Read an excerpt: The Well
My horror novella The Well comes out this Black Friday - right after Thanksgiving. As you contemplate heading out to fight the crowds while holiday shopping or prepare yourself for the cyber-attacks of Cyber Monday, you can scare yourself with this weird supernatural tale of horror I concocted while writing my short fiction this year.
The Well tells the story of a man and woman who buy a new house. Right away, the wife, Karen, seems a bit off. Obsessed with checking out the yard and a little more frisky than usual, she eventually uncovers a very old, and very deep, well in the backyard. Not long after, her behavior gets even stranger and then an actual stranger shows up in their yard - telling tales which do not really make sense. From there, the terror grows and spreads as the town begins to feel the effect of - The Well.
Available in print and Kindle formats, read an excerpt below and get your copy HERE!
The next morning, the bright light spears into my brain like a light-knife and I am surprised when Karen is up and running around the room. She and I are normally the type that prefer to spend the morning in bed. Of course, that is usually accompanied by watching TV and there is not TV in the room. Also, this is her first new house.
“Hey,” I say, “you’re up early.”
Karen smiles at me. “Yep. C’mon, let’s get some breakfast happening and get out into the woods back there. I really want to see what’s back there.”
“What?” I ask and then remember the night before. “You want to go hiking? Jeez. Hey, do you remember sleepwalking last night?”
She looks confused. “What are you talking about?”
“Last night. You were downstairs staring out the back windows there. Naked. Just staring and you said some weird things about hearing singing.”
She cocks her head to the side. “I have no memory of that. Sorry. Not normally a sleepwalker, but it has happened. Not since I was a kid, but when I was a toddler I did it quite a bit, according to my mother. Must be the excitement of this new place. New place, new life, new surroundings.”
I have no response to that. She’s out of the room and I hear her banging pots and pans around. We arrived here with a bunch of groceries we picked up in the nearby town, which is a good twenty-five miles away. As I step into our shower, I soon smell bacon and other things cooking. Again, this is not like her.
Karen and I met just a few years after college. It was a set-up from our two mutual friends and both of us showed up to the blind date sure that it was going to suck. Instead, her view of the world and mine matched very nicely. We were in the big city, we loved life, we were going places. Then, as the years went on, our needs changed. We wanted out of the big city. I had relatives near here and she did as well, and we found this house online, couldn’t believe the price and what we got for and then, magically, the rest of it all fell into place. I found freelance clients who didn’t care where I lived, as long as I could build them websites that got them leads and she lined up clients to write detailed manuals and other technical stuff for technology companies all over the freaking world.
It was meant to be.
I get out of the shower and get dressed. As I head down the stairs I get this very certain feeling that someone is watching me. I turn and look down the hall. There is a window at the end of it, but we are on the second floor and I just see the tops of trees and blue sky. The tops of the trees wave in the breeze. I shudder, but there’s obviously nothing there and I head down the stairs.
Karen has made an epic breakfast. There’s toast, orange juice, eggs and bacon. We dig in like we haven’t eaten for weeks and soon are scraping the last bit of egg off the plates and making annoying squeaking noises with the forks and knives. I am desperate for coffee, but that has yet to be set up, so I drink a lot of water and then Karen grabs my hand and we head out the door.
Outside, the breeze is cool, but not uncomfortably so. I am still in short-sleeves and my boots crunch across the grass. Overhead, there is endless blue and not a cloud anywhere. I breathe in the morning air and feel that this is the right place. This is where we are meant to be. We are soon across the yard and into the woods.
There are a lot of trees, but it isn’t quite the dense forest that you would imagine from the movies. The trees are spaced far enough apart that I can still see clouds and sky. There are old leaves on the floor of the forest and it is a little slippery, but we’re laughing and giggling. Karen leads the way, moving around the trees like a pro. I soon realize that the path we are in is, indeed, a path. As if this is away prior owners used for walking before and the ground is permanently worn down.
“Wow, this is a path,” I say, always the helpful, state-the-obvious-type.
“Yeah, I thought I saw that when I was looking out her yesterday,” she says and I try to remember when she was looking out this way and not asleep.
We walk for a few minutes. The further we get, the more I can see the path. At some point, my eyes adjust to the image. I look back and can still make out the yard and just see part of the house. Despite this, I am not reassured. Something about this area is different. The air just feels odd.
“How much further are you planning on -,” I start to say and then Karen’s arm shoots out and she stops me.
“Stop,” she says.
I freeze and look down at the ground. I let out a soft whistle.
The ground is indented. You still see mostly brush and grass, but you also can see old rotted wood. The area that seems to be sinking into the earth is about ten feet across in a rough circle.
“What the hell is that?” I ask.
“Looks like a well,” Karen replies. “An old one, obviously. Probably dried up.”
She reaches down to the ground and grabs a good-sized rock. She hefts it in her right hand for a moment and then tosses it into the middle of the wooden area. It doesn’t even bounce, the wood cracks loudly like it was waiting for just that moment and the ends of all of the planks lift into the air. With a tremendous rustling of leaves and wood the planks fall into the abyss.
I take a step back and wait to hear the sound of the woods crashing to the bottom.
“What the hell?” I ask. “Why isn’t all of that crashing to the bottom?”
Karen shakes her head. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s bottomless.”
I laugh. “There’s no such thing as a bottomless well, Karen. What - it goes right through the center of the earth and out the other side somewhere?”
She laughs and shrugs. Mysteries like that have never bothered her before. She has talked about seeing ghosts and demons and other things in her life and accepted those who say they have. To Karen, the world is a much bigger and more mysterious place than it is to me and she is less likely to go searching for concrete answers.
“Maybe it leads into another dimension,” she says without humor. “You know, scientists are actually studying that sort of thing, Mr. Science. Alternate realities. Parallel dimensions.”
“Great, so we live on a property that has an old well that just might be a bottomless pit into another dimension,” I say, barely containing my laughter. “That’s something the realtor should have told us, don’t you think? Maybe knock a few thousand more off the selling price?”
Karen playfully punches me in the shoulder. Then she fishes around on the ground to find another good-sized rock. She hefts it again, as if testing the weight, and pitches it into the dark circle. We stand there, both of us holding our breath, waiting to hear a clunk or a splash. There’s nothing.
Just then there is a strong wind and Karen bobbles near the edge of the pit. I grab her and pull her back. For just a moment it feels like the wind is being sucked down into the hole. Then the wind hits the opposite way. Like the hole is breathing.
“OK, this is officially creeping me out,” I say. “We need to get someone out here to try and cover this. Cover it with something a little more substantial than old wood. It has to have a bottom. So, maybe we get someone out here to fill the fucking thing.”
Karen punches me in the shoulder again. “Stop it. Where’s your sense of wonder? Just be careful. Don’t walk out here, you big baby. Sheesh. We have a possibly portal to another dimension and you just want to fill it in with concrete.”
“It’s a hazard,” I say. “What about when we have kids? Or get a pet? You want them to come toddling out here and, I dunno, end up in some other world forever?”
“Let’s leave it for a little bit,” she says, looking down into the darkness. Her voice is just a tad dreamy. Not quite as bad as last night, but eding that way. I want to reach out and grab her shoulder again.
I stare into the darkness. There is a stone wall along the sides, like you’d expect in a well. However, it goes down maybe ten, fifteen, feet and then it’s just darkness. So dark that my eyes almost can’t accept it. The whole things seems so wide, too. Who the hell needed a well this fucking wide? How did this get built?
The wind rises again and this time I swear I hear voices. Granted, out in an area like this, the wind probably carries voices from the nearby highway or even the town twenty miles away. In the silence of the country, sound plays weird tricks. I try to grab some of the conversation, but I quickly realize that it’s babbling. It sounds like dozens and dozens of voices gibbering and cackling over each other. There are screams and hysterical, mad, laughter in there, too. I shudder.
“OK, I’m heading back to the house,” I say. “We have too much unpacking to do.”
“OK,” she replies, her eyes still drawn to the hole in the ground, her voice still a little dreamy. It worries me. Then she shakes her head. “Yeah. OK, you’re right. Let’s head back.”
We walk back. I cast one look back over my shoulder and I can see the hole in the ground. For a moment, I see a shadow, something appears to move from the hole and dashes into the woods. I blink and the movement is gone. The shadows are normal.
I’m seeing things. I hear the voices on the wind and shake my head once more. Nope. Not hearing that, either.
We head home.