Fractured Reflections, for just $0.99!
Author: Lucian Barnes
Publisher: Anchor Group Publishing
Publish Date: February 9, 2017
Cover Design: Sharp Cover Designs
An Excerpt from Write of Passage
"July 23, 2017. My name is Benjamin Walker." He clicked his tape recorder off for a moment as he considered what to say next. Pushing a button, the little red light came back on. "I am in Misty Hollows, Ohio, investigating the serial killer known as The Headhunter. His killing spree, which was short-lived for a killer of this sort, only lasted for a couple of months." Ben paused briefly, allowing the tape to continue rolling. "I am sitting in the driveway of the suspected killer waiting for the realtor to show up with the keys to the house. I sincerely hope that staying here will provide me with some insight on what makes a serial killer tick." Turning the recorder off again he set it on the passenger seat.
Checking his reflection in the rearview mirror, he ran his fingers through the short brown hair like a comb and tried to ruffle it enough to hide the streaks of gray that had begun to appear a couple of years ago. It was no easy task as the day was turning into a scorcher; sweat was plastering his hair in uneven clumps. He thought about putting the convertible top of the Camaro down, but decided to turn the air conditioning on instead.
Frustrated that the realtor hadn't shown up yet, he began to drum his fingertips impatiently on the steering wheel, staring out the windshield at the dust that was beginning to collect on the black hood of the car. The setting sun reflected dully off of the red racing stripes on it, making them look more like streaks of blood. Where's that damn realtor? She should have been here an hour ago!
Ben didn't relish the idea of going back to Toledo and finding a hotel to stay in for the night, but would have to if the woman didn't show up soon. He couldn't exactly stay in Misty Hollows. The city had become like an Old West ghost town shortly after the Headhunter murders. Businesses had shut down and residents had packed up and left, hoping to find a less dangerous place to live and raise their families. With the sudden exodus of the community there was no longer a need for a police presence in Misty Hollows, the officers finding jobs in neighboring cities. Obviously, the school and post office closed down as well after the town had been deserted—what little mail that still came addressed to Misty Hollows was rerouted through Toledo and more often than not simply ended up in the trash.
He was about to give up hope, thinking the realtor had forgotten the appointment, when a silver BMW came flying down the road. Slowing, it pulled into the driveway behind his Camaro. Shutting the engine off he opened the driver's door and stepped out. "I was beginning to think you forgot about me," he said, his voice laced with irritation as the woman walked over to meet him.
"I'm so sorry. My last appointment dragged out much longer than I thought it would," she apologized, approaching Ben to hand him the keys.
He looked at her questioningly, his brows drawn down in confusion. "You aren't going to show me around?"
The well dressed woman fidgeted with the sport coat she wore over her favorite business pantsuit as she glanced nervously at the house. "No. This place scares the hell out of me. I won't set foot inside. I'll just wait out here to see if you decide that you want to rent it," she replied, taking a fearful step backward. "Please hurry though. I would rather not be here after dark."
"Are the utilities on?"
"They should be. I called yesterday about it. If you decide to rent, you will need to make arrangements to get everything in your name, tomorrow if possible."
Ben turned and walked through the knee-high weeds toward the sagging porch. The steps were spongy and groaned in protest as he climbed them to the front door. For a moment he thought he would have to find another way inside. The key slid into the deadbolt but was very stubborn about turning.
The door creaked open, the hinges sounding as if they hadn't been oiled in many years. Ben poked his head inside and found the light switch. Flicking it on, he stepped onto the hardwood floor of the foyer. The dust-covered bulbs illuminated the area in a hazy glow. Almost immediately he began to hear softly whispering voices and wondered if they were echoes of the house's haunted past or merely his imagination. All of the furniture being shrouded in white sheets to keep the dust off only served to heighten this feeling.
He began to walk through the house from room to room wishing that he had remembered to bring his recorder in with him, wondering if it would be sensitive enough to pick up the unusual voices that followed him throughout the house. Ben stopped in the upstairs hallway as the whispering became more intense. Are the ghostly voices trying to scare me away? Maybe it's my muse, beckoning me to sit down and write my next best-seller? I do, after all, make my living writing books that scare the crap out of people. He shook his head and dismissed the voices for now, chalking them up to C.W.S., Crazy Writer's Syndrome, the condition that some of his readers jokingly teased him about having.
Ben had to admit, he liked the house. It seemed like the perfect place for him to write. He would be able to investigate the home at his leisure during breaks from writing to see if he could uncover any clues about the inhuman nature of the Headhunter. As he turned to go back downstairs Ben saw a door that he had forgotten to check. He rotated the knob and pushed, but it wouldn't budge. Shrugging his shoulders, he went down to the first floor and walked out the front door.
Darkness had fallen while he'd been checking the house. "Do you have any other keys? I found a door upstairs that I couldn't open." No reply came so he stepped out onto the porch. The realtor's car was gone. Ben laughed at how easily some people got spooked as he went to his car to retrieve his recorder. After grabbing it, he popped the trunk and pulled out the enormous suitcase. Stuffed with more books than clothes it felt like it weighed a ton. Sliding out the handle he dragged it across the uneven ground, up the porch stairs, and into the house, pushing the door closed behind him.
It wasn't exactly the easiest thing he had ever done, but somehow he managed the feat of lugging the heavy suitcase upstairs and into the room he deemed suitable for a writing area. As he pulled the sheets off of everything, and piled them in a corner on the floor, Ben started to unpack his things. His collection of books, all of them bearing his name on the spine, he placed into the corner bookshelf. He pulled his laptop out of the suitcase next and placed it upon the ornate oak desk that sat beneath the room's only window, a fancy leather chair on rollers tucked neatly into the cubby where his legs would go.
Smiling with satisfaction now that all of his work things were in place, Ben zipped up the suitcase and made his way to the bedroom, already feeling exhausted. As he walked down the hallway he passed the door that he hadn't been able to open a short while ago and was suddenly determined to see what was inside before he closed his eyes for sleep. After putting the suitcase in the bedroom Ben went back downstairs, hoping to find something he could use to jimmy the door.
Thankfully, he found a drawer in the kitchen loaded with dusty silverware. It would have to be cleaned before he ate anything with it, but he was sure the upstairs door wouldn't complain about the butter knife in his hand being dirty. After turning off all the lights downstairs he returned to the stubborn door on the second floor, holding the knife as if he'd discovered the Holy Grail.
Wedging it between the door and the jamb near the knob, Ben slapped his palm against the butt of the knife as hard as he dared to, knowing he couldn't afford to break his hand. Luckily the door popped open on the first try. He pushed it open farther, allowing the light from the hallway to trickle in. ****
After working several menial jobs through the years that followed, my thoughts again began to turn toward writing books. Inspired by my favorite author, Stephen King, I took an online creative writing course and slowly began to develop my skills. In late 2010 I was given a violent shove, both by the job market (which was horrible to say the least, and still is) and by the persistent encouragement of close friends, to pick up my pen and begin writing again.
In early 2012, I gave birth (that's almost what it felt like) to my very first published book, Desolace. Finally having a completed novel in my hand was the best feeling in the world for me, giving me a sense of accomplishment I had waited a lifetime for. Since then it has gotten easier for me with each book I have published. Since the initial release of Desolace, I have published nine more novels as well as an omnibus edition ebook of the entire Desolace series. My next book, a collection of short stories called Fractured Reflections, is scheduled for release in February 2017.
also on Twitter @LucianBarnes