Here’s a small excerpt from my newest sci-fi/horror novel. It’s been only marginally proofed and is still in the first draft stage…
To give you some back story…We join our protaganists, Sullly and Laura as they come upon a horrible scene while backpacking on Pike’s Peak, Colorado. Sully is an outdoor clothing company representative that gets talked into guiding Laura on a few days hiking trip. Laura is a Olympic Gold Medalist and extreme sport clebrity who is being wooed by Sully’s company. Unknown to either of them, a weaponized virus has been accidentally released by a research scientist. In their time on the mountain, the virus has spread and the world some14,000 feet below them has started to fall apart. The virus turns its victims into insane, skinless, perversions of nature. It twists the bones and makes the infected walking nightmares. This is their first sign that things aren’t the way they were before they left…
“It’s kind of creepy, Sully,” Laura observed.
“I was thinking the same thing, Laura,” I said. As we began slowly walking towards the small gift shop, I explained my misgivings.
“You’re not reassuring me, honey,” she said, trying to keep things light.
I tried to shrug my unease off, “I’m just being stupid, it’s probably just…”
My voice trailed off as we came around the corner of the building and I saw an empty green Jeep Cherokee, the logo of the National Park Service on its side. It was parked at an angle in front of the shop. The trail had come up behind the gift shop and the building had obscured the Jeep.
Upon seeing it though, I felt a shiver run down my spine and gooseflesh break out all over my body.
The driver door was open and both the Jeep’s interior, and the snow around the Jeep, was churned up and stained red with what looked like blood.
A lot of blood.
“All right, now my spider sense is tingling, Sully,” Laura said, after we stood dumbstruck looking at the carnage before us.
“Mine too, Laura,” I said.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” she said.
“That’s no moon,” I replied, without thinking.
“Never mind,” I said, realizing it was shock speaking,
I shucked off the straps of my pack and knelt, setting it on the ground in front of me. I unlashed my ice axe from the webbing on the pack and stood, leaving my pack on the ground. Laura saw me do this and followed suit.
“Stay here, Laura,” I said, “I’m going to get a closer look.”
“Like hell you are,” she said, “First rule of horror movies; never separate. That’s how the bad things happen.”
I looked at her and saw immediately that no amount of arguing was going to dissuade her. I sighed and nodded.
I began walking the rest of the way towards the Glen Cove Inn. I suddenly noticed how loud our boots were as they crunched in the snow. The sound seemed to be almost overwhelming in the thin atmosphere. As I neared within ten feet of the Jeep, I motioned for Laura to stay where she was. She complied with no argument or and I snuck closer to the Jeep.
The first thing I noticed was an unmistakable coppery smell that confirmed that the red was definitely blood. The blood was bright red in the clear, cold air and it was sprayed all about the interior of the truck. I looked inside and saw that the carnage had saturated the floor and carpet. Here and there were more solid red bits that could only have been chunks of flesh.
I was so not all right with the way this looked.
“What do you see?” Laura whispered, leaning towards me expectantly.
“It looks like a charnel house,” I said, slowly moving around to the rear or the Jeep. There was nobody inside or behind it.
I returned to Laura’s side and we had a hurried, whispered conference.
“I’m wondering if maybe it was a bear attack,” I said, not really believing it.
“Black bear don’t normally attack people, do they?” Laura said, as though she had read my mind.
“Mama bears do. But, what worries me is that,” I pointed to the front of the jeep at the ground between it and the gift shop. There was a single track of bloody footprints leading up the shoveled path to the porch and into the Inn.
“Why’s it worry you?” Laura asked. I could tell by her expression that she really didn’t want to know, but had to.
“No bear in the Jeep, so it wasn’t a road kill or a shot bear. No bear tracks, so it didn’t attack whoever was in the Jeep here. And there are no drag marks, which there would be if the bear attacked here. There’s just too damned much blood for the attack to not have happened here.”
“Shit,” Laura said.
“I need to go inside and see if someone’s been hurt. Do you want to stay here?” I asked her.
“No way. We’re a team. If you go, I go.” Laura said tightening her grip on her ice axe.
I looked back at the Glen Cove Inn and saw that it was dark. The carnage in and about the Jeep was disturbing enough, but I still couldn’t get past the idea that this place should have been crawling with tourists dressed too lightly for the cold and gasping for breath in the thinner air like fish in an empty bucket.
I twisted my neck, cracking the vertebra there, sighed, and made my way towards the darkened gift shop.
I tried looking through the windows in the door, but the interior was too dark for me to see anything. Laura tried the other one and shook her head, indicating she had no better luck. I nodded and hefted my ice axe. With my other hand, I slowly turned the doorknob until I felt it unlatch. I then gave the door a nudge with the toe of my boot, grabbing the handle of my heavy aluminum ice axe. The axe felt good in my hand. It had just the right weight to it and it was topped with a twelve-inch blade that tapered to an adequately sharp point. I had slipped my wrist into the loop at the end of the handle to prevent my dropping it if shit went downhill fast.
The door creaked open slowly and I was immediately struck by a smell that I remembered from my youth. I had grown up in Ohio, and like many Ohioans, had deer hunted every winter. I no longer hunted, but I remember my first deer kill like it was yesterday. The worst part about killing a deer is gutting it afterwards. I still shudder to think of how hot the inside of a freshly killed deer is when you plunge your hands into it. Worse than that, though, is the smell that rises from the open carcass. It’s a hot, earthy, pungent smell that is redolent with the penny-like smell of blood, and bile, and piss, and fecal matter.
That’s the smell that emitted from the now ajar door. This smell though, had a different quality to it. I couldn’t explain what it was, but my stomach rolled greasily as I realized that what I smelled was what a gutted human would smell like.
Before I lost my nerve, I kicked the door the rest of the way open.
I saw that the bloody footprints continued across the plank floor and into the darkness at the back of the store. I slowly stepped into the gloom and listened for any sound.
I knew that, inside the door, the gift shop was right in front of me. At the rear of the shop was a small hallway that led to the bathrooms. To my immediate right was an archway that led to the snack shop. All of the shades were drawn, so I could see no further than the light thrown from the open door. I peered at the nearby walls for a light switch, but did not see anything. I was about to reach for one of the shades when Laura slid in beside me.
As I glanced towards her, I heard a wet, phlegmatic sound near the bathrooms. It was like someone had sucked in his or her breath in shock, or excitement; someone with a mouth full of mucus. Laura and I both heard it and snapped our heads in the sound’s direction. Just then, whatever it was made a low, throaty growl.
It wasn’t a human sound. It wasn’t an animal sound, either. I suddenly realized that entering the shop might not have been the best idea.
I had just taken a step backward towards Laura to herd her outside when there came a furtive shuffling sound towards us.
“Laura,” I started, “get out of…”
I never finished my sentence.
Before I could react, a creature the likes of which I had never seen before came scurrying out of the darkness. The creature was like some twisted nightmare. Its red, glistening body was like something from a Bosch triptych and it looked as though it’s entire head was made of pointy, sharp teeth. It made a primal, horrifying sound and I had only a second to realize that it was wearing the remnants of a ranger uniform and it was looking at me with unadulterated human-like hate.
It sprung at me and I fell back into Laura, knocking her onto the porch. I kept my footing, barely, and pulled my ice axe back. The creature rushed at me with a jerky, almost insect like scurrying. I could smell decay on its body, and the fetid effluvia coming from its open mouth. Acting with terrified instinct, I brought the ice axe down just as it reached me. The axe sunk squarely into the top of its head with a meaty thwack. The creature’s forward motioned carried it the rest of the way into me and I staggered under its weight. It was like I had been struck by a bus at a crosswalk.
Both it and I fell backwards, over Laura, and into the snow outside.
I had a little freak out then.
I pushed its bulk off of me and rolled away, screaming in horror. I was brought up short by the loop of my axe ice where it was wrapped around my wrist. I jerked to a stop and then began pulling and pushing at the cord in a mad, panicked attempt to get free from the axe and the Lovecraftian demon lying beside me.
I don’t know how long I struggled there, screaming and gibbering. It was Laura, though, who brought me back. After a few moments of madness, I felt her hands on my shoulders, and heard her voice.
“It’s dead, Sully. It’s okay. Sully! SULLY!” she screamed, striking me with an open hand.
I looked up at her in shock and horror.
“It’s dead, Sully,” she murmured, her hand coming up and stroking my face gently where she had just smacked it.
I let out a snort of air and grabbed the front of her parka with my free hand, “Are you all right, Laura?”
“I’ve been better,” she said.
I looked back at the monster lying next to me and shuddered. I slowly rolled over and lifted myself up to a knee. After another deep breath, I grabbed the handle of my ice axe and gave it a push. The creature, which had been lying face down, rolled over.
It was no less grotesque in the day light.
“What in hell is it?” Laura breathed.