– ‘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 ‘Those Who Came Before’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but b
About the Author :
J.H . Moncrieff’s City of Ghosts won the 2018 Kindle Book Review Award for best Horror/Suspense. Reviewers have described her work as early Gillian Flynn with a little Ray Bradbury and Stephen King thrown in for good measure. She won Harlequin’s search for “the next Gillian Flynn” in 2016.
Her first published novella, The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, was featured in Samhain’s Childhood Fears collection and stayed on its horror bestsellers list for over a year.
When not writing, she loves exploring the world’s most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class.
To get free ebooks and a new spooky story every week, go to http://bit.ly/MoncrieffLibrary.
An idyllic weekend camping trip is cut short when Reese Wallace’s friends are brutally murdered. As the group’s only survivor, Reese is the prime suspect, and his story doesn’t make much sense. A disembodied voice warning him to leave the campground the night before? A strange, blackened tree that gave him an electric shock when he cut it down for firewood?
Detective Greyeyes isn’t having any of it—until she hears the voice herself and finds an arrowhead at the crime scene—an arrowhead she can’t get rid of. Troubling visions of a doomed Native American tribe who once called the campground home, and rumors of cursed land and a mythical beast plague the strangest murder case she’s ever been a part of.
People are dying at Strong Lake, and the worst is yet to come.
I spun around, startled, as someone breathed my name against my neck. Goose bumps sprouted along my spine. When I saw no one was there, I rolled my eyes.
“Very funny, ladies.”
There was no answer, not that I’d expected one.
A chill crept into my feet, travelling up my legs and making me feel like it was winter instead of fall. As I stamped my feet to warm them, I wondered what was taking Dan so damn long. Surely it had been more than ten minutes?
You’re not welcome here.
This time I looked over my shoulder as fast as I could, but I was too slow. Nothing greeted me but darkness.
“Okay, knock it off. I’m not in the mood to play games.”
“Then tell Dan to stop playing with you,” Kira called from the tent, inciting new giggles from Jessica.
Shit. Both women were in the tent? Then maybe Dan – nah, if Dan were trying to freak me out, he wouldn’t breathe against my neck. That was a little too…Brokeback.
At that moment, the man himself came crashing through the bush, making me jump.
“Sorry, did I scare you?”
“No more than usual.”
“The womenfolk are okay?”
He grinned and handed me the Maglite. “Better than the alternative.
Can’t live with ’em, but can’t live without ’em, right? I’m going to bed. It’s all yours.”
I was tempted to ask him to go with me, even though he’d think I was crazy. What the hell was I worried about, and why was I jumping at shadows?
For Christ’s sake, Reese, get a hold of yourself. You’re too old to be afraid of the dark.
Even so, I tucked Dan’s flashlight into my back pocket. Better safe than sorry.
I woke up gasping, unable to catch my breath.
The tent was an oven. How long had the sun been up? I was suffocating in a nylon prison, my sleeping bag having acquired a stranglehold on my neck during the night.
Great. The tent was leaking. It must have rained. The campsite was eerily quiet. Why didn’t anyone wake me?
Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I studied the nylon ceiling. Dan had committed the ultimate sin of camping. His tent was dark blue, almost black. No wonder it felt like I’d been cooked alive.
It was stained too. Great patches of something dark dotted the ceiling and the walls. Some of them were still moist, and that was where the dripping sound was coming from.
Liquid spattered on my nose, and I shot upright, wrestling with the sleeping bag. Panic squeezed my chest when the zipper stuck, but in a few seconds I was able to work it free.
As I wiped the water off my face, I caught a glimpse of my hand. It was red. Bright red.
That isn’t water.
I patted my head and face, searching for a wound. Sometime during the night, something must have cut me. It was too much blood for a mosquito bite.
Shaken, I crawled out of my sleeping bag, desperate to join the others. I couldn’t find anything wrong, and I wasn’t in pain, but they would see the injury, whatever it was. Maybe they knew what had happened, but why had they left me alone?
My nose was always stuffy in the morning, but by now it had cleared enough that I could smell my own blood. Thick and heavy, with the sour tang of old pennies. Inexplicably, my mouth watered. My stomach churned.
It was then I noticed the other sleeping bag. Dan must have had an uneasy night too – his mummy bag was wrapped around him. Only a tuft of dark hair peeked out the top. At least he hadn’t abandoned me. I was grateful I’d kept the keys to the truck in my pocket. I wouldn’t have put it past the girls to drive back to the city and leave us stranded.
“Dan,” I whispered. “Dan, something’s wrong with me. I think I’m hurt.”
He didn’t move. Odd. Hadn’t he joked the night before about being a light sleeper?
I stared at him, watching for the slightest movement, but he was completely still. The silence grew more ominous.
Reaching out to touch his arm, I stopped. What if he wanted to sleep in? What if he got pissed at me for waking him?
As I continued to study my roommate, a chill came over me in spite of the heat.
I can’t see him breathe.
“Dan!” Grabbing him by the shoulder, I shook him. To my shock, he tumbled out of his sleeping bag.
Or at least, what was left of him did.
As I knelt there in horror, too stunned to move or call for help, the severed head of Dan McGraw rolled over to rest against my knee.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds