
They hauled him to his feet. Jaw aching, Josh looked around for any sign of someone who might help. The streets were bare. He could hear muted country music coming from the juke inside the pub and the low murmur of the bar crowd. But the streets were empty and there was no one to help.
They dragged him to the Range Rover. Jamie opened the passenger door and they shoved him inside. The big blond guy got in the driver's seat. Jamie and the other two men piled in back. He heard something being unzipped and then felt the cold barrel of the revolver against the back of his neck.
“Fucking move and I'll spatter you all over the front seat,” Jamie said.
They pulled away from the curb, drove down the street, and made several turns, winding through side streets. They ended up on a road flanked by pines. “Where are you taking me.”
“Why would we tell you?” Jamie said.
They had to be taking him to the woods. And that would be the last of anyone saw of him. From the back seat he heard one of them talking on a cell phone. The man's voice was low, but Josh made out something about being on route. The man ended the call almost as soon as it had began.
The Range Rover continued along the road until it began to rise into the hils. They made another quick turn and they came to a driveway marked by a sign that said Hospital.
As they pulled up the driveway he saw a monstrous brick building that looked like it could've doubled as a medieval fortress. A series of turrets and pointed spires rose against the sky. The place had to have a thousand windows that gleamed like malevolent eyes.
“Why are you taking me to the hospital?” Josh asked.
“You'll see,” Jamie said.

They stopped the Range Rover in a roundabout near the hospital's front steps. There were twin concrete gargoyles flanking the steps, each with a sneer on their stone faces. Jamie got out behind him, opened his door, and held the revolver at her side. The other men got out and surrounded Josh.
“Up the steps and not a word.”
Jamie slipped behind him, digging the revolver into his kidney. One of the men went up the steps and opened the door. The other two gripped Josh's arm, their fingers digging into his flesh.
Inside, a faded checkerboard floor done in brown and white stretched out ahead of him. A circular desk took up a large portion of the lobby. To the left and right were a series of double doors. He saw a slim but muscular cop standing at the desk and breathed a sigh of relief. All he had to do was signal the cop and this would be over.
The cop approached. The name badge on his uniform read Griggs. He bore a flat expression on his face. He placed his hands on hips and looked Josh up and down.
“Officer, I'm glad to see you.”
“Shut up,” Griggs said.
“But these people...”
Before he could get the rest of the words out, Griggs slammed a fist into Josh's belly. He doubled over, stomach nearly heaving. The men pulled him back to his feet. He saw a set of double doors open and a nurse in pale scrubs and a doctor in a white coat approached with a gurney.
“What the fuck is going on!” Josh said.
Griggs turned to the doctor and said, “You ready for him?”
The doctor drew closer, hands in the pockets of the lab coat. He looked at Josh with a counterfeit smile. Josh started to flail, but the crushing grip on his arms only intensifed. Someone kicked him behind the knee and his leg buckled. They forced him to the ground, pinned his head down. He saw the doctor's polished loafers. Saw him hunker down. His sleeve was forced up and he felt the needle prick his arm.
They held him down for a few more moments until a warm feeling overtook him and soon he felt as if he were floating in liquid. His limbs got heavy and he felt incredibly relaxed.
“Get him on the gurney,” a voice said.

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