Hello! This is the prologue for Downpour, the upcoming sequel to my first novel, Whiteout. If you haven’t read Whiteout, STOP HERE, because there are spoilers ahead. Go pick yourself up a copy on Amazon, and then come back and check this out 🙂
Downpour is scheduled to be published in 2020 by Aberrant Literature, and is going to be one hell of an adventure.
By, Ashton Macaulay
“Of course, you want to hear about South America. Land of the Dead, nothing but bones, angry corpses and a lack of proper booze…” Nick took a gulp from the beer in front of him and sighed in relief. The Haven may have been grungy, but they had strong beer and stronger cocktails. Nick took a long look at the woman sitting opposite him. Why would she want to know about the Land of the Dead?
A lanky man leaned on the bar for support and turned to Nick. “This time you’ve gone too far…” He let out a belch that could have shattered glass and slumped away to the dimmest corner booth he could find. Most tables at least had flickering lights above them, but everyone knew that the booth farthest from the jukebox did not. It was where people went to sleep off whatever it was Jimmy had served them. Slumping onto the worn vinyl bench, the lanky man snored softly, clutching a half-drunk glass of questionable brown liquid to his chest.
“Well, it doesn’t really matter if you believe me, Marcus,” Nick called out. “Wasn’t talking to you anyway.” Marcus didn’t even twitch. Nick turned his attention back to his date, remembering that he was not at The Haven to debate Marcus and the other drunks hiding in the shadows. “Sorry about that.” He made a dismissive gesture in Marcus’s direction.
She sipped a gin and tonic, staring at him intently. “Happen often?” A sly grin spread across her face as she set the drink down.
“More often than I’d like.” There was something familiar in her eyes, but Nick couldn’t quite place it. God I hope I haven’t been on this date before. It wouldn’t have been the first time. Why oh why did I take her to Jimmy’s? The answer was simple. He had never intended to spend the entire night at Jimmy’s. Nick had put on the best clothes he owned; a faded suit jacket, slacks that barely fit, and a pair of shoes he had stolen off a corpse. He had then wracked his brain for the names of the fanciest bars he knew, realized he could afford none of them for very long, and decided to do the bulk of the night’s drinking at The Haven.
“Now, where was I?” asked Nick, trying to assuage the urge to tell Marcus off again.
“You were about to spout some lies about how you’ve been to the Land of the Dead,” said his date, her eyes shining with the tiniest hint of menace in the dim bar light.
Nick looked to Marcus who was snoring louder than ever and groaned as he noticed a barrel of a man pushing through the western-style double doors that concealed the bathrooms. Albert sported a long, unkempt beard, overalls, and a larger-than-necessary crossbow that always seemed to be strapped to his back. It said something about one’s mental state when they needed to take medieval weaponry to the toilet. Then again, monster hunters were a paranoid bunch. The man pulled at his overalls. “Why don’t you save us all a few hours and skip to whatever ending you’ve concocted this time.”
Nick flushed. He had told many lies at The Haven, that was for sure, but lately real life had been too interesting to embellish. “They’re not lies,” he said with a sigh. “When have I ever lied to you, Albert?” He immediately regretted asking.
Albert’s eyes glazed over, the wheels of his mind spinning. “I think it was,” he paused, scooping up an empty glass from a table and trying to drink it. Dismayed that it was indeed empty, he set it back down and scratched his chin. For a good minute, he sat there, staring at the ceiling, muttering to himself. Eventually, he returned from his great reverie and declared: “Yesterday. Yesterday you were trying to fill us with some cock and bull story about a man who fancied himself Bigfoot and murdered some folks in Clearwater.”
“That one was on the news, Albert!” Nick was growing exasperated. He looked to his companion for confirmation.
A flicker of recognition crossed her face, like she was about to say something, but she picked up her phone instead. Nick couldn’t be sure, but he suspected she was googling the incident.
“Oh sure, Local Eye, hell of a paper that is. Good thing too, I was worried Elvis actually was dead for a while there.” Albert let out a hearty laugh and zigzagged through the mess of tables toward the bar. “But that’s none of my business. She’ll see through you soon enough anyway.”
Nick cursed the day that Albert had wandered out of his mudhole and into the city. “Usually,” started Nick, trying to regain the flow of conversation. “Usually, it’s not this bad.”
“So, the great Dr. Ventner is a tale spinner, eh?” The woman finished her drink.
Never said I was a doctor. Nick didn’t bother to correct her and finished his own glass, motioning to the bar for another. “Mostly, yes,” he admitted. “But sometimes, just sometimes, I’ve got a tale or two that are true, and this is one of them. If you’re not satisfied by the end, the door is there.” This was a desperate play and Nick knew it. Tonight was the first date he had been on in years and surely he had given her the excuse she needed to leave.
A sleepy bartender shuffled over and plopped a glass down. It fizzled and popped with acidity. He placed another gin and tonic next to Nick’s companion. “Compliments of Mr. Albert over there,” said Jimmy, and then walked back to the bar to polish dirty glasses and watch his TV.
“You have this much time to impress me,” said the woman, motioning to the height of the glass. There was a joking manner to it, but Nick could not help but feel there was also a little bit of truth.
“Right, well, no time like the present.” Nick took a drink of the fizzy, popping mixture and felt an instant rush of confidence. The words spilled from his mouth like a river. “Well, it all started when I took what some would consider to be a rather ill-advised trip into the Amazon…”