I’m excited to share with you a first look inside RABBIT IN RED! This is my upcoming horror adventure novel through Distinguished Press. It releases in September this year.
Disclaimer: My publisher and editors want you to know this is still a WIP (work in progress). That means the chainsaw hasn’t finished its attacks, and after the wounds heal, the following excerpt will be even better.
I’m sharing this particular section because it shows the heart I include with the horror. I didn’t choose to write in this genre. As most writers will tell you, the story chooses us. It’s more than horror—it’s an adventure, a mystery, and a tale about friendship. Horror must include heart. Otherwise, why would we care about the characters? I want to see how they deal with the terrible things that are happening to them, how they overcome them, or—and sadly this must happen to some—how they don’t.
This is a passage that takes place in between some of the terrific action that I can’t wait for you to read!
“Sorry if I woke you,” Bill said.
“No, don’t be. I was barely sleeping. Between Rose’s snoring and my mind going a thousand miles an hour, it was hard to sleep.”
“How bad were the dreams?” she asked. In one of their many online conversations, Bill had confessed that he often had recurring nightmares about the night his father was murdered.
“It started off so good,” he tried to smile. “I relived a good memory. And then it changed. I hate that. Why can’t we have only good dreams?”
“If people had only good dreams, the horror genre wouldn’t be nearly as successful.”
He smiled. “That’s true. I don’t mind nightmares as long as they’re about Freddy or Michael Myers. Anything that’s not real.”
“You still have your Michael Myers dream?” she asked him. Halloween was one of the first horror films Bill had seen, and the ghostly pale mask of Michael’s still sporadically haunted him.
“It’s been awhile, but yeah. But with those kind of nightmares, you know, I wake up and know it’s not real. They even oddly excite me sometime. The power of horror, right? But with the other kind, I wake up, and I can’t shake the truth or memory away.”
“I get it. I still dream of my uncle. I’d prefer getting bitten by vampires in my dreams any day over reliving his tragedy,” she replied. “And like you said, it’s not fair. I want to remember all the good times, but dreams have a way of focusing on the bad. Worst of all, I have dreams of other friends and family killing themselves. It’s terrible.”
“Yeah. It’s like once you know someone—really know someone close—who has committed suicide, you can’t stop thinking about it. We missed it completely, you know? We didn’t see it coming. We kept living our lives, and here he was struggling and we didn’t even really know it.”
“I’m sorry,” Bill said.
“It’s not your fault.” They sat there in silence for a moment. “You know, I’ve had that dream about you.”
“What about me?”
“That you killed yourself.”
“Oh, Jaime, no, I would never.”
“I know. But you see that’s the problem. I think I know. But do we ever really know? What if you start drinking like your mother? What if you change?”
“I’ll never drink,” he stated.
“My uncle used to say that when we’re young, we make promises about all that we dream of doing and all that which we vow never to do,” she frowned. “But the truth is, few of us accomplish what we dream, and most of us do what we vowed we never would. Do you think that’s true?”
Bill lowered his head and shook it softly. “I don’t know, J. But I promise you. I’m ok.” He reached out and held her hand. “Seriously.” There was another long stretch of silence, which was fine with both of them. They enjoyed the moment of a late night hand holding, such a modest act of kindness and friendship, something forgotten perhaps by adults hardened by routine or immune to the unassuming joys of adolescence.
“What about you?” Bill interrupted the silence. “Are you ok?”
“Oh, yeah. I mean, I think you and I and everyone will always be hurt at times. We’ll never escape all the bad stuff. But I would never hurt myself, if that’s what you mean.”
“Why does anyone hurt themselves?”
Jaime sighed. “There are just some things we will never understand. I think that’s what my uncle would tell me. We can empathize. We can criticize. But we will never really know what goes through someone’s mind—or what pain they have in their heart. All pain is unique,” she squeezed his hand and moved closer to him, resting her head on his shoulders.
“Death sucks,” Bill stated.
“Yep. And look at us suckers. We surround ourselves with it voluntarily.”
“We must really be messed up,” Bill frowned.
“That’s ok,” Jaime told him. “Know who you are and know what you love. And as JB said, don’t hang with those who shame.”
Bill thought of his mother, wondering if she were still awake. If she was up, she was probably on her umpteenth drink. He wished he knew how to make it better. But he didn’t.
He looked down at Jaime, her head on his shoulder, her hand in his. He didn’t want to get up. Lowering his head so it rested on hers, he closed his eyes and thought he had discovered something very powerful in these moments. Telling himself he needed to write this down, he thought, “Maybe, just maybe, if everyone had someone they could talk to honestly in the middle of the night and maybe, just maybe, if everyone had someone to hold them and tell them it would be ok, we would all actually be ok.”
He felt really good and thought he should tell Jaime what Wes and he found. Plus, he was curious if Jaime and Rose found anything. But then he heard a light snore coming from just below his ear, and he smiled. He closed his eyes and let himself drift off to sleep.
And then loud bells rang, a deafening loudness, thunder after the calm.