In a departure from my usual Mid-Weak Writing post, something new. Early in the new year, I’m going to be self-publishing a series of ebooks featuring various sub-genres of horror and science fiction, and I’m starting with Weird Westerns. The first contains two unnatural stories of revenge, the second a coming-of-age tale which features a disturbing transformation.
Below is an excerpt from the first book, in which two mourners hold the viewing of a corpse in their sitting room, as it once was done. But before the words, feast your eyes on the cover!
And now, with no more ado:
THE LYING ROOM
My brother lay in another man’s shirt, his trousers damp from a scrubbing that still left long stains of blood down their front past the knee. The orphan sat in the tallest chair and stared with solemn expectation, as though he couldn’t grin his ugly grin until Toby jumped up and this great joke was finished.
We sat there with Toby all day. I got up for water, but his son never moved. The afternoon sank away to nothing. No-one came out to join us.
At dusk I went out to the tree to look over by the markers of our mother and father, at the gap between those and that of my brother’s Indian wife where I’d dig in the morning. I went to the lean-to and picked a piece of wood for a marker, plus a shovel that would be up to the task. I left the shovel outside, between the door-frame and the lid of the coffin. My nephew had moved no more than his father while I was gone.
I fell asleep carving my brother’s name on his marker, and dreamt of him coming up from outside the farm. The sky was night and the house was at my back, or perhaps I was inside looking out. The three grave markers and the tree threw long shadows and Toby came stepping between them, through the place I’d planned to dig. His form seemed to rise from an unfathomable depth, more shallow as faint candlelight struck him, dim and dull in his details. The land behind him was where the black was without stars. On its boundary with the sky blazed a distant fire, great like the sun, but illuminating nothing. Before it something danced, or many things, small silhouettes like men which I couldn’t make out.
He came up to me, or to the window between us, and with a silent mouth asked leave to enter. I shook my head and he asked again, but I only shook my head and wished him gone. And then I heard an opening door, and the light shone on him more brightly, and he looked down with a smile, and I woke.
My brother and I were alone, the room all in darkness except for a light coming from the corridor. Rising to the doorway, I found the half-breed child looking back at me from the opened front door, a lit lamp in his hand. Night’s chill breathed in past him.
“Close that,” I told him, and he did. I took the lamp roughly and pushed him towards the room he had shared with my brother, opposite the sitting room. Opposite where my brother’s raised head was looking out at us from his coffin on the table.
It only gets weirder from then on in…
If you’re the excitable type, End Trails Volume One – Two Stories of the Weird West is available for pre-order now, and will be published on January 5th, 2015.