KIndle Edition $3.99, 2016
Publisher Koehler Books
KIndle Edition $3.99, 2016
Devil in the Grass is a fast paced thriller that pushes the edges of horror and the Paranormal. Set in the ancient backdrop of the Florida Everglades, Devil depicts the struggle of a failed sporting hero, Jackson Walker, returned to his southern roots. His entanglement with a “femme fatale”, The Republican Party and Satanic cult, lead to an escalating chain of events. Jackson must rely upon his friends, family and inner fortitude to overcome a dark and terrifying foe.
Stands of trees, miles of cutting grass
Whispered stories in the wind too old to tell
Blue skies, the sun, blooms of billowing cloud
There is fear to be found in its vastness
If the ancient swamp could take its due
Like the devil she would… if she could
She sits and waits
Jack thanked the stocky Seminole woman with a nod as she handed him his coffee in a tin can. She had been sent by his grandfather to look after him while he was in hiding. The can burned the tips of his fingers as he held it gingerly. No coffee cups? He reminded himself this was a hunt camp in the middle of nowhere. He stirred in some sugar and watched the woman as she left through a tattered drape that half-covered the only doorway. The room contained nothing more than a cot, a table, and two chairs. The plank-board floors and walls were a collage of warped paneling and narrow horizontal logs. The room smelled musty, with a slight undertone of rotting wood. The lone window looked out over the grass plain and wetlands of the Big Cyprus Swamp. A rusty piece of bug screen attached to the frame was covered with duct tape. The hot breeze did little to change the oppressive, stifling heat pressing down on Jack’s already sagging shoulders.
Jack took a sip of the strong coffee, careful not to burn his lips on the hot tin. He set the drink down on the table and leaned forward, running his hands through his sweat-drenched hair, his mind churning. He’d become a shell of the man he had once been. Perhaps it was the fact that he was sober, or perhaps it was the reality of his dire situation, that allowed him to lay a finger on the truth for the first time in years. He breathed a heavy sigh. His mother’s death during his senior year in college had hit him harder than he’d been willing to admit. He blamed himself in part, and had a hard time dealing with his guilt. He’d buried his emotions, trying his best to be the strong guy. But then he’d cracked. His fall from grace had been steady, including substance abuse and the demise of his professional football career. He’d allowed himself to slide into despair, to the point where he felt he didn’t know himself anymore.
Jack stared at the ceiling, slowly shaking his head. He remembered idolizing great football players like Joe Montana and John Elway when he was a teenager, trying to emulate the way they played the game. He appreciated their skill, but it was the fearlessness with which they marched onto the field that had mattered to him; they seemed oblivious to the adversities they faced and allowed their abilities to produce great results, unhindered by doubt. Jack worked hard to exhibit many of the same characteristics during his high school football days, and then later at the University of Florida. He’d grown into a person that his teammates looked up to, the one who didn’t back down. He was a gamer.
Jack had fallen a long way from that standard these past few years. He didn’t blame anyone. He’d become soft and apathetic. He’d made a half-assed attempt to clean himself up after hitting what he thought was rock bottom. He realized now that he had never dealt with the root of his problems, he’d only masked the symptoms.
The magnitude of his situation and the possible consequences hit him like a slap to the forehead. He picked up the Naples Daily News, which lay at his feet. It was the third time he’d read the front page since waking an hour earlier. His picture was prominently displayed with the headline beneath it:
CULT LEADER SLAYS TWO IN CLEWISTON
A Fort Myers man in his mid-twenties is the subject of a massive manhunt in connection with the slaying of a man and woman in the small town of Clewiston, near Lake Okeechobee Tuesday night. The suspect, Jackson Walker, is described as 6-foot-2, with dark hair and athletic build. He was last seen in LaBelle, east of Fort Myers.
Walker, a local football star, played three years for the University of Florida Gators. Walker was later drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals and played three years in their system. He currently works as an intern for Sen. James Hunter.
Walker is believed to be connected with a local Satanic cult called The Brotherhood of Set, based in South Florida. Not much is known about the cult, or whether it is associated with other Satanic sects within the country.
Details and names of the deceased are being withheld pending further investigation. Anyone with information or knowledge of his whereabouts should call the Lee County Sheriff’s hotline. Walker is considered armed and dangerous.
Jack threw the paper into the far corner of the room. “Fuckin’ hell!… Cult leader, armed and dangerous? Come on.” He shook his head. Jack possessed nothing more than the clothes on his back and a little cash in his wallet. Reading the newspaper again infuriated him.
The Naples Daily was a small rag, but by now his story could be on WINK news, maybe even Fox TV, his history dissected and the media hounding anyone closely associated with him. He shook his head once again. This doesn’t look good. He stood up and paced the small room. He was not a devil worshiper, nor was he a cult leader; he needed to prove his accusers wrong.
He’d known that there were risks associated with his involvement with Satanists. He blamed his naiveté for becoming involved with Sarah. It could have happened to any red-blooded American male, and he was paying a massive price for chasing that woman. Now he was accused of murder, facing a long prison sentence, and perhaps the death penalty. He would not turn himself in—not yet. He couldn’t get caught by the Satanists either; that would end badly. He shuddered.
He was stuck in the middle of the largest swamp in the United States, sweating profusely in a small, dismal hut. If he were to give up at this point, he wouldn’t be able to prove his innocence. He owed that much to himself and his family. He needed time to figure things out. Why me? What were his assailants’ motivations? He didn’t think it a coincidence that the whole affair began shortly after he was hired by Senator Hunter. He had been drawn into some sort of conspiracy? To what end? Had he been preyed upon because of his apathetic state? He banged his fist on the table. Most importantly, he needed to become the Jack Walker he had once been. He could feel the fury building in him like he hadn’t experienced in a long time. He would need this emotion to get out of the mess he was in.
Jack paced the room waiting for Janie to arrive. Janie worked for a Naples law firm, and had been hired by his Aunt Rebecca from Atlanta. Jack didn’t think that the situation was going to be resolved with legalities, but for the time being, he was out of options and had to trust his aunt. He lay down on the rusty cot. At least the bedsheets are clean, he thought. Aunt Rebecca took care of everything. The smell of the freshly laundered bedding gave him some comfort. He put his hands behind his head and closed his eyes, thinking about the crazy events of the past few months.
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Chris was born and raised in historic Niagara-on-the-Lake, voted the prettiest town in Canada. Christopher is the owner of a successful Real Estate Brokerage, Niagara-on-the-Lake Realty. He has a bachelor of arts from Brock University and is a lover of fine wine, sport and a story that takes you away. Christopher has a second residence in southwest Florida where he has spent a good part of his life since childhood. Southwest Florida is the backdrop for his first novel, Devil in the Grass.