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.
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.
I’m currently working on Psychopomp for a May/June release. Written as part of NaNoWriMo, it’s a dark super hero book with strong horror overtones. More details to come in a couple of weeks.
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.
On February 11th Nothing Zero will finally be released. Its publication marks the end of a very long and difficult road. It also signals an end to this cycle of the Undead Chronicles. I do have other stories in this world to tell, but I want to step away and explore other creative avenues for a while. With that said, here is the synopsis for Nothing Zero:
The third installment of the Undead Chronicles.
Infamous. Rock Star. Vampire.
Everyone knows his name. Nothing Zero is the world’s biggest rock star. He tours the country, bringing his brand of Goth Glam to sold out arenas and amphitheaters. He’s sold millions of records and his latest album may be his biggest commercial success yet.
But what the world doesn’t know is that he’s falling apart.
Nothing’s band hates him, his personal life is a mess and the bloodshed and drug abuse that fills his nights is beginning to consume him. As Nothing struggles to regain control over his life, a forgotten figure from his past returns.
Emilie was among the first vampires created by Nothing, and she hates him for it. She stalks the Hollywood night feeding on her fellow undead. With each successive night, she grows stronger and more powerful. Soon she’ll be able to set her sights on Nothing Zero himself. But killing the rock star isn’t enough. Emilie wants to make sure Nothing Zero will never forget her name again.
NOTHING ZERO contains depictions of explicit sex, gruesome horror and graphic violence. Reader discretion is advised.