The eBook version of Psychopomps: Shepherds of the Dead (that includes my short story Little Bundle of Death) was released last week and you can get it here. The print version should be out in about a week or so. Many have asked what my story is about so I’ve included an excerpt of the first few pages to give you a little taste of what you can expect:
I knew I only had a few hours left until my life was going to be ruined, or at the very least, massively inconvenienced.
My eyes fluttered open when I realized I might not even have a few hours. My baby brother might be born even sooner.
The hospital waiting room smelled like cleanser and body odor, but the body odor was coming mostly from me. I laid uncomfortably on a bright orange couch with fake leather. My skin stuck to the plastic as I lifted my head and glanced at the clock on the sterile-white wall.
The clock had this loud ticking sound that had be- come annoying hours ago. “Sheesh,” I shouted at the ceiling. “Mom’s been in labor for almost twelve hours.”
My best friend Mel lay on the couch that lined the opposite wall of the lime-green tiled room. The only other adornments in the cramped space were a dust-cov- ered plastic fern wilting in the corner and a couple of ancient vending machines on the back wall.
“Yeah, when’s that baby brother of yours going to come out?” Mel smiled deviously, then blew a bubble with her pink chewing gum.
I twisted my long hair into a bun and laid back on it to get some extra padding against the metal armrest of the couch. Why didn’t this hospital have comfortable seats? Didn’t they know people were stuck here for ex- tended periods of time against their will?
“Having a brother wasn’t my idea,” I said.
I liked being an only child. Mom and Dad sprung the news on me about the little rug rat only after it was too hard to pretend Mom had the flu any longer and of course, by then, it was too late for me to have any say in the matter.
“Well, you’re on your way, at least,” Mel said.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Mel gave me a sly look. “You’re the older sister. It’s your job to hate your younger brother.”
“Ha…ha…,” I said. “Seriously though, I’m wiggin’ out waiting here. Aren’t you bored?”
Mel held up the Bop Magazine she’d been reading. A giant picture of Tom Selleck graced the cover. He wore red short-shorts, his trademark Detroit Tigers blue baseball cap, and an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt that revealed his tanned chest.
“Magnum P.I. is keeping my mind occupied.” Mel ogled the pictures. “Man, he’s gorgeous.”
“Gorgeous and hairy.”
Mel nodded. “Gorgeous and hairy…but mostly gorgeous.”
My knees popped as I stood up. I’d been laying down for so long, my head felt dizzy. I walked over to the wait- ing room’s entrance and peered into the dimly lit lobby. The hospital was eerily quiet at this time of night. Only a dull hum coming from the florescent lights cut the silence.
The lobby was empty. Even the nurse at the information desk was gone. I leaned my cheek against the cold, metal doorjamb and tried to keep from dozing off.
The automatic entrance doors swooshed open, rousing me. I waited for someone to enter but no one did. Something must have tripped the sensor outside. A gust of wind picked up, swirling dried leaves into the lobby and then a flash blazed as if lightning struck. A burning smell wafted through the air.
“You wanna go for a walk or something?” Mel asked, still loudly chomping on her gum and completely unaware of the strange weather phenomenon invading the lobby. Mel called my name, wondering why I hadn’t responded to her. “Cleo?”
“Hold on,” I answered. Just as the automatic doors were about to close, something emerged.
I leaned in to get a better look. A bird, nearly twice as tall as the biggest rooster I’d ever seen stepped through the doors. It had a bright red beak and long sil- very-black feathers. Its eyes were a strange yellowish color that seemed to swirl as if the pupils were filled with smoke.
I was so astounded, all I could blurt out was, “Bird.”
“Bird?” Mel asked, thinking she’d heard me wrong.
The animal turned its head towards me as if it were a gun turret aiming at me and my chest burned like I had eaten a combination of jalapeños and Red Vines. My muscles felt weak and I had to lean against the wall to keep from falling over. I closed my eyes and shook my head, trying to wake myself up, thinking that I must be dreaming. But when I opened my eyes again, the bird was still there, staring back at me…
If this peaks your interest, you can get the book here: