Saturday, May 30, 2020

Murderland: Excerpt of the Week

This week, I'm sharing an excerpt from my horror novella, Murderland. It centers around an amusement park with a bad history and a murderous creature escaped from a freak show.

Something has escaped the Tarp Brothers' Carnival Sideshow. A bloodthirsty creature bent on killing. It's made its way to the abandoned White Sands Amusement Park, known to many as Murderland.

As the creature terrifies the local population near White Sands, a police detecive and a group of college kids will come face-to-face with the terror in the woods. When the Tarp Brothers set out to capture the beast, all three groups will collide.


You can purchase Murderland on all e-book platforms. Also available in paperback.


Murderland Copyright 2019 Anthony Izzo


One


“This is going to be amazing,” Jerry Stanton said as he stared at the towering Ferris wheel that dominated the sky above the amusement park.  White Sands Amusement Park had closed two months ago, but the place was still largely intact. A six-foot fence surrounded the property, no doubt designed to keep people like him out.
Marissa nodded. “I can’t wait to see the funhouse.”
She took out a Nikon digital camera. The photos would go up on their website. Two urban explorers about to set out on their next adventure.
They were at the rear end of the property. The waves from the  beach crashed in the distance. When this place was operational, people had flocked to the cottages and spent their days on the beach or at the park.
“Someone probably cut this fence,” Jerry said. “Can’t imagine we’re the first ones to explore the park.”
Marissa tied her hair back with a scrunchie-thing. At least that’s what he called it.  “God, you’re beautiful.”
“You’re laying it on thick. What do you want?”
“Oh, nothing,” Jerry said.
Jerry slung his backpack over his shoulder. He had some protein bars and Gatorades in there, along with his camera and a Moleskin notebook. He liked to make observations about the places they explored.
“Did you bring a weapon?” Marissa asked.
“Do I ever?”
“Dangerous place,” Marissa said. “Eight people dead in the park’s history. That one girl fell off the lookout. Or was pushed.”
“Accidents. It happens at amusement parks, unfortunately,” Jerry said. “I suppose a few of them were suspicious, though.”
“Murderland,” she said.
“Let’s find the hole in the fence.”
They made their way along the fence until Jerry eyed a spot where the fence had been cut. On the other side of the fence was a concession stand called the “Dog Hut.” It was a long building covered in cedar shakes. Surrounding it were picnic tables and benches. It somehow made him sad to see the place empty like this.
The two of them ducked through the hole in the fence. Security was spotty at the park. There may or may not be a guard patrolling the grounds. Although in mid-October it was getting chilly and a guard might not want to be bothered freezing his ass off walking out here.
Marissa stopped to snap a few pictures.
“That Ferris wheel shot is going to look good on the website,” she said. “Dramatic against the sky.”
“Big bastard, isn’t it?”
“It was from the World’s Fair, I heard,” she said.
“Where do you want to go first?”
“Funhouse. Definitely,” she said.
They made their way through the area of the park dedicated to concessions. Pizza shacks, stands advertising cotton candy, soft pretzels, and candy apples. Jerry imagined he could still smell the food. He was here once, for his twelfth birthday. He’d cut his belly on an inner tube valve stem at the water park. His mother had yelled at him for being careless. Some damn fun this place was.
They turned left, passing the shuttered game stands. The Whack-a-Mole, the ring toss, and the dart throw among them. After another turn, they came to the funhouse.
The structure was all angles and turns, painted black and deep purple on the exterior. One side had a giant skeleton painted on it.  In the corner of the wall was painted a cartoon witch with a crescent moon in the background. Typical carnival cheesiness.
A ramp led up to a boarded-up door. Over the door was painted the words Enter if You Dare.
Between the two of them, Jerry and Marissa pried the plywood from the entrance with enough room to slip inside. They took out flashlights and turned on the beams.
They moved down a corridor, Jerry noticing holes in the floor. “What are those for?”
“Air holes. They would blow air up to scare the customers,” she said.
They came to a room and entered. Jerry lost his balance and slammed into a wall before realizing the floor was tilted at a crazy angle. Marissa giggled. “They used to tilt the floor mechanically. Weren’t you ever in here?”
“I didn’t come to the funhouse,” he said.
Marissa snapped a few pics, her flash illuminating the room.
From the tilted room, they proceeded to a room of mirrors. Jerry spotted a door at the rear of the room and got curious. He gave it a push and it opened, cool air wafting into the room of mirrors. A dank, damp stink emanated from the other side of the door.
He poked the beam through and realized it was some sort of maintenance corridor. He turned the beam on a ladder which descended into an opening. “This might be interesting.”
He slipped through the door and heard Marissa say, “Wait for me.”
The corridor ran the length of the building and turned at the end. He guessed workers could reach any of the rooms in the funhouse through this hallway. But the ladder intrigued him. What was down there?
Marissa slipped through the door.
“We should check that out,” Jerry said
“I don’t know. Could be flooded or something down there.”
“I just want to have a quick look,” he said.
He threw a leg over the ladder and descended. At the bottom, he was surprised to find a long tunnel. He shined his beam into the darkness.
The tunnel had smooth concrete walls tagged by bright graffiti. It appeared to take a left turn up ahead.
“How is it down there?”
“There’s a tunnel. I wonder if these go under the entire park?” Jerry said.
“I’m coming down.”
Marissa joined him at the bottom of the ladder.  “Whoa.”
“We should see how far it goes,” she said.
“Okay. This is really cool.”
They proceeded to the turn and followed it. There was a mechanical zombie with rotting skin leaning against the wall, a castoff from the funhouse. Next to that was a golf cart. The tunnel was quite wide. Jerry guessed you could fit two golf carts side-by-side in here.
They made a few more turns.
“We probably shouldn’t go too far,” Jerry said.
“Just a little farther,” Marissa said.
They ventured a little further, past an abandoned popcorn popping cart.
“Did you hear that?” Marissa said.
“What?”
“Behind us. Something scraping in the tunnel?”
Jerry strained to listen. He did hear something. It was a scraping noise, followed by tapping. Tap. Tap. Tap.  
There was definitely someone in the tunnel behind them. Probably just kids coming down to explore, maybe making noises just to freak them out.
Tap. Tap. Scratch.
A stench wafted down the tunnel, something like ripe garbage mixed with rotting flowers.
“That stinks,” Marissa whispered.
“Homeless person maybe?” Jerry said.
“Lower your voice,” Marissa said.
“They already know were here.”
“Turn off your light, Jerry. Do it.”
She clicked off her flashlight, and a moment later, he did the same. They stood in the darkness, the sound of their breathing filling the air.
The smell grew stronger. More clicking noises.
“We should go,” Jerry said. “I don’t know what the hell that is.”
“C’mon,” Marissa said, turning her light back on.
They continued down the tunnel, heading farther from the funhouse. Now footsteps sped up behind them, someone coming out of the darkness.
The two of them broke into a run. Something hissed. It sounded angry. Or maybe hungry. What the fuck was it?
As they reached another junction, Jerry turned to see something tall coming at them. It had to hunker down to avoid hitting its head. Something with impossibly long limbs. Crooked fingers ending in claws.
Jerry tried to turn the corner. The tunnel thing was on him. Something swiped at his face, slicing open his cheek. He screamed and fell to the ground, landing on his belly.
Marissa turned and screamed.
“Go!” he said, and something like a heated knife dug into his neck and ripped him open to his tailbone.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Excerpt of the Week

Going to start posting an excerpt from one of my books each week. This week's is from Enter the Night. You can purchase it as an ebook here. It's also available in paperback at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Book blurb below:


They came to the mountain to hunt ghosts. They ended up as prey.

The Iron Mountain Asylum once housed the criminally insane. The worst of the worst. Four men escaped the asylum and were never caught. The legends grew. Some said they lived on the mountain, killing anyone who crossed their path.

The contestants on a reality show called Enter the Night are about to find out if the legends are real. Six people. Non-stop filming. A week exploring the abandoned asylum and a military base near the mountain. The contestants will find out that there are things far more frightening on the mountain than ghosts. 




Truth be told, the mountain gives Bob Grey the creeps. 
He steers the cube truck up the winding road. Hits the wipers. Snow begins to pelt the windshield. There’s a blizzard coming down from the Canadian Rockies that will hit later next week. 
“Getting icy,” he says into the Bluetooth headset.  
“Take her easy,” Gary Meyers says. Gary is in the Dodge Ram behind Bob’s truck.  
“What’s the name of this show again?” Bob says. 
“Enter the Night,” Gary says. 
“How about we call it let’s get the fuck off this mountain? I’ll star in that show,” Bob says, and Gary meets this with braying laughter. 
He steers the truck around a switchback and continues up the mountain. Takes a swig of coffee from his travel mug. It’s now lukewarm and bitter, but it’s better than nothing. “Why would anyone want to film a reality show up here?” 
Gary says, “Couldn’t be Hawaii or South Beach, could it?” 
“Honeys in bikinis and drinking on the beach. That’d be more like it.” 
They’d passed the abandoned military base at the foot of the mountain, where rusted tanks and trucks sat abandoned behind a chain link fence. Bob is glad they don’t have to drive up to the abandoned hospital near the top of the mountain. He’s grateful to be stopping midway at the lodge. 
“Lodge should be coming up,” Gary says. 
Bob spots the rustic sign in his headlights. It reads: Iron Mountain Lodge. He brakes and turns onto the road that goes to the lodge. 
The road twists and turns. He wishes for a Red Bull and maybe some caffeine pills to keep him sharp. For now, he contends with shitty gas station coffee. Dozing off at the wheel up here would be deadly. 
The lodge comes into view: it’s four stories tall. Miles of roof. Hundreds of windows. He knows it was a playground for the rich in the last century. The Rockefellers stayed here on a regular basis. Howard Hughes used to rent an entire floor for himself. Now it looks like it wants to swallow people whole. At least in the dark. It’s probably fine, maybe even nice inside. 
He parks the truck near the front of the lodge. A massive covered porch runs the entire length of the building.  
Lights appear in his side mirror; Gary pulls up behind him in the Dodge. 
He spots the maintenance garage; that’s where they are to park the cube truck. It’s loaded with supplies for the week-long shoot.  
Bob has driven truck all over the country. The current gig with Blackmore Productions isn’t bad. The pay is decent. He’s home for good chunks of time. But right now, he’s shivering and wants to be back at the Holiday Inn, where he can order a Philly cheese steak from room service and watch a pay-per-view movie. 
He gets out of the truck and the wind screams. He holds onto his Blackmore Productions trucker’s cap to keep it from blowing away. He wishes he’d brought a winter hat. 
Gary fumbles with the keys before inserting the right one in the lock. He gives it a turn and cranks the door handle. 
“Don’t just stand there. Help me lift the bastard,” Gary says. 
They hoist the garage door open and Bob spots a pickup truck with a snowplow attached. There’s also a vehicle with tracks that looks like it belongs to the ski patrol.  
The boss wants them to leave the truck in the garage and the film crew will unpack it.  
He notices an odd smell: body odor. Like someone hasn’t showered in a month. Once, he’d gotten a whiff of a homeless guy who accosted him for a handout in Nashville. It reminds Bob of that. “Smell that? It’s really rank.” 
Gary says, “Probably a dead critter got stuck in here.” 
“Smells so bad I can almost taste it. I’ll get the truck,” Bob says. 
“I’ll guide you in,” Gary says. 
As Bob walks to the truck, Snow whips into his face. The wind moans again. His warm room back at the hotel comes to mind again. 
Bob picks up his pace and reaches the truck. He hops in the cab. As he’s about to start it up, he hears a high-pitched scream. Someone in terrible pain. 
He keeps a .44 Smith & Wesson in a case under the seat when he drives. Bob’s kept it there ever since being beaten and robbed on a run through East St. Louis. He gets out the revolver and loads it. There are brown bears on the mountain and he sincerely hopes he’s not about to run into one of those. 
Bob hops out, bracing himself against the wind. The snow picks up and the garage is now barely visible. It’s going to be a bitch driving down the mountain in this. 
He reaches the open garage door. “Gary, you okay?” he calls. 
The snow lets up long enough and Bob sees a man with Gary’s body draped over his shoulder. Blood drips down and stains the snow. The man looks back. He’s wearing a gas mask, an olive-drab coat, and camo pants. 
He turns and continues walking, carrying Gary like a sack of dry concrete. 
“Hey! What the hell?” 
Bob raises the Magnum, realizing Gary is in serious trouble, but he has no shot.  
The man disappears around the garage. 
Bob chases after him. 

Things Writers Need To Stop Saying

If you're like me, these types of thoughts routinely run through your mind. I think it applies to most writers, and creative types in ge...