Books

Strange Ink Blog Tour – An extract

Hello and welcome to another fabulous blog tour. Hopefully you have been following the stops and are already getting intrigued by this creepy horror read; I am currently reading it and am completely engrossed so my review is sure to be soon to follow. Now here is a little extract to tickle your fancy, and don’t forget to check out the next blog tour stop tomorrow. 
Cold dirt pressed against his cheek. Plastic rustled, like a sail shifting, and shades of grey replaced pitch black. A shadow fell over him.

‘Yep. He’s dead.’

He tried to turn his head. Couldn’t. Tried to push himself up off the ground. Couldn’t. The shadow moved across the bleak brown landscape. In the distance an ant wandered in lazy circles. Beyond that, only darkness.

‘Do you want to cut, or dig?’

He recognised the voice but couldn’t place it. A man with an impressive handlebar moustache and an even more impressive beer gut.

The snick of a lighter, followed by the rank odour of cheap tobacco. Feet scuffed. The smoker exhaled.

‘Dunno. You sure he’s dead?’ Another familiar voice.

Blond hair. Goatee. Celtic bands tattooed across his shoulders and neck.

‘You used a shottie. Half his fucking chest is gone, ya tool.’

Beergut snorted out a rough laugh. Blondie joined in, sucking in breath between high-pitched squeals. The laughter died away. A foot prodded his back. They rolled him over. Silhouettes, backlit by the harsh fluorescent light. Above the men, floorboards.

‘Come on, shithead. Cut or dig?’

‘Ah, this is bullshit. Cut.’

‘Typical. Lazy cunt.’

Beergut reached for his belt. Light gleamed off the hunting knife he slid from its sheath. He handed it to Blondie. The man on the ground felt no fear. He was beyond fear.

Half his fucking chest is gone.

Blondie dropped to his haunches. From behind him came the heavy thunk of a shovel breaking earth. Blondie looked up and light fell across his face, revealing heavy bruising. I did that, the man thought, but couldn’t remember how.

Blondie sighed, then ripped open the man’s shredded, bloody shirt. The man tried to reach out and grab his face. Nothing. Blondie looked down, eyes wide. Close enough that the man could see the sweat on his forehead and the tear tattooed under his swollen right eye. Close enough that he could smell the heady tang of petrol on his clothes.

‘Jesus. Lotta ink.’

‘Do you want me to dig this hole big enough for two?’

‘Keep your head on.’

Blondie pushed the knife into the flesh. There was no pain, just a dull tugging sensation. Blondie sawed away, greasy hair falling around his face. He pulled away a bloody

flap of skin.

‘What are we going to do with these?’ Blondie said.

‘What do you think we’re gonna do – stick them in your fuckin’ family album? Burn them. Idiot. Now get on with it.’

‘I wonder how the Chief is getting on with Kyla,’

Blondie said. That laugh again: hyuck, hyuck, hyuck.

‘You know him. Loves to mix his business and pleasure. I’m sure she’ll go out with a bang.’

Anger flared. He tried to sit up. Blondie stared down, frowning. With his spare hand he reached down and pressed two blood-tacky fingers against the man’s throat.

‘What’s wrong now?’ Beergut said.

‘Nothin’.’

‘Fucking pussy. Hurry up. I wanna have a few of the old man’s VBs when we’re done.’

‘Yeah, and do you want to explain to the Chief why you’re drinking his dad’s beer?’

‘Well, we are concreting his fucking driveway tomorrow.’

They laughed. Blondie brought the knife to bear once more, cutting away a slab of flesh from the man’s arm. The rage faded. As the bikie peeled the tattoos from the man’s body, the memories went with them. Terrified faces swallowed by a raging sea. Lungs full of water off the coast of Fiji. Blondie rolled the man over and started on his back. The vision of a blood-smeared death room in Helmand province flared, then faded to black.

‘I guess I should do the teeth too, right?’ Blondie said.

‘Yep. Dealin’ with a real pro here.’

Blondie disappeared. The man could hear him rummaging around on the tool bench. Then he returned, rolled him over, and hefted the hammer.

Smack. Smack. Smack. Impact, but no pain.

When he was done he reached in, scooped the teeth out. Under the tang of fresh blood, Blondie’s hands tasted of unleaded and weed.

Cicadas droned in the trees. In the distance, music played. The White Stripes’ ‘There’s No Home for You Here’. The steady thunk, thunk, thunk of Beergut’s spadework lulled the man into a trance.

Beergut grunted, then shuffled over. ‘He doesn’t look so tough now, does he?’ he said.

The plastic flexed around him as the two of them lifted him off the ground, then lowered him into the hole.

Beergut knelt over him, grabbed him by the hair and lifted his head, turning it this way and that.

‘You missed one.’

‘What?’

‘A tattoo. On the back of his neck.’

‘Fuck it. No-one’s ever going to find this guy.’

‘The Chief wanted the tattoos cut off and burned. All of them.’

From the darkness came the sound of a car engine.

‘Fuck! Someone’s coming!’

The light went out. Pitch black. The White Stripes’ song finished. The babble of drunken conversation filled the void. The car edged closer.

‘Ah, shit. Quick. Cover him up.’

They pushed the plastic into the hole, then Beergut grabbed the shovel.

‘Hurry!’

The dirt fell on his head, and into the wounds on his back. Into his eyes, nose, mouth and ears. He felt its firm weight on his body, like a winter blanket.

The distant stereo cranked up. Powderfinger’s ‘I Don’t Remember’. If he could have closed his eyes he would have. It was time to sleep.

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