So today I have an awesome blog tour to share with all of you. Author Michael West is touring his amazing new book Spook House and this is one of his stops. So excited!
Below you will find an excerpt from his new book and some of the art inside the book as well. Make sure you check this book out!
Title: Spook House
Author: Michael West
Publisher: Seventh Star Press
There are some places in this world that go far beyond any normal definition of “haunted.” These places are so evil, so diabolical, that they become gateways to Hell itself. The Fuller Farm is one such place. It is said that old man Fuller conducted unspeakable acts, blood rituals and human sacrifices, all in an attempt to gain the ultimate knowledge, the ultimate power. And then, he was killed–horribly murdered on his own lands, leaving the house to stand as a vacant monument to his wickedness. But once a door is opened, it can never really be closed. Now, the stars are right. The gateway is ready to once more unleash unspeakable horror upon the town of Harmony, Indiana. And this will be one Halloween that they will never forget!
The woman sat motionless in the back of the police cruiser. Robby Miller noticed the Monarch still clutched in her hand. It looked as if she’d used the little taser on herself. Her eyes were the palest blue; vacant, distant, glancing neither right, nor left, nor even acknowledging him as he knelt beside her and slipped a blood pressure cuff around her arm.
He flashed her a smile anyway. “Hey there.”
She said nothing, continued to stare off into space.
“I’m just gonna make sure you’re okay.” Robby adjusted the earbuds of his stethoscope; he reached out with the diaphragm, paused, and said, “This might be a little cold.”
He placed the metal disc against her chest and she winced.
“Sorry.” He listened to the tune of her heart, strong and steady, then inflated the blood pressure cuff. “I’m Robby. What’s your name?”
At first, he didn’t think she would answer, but then her lips parted and he heard her say, “Sheri.”
“Nice to meet you, Sheri.” He watched the cuff slowly deflate. 86 over 55. Low, but she’s obviously in shock. “Can you tell me what happened?”
Sheri’s face twisted into an expression of revulsion. “It tried to get me.”
It? Robby frowned. Another EMT might not have thought twice about the word, but Robby’s mind seized it and wouldn’t let go. He blinked and looked her over, tried to redirect his mind to assessing her injuries. Tiny cuts marred the pale skin of her forearms and face; they weren’t deep, no more than nicks really, and they’d already begun to scab. “Did it hurt you?”
She shook her head and held up the stun pen. “I zapped it and it disappeared.”
Robby looked over his shoulder to make sure no one would hear. “You mean ... like a ghost?”
She shook her head, the shock in her eyes giving way to confusion. “It ran off.”
Robby let go of a breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding. “So it was an animal?”
“But it didn’t bite you or scratch you?”
She shook her head again.
“What kind of animal was it?”
Her mouth opened and she wrinkled her nose in disgust. Behind her eyes, he could see her searching for words to adequately describe what she’d seen. Finally, she gave up and just shrugged.
“It’s okay, Sheri.” Robby unfastened the cuff; the loud rip of the Velcro made her jump. He opened a plastic bag and removed a thick blanket; he unfolded it, then draped it around her. “This will help keep you warm.”
“Did they find Jeff?”
“My – my boyfriend.” She blinked out a tear and used the corner of the blanket to mop her cheek, then her eyes drifted up to the Fuller place. “He went in there.”
Robby followed her line of sight. Sure, it was an ugly house, a rambling eyesore, a monument to rot, to decay, but at least it was honest. Real. Other homes hid Harmony’s true ugliness beneath manicured lawns and polished veneers. Not this place. No. This old farmhouse told the whole sordid story with every crumbling plank and moldering brick.
“I think it got him,” Sheri muttered, and with the words came fresh tears, “but I – I don’t know. I need to know.”
Robby nodded, then turned his attention to a small knot of officers forming in the tall grass at the foot of the steps. One of them aimed his flashlight at the ground. Robby recognized him from previous runs. His name was Hicks, and judging by the enthusiasm in his young face, he’d found something good.
“Let me see what I can find out for you,” Robby said over his shoulder, but when he started to stand, Sheri reached out and gripped his forearm like a vice. He turned to look back at her and saw a sense of urgency in her eyes.
“Please,” she said, “be careful.”
Robby placed his hand over hers and gave it a gentle squeeze. “I’m just going to walk over and talk to the officers.” He pointed them out to her. “You’ll be able to see me the whole time, and I’ll come right back here and tell you what I find out.”
She nodded and released her grip.
He stood and stepped away from the cruiser, but his eyes were drawn back to Sheri again and again as he waded through the tall grass. When he reached the officers, Robby looked down and saw what was caught in Hicks’ light. Animal tracks, but not like any he’d ever seen before. They were huge.
“Looks like we got another cougar on the loose,” one of the cops – Kirsch – said.
“I thought cougars were extinct,” Robby told him, his eyes still on the tracks. They did look vaguely cat-like; four rounded toes with long, slender claws that dug deep furrows in the dirt, but there was something odd about them. For one thing, there seemed to be tracks on top of tracks, as if the animal had walked this same path half-a-dozen times. And there were deep holes behind some of the prints, always centered, like the stiletto heel of a woman’s shoe.
“Well, maybe one of these days somebody’ll let the cougars know that.” Kirsch snickered. “Then we won’t have to chase ’em anymore.”
One of the other cops spoke up: “Remember last year, that guy in Ohio? Has his own fuckin’ zoo and decides one night to open all the cages before he offs himself. Those guys had to spend the whole next day trackin’ down a damn menagerie. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my.” He flicked his light around. “You think somebody ‘round here?”
“Nobody in Harmony’s that stupid,” Kirsch asserted. “Most dangerous pet around here is that mangy mutt down at Robinson’s Salvage.”
Robby nodded at the vacant doorway. “Anybody know what happened to the boyfriend? Dispatch only mentioned the woman.”
“He’s not in the house,” Hicks told him. “We’ve checked the barn too.” The officer paused a moment, putting the scene together in his mind, obviously still trying to make sense of it; he lifted his flashlight to the distant tree line. “We think he might have run off into the woods to try and lure the animal away from his girlfriend.”
“Okay.” Robby looked up at the moon. “So you’re standing out here in the yard because the light’s better?”
Kirsch got defensive. “There’s acres of woods and cornfields out there, Miller.”
“I know that.” A chill crawled up Robby’s back to his scalp. “But if that thing’s out there – ”
“We’ll deal with it.” Kirsch adjusted his belt and put his hand on his holster and the Glock within. “When animal control gets here, we’ll track it down.”
For all his macho talk, Robby knew Kirsch wasn’t going after it because he didn’t want to go into those woods at night. More than anyplace else on Earth, he didn’t want to go in there. None of them did. Oh sure, they would go into the barn, the place where they pulled Grand Dragon Fuller out of a threshing machine in bits and pieces, but they didn’t want to set foot out there. And Robby couldn’t say he blamed them.
People had a habit of disappearing in those woods.
Too many people.
“There are old cops,” Sheriff Carter used to say, “and there are bold cops, but there are very few old, bold cops.”
Robby used to think that he was so much smarter than Sheriff Carter. Now he wondered. Carter had long since retired and left Harmony for the Arizona desert. Not a cornfield in sight.
Why are you still stuck in this town, Miller? What are you trying to prove?
He made a fist and pointed back at the cruiser with his thumb. “So who gets to tell the girl that her boyfriend’s missing?”
“I’ll do it,” Hicks said, and there was clear frustration in his voice. Robby could tell the young cop wanted to go out there, though the others had talked him out of it, and the decision obviously wasn’t sitting well with him. Hicks was still new to Harmony, and while he’d undoubtedly heard all the stories – you can’t avoid it around here – he’d not yet seen enough to really believe them.
Stick around, buddy boy. Stick around.
This is Route 6 after all, his brain offered, as if he was in need of the prompt. Remember what happened with Paul Rice’s car? How it flipped over just up the road from here? How you pulled him from the burning wreck and he laid screaming in his delirium, going on and on about demons, about how they were clawing at the glass, coming to get him, coming to take away his soul? And then there was that business at the Woodfield Movie Palace last year. Who could forget that, right? But that demon ... that one you were able to stop, weren’t you? You were able to send that fucker straight back to Hell, big guy. Good work! You the man! But it doesn’t make up for all your friends that died out there in the corn, now does it? You couldn’t do anything to stop that, could you? No. They died, and you couldn’t do Jack Shit! That’s something you’ll never forget, Robby, because I won’t let you. No way, buddy boy. I’ll keep reminding you ... every ... single ... day!
To be continued…
About the Author:
Michael West is the critically-acclaimed author of The Wide Game, Cinema of Shadows, Skull Full of Kisses, and The Legacy of the Gods series. He lives and works in the Indianapolis area with his wife, their two children, their bird, Rodan, their turtle, Gamera, and their dog, King Seesar. Every Halloween, he turns his garage into a haunted house
Thanks so much to Michael West for stopping by Ali's Bookshelf today and sharing this great excerpt with us!