There are no words for it. Ecstasy is laughably inadequate, as are rapture, euphoria, bliss.... Ugly, harsh syllables that come nowhere near capturing the merest fraction of what he feels. The experience is primal and transcendent, like birth, like death. Hoping to regain a sense of normal family life, Scott Raymond follows his estranged wife and son to Ash Creek, Ohio under the pretense of writing a new book about a missing six-year-old girl. There, he encounters a young woman who shares the missing girl's name. She leads Scott into a world of psychotropic spiders, shark-toothed teenagers, and the expression of nearly every dark desire. Fear and fascination lay equal claim as the fantasies of this realm bleed into Scott's daily life before the nightmare that bloodied his childhood will reach out to ensnare his own son. "[Tim Waggoner] plumbs the Barkered darkness with a visceral intensity that will leave you puking and grinning. The plot is compelling, intricately weaving into itself like a mobius noose, drawing the reader inwards hard against the fisted break-knot" -- Cemetery Dance "A well-written, fast-paced, horrifically gory novel...incredibly unique." --The Horror Channel
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.77(d)|
Read an Excerpt
By Tim Waggoner
Copyright © 2005
All right reserved.
Huddled beneath the kitchen table, knees drawn to his chest,
hands balled into fists, jammed against his ears, kneading
them, as if he might cut off the screams by grinding cartilage
and flesh to a pulp. It doesn't work; the screams come
through just fine.
He keeps his eyes open, doesn't seem to be able to close them,
even to blink. Which is too bad, because he'd give anything
to shut out what he's seeing. At nine, he's too young to make
useless bargains with God - If you take away the cancer I
swear I'll be faithful to my wife, I really mean it this time
- and he's too old to think he can make it never-was merely by
wishing hard, hard, hard! All he's got are those fists of his
grinding, grinding ...
A woman falls to the kitchen floor with a wet smack. Her face
is turned toward him, and like his, her eyes are wide open.
The difference is she's never going to close hers again, not
on her own. An image flashes through his mind, a composite
drawn from hundreds of movies and TV shows: a hand (sometimes
belonging to a cop, sometimes a coroner) passing over the
open-eyed face of an actor pretending to be dead. The fingers
are straight, and there is no obvious contact between the hand
and the mock-corpse's face. Yet when the hand has finished
its pass, the eyes are closed,almost as if it were some sort
of magic trick. The boy wonders if he were to reach out and
pass his hand an inch or so over the woman's face, if her eyes
- those terrible, empty eyes - would close. He doubts it.
Life is never as good as TV.
The front of the woman's flower-print sundress is covered with
blood, so much and so thick that it's almost black. The dress
itself is shredded, and he realizes that what he first took to
be blood on the fabric is really gore smeared on her flesh.
He stares at something round with a little nub in the middle,
and he understands that he's looking at his first naked
breast. At least, the first he's ever seen outside the pages
of a purloined Playboy. It looks so much different than the
pictures he's seen; it sags a bit, for one thing. And of
course, it's slick with blood. Miss June after she's been
through a meat grinder.
Someone else is screaming now. Or maybe the screaming has
taken up residence inside his skull despite his efforts to
keep it out, and it's echoing in there, bouncing around,
becoming louder and shriller with each pass, and soon it'll
get so loud that his head can't possibly contain it anymore
and it'll explode, splattering the underside of the table with
blood, bone, and brain.
He wants to look to see who else is screaming, but he can't
move (besides his fists, of course, those he can move just
fine, still grinding, grinding), not even to turn his head, so
he keeps staring at the dead woman's face name, name, name, he
knows her name, knows who she is, but he can't and he watches
as a pool of dark blood spreads out from beneath her, the
leading edge of it sliding toward him slowly, as if he were
sitting on a beach watching a crimson tide come in.
Gotta move. If he doesn't, the blood will reach his sneakers
within seconds, stain them, and his mother that isn't his
mother on the floor, staring, mouth gaping open like a dead
fish, it isn't! will get mad at him for getting them dirty.
She just bought them last week. But if he moves, he'll draw
attention to himself, and that would be a Very Bad Thing,
because ... because ... He's not sure why, really. Just
So when the blood touches his sneakers, his legs tense, but he
doesn't move, and when it rolls on, touching the bottom of his
shorts, starting to soak through at once, warm as fire against
his skin, he grits his teeth and a soft keening sound starts
deep in his throat, but he doesn't move, doesn't dare. Only
now he's punching his ears with fast jabs, left-right,
left-right, left-right, and his head starts to ring, but it's
not loud enough to cover the screams, not nearly.
A shuffle of feet, and the table gives a jump. The sound
startles him, breaks his paralysis, at least for a second, and
he's able to turn his head, sees a pair of hairy legs, men's
legs, feet in brown leather sandals. There's blood on those
legs, streaks and splatters, though they seem to be undamaged.
Dripped from above, the boy thinks, the observation as cool
and rational as any made by the cops in the TV shows he likes,
Starsky and Hutch, Baretta, The Streets of San Francisco, and
the coolest of all, Hawaii Five-Oh. Drums, that wave, Jack
There's another pair of legs beyond the hairy ones; these are
covered by blood-dotted khaki slacks, feet encased in
crimson-speckled black shoes. Under those shoes are red
smears, and the boy wonders how either of these men have
managed to maintain their footing with so much blood all over.
He hears the sound of what he guesses is a knife plunging into
flesh - chuk, chuk, chuk - but it's a terribly ordinary sound,
like when his mother slices a cantaloupe (though he can't see
it from here, he knows there's one on the counter, mother
bought it before they left home, they were going to have it
for supper, but he knows they aren't going to have it now, no
one's going to have an appetite after this).
Those hairy legs buckle, the sandaled feet slip out from under
them, and the man crashes to the floor, causing the table to
slide back a couple inches. He falls next to the wide-eyed
woman, a hairy arm draped across her leg, almost as if he were
purposefully posing for the crime-scene photos to come. His
blood pools, runs, mingles with the woman's. The boy
experiences an urge to reach out and try to separate the
blood, smear it apart, because if it gets all mixed up there's
no way anyone'll be able to tell whose is whose, and then how
will the doctors be able to put it back? But he doesn't move,
keeps pounding his ears until he realizes something.
The screaming has ended.
He stops hitting himself, draws his fists away from red, raw
ears. Listens through the ringing, hears harsh breathing,
tired but excited. Looks at the khaki legs still upright,
standing patiently. A hand hangs next to the right leg; it's
holding a wicked-looking hunting knife, metal coated with wet
"Come on out, Scotty." This is breathed more than said, the
words drifting forth when the speaker exhales. The boy tries
to place the voice, almost can, but fails.
A pause, and he senses a smile accompanying these next words.
"It's your turn."
The boy sighs, closes his eyes (since he still can) and waits
for the hands to reach for him.
Excerpted from Like Death
by Tim Waggoner
Copyright © 2005 by Tim Waggoner.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Tim Waggoner works some mojo . . .
author of Clive Barker: the Dark Fantastic and Run