Kristopher’s debut horror novel, Angel Board, is part of Samhain Publishing’s new horror lineup that unleashed on the world yesterday. Here’s a sample chapter from his book. Enjoy it…then pick up your copy!
Tonight David Barker planned to kill himself.
As he stood in the bathroom, gawking into the fingerprint-smudged, toothpaste-dotted mirror, his reflection gazed back through eyes a vacant shell of white. He didn’t recognize this person. The haggard, soundless face inside the glass showed signs of a soul suffering, and not the wholesome thirty-year-old man he was—or used to be.
That wasn’t David in there, not anymore.
Who was that guy?
The October wind gusted outside, causing the old apartment to creak and pop. He slowly exhaled through his nostrils, fogging up a small patch on the mirror. He wiped it away with a finger.
A few months earlier, he couldn’t have been happier. Things changed drastically in a short span of time. He’d gone from being in love with life, and a special girl like Samantha Corben, to hating everything affiliated with all of it. Being stuck in the same miserable routine day in and day out, not doing anything about it, had only made his condition worse. Drained him. Put him in front of this mirror, giving himself once last look at the pathetic inflammation he’d become before cashing in his chips.
David Barker is clocking out for the last time.
He glanced up at the brown splotches sprinkled across the ceiling and shook his head. Sam had been right all along. The bathroom really was in desperate need of a makeover. The paint that hadn’t peeled was fading fast. The floor was warped; the boards were loose and springy and sunk under each step. He often imagined himself one day crashing through the rotting wood and landing somewhere in the apartment below.
Sam had been after him for months to either fix up the place or move. She tried convincing him he could do much better. As she would sheepishly say—shack up with her, but when she’d discovered he wasn’t ready for that obligation just yet, she’d argued that if he was going to remain in that clammy apartment, he should at least make it livable. Sam had even gotten the landlord’s permission to do just that. The old man had agreed with all her grievances, going so far as to promise that if she kept the receipts he’d deduct it from the rent and also added an extra bit of news. He was planning to remodel the entire structure anyhow. So David had more than just his permission to revamp the apartment, he had his blessing.
What had stopped him?
Everything. And nothing. He’d never seen the point in fixing the place up because he hadn’t planned to be there long enough to enjoy the refashion. At the time, he was planning to move on to a better job, a bigger place, and a healthier life for the two of them. Now he realized it was a form of premonition, foreshadowing what he was meant to do.
Die, he thought, and felt the misting in his eyes.
David stepped away from the mirror and over to the bathtub. Much like the rest of the place, a cleaning was in order. Mildew lined the tile of the shower walls, and mold caked in the corners. It wasn’t quite an infestation yet, but was getting close. Leaning over the tub, he gripped the knob labeled Hot. It felt cold and clammy in his palm. He turned it. Water erupted from the faucet, the pipes groaning from inside the walls as they heated.
Almost immediately, the water was scorching. He twisted the Cold dial to help adjust the temperature to his liking. Why he was taking these extra measures, he had no idea, but it felt like the right thing to do. Finding the right balance, he stoppered the drain. Briskly, the water began to rise.
He stood up, flicking the excess water off his fingers. On his way back to the mirror, he removed his jacket and winced at the haggard appearance he saw in the reflective glass.
“That is the mug of a looker, ladies and gentlemen,” he muttered.
Dangling his jacket in front of him, he searched the pockets for his cigarettes. He found them in the left pocket, then tossed the jacket on the toilet. It slid across the lid, falling on the floor between the commode and wall. He cringed. His favorite jacket, a black, zippered hood, had landed in the dreaded pee spot. The area his streams would wildly spray while he tried to find the bowl in his groggy, middle of the night bathroom trips.
Not like he’d ever wear it again.
Hope to God I’m not buried in it, he thought. Buried in a jacket that smells like old piss.
Someone would wash it first, they’d have to. Then he realized how ridiculous it was to consider he could actually be buried in that old jacket, anyway. It is my favorite. He’d heard of people being buried in sports-themed coffins, old school jerseys, so the idea he could be buried in a jacket he liked to wear wasn’t too farfetched. Oh well, someone would surely smell that stench and toss it in a washer first.
Kristopher Rufty has written and directed the independent horror movies: Psycho Holocaust, Rags, and Wicked Wood. Angel Board is his first horror novel. He is married to his high school sweetheart and is the father of two maniacal children. He resides in North Carolina, where he is at work on his next novel.
“A powerhouse debut novel. Rufty’s prose will suck you in and hold you prisoner!”
–Ronald Malfi, author of Floating Staircase and Snow
“A creepy, gripping tale of horror. And it’s got one of the best death scenes I’ve read in a long time!”
–Jeff Strand, author of Pressure and Dweller