It Hungers, Excerpt #1

As I get back to blogging, I thought it would be nice to provide an excerpt for my upcoming novel, It Hungers. To avoid spoilers, I’m going to provide minimal context. However, the novel’s premise is that a string of child abductions has plagued Butcher’s Bend. Then, four limestone statues that resemble four of the missing children, and each statue has a line from a mysterious rhyme on its base.

The 2500 block of General Beauregard Avenue resided in the White Oak Hills neighborhood. A few blocks beyond the intersection of Beauregard and Lee, the large homes that filled the neighborhood grew into mansions, and a few streets beyond that, as one ascended the hills, vast lots with often crooked driveways lined with towering and stately white oaks ascended the hills to the old plantations where the wealthiest families in the county lived.

A two-story, nondescript ranch-style house sat in a small lot at 2508 General Beauregard Avenue. A silver Ford Fusion sat in the driveway outside the small garage whose tan bricks matched those of the house. Confederate rosebushes, neglected beyond what could be generously considered romantic, framed the dark-stained oak door.

Behind the locked door leading to the basement, charcoal acoustic panels lined the walls and ceiling. Descending the thin and narrow staircase, the room opened into a large room where drab brown wood panels poked through amateur installation of the soundproofing panels. A threadbare brown sofa and a chipped wooden coffee table sat atop a beige carpet. Off to one side sat an artist’s work area with an easel, a model stand, a crudely-made posable model, and a block of grayish-white stone. Whimpers and cries, emerging from beyond a wooden door with both a deadbolt and a padlock, saturated the cold but stuffy basement air.

The door at the top of the stairs opened, and electric light beamed into the basement. A hand flicked a switch at the top of the stairs, and the two lights that hung from the ceiling illuminated portions of the basement. The door closed again, and a pair of wellington brown Wolverine work boots descended the stairs with heavy thumps. The man wearing them was thin and wiry with a left arm that was noticeably thinner and less muscular than the right arm. A Bowie knife, a chisel, and a ball-peen hammer hung from the brown leather belt that protruded from torn denim belt loops. He carried a plastic bag filled with small boxes and other things in his hand.

As he reached the bottom stair, the man paused. He scratched his ruddy and stubbled chin. Dirt caked the underside of his uneven fingernails. His last shave was five, maybe six, days ago, and his small green eyes sank into his skull, hidden behind the growing bangs that marred his once-perfect dirty blond mullet. His thin, dry lips parted as his tongue licked them. He stared at the block of stone and then turned and walked toward the door from which the whimpers and cries came.

The man unlocked the door, and the volume intensified as the cries burst from the unlit room. The reek of fecal matter and urine burst forward; he wrinkled his nose. He flicked a switch, and the lights in the other room flickered as the single hanging light bulb in this room glowed. Six cages designed for large dogs filled the small room. The five naked children imprisoned either hunched over, crawled on hands and knees, or lay on the thin, tattered blankets the man placed on the bottoms of the cages. They shielded their eyes from the light.

“Shut up, you ungrateful brats!”

The man’s words came slowly from his mouth, and they reverberated at both higher and lower intervals. He rifled through the plastic bag and pushed its contents, small boxes of sugary cereals and packages of beef jerky, into the cages for four of the children. Their sunken eyes widened, and they scurried to grab an infrequently offered meal.

The children tore into the packages with their teeth and hands, eating with ravenous abandon, as the man kicked the fifth cage. An overweight, dark-skinned boy squealed and cowered in the far corner. Few tears streamed from his dull brown eyes. His curly brown hair had become matted. The man rattled the cage, and the boy wheezed. His chest rose and fell with trembling rapidity.

“Come on, boy,” the man said. “Your turn. Be a good little boy and come with me.”

The boy covered his hands with his eyes, peeking through his middle and ring fingers. His words faltered, trembling in rhythm with his breathing. “Please. So hungry. Thirsty.”

The man grabbed the cage with both hands and shook it. “You earn your food today, boy. It’s your turn.”

“I want to go home,” a little girl with a bruise on her pale cheek said through bites of her Lucky Charms. Someone cut her brown hair, giving her uneven bangs.

“I miss my mommy,” another child said.

The man struck each cage with his hammer. The children screamed and cowered in backs. His eyes went black, and his voice plummeted three octaves. “Silence! You filthy maggot-homes belong to us now. We decide when you eat. We decide when you perform. Satisfy us…” The man shook his head and contorted his face. He blinked, and his eyes returned to their normal shade of green. His voice returned to normal. “And I’ll see you home, if you’re good boys and girls. Now quiet down and eat up.”

He slapped the side of his head. The children returned to their food. The chatter’s volume lowered as whimpers interspersed the sounds of eating. A young boy who looked no older than eight urinated in the far left corner of his cage; he then sucked water from the bottle tied to the cage door. The man growled as he walked back to the cage where the unfed boy trembled in the back. The man slammed his hammer into the cage.

“Now, you going to be a good little boy, ain’t you?” He returned the hammer to his belt and pulled out his Bowie knife and pointed it at the boy. “You let me make a statue out of you, and then you get food. Got it?”

The boy sucked snot into his nose and nodded. The man unlocked the cage and, in one swift motion, reached in and grabbed the boy’s arm, yanking him forward. Pain shot through the boy’s arm and shoulder; he yelped. Pressing his knife against the boy’s back silenced the boy.

The man led the boy over to the makeshift artist studio in the other room. The boy’s eyes widened as he saw leather straps affixed to the wooden posable model, which proved to be little more than unvarnished wood connected with ball joints and set atop a wooden shipping pallet.

The man said, “Now, you go stand up against that model, real still like, in the same position while I work. Be a good boy, and I ain’t going to have to strap you in. Okay?” Okay?”

The boy sniffled and nodded. He assumed the model’s position, which resembled Michelangelo’s The Dying Slave. Holding his knife in one hand, the kidnapper set up his easel and began sketching the boy. After a few moments, aches and stiffness in his muscles caused the boy to shift and wiggle.

“Stand still, boy. This’ll go easier if you’re still.”

The boy took a deep breath and tensed. The man returned to sketching. He shifted his position to sketch the boy from a different angle. With a wince, the boy arched his back and gritted his teeth.

“I fucking told you to stand still. Don’t make me strap you down. You’ll get less food.”

The boy slammed his eyes shut, tensed his muscles, and held his breath. Sketching resumed. After the man finished another sketch and moved to sketch the boy from behind, the boy’s arms trembled.

The man’s eyes blackened, and his voiced plummeted once more. “We have commanded you to stop, suckling long pig. Comply with our demands, or we will break your bones and bind you to the wood-form.”

The boy swallowed hard and nodded. A rumbling growl emanated from the man’s throat as he worked, his soulless black eyes staring through the frightened child. The sketching became a furious rush of pencil strokes. The boy’s eyes shifted; he had a clear path to the stairs. Beads of sweat formed on the man’s forehead; he wiped his forearm across his head…

Promotional Hype

My debut novel, Liam’s Doom, is on sale at all major and minor retail outlets from Amazon to Barnes & Noble to I request that you support, as their site supports local and independent bookstores. The eBook is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and through my webstore.

Carmilla’s Ghost is now on sale. The paperback version is available all major online retailers, including and at Barnes & Noble. Currently, eBook pre-orders are only available at Amazon and through my webstore.

And my prequel novel, Blood/Lust is also available as an Amazon exclusive.