Author Guest Post: Mike Duke

“You know what I mean. You see monsters now. You can’t go back.”

2017

Amazon

Low Teaser Bits

 

Officer Mark Adams is fed up with God, his wife and the legal constraints of his job. He longs for a life he can enjoy and to see true justice meted out.

Chad Bigleby is a lawyer thrown into a deadly moral quagmire, forced to decide whether he will abide by man’s laws or make his own.

Each man is being driven to the edge of his limits.

Both men are on a collision course.

All because something wicked has arrived in Pleasant Grove, something ancient and obsessed with vengeance, eager to punish the souls of men for their sins.

How LOW will they go to get what they desire most? And what will it cost them in the end?

 Hell only knows…

Prologue

October 31 Full Moon

 

The old man and his dog walked into Pleasant Grove at a leisurely pace, picking their way across a recently harvested corn field. Stepping over tractor tire trenches, mounds of dirt and corn stalks left behind, they looked toward the hotel parking lot just ahead. The man stopped, gazed up at the full moon then bent down to tighten the laces of his boots. He spoke, calm anticipation warming his voice.

“It’s our time again Phobos. The Hunter’s Full Moon, and quite appropriately, the Traveler’s Moon, as we now find ourselves selecting another territory to call home for a time. Even more auspicious, this year, it falls on the sacred moon Sabbat of Samhain.”

With an ease that belied the weathered appearance of his elderly frame, he stood, sturdy and confident, before he pulled a pipe from his jacket pocket, and thoughtlessly pressed the dark matter inside the hollowed wood. A brief incantation escaped his lips, followed by a puff of air; light glowed, smoke swirled. He drew the grey tendrils deep inside and held them captive for a long time before slowly breathing out and releasing them to the darkness.

“I remember nights like this, special nights when sacrifices were necessary to divert the dark flood bearing down. Villagers stacked their neighbors, men and women both, like cordwood and burned them as such, marching between the blazing pyres of charred bone and sizzling flesh, seeking purification, the blood of the dead smeared on every forehead, a ward against the roaming demon hordes crossing over for the Hunt. We were a scourge upon mankind, at times eradicating whole settlements. So they killed the weak and the old and begged for their lives, pleaded for good fortune and ample provision throughout the winter. Each sacrificial throat slit was an attempt to placate the gods of the harvest, to earn protection; and on rare nights like this, people needed protection from duplicitous spirits glutting themselves on the pain of others to relieve their own misery. Better living through sacrifice, I suppose … at least for the survivors. Probably why they remembered their dead and bound them before burial or placed rocks in their mouths … just in case they came back.”

The old man kicked a particularly large dirt clog on the field’s edge, watched it spray into the air and fall back to earth. Phobos sneezed. They stepped off and headed toward the downtown area, the silence comfortable between them.

After a while they entered the city park and turned north, walking towards the far corner, a glowing light visible from a distance.

“I tell you Phobos, there are few things in this world like the hunting of men, people scattering before you, fleeing with screams, the smell of fear so rich you could taste it in the air long before you sank your teeth into their skulls, crunching down like a dog eating a raw egg in the shell.

“Of course, I had standards, mind you. I enjoyed running down the ones who had killed family and neighbors to save their own skins. Their rites held no sway over our kind, Phobos.” The old man motioned with his hand back and forth, indicating himself and the dog as the special ‘our kind.’ “And I tell you, the irony was absolutely juicy. Yum!”

He paused as they approached a small group of men huddled around a small fire, far from the main walkways.

“Hmm … Yes, Phobos, those were the days. Good times.”

They walked right up to the circle of homeless men, who remained apparently oblivious to their arrival until the old man spoke, his voice assuming a kind British accent typical of the peasantry many years ago.

“Hullo, gents. Got room for me and me dawg by chance?”

They startled at his voice, but once they looked him over and saw all the wrinkles and age worn eyes, they decided he wasn’t a threat. A middle-aged fellow with a full beard spoke up for the rest.

“Yeah, old timer, grab a bucket and take a seat. What’s yer name?”

“Phailees. Mister Phailees. And thank ye for the warm welcome.”

Three others greeted them. Mister Phailees smiled. Phobos licked his chops and whined ever so quietly, focusing on the large framed man sitting mute.

“So,” Phailees piped up, “got anything good to eat? We sure are hungry.”

“Ralph here is good at trapping squirrel. It’s not much, but you can have a bite or two.”

“Yes, that would be tasty, indeed, till something more … substantial can be found.”

 They ate in near silence, occasional comments on politics, weather, or sports. One guy carried on about government conspiracies and UFOs. Everyone sat warming themselves by the fire. One by one the men wandered off in time, each back to his chosen slumber spot, to bundle up in blankets, trash, and cardboard shelters. Only the large man who would not speak stayed behind, seated across the fire from them.

Phailees stared at the man. He knew his kind. The man served 10 years for rape long ago, but has never been caught for all the other times he’s violated women since then.

Phailees wet his mouth and stood, his posture becoming uncommonly erect. He set his jaw and took the first step. Tonight, this man would pay for his sins.

Turned out the brute wasn’t mute, just rude. No one heard his screams, but it made Phailees think of long ago, of the dog and the egg, teeth piercing the hard shell, the golden treasure exploding across taste buds.

Later, wiping his lips clean, he mumbled to himself in fond recollection. “Oh yes. It was just like that.”

 

Bio:

A fighter, writer, teacher and lover of things both light and dark. A streak of lunacy tempered by my charming wife and German Shepherd Ziva. God broke the mold after he made me.

 

Favorite Quotes and Personal Philosophies in Life

“Always attempt to stab your opponent in the face.” – Miyamoto Musashi

“Deception is the Highest form of Warfare.” – Sun Tzu

“Go big or Go home.” – Neil Smith (former Co-worker)

“Life is better with a dog. Especially a German Shepherd.” – Anonymous + Me

Author Links:

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