My editor at Samhain Publishing sent over the cover art for my upcoming story, THE GRAVEYARD SPEAKS, scheduled to be released April 2nd in tandem with my next novel, SINISTER ENTITY. I wanted to give you all a sneak peek at the cover.
In the parlance of my youth, I’m diggin’ it. THE GRAVEYARD SPEAKS is a 40 page short story that bridges the gap between FOREST OF SHADOWS and SINISTER ENTITY. It occurs 13 years after FOS in a dark, snow-encrusted graveyard. The dead are very much alive and even the caretakers avoid a certain section of the sprawling cemetery. This isn’t your typical ghost hunting adventure, I assure you.
I highly suggest you read it before diving into SINISTER ENTITY. You’ll get a cool insight into the events leading up to the novel. The best part is that it’s going to be FREE (at least at the start). So hop on over to Samhain and add the story and the book to your wish list. They haven’t loaded the cover art yet, but you can still easily find it.
Because this was such a small town and Banks Textiles such a large company, Russell Banks saw his fair share of deceased employees walk through his door. Bob heard that by the third visit from a former employee, Hannah tendered her resignation and headed for her mother’s house inNorth Carolina.
Mr. Banks stuck to his guns, sighting labor laws and hygiene codes to each and every one of them.
Re-ans who worked in different companies had no better luck. In fact, going public like they did was starting to make things worse. A local paper picked up the story that the dead had come back, demanding their old jobs. The reporter called for a government investigation.
Lucky for them the government had bigger and better things on their minds than the concerns of some wacko report in aGeorgia.
But people were starting to talk.
The lobster pot was full and boiling and the lid was itching to blow.
Bob, meanwhile, had grown downright depressed. He barely paid attention at Re-an meetings and spent his days holed up in a mausoleum by himself. Their future was bleak, and that was looking on the bright side.
Then one night, Buford Jackson made an awful suggestion.
“We tried it the old way, and it ain’t workin’. I’ve been thinking a lot lately.”
“Thinkin’ and stinkin’, that’s all we can do,” Miles Welty shouted. A few Re-ans chuckled.
“The way I see it, pretty soon we’re gonna get found out, especially with our growing numbers.” They were about eighty strong now and increasing every day. Some corpses were fresh, others two, even three years old. “And seein’ as there hasn’t been a scientist or preacher among our numbers, it doesn’t look like we’re gonna find out why this is happening any time soon. Some time soon, we’re all gonna run out of places to hide. And then what?”
He scanned the audience of putrescent faces.
“You all remember those Frankenstein movies, right? All pitchforks and torches and angry villagers. That’s what we have to look forward to. And the sad thing is, all we wanna do is go back to being productive citizens.”
For the first time in a long while, Bob spoke up. “So what do you propose we do, Buford?”
A devilish smile crept across Buford’s shriveled black lips. “If we’re doomed to end like a bad movie, we might as well imitate a bad movie. Far as I know, in all those zombie movies, the zombies won.”
“Yeah, but they came back eating and killing machines,” Bob interjected.
“Exactly! So who’s to say we shouldn’t put a little fear of God and the devil into them people that are living and won’t give us a fair shake? They look at us like zombies, let’s act like zombies, dammit!”
“But we’re not zombies. We’re Re-ans,” someone said.
“Zombies…Re-ans…it’s all just words. Just look at the odds. The way we’re going, we’ll be the majority eventually. We want our old jobs back? Let’s just take them. If we have to kill a few people along the way, such is the price of progress.”
A swell of emotion began to grip the crowd, clutching their unbeating hearts and stagnant minds. First a few hands began to clap, then a dozen, then the entire church.
Except for Bob. It’s all over now, Bob thought. No going back. Maybe this is the way it was supposed to be. Maybe this was God’s plan. He couldn’t have expected them to just blend back in, not with the way they were.
It was terrifying, repulsive, damning, but maybe Buford was right.
So they hatched a plan. A bid for their independence. Had Bob had a working stomach he would have been sick.
If luck was a lady, she was certainly one who hated Bob Samson. Bob, Buford and five other former Banks Textile employees peeped through the windows of Russell Banks’ mansion.
There was Russell, sitting in his central air conditioned living room with his ex wife and two boys who were both in their early teens. Bob had heard Mr. Banks was divorced, but it looked as if his former boss was doing his best to make amends.
Could be his visit months back had something to do with that.
“Maybe now’s not a good time,” he whispered.
“It’s now or never. At ten o’clock, Re-ans are gonna strike across the entire county,” Buford hissed. “If you don’t have the stomach for it, why don’t you sit out here?”
“I just might.”
“If you do, don’t bother coming to us when all this is over. You have to make a choice now, Bob. Us or them. Which is it gonna be?”
Before he could answer, Buford’s digital watch started chiming. He whirled his hand in the air and every Re-an standing outside the estate went crashing through the windows. Russell Banks and his family screamed as one, and the Re-ans shouted like war beasts in return.
Across the still night air, Bob could hear the sounds of other living people shouting pleas to the man upstairs while Re-ans descended on them like the cinematic beasts they were supposed to be.
He looked in the window and saw Buford gnawing on Mrs. Banks’s neck. He was covered in blood, his teeth caked with dangling strips of flesh. The rest had attacked Russell and his sons, making quick work of them. In just two minutes, there wasn’t a beating heart in the room.
“Come on Bob,” Buford shouted. “Us or them?”
He held Mrs. Banks’ body out to him as if she were a sacred offering.
Bob clasped his head with both hands.
He had tried to go back, but they wouldn’t let him.
He had formed a group, and they had outgrown him.
The crack of gunshots echoed in the darkness.
With great reluctance, Bob stepped through the broken window and stood before Buford. There was a gaping, red hole in the poor woman’s neck. Buford smiled with crimson teeth.
It would have to be us, then.
Bob buried his face into Mrs. Banks’ neck, mouth open, teeth gnashing. He tore a piece of her skin free and swallowed.
It sure didn’t taste like chicken, but it would have to do.
Check out Forest of Shadows by Hunter Shea : "Dark, intense and not afraid to get down and dirty."