Posts Tagged ‘#novel’

20180418_234214.jpg

I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone that downloaded my novel, Whispers of the Wakinyan earlier this month. I am always satisfied at the thought that my stories are finding their ways to readers and are (hopefully) being enjoyed.

Like any author, I try to write stories that are different, compelling, and entertaining, while interlacing some creepy and bizarre tidbits of things that I’ve actually experienced to keep them authentic.

For those of you that know me personally, you know that many of the things that occur in Whispers of the Wakinyan  are things that were re-imagined from my own life. I’m not saying that I was tormented by a Native- American spirit monster by any means, but in reality, some the things that I remember from some of my early childhood years isn’t explained much easier.

I waited to post this for a couple weeks for a reason and many of you may have already guessed why that is.

If you have read and enjoyed Whispers of the Wakinyan, please leave me a review on Amazon.

The Amazon search algorithm is pretty sophisticated, but one thing that is sure to bring my work up in more searches is more interaction from readers and positive reviews!

getting amazon reviews

Your interest and readership means the world to me and I honestly hope that you enjoyed the story as much as I did when I was writing it. My new novel, The Artist and the Carpenter will be dropping soon and I am hoping to have some good momentum in order to launch it at a higher level in the Amazon search algorithms.

Also keep in mind that Joey Gordon is returning soon and his summer vacation this year is going to put him and his family face to face with something darker, stronger, and more resilient than even the Wakinyan!

THANK YOU AGAIN AND TAKE CARE– Jim

Here is the link for anyone who has yet to leave a review for Whispers of the Wakinyan :

20180416_205326.jpg

 

As I found myself typing some of the final chapters of my latest novel, I noticed something that I never had before. I was experiencing a unique type of what Steven Pressfield would classify as “resistance”.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that there is a writer out there who hasn’t experienced “resistance” in one way, shape, or form; the most common forms being procrastination, self-sabotage, and the dreaded (somewhat generic and all-encompassing) writer’s block. We all have been guilty of checking emails, or browsing social media when we could actually be throwing down some words on the page and occasionally, we may find ourselves wanting to write only to find that our creative wells are in need of filling.

The type of resistance that I found myself contending with was simply NOT WANTING TO FINISH THE BOOK! Now, I had heard of some writers having a bit of post-project depression when they are trying to decide what their next project is going to be, but this was something new for me altogether.

If, anything I have more projects than I do time, so when one is completed and I still have words to type to meet my daily goals (currently 1500-2000 words a day depending on work and family commitments) it’s on to the next story I go.

I think the best way to describe the feeling that I was having while nearing the end of the project was like coming to the end of a binge-worthy Netflix series, I wanted to finish it, but just didn’t want it to be over. The only reason that I could think of this project being any different from any of my past ones is that save for maybe one, (my novelette, Not Only the Dead) it is the most personal.

It was because of these feelings of personal attachment that toward the end of the novel, I found myself consulting my mental checklist almost as much as I was writing. This feeling was one that I was more familiar with, because regardless of the level of attachment I feel to a project I try to check all of the open story arcs in the earlier sections of the book/story/screenplay and make sure that they are either effectively resolved or that every bit of them are removed from the manuscript so as not to leave any loose ends.

Some people use whiteboards or computer programs for stuff like this, but I prefer to keep them all jumbled and quasi-organized in my head, so that I have an excuse to act brain-dead for the last two weeks of any project.

Is there a better way?

Sure, but I still manage to get the job done.

So with all that being said…

I have a confession, faithful readers   —

I still have one chapter and a prologue to write before I can wrap up The Artist and the Carpenter.

20180416_210328.jpg

See how this particularly annoying form of resistance works? I ended up writing a blog instead of wrapping the project! Either way I hope that you enjoyed my little “creative detour”.

 

Until next time, faithful readers!

Hello faithful readers,

I have an exciting announcement for those of you that have been enjoying the free chapters of my novel, Whispers of the Wakinyan, this week.

For this weekend only I am going to be running a FREE E-BOOK PROMOTION on amazon!

Image result for shadow people

Instead of offering another chapter for free here on the site, I thought it might be better to share a little bit about what went into the book.

Most people have had experiences in their life that they can not quite explain. Some may have seen a light in the night sky that shot into the black void of space just as quickly as it appeared. Others, a feeling of unease in a certain location or even a primal aversion to rooms or places that just felt “wrong.”

Another sub-group has seen something more, whether these experiences are “real” or imagined is of no consequence, because in the experiencer’s mind there is no doubt. Those that have seen ghosts, aliens, angels, or even demons remain changed as they go through life, knowing that at any moment their perception of normalcy and the physical world can be turned on its head.

For the rest of the world that lives in quite skepticism about the presence of these things, I have one question:

Have you ever seen something from the corner of your eye that appears for only an instant?

Bolting and disappearing like a shadow into the unseen?

 

Whispers of the Wakinyan is about those shadows, the unseen, and the dark hand prints they leave on the souls of those that look to close.

 

Here is a link to the book, PROMOTION STARTS TOMORROW!

 

Hey faithful readers,

Here is chapter 2 of Whispers of the Wakinyan, offered at the low-low price of free for your reading enjoyment. Stay tuned for a couple more chapters leading up to an epic amazon promotion on the full book.

 

Image result for giant bird shadow

2

            The car ride back to California was awkward and mostly silent. Hank or Theresa would occasionally try to say something funny or start some light-hearted banter, but the solemnity in the car always made the efforts fall flat. This, in addition to the unsure glances the two shared every few minutes confirmed to Joey that his parents had no idea what to say to them about the unspeakable tragedy that they had all witnessed. The truth was, Hank and Theresa Gordon could barely keep the images from their own minds.

“Maybe we can throw a little party when we get home. You two can invite all of your friends, get a jump house, maybe even a clown,” Theresa smiled so wide that the kids could see all of her teeth when she turned to them in the back seat.

Joey didn’t like this smile, not one bit. He was sure it was because her mouth was smiling, but her eyes were still sad. There were no tears, sure, but the sadness was there all the same. A type of hollowness that he was beginning recognize in his sister’s eyes too. He looked over at Addie who wore a similar smile while making her favorite doll jump at the mention of a jump house. The doll’s oversized head and sassy hair bounced as Addie made little swoosh sounds every time she made her jump.

“A clown?” Joey asked, “Do kids even like clowns anymore? They’re creepy.”

Theresa took a deep breath and nodded her head. Her ponytail bounced almost like the jumping doll’s hair, “okay no clowns. You can’t tell me you don’t like jump houses though,” Theresa turned again to the back seat. The newly formed tears in her eyes made them look like they were made of fine glass, again making Joey think of one of his sister’s dolls.

“A jump house sounds great,” Joey said. He realized now that he was smiling too, “Can I invite Les and Frank?” He was really looking forward to seeing his friends, but he knew the smile he was wearing was not for them. It was for his mom. He wondered if she could notice that his eyes weren’t smiling like he could on her.

“You know, Joey, there is still enough summer left that you three could make a tree house in the back yard,” Hank chimed in, “maybe we can make a lumber run when we get back.”

Joey did brighten at this, “I’ll have to talk design with the guys first.”

Hank laughed and put a hand on Theresa’s thigh. When she turned back to look at them this time, Joey was happy to see that her smile was actually real.

“Well Addie, I guess that means we are going to have to think of something fun for us girls to do,” Theresa reached a hand back behind her seat and tickled Addie’s leg.

Addie laughed like she had never been tickled before. Joey hoped inside that this is what it was going to be like from now on; laughing, building forts, and making good memories to erase the bad ones.

Joey thought that everything seemed normal enough when the family arrived home. They even pulled through their favorite local drive-thru a few blocks away from the house to celebrate their homecoming. This trip had a little bit more car time than they all were used to, so the thought of getting home and unwrapping pre-made food that had almost certainly spent most of the day under a heat lamp was bittersweet. Joey had always thought that his parents made this stop as some kind of homecoming ritual, but looking at his mother’s face he decided it was more likely that she just did not want to think about cooking for at least another day or two. This thought would be confirmed if they had cold cereal for breakfast the next day.

Addie’s face seemed to brighten as she looked at familiar treetops and street signs from her perch atop her booster seat. Joey wondered how much longer his poor little sister would have to be strapped into the tattered monstrosity, he remembered how uncomfortable it was from when it was his years ago, and even then it had a plastic pokey thing on the back. He remembered how the plastic would occasionally prick him through his clothes and how his parents just thought he was trying to talk his way out of having to sit in it. With the new California car seat laws, poor Addie might have to be in the damned thing until her freshman year of high school.

“There’s my school,” Addie exclaimed as a steep pitched red roof trailed outside the windows of the mini-van.

“That wasn’t your school, Addie that was a Weinerschnitzel,” Joey said with a smirk, “they make wieners there.”

“No, Joey that was my school. I know it!”

Theresa turned her head around so fast that her pony-tail almost cracked like a whip. Joey knew what was coming even before his mother had opened her mouth. She was going to try to keep the grin off of her face as she scolded him. This made Joey hold back a grin of his own. He loved the Weinerschnitzel joke; it never got old.

“Joey! Stop teasing your sister.” She ordered, softened, and then turned to Addie, “and you’re right Addie that was your school. Joey is just jealous because he didn’t have the head start you do with Little Academy, huh Joey?” Theresa said this in such a way that answering was not an option.

“Yeah, Addie. I wish I could have gone to Little Academy,” Joey said.

Addie smiled a Cheshire grin and nodded. Her mind moving right back to getting home and planning their little party. She gathered her doll with the bouncy hair and a handful of other toys and games. Joey thought he should probably do the same, because when they pulled into the driveway he knew he wouldn’t want to spend another second inside of the van. Apparently neither did any of the rest of the family, because as soon as Hank set the parking break and pulled the key from the ignition, all four members of the Gordon family were out of their seats and on their way into the house.

Joey looked up at the house that they had all shared for as long as he could remember and experienced such a feeling of relief. The two story white stucco house with red tile sat in brilliant contrast against a cloudless blue sky. The Santa Ana winds were in full force causing the tall eucalyptus tree next to the house to bow and sway. People visiting from elsewhere may ask how Riverside, California’s dusty, allergy inducing gales could even be tolerable. The truth was you get used to them; that’s what Hank and Theresa Gordon had done years ago and Joey and Addie had never known any different.

“We can get the luggage later, let’s get inside, take a load off, and eat,” Hank said as he crossed the yard and opened the front door.

As the family crossed the threshold, all of them had nearly forgotten the terror that had happened in the Arizona desert. Getting home, sitting down, and eating their favorite takeout certainly had a way of pulling them away from the horror, at least for the moment. A dark spark of recollection still glowed in all of their hearts. It probably always would, but for now at least they could accept the reprieve and enjoy the light-heartedness, as short-lived as it may be.

The almost supernatural force of travel fatigue overcame them all as they consumed their greasy burgers and over-salted fries. Joey and Addie sucked happily at their thick, hand-spun milk shakes, which both children knew to be an added bit of comfort provided by their parents because of what had happened. Joey thought that he would be okay with that, at least for a little while. Inside, he and Addie thought that it helped, if only just a bit.

Hank yawned deeply, covering the half chewed food in his mouth with the back of his hand to rescue the rest of the Gordons from a real ‘see food special’.

“I want you two to get your stuff out of the van right after you finish your food,” Hank said shaking his last french fry at them from across the elevated pub style table, “after that I think we could all use some rest. Tomorrow we’ll go pick up Benjamin and then get that jumper we talked about ordered for this weekend. Is that going to be enough notice for your buddies, Joe?”

“Joey, Dad.”

Hank nodded and patted his son on the shoulder, “sure, pal.”

“Should be enough time. Would it be okay if they stayed the night?” Joey asked before a final gurgling slurp from his milkshake.

Theresa gave Hank a shrug and a subtle nod, “If it’s okay with their parents it’s fine with us,” Hank said.

“Awesome!” Joey jumped down from his pub chair and started for the door. He grabbed the van keys off the counter as he passed, “I’ll get your bags too, Addie, but you will have to take them to your room.”

“Thanks, Joey,” Addie replied through a chocolaty smile.

Theresa, Hank, and Addie all looked at Joey as he exited the kitchen and headed to the front door. He had changed somehow. Theresa thought that maybe some of her little boy’s innocence had been lost in the Grand Canyon, Hank thought that his boy was turning into a fine man, and Addie was just glad to have him as a big brother.

Joey closed the front door behind him abruptly. He was so used to his cat, Benjamin Diez, trying to make a break for it every time the door was left open. Even a crack and Ben Diez would be off. Joey couldn’t recall how many afternoons he had spent trying to wrangle the cat back into the house, he would always joke that he should have named him after Gary the snail from SpongeBob instead of the dynamic morphing superhero of his old favorite show, Ben 10.  Maybe then he would have a better chance at catching him.

The lush grass of the front yard left little drops of dew on Joey’s Converse as he ran out to the driveway. He knew that as soon as they had settled down and before the party this weekend that he would be out here mowing the yard at his father’s request. He didn’t mind though, if his dad mowed the yard the house would be filled with the echoes of cataclysmic sneezes for at least a couple of days. Joey had gotten many of his genetic traits from his father, but he was thankful that a resistance to seasonal allergies had apparently come from his mother’s side.

The van chirped when Joey hit one of the three buttons on the rounded black key fob. As Joey approached the vehicle, a large shadow loomed from overhead. At first Joey had written the anomaly off as some stray cloud being tossed and carried by the wind, but then he saw the shape of the thing. It was a bird with a giant wing span; the sprawling and terrible shadow engulfed the van as it circled overhead. Joey’s mind was eerily clear for an instant and then terrible images of circling scavengers and the canals of spilled blood in the dry cracks of Arizona earth clawed their way in.

He saw the image of the mounted hunter and his blood spear, but this time he saw another image: a gargantuan bird with talons like samurai swords coming down from the sky and piercing his little body. He could almost hear the thunderous whoosh of air beating against his semi-conscious mind as the bird carried him higher and higher into the air only to let him go. Then came the fall. A seemingly infinite and continuous freefall, he looked down on his neighborhood like one of those maps in school. Faster and faster he fell until his house loomed large below him, as ominous as a semi-truck on a collision course. Then the house passed over his right shoulder and he was still falling, he forced himself to look at the point where he was going to splat like a bug on the windshield. He expected to see concrete or dirt or grass, but it was worse than that. It was an image of his own body leaning against the van. He closed his eyes a split second before he collided with his displaced doppelganger and hoped that this would not be the last image he would see in this world.

Joey gasped as he opened his eyes. He was leaning against the van just as he had seen in the terrible vision. He was covered in sweat and even worse, he was pretty sure that he had pissed his pants. Without missing a beat, Joey opened the sliding side door of the van and got in. He opened his right hand and saw that he was still gripping the keys, in fact he was gripping them so damn tight that they had pressed little white creases into his palm. Joey looked at them for a second, slammed the door shut, and then pushed the button that activated the alarm. He saw the shadow pass over the van again and felt his heart stall in his chest; he was pretty sure if the bird thing wanted him that a set alarm would do little to dissuade it, but still, he tried to cling on to the illusion of safety.

“What is happening to me?” He pondered.

Joey steeled himself, looked out the window, and then up to the sky. It was a bird that was circling above, but not nearly of the scale that he had imagined. Joey squinted against the last moments of afternoon sunlight and zeroed in on an ordinary hawk. He was fairly certain it was a red tail if memory of his fourth grade field trip to the nature preserve served him, either way it was not some hulking air beast that could fling him into oblivion. The adrenaline rush was abating and Joey remembered the wetness in his jeans.

“It might have been a regular hawk, but you still peed your pants like a baby,” Joey said to himself with frustration.

He reached over the back seat, opened his bag, and pulled out another pair of pants.

 

 

 

For those of you that loved “Not only the Dead“, a new tale of emotional terror is coming to you very soon care of your friendly neighborhood ‘serial thriller’.

As a writer, I enjoy delving into the realms of the human condition that people can relate to. In my lighter works, such as the first installment of my coming of age  ‘things taken’ series, Whispers of the Wakinyan, our heroes are pitted against monsters.

In Not only the Dead and its upcoming predecessor, The Artist and the Carpenter, our protagonists would beg to fight a monster or be given any opportunity to gain closure, because their battles originate from places unseen.

The dark.

The unimaginable.

The deeply personal.

Enjoy this “flash teaser”.

                                  Not a chapter, not a paragraph, but only a glimpse…

My mind apparently brushes over something unsettling, because about half way into the drive, the hair on my arms begins to stand on end and coldness begins to spread from somewhere deep inside my gut. Like many emotions that I hadn’t understood at the time:

I push the feelings away.

                    Knowing that one day,

                                        I will have to face them all,

                                                    Like a collection of unwanted children,

                                                                   Who as broken adults,

                                                                               Demand to know

                                                                                            Why they were not embraced.

 

COMING IN DECEMBER 2017

Greetings faithful readers,

I am re-posting this as a refresher and will be following up with chapter two later this week. I hope that you all enjoy! I will be providing you all with at least 3 finished projects this year (two of which have kept me pretty busy lately!) and can’t wait to share them with you all.

Joey Gordon #2 is in the works and MAY be project #4 for 2018!

1

Joey Gordon would always remember the Grand Canyon. It was the first time he saw his parents act like they were truly in love; Henry Gordon, the tight-collared businessman instantly became Hank, the care-free athlete that his mother had fallen in love with. Likewise, Joey’s mother Theresa, whom he had just come to know by her pet name of Tessy, seemed different. Lighter. The weight of her suburban life and domestic obligations seemingly sucked into the open air of the vast Arizona desert.  Joey’s nose crinkled at the fruity pungent odor of his donkey, Paco, as he watched the serpentine twists of the Colorado River unwind beneath him. He glanced back at his sister, Addie, as she tried to re-lock her hands around her mount’s neck. She looked at Joey with sand streaked tears, seemingly etched into her young white cheeks.

“Joey! Joey, can you hear it?” Addie squealed.

The hard looking Mexican guiding Addie’s mule grimaced and pulled her mount back onto the narrow path. A pair of small chrome bells around the mule’s neck chimed as the man tugged at the animal’s tether. A couple of unnervingly large rocks dislodged themselves and tumbled down into the canyon. As if on the same wavelength, Joey and Addie broke eye contact and watched the rocks bounce and tumble down the steep side of the path and into the canyon.

“Did you hear it?” Addie asked again once the rocks had fallen completely out of sight.

“Hear what? All I heard was you crying,” Joey grimaced and patted his donkey’s side, “and maybe Paco farting.”

Addie smiled at this, but it didn’t last long. She craned her head as something seemed to whisper to her from the vastness of the canyon. She turned sharply away; her eyes darting rapidly down toward the river.

“There it is again! You have to hear it,” Addie pleaded.

Joey shook his head.

Heyoka! Heyoka,” She yelled.

The Mexican’s eyes widened. His head whipped to Addie, to make sure he had heard what he thought he had. His eyes fell on her tiny form just as her mule brayed and reeled back on its hind legs.

“Ay! Tranquilo! No te preocupes! Tranquilo!” The guide yelled. The large man wrapped his thick, brown fingers around the thin strap of leather tethered to the mule’s neck. He dug his feet into the soft dirt and pulled at the bucking animal with all of his might.

“Joey! Help,” Addie cried.

“Everything okay back there?” Hank yelled from a short distance up the trail.

The mule continued to buck and bray with such force that the Mexican lost his footing and began to slide into the canyon. Dust and rock began to pour over the edge of the trail like a tiny brown avalanche as the stout man clawed at the earth.

“Addie’s in trouble!”  Joey screamed. Up the trail, he could see his father trying to lower himself from his donkey against the protests of his own guide.

“It is not safe señor! There is no footing,” The vaquero pleaded.

“Daddy!” Addie’s eyes went wide as her guide’s weight pulled one of her mule’s front legs off the trail. The small girl unleashed an otherworldly scream as the bells on the animal’s collar jingled and jangled.

Joey looked up the trail again, desperate to see if his father had succeeded in dismounting his donkey. He had indeed, but now Hank had two strong hands on the shoulders of the animal trying to find the space for him to go under or around the thing. Joey could tell by his father’s face that the possibility of Hank moving around the animal was non-existent, “I can’t make it Joey. You have to get Addie!”

Joey looked at his sister as the rear leg of her mule went over the edge. Her screams seemed to drown out as the situation became eerily clear. His sister was going to die if he could not get to her.

“Hold on Addie!” Joey exclaimed.

Joey dismounted over the rear of his donkey as Hank tried desperately to find a way around his own lumbering animal. Joey took three wide strides and found himself staring into the eyes of the terrified mule as it teetered at a 45-degree angle over the edge of the canyon. The dangling Mexican reached for Joey’s ankle as he passed. Unconsciously, Joey kicked the man’s hand away with his foot and kept moving. He grabbed his sister’s slender leg just as the guide and the mule tottered over the edge completely and into the canyon.

Addie slipped from atop her mount, her left shoe caught in one of the leather stirrups and was ripped free from her foot. Joey looked on in amazement as it fell into the canyon with the animal and its guide. The falling man screamed and the animal brayed deafeningly, but to Joey and his sister, it seemed as if it had only lasted an instant. As the two children looked at the man and the mule fall into the depths of the canyon all sound seemed to disappear save for the ringing of the bells around the animal’s neck.

As the two neared the ground and the inevitable impact, Hank was upon them. He scooped Joey and Addie into his arms. His hold was strong and his heart was racing. Hank breathed heavily with his children held close as the echoes of screams and ringing bells were silenced with a thud.

***

The remainder of the descent into the canyon was long and mostly silent. After the three trail animals failed to catch up to Theresa, she had begun to grow uneasy. When her daughter’s screams echoed from around the canyon walls she had to be contained by her guide, a thin and wrinkled man named Fernando, for her own safety. Now that the family had regrouped, they had decided to make the remainder of the hike on foot.    “Are you kids alright?” Theresa asked not knowing what else to say.

Joey turned from his mother’s soft gaze. Addie clawed her tiny fingers into her father’s back and nodded quietly. Hank had been carrying her since the incident and the toll of the added weight was evident by his gradually slouching posture.

“Almost there,” Fernando yelled from up ahead.

Joey tried his best not to look in the direction of the accident, but couldn’t help noticing the growing cluster of birds over the area, their circles growing smaller and smaller as they closed in on the fresh offering to the desert earth. He wondered how all the birds in the area could be aware of the bodies already; he thought of shark week on the Discovery Channel and concluded that birds must have similar senses. A drop of blood in the water a mile away and the smell of death carried by dry desert wind seemed equally plausible to him.

The path began to grow wider and less steep as it opened into the riverbed at the bottom of the canyon. Hank put a hand on his wife’s shoulder and whispered something to her that the kids couldn’t hear. Theresa gave Hank a solemn look and guided Addie away as soon as the ground leveled.

Joey looked up at his father and was sad to notice that the lightheartedness and confidence of Hank had disappeared. The eyes that stared into his now belonged to the dry and familiar persona of Henry, the accountant. Joey thought that the ‘Hank’ persona would probably be more of a comfort now, but knew that his father’s cold and calculating personality had returned just in time. A man had died today and aside from his grandmother, who had died when he was younger than Addie, the man had been the first person he had ever met that died. At least that he had known of.

“You saved her, Joe,” Hank said between heavy breaths, “you could have been hurt son, killed even. Did you even think about that?”

Joey stared at his father pensively, then shook his head, “no. I mean, Addie would have fallen with them for sure. I didn’t even think of what might happen to me.”

Hank smiled down at Joey, “not very many people could have done what you did, Joe,” he placed a hand on his son’s back and got down on one knee to pull him into a bear hug.

Joey could feel fresh tears on his cheek as his father held him tight. He wasn’t sure if they were from his eyes, which had been burning since the accident, or his father’s, which he had noticed were squinted abnormally tight against the high desert sun. He could see his mother and sister over his father’s shoulder. They seemed to be having a similar talk, but Addie was crying softly into the dusty strap of their mother’s backpack. The long blond hair on her tiny child’s shoulders made the reality of her near-death experience tug at him. Now he was sure that at least some of the tears were his. He pulled away from his father and wiped his leaking eyes with the back of his hand.

“Would you do something for me, Dad?” Joey asked.

“Sure son. What is it?”

“Call me Joey. I don’t think I’m ready for Joe yet.”

“You got it,” Hank smiled, messed Joey’s hair, and guided him with a strong hand back toward the group.

The vaqueros looked at the white family they had led into the canyon with expressions of subdued terror. The guide for Joey’s mount had been a mostly silent man, seemingly solid of mind. The death of one of his partners had begun to sink in and the guide began to mumble almost incoherently, “Ay, Fernando. Heyoka. The little one said she heard Heyoka!”

Fernando looked at his young, strong browed companion. Wrinkles of concern clawed out of the corners of his eyes like deep creases in aged leather, “What are you saying?”

Heyoka. The trickster,” The guide was cut short by Fernando’s darting eyes. The white woman, Theresa, and the little girl were approaching.

Un memento, sera,” Fernando said with a bright and friendly twinkle in his eye. The twinkle disappeared just as quickly as he hunkered down to talk to his companion, “even if she did hear it, the trickster would be their problem. Not ours.”

“Excuse me,” Theresa said mousily as she approached the two men, “what are we going to do now?”

The men looked at her and then at Addie. Her tiny, tear-streaked face wore an expression that was entirely out of place. It shown with a wisdom and knowledge that few ever experienced. The young guide knew when he looked upon Addie that the bells she had heard had been more than the rusty set pulled taught around the pack animal’s neck. Based on Fernando’s grim scowl, he knew too.

A bird squealed from above. Not the normal high pitched exclamation, but a low rhythmic tap like the muffled laughter of a small hyena. Theresa looked up and shielded her eyes against the harsh desert sun. Flares of lights came in and out of view as one of the large scavenging birds cast a thousand shadows on the earth around them. Theresa stared at the animal, which sat suspended in the unseen fingers of the wind. Addie reached out and grabbed Fernando’s hanging and leathery hand. The man looked down at the small girl. She was no longer crying. She was somber now, almost supernaturally so. Joey’s little sister whispered the one word that could make the hard man unravel.

Heyoka.”

 

***

          Hank smiled down at Joey as they took step after step on the cracked earth of the Colorado River bank. The pair wordlessly navigated around the sparse green shrubs that shot out of the dry fissures like rigid serpents. The echo of odd, birdlike laughter resonated around them and offset the otherwise serene desert silence.

A commotion rose up from where the others were huddled and then the mock peacefulness that can only be observed in the wake of tragedy was shattered. And when Theresa started to scream, Hank knew that any sliver of peace and inner well-being that had survived within his psyche was about to be just as dead as the man on the bottom of the canyon.

“Put her down!” Theresa screeched, “Hank, he has Addie!”

Hank blinked his eyes in disbelief when he saw Fernando, the senior guide, scoop his daughter up in his sweaty arms and sprint into the desert. It happened so swiftly that Theresa could only scream and claw reflexively at the space that the two had occupied just seconds before. Hank realized that shock had found its way into him as well. For an instant, all that he could do was look upon the pair with disbelief. Primal instincts took hold of him and before he could notice the pulse of adrenaline in his chest, he was in pursuit.

Joey stared on with dumbfounded eyes. His father was running like he had never seen him before, dust exploded from the dry topsoil with each stride. The vaquero moved to block Hank gibbering in Spanish so quickly that no one could possibly understand what he was saying. The vaquero reached out with his thin, but muscular arms and latched onto the now seething Hank Gordon.

“Get the hell off of me!” Hank screamed.

“Señor, it is the only way!” the Vaquero replied, “Fernando knows how to help her.”

This last comment seemed to hit Hank like a slap in the face, “help Addie?” Rage twisted his stoic accountant-like features as Theresa approached the two from behind, “no one is going to be able to help you if you don’t let go of me!”

The vaquero was surprised at Hank’s transformation and the look on Theresa’s face when her husband threw the slender man to the ground would suggest that she was too. Hank ran after Fernando and Addie, who ran in a chaotic zig-zag pattern through the desert, cutting through shrubs and cacti.

Joey’s heart sank when he saw where the man was taking his little sister. The shadows of the carrion birds danced across his young face as the sun began to disappear over the top edge of the canyon. Joey couldn’t feel his legs, but before he knew it, he was pumping them as fast as he could.

He thought of how Addie had squeezed his neck after he had saved her, along with the sweet smell of her sweat and tears as they watched the man and the animal flail to the bottom of the canyon. When he thought of her scream he remembered the first time that he was allowed to hold her as an infant. Sometimes, when she was upset he was the only person that could calm her, sometimes with a goofy face and sometimes with just the love she felt from him. It was this same love that made him run even faster.

Theresa was just beginning to come out of her stupor and stumble after Hank and Fernando as Joey shot by her like a dust fueled rocket, “Joey!”

“We have to get Addie!” Joey huffed, “I know where he’s taking her.”          Fernando slowed when he approached the body of his dead friend. He put Addie down, but she did not run. Her tiny eyes were transfixed on the twisted biomass on the ground before her. She instinctively reached a hand up to Fernando and the old man took it.

Fernando approached with trepidation. Addie followed him without hesitation, although all reasonable parts of her being were gripped in pure terror. Fernando gasped when he saw the earth beneath the bodies. His wrinkled fingers synched around the puffy flesh of Addie’s hand, “Oh Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds, and whose breath gives life to all the world. Hear me.”

Hank, Joey, and Theresa approached the bizarre scene rapidly and grew more and more uncertain as they came closer to Fernando and Addie. Hank felt his fists unclench and could feel the burn of the little crescent wounds that his fingernails had made in the soft flesh of his palms. He wondered how the rage that had overtaken him could abate so quickly. Was it because he had expected to find the man assaulting his daughter? Did he expect Addie to be crying or screaming? He didn’t know for sure, but what he did know was that he did not expect to find his daughter staring at this unnatural tableau of death and holding the hand of a wrinkled old stranger.

“Addie, come here, honey!” Hank commanded.

She let go of Fernando’s hand and the aged mass of gnarled bones and leathery skin thudded dully on the man’s faded denim pants. Hank’s daughter approached him with a cold blank expression and wordlessly clawed her way into his embrace. She wrapped her thin arms around his neck and sat her head on his heaving chest like she had so many times before to be tucked into bed or after having fallen asleep in the back of the family van during a long trip. This time was different somehow, he pulled Addie close to him and planted tiny kisses on her forehead. The air was quiet enough to allow Hank’s accountant mind to begin to rationalize the scene until Theresa began to scream.

***

The family stood stone-faced and transfixed on the broken bodies of the man and the pack mule. Fear, among other emotions, clawed at their unconscious while a more avert feeling of loss pulled at the Gordon family and the remaining tour guides. Theresa opened her mouth to talk, but nothing came out. Addie pushed and buried her head into her father’s chest so hard that Hank would later notice that the area was sore to the touch. Joey could not turn away from the terrible scene that had unfolded upon the cracked earth of the river’s shoulder even though he tried with all of his mental faculties. He knew he should turn away, or at least close his young eyes, but he couldn’t and neither could anyone else except for Addie.

It was not the death itself that unsettled them, but the gory gestalt that had spread across the dry earth. The guide’s head seemed to have popped, his right arm projected straight above his supine body. And the blood. Oh God, the blood. Joey looked at the crimson streamlets and noticed that they had formed a pattern: the guide had ended up mounted on the mule. Blood trimmed horns protruded from the crown of the man’s head. From the corpse’s broken right arm came a long spray of arterial blood, seemingly from the point where the hand meets the wrist.

Joey’s eyes focused on how the blood seemed to explode from the loosely balled fist. It looked like a spear. The man and the mule looked like some terrible demon riding toward an ancient battlefield.

Theresa covered her son’s eyes when she realized that he was taking in the same horrible scene that had rendered her speechless. Of course, the protective gesture came too late, the image had already etched itself into Joey’s mind. He would dream of demons for the rest of his life; the one he had seen depicted by death on the reddish brown Arizona soil, and the twisted horror that would follow his family back to California.

If you have not picked up a copy yet, check it out my kindle and print editions at:

Greetings,

As we all prepare for Halloween, media seems to focus on tales of the dark and the macabre. Hollywood puts out its best nail biters and inevitably one of the bigger names in horror fiction releases a new book or maybe an anthology.

To remain consistant with the Halloween spirit I am posting “What if he Comes Back,” a 2000 word piece of (semi) flash fiction for your enjoyment.

If you do enjoy it, please share and repost to your heart’s content.

If you REALLY enjoy it, please check out my other books on amazon.

Image result for black eyed children

What if He Comes Back?

by Jim T. Gammill

Susan could not walk to the end of her upstairs hallway. She tried to brave the walk at least once a day, but every time her feet would grow heavy, the weight of emotions and regret holding her in place like an anchor made of steel and rusted in tears. The room had belonged to her son, Michael. She called him her son now because the boy’s father, David, had left three months after Michael had gone missing.

“I can’t stand to be here. To be reminded,” David had told her, “maybe we should move.”

“What if he comes back?” Susan had replied.

Susan still remembered the conversation like it was yesterday. It was in the kitchen and she was making coffee, David was getting ready for the day; programmed and mindless like lemmings or hollow robots. She remembered the look on David’s face when she had said the words, a twisted expression that conveyed disgust, disbelief, and pity.

Susan had made the decision in that moment. She would not be silently reprimanded for having hope.

“You can’t be serious,” David said.

“I am,” Susan replied, “and if you don’t think he will, maybe you should leave.”

David did leave. He didn’t even take his things, just the clothes on his back, his cell phone, and the spare car, a ‘94 Honda. The couple hadn’t spoken since, their only correspondence through legal documents and certified mail. Some for separation and some for divorce.

The house was empty now. Save for memories and ghosts. The son that left, but never died and the man that died inside and then left. Susan wondered sometimes if Michael had died and if they had found a body if it would have made a difference. The finality it would have given them. The closure. It had been nearly two years now and the wounds on Susan’s heart weren’t necessarily fresh, but open and festering.

Susan awoke one morning and was nearly convinced that she could hear Michael and David talking downstairs. She closed her eyes and wished that it could be true. That her family could be home. Be real. She knew today wouldn’t be any different, she would hear the voices until the first landing on the stairs and then the voices would muffle, quiet, and then disappear altogether.

Day after day Susan would wander through the emptiness, work at the virtual office on her computer, and make the occasional phone call. She had taken a job as a transaction coordinator for a local real estate firm. She liked the job for the obvious reason, it allowed her to work from home, but also it made her feel good to help people get into their new homes. She would think often of how many of the transactions she processed were for newly-weds, young lovebirds, or expectant parents. She thought of how many women had been carried over the thresholds by their husbands and how many kids got to ride their bicycles into quiet suburban cul-de-sacs, simultaneously enjoying the safety of the less trafficked streets and proclaiming their presence to all the other kids in the neighborhood.

Michael used to love to ride his bike. He was getting pretty good at it too. A group of some older kids had made a wooden ramp and Susan would watch Michael from the window as he would make pass after pass down the sidewalk. She always wondered if he was trying to build up the courage to talk to the other kids or if he was just waiting for an invitation. After about a week he had gotten one and he did it. He made the jump flawlessly and one of the older boys had cheered, ran up, and gave him a high-five. Susan could see the smile on her son’s face from the window that day and to this day she could see it again anytime she closed her eyes.

After Michael went missing, the neighborhood seemed to have withered and died the same way her marriage had. For the first couple of days after his disappearance the neighborhood kids would still play in sporadic bursts, but after a week or two, the neighborhood was a ghost town when it came to anyone under 20. No bicycles. No playing. No high fives.

Susan found that the best way to adapt to her new solitude was routine. After the end of her virtual work day at 6pm, she would make herself a frozen dinner. She had loved to cook, but that joy had left her long ago, shortly preceded by her son and then her husband. She would eat her dinner with something mundane playing on the television. Sometimes a game show, a matchmaking show, and occasionally just the news. She would look at the television as she ate and become more and more disconnected. Trying not to remember what it had been like when they had all eaten together at the table.

One Tuesday night she finished her dinner and instead of moving to the next phase of her routine, which entailed reading a book in bed until she fell asleep, she decided to continue watching television. The Bachelor was on and Susan found herself enthralled by the drama. The desperate people whose worlds seemed to spin in turmoil based on the whim or affection of a stranger.

She watched in fascination at first, but soon found herself lost in thought. Was this what pain was supposed to look like? Desperate and disconnected. Happening to someone else? An avatar of a person on a soundstage? Her eyes had grown heavy and just as the desperate female suitors were called in for judgment, consciousness left her.

“You have been chosen,” Susan heard the television drone from somewhere simultaneously inside of her head and far far away.

She slept comfortably on the couch until a noise woke her.

Knocking.

Susan searched the cushions of the couch and found the remote. She turned off the television and groggily wondered how she had been able to sleep in the first place with the thing turned up so loud.

Knocking.

Susan gasped despite herself and looked nervously around the darkness of her living room. She tried to make sense of what the noise could be. Where it could be coming from.

Knocking.

She turned her head toward the front door and could almost see the vibration of the last knock as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. She stood up and could feel her knees shaking as she rounded the corner of the sofa and approached the door. She stood for a moment, her toes teetering on the threshold like a diver ready to leap for a high dive.

Knocking.

Susan jumped. A scream fought to escape, but instead sat immobile and heavy in her chest.

She looked through the peephole and saw a small shadow.

A woman?

A small man?

No.

A child.

“Who is it?” Susan forced herself to ask.

Through the peephole, she could see the visitor perk up at the sound of her voice. The child moved its head closer to the door.

“May I come in?” The visitor said.

Susan started to unlock the door but thought better of it. She looked across her living room and saw that the digital clock on the cable box read 3:33.

“Where are your parents?”

The visitor cringed at the question, “gone. Just invite me in.”

Susan squinted through the peephole, desperate to see more of her late night visitor. She wanted to help, but something about the child at the door didn’t feel right. A sense of dread grew inside of her. Something dark. Something primal.

She watched the thing and noticed that is displayed no signs of desperation. No anticipation of her opening the door. Her eye still pressed to the peephole, she reached over to the light switch and flicked the porch light on.

The visitor recoiled. For an instant, it looked straight at Susan through the tiny peephole. She gasped when she saw the things face. It was a child, but its skin was pale and where its eyes should have been there were two large and glassy black orbs. Before Susan could react, the thing hissed like a vampire from an old movie and dove onto the sidewalk. She watched in disbelief as the child-thing scurried into the darkness on all fours, its knee and elbow joints jutting away from its body unnatural angles.

Susan gasped for air and when she felt a cold wetness on her cheek, she realized that she was crying. She felt as if something terrible had just happened to her. Some type of trespass. She tried to control her body, or at least to stop shaking. She walked up the stairs almost mechanically, moving not under the control of her mind, but of pure reflex or memory. She reached the top of the stairs and was shocked when she turned toward the room at the end of the hall that she would not enter. She approached the door to Michael’s room and opened it.

The space was just as he had left it months ago, maybe even a year now. She had felt so hollow since he had gone missing and found little import in the idea of time. She walked to his bed and laid down on it.

“What am I doing?” She pondered aloud, “am I losing my mind?”

She pulled the pillow to her nose and wept when she smelled the familiar scent of her son. Unconsciously, she curled into a ball and squeezed the pillow tight into her chest. The sorrow and the helplessness were too much. The remnants of her sanity leaked from her as freely as the tears on the cartoon pillowcase. Between her sobs, she heard something.

Knocking.

Susan got up and began to walk back to the front door, uncertain what she would do if the face of the child-thing was there to greet her through the peephole. As she neared the threshold of Michael’s room, she heard something else.

Knocking.

Not from the door, but from the bedroom window.

She paused and felt a rage growing inside. The thing could trespass against her house, but not here. Not Michael’s room; it was all she had left of him. She stomped across her son’s room and threw open the curtains.

Michael stared back at her through large black eyes. Everything about him looked the same save for the eyes.

“Michael!” Susan screamed.

“Invite me in, Mom,” Michael asked in the low sweet voice that she had come to miss so much.

The feeling of wrongness was back again, but she pushed through it. She reached for the window’s thumb-lock and slid the window open. She stepped back a few steps into the center of the room to allow her son room to drop down from the ledge.

He did and when his feet hit the ground, he rushed her. She could feel his arms embrace her as she wept tears of joy and fear.

“Come in!” Michael yelled.

From over her son’s shoulder, she could see others pouring through the open window, one with long hair, one with a hooded sweatshirt, and then the original visitor from the front door. She could feel the embrace growing stronger as each of the children approached her and Michael and wrapped their arms around them as well. She fell to her knees and then even further.

The embrace had gone quickly from comforting to crushing.

She struggled a little but then gave into it.

Susan found that she could not draw in another breath. She could feel the darkness closing in on her mind and managed to squirm enough to take one last deep breath. It wasn’t for air, but to breath in the scent of her missing son. Her Michael.

She looked into the black eyes of the thing that had been her son and smiled.

“I knew you would come back.”