(I'm pleased to report my fairy horror mystery romance novel THE MOUND will be available October 23, and is available for pre-order NOW. Details on how to reserve your copy below. Meanwhile, here's another taste. Enjoy!)
Oddly, Hogan saw one of those who stayed behind was the boy, Ian Sinclair. He stood alone in the middle of the gym, at about the same place he’d made such a splash earlier in the evening. Staring up at the stage in his (now that all the lights were up) almost silly looking lion tunic, tartan kilt, and green leggings, there was what appeared to be an amalgam of anger and determination on his face.
Hogan turned away when he heard the garage door at the rear of the stage open, through which earlier the car had made its grand entrance. Through the door this time came gurney-bearing Bixbie Fire EMTs along with a pipe smoking man who Campbell introduced as Doc Sullivan. Doc waited for Dunn to finish before taking possession of the bodies.
Meanwhile, Hogan’s eyes fell upon a distraught looking Miskovic standing apart from the scene. Seemingly in a daze, the young cop stared blankly out at the now garishly lit gymnasium. Walking over, Hogan put his arm around his shoulder and patted him on the back.
“I’m sorry,” he said. It was all he could think of.
Miskovic didn’t respond, keeping his gaze riveted toward the gym. Hogan turned that way too, seeing then that a man wearing a hood and a long brown robe in the nature of a monk’s habit approached Ian Sinclair from behind. As he moved closer, Miskovic and Hogan watched the hooded man reach inside his robe to remove a long and scary looking knife.
“Ian!” Miskovic yelled. The two watched the boy cock his head questioningly. Miskovic shouted again. “Behind you!”
Ian turned just as the unknown man charged. Hogan and Miskovic and no doubt everyone on that stage could only watch in mute horror as the man plunged the knife into Ian’s chest.
“No . . . no . . . no . . .” Miskovic uttered in a horrified whisper to witness for the third time that evening the gruesome ending of a young life.
In what seemed slow motion, Hogan winced to see Sinclair hang impaled on the knife a long while, his body bowed in the classic curved C he had seen the gut stab victim take so often. The stabbing man twisted the knife further before pulling it out. While Sinclair still hung awkwardly, the man backed away and looked at his hand, letting out a shriek to discover that at that moment, in his hand was a snake. A long, black, angry looking snake.
The man began bounding about almost comically, shaking and waving his hand trying to dislodge the creature, but the movement only assisted in coiling it further up his arm. Still jumping manically, he used his other hand to finally rid himself of the thing, flinging it to the floor, where it promptly disappeared. Still leaping and bounding, making unintelligible anguished croaks, the cloaked man then turned tail and ran for the nearest exit.
Sinclair stood in the curled C another few seconds before straightening his legs and drawing full height. He took a moment to inspect himself, making sure he was none the worse for wear, before turning his face toward the stage. Hogan saw then that what had earlier struck him as anger and determination had been replaced with . . . something else. It was hard to explain. There was a new certainty, to be sure, as if this incident had taught him something. There seemed also a new maturity, that he was no longer the gawky youth who had marched into the gym that evening to make a point of some kind. And yes, dammit, Hogan had to admit there was something . . . unearthly on his face. In his eyes. Those green orbs that were now his eyes, that had seemed to glow earlier in the evening, now pulsed with newborn energy. There was something beatific and angelic there too, as if he thought he might have been, but now knew that he was, immortal. From where Hogan was standing, he couldn’t argue.
With all that and more revealed on his face, Sinclair sent one last glance to the stage as if to snapshot a remembrance of what had been done there, before he smartly straightened his tunic, spun on his heels with the polished assurance of a military man, and strode toward the doorway.
Hogan and Miskovic stared a long while after he left. Eventually, Hogan turned to the other men on stage and saw them all gaping too. Doc Sullivan’s pipe had fallen from his mouth.
“What the . . .” was all Hogan managed to say.
Turning to Miskovic, he was surprised to see the officer already turned his way. The young cop was smiling, maybe even tearing up a little, letting out some of the pent-up emotion of this long night. That was okay with Hogan. It was a very human response. Eventually, Miskovic was able to speak.
“Told you he was special,” he choked. It earned him Hogan’s last smile of the evening.
(THE MOUND, coming October 23, 2014, and available for pre-order NOW from Amazon.Com and iTunes. Reserve your copy today! And as always, thanks for reading.)