Saturday, July 12, 2014


I've been working on something for quite a while. With any project, there's always snags along the way, but with this particular book, I would be willing to say cursed. It's been almost two years since Sticks And Stones was released, and since then I've been promising a sequel. Fast forward annnnddd... glitches, false starts, hair loss, ditched drafts, rickets, insomnia etc etc. For the longest time, it just seemed like it was doomed. I know how much you guys liked the original and I wanted to deliver something that would live up to that and, with a little luck, surpass it. There's been several drafts that I've abandoned because I just felt that it wouldn't live up to what you guys want. Yes, I know it's "write the story you'd want," but that wasn't happening either. They felt rushed and watered down and I wasn't about to deliver that to you guys. Not a chance in hell. But now... we've got something! As we say in North Carolina, "I believe that dog'll hunt!" I'm currently working on a draft that I am very proud of and I don't think you'll be disappointed. There's some new characters coming aboard as well as some familiar faces. Also, you'll be getting a deeper look at the creatures themselves and going inside their heads for a while. This installment will also be longer - novella length, at least. Now, as promised on my Facebook page, here is a free sample chapter. Let me know what you think in the comments and please feel free to share this around. Welcome back to Lakewood, North Carolina. We'll be starting our tour on the Lowe Road. Sit back, relax and please, for God's sake, don't feed the animals! BEFORE THE DAWN: STICKS AND STONES PART II FREE EXCERPT ©2014 Charlie Morgan (violators will be butchered and fed to pet sasquatch - or forced to listen to a Matt Moneymaker lecture, depending on mood) PROLOGUE Jami Sroka kicked her shoes from her aching feet and collapsed to the couch. Since taking over her father's orchard in the wake of his retirement, she had barely had any time for herself. That's changing this weekend, by God, she thought, leaning back. Tomorrow, Tim and I are going out. I don't give a rat's ass what we do or where we go, but we're going to have fun and I don't want to see one goddamn apple all weekend! She flipped through the channels on her television, only half paying attention to what was on. Really, all she was looking for was some background noise to fall asleep to. Just going to crash on the couch tonight. Tootsies are way too sore to tackle the stairs. Again, Jami thought of Tim. They'd been together for a little over a year and it was the happiest she'd ever been. There was something about him that was truly special. He was the only guy that honestly got her and always made her feel like she was on top of the world. Last fall, Tim had taken a job as a long-haul trucker to earn some extra cash. There was a nice house in the Shadowbrook subdivision that they had both fallen in love with. It was a two story house with a beautiful view and "room to grow" Tim had said, trying to be subtle about the possibility of children in their future. "It's great, isn't it?" Tim had asked during their walkthrough with the realtor. "Just think, honey, if we work hard and save up enough cash for about a decade, one day, we may be able to afford the gas to drive up here and look at this place," he said jokingly and earning a playful punch to his shoulder. Things were going well and fast. With Tim driving and Jami running the orchard, they almost had enough to cover the down payment. It only added to her excitement for tomorrow. Tim would be back for his birthday and Jami had a nice, romantic evening planned for him. She hoped he liked the present she'd gotten him. "Shit," Jami said, sitting up with a hint of panic in her voice. The present! In her rush to get home, she'd forgotten to take it home with her. It was still sitting on the desk in the office. "No... aw, fuck a duck!" Ignoring the aches and pains, she rose from the couch and slipped her shoes back on. She had to go back tonight. Tim would be home early in the morning and she wanted it there when he walked in the door. Sure, she could swing by the next day and give the surprise to Tim on the way to dinner, but that would dilute her plans. She wasn't setting foot in that damn place this weekend. This was their weekend! ***** Jami's car silently rolled north on Highway 225. Just before the entrance to the Lowe Road, a bright yellow sign that read SROKA'S ORCHARD - 50 YARDS AHEAD and a blue arrow pointing the way. Her headlights illuminated a large, red building that resembled an old tyme barn on the side of the road. Behind the building was a steep hill, overgrown with kudzu-choked trees that resembled gnarled hands reaching for the building with their talons. Beyond the trees was the Lowe Road. It was late and the place was deserted. The only sound came from a light breeze that whispered among the leaves. Jami didn't like it there at night, not one bit. It was too close to that place where those loggers were killed. The summer before, a logging crew was hired to clear a large plot of land to make room for a new subdivision. It was supposed to be high end real estate that would overlook the valley below. She had heard that there were some big names already interested in buying homes - a golf pro and an actress supposedly had already made offers. The project was a big deal. It would've provided jobs and a much needed economic boost. Everything had the greenlight until they found the bodies. When the crew didn't return from their shift, a supervisor was sent to see what was going on. He brought a deputy with him when nobody answered his repeated calls. The whole ordeal was heavily documented in the papers for weeks. The entire crew had been found torn apart and partially eaten. There was also thousands of dollars in equipment damages. The official report had stated that it was an animal attack, most likely the work of a bear. Jami had lived in Lakewood her entire life. She knew there were bears in the area but attacks were rare enough to be almost nonexistent. It didn't sound right to her. A single bear taking out an entire logging crew just didn't sit well with her. She pulled in next to the door and shut off the engine. With a deep breath to steady herself, she stepped out and raced to the door. She had the key in the lock and the door open in record time. Not wanting to take any more time than necessary, she ran to the office, scooped the bag into her arms and was on her way back out. Through the windows above, the trees danced in the wind, under soft moonlight, casting ghostly shadows on the cement floor. She used the light to illuminate the keys in her hand. "Almost done," she whispered. A shadow moved across the floor, something large and bulky with a distinct human shape. A whimper caught in her throat and the sound of glass breaking ripped away the silence. Something fell from the gaping hole from the window and landed behind Jami. She tried to run but was slapped from her feet, sending her flying through the air and crashing against a wooden crate. Dazed, she tried to stand. A strong, musty scent burned her eyes and nostrils. Something stood above her, glaring at her crumpled form with bright amber eyes that resembled a wildfire. Jami screamed and the creature charged.