Today’s excerpt is from horror writer, Austin Crawley. Austin, welcome to The Write Stuff. We’re ready to be scared, so take it away!
Snippets from Letters To The Damned
From Chapter One:
Cris drifted between waking and sleeping, his dream images of his wife, Shannon, already lost in half remembered impressions and the haze of another dream world involving a strange, English village, like the ones on Shannon’s favorite calendar. The foreign imagery faded and Cris felt consciousness begin to win the struggle. He rolled over to the edge of his comfortable double bed to reach towards the floor where he had heard scuffling noises. He expected to feel his fingers stroking the soft fur of his little tortoiseshell cat, Mocha, but instead a strange hand clasped his own in an iron grip.
He instinctively pulled back, but the hand wouldn’t let go. Cris tried to force open his eyes, to reach full consciousness, but his eyelids would not respond. He heard his own sharp, gasping breaths in the darkness. His mind tried to make sense of the thought that a hand had come from the floor, perhaps someone under the bed? Cris struggled with rising terror and a feeling of vulnerability when his body failed to respond to his conscious commands to open his eyes. He wanted to scream, but his voice would not respond.
“A freshly disturbed soul might not be amenable to performing supernatural tasks.” The dowdy teashop owner with a lazy, northern English accent looked at Cris as if he had used the wrong spoon to stir his Earl Grey tea.
Suddenly he regretted having told her about his wife’s accident. Cris hadn’t come to England to try to raise the dead, after all. He had only wanted to get away for a while, to forget the bustle of Los Angeles and spend a few days somewhere quiet where he might collect his thoughts. He watched the unpretentious swishing of the teashop owner’s faded flowered dress as she walked back behind the counter to make his sandwich and reflected on how the conversation had turned suddenly to the thoughts he had refused to voice to himself.
He glanced up at the picture over the desk, the ship out in a stormy sea, and he wondered why someone would paint a ship in such difficult circumstances when they might have shown it at full sail on a pleasant day. If they had wanted to capture the wildness of the sea during a storm, they could have painted a stormy seascape with waves crashing onto a rocky coast.
Cris’ gaze wandered over the picture and he began to feel a sense of swaying, which he dismissed as an effect of the movement of his eyes from an odd angle to the painting. He began to appreciate the realism of the artist and could almost feel the salt spray as waves crashed over the side of the ship. He could hear men shouting orders and feel the burn of a rope held tightly by a man balanced precariously on the main mast yardarm.
The swell of the next wave tipped the boat to a forty-five degree angle and he felt his feet slipping from the yardarm, the rope tearing skin in bloody patches on the palms of his hands, then falling, falling…
Austin Crawley . . . I Think?
Austin Crawley is a civil engineer who has written stories for more than ten years, usually involving ghosts, demons or spirits in some form. He has a Christmas book in publication called A Christmas Tale, based on the ghosts from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and currently has a Horror story on special price pre-order for October 1st release, Letters To The Damned.
He lives with his wife and three children, as well as a menagerie of outlandish creatures generally referred to as ‘pets’.
Buy Austin’s Book Here: Letters to the Damned
Find Austin on Social Media Here: