I’ve been hesitant to share excerpts from my novel because I don’t want to give away the plot, but the little I’ve shared has been met with accolades, so here I go. It is yet untitled, but that doesn’t really matter yet:
“Mattie! You come down here and eat your breakfast! You’re going to miss the bus again and I’m not driving you to school!” the heavy-set, mousy woman called up the stairs. “I know you can hear me!” There was no answer from above and the young mother, frustrated at her daughter’s lax attitude about getting out of bed, shuffled back into the kitchen. Her younger child sat at the rickety kitchen table and shoveled spoonfuls of cereal into his hungry mouth.
“I swear, that sister of yours is gonna be the death of me, Timmy. Can’t drag her lazy ass outta bed to save her life.”
“Don’t say ‘ass’, Momma.” The seven-year-old boy said around a mouthful of Crunchy Rice.
The irritated woman smacked the back of his head. “Don’t tell me how to talk.” She turned and left the kitchen, stomping her way angrily up the creaky old stairs. “Mattie, I’m coming up and boy, are you gonna be sorry!” she yelled. There was still no response from above. Throwing open the girl’s bedroom door, the pudgy woman grew more annoyed to find the room empty, Mattie’s purple and blue polka-dotted sheets strewn across the floor.
“What in the world? Mattie!” Still no response. The woman began to grow alarmed. She heard the creak of the floorboards in the hall and rounded the doorway, prepared to give her older daughter a tongue-lashing, but there was no one there.
Seeing the bathroom door closed tightly, the mother wrapped on the door but received no response. She pounded. Something felt wrong. She reached out and took hold of the door handle, turning it slowly.
“Mattie?” she called, softer now. “Mattie, I need you to answer me! Please!” The heavy silence screamed in response. Swinging the door open, the woman stood where she was and peered into the windowless bathroom. It was dark and she could only see vague shadows from the gloomy early-morning light filtering through the hallway. A faint coppery smell wafted from the tiny room and her pulse quickened, her heartbeat pounding in her ears.
“Mattie?” she whined, almost childlike. Reaching out slowly, she felt for the light switch, flipped it, and reeled backwards in horror, screaming. Blood spray coated the walls and pooled on the dingy, cracked linoleum. It dripped from the rust-stained daisy shower liner. The slight sound of movement in the curtained cast iron tub sent the woman back-pedaling in fear. Stumbling, catching herself, she turned and fled towards the stairs. Heavy footsteps from behind told her someone was chasing after her. A wet, rattling growl floated menacingly to her ears. Turning slowly to face her daughter’s murderer, she felt urine trickle down her leg as she beheld her own killer. She screamed in horror, outrage, then finally agony before her cries were mercifully silenced.