Thursday, January 18, 2018

Dead Luke (Part 1)

dontravis.com blog post #268

Good news. DSP Publications just notified me they’ve accepted my novel, Abaddon’s Locusts, with a tentative release date in the first quarter of 2019.

My fellow Okie author, Mark Wildyr, wrote a story a hundred years ago (well, maybe not that long) that raised chill bumps on my back. He’s kindly allowed me to adapt it to my own way of thinking about things. My version is shorter than his; nonetheless, it’ll take a serial posting. Here’s part one.

*****
Courtesy of Pixabay
DEAD LUKE
Adapted from a short story by Mark Wildyr

The temperature in the room dropped. Goose pimples crawled up my back. My throat dried up, causing me to try to swallow. My heart raced. The thing in the corner was back again.
A shadow? Reflected light? I knew better. Even before I flipped on the table lamp, I knew there would be no bug crawling up the wall, no undulating cobweb to gather shadows. Nothing. There never was.
How my new apartment was different defied rational explanation; I merely knew that it was. Finding a roomy place at a rock-bottom price within two blocks of the campus was likely a warning, but such a bargain called for action, not investigation. I leased it on the spot.
Green House, a modest old white-painted mansion, had been cut up into four apartments. I shared the second floor with another academic a couple of years my senior, an instructor at Crandall University where I was enrolling for graduate work in Business Administration.
As to the strangeness, on my first night in the apartment, I woke convinced I was not alone, although I was. The next morning, as I studied my schedule for the upcoming semester, I’ll swear someone breathed in my ear. Later, I thought I saw someone out of the corner of my eye when no one was there. It called to mind movies like The Amityville Horror except I had no sense of evil or impending doom. Nor was there a feeling of capriciousness that I associated with poltergeists. God! Poltergeists, yet! My conscious mind insisted these things had a natural explanation. The subconscious? Well, that was another matter. Scratch deep enough, and we’re all primitive.
I woke at 3 o’clock one morning to a high, thin keening that came from nowhere and everywhere. Sweating, I sat up in bed. My heart thumped. Chill bumps literally, covered my body. Then I heard a distinct chink from the other room like something had struck a stone in the old fireplace. It came again.
I slipped out of bed and naked edged my way to the door. My flashlight revealed no one, nothing. I flipped the switch on the overhead and flooded the room with light. Nothing. Was there a bat or something up in the old flue? I returned to bed where I covered myself against a sudden chill and tossed and turned until daybreak.
In the light of day, my nighttime anxieties seemed foolish, yet a week of unexplained sightings or near-sightings or impressions of sightings and seven nights of lost sleep were enough!
My across the hall neighbor, pointed me in the right direction when he said I was the third tenant in the past year. I asked if he knew why there was such a turnover.
“Naw. All claimed it was noisy, but I think it had something to do with what happened a year or so ago. Some people are funny about living in a place where somebody died.”
“Someone died in my apartment?”
“Yeah. Don’t remember much, but it was in the papers. Some guy died in an accident or something. Landlady didn’t mention it?”
“Not hardly!” I said with feeling.
“Oops. Am I gonna lose another neighbor?”
I smiled at him. “No way! The deal’s too good.”
After class, I drove to the town’s only newspaper. They had old issues on microfiche. Without much trouble, I located the news items about the accident the neighbor mentioned.
A twenty-one-year-old student named Luke Collins had been found dead in the apartment. At first, police investigators termed it a death under suspicious circumstances but later decided the boy had fallen and struck his head on the fireplace.
The hair on my neck rose as I recalled the distinctive sound of something striking stone last night. The fireplace was flagstone. When I returned home that afternoon, I inspected the hearth carefully and decided that one dark spot was blood soaked into the porous rock. Uncertain as to how I felt about that, I walked to the nearest café and had a blue-plate special while mulling things over. By the time I finished, my mind was clear. The price was right, the location was superb, and I wasn’t about to surrender that apartment to anyone…living or dead!

*****
Why is Luke…dead Luke…haunting the apartment where he died? And what can he possibly want from our protagonist?

And now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. And keep on submitting your work to publishers and agents. You have something to say… so say it.

If you feel like dropping me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

Here are some buy links to City of Rocks, my most recent book.


See you next week.

Don


New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

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