Neanderthal Man

Neanderthal Man

by Cay Gould


Publisher Gould Publishing

Published in Literature & Fiction/Women's Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers/Mystery, Literature & Fiction/Contemporary, Mystery & Thrillers, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description


Why is it that so many serial killers are found to be the quiet man next door whom no-one suspects? Neanderthal man is a compelling and powerful delve into this question with the story of one such man and those who knew him, but then again, did not. As seen through the eyes of his college housemate Maggie Everhart, Neanderthal man follows the emergence of serial killer Adam Savent through the spirit of the hippie era of peace and love.

Sample Chapter

The stint of weekdays had almost been uneventful since the weekend of the house party, except for the delicious warming trend that had brought everyone into the breach of spring. Yet over the course of those days, Faye became loudly adamant that the time had come to think more concretely of household chores as their shared responsibility. She was tired of feeling like she was cleaning up after everyone. She grabbed them each individually as soon as they crossed her path to berate them. There was the mess after the party when it was Sunday afternoon and nearly everyone had failed to help her clean and fled into the spring-shine. They conveniently forgot Uncle Fudd was due, which left Mr. Thibault alone on the porch waiting for somebody to come home sometime and pay next month's rent. He was not pleased. Ultimately, Faye was the unlucky fall guy to submit to his paternal reprimand. She grumbled. There were unsettled debts for groceries which would not be settled this week either and there was Becky and Duncan's preoccupation with his bed. Even Beth, as Becky's most ardent supporter, had to admit that they could probably sever Duncan's room from the house and tow it to the Gulf of Mexico. The two would have been unlikely to notice.

During the week the rest of the household never spent more than brief half hours together, being drawn to campus more than to home. When they had the opportunity to be at home together for dinner, they each sprinted away at the least likely offers of entertainment. Adam, alone, puttered in the backyard and in the basement; though no one had seen any projects emerge from his shuffling and reshuffling of tools and materials.

This coming weekend promised to be more of the same. When Faye got her hands on Maggie, she found a kindred soul. Maggie felt saddened. Something was insidiously happening to their household. The shred of unity they had begun with had dissipated to almost nothingness. She wanted to talk with Faye about it. It was probably time for house conference number two. She had been thinking about that but felt resentful that she was left obligated to instigate this "meeting of the board" as Andy had put it. She agreed with Faye that they would organize this meeting together.

Maggie left the house after lunch lost in thought. She wasn't headed anywhere in particular. She just wanted to be outdoors. She was feeling claustrophobic again. The house didn't feel right. Not to mention, she especially missed her family on Sundays and it added fuel to her feelings of incongruity and melancholy.

She strolled across the street and toward the fields that were tucked away behind the people zone of houses and human landscaping that defined their neighborhood. As she was part way down the street, she turned as she had that first night, to look back at the house. Adam was standing on the porch in one of his many statue-like poses. He looked like a motorcycle cop at attention, hands clasped behind his back, curly head tilted slightly upwards to face the sun. The reflection of the sun off his body emphasized the brute massiveness of his muscles. They gleamed a little. Maggie considered his physical strength for the first time. "Not now," she whispered to herself, and turning her back on both Adam and the house, she cut through someone's yard crunching across brown scraps of last year's lawn amidst green shoots struggling to emerge. She entered the fields beyond. It was one of her favorite places. She could sit up against a tree at the edge, on a cushion of forest litter, at eye level with the dense prairie grasses. Quickly, tranquility would sink in. She would concentrate and become so still that she could imagine herself melting into the woodland as it engulfed her. With time, some of the smaller animals would ignore her scent, finding her irrelevant. She could watch them, only inches away, coping with daily survival. There were squirrels, ground squirrels, shrews, mice, and occasional hunting cats and dogs. On rare, wondrous occasions, there were prairie dogs, red tail hawks, or possum. Maggie imagined herself as an old stump, sitting solitary and immovable, becoming an integral part of this small habitat. The animals humored her, it seemed. Oddly enough, sometimes when she sat just so, in that stillness, someone had walked past her without noting she was there. She was far from alone as someone who came to those fields to play and dream and wander.

Today, Adam came to the fields also. Maggie had already settled cross legged at the field's edge. She was dressed in beige, blending in with sedge brown stalks which, in their tall winter masses, brushed against her shoulders where she sat. She felt at home. Adam didn't seem to notice her there. His movements suggested he thought he was alone. No one else was within eyesight. He strolled at first, randomly picking blades of wild rye. He stopped then, stretched and grasped at the sky as if he were clutching for fists full of clouds. He turned and walked directly towards Maggie and she was sure that by then he had noticed her. Yet, she made herself remain still, willing an absurd invisibility. He stopped about fifteen feet short of her spot. This was awkward. Surely he had seen her by now. It was as if he deliberately looked away from where she sat, like some acquaintance that ignores you in a grocery store. He turned again, and his gaze downward, combing the ground while walking, looked for finds in the collage of dirt and plant and animal leavings at his feet. Maggie figured he was hunting for archaeological knickknacks such as pottery shards or flecks of spent arrowheads. Then he stopped, dropping to a crouch in a bare place in the field. What did he see? There was a bulky piece of an old tree limb there, half rotten. He picked it up and tossed it lightly to get a firm grasp. Still crouching, he slid around on the balls of his feet to face toward the open field once again. He slung the branch like a baseball bat to his shoulder and in that half crouch, crept across the field, one deliberate step at a time. Maggie couldn't see what he was stalking. He reminded her of someone imitating a house cat.

Suddenly, he burst into the air with a blood curdling yell, while viciously slashing the air with his club. He landed again in the half crouch, whacking the club into the ground with such ferocity that the resounding crack of wood echoed in waves past Maggie into the woods. He repeated the stalking and the imaginary attack several times before the rotted wood of his club shattered into dozens of smaller splinters. While before, Maggie sat still with an inner sense of anonymity, observing him, she now felt rigid with a primitive fear. She became unbearably self-conscious, afraid he really would discover her. Then what?

Then, he did. He must have known she was there all along. She felt a self-propelling panic rise in her legs and flow into her arms and chest. As he poised in his half crouch, he spun to face her and his eyes began darting left, then right, then boring into her. He was going to race at her at any moment. She could sense it in the way he braced his arms. They stared. But she wasn't at all convinced he was seeing her, Maggie, his housemate. It was as if he was seeing a target or goal post, not someone live and breathing. Slowly, she crept onto her knees and began to back away behind the trunk of the tree. Even more slowly and cautiously she stood. What the hell was happening here, anyway? She was about to turn and run, when she realized she was being engulfed in some fantasy role-playing thing. Damn it, she would not let this happen. She would stand there and not move, daring him to finish his performance.

When he came, he shot as if from a starting block at the track. His energy increased as he poured everything into his heavy run. Maggie felt paralyzed now, unable to put motion into her limbs even if she wanted to. She had committed herself. She heard his thick panting become louder as he reached the tree in what seemed a matter of half seconds. Then, as he was almost upon her, one brief gallop from the tree, Maggie shrank back and screamed involuntarily. "Adam Wake Up!" He landed with both feet in one motion, inches from her face, coiled and exploded upwards catching a branch overhead to swing into a squat on the base of a groaning tree limb. He didn't stop, but continued upward, climbing as if driven to the topmost vantage point by a pack of others from behind. He paused once and looking down and into Maggie's terrified eyes, said hoarsely, "I am original Man."


Excerpted from "Neanderthal Man" by Cay Gould. Copyright © 2016 by Cay Gould. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Cay Gould

Cay Gould

When people ask me what I do, I often say I am a writer with lots of hobbies and a professional career as a community planner. Neanderthal Man is my second published novel. My first, Being Shirley Temple, became available on Kindle at Thanksgiving, 2012. As a professional, I help communities plan for their future, articulate what kind of place they want their community to be, and to determine how to best achieve their shared goals. While I haven't pined to leave this career that has sustained me all these years, I have also long looked forward to this point in my life when I could finally fully indulge my creative cravings.

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