My second novel, Dust of Autumn, is a kind of Halloweenish suspense about a young girl with a split personality. I made it as bloody as I could, trying to find something the publishers would agree was worth buying. Again, no luck. So I self-published it. This one is also free as an e-book through Lulu.com, or through Amazon or Barnes and Noble in paper.
It was a bright, early spring afternoon. She stood at the edge of a narrow stream looking across to a clearing in the woods. Something was there, drawing her to that place, and was now pulling her toward the clearing.
The day was both warm and cold, like a sunny day in April when the earth is undecided whether to burst into bud and blossom or to pull back into winter’s icy shell. She shivered . . . from the chill or whatever had drawn her there . . . or both.
She was wearing a light cotton dress and her feet were bare.
She stepped into the stream expecting to feel fri-gid water around her ankles but was not surprised when she didn’t break the surface. She could see the water flowing beneath her feet, the colors of stone and twig and grass distinct in the shallow water, but the water was solid as ice. She stepped across quickly and climbed the low bank to the grassy opening beyond.
The area was circular, ringed with tall black and leafless trees forming a nearly solid wall. The heavy branches hung low to the ground and seemed to be reaching for her, waiting to grab her if she strayed too close. They reminded her of the forest scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy was moving through that enchanted forest on her way to Oz and the winged monkeys were about to swoop down on her. Or may-be it was the forest in Snow White. She couldn’t re-member. It didn’t matter. She moved along as though in a dream. Of course it was a dream. She knew she would awaken soon.
Near the center of the circle was a low mound of freshly dark earth. She moved slowly toward it. The grass around her was brown and wet and still partly matted down from recent winter snow. She could feel the crush of grass under her feet and toes. She walked straight toward the low hill in the center of the clear-ing.
Suddenly, all around her, stiff green stalks shot up from the grass, thick and sinewy, weaving slightly as they grew, like cobras rising from a snake charmer’s basket. When they were waist-high, a huge bud formed on top of each stalk and then opened, each a bloody head surrounded by a leafy green collar. The heads stared at her as she moved through them, their bloody mouths opening, softly whining her name.
She ignored them, her eyes never leaving the mound.
Just as she reached the base of the mound, where the grass stopped, it exploded in a shower of black earth that went up and then fell back on her, covering her, smothering her, and her mouth was filled with the black soil that tasted like death. She screamed silently, and all was black and silent except for the screams she heard in her head.