The Awakening: Excerpt

So, this is an excerpt from a project tabled right now and hope to get it done by the first of the year. Enjoy and please, give feedback.


The Awakening 1THE AWAKENING

By James Baxter ©2018

“Two possibilities exist; either we are alone in this Universe or we are not.” – Arthur C. Clarke

The rain from tropical storm Daniel cut through the July air sideways like giant liquid bullets, beating down on the tin roof of the bathhouse off the dunes of Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. Jill Blackstone leaned forward to see through the veil of water covering her windshield as she pulled between Sherriff Rick Tate’s car and the Beach Rescue vehicle, both of which had lights flashing through the Summer storm elements. The only thing she hated about living on the coast was the storms but at least this one would keep the crowd away and making this a spectacle. It had been two years since there was a shark attack on these beaches that amounted to more than a small scratch and she knew this one would definitely draw a crowd had the beaches been open.

Covering her head with hood of her bright yellow rain parka, she opened the door of her Lexus RX to see Sherriff Tate awaiting her. Leaning into the door to shut it against the wind, he put his arm around her and the two darted for the bathhouse door through the slicing rain, already being held open by one of Tate’s deputies.

Inside the bathhouse, the concrete floor was soaking wet from the rain water coming through the small ventilation holes at the bottom of the wall and laying on the floor just inside the door was white tarp, covered in blood, draped over what had to be the victim. She looked around the room and saw Sam Frierson, chief of the Georgetown County Beach Rescue Units, and with him, a young partner whom she did not recognize.

“Jesus Sam, they called in the county on this one? You didn’t have anything better to do in this hell storm?” she said, pulling the hood of her parka off her head and letting her long, red hair spill out onto her shoulders.

“Jill,” Sam nodded to greet her. “This one is bad. I haven’t seen one like this ever.” That was saying a lot considering Sam Frierson had been in Beach Rescue most of his life. He began his career as a lifeguard in Myrtle Beach during the Summers of college, studying Marine Science at Coastal Carolina University prior to his short stint as a pararescue airman in the United States Air Force. When he got his discharge from the military, he came back to the coast and began his work in beach rescue and worked his way up to chief of Georgetown County’s unit.

“Well,” she said, taking her rain gear off and handing it to the young rescue worker, she took a pair of latex gloves that Sam was holding out to her. She stretched the gloves over her hands and watched as Sam and his young partner pulled the tarp back.

The victim was a male who appeared to be in his mid-twenties. He was completely nude covered with blood from his wounds. He was missing his right arm, severed just below the shoulder and there were deep tissue injuries that appeared to be bites on his trapezium and along the right sides of his trunk, as well as his thighs. The right side of his neck was completely torn open. The soft tissue damage was extreme in nature, with the carotid artery, as well as the internal and external jugular veins, completely severed. There was an extensive amount of soft tissue missing, as well.  In all, there were six of those wounds resembling bite marks on his body, but it was, Jill knew, the ripped open neck and the amputated arm that killed him with the blood loss. Blood loss, she thought. She looked at the blood on the floor surrounding the body and back at the wounds. There are nine to twelve pints of blood in an adult human body; Jill estimated that there was probably less than three or four pints of blood surrounding this corpse.

The younger rescue worker turned quickly away and began dry heaving, trying not to vomit. Sam turned and put his hand on the young man’s back and turned his head to Jill.

“Have you ever seen one this bad?” he asked.

Shaking her head, she began running her hand around the wound on the victim’s shoulder. While the flesh and surrounding tissues were at least four inches from the shoulder line, the amputation was a complete dislocation with the entire bone of the upper arm ripped away, leaving just the cuff of the shoulder along with the remaining tissue. Her fingers traced the jagged lines of the muscle tissue and skin and she unconsciously let out a small “hmmm.”

“What?” Sam asked.

She moved her attention to what appeared to be bite marks, first on the left shoulder and then down the right side of the victim’s torso. The wounds were at least four inches across in width and all were missing large chunks of flesh. She withdrew a small tape measure from her shirt pocket and began measuring the wounds. As she ran her fingers around the edges of each wound she began shaking her head. The wounds at the top of the legs were the same.

She ran her gloved fingers around the injury to the throat. The sternocleidomastoid muscle was ripped apart and jagged on each edge. The same was true for the vessels; they had been ripped apart and the edges were jagged. This was the result of violent trauma. She ran her fingertip over the edges of the wound and noticed a small row of what looked like bite marks just outside the wound edges. They were not as deep, and the skin was torn at the teeth marks. Whoever, or whatever, attacked him went after the neck twice; the first unsuccessful, probably because the victim fought back and pulled away; the second was very successful. This was a deliberate wound.

Her fingers went back to his remaining arm and noted some scratching on the forearm. She turned his arm over to expose the palm and saw the same scratching, along with what appeared to be another bite mark but only superficial.

She pulled out her phone and began positioning herself over the victim to take multiple angle pictures of the wounds. She first photo’d the neck wound and then the shoulder; after that, the bite wounds on the rest of the body. She turned the palm of the intact arm up and took pictures of the scratches and bite mark.

Still squatting down beside the victim, she looked up at Sam. “Sam, where did you guys find him?”

“Well,” he said, “we didn’t actually find him. Sherriff Tate got a call that someone was still out on the beach and sent over a deputy. He found him and called it in.

“Uh, I just assumed it was some crazy ass surfer,” Tate said. “We always get them when these storms roll in. I had no idea…” his words drifted off.

“Have you ID’d him yet?” she asked.

“No,” Tate and Sam responded at the same time.

“No,” Sam said. “The kid was just like this, complete nude and no clothes or belongings in site. I guess you’ll have to get some dentals on him tomorrow.”

“I reckon we’ll have to get some signs up to close the beaches, too,” Tate said. “I mean, I don’t think it will matter until this storm passes but we may as well get them up. Jesus, I know the people are not going to want to hear “shark” during the peak season.”

“Guys,” Jill said, standing to her feet and removing her blood stained gloves. “This was not a shark attack.”

The men all stared at her, perplexed. They’re gaze left hers and drifted to the grotesquely injured body and then back to her.

“But…” Tate started to speak as his eyes went from her to the body and back to her.

“Sherriff, it was not a shark that did this. You see that,” pointing at the amputation. “That was a complete disarticulation, a clean one; that means the arm was completely ripped from the body by force, tearing some very strong ligaments and tendons and that tissue is jagged from being ripped and torn. Something with great force ripped that boy’s arm off. And the surrounding tissue is not consistent with any kind of bites. And those wounds that are bite marks over the rest of his body? The radius on those is not large enough to belong to any shark that would have to be large enough to do the rest of that kind of damage. And the teeth patterns are definitely not shark.

“And the neck? That is a deliberate wound, probably what the killer was going after first and this kid fought back, trying to get away.”

The men stood in awkward silence, surveying the body again and taking in everything that she had just said.

“Well Jill, what kind of teeth do you think it was?” Sam asked, bewildered.

“Sam, I don’t know. They are smaller and very sharp. Like a piranha but bigger.”

The men shook their heads in disbelief.

“And,” she continued, “you see those scratches on his forearm and palm and the bite on his palm? Those are defense wounds, Rick. Whatever or whoever did this, he was trying to fight them off him.”

“Well what are you thinking?” Sam was completely lost for direction, trying to mentally process what she was telling him.

“I’m thinking,” Jill said, looking at Sam and then to Rick Tate, “that we get this kid down to my office and find out who he is and where he came from. That’s the best start. Whatever did this,” pointing at the amputation, “is dangerous and could be loose out there.”

“Jesus, Jill,” Tate exclaimed. He stared at her looking confused and scared. “What the hell do you mean ‘whatever’ did this? It isn’t a shark, you say, so what in the hell do you think it is?”

“Guys, I don’t know.” She shook her head, her gaze going back and forth from Sam to Rick. “What I do know is that it was not a shark and I’m positive that those bite marks are not from a human mouth. So unless you believe in vampires or werewolves, I have no fucking idea what we are dealing with here.”

***

The rain finally died down later that night. Jill had showered and was walking around in her wife-beater t-shirt and cotton shorts, her hair still wet from the shower. She sipped on her cup of coffee, black, as she gazed out of her bay window overlooking the ocean. They had agreed that Tate and his deputy would take the victim to morgue, her office, and she would begin the ID process in the morning, along with a complete autopsy and official photographs. At Tate’s request and against Sam’s wishes, they also agreed to not say anything about this attack until they had more information.

She looked down at her phone and pressed the button and went to photos, swiping through the pictures she had taken earlier. In all of her years as an ER Trauma physician and her years as a coroner, she had never seen wounds like these. Her mind raced as she let her eyes go back to the ocean.  A chill came over her as she wondered what it could have been that attacked that boy. Whatever it was, she thought, was not human. And that was a thought that would keep her awake tonight.

Buried alive but digging my way out

Placeholder ImageIt’s been a couple of days since I’ve posted anything and just wanted to say…I’m Ok. I’ve been buried in getting things done and I guess it is my own fault. Sometimes I think I can take on several projects at one time and when I do that, I often find myself obsessed so much in the writing that I lose track of time and everything else.

Polishing The Lake and awaiting “that call” from the agent saying YES. I have Hauntings: Origin of Evil I’m still trying to finish and decided to start this YA series that has now turned into a comic/graphic series. I finished the story and the synopsis for the first issue of Volume 1. All I can say is I love this story and the plotlines. The series is THE KNIGHT CRUE and Issue one is “The Immortals”. I’m working with an amazing artist and can’t wait to see the layout for this thing.

Otherwise, it is life day by day. Write, sleep a little, and write some more. Occasionally I will eat. I’ve noticed I’ve dropped a few pounds in the past couple of months and I really believe it is the writing schedule I am keeping.

Anyway, I’m still here, still writing and ready to deliver the next project to everyone.

New Projects, New Excitement

vampireSo, as I continue to test the waters in the agent river, I also have decided to diversify my market and move into a new frontier for me…graphic fiction. I have put together a tentative creative team for a comic series in the horror genre. I had a chat today with an amazing artist out of Canada and we discussed the project and are moving forward to make this project a reality.

I’ve been in contact with three different comic companies, one from the “big four” in the industry and have to say after looking at the work that is out there, I feel pretty good about this project. I won’t give a lot of details about it right now but let’s just say that it is horror/supernatural arena and if I had to compare it to anything that I’ve seen I would say it’s a blend of the Frogg Brothers from “The Lost Boys” and maybe “Supernatural”. If I had to give it a more accurate description I’d say (for those old enough to remember) it’s like the Hardee Boys meets Van Helsing with a major twist. The tentative names I’m playing with right now are “The Knight Crue” and “Otherworld”.

After discussing with my art director for the project, as well as a very good friend of mine (Greg Adams) who is a recently retired, bad-ass inker from Marval comics, I’ve decided that the first of the projects will be pitched as monthly serials, to be compiled in a collection also. The second of the projects will more than likely be a graphic novel format but spread out into three volumes per story.

Anyway, I’m excited about this project. I began my creative writing around 5 or 6 years old by cutting out comic characters from comic books (mostly DC) and scotch taping them and using them to play and write my own stories with them. (Yeh, I’m old enough that we didn’t have real action figures back then so I made my own). So this project brings back some memories for me. I will keep you update.

The Guest Room: Flash Fiction

Boito-410-double-triggers.jpgMy chin rested against the cold steel as the water from my eyes slowly escaped, rolling slowly down my cheeks and onto my wrists as I held the barrel of the shotgun with a strong but shaky grip. I am unsure now if those tears were from pain or anger; perhaps it was a cocktail of both. I kept reading in my head the teams’ names that decorated the sheets that covered the tiny twin bed – Giants, Cowboys, Lions, Cardinals. The Lions, for some reason, always seemed to stand out. I gazed around the room through the wet veil that covered my eyes at the posters on the walls. Some of them were actually not even posters but full page photos from Athlon’s SEC guide that I had torn out and pinned to the wall. Rick Sanford returning a punt for the Gamecocks was always one of my favorites and it hung right beside my closet. Below that one was Ole Miss quarterback John Forcade running an option. Football was my passion and had been my refuge for so long. It was an escape for me, a sanctuary; I could disappear in that world and forget about the reality of emotional hell that I was living. In reflection, I believe that is what fuels my passion for it today; it helps keep things buried.

TO READ THE REST OF “THE GUEST ROOM” VISIT THE FLASH FICTION PAGE HERE

The Secret: Flash Fiction

THE SECRET

The secret 3As I bite into the procured fruit I am, for a moment, a boy, again. I wipe the earth from the firm ripe skin and puncture the oily surface with my teeth. The moist fleshy pulp massages my tongue as countless Indian summers pass. Cool winds and warm bright sunlight compete for possession of my cheeks. The juices trickle inside the corners of my lips, and sticky fingers wipe the droplets from their hollow. The slightly salty juice travels the length of the inside of my throat and lands in the confines of my stomach. Irony…cruel tricks of the mind…how such a serene moment can cause such a flood of sinister memories from a dark time…a time I buried in what I thought were the unreachable depths of my mind. But now, the haunting memories scale the wall of time in my mind and with the memories comes the guilt; I wish I had never seen it happen…I wish even more that I had told someone; fear…no, terror, kept me from telling. So for years the dark and sinister secret lay buried beneath layers of that fear and guilt; until today. Today, it ends…or perhaps it is just the beginning.

TO READ MORE OF MY FLASH FICTION, CLICK HERE

Time Is Racing By

CA43A961-4714-46C4-99C7-74C95E956C56Ok, time for some transparency, I suppose. I was driving through the blistering heat of Columbia, South Carolina earlier today and even with the air on inside the cab of the SUV, the backs of my legs were sweating against the leather of the seat. If you’re from elsewhere in the counry, let me just say this: In the Summer, South Carolina sweats like the mother of a bastard child at an Easter gathering. Anyway, as I was driving though this heat, I kept thinking “August” and it hit me: We are half-way through 2019 and I don’t know that I’ve accomplished the things I wanted to accomplish this year.

I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t like them. They make the gym crowded the first few month or so of a new year, without fail. But I do make a list of things that I’d like to accomplish throughout the year and try to mark them off as I get them done. Well, I am BEHIND! Here are the things I want to accomplish with the rest of this time that seems to be racing by me.

I wanted to finish THE LAKE and publish it. Well, that’s half done. It is finished. But I’ve held back on the publishing because one of my other goals was to get an Agent in 2019. Because I am patiently awaiting that, and I  have been contacted by a couple who I really like, I have held back on publishing the book for now. I believe it is too good to not get proper representation with the publishers and quite frankly, professional agents are better at that than I could ever be. So, for now, those two things are kind of out of my hands. I have told myself that if I have not secured an agent by November, I will publish it myself.

I want to finish the fourth book in the Hauntings series. Hauntings: Origin of Evil will be the best yet in that series. Just reading the opening scares the hell out of ME, and I’m the one who wrote it! So far, that is being worked on but not done. I should be able to accomplish that.

I decided that I am going to write a YA horror series. I actually didn’t just “decide” that, but I came up with a story idea and the more I ran with it in my head, the more it seemed appropriate for the YA market. Keep in mind, I’ve never written for the YA market before but just from making notes, writing a synopsis and a prologue have got me excited about this project. Will I be able to get it done in 2019? That is my goal. To have at least two serials of that series.

Personal stuff. I want to be a better person and try to practice humility without having to think about it. We live in a world with so much hate and division, I think it is important to try to let others k now you care about them as people and it’s not, nor should it be, what they can do for me. In fact, I think the bucket list should actually be about “Things I
Want To Do For Others Before I Die”.

Anyway, this is more of a rambling but I just wanted to share that time is precious. And the older we get the faster it seems to race by. Don’t let it get away from you.

 

Short Story: The Kiss

The Kiss - James Baxter small(Originally published in Simply Horror: Seeds of Nighmare, 2016)

***Disclaimer: this story contains adult content has been labled by many as “disturbing)

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Boston, Massachusetts. 1845

Elizabeth Florence unzipped her bag, tugging hard when it got to that spot where it always hung up. Ugh! A broken tooth on the zipper. A second tug got it past and the back opened up. She reached in and took out the four candles and looked around the room. There, on the dresser, was the perfect place for the large one. The mirror on the wall would provide excellent reflections. Carefully, she selected a resting place and sat the candles around the room. On a bedside table beside the table lantern, on a table across the room, and one on window sill. She lit each one as she carefully placed them, looking at him on the bed, resting so peacefully, to see if the light was hitting him just right.

READ THE REST OF “THE KISS”, and other short stories HERE