Extreme Haunt

The following is the unedited text for the opening chapter from my next release, Extreme Haunt. I’m working on the book as part of NaNoWriMo.

1

Everyone was dead.

Derek knew something was wrong as he approached the house. The decadence had nearly reached fever-pitch by the time he left. Music louder than a construction site, liquor flowed freely and drugs were openly abused. Seemingly every costumed party-goer was having a good time. By all rights, things should have exploded into an orgy of latex masks, grease paint and naked flesh. But less than a thirty minutes later, the place was ominously quiet.

Stepping on the porch, Derek felt creeping dread take hold of him. He tried to think of a rational explanation for why the Halloween party ended so abruptly. But no matter how hard he tried, he simply couldn’t do it. Every thought was interrupted by the dozen or so cars in the drive-way. The house was full house, so why was it so damned quiet?

Everyone was fucking?

The thought of Melanie fucking some stranger drove Derek from the party. He loathed to admit it now, but the prospect turned him on at first. But when he was faced with the reality behind the fantasy, Derek bailed. His pride simply couldn’t handle it. As disturbing as he found the idea of Melanie being penetrated in every orifice, it was infinitely more comforting than the darker alternative. But yet, he couldn’t fully embrace it. His knowledge of the Devil’s House simply wouldn’t let him.

Since Allison invited them to her party, Derek heard all kinds of crazy explanations for why the location was known as the Devil’s House. According to local legend, the place’s history was steeped in blood. Tales of murder, suicide and Satanic ritual circled the house since it had been build. As he stared at the ominous black front door, Derek couldn’t believe he was actually buying into the bullshit.

Not that the truth behind the house’s black past ever really mattered to Allison. Local legend was enough to fuel her desire to own the place. Always drawn to the dark and morbid, she simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to live in an infamous murder house. The fact she could move in just before October made the purchase all the sweeter. She wanted her annual Halloween bash to go down in infamy. She pulled out all the stops to make sure that happened. Her work paid off. Part lavish costume bash, part sleazy sex party, the night was definitely one no one would ever forget.

Opening the door, Derek felt his heart sink and a cold streak spill down his spine. No sounds of carnal lust or hushed midnight promises. No drunken revelry or drug fueled ecstasy. Derek found only the unrelenting silence of an abandoned house.

As Derek stood in the darkened foyer, his every instinct told him something was very fucking wrong. He should have immediately ran away. He should have let the darkness of the night wash away any thoughts of the Devil’s House. But yet, he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He found himself irrevocably drawn toward the somber candle light glow in the distance.

When he left, the grand room had been the throbbing decadent heart of the party. Drunken and debauched revelers danced, kissed and slowly strip-teased their way out of their costumes. In turns erotic and ridiculous, it lived up to everything Allison promised. But as he stepped inside, he didn’t see sweaty tangles of naked flesh or graphic sex acts. Derek only saw was red.

Blood painted the walls and spattered the ceiling. Thick coagulating pools punctuated the long languid streaks that ran across the floor. Derek’s eyes slowly drifted toward the center of the room where he saw the bodies. Indifferently dumped in the center of the room, the two women were naked and bled white. Viciously cleaved with an ax, their bodies gaped with dark crimson gashes.

Revolted by the sheer brutality on display, Derek recoiled.

Stomach lurching, he doubled over and tried to fight back the bile racing up his throat. Suddenly aware of the nauseous stench of death in the air, he failed miserably. The contents of his stomach hit the floor with a violent wet splat. His knees buckling, he grabbed the wall for support.

His stomach still churning, he closed his eyes. Taking big gasping breaths, he let the stillness of the house wash over him. Everyone was dead. An icy chill spilled through his guts, soothing the chaos but leaving a dead cold terror that was much worse. Everyone didn’t just mean the anonymous faces and casual acquaintance Allison populated the party with.

Everyone meant Melanie as well.

He slowly turned to face the gruesome tableau. Derek thought the bodies had been simply dumped on the floor; but as he surveyed the remains, he realized he had been horribly mistaken. Their faces planted between each others’ splayed legs, the women had been carefully positioned. The longer he examined the corpses, the more the grotesque sexual component of the scene became apparent. Severed arms had been violently pushed forearm deep into each of the blond’s orifices. Her sex hacked opened, the black haired woman’s entrails were yanked through the mutilation and spread across the floor. The blond’s face was buried inside the raw crimson gash. As horrifying as the living room was, Derek found a strange sense of comfort within the layers of gore when he didn’t recognize either girl. Melanie was still somewhere in the house.

Drifting back into the foyer, Derek cast an uneasy look at the stairs. The darkness waiting for him at the top was deep and seemingly impenetrable. He took a deep breath and started up the stairs.

Midway up, Derek saw a body on the landing. Chopped in half, the man’s blood-slicked torso sat upright in the corner. Stringy viscera splattered the hardwood, leading toward the lower half of the body. Up close, Derek discovered the butchery wasn’t limited to the bisection. Like the women, the man’s body had been savaged with an ax. A series of deep ugly gashes reduced his chest to a wet pulpy mess of blood and bone. His lower jaw dangled loosely, still connected the rest of his head by only a flap of skin. His penis had been severed, and stuffed into his gullet.

The discovery was just a preamble to the gallery of horrors waiting Derek when he reached the top of the stairs. It was a veritable slaughter house. Butchered bodies and severed limbs indifferently lined the hall. Entrails were strewn about the floor like party streamers. Blood painted the hardwood, making it sheen like obsidian in the darkness. The rank stench of death was so overwhelming, Derek retched so hard it felt like his body was trying to eject his entire digestive system.

Before he could recover, Derek realized he wasn’t alone. Claws scrapping the hardwood, low animalistic growls tremored in the distance. His pulse jumped as he turned to face the ominously dark room at the end of the hall. Although he wanted to escape the hellish slaughter surrounding him, he couldn’t. He had yet to find Melanie.

His whole body shaking, Derek navigated the carnage to continue his search. While the corpses downstairs had been carefully staged, here they had been discarded like so much refuse. The remains he couldn’t outright dismiss, Derek had to roll over or pull their heads back to get a good look at their faces. None of the bodies belonged to Melanie.

Tears welling up in his eyes, Derek staggered. The animal sounds had given way to the wet ripping and greedy snapping of several large beasts feeding.

Something was eating her.

Unable to truly comprehend what was happening Derek finally broke. Tears spilling freely down his cheeks, a series of great wracking sobs ripped through him. Derek felt like he was about to be torn apart by the sheer weight of his grief when he heard the footsteps.

The massive footfalls pulled Derek’s eyes down the hallway. The darkness seemed to grow ever darker as the behemoth emerged. His body corded with powerful muscles, the mountain of a man wielded a massive double edged ax and wore a leather sensory deprivation mask. Although he had no obvious means of sight, the pale Brute was fixated on Derek. As he stormed toward Derek, darkness seemed to cling to the Brute’s flowing black smock.

Terror gripping him, Derek ran.

On his mad dash down the stairs, Derek slipped on pile of messy entrails. Tumbling head first, he crashed hard on the landing. For a moment his vision went fuzzy and darkness started to creep in around the edges of the world.

Slowly getting back to his feet, Derek saw the Brute descend the stairs. His ax ready, the maniac divided the distance like a shark attacking its prey.

The ax sliced through the air.

Derek pivoted, barely avoiding the killing blow.

The wall exploded into a thousand shards of wood and drywall.

Racing down the stairs, Derek glanced back and saw the mountain pulling his weapon free. The Brute whipped around and fixed his eyeless gaze on him. As he made his escape, Derek could sense the murderous rage beneath the surface of Brute’s leather mask.

Derek realized he had been screaming when he emerged from the house. Even though his voice was hoarse and raw, he kept screaming as he collapsed across the front lawn. His sweaty and blood covered body aching, he knew he couldn’t stop. Images of the Brute’s blood spattered mask flashed through his mind. He clawed his way back to his feet and staggered towards the drive way. As he fumbled for his keys, he cast a desperate look back.

No sign of the Brute, Derek climbed inside his car.

Barely able to control himself, much less a car, Derek threw the car into reverse. As he tore down the drive, the air was filled with horrible the horrible scrapes and screams of metal on metal. It felt like he must have smashed into every parked car, but he didn’t give a shit. He just needed to get away from the house.

His wheels find the road, Derek slammed on the breaks.

Taking a deep breath, he took a final look at the Devil’s House. The place looked like any other three story old colonial. There was no hint of the hellish slaughter contained within it walls. Tears spilling down his face, Derek slammed the car into gear and hoped to never see the house again.

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One Year Later

It’s been a year since I launched this site. In that time I’ve launched Nothing Zero, and let a couple of would-be novels wither on the vine. I honestly hoped this year would see an extremely aggressive release schedule, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. I’ll be lucky to get one more book released before 2014 closes out, and I’m fine with that.

But what will that book be?

I tried to write a classy Gothic Horror novel, but simply couldn’t get momentum on it. It just didn’t feel like the book I should be working on. Honestly, the only thing that makes sense right now is a hardcore horror novel. As a result, I’ve started a slasher novel. Will I finish this one? If I’m being totally honest with myself, I’d have to say I don’t know. I like the characters, I like the story and I really feel like there’s a lack of honest to goodness slasher books in the market. It has all the ingredients for a book I would enjoy reading, so I hope I can.  Right now, that’s all I can ask for in a project.

Whatever my next book ends up being, I do know I’ll release a physical edition. When i published Live Undead, I thought I’d never release a hard copy book. It just didn’t appeal to me. But since then, I’ve come around to the idea. Trying to market something that’s solely available as a Kindle edition feels impossible. Just offering an electronic edition feels like I’m cutting off my marketing efforts at the knees. I think I can attract more readers to my work by making a trade paperback available. That’s ultimately what matters: Getting people to read my stuff.

I know there’s a few people out there that have read each of the Undead Chronicles. I definitely appreciate that, and hope they enjoyed the books. Unfortunately I feel like there haven’t been enough. My main goal over the next year will simply be to get more readers. I want more people buying, borrowing or even pirating my books. I want more reviews on Amazon and GoodReads. I even want more people visiting this site on a regular basis. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Walk Away

After months of wrestling with Psychopomp, I’m afraid I’ve lost. I’m simply not happy with the way it turned out. The writing is weak, and the story isn’t focused. It feels very scattered, and that’s because I tackled so many different elements. It currently feels like four disparate books, and I honestly don’t know how to make them feel like a cohesive whole. I bit off more than I can chew.

Maybe in a few months, I’ll feel differently. Maybe I’ll figure out the secret to making the book work. But today, I’m doing more harm than good in trying to sort it out. I’m wasting time, when I could be writing something else.

Unfortunately I don’t really know what I’m going to work on next. I have ideas, but nothing set in stone. I guess that’s something for me to figure out over the next couple of days.

The (writing) Process

Before I begin, I want to thank Charles Millhouse for including me in The Writing Process Blog Hop. I’ve known Chuck for several years, and he was the first independent author I ever met. I had toyed around with the idea of self-publishing for a long time, but Chuck is the pretty much the reason I finally took the plunge. I’m glad that I have the chance to follow his post.

So here it goes:

What am I working on?

I’m currently working on a few things. First and foremost, I’m preparing for the release of my next novel, Nothing Zero. It’s scheduled to be unleashed on February 11. Secondly, I’m reworking bits of the novel I completed as part of NaNoWriMo. Psychopomp needs a lot of love and attention before I can release it  in May. Finally I’m mulling over ideas for my third novel. I have a couple of contenders, but nothing definitive. I hope to wrap up the work on Psychopomp this month and fully commit to my next novel at that time.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I guess the main thing that sets my work apart would be the characters I write about. I tend to gravitate towards characters that are broken in some way. I like writing about the outcasts, the losers and the freaks. People that lead different and alternative lifestyles. I just find writing about them way more intriguing than utilizing a teacher or writer.

Why do I write what I write?

I love horror. I have ever since I first discovered The Movie Channel when I was a little kid. John Carpenter’s The Thing, David Cronenberg’s movies, Friday the 13th, George Romero’s zombie flicks, Nightmare on Elm Street; that stuff absolutely blew my mind. That love for the genre inevitably carried over to my reading habits. Clive Barker, Stephen King, Poppy Z. Brite and Anne Rice. When I finally started writing my own stories, it was only natural I work within the genre.

How does my writing process work?

I don’t do note cards. I don’t do outlines. I don’t really plan in a normal fashion. I get ideas and then think about them. Usually I think about them for a few days, or weeks, and then when I think I have a handle on things, I sit down and write. If I’m lucky, I have a good idea where the story is going. But if I don’t, that’s cool too. I’m happy just stumbling through the plot until the work is done.

Next week these questions will be answered by Chris Weston.

Chris Weston is a freelance writer, and the author of The Dragon’s Tear. Chris lives in South Florida, and enjoys relaxing with his two dogs. In his spare time, Chris discusses various topics on his website and on his social media. Every week, Chris helps run a local writing group for aspiring authors, which assists from start to finish in a writer’s process.”

A Night Like This, Chapter 1 of Nothing Zero

The feedback reaching crescendo, Nothing screamed.

Microphone cord wrapped tightly around his forearm, he sank to his knees. At first his screams were atonal wailing, but gradually he formed a sentence. Thrashing wildly, he shrieked the words that haunted his every waking moment for the past week. He didn’t understand what they meant, only they held some deeper meaning not readily apparent. “This is the end of everything,” he cried one final time before he collapsed to the stage.

Lying on his back, Nothing watched the pink and white confetti swirl through the air. Tilting his head to the side, he saw Wraith kick one of the hundreds of black balloons bouncing across the stage. The normally surefooted bassist slipped and crashed to the ground.

Nothing crawled towards Aiden.

Rising to his knees, he stared up at his guitarist.

Head down, Aiden coaxed demonic washes of feedback from his instrument. When he noticed Nothing knelt in front of him, a devilish smile flashed across his cherubic face.

Snatching handfuls of hair, Aiden pulled Nothing’s face towards his crotch and thrust his hips. As Aiden pantomimed fucking his mouth, Nothing grabbed Aiden’s ass. Squeezing tightly, Nothing heard hundreds of excited squeals in the crowd.

When Aiden let his hair go, Nothing theatrically wiped his mouth and staggered to his feet.

Aiden leaned forward, and embraced Nothing. Arching his feet, Nothing found Aiden’s lips. Even though the kiss was now only part of their act, Nothing couldn’t help but remember feelings long forgotten. There was a time when he loved Aiden and Aiden loved him in turn. As their lips parted, Nothing wondered why either of them ever stopped.

Turning away from Nothing, Aiden smashed his guitar against the stage.

Hair in messy tangles, skin lacquered with sweat, eyeliner streaking his face, dress torn and barely clinging to his body and stockings hopelessly shredded, Nothing staggered to the front of the stage. The Red Rock Casino Amphitheatre was sold out. 10,000 kids, all deathly pale and dressed in black raised their hands to the star-filled Las Vegas sky as they chanted the band’s name—his name. Looking at the crowd, Nothing Zero felt alive.

Unfortunately the feeling was fleeting.

The afterglow from his performance starting to slip, Nothing tore the tattered remains of his dress off. With thousands of videos posted to YouTube of him performing the act, he knew everyone in the crowd had already seen him stripped down to his underwear and garters, but that didn’t matter. Without fail, each time he did the striptease, he received a wave of excited squeals as reward. It was enough to make his high last a precious few seconds longer.

When he was alive, Nothing would have done anything to hear those screams. He dreamed of performing with a band for thousands of adoring fans, selling millions of records, posing for magazine covers and filming music videos. But living in rural Ohio, far from the shimmering glamor of New York or Hollywood, he feared his dreams would never come true. He dreaded the thought of being trapped in his small town life, all of his hopes and dreams unfulfilled and his life unnoticed by anyone but the bullies and assholes who lived to abuse him.

But then Nothing died.

Death awoke something dark and terrible inside him. Nothing was reborn as a creature of great power and endless hunger. But most of all, Nothing found himself with everything he dared dream of when he was alive. It was the final night of a sold out tour promoting his third chart-topping album, Nothing should have been elated. He should have felt like a conquering hero as he surveyed the crowd. But staring out at the thousands of adoring kids with their Nothing Zero shirts and screaming for him to throw them his dress, Nothing felt nothing at all.

 

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