WOOFER'S LAIR

Welcome to Woofer's Lair. Curious as to what you will see here? Well, for the most part, you will find book reviews, maybe the occasional movie review, and if you are lucky, you might stumble across one of my own works in progress. If you like what you see or what read, and even if you don't, please feel free to leave your comments. As I am somewhat new to blogging, all of your constructive feedback is appreciated. Have fun and thanks for stopping by.

Wicked Seasons

Wicked Seasons
My short story, HUNGRY FOR MORE, is included

CURRENTLY READING

CURRENTLY READING
Koji Suzuki's Spiral

Thursday, June 30, 2011

EQUINOX -- A WIP

1

The sun was almost down and the shadows crept over the earth in pursuit of the receding light, eager to lay claim to the land for the next few hours. Even though it was late in the season, the fairy-like lights of the fireflies still flickered here and there across the less-than-spacious front yard, in the shrubbery beyond, and occasionally in the air. It wouldn’t be long before their lights went out for the long winter ahead.

The fireflies weren’t the only thing clinging tenaciously to the last vestige of summer. The flowers they planted along the length of the porch still sported blooms, vibrant colors against the bland brown of the log cabin, and further out, wild flowers sprouted up between the majestic trees. The pines never lost their color, but the oaks. . . The oaks had yet to turn. Not a trace of orange, yellow, or gold could be seen amongst nature’s canopy, which was unlike the trees they had seen on the drive up. Autumn was arriving all across the northeast coast, arriving everywhere except for her. It was as if Mother Nature had placed a dome over this particular area of the forest, a barrier against the approaching seasonal change so she could enjoy summer’s beauty for just a little longer, before winter came and blanketed everything in a pristine coating of white.

Standing on the porch, Jake Dougherty breathed deeply of the crisp mountain air and took in the beauty that surrounded him. God’s country is what his father would have called it, land uncorrupted by the touch of humanity, save for the cabin they were staying in and the SUV parked on the dirt path that passed for a driveway. But even that cabin, as beautiful as it was, was as closed to primitive as you could get. The water was piped in from a natural spring, the sewer he assumed passed into a septic tank somewhere behind the building. There was no electricity. They used oil-fueled hurricane lamps and candles for light, and the rooms were heated by a series of fireplaces. It was as near to perfect as one could get. There was only one thing spoiling it.

As if on cue, the shrill voice of his wife of ten months broke the stillness that lay over the land. “Jake, did you remember to pack the camera?”

With a sigh, Jake reached in the breast pocket of his flannel shirt and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. “Yes, dear,” he replied. He no longer tried to conceal the annoyance that peppered his tone whenever he spoke to her, especially since she seemed to be oblivious to it.

The door opened and he cringed inwardly and slipped the cigarettes back in his pocket as his wife came out to join him on the porch. She was a petite blonde with a flawless complexion despite the years she must have spent outdoors. Her skin was deep reddish brown, the product of a lifetime of sun worship, but it bore none of the damaging signs that would normally accompany that kind of exposure to the sun. As reluctant as he was to admit it, she was a truly beautiful woman, and any man would consider himself lucky to walk down the street with her on his arm, and so would he—if he was into that sort of thing. But Jake wasn’t.

Or at least he hadn’t been until this time last year.

Which is what he couldn’t understand.

He still had a hard time accepting the fact that he was married and, as Ivy Dougherty came to stand beside him, her belly fully of baby leading the way, that he was going to be a father. It was like living in a dream—or a nightmare, depending on your perspective. And for Jake Dougherty, it was a nightmare he hoped he would wake up from soon. But after ten months, if it hadn’t happened by now, he didn’t think he was ever going to wake up.

“Well, I looked everywhere and I can’t find it,” she said, placing her hands on her hips as if she expected him to go in and get it.

“Did you check in that blue sports bag?”

She turned a blank gaze on him, as if he had spoken in some language other than English. Whenever she looked at him that way, it was all he could do to keep from driving a fist into her face. He wasn’t violent by nature, but she was carrying this dumb blonde routine a bit far. Nobody could be that stupid. “That blue nylon bag on the bed.”

“No.”

“Then don’t say you looked everywhere when it’s obvious you haven’t.”

“Don’t be that way,” she pouted, lower lip pushed out, doe eyes turned up to try soften up his mood. She took a step in his direction, intent on sliding her arm through his, but he stepped away.

“Well, then don’t be so fuckin’ stupid.”

Before their exchange could escalate into an all-out argument, the door opened and Rafe Vargas stepped onto the porch, his wife, Daisy, hot on his heels. Despite the chill in the air, Rafe was shirtless, and the sight of the man’s bare torso, the deep caramel-colored skin with a thick coating of black fur covering the pecs that tapered off and ran in a thin trail down the man’s stomach to disappear past the waistband of his tight jeans, inexplicably took Jake’s breath away. Something stirred within him, but before he could put a name to the feeling, it was gone, disappeared at the same moment someone touched his arm. He looked down to see Ivy’s hand resting gently on his forearm. A shiver slithered along his spine and he jerked his arm away. The sudden movement caused his wife to lose her balance; she teetered on the top step and would have fallen if it hadn’t been for Daisy. Despite the fact that she was just as pregnant as Ivy, Daisy was quick to come to her sister’s aide, throwing daggers in Jake’s direction as she shoved him aside. Jake, grudgingly giving ground, met her gaze head on, willing them both to fall. Not that the fall would hurt either of them, but it might hurt the babies, and with the babies out of the way, maybe they, he and Rafe, would be freed from whatever hold these two women had on them.

As Rafe slipped between him and the two women on his way down the steps, he practically brushed against Jake in his effort to avoid coming into contact with either of the women. Their eyes met briefly. Jake could see the fear in the other man’s green eyes, a quiet, pleading desperation. It was the same look Jake imagined a fox might have in its eyes when it found itself caught in a trap and gnawed at its leg in an attempt to free itself and escape the death it knew was coming. It was the same look Jake saw in his own eyes whenever he looked in the mirror.

“Where ya goin’,” Jake asked.

Rafe paused, one foot still resting on the bottom step, and looked back at Jake. “We’re gonna need some more fire wood.” Jake noticed the way the man’s gaze danced back and forth between him and the wives.

“You want me to give you a hand with that?” Jake prayed Rafe heard the distress in his voice, his need to be away, but when the man responded, he realized he was on his own.

“That’s alright. I got it.” Before the words were even out of his mouth, Rafe was pushing away from the step. Without a glance at Jake, he hurriedly made his way around to the back of the house.

Under the watchful eyes of the Witches of Eastwick, Jake watched Rafe until the man disappeared from view. For a moment, he considered following the man out back, but he didn’t want to seem in desperate need of escape, so instead he went down the steps and started across the lawn. What he wanted to do more than anything else was to get into the SUV and head back to the city—Fuck everybody—but he wouldn’t, he couldn’t, leave Rafe to the mercy of those women. He felt a bond to the other man, one he couldn’t explain, that went beyond mere friendship.

He continued across the lawn, heading for the forest and that shadows beyond that waited for him to pass before they swallowed him whole. Halfway across the grass he stumbled as his head was filled with an annoying drone, a swarm of angry bees buzzing around in his skull. Looking around to see what might have caused him to trip, he shook his head, trying to clear it. It wasn’t the first time his thoughts had become clouded by this angry swarm, but this time he was able to think past it, which surprised him. There was only one thing that would clear it altogether, and that was distance between him and the woman he called his wife. The SUV called to him and he looked longingly at the huge forest-green vehicle. That would allow him to put a few miles between them in the shortest amount of time, but then thoughts of Rafe pushed their way into his head, and he knew he wouldn’t do it. Throwing a hate-filled glance in the direction of the porch, he turned and headed towards the tree line. He wanted—no, he needed—a smoke, and he didn’t want to hear his wife bitch about it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

THESE AIN'T YOUR NORMAL LITTLE BROTHERS

Have I mentioned previously how much I love Amazon's Kindle? Well, if I haven't, let me state it now—I love Amazon's Kindle. Why? Because so many authors are releasing their long out-of-print books to the digital device. Rick Hautala is one of these authors.

I first read Little Brothers when it was published in 1988. I loved it then, and during the course of moves, my dog-eared, well-read copy had become so used and abused it was falling apart to the point where I was afraid to read it again. So when I heard it was going to be released on Kindle (and other digital platforms), I was ecstatic.

Five years ago, Kip Howard witnessed the traumatizing events of his young life: the brutal murder of his mother at the hands of. . . What? He couldn't remember. As a result of the murder, his father, who was present at the time but did not witness the attack but did see the aftermath, abandoned work on the new house. But now that his father is about to once again start work on the new house, all of Kip's fears are resurfacing. As if that wasn't bad enough, the memories are trying to break through the wall he built up to keep them hidden.

The attack on Kip's mother was so brutal, it was initially attributed to some animal, but John Watson, the town's resident drunk, knows the truth. A Native American who was brought up in the area, Watson knows the legends that surround the land the town has been built on, and what killed Kip's mother is one of those legends. The Untcigahunk, the Little Brothers, a dwarf-like humanoid race that lives in the caverns and tunnels that run beneath the land. They surface every five years with a hunger for flesh and a thirst for blood. And their time is coming around again.

Man and boy will be brought together by chance, and together they vow to put an end to the Little Brothers once and for all. But do this unlikely duo stand a chance against a race that his been around since the dawn of creation, or will they be like so many others that have disappeared without a trace from the town of Thornton, Maine?

Little Brothers was Hautala's fourth novel, but it was my first exposure to this Master of Horror. The Untcigahunk are, in my opinion, one of the Horror genre's more memorable creatures, ranking right up there with that damned Zuni fetish doll from Trilogy of Terror. The readers seem to agree, as the Untcigahunk were to appear in several stories after Little Brothers was published.

This novel is not an edge-of-your-seat thriller, at least not at first. Hautala takes his time creating his characters, fleshing them out and making them real, giving you ample time to get to know and like (or dislike) them, so when something happens to them or they are placed in a position of danger, you do find yourself sweating it out right along with them, or cheering when the bad guy (yes, the Little Brothers aren't the only bad guys in the book) finally gets what he deserves. It isn't until the boy and Indian meet and start making their plans that the book (or Kindle in this case) becomes hard to put down. The details are rich, which makes it easier to lose yourself in the world of the characters.

If you haven't had the pleasure of reading the works of Rick Hautala, and many younger readers might not have because many, if not all, of his books are out of print, I can't encourage you enough to pick up one of them and give him a try, and Little Brothers would be an excellent book to start with. You won't be disappointed.

STERLING - A WIP

This is an experimental piece that I'm working on. I'm not sure if it's working.

***

Like any expectant mother, the moon hung low and full, glowing proudly in anticipation of the imminent birth.

Below, the anxious father paces, waiting, driven back and forth by the nervous energy like a caged animal despite the expansive space surrounding him. For the first time in his life he feels truly alive, like a current of electricity is coursing through his body, igniting every nerve. The brush of fabric against his flesh triggers sparks of pleasure so intense as to be almost painful. The sensory overload becomes more than he can bear and he pauses in his pacing long enough to strip out of his clothes. He stumbles as a cramp ripples through his core. He takes another couple of steps and his muscles spasm. He rides it out, gritting his teeth through the pain. The sharp stabbing in his gut ebbs, the twitching in his limbs subsides. He resumes his pacing. He feels warm, flushed. Sweat slips from his pores, streams down his body. The chill night air caresses his fevered flesh and he shivers.

The shivering intensifies, reaching bone deep and leaving him unable to move. The cramping starts again, and this time it is not confined to his stomach. His arms and legs cramp, his stomach, back, and neck. His bones start to pulse with a throbbing ache and his skin starts to crawl with an itch so deep as to induce madness. He cries out against the pain, but what comes out is not his voice. Not entirely.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

WIP -- Benjamin

As a kid, my sleep was often haunted by nightmares. Night after night I would awake with a start, my pulse pounding in my head, afraid to go back to bed. BENJAMIN is very personal to me, as it is one of those nightmares. It's just one of those that have stayed with me over the years.

* * *

Lying in the dark, waiting for his parents to turn off the lights, Benjamin was trying so hard to stay awake, but he knew he was going to lose the battle if that light didn’t go out soon.

“C’mon,” he whispered. There was an urgency in his voice, like when he had to pee bad and one of his brothers was taking his time in the bathroom hoping the “little booger” would piss his pants. But Benjamin didn’t have to pee, not this time. He didn’t have to poop, either. No, what he needed now more than anything was for his parents to go to bed so he could sneak downstairs and watch TV. There was this really cool movie on at midnight that he wanted to see, but his mother had told him he couldn’t watch it because it was past his bedtime.

Thinking about the movie, he glanced at his watch, but it was too dark to see its face. He had no idea what time it was; he only knew it was late, but he didn’t know how late, which only served to increase the feeling of anxiety. Lying in the dark, time seemed to crawl, especially when there was nothing to do except stare at the ceiling. He wished he could turn on the light by the side of his bed so he could read his comic books, but that would tip off Mom and Dad that he was still awake. They would come in to see what was wrong, ask if he had had a bad dream, maybe even insist on sitting with him until he fell asleep again, and that was something he couldn’t have happen. He’d never get downstairs then. So he was just lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling, waiting, occasionally glancing into toward his parents’ room to see if the light was still on.

When the thin gap between the sliding French doors went dark, Benjamin gave a start. It’s about time, he said to himself, and it was all he could do to keep himself from throwing back the blankets and running from the room. Every move he made from here on out would have to be slow and careful. The slightest sound was bound to wake up somebody—his mother, his father, or worse, his brothers, who would no doubt raise the alarm and ruin everything. So rather than rush downstairs, he stayed in bed and counted slowly to ten, and then he did it again. He ticked off the number of times he counted to ten on his fingers.

He had just finished his sixth round of tens when he heard a soft rumbling sound. In that moment, listening to the distant sounds of his father snoring, he knew the coast was clear. Mom always drifted off to sleep first; Dad liked to stay awake and read a little bit before turning in.

Benjamin sat up in bed and slowly slid his butt toward the edge of the bed. No matter how careful he was with his movements, the springs of the bed still emitted an ear-grating squeal each time he pressed his hands to the mattress to shift his weight. He cringed with each betraying squeal because, even though they weren’t all that loud, in the darkness of his room they sounded as loud as the cats he often heard fighting in the backyard.

Once he was perched on the edge of the bed, he looked toward his parents’ room and whispered, “Fuck you, bitch.” This was directed at his mother, who had told him he couldn’t watch the movie because it was on too late. That wasn’t the real reason she didn’t want him to watch it. He had overheard her talking to Dad earlier, and she had said she thought the movie was too scary for him. “It’ll give him nightmares for weeks.” But Benjamin would show her. He had no idea what the meaning was behind the words he had just muttered, but he knew they were bad because he often heard Stevie, his older brother, say them after he and Mom got into a fight. He never said them while Mom was in the room; he always waited until she had walked away so she couldn’t hear what he was saying.

Soft light from the streetlamp outside his brothers’ window slipped into his room through the doorway. It did little to drive the darkness from the room, but Benjamin was able to see the face of his watch in the gloom. He smiled as the two figures teeter-tottered on the little seesaw at the base of the watch face. If he had had the time, he would sit there and watch the two figures go up and down for hours, wondering if they ever got tired (they never seemed to because they never stopped), but he didn’t have the time. The big hand was on the nine and the little hand was on the twelve. That didn’t leave him much time to get downstairs, grab a snack, and get back to the couch before the movie started.

Slowly, he pulled back the sheets that covered him and let his left foot slide off the edge of the bed. He was about to let the right foot follow when something brushed the sole of his dangling foot. He jerked his foot back onto the bed. “Whew! That was close.” In his rush to get downstairs, he had forgotten all about the Monster Under the Bed.

Leaning over the side, he scanned the floor, but the dim light shining in from the street wasn’t bright enough to let him see it, but he knew it was there. Daddy had told him there was no such thing as monster, but Steve had said differently. Stevie had said there were monsters all over the house just waiting for little boogers like Benjie to let down their guard. Benjamin knew he should believe his Dad, but Stevie was very convincing, so he didn’t know who he should believe—until now. The Monster Under the Bed had tried to grab him; it had touched his foot.

“Now what,” he asked himself as he stared into the darkness. With the Monster patrolling the floor, there was no way he was going to be able to get off the bed, at least not until the sun came up and chased away the shadows from his room. If he waited that long, he was going to miss the movie, so that wasn’t a choice he would even think about. There had to be another way.

As he sat there trying to figure out what to do, there came a tug at the sheets at the foot of the bed. Instinctively, he jerked his feet back, pulling his knees to his chest and hugging them tight. His eyes scanned the width of the mattress, darting from one corner to the other, but he couldn’t see it. He could hear it, though, a light scratching as it clawed at the thick material of the box spring. His breath caught in his throat and his heart thudded so heavily in his chest that he could feel it in his head when he felt the mattress dip a little, as if it had caught the corner and was trying to pull itself up onto the bed. Wait, wait, you can’t do that. He aimed his thoughts at the Monster, hoping by sheer force of will he would be able to send it scurrying back to the darkness beneath the bed, but the Monster was immune to his mental attack.

The corner of the mattress furthest from the dim light shining in through the window continued to sag, and then suddenly something heavy landed on the bed. Benjamin clapped a hand over his mouth to keep from crying out as he scooted backward, the mattress springs screaming in protest beneath his rapidly shifting weight. He stopped moving, and for a moment he thought the Monster had grabbed him, but then he realized he had gone as far as he could on the bed; his back was pressed against the headboard.