Greetings, WYMOP readers!
Last week, if you remember, I was bragging a little on the new story collection I have coming out at the end of the month, Echoes of Darkness, and I posted an excerpt from one of the stories in the book, "Ma Liang’s Crayons". I also promised to show you the cover this week, and I’m going to make good on that promise in just a minute.
First, though, I’d like to say something about this week’s post. It’s another excerpt from Echoes, this one from a story titled "Mutes." "Mutes" is a story some of you have seen before, and is a favorite of some of my readers out there. It is not, however, the kind of thing you may be used to seeing on While You’re Making Other Plans. I usually come here to share things that happen at work, or with my son, and I try to have a humorous angle. This post is some of my fiction, though, and quite a bit of my fiction doesn’t have that fuzzy bunny, cute puppy feel some of my posts here do. For the most part I am a horror writer, with all that implies. There may be terrible language. There may be bad things happening to good people. You have been warned.
But, on the plus side, my mom liked the story. Hi, Mom!
So, without further ado, here is the cover and a little bit of story.
I do hope you enjoy it.
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An Excerpt from "Mutes"
From the upcoming collection Echoes of Darkness, by Rob Smales
Test, test, is this thing on? Okay. Right. Okay . . . where to start? I found this old tape deck, and I have one tape. I need to get this told, just in case, but I have to hurry. I don’t know how much time I have. Granny McCalloum was right. She always said—wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.
My name is Scott St. Armond. I’m making this recording in my apartment, and I swear I’m of sound mind. I swear to God.
I’m from Slaughter, Louisiana, population about 1,000. My Granny McCalloum is the local hoodoo woman there. She used to claim I have the sight, too. But I wasn’t like her. Not then.
Anyway, I came to the big city when I turned eighteen, trained up and got work as an EMT. That’s when shit got weird. I’m not sure exactly when it started, but the first time I noticed anything was at this car wreck my partner and I responded to out on Route 18.
Oh, hang on—
I just checked the window, and there’s too many to count. Jesus, this is bad.
Okay, Route 18. Some kid out speeding around lost control of his car and went off the road, into a tree. The driver was banged up, but walked away. His girlfriend, though, wasn’t wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the vehicle into another tree. We found her at the base of an old pine, in rough shape. She’d been impaled by more than a dozen branches, some of them as thick as my two thumbs together. She’d rolled to the ground with snapped-off pine stakes sticking out of her torso, legs, and one eye.
She was still conscious. We found her by following the screams.
Another crew showed up for the driver while we went for the girl. We strapped her to the stretcher, branches sticking out of her this way and that, and started carrying her up to the road. I’m a pretty big guy, lots bigger than Jerry, and I had a hard time carrying her over the uneven ground in the dark. I don’t know how he managed.
We jostled her a little, and that got her screaming again. Now, I was still green, and this was easily the worst thing I’d ever seen. You can watch videos and movies, even real stuff like the surgery network, but it’s nothing compared to up close and personal. Especially the screaming. I was freaked out.
So when I looked up from watching for rocks and holes and saw five dark silhouettes backlit by our ambulance strobes standing not ten feet away, I reacted badly. I caught a whiff of a sweet licorice smell. I thought Sambuca and figured they were drunk.
I yelled, “What the hell are you doing? This isn’t your fucking entertainment! Back away; get back to your cars! Go on now!” But they just stood there.
Behind me, Jerry yelled “Scott! What the hell are you doing, man?”
I glanced back at Jerry and shouted over the girl’s crying.
“What the hell’s it look like?” I said, “I’m telling these looky-loos to—”
I stopped dead and the stretcher gouged my lower back. The night was clear with a good moon, but when I turned back to them, they were gone. The field between us and the road was empty, not a soul in sight.
Jerry struggled not to drop the stretcher, and yelled at me to move my ass.
We got the girl into our bus and Jerry started us rolling while I tried to stabilize her. Jerry waited until we’d left the ER to ask what the hell I was doing out there.
“Didn’t you see the people?” I said. “The people in the field?”
He just squinted at me and said, “I didn’t see anybody but you. Yelling at a field.”
Jerry had worked there a couple of years already, so it was practically part of his job to rib me as the newbie. He walked around for a while saying I’d already cracked from the strain, but that wasn’t it.That was the first time I saw the Mutes.
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There you go, some story and a cover—and isn't the cover purty?
. . . And this is the part where I should try to come up with something clever to say, giving you a smooth outro so you'll want to come back next week for more, but I'll be honest: I delivered the mail all day today in a snowstorm, and then after work I shoveled a couple of driveways and managed not to get home until almost 11:00 pm. I'm tired, and I'm getting up in about five hours so I can write before work.
Long story short? I'm going to bed. I hope you all enjoy the little bit of "Mutes" above, and I hope to see you back again next week.
I'll be here waiting.
Talk to you later!