I just accepted the proof copy of Dead Are Alive today. It’ll be available on Amazon next week! I honestly can’t believe it’s finally here. Many of you already know just how long it has taken to get to this point, so it feels like a hard earned victory. Now, to the good stuff that I promised last week for this blog post… Here is the entire prologue for Dead Are Alive. No, this is not just a tiny sample, this is the whole shebang. I hope you enjoy!
DEAD ARE ALIVE
Percy McAndrews would normally be a drunken mess after a fishing trip at the river, or at any other time for that matter, but this hadn’t been his normal empty-handed trip. He proudly carried ten fish on a string over his shoulder. Percy’s mouth watered at the thought of the fish sizzling in a frying pan later that night. It would be the biggest dinner he’d ate in quite some time. He whistled as he walked across the wooded ridge top on the way back home to Hazel. A soft breeze blew through his white, dirty hair and scruffy, white beard. Water still dripped from the fish and drenched the back of his blue, button-up shirt. Percy’s brown, tattered pants, rolled up to the knees, revealed his scrawny legs. The grass felt cool against his bare feet; a more welcomed feeling compared to the sharp, pointed rocks he crossed down by the river.
Percy came to a sudden stop when he heard what sounded like a woman’s scream. He stood still as the scream once again echoed up from the small grassy meadow right below. Percy ran behind a large tree that overlooked the meadow. Four men stood in a circle around another man, who tugged on an old woman’s hair as she lay face down on the ground.
“Come on, granny! Scream so the whole town can hear!” said the tall, muscular man as he pulled the woman’s long, gray hair even harder. Percy recognized the woman as her head snapped back. It was Reverend Hopkins’ wife, Gwen.
Percy whispered to himself, “What are they doing with the Reverend’s wife out here?” He nervously licked his lips and glanced all around. “I gotta help her.” Percy took a step from the tree. “Who am I kidding? They’d stomp me into the ground. I need help.” He eased back into hiding.
The man leaned down and forcefully kissed Gwen on her lips. Her screams continued to echo through the woods. He held Gwen under the chin as she struggled to move her face away. The other men cheered like savages as Gwen begged the man to stop.
Suddenly the man jumped up as he shouted, “She bit me! The old hag about bit my lip off!” Percy was close enough to see the blood running down the muscle-man’s chin. Gwen tried to crawl away.
Another man with a long scruffy beard laughed as he said, “I don’t blame her, who’d wanna kiss you anyways?” He walked over, grabbed one of Gwen’s legs, and pulled her back to him. “Where you think you’re going, woman? I think you need to be taught a lesson in manners.”
The muscular man smiled with his bloody teeth. “Teach her!”
All of five of them ganged up and started kicking Gwen all over her body. She screamed in agony as the men relentlessly pummeled her.
“That’s it. This has gotta stop.” said Percy as he started toward the gang. Just as Percy stepped from behind the wide tree, he noticed a large man on a horse approaching them. Percy took cover once again and watched the horse come closer to the group. Percy squinted his eyes. “Uh-oh boys. You’re in for it now. That’s Sheriff Wellman coming.”
Sheriff Wellman was known for the noticeable attire he always wore. He had on a bright red jacket and matching vest over a white shirt. His black pants matched the leather hat on his head. He kept a thick, neatly trimmed, gray mustache that ran all the way down to his chin.
The men finally stopped their attack as the horse came to a stop. Percy saw the anger on Sheriff Wellman’s face.
Wellman looked at each of the men in disgust as he said, “What do you idiots think you’re doing?” The men looked at each other, embarrassed.
Gwen could barely move, she gasped for air as she whimpered, “Sheriff. Thank goodness.”
Just then, the man with the hooked-nose spoke up in a raspy voice, “We were just having a little fun, Sheriff. Don’t be mad.” He seemed to be the leader.
Sheriff Wellman threw his hands in the air. “Fun? I thought I was clear when I last spoke with you boys.”
The hook-nosed man looked around at his other comrades, then down at Gwen, who still struggled to get to her feet. “Sheriff, we didn’t do anything wrong. We did what you asked.”
Sheriff Wellman rolled his eyes as he shook his head. “You moron. I specifically told you not to get caught!” He pointed down at Gwen. “That right there is Reverend Hopkins’ wife!”
The leader bit his bottom lip. “Well, she was there when we got inside. We had to bring her with us or else we’d been caught for sure.”
Wellman gritted his teeth as he looked to the sky and mumbled curse words. The men stood there and looked at their leader uneasily.
“So when do we get our pay for this, Sheriff?” asked the man. Gwen managed to rise to her knees, and struggled to stand up. Sheriff Wellman watched as he seemed to think of an answer for the man.
“Shew,” said Wellman as he reached down for the pistol hanging from his belt. He drew it from the holster and fired one quick shot at Gwen. Blood sprayed as she instantly fell limp and hit the ground.
Percy felt a cold chill rush down his spine as he watched Gwen‘s body collapse. “What?” His body started to shake. “Why in the world would Sheriff Wellman kill Gwen?”
As Wellman placed his gun back into its holster he asked, “Now where’s the money?”
The hook-nosed leader looked to the shortest one of the men and nodded. The short man untied a cloth bag from the saddle on his horse and handed it up to Wellman.
“I suspect all of it’s here?” asked Wellman.
The leader nodded. “Of course it’s there, Sheriff. Now when do we get to see our part of it?”
Wellman placed the rugged cloth bag inside a brown, leather saddlebag. “When the job’s done.” The men seemed confused. “Get rid of her and we’ll talk payment. I can’t have the blood of the preacher’s wife on my hands along with a church robbery. Meet me at the jailhouse around noon tomorrow; unless she hasn’t disappeared. I don’t want to see none of you until then!”
The men looked at Wellman with long faces. Their leader replied, “Sure thing, Sheriff. We’ll see you tomorrow at noon then.”
Wellman turned his horse around as he said, “Don’t get caught this time!” He started on his way back toward Hazel as the men dragged Gwen’s lifeless body across the ground.
Percy dropped his fish and ran in the other direction. His heart pounded as he started to envision the men catching up to him and killing him too. Percy knew he needed to tell somebody about what just happened, but with the sheriff involved, he wasn’t sure who.