Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Excerpt of the Week - The Island

When two couples venture to an island where monsters of legend are real, what could possibly go wrong? 

The Island is available here. 

It's the horror fan's ultimate dream. A tour of an island where legendary monsters are real. Escorted by armed guards, lifelong friends Rick and Nate travel to the island as a birthday surprise for Rick. They soon find out that the island's inhabitants are hungry, and the tour turns into a fight for survival. 

A an action-packed horror novella loaded with monsters and gore from the author of The Dead Land Trilogy.

“Wait until you see what I've got planned,” Nate said, standing on the dock in his leather jacket and khakis. He was sporting a goatee, meant to compensate for the thinning hair and double chin that had crept up since he'd hit forty. 

“I think I'm a little scared,” Rick Solomon said. 

Julie, Rick's wife, said: “So where's the mystery man taking us?” 

Eve, smoking a cigarette and watching the sunset, said: “My husband's an enigma wrapped in a riddle. I don't even know what he’s planning.” 

“What's the bag for?” Rick said, alluding to the small suitcase Nate had at his side. 
“You'll see, my friend.” 

Rick supposed there were worse ways to spend your fortieth birthday. Nate had been promising a surprise for weeks, and the day was here. All Nate would tell him was to pack enough clothes for a few days. 
It was mid-November, and Rick shivered inside his pea coat. A few more minutes and he was going to head into the shack that served as the dockmaster's office. He didn't have to go inside, because a seaplane buzzed and banked over the lake. Came in for a landing and they all backed up.  

It came up parallel to the dock and after a moment its propeller cut out. 

Julie came up beside him and took his arm. He smiled at her. They'd spent an amazing weekend up at a spa in the Poconos to celebrate his fortieth, five-star meals and massages included.  
Now it was Nate's turn to give his best friend a gift.  

A door on the side of the plane opened, some stairs folded onto the dock, and a squat man with a crooked nose stepped off. He was dressed in black and bore the look of someone familiar with the ring. Rick noticed his knuckles were huge and scarred. He eyed up Rick and the others if they were his next opponent. 

“Which one of you is Nate?” the man said. 

“That'd be me,” Nate said. 

“Got the fee?” 

“In the suitcase.” 

“Hand it over,” the man said.  

Nate handed him the suitcase and he placed it on the plane.  

“My name is Sutherland. I'm going to frisk each one of you now. No cell phones. No cameras. And no guns.” 

Eve tossed her cigarette on the dock and stamped it out. “You're not frisking me.” 

“It's policy,” Sutherland said, his gaze flat. 

“No frisk,” Eve said. 

“Lady, either I frisk you, or you don't get on the fuckin' plane,” Sutherland said. 

Nate said, “Eve, just go along. It's Rick's birthday.” 

“Fine. But watch your hands.” 

Sutherland frisked Nate, Julie, and Eve in short order, taking their cell phones. Rick handed his over before Sutherland frisked him, and the man with the crooked nose put them in his pockets. The frisking wouldn't win him any awards for being gentle. 

“You'll get them back after the trip. Anyone have to use the john? No bathroom stops.” 

“We're good,” Rick said. 

“Get in the plane. We'll be in the air about two hours.” 

As they were boarding the plane, Sutherland put a hand on Nate's chest, stopping him. 

“It's all there, right? Two hundred thousand.” 

“You can count it if you want,” Nate said. 

Their wives climbed on board and Rick took Nate aside for a moment. 

“What are you fucking nuts? Two hundred thousand dollars?” Rick asked. 

“You know I'm good for it.” 

“The restaurant business must be good,” Rick said. 

“I've sold a lot of ribs and chicken this year,” Nate said, clapping Rick on the shoulder. 

“I can’t let you spend that kind of money.” 

“It's as good as gone. And trust me, from what I hear, this is going to be worth it,” Nate said. 

Sutherland said, “If you two ladies are done discussing beauty tips, I have a fucking plane to fly, okay?” 

As they boarded the plane, Rick said: “Wonder what charm school he graduated from?” 
The ladies took the two seats in the rear of the plane. Rick and Nate sat in the two behind the pilot. 
 There were some bottles of a nice Chilean pinot noir and cheese with crackers in a cooler. Rick was presently on his second glass. Feeling nice and warm. Normally he was a beer guy, favoring stouts and IPAs, but the wine was going down good. 

“So where are we going?” he asked Nate. 

“I haven't had that much to drink,” Nate said. “Not letting the feline out of the proverbial sack.” 

“What the hell kind of trip costs two hundred grand?” Rick said. 

“If you keep asking me, I'm going to have Sutherland throw you out of the plane. Just relax and enjoy.” 

“Can you at least tell me our destination? A town? City?” Rick asked. 

“We're headed north of the border. The wild wilderness of Canada.” 

“I don't have a passport. Neither does Julie.” 

Nate took a sip of wine, waved him off. “The people I'm dealing with don't have those concerns. It's been taken care of.” 

That made him a little nervous, as did the amount of money involved in this little outing. He suspected his best friend had some shady dealings from time-to-time. He owned the aptly titled Big Nate's Barbeque, a chain of twenty-three restaurants spread across Western New York and Pennsylvania. Although he was sure his buddy did well, the four houses and six luxury cars were maybe a little too much for the owner of a chain restaurant.  Plus, the amount of money he’d just handed over to Sutherland was a little concerning. 

After they'd been in the air for about two hours, the plane banked sharply and Rick looked down on a small, densely wooded island. At one end was a large log structure, perhaps a lodge or hotel. It was surrounded by high, concrete walls. Odd. 

 Maybe this is where they'd be staying.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Excerpt of the Week - The Last Ride

Last year, I wrote a novel about a group of people living in a pandemic. A flu is sweeping the world, and some lucky lottery winners get to take an armored bus to safe haven. I got the idea for the Last Ride while reading about a bus that makes a run in Mexico. In one of the areas controlled by the cartel, people ride the bus from one town to another. The bus goes 80-90 mph the whole time. It's so dangerous that it stops for nothing. 

That got me thinking about potential story ideas. Swap out Mexico and cartels for the apocalypse, and there was a story. The Last Ride was born.

You can purchase the last ride as an e-book or in paperback. 

A killer flu has swept the world. Survival is key. In a city soon to be deserted by the military, a group of lottery winners get to take the last bus out. The armored vehicle will take them to a government shelter. The trip won't be easy. Along the way they will have to face roving gangs and warlords. 

Among the passengers on the bus is a young woman carrying the fate of the world in her hands. People will kill to get their hands on what she's carrying. The passengers will have to band together if they're going to survive the last ride to safety.

They’d kill me if they could, Tony Wells thinks. 

He moves along the street, his large hand enfolding ten-year-old Sam’s. The boy is a little too big to have his hand held, but it’s for safety reasons.  

In the past few months, three kids have been snatched off the street. Sold to slavers and sex traffickers for food. Now that money is worthless, human cargo is the new currency.  Plus, they’re marked for winning the lottery. 

He sees people peering out of broken windows. Five and six story apartment buildings line the street. A group of men warm their hands over a barrel fire out in the street. They look like they want to gut him alive.  

“Keep moving,” Tony says. 

“They hate us, don’t they?” Sam says. 

“Pretty much.” 

“Because we get to leave?” 

“That’s about right,” Tony says. 

Jake says, “They had just as much chance as us to win.” 

“People are bitter sometimes.” 

He supposes he would be, too. Those left behind in the old city are likely going to die. There are rumors that the army division guarding the city is pulling out. Their supplies are running thin, and winter is coming. That will leave a ragtag militia to protect a small city. The odds aren’t good for those left behind.  
Tony and Sam reach the end of the street, leaving behind the small apartment where they rode out the outbreak.  Tony remembers watching bodies in bags being tossed onto flatbed trucks. Flu vaccines ran out after the first six months of the epidemic.  The government was decimated. Air Force One crashed over Virginia with the president and cabinet aboard. Civil war broke out between numerous armed militias. 

Tony has a .45 semiautomatic in a holster on his hip. He traded three bags worth of groceries for the gun and two magazines in the early days of the outbreak. He hopes he doesn’t need the gun. 

They reach the end of their street. He takes a final glance at their apartment building. There’s part of him that wants to turn back, hole up, and stay safe in the confines of 7B, but he knows it’s a death sentence to stay here. They’re the lucky ones.  

The two of them pass a group of men seated on the steps of an apartment building. They have on winter coats smudged with grease and dirt. Tattered jeans. Their cheeks are hollow, as if someone has scooped out the muscle and fat underneath. He feels like a gazelle walking in front of a pack of hyenas. 
Sam is staring at them. 

“Don’t linger,” he says to Sam, nudging him along. 

The compound is up ahead. Concrete walls with sandbags stacked on top. Men walk on a parapet behind the sandbags. He can see their heads and shoulders. They all have rifles slung over their shoulders. 
Outside the gates sits a tank. It’s painted in camo. The tank has long since run out of gas, but the main gun still works, as does the .50 caliber machine gun mounted on the turret. It is enough to dissuade anyone dumb enough to risk a frontal assault on the compound. 

“I’ll bet it’s cool riding in a tank,” Sam says. 

“I’ll bet it is. Also hot, dirty, and loud.” 

“Think they’ll let me fire the gun?” Sam says. 

“Keep dreaming,” Tony says. 

As they approach the tank, a guy wearing a big fur hat pops his head from the hatch. Leans on the .50 caliber. “ID numbers for both of you.” 

Tony reads off the ID numbers everyone in town was assigned after the outbreak.  

The man in the fur hat reaches down in the tank and brings up a clipboard. From his front pocket he takes a pair of reading glasses and puts them on. He thumbs through some sheets and says: “Wells, Anthony. Wells, Samuel, ages thirty-eight and twelve. Photo matches up. Looks about right. Lucky winners. All right. Head to the gate.” 

The man raises his hand and makes a twirling motion. The gate cranks open. When it’s fully ajar, Tony sees a machine gun nest fortified with sandbags just inside. Three more men are hunkered around. A guy with brown stumps for teeth sees them and says, “Pass us. Depot is the third building on the right. Get going so we can close the fucking gate.” 

“Can I say the F word?” Sam says. 


“Not like I haven’t heard it,” Sam says. 

“Still a negative,” Tony says. 

As they head inside the gate, Tony hears a barely audible “Fuck it” escape Sam’s lips. He smiles and decides to let it go. 

Friday, June 12, 2020

The Werewolf Novel Nears Completion

Nightshade, my werewolf novel in progress, crossed the 60K word mark this week. I'm guessing it'll clock in around 70,000 words total, which means about 10-12 more days of writing. From there, it's off to the proofreader before getting it uploaded.

I recently finished reading The Magpie Coffin by Wile Young. It's a fast, brutal, read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I released a horror western earlier this year entitled Vanished. I'm considering diving back into that territory soon. I've also been enjoying some of Jeff Strand's recent work.

I have a short story I'll be posting here soon. It's entitled "A Rough Night at the Redeye Mine." If you like undead things creeping out in the night, this one's for you. I'll also be putting it up for sale on the e-book platforms.

Saw A Quiet Place II This Weekend

Jenn and I went for lunch yesterday, then saw A Quiet Place II at the Aurora Theater. The Aurora is a great little theater. One screen, and...