Charity Anthology With An All Star Lineup!
It’s not often I have news of being included in not one, but two horror anthologies one after the other. In fact, this is a first. Both Survive with Me and this latest, One of Us: A Tribute to Frank Michaels Errington, are all here to support some very special charities. Frank was a vital part of the horror community and a hell of a nice guy. We lost him way too soon and still feel the gaping hole in our lives. Proceeds from all sales will go to the American Transplant Foundation.
A distant second to remembering Frank, for me, is that I’m sharing a Table of Contents with none other than Stephen King! Kinda blown away. But that’s the kind of guy Frank was – he touched and rooted for everyone in the genre, great and small. Here are more details on the book. I promise, it will make an amazing holiday gift for the reader in your life. Check out the who’s who of authors who are part of this special project!
The horror community lost Frank Michaels Errington and his absence has been so thoroughly felt by all who were lucky enough to interact with him. Kind, gracious, inclusive and just an all-around nice man. Frank made a large impact as a book reviewer, but he also had a positive effect on many individual creators by making sure that everyone felt welcome and acknowledged.
One of Us: A Tribute to Frank Michaels Errington is filled with stories of writers whose lives Frank touched in one way or another. He challenged them, cheered them on and he made sure to read the big names and small names alike.
Frank needed a new kidney. He was undergoing dialysis treatments and hoping for a compatible donor, but, unfortunately, he was not able to get the help in time to save his life. Because of this, proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated in Frank’s name to the American Transplant Foundation. Help us help others in Frank’s situation before another vital person is lost to those who value them.
This book represents the camaraderie and love that Frank instilled in the horror community. If you ever feel alone or out of place, just remember the words that Frank himself told many creatives while he was still alive.
“You’re one of us.“
* * * *
WITH STORIES, POETRY, AND ANECDOTES BY
Alan Baxter * Matt Bechtel * doungjai gam bepko * John Boden * Geoff Brown * Kealan Patrick Burke * P.D. Cacek * Kenneth W. Cain *Somer Canon * Christa Carmen * Catherine Cavendish * Greg Chapman * Richard Chizmar * Tom Deady * T. Fox Dunham * Robert Ford * Christopher Golden * J.F. Gonzalez * Mark Allen Gunnells * Jeremy Hepler * Pete Kahle * Nicholas Kaufmann * Shane Douglas Keene * Todd Keisling * Stephen King * Curtis M. Lawson * Evans Light * John R. Little * Chad Lutzke * Jonathan Maberry * Josh Malerman * Alessandro Manzetti * John McIlveen * John McNee * Tim Meyer * Lee Murray * Paul F. Olson * Kelli Owen * John Palisano * Jason Parent & Kevin Rego * David Price * Anthony J. Rapino * Hunter Shea * Rob Smales * Wesley Southard * Jeff Strand * Brett Talley * Sara Tantlinger * The Sisters of Slaughter * Richard Thomas * Paul Tremblay * Tony Tremblay * Joshua Viola * Tim Waggoner * Terry M. West * Douglas Wynne * Stephanie M. Wytovich * Mercedes M. Yardley
Cooking Up Halloween Scares At The Asylum
Just in time for the Halloween season, my first short story collection, Asylum Scrawls, has been set loose on an unsuspecting world. To kick things off, I’m running a special from now until Halloween. You can get a copy of Asylum Scrawls for only 99 cents. After the ghosts and goblins have their fill of candy and egging houses, the price goes to $1.99 (still a bargain if you ask me). With fantastic cover art by Mike Chella and a creepy bonus story by my mentor, Norm Hendricks, it’s sure to make you question what’s real and what’s not.
As an added bonus, if you download a copy before Halloween and let me know through this old blog and chain, the FB fan page or Twitter, you’re also eligible to win a copy of any of my novels. You can’t beat that with a stick, or chainsaw, or hot poker, or machete. I’ll be giving away books all through the Horrortober season. That’s right, all treats, no tricks.
So, what’s cooking in the asylum?
- In PHANTOM FEELING, meet Hank, a recent amputee living in his parents’ attic. His childhood toys are coming out to spell secret messages to him – or is he losing his grip on his sanity?
- THE FACELESS GIRL follows two couples at a famous movie star’s mountain mansion. The master bedroom holds a terrifying secret – an apparition that will not leave.
- The last place you want to be is strapped to the pummel stone in STONED. Poor Kitty’s wasted her life on the stone, but things are about to take an unexpected and deadly turn.
- What happens when your religious zealot wife tells you about her special COMMANDMENT ELEVEN? You watch your life fall to pieces, bit by agonizing bit.
- Ready for a true gothic nightmare? MERCY starts with a demonic possession and only gets worse in the old manse beset by evil.
- FOUL BALL is a throwback to the 70’s during the Summer of Sam in New York. When a Wiffle ball rolls down the sewer, 6 boys devise a plan to save it from the muck and slime. Some things are better off lost
- In a special bonus story by Norm Hendricks, a child killer confined to a prison cell waits for the call of the PIPER. Truly haunting.
Help me get this bad boy to number one! To order your copy from Amazon, click here.
2013 Resolutions for Writers
The ball has dropped. The confetti is now in a landfill. Your diet plans have already been thrown to the wind, ready to return for a couple of days next January. The Twilight Zone marathon has passed the signpost up ahead that reads : Hey, time to get back to work!
I’m not big on resolutions because I know that 99% of them are yesterday’s dreams by the end of January. The only ones I’ve been able to keep are the resolutions that pertain to writing. For me, writing has always been my escape, my sanctuary, and now it’s also an income-providing business. All the more reason to get my ass in gear and hunker down. I admit, I took a total break from writing most of December. I needed it. My brain, like a chicken wing, was fried. At times during the holidays, I could actually hear my cells vibrate as they recharged. It was a wise decision to step back for a bit. But rest time is now bye-bye.
I figured I’d start with a list of resolutions that would benefit others as much as myself. Writing is a lonely business and sometimes we need some outside influences to kick us in the pants. Consider this my loving tap on your authorly keister.
Here are my 2013 Writing Resolutions:
1. Read More. I know I’ve stressed this in other articles and interviews. You can’t write if you don’t read. Plain and simple. I must read 75 or more books a year. I know I can do more. The number one rule is to turn that damn TV off as much as possible. Naturally, I read a ton of horror novels. But i’s also good to branch out to other genres, as well as the classics and self-help books. It all leads to personal growth. In fact, this year, I vow to read at least one romance novel. It’s the last genre out there that I haven’t touched as a reader. Any suggestions?
2. Write. Write. Write. Even though I didn’t write over the holidays, I did think about what my projects will be for 2013 and hit the library to do research. What are my exact goals? I will write at least one novel from start to finish (revisions included). I want to write one novella, if not two. I need to get back in the short story swing, so I’ve set a goal of writing at least a half dozen shorts. I also want to write and publish a collection of true ghost stories in time for Halloween. There, that should keep me off the streets.
3. Query new markets. Yes, I have an agent that does a lot of this for me, but I can’t have her do all the work. This is my career, after all. I need to be more aggressive this year and see if I can open some new doors and different writing opportunities.
4. Pitch a story to a TV/film production company. I have a few ideas/stories that I can lead with. Now I need to figure out how to go about this. I’ll research on the internet and reach out to other authors that have had success pitching their stuff. Getting a development deal is one of my bucket list things, so I better get on the ball.
5. Attend more cons and writers conventions. I already signed up for a couple of writer’s organizations while I lounged around watching Arrested Development in my sweats. I intend to go to a few national and local cons to mix and mingle and learn a thing or three. I’ll also show my face at more horror cons, like World Horror Con, Horrorfind, KillerCon and Chiller Theatre. That’s always a fun time!
6. Keep my writing area organized. This seems like a little thing, but it’s far from it. I spent 4 hours cleaning out all the crap that had accumulated in my little writing space during the year. This year, it’s getting a monthly sprucing up so things don’t get lost in the shuffle.
7. Find new ways to market my work. As a writer today, you can’t fall alseep at the switch when it comes to marketing. There are always new services popping up that can help you get the word out about your work. Some work, some don’t, but you have to try. As an example, I jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon last year, but learned after a few months that it wasn’t doing much for me. Hey, at least I tried.
8. Expand the scope of the Monster Men podcast. You’re going to see a lot of new stuff with our video podcast in 2013. We’re going to interview authors, directors, publishers, paranormal groups, you name it. Jack and I can’t wait to get started. If you’re any of the above and would like to be on the show, shoot me an email and we’ll work out a schedule.
9. Listen to more podcasts. I’m an audio podcast junkie. I spend a lot of time in my car with my radio, but I’m not digging what’s on the air. Since my car is old, I’m going out to get an adapter so I can play the podcasts on my Nano through my car stereo. Podcasts are great ways to inform, educate, entertain, inspire and gain more depth into whatever topic that interests you. I highly suggest Jim Harold’s Paranormal Podcast. Great stuff.
10. Rest. I’ve learned that you can’t run around juggling 100 things at once, 24/7, and expect to remain sane. So even though I’ve set a heavy workload for myself, I will make it a point to find moments to rest my mind, body and spirit. Sometimes you need to step out and let your subconscious do some of the heavy lifting. Believe me, it will all be there when you need it.
So, what are your resolutions for 2013? You don’t have to be a writer to set a goal roadmap. If you put it in writing now, it actually helps you work harder to achieve it.
Tagged With 9 Questions On My Horror Work In Progress
First of all, as a New Yorker, my heart goes out to everyone who has lost someone or something close to them in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. I’ve never experienced anything like it, and my family is thankful that we came out of it unscathed, though the same can’t be said for millions of others. It’s going to take a long time to get back to normal, especially with a nor’easter in the forecsast this week.
Thanks to my main man from Amsterdam, author Paul Dail, I get to talk a bit about something that is not necessarily a work in progress. More on that in a moment.
I want to take a small break from all things Swampy (before the 3rd & most massive part of the tour starts December 3rd) and spotlight a story I had published last year called The Dig. I’m a big archaeology buff and I’d always wanted to write a ghost story centered around some remote site. The Dig follows the terrifying exploits of Felicia Tang on an expedition to Mongolia. What looks like a normal burial mound is actually the entrance to a centuries old chamber housing countless urns within rough hewn niches. Who built the vast chamber and why? What remains lie within the urns? Most of all, what is still very much alive in the dark? The Dig is only 99 cents and free for Amazon Prime members. I have big news coming up in the next month on the short story front, but this should keep you until then. 😉
I’m not a big TV guy, but there are a few shows out there that I love and some that have surprised me. So, what is Hunter rushing to watch On Demand these days?
I’m sure it’s no surprise that I’m a huge The Walking Dead fan. I’ve loved the comics since almost the beginning and AMC is doing a great job keeping even us hardcore fans guessing. I dressed up as Dale for Halloween in his memory. R.I.P. Mr. Bucket Hat.
Of course, I’m back for more from American Horror Story : Asylum. So far, this season has felt like an acid trip through a haunted house at Playland. I’m hoping it starts to make sense soon. Are there really aliens adbucting people???
I’ve added 2 new shows to my weekly viewing and both have flipped me out with how good they are. The first is the newest take on Sherlock Holmes, Elementary. Lucy Liu as Watson? Sherlock in NYC? What idiot thought this up? Turns out, a pretty damn smart idiot with some of the best writers on TV. I can’t get enough of this show.
The biggest surprise is Nashville. Normally, I despise this soapy kind of stuff, but damn the music is good and the various story lines have sucked me in. And hey, if I can’t see Connie Britton on American Horror Story, I’m happy top get my Connie fix right here.
And of course you all know I’m counting the seconds until the return of Justified.
1. What is the working title of your book?
Swamp Monster Massacre
2. Where did the idea for the book come from?
I was talking to my editor late one night and he asked me if I had a novella in the old desk drawer that he could use. I didn’t, but a tiny light bulb lit up over my pointy head. I had recently done an episode on Bigfoot on The Monster Men podcast. My buddy Jack and I are Bigfoot fanatics. I decided it was time I wrote my own Bigfoot book, but with a twist. So, I added a crime novel element to it and let the words fly.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Boy, this could be fun. For my hulking criminal, Rooster Murphy, I think I’d go with Chris Hemsworth. He rocked as Thor and has the size and wry sense of humor that can pull it off. For the super hot and darkly dangerous twins, Liz and Maddie, I’d have to go with Amanda Seyfried playing a dual role. Those eyes! I also think Sam Rockwell would nail the Jack Campos character. As for the crazed skunk ape clan, well, if I could find an actual Bigfoot family for the movie, I’d be one happy man.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis for your book?
Small-time crook on the run from pissed off mobsters kidnaps tour boat in the Florida Everglades only to find the monsters in the swamp are way more deadly than the killers on land.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It is published through Samhain Publishing, my home away from home. They’ve done a great job over the past year building a horror brand and getting the word out. Just a fantastic publisher to be with.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript.
This was a true lesson in meeting tight deadlines. I needed to get the story written and revised many times all in under a month. The first draft was done in 2 weeks where I did nothing but write. I spent the next 2 weeks revising. I think the frenetic pace I had to keep in writing it is reflected in the story. Thankfully, I picked something that was a blast to write.
8. Who or what inspired you to write the book?
Well, my editor asking for a book pronto lit the fire under my ass. The fact that I can’t shake my fascination with monsters gave the subject to me on a silver platter.
9. What else about the book might pique a reader’s interest?
I like to think that I did something with Bigfoot that hasn’t quite been done before. First, not much love is given to skunk apes. Making them bad yet sympathetic, just like their human counterpart, Rooster, was an interesting way to approach the book. In the end, whether man or beast, we all have our light and dark sides. And God help us when darkness descends.
Great Anthology News
Back when I was just a guy who loved to read books and hadn’t thought of writing my own, I was blown away by the genre hopping greatness of this Texan dude named Joe R. Lansdale. He could effortlessly go from western to comedy to horror to high drama without missing a beat. I’ve been an ardent fan for decades and thought meeting him 2 years ago was the high point of my fanaticism.
Well, I was wrong. The high point is now! My story, Scab, is in the Morpheus Tales Weird Fiction Vol 2 anthology, alongside a story by my hero, Senor Lansdale.
From the publisher :
For the first time collected together, the best weird fiction from Morpheus Tales, the UK’s most controversial weird fiction magazine! Only the very best weird fiction has been hand-picked from the Morpheus Tales archives to create the second collected volume of the magazine Christopher Fowler calls “edgy and dark”. Featuring fiction by K.C. Ball, Skadi medic Beorh, L. R. Bonehill, Tonia Brown, Jesse Click, Tim Eagle, Chris Ewing, Ray Garton, Lee Gimenez, Gail Gray, K.J. Hannah Greenberg, Ian Hunter, Gary Inbinder, Dev Jarrett, Mark Howard Jones, Paul Johnson-Jovanovic, Fred R. Kane, Brian Kutco, Joe R. Lansdale, David Lear, B. Miller, Louise Morgan, Lee Pletzers, Hunter Shea, Fred Venturini, Nathan Wellman, C.E. Zacherl, and A. David Zapata. Established horror best-sellers rub shoulders with rising stars and newcomers in this diverse collection of short weird fiction.
Lovely cover, ain’t it? I’m so thrilled to be a part of this, I feel compelled to find some Lone Star and celebrate!
Print edition is available here.
E-book can be found at Amazon (with print coming soon).
Another Mag, Another Curtain Call
This is bittersweet news. My story, Bottom of the Ninth, will be published in the next issue of Ethereal Tales at the end of the month. The sad part is, this will be the final issue. Keeping a magazine running is harder than you can imagine, and I thank Teresa Ford for allowing me to grace her magazine’s pages with a couple of my stories over the years. Finding quality horror magazines is becoming as difficult as the hunt for Bigfoot. Cemetery Dance is still the king of the prom, but lately the chasm between issues has been growing larger and larger (though I was recently assured by a staff member there that things will be picking up soon). I gues this is all part of the changing times in publishing. Anthologies are now the best place to get your horror shorts fix. But man, there’s something about magazines that I love, and miss.
Speaking of Cemetery Dance, they just announced the publication of Four Legs in the Morning, the newest book by Norman Prentiss. If you’re not reading his work, you’re depriving yourself.
So, back to Ethereal Tales, check it out and lay down a couple of pounds for a copy that will be full to bursting with new stories and great artwork.
The Dig – Now on Kindle
New Story Available for Nook
One of my never before published short stories, The Dig, is now available for download through Barnes & Noble for only 99 cents. Heck, that’s less than a McChicken on the dollar menu (and much better for you)! It will be available in other formats soon, as will other stories over the next few months.
The Dig is the first in what will be a series of horror shorts with an archaeological theme. Here’s the breakdown:
While digging in the Mongoloian heat, Felicia Tang enters an archaeological mystery. What looks like a normal burial mound is actually the entrance to a centuries old chamber housing countless urns within rough hewn niches. Who built the vast chamber and why? What remains lie within the urns? Most of all, what is still very much alive in the dark?
Click the cover image to learn more or download your copy.
Job Security (Zombies Hate To Be Unemployed) – Part 2
There was a loud thud and Russell turned to see Hannah passed out on the floor. Bob jolted up to help her but Russell stopped him with a raised hand. “Just, just stay seated, Mr. Samson. She’ll be all right.” Secretly, he hoped he was speaking the truth and she hadn’t, in fact, had a fatal heart attack. He felt a ball of vile rocket up his throat and covered his mouth with a handkerchief as he swallowed it back.
Okay old man, time to get off your heels and take charge of the situation, he scolded himself. Bob may be dead, but this is still an employee issue. He’s coming to you. You have the power, Russell. You hold the upper hand. Now deal with it!
Ignoring Hannah’s prone form behind him, Russell adjusted his tie, placed his handkerchief back in his breast pocket and straightened in his chair.
“Mr. Samson, let me first tell you that I appreciate your thirty years of hard work and dedication. No one, not even death, can take that away from you.”
“No, thank you. I think you’ll agree that you’re in a,” here he struggled for the right word, “unique situation. And you most certainly now possess some very intriguing qualities.”
Bob nodded his head vigorously and there was a squishing sound, like pockets of trapped bodily fluids were shifting from the movement of his neck. “You’d sure be hard pressed to find someone else that’ll be able to work a non-stop shift like I can.”
“True. However, there are laws I have to abide by, and one of them prevents me from letting a man work those kinds of hours.”
Russell was beginning to feel more like himself with each passing second. Here was the granddaddy of all conundrums and he was about to whip its ass.
“Plus, there’s the matter of personal hygiene. I know it’s not something you can control, given your state of being. I just don’t think it would be a good idea to have you in an enclosed area with dozens of other folks who might be a tad offended.”
“I was fixin’ to change that by getting some of those colognes.”
Hannah moaned when Russell moved his chair back into her leg. “Mr. Samson, you can put a tuxedo on a sow and bring it to the prom, but everyone will still know you’re planning on fucking a pig before the night is through. You get my point?”
And there it was. The white flag of utter defeat there in Bob Samson’s eyes.
“I do appreciate the offer, Mr. Samson, but we both know it won’t work.”
They sat in silence for a bit, then Bob hung his head and rose from his chair.
“Mr. Banks, if you’re telling me no, I honestly don’t know what I’m gonna do with myself. Working for Banks Textiles is all I know.”
Russell smiled, the head man in charge, and replied, “You have a new lease on life. Now that’s something only Lazarus and Jesus got the privilege of receiving. You don’t want to waste it in some old textile mill. Go out, do things you only dreamed of before you died.” Even he was shocked by the words as they fell from his mouth with such ease. “Hell, start a support group. I hear that’s a great way to get things back on track.”
Two phone lines rang at once and Russell Banks snapped the headset back on.
“Now if you’ll excuse me, duty calls.”
Bob Samson left with stooped shoulders, too polite to argue with the man, too sad to say so long.
Three weeks later, David Benderman, twenty year employee of Banks Textiles, died of a heart attack while attending a minor league baseball game. Four days after that, he returned home, dirt stained and confused, only to be cast out as a leper.
Buford Jackson had passed away a year before Bob Samson, only to “revive” a month after Bob’s failed attempt at re-employment. Buford was the worst for wear, his skin sloughing off at the slightest contact. He was nothing more but a skeleton with bits of hanging flesh within a week. He’d worked at Banks Textiles for eleven years before succumbing to cancer of the balls.
Melinda Wahlberg found herself standing on the outside of her crypt three weeks after a vicious car accident that killed her instantly. It was hard going, what with the twisted legs and torso, but she eventually made it back to her apartment, only to find it had been rented out to a nice Mexican couple. She hadn’t worked at or even heard of Banks Textiles, but she was damn sure in the same boat as Bob, David and Buford.
They had no homes and no one to talk to but each other. They met at the church in the Serene Pastures cemetery every night after closing. It seemed a fitting place to congregate.
As the weeks grew on, more people suddenly and inexplicably came back from what was formerly known as the permanent dirt nap. Within two months, they were over fifty strong. Most folks that had come in contact with them either refused to talk about it for fear of ridicule or sold their story to such reputable tabloids as The Weekly World News.
They had becomeGeorgia’s dirty little secret. For all they knew, it was only happening here, in this run down little town forged in heat and humidity.
It wasn’t until about their tenth meeting when a realization hit Bob Samson.
He had started a support group, just like Russell Banks had told him to.
And though he had found solace in a group of outcasts like himself, it did little to mend his shattered self worth. Here he was hiding by day, lurking in shadows, and congregating by night in a cemetery with its share of hollow graves. He was back, but what the hell was he doing with his time?
“I don’t know about you all,” he said one night, “but I need to find something constructive to do with my time. It wears on a man, all this hiding.”
There were a few murmurs of agreement, then Buford stood up and said, “I feel the same way you do, Bob, but what do you expect us to do? We’re zombies, for Christ’s sake. It’s not like the rest of the world is welcoming us with open arms.”
Now the murmuring was escalating to a chorus and decaying heads were nodding as one.
Bob answered, “First of all, I ain’t no zombie. I think we need to come up with a better term for ourselves, help build our self esteem. Zombies make me think of bad movies and filthy drive-ins. Second, we need to get off our rotting asses and get to work!”
“You already tried that and look where it got you,” someone chirped.
“Sure, I tried and failed. But did you? Or you?” He scanned the pews brimming with the undead. “Before we leave tonight, I say we better have a new name for ourselves and a plan to get gainfully employed. Maybe if we all try, someone will get hired.”
“And maybe we’ll all be hunted down like dogs,” Melinda Wahlberg interjected.
Bob sighed and said, “You’re right, maybe we will be hunted down like dogs. But I’d rather that than skirting around tombstones all day and night.”
And so it came to pass that the twentieth assembly of the recently undead came to officially call themselves Re-ans (thanks to the input of Thelma Donaldson, a former historian before her brain aneurysm) and set forth to win their jobs back.
To Be Continued…
Click here to read the final, gut wrenching chapter.
Check out Forest of Shadows by Hunter Shea : "Dark, intense and not afraid to get down and dirty."
Job Security — Part 1
For the past several years, zombies have been all the craze in the horror world. Personally, I’ve been obsessed with the subject ever since my father took me to see the original Dawn of the Dead.
Job Security is my little addition to the zombie genre. I’ve broken it up into easily digestible bits (kinda like nice, soft brains) and will post a new section each week. Enjoy!
By Hunter Shea
The sun was out that day for the first time in over a week, but Russell Banks didn’t have the spare time to notice. Every day was the same as far as he was concerned. Wake up, piss, shower, change and go to work until the sun went down, even on summer days when the Georgia sun reluctantly said goodnight at nine o’clock every night.
Banks Textiles was built with Russell’s sweat and blood and while he was still on this earth, he would continue to pour his very soul into the business at the expense of his own social life. Just ask his ex-wife, June, and the two boys he hasn’t seen in close to three years.
Thanks to the cancer that was outsourcing, the textile business in America was fast becoming a by-gone industry. You could hear Russell Banks decry the goddamn foreigners about ten times a day, along with countless other colorful epithets.
So it came to be that Russell was immersed in his duties as captain of the sinking ship on that bright, humid Tuesday when his secretary Hannah barged into his office looking waxen.
“Excuse me, Mr. Banks?”
“Hannah, I don’t have time,” he barked behind his imposing oak desk. A phone headset sat atop his balding scalp and he scanned the data on two computer monitors that sat side by side amidst the clutter.
He was too busy to notice that the old girl looked about ready to faint.
“But, someone’s here to see you and…”
He cut her off with a sharp wag of his finger and spoke into the fiber optic tube by his mouth. “Don’t give me excuses. Call me back in ten minutes with an answer.” He angrily punched the disconnect button on his pone, cursed the entire country of India and began poking through a mound of loose papers.
When he looked up and saw his secretary leaning against the door with eyes as wide and terrified as soon-to-be road kill, he asked, “Why are you still here. I told you, I don’t have time.”
“Bob Samson is here to see you,” she blurted out, her voice rising.
Russell removed his headset and gently placed it on the desk. Hannah had never acted like this before and he prayed it wasn’t some change of life episode. Sometimes women could be as irritating and life draining as the foreigners.
“Who the hell is Bob Samson and why the hell are you getting so worked up about it?” he said in a calm, even tone that barely masked his simmering anger.
Hannah moved away from the door and sat across from him. She looked about ready to jump out the window.
Her chin quivered as she said, “Bob Samson used to work in the factory. He was a line worker until last week. He came to get his job back.”
Ah, a former disgruntled employee, Russell thought. He probably came in all full of piss and vinegar and put the fear of God in her. Well, that was nothing a quick call to security couldn’t fix. As he dialed the extension for security, he said, “If he lost his job in the first place, it was for a good reason. I’ll have security come up and fetch him.”
Hannah leaped up and swatted the phone away. Russell jumped back in his chair, stunned.
“You don’t understand, Mr. Banks. Bob Samson died last week!”
Before he could retort, come up with something to gently suggest Hannah had lost her mind, there was a knock on the door, just three soft taps. The doorknob turned and Hannah dashed behind Russell sitting in his big swivel chair.
The smell made its greeting moments before Bob Samson came waltzing in. He looked as if he’d been black in life, but death had cast a gray pallor to his livid flesh. Removing his baseball cap, Russell noticed a tuft of wiry black hair pull from his scalp and plop onto his floor, weighted down by a small chunk of skin.
“I’m awful sorry about that,” Bob Samson said, reaching down to pick up that small part of himself and stuffing it into his pocket. “Seems I’m still getting used to my, ah, current condition.” He smiled, revealing a perfect set of pearly whites, the end result of Banks Textiles’ superb dental plan. Seeing such a set of choppers in a walking, talking corpse was about the only thing that kept Russell from losing his lunch, for no amount of polite banter could mask Bob Samson’s stench. It reminded Russell of the time he had found a dead deer while hiking in the woods. It had been sitting in the sun, bloated and gnawed upon by bugs and other animals beyond recognition, for close to a week.
Oblivious to their terror and disgust, Bob went on as if talking to a corpse was an everyday occurrence. “Now I know this is a bit of a shock and I don’t have an appointment and all, but I really wanted to talk to you personally, Mr. Banks. I mean, the first time I was alive I never got the chance to thank you for the job you and your company gave me. Why, it kept a roof over my head and food on my table for close to thirty years and I can’t think of anyone else that would do that for a man like myself.”
Russell and Hannah sat in mute silence.
“I know I’m not the most educated man in the world, but I was always a hard worker.”
“But…but, you’re dead,” Russell said. There was no need for a death certificate. His nose and eyes were all he needed to confirm the truth.
Bob laughed and slapped his thigh. “Was dead, was dead. When I woke up in that box, believe me, I was just as surprised then as you are now. Took me a better part of a day getting myself out of that fix. Now, I don’t profess to know how this happened or why. I never was much for goin’ to church and I stopped my schoolin’ when I was about nine. All I know is I’m back and I can’t think of a better thing to do with myself than come back to work for you, Mr. Banks. You might say I’m a new and improved model, because I don’t need sleep or food, so if you’ll have me, you got yourself a 24/7 employee.” He leaned back in his chair and marveled at the possibilities. “Well, maybe I’ll take a smoke break every now and then. At least now I know the smokin’ can’t hurt me.”
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