Welcome to Slaughter is a 33,000 word novella of dark crime/horror that I am sending out for consideration at a few different presses.
Red sits in the deserted bar of the smallest town he has ever seen, Slaughter, Missouri, Population: 16.
Most people would see the start of his night as rock bottom, but he has a bucket list with a line he is literally dying to mark off.
Local Sherriff, Jim Bell finds the list among the blood soaked bar that marks the start of Red’s killing spree. The line reads, “Kill an entire town.”
Now, Red moves through the town like a musician playing one last macabre encore.
Jim Bell must stop him before the music ends, the line is marked through, and Bell’s wife and child become the last few notes of Red’s swan song.
Excerpt from Welcome to Slaughter:
Bell stayed where he was, legs up the stairs, head at the bottom. He saw a flash, turned the shogun toward the movement and fired.
The pellets spread and blasted a hole through three of the ornate posts that made up the balcony over the first floor foyer.
He heard no scream of pain and saw no more movement for a few seconds. He pumped another round into the chamber and lay there upside down, waiting for someone to show their face.
“Damn, Sheriff!” came a voice from the darkness above. The man had to scream loud to get over the music. “You could have killed someone with a shot like that.”
The album kicked in to another rowdy number as Bell scanned the darkness with his barrel.
He waited a beat then two.
Finally, the man screamed down from the darkness once more, “Sheriff! Why don’t you go turn that music off? I can wait. We got plenty to talk about.”
Bell thought about it for a second and then tried his best to yell over the music. “I think we can both just wait it out! Mr. Van Zant will be finished singing about being a country boy here in a minute or two and the album will end side A.”
He held the shotgun up and ready as the song moved through the last chorus and faded out to silence. Bell adjusted and rose to his feet as the speakers pumped out the hiss of a needle trying to find a new groove and then, an unnerving amount of time later, the turntable clicked off.
Silence fell on the house as Bell continued to scan above him.
“A black man that knows his southern rock,” came a now booming voice from overhead. Bell tried to place it, tried to get a read on this killer who was making his town into a charnel house.
“What can I say,” Bell returned as he placed his foot on the first step of the stairs. “Those boys understood where music came from. They learned it at the feet of a dobro playing Negro.”
A small laugh came from the darkness above and Bell thought he heard age in the cadence.
“I always heard that the real inspiration for that song was an injun.”
Bell was tired of the pretense. “What do I call you?”
“Most call me Red,” the killer said. “How about you? Is it Jim or Bell?”
Bell was taken back a little by the question. How did this man know his name? Janey might have spilled a list of the town while this man was cutting her up. Or, happy and chatty Big Mike could have told him all about Slaughter before the killer shot him. Either way, this Red knew his name and he could follow that logic through to the conclusion that he knew Hannah and Aubrey were sleeping less than a mile to the south.
He decided not to give the man an answer, “I found your bucket list,” he stated instead.
Silence from above.
Bell took another step up. “I saw we were the last entry. You sure this is really how you want to go out?”
“Oh,” came the reply. “I’m already on my way out. This way is better than most.”