Sunday, May 20, 2012

Beat To A Pulp Round Two

My story "Night Terrors" appears in the new anthology BEAT TO A PULP: ROUND TWO. As with the first volume of BTAP, this book is packed full of some of the best pulp writing around. I'm happy to be included in a collection that includes legendary vets like Vin Packer, Ed Gorman, and Bill Pronzini; big timers like Charles Ardai and James Reasoner; and badasses like Patricia Abbot, Glenn Gray, and Bill Crider. It's a hell of a crew, and I'm stoked to be along for the ride.

I must also admit, I'm proud of my story in this collection. "Night Terrors" is hardcore noir about a man who picks up a strange woman in a bar and finds himself plunged into a nightmare when she turns up dead the next day. I hope you'll check it out and let me know what you think. BTAP: R2 is the only place the get this brand new story. Here's a little preview:

Night Terrors
When the stranger next to me screamed in her sleep, I tumbled out of bed and smacked my face on her nightstand. Darkness and exploding red suns spun around me as she shrieked like someone was killing her. I struggled to my feet and steadied myself against the wall, trying to let my vision clear. When it did, I saw her thrashing about in blue moonlight and clawing at the sheets like she was possessed. Finally she twitched, curled into a ball, and began gently snoring.

For a moment, I just stood there naked listening to the angry thump of my heart.

Then I realized I was bleeding. I inched my way across our clothes piled on the carpet and searched for her bathroom in the dark. When I found it, I closed the door and turned on the light

In that sudden glare, I looked like hell. Three bright streams of blood ran down my face from a gash on my forehead. Blood dotted my chest and arms and dripped on her sink and floor. My hands still shook with adrenaline as I tried to wash up, but I finally got the job done. When everything was clean, and I was calmed down, I turned off the light.

As quietly as I could, I dressed in the dark. Normally, I wasn’t the type to sneak out in the middle of the night, but I wasn’t going to stick around with a screamer. I thought about leaving a note, but I decided against it. What was there to say? Nice to meet you? Thanks for the sex? Do you know you shriek in your sleep?

Outside, the temperature dropped fifty degrees, and I considered going back inside where it was warm. Maybe crash on her couch. But, of course, the door was locked now. The Metro had stopped running, so there was nothing to do but hike home through the cold.

I was still thinking about her. What was her name? Lynn? Yes, Lynn, after Loretta Lynn she’d told me. Her dad was a big country music fan even though they weren’t from the south. I nodded. That’s right. Lynn. I couldn’t recall her last name. She had honey-blonde hair and calculating green eyes, eyes that were always thinking. Nice girl. We’d had a few drinks, talked about music and movies, and then we’d come back to her place, tipsy but not too drunk. A couple of condoms later, we kissed goodnight and fell asleep. I was going to give her the usual fake number in the morning.

Walking home before the sun had even begun to rise, though, I started to feel bad for not at least leaving a note.

I shrugged and braced myself as a truck rumbled past me. I’d be lucky if I didn’t get mugged. And I was freezing my ass off. I didn’t feel too bad for her.

Two days later, I was standing at my kitchen counter waiting on the coffee to brew when I read in the Washington Post that she’d been murdered. Her name was Lynn Byers, and she was an assistant manager at the Apple store in Arlington. I stared at her name, and my stomach turned to ice. She had been murdered the night I was with her. I tried to sit down, but my knees collapsed beneath me...


JL.TAGLICH said...

Congrats on this. I'll buy it. Hey, is your writing featured in any of the other BEAT TO A PULP volumes? Thank you.

Jake Hinkson said...

Thanks, JL. I have a story called "Maker's And Coke" in the first BTAP collection (Round One). I also have a story in an upcoming collection, but I think the word is mum on that for now. More details to come.