Friday, June 21, 2013

Kevin J. Howard Takes Readers to Yellowstone Park During Forest Fire... Watch The Shadows...

Kelly opened the door to their cabin and stood for a moment, closing her eyes as she took her first deep breath of fresh air. It’s her ritual, something she does to usher in a good day. With a final look back at her roommate, Kelly shut the door and began her walk; a brisk walk from her cabin, past the inn, and through the parking lot. Once she reached the tourist cabins across the street where the trail started, she’d break out into a light jog. There was no traffic this early in the morning, nothing to break her stride as she hurried through the nearly empty parking lot. Not too many tourists staying at the inn, given the state of things. Kelly looked up at the unnatural redness of the morning sun shining through the black smoke of the fire. She shook her head, angry that such a tragedy should befall the park the one year she’d decided to work there. It was a family tradition for the Foster clan. Her mother and father had first met working there. Her brother Phil had even worked there, but he had entirely different reasons for making the trip. He once told her it was the best place to sell pot since the market was virtually wide open. Kelly had come for the beauty of nature, the peace, and experience. It would be so sad if her time here were cut short by the fire and horrible if the uncontrolled burn made it to the inn. 
~~~
Faithful Shadow
By Kevin J. Howard

We've all seen at least one "camp" movie where teenagers head for a place to spend their summer, perhaps having their own fun or, more likely, being camp counselors...And then the slashing starts...

So when I started reading about young people starting a fire to cook food, with phrases like, "keep your panties on..." that was exactly what I was expecting. Oh yes, there are young people working at, in this case, Yellow Stone Park, but the story line is much more sophisticated and main characters are really the Head Ranger and lead fire fighter...

Perhaps a horror story for adults? LOL No matter what, this novel has the narrative and backup story to keep readers interested... Unfortunately, with fighting a forest fire! It was out of control, and still far away but spreading and moving forward...


Janice nodded, feeling much better. She looked at the beautiful trees and smelled the dampness in the air. The forest sounds were quite beautiful, wind rustling through the leaves and the fresh smell of wildflowers and tree bark. Then came the strong smell of burning wood. The fire was growing closer and it was now dominating her sense of smell. She couldn’t see the flames and didn’t think they were all that close, probably more than twenty miles away actually, but it smelled as if it were bearing down on them. The black clouds above had thickened, darkening the sky till two o’clock resembled nine. “What’s that smell?” Marco stopped to sniff the air, sticking his nose into the sky like a dog. “Do you smell that?”
 “It’s just the fire.” 
“No… not that.” Marco grimaced, shaking the odor from his head. “Never mind. We’re almost there.”
~~~
The scariest part of the book is that from the very beginning, the "victims" just disappear...

It started with couples who had gone out into the woods to have a picnic...and enjoy their time before starting to work...

First one couple...
Then another...

Stew was the leader of the remaining group who had first gone to report their missing friends. But they were sadly disappointed when they talked to the head ranger...

It was very clear, and Stew even said it to his face, that he was drunk! He had said they'd have to wait, just like the police would normally say, but, hey, this was out in the woods and there was a forest fire raging. Quite a different scenario! 

The ranger still told them to go away...

But then, one of the firemen on site also disappeared!



"Dale felt like an idiot, as if he were suffering from Alzheimer’s and likely losing his mind at the age of forty-eight. Had he told Paul to okay the orders and he ran off as he watched the drop? Not likely. Especially when he saw Arnold Gaines with the radio and Paul was nowhere to be seen.
 “Hey Arnold,” Dale yelled, but Arnold didn’t turn. Dale ran the distance and tapped him on the shoulder.
 “Hey, are we heading out?” Arnold’s voice muffled through the mask. 
“Did Paul come over here?” “Yeah, that’s when I told him to give you the orders from HQ.” 
“But he hasn’t been back since?” 
“No.” Arnold cocked his head to the side, trying to understand what Dale was getting at. “What the hell is going on?” Dale pulled off his mask and rubbed his eyes, the smoke instantly causing irritation. “Paul!” he yelled. “Paul!”
!!!

Head Ranger Joe had felt he had a right to be drinking...to help him get past his own tragedy, but now he knew that Yellowstone was in Danger! Although he kept his booze with him in his hip pocket, and would routinely check to make sure it was there, he had to look at himself and realize he had the responsibility for what was happening here and he also realized that he was thinking better since he'd laid off the drinking... Joe needed to act--he loved this place! But people were disappearing left and right and when a second fireman tripped, fell and then was brought to the room reserved for resting firemen and was soon found dead... 

Actually, it was much worse than just dying... The body was so dried up that it was falling apart! 

"There must have been something all over him, some kind of ash off of some tree. But Natasha knew better. The state of the fireman’s face was enough to get her moving. His nose had crumbled and fallen into a fine pile of ash at the base of the pillow, his eye sockets bare and black. The color of his flesh had gone from normal olive brown to a light gray. Natasha stepped away from what was left of his face, bumping into his foot. The contact made his right foot crumble to the floor before her very eyes, leaving nothing but his skeletal foot up to the ankle. 
"Something was watching her, grinning even. She could feel it. Every fiber of her being told her not to look, to run and hide, but she couldn’t help it. Her actions were now under the control of numb panic, not rational thinking. Natasha turned her head slowly and looked into the closet. Two green eyes were staring at her from the top corner, peeking out through the small opening. They were fastened on her, pinning her to the wall with malice. Natasha felt her sanity slipping, pulled from her into those eyes. It let out a deep snarl, resonating from the darkness of the closet. Natasha had seen enough. She slid along the wall to the door, screaming at the top of her lungs, producing a shrill sound she herself didn’t know she was capable of..."                             
~~~

Old Faithful Inn
“He just looked sick, is all. Not what I really expected to see after a long fall. No injuries, just sick. Like his skin had gone this pale gray.” Dale thought for a moment, remembering something that had bothered him at the time but he’d forgotten, put away among the numerous other oddities over past few days. “His uniform looked swollen, like someone had filled it with air. I remember now, because Bob commented on how his coat kept shifting. That and the smell.” 
"A light bulb went on over Joe’s head. A sudden epiphany struck him, ripping through him as if he’d been hit with a bolt of lightning. That smell, always that damn putrid smell, had followed him everywhere he’d gone in the past few days, hanging about as if it were his body emitting it. “The creature’s hiding in the Inn.” Joe spoke quickly, hopping to his feet and heading back down the trail without bothering to wait for Dale and Andy. “The damn thing is hiding in the Inn,” he yelled back over his shoulder. 
“How can you be so sure?” Dale broke out in a speed walk to catch up. “It all makes perfect sense now. The missing kids in the woods; the fireman; then that giant leech was carried into the Inn while hiding in Cameron’s suit. It drank out all his fluids and then hid in the closet. That’s what that poor girl saw.”
~~~

And when one of the employees thought to check on him, she found him...
Then she turned and saw what had probably killed him...  Something was there in the Old Faithful Inn... She was the first person who had seen it!

The final battle center began here...when the lights went out, only the fireplace
provided light...then the first body fell...
~~~


Joe and Dale, through their investigation,  had found where it had come from, but as they had put things together, they knew it was now in the Inn. They planned an evacuation, claiming it was due to the forest fire. Then they locked themselves into the Inn, sealing all the exits. Joe and Dale plus a few firemen--they didn't know about the friends of the young couples who had disappeared, who had gone up into the rafters.

They didn't know until the screams started...

Whew! This writer certainly knows how to build the suspense, keep readers on the edge! Not wanting to see who it is, and then later "what" it is...but still needing to know! I have to say that I put my inside cats out while I was reading this one! There was no way I wanted something to jump on me as I was reading! 

This is a great horror book in my opinion... It's great because readers aren't seeing anything that happens while it happens--it's all in our imagination. Well, yeah, we see the "results" but those bodies just makes it scarier because we still don't know what or how it is killing...

Or worse, whether IT could be killed...Guns certainly weren't going to help...

If you're a horror fan, know that this book was voted the "scariest" and "readers favorite" for 2012 from the publisher...It deserved it, in my opinion... If you decide to read it, do so with precautions... But I still loved it!


GABixlerReviews

Kevin J. Howard was born in Mission Viejo, California, moved to Seattle at the age of twenty-one, and now lives in Puyallup. He hand wrote his first novel in the fifth grade and has been writing ever since. His first published novel, Faithful Shadow, is a return to the classic horror novel. Since writing Faithful Shadow he has completed four additional horror novels that will soon be published. In 2012, he won an award in the Las Vegas International Film Festival for his screenplay, Identical Opposites. Kevin published, Precipice: The Beginning, in November of 2012.  Kevin's latest novel, Precipice: The Retrieval, was published in May 2013.

Kevin J. Howard is an author/screenwriter working hard to get new ideas out into the world.  To anyone that visits this website, please feel free to ask him anything you want.

From Kevin J. Howard...  
I believe in sharing knowledge when it comes to writing.  Please review my websites pages for information on coming events, novel outline formats, links to resources, writing tools and all sorts of useful info.  My latest novel, Faithful Shadow, is now available to the world.  I encourage everyone to secure your copy, read it and ask me anything you would like to know.  All of my novels are a work of fiction, but every author likes to slip a little truth into each chapter.