A Shiver from Twisted Tails III: Pure Fear
Copyright © 2008 Edited and Compiled by J. Richard
All rights reserved under International and
Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Double Dragon eBooks, a division of Double Dragon Publishing
Inc., Markham, Ontario Canada.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted
in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any information
storage or retrieval system, without the permission in writing from Double Dragon Publishing.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events
or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
A DDP First Edition April 11, 2008
From The Prologue of
Twisted Tails III
Those who have read other books in the Twisted Tails series
already know that genre is not the driving force behind them. There is a general theme, sure, but no specific limits to where
a story can take off from or a destination to which it should travel. We thrive on surprise and that is what makes the Twisted
Tails books unique. Each story ends in the unexpected. Sometimes that’s a little subtle, but most of the time the reader
is cautioned to be careful of his/her footing. The authors of these little whiplash generators are masters at providing the
required back-wrenching twist, so do be mindful of your step and we bid you welcome.
An Excerpt From K.L. Nappier’s
Deep in the Ozark Foothills
Death was still at the table, watching her. She didn’t
know how it could be that she knew who he was. But she did.
He looked pretty much like Death would be expected to look:
rangy, his skin as gray as the fog, his black coat beaded with damp, his slouch hat barely revealing his eyes. There was neither
menace nor pity on his face. There wasn’t any feeling there at all.
Emily’s throat felt packed with cotton, but she managed
to ask, "How’d you get in here?"
Death didn’t answer.
She asked, "What’re you doin’ here?"
He said, "This is where I wait for the man named Del."
Em’s knees almost buckled. It was all she could do
to stand, it was all she could do to take a few steps toward Death, but she did.
"Why? Why him? Why now?"
Death shrugged, utterly disinterested in her questions.
"What’s he done to deserve you comin’?"
His expression, his eyes, deep beneath the slouch brim, told
Em that he didn’t see much point in explaining himself to the likes of her.
Could she make it to the door, down the steps, to the path?
Could she move fast enough to keep Death from stopping her? Could she make it to the lumber mill, if she ran with all her
might? Could she outrun Death and save her husband?
She must have at least run fast enough to escape the shack
because there she was charging down the path, nothing in her eyes but her tears and the fog, nothing in her ears but the sound
of her lungs sucking air and she was running, running, running to get to Del before Death could.
* * *
She hit the ground hard. At first, she thought Death had
caught up and snagged her ankle, so she flipped over kicking and screaming. But there wasn’t a soul around. Not a thing
next to her but the fog. Maybe she’d hit a root crossing the path or maybe her legs had just given out from the long,
Up ahead she made out a building’s shape. Its outline
looked bigger than the supply store, but that’s what it had to be, she had to be coming up to Half Stop. She called
out, but nobody answered, and by the time she was in front of the building her legs gave out again. Sobbing in despair, too
weak to move, she lay defeated against its one wooden step.
From somewhere inside, a scratchy voice called, "Who’s
Em’s sob caught in her throat and she grappled up toward
the door, banging on its planks. "Please help me, please help! I gotta get to the mill, I gotta get to my husband, but I can’t
run no more. My legs...my legs just won’t do it no more. Please, can you help?"
"My name’s Em. Emily Nash, Mrs. Delmar Nash. He works
at the lumber mill and I gotta get to him. Please!"
The voice was close on the other side of the door, now. It
sounded like an old woman."What’s your hurry?"
Em found enough strength in her legs to kick the door. "You
gonna help me or not?" The effort made her topple off the building’s step, but she kept to her feet. She clutched at
her scalp and looked around her like a wild woman. "Somebody! Help me! He sittin’ in my house, Death is sittin’
in my house waitin’ to take my husband!"
She heard the door creak and she turned. A skinny old frazzle-haired
lady stood there in a starched, white bib apron, one hand on her hip and the other on the door. She looked Em up and down.
"So what makes you so special, missy, that I should care
if Death’s come to call on your house?"
"Please, can you help me get to the mill? You gotta workin’
phone? You gotta truck? Or a wagon, you gotta horse?"
The old woman shook her head. "Even if I did, wouldn’t
do you a bit a good. Death’s gonna do what Death comes to do."
For the first time, Em took in the building. And she’d
been right, it wasn’t the Half Stop supply store. It was larger and had the look of a meeting house. It was beat up
and old as everything in the hollow, but Em had never seen it before. She was almost too afraid to ask: "What is this place?"
The woman looked overhead, above herself. "You mean this
buildin’?" She pulled the door forward so Em could see the faded paint of a symbol: a builder’s compass on the
top, its legs crossing a set-square ruler on the bottom. "It’s the old Freemason lodge."
Em wasn’t in Half Stop. She wasn’t
even anywhere she knew. Oh, dear Lord Jesus. I’m lost. I’m lost.
Unbearable loss doubled her over, and she kneeled to the
ground. There was no hope of getting to Del before sun down. Not now.
"I gotta go back," she said in a small voice, though not
particularly to the old woman. "I got no choice. I gotta go back."
"You ain’t the one Death’s come for," the old
lady retorted. "So, ‘course you gotta choice. You wanna come in? Rest a spell?"
Em shook her head and climbed to her feet. "I gotta get back.
I gotta talk to him."
"To Death? What for?"
"I figure...maybe I can turn him." Em started walking the
way she had come. She could feel the old lady’s stare on her back.
The old woman called to Em, "You wanna come in? Could be
you and me’s got somethin’ to talk about, after all."
"No time," Em replied, and turned away.
The old lady’s voice was right in her ear. "There’s
Em stopped and looked back, her stomach in a twist. She couldn’t
keep the shake out of her voice when she asked, "You sayin’ you can help me?"
The old lady repeated, "I’m sayin’ maybe you
and me’s got somethin’ to talk about," and went back in the lodge, leaving the door ajar.