(Okay, it already had words.)
Yes, SERVANT is coming soon. No, I don't know what day it will arrive at your favorite purveyor of books. The cover is finished, at least, and it's really, really cool. In fact, it's my favorite cover out of all my books. Bask in its beauty and awesomeness! BASK IN IT!!!
Now that your eyes have been sated, here's a sneak peek from this novel that took me so long to write. Watch out for flying pop cans.
Just as his tired mind began to wander off on some other tangent, something ticked against the window to the left of his bed. A bug, probably, or something kicked up by the wind. Funny, though. It kind of reminded him of that crazy sound he kept hearing earlier when—
Bobby’s muscles froze. It was the same sound he’d heard in the church office. And what had Randy said? That whatever caused it was like a poltergeist. The sounds wouldn’t bother Bobby when Randy left his job at the church because Randy was the one whom the unnamed thugs were after. But now Bobby had associated with the man, and the beings—whatever they were—had followed him.
Of course Bobby was being silly. Poltergeists did not exist, and he certainly didn’t believe in ghosts. Randy had simply freaked him out with some kind of sound-throwing trick back at the church. Maybe the tapping hadn’t been on the window at all and was really something Randy himself was doing under the desk. Or had it been a recording? It was even possible that Randy owned a secondary vehicle and had followed Bobby home at a distance just to torment him further. Bobby could see no motive for such actions, but crazy people didn’t follow the same logic that others did.
Bobby held his breath and continued listening for any indication that a solid, flesh-and-blood human stood outside the window. Aside from the tapping, all he heard was the soft sighing of wind in the trees.
He waited five minutes before tiptoeing out of bed and peering through a gap in the drapes. The moon lit up the night with a pale milky glow, though the wind made patchy clouds scud across the sky at a fast clip that alternately dimmed and brightened the cratered orb. The brief periods of brightness weren’t enough. If someone lurked in the yard, he couldn’t see them.
Tap. The sound, louder this time, originated from a more distant point. The creep had chosen another window and upgraded to small boulders instead of pebbles.
“That’s it.” Bobby jammed his bare feet into gym shoes and pulled on a sweatshirt. If he didn’t stop the guy, he would break a window and then Bobby’s landlord would jack up the rent to astronomic proportions if he didn’t throw Bobby out for associating with the wrong crowd.
Bobby owned no weapons. He did have a fireplace poker hanging in a stand by the hearth out in the living room. He had no intention of using it, but it might strike fear into the creep’s heart and make him run away.
He crept out of his bedroom, slowly lifted the poker out of the stand so it wouldn’t make a clanging noise that would rouse Caleb, and undid the deadbolt on the back door.
The porch light had burnt out some months before and neither of the house’s occupants had bothered replacing it, much to Bobby’s current regret. The moon disappeared behind a bank of fast-moving clouds again. He could have brought out a flashlight, but stealth might be in his favor if he could catch the guy by surprise.
He made sure the door wouldn’t lock behind him and stepped onto the small cement slab where they kept the tiny charcoal grill they’d used maybe twice all summer. His eyes already adjusted to the darkness since he hadn’t turned on any lights during his short flight from the bedroom to here. He took quick inventory of the yard. Garbage cans. Stunted bushes. Chain-link fence. The creep didn’t have many places to hide, though it was possible he’d heard Bobby and dashed around to the side of the house to hunker down behind the giant pine tree that took up a good portion of the side yard.
Anything was possible.
Well, almost anything.
He was about to step off the slab when something whizzed by his head and bounced off the lid of the grill before clattering to the ground.
He wanted to whirl around and see what it had been, but if he turned his back, the creep might sneak up behind him and conk him on the head. He squinted. What direction had the thing come from? He didn’t see—
Clunk. Another something landed at his feet. Keeping his gaze trained on the yard, Bobby stooped and found the object with his hand. He picked it up and held it in front of his face.
The moon emerged briefly from behind the mantle of clouds.
He held a crushed can of Dr Pepper. Not nearly as crushed as it would have been had it been in Caleb’s grip when that news bit about the murdered girl had been on television, but crushed nonetheless.
Bobby remembered part of his exchange with Randy earlier in the evening.
It sounds like someone’s throwing rocks at the window.
Rocks, sticks, whatever else they can find. I’m used to it.
The Dr Pepper can had previously resided in one of the garbage cans along the back fence ten yards away, or more specifically, the “recycle” can sitting next to the one reserved for regular waste. Though Bobby didn’t see how a grown man could remain concealed behind the bins while launching such an assault, that’s where he had to be.
Bobby squared his shoulders to make himself appear braver and marched across the damp grass, wielding the poker like a baseball bat. He stopped five feet away from the cans and cleared his throat. Maybe he could be diplomatic about this. “I know you’re back there,” he said, “and if you don’t want me to bash a hole in your head, you’ll come out with your hands up.” It sounded cheesy, but he didn’t have time to think of a more elaborate threat.
He waited. Nothing moved. Maybe the guy was holding his breath.
“Hello?” He took another tentative step forward. The lid of one can rested on the ground beside it. A few other crushed cans lay scattered in the grass.
“I’ve got a fireplace poker,” he said.
“Do you know what a person can do with a fireplace poker?”
He hoped that none of his neighbors would hear him and think he had flipped his lid.
He continued anyway. “You don’t?” His voice shook. “Well, I’ll tell you. There’s this guy back home, you see. Lived with a crazy mama. She tried to kill him, but he killed her first with one of these things. He gives talks now. Stuff about forgiveness and moving on and things like that.” Now he was just rambling like a nutcase. “Do you want me to do that to you? Kill you with a poker like you’re a crazy mama?”
He thought he heard a faint snicker somewhere in the night, but it might have just been the wind rustling through the grass and trees.
Somehow the silence behind the garbage cans seemed far louder than all the nighttime sounds surrounding him. Gripping the poker in one hand, he dragged the recycle can aside with the other.
Nobody was there.