– ‘The Magic Of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Ghost Mine’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tours.
To promote Hunter Shea his book I have an excerpt, but b
About the Author :
Hunter Shea is the author of over 20 books, with a specialization in cryptozoological horror that includes The Jersey Devil, The Dover Demon, Loch Ness Revenge and many others. His novel The Montauk Monster, was named one of the best reads of the summer by Publishers Weekly. A trip to the International Cryptozoology Museum will find several of his cryptid books among the fascinating displays. Living in a true haunted house inspired his Jessica Backman: Death in the Afterlife series (Forest of Shadows, Sinister Entity and Island of the Forbidden). He was selected to be part of the launch of Samhain Publishing’s new horror line in 2011 alongside legendary author Ramsey Campbell. When he’s not writing thrillers and horror, he also spins tall tales for middle grade readers on Amazon’s highly regarded Rapids reading app.
An avid podcaster, he can be seen and heard on Monster Men, one of the longest running video horror podcasts in the world, and Final Guys, focusing on weekly movie and book reviews. His nostalgic column about the magic of 80s horror, Video Visions, is featured monthly at Cemetery Dance Online. You can find his short stories in a number of anthologies, including Chopping Block Party, The Body Horror Book and Fearful Fathoms II.
Living with his crazy and supportive family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to see the skyline without having to pay New York rent. You can follow his travails at www.huntershea.com.
• Paperback: 288 pages
• Publisher: FLAME TREE PRESS; New edition (May 30, 2019)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 178758206X
• ISBN-13: 978-1787582064
Previously titled Hell Hole.
Deep in a Wyoming mine, hell awaits. Nat Blackburn is given an offer he can’t refuse by President Teddy Roosevelt. Tales of gold in the abandoned mining town of Hecla abound. The only problem – those who go seeking their fortune never return. Along with his constant companion, Teta, a hired gun with a thirst for adventure, Nat travels to a barren land where even animals dare not tread. Black-eyed children, strange lights and ferocious wild men venture from the deep, dark ghost mine…as well as a sinister force hungry for fresh souls.
Billy took several confident steps into the cave. The reverberation of his footsteps caromed off the uneven walls, disappearing into its unfathomable core.
A pile of loose rocks on the left, just fifteen feet into the cave, would make for a good place to sit and wait. The sun’s dying rays didn’t dare come this far into the cave. In here was the blackness of a starless night. He tilted the candle and poured some hot wax onto a flat rock by his feet and planted the nub in the wax.
With his hands now free, he laid out a few of his choice rocks and fitted one into the slingshot’s pocket holder. He pulled back on the rubber, stretching it as taut as he could, feeling the small burn in his muscles.
Reaching into his front shirt pocket, he found the crumbs of bread and cheese he’d secreted off his supper plate the night before. He scattered the morsels of food in front of him.
Now all that was left was the waiting.
He kept as still and quiet as the stones around him. He breathed through his mouth because he had a tendency to whistle through his nose. Even the tiniest noise was made large by the acoustics of the cave.
It didn’t take long. He heard the rats well before he saw them. Their enhanced sense of smell drew them to his trap.
Their squeaks and squeals filled the cave with the sounds of starvation.
The first pink snout, whiskers twitching madly, stepped into the candlelight. Billy saw its round, black eyes and pulled back on the slingshot.
Just a little closer, he thought.
The rat was as long as his forearm, but so skinny he could see the outline of its ribs through its matted fur. This would be a mercy kill. Squinting his right eye down the Y sight of the slingshot, he let the rock fly. It zipped through the air fast as a hummingbird. The rat yelped and flipped onto its back. It clawed the air, wailing in pain. He watched with morbid curiosity as it struggled to turn itself over. Each time it tried, it scraped its wounded belly against the floor. The pain sent it reeling onto its back, leaving small droplets of blood in its wake.
It flipped and flopped like this for several minutes. Its protests scared the other rats back into the depths of the cave. Billy waited until the rat stopped and became silent. Extracting the candle from its wax holder, he knelt down to take a closer look. The rock had pierced one side of its scrawny belly and come out the other. He could see the pink of its guts pushing their way out of the hole. It was dead all right.
It was the biggest animal he’d ever killed for fun. The tail alone had to be six inches. He lay on the ground next to it and stretched his arm alongside its still form. Lining up the peak of its snout with the tips of his fingers, he looked up his arm and saw how the tail ended past his shoulder.
“You’re a big son of a bitch,” he said, getting back to his feet.
Son of a bitch, a bitch, a bitch, called back to him.
For a moment, he felt sorry for the rat. Killing little critters was one thing. For some reason, it didn’t seem altogether right, taking the life of something this big without it being in self defense or to put on the family table.
Maybe I should give it a nice burial.
That would make it right, help ease his conscience. He’d bury it within the cattails. After being in the dark so long, it would appreciate spending eternity under the sun and stars.
He picked it up by the tail, feeling it slap against his thigh. He hoped it didn’t get any blood on his britches. His ma would kill him if she saw that.
Something heavy crashed in the Stygian depths behind him.
It was followed by a large thud. Then another. Billy felt it in his chest, as much as he heard it with his sunburned ears.
A boulder of phlegm and bile lodged in his throat.
Footsteps! Something was walking inside the cave. And it was coming toward him.
Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.
His knees, locked at first, flexed and he started to run. The rat was still in his grasp. A voice called out from the dark. “Uh-uh-uh, Billy. It’s not nice to take away my pets.”
The words didn’t echo because he heard them in his head.
Stunned into immobility, Billy turned to face the man. Those ponderous footsteps continued. No man could walk that heavily.
His chin quivered when he looked up toward the ceiling of the cave. A pair of red, menacing eyes hovered there, some nine feet in the air. He couldn’t make out a body. The eyes narrowed, and the thunderous footsteps stopped.
Billy’s hands shook, and the rat fell to his feet. It sprang back to life, chirping angrily. An irregular line of blood stretched into the dark as its bony body scampered back to where the red eyes glared.
He tried to scream, but nothing would come out. All he wanted to be was home, safe with his ma and daddy. Hot tears streaked down his grime-covered cheeks.
The candle in his hand sputtered out, and the darkness took him into its cold and empty embrace.
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