Thursday, 29 October 2020

Book Spotlight: Plank Children

Today I have a book spotlight on the horror novel, Plank Children by Michael Schutz, plus an excerpt. Enjoy.


Plank Children by Michael Schutz



Miles Baumgartner lost his boyfriend. His house. His job. Worst of all, he lost his nephew when Ian—his almost-son—died, crushed to death in a car accident nine months ago.

So how is there a recent photo of Ian on Facebook?

A series of lies and half-truths leads Miles far north to a long-abandoned orphanage. Secrets slink within St. Hamelin’s shadowed halls, and when Miles starts piecing the truth together, the horrors that walk within its rooms tighten their grip.

They say that time heals all wounds, but time is running out for Miles. How can he start his life over now, knowing what really happened to Ian and the children of that unholy place? To have any chance, he must escape before dark forces curse him to walk eternally with the evils inhabiting St. Hamelin’s.


You can check out Plank Children on

Amazon or Three Furies Press


Excerpt

The door whisked shut, sealing Miles into a dark cavern of a room. On the one side, ten metal bathtubs ran the entire length on dappled vinyl flooring, each one growing less distinct farther down the line. At the nearest tub, he bluffed. “I see you guys.”
His voice evaporated into the high ceiling.
What looked like high-sided, steel kiddie pools stood in the gloom on the other side. Goose-neck faucets.
Why did an orphanage or reformatory need a hydrotherapy room?
In the shadows at the far end, indistinct shapes rose and fell—the kids climbing into tubs and scooching down.
He summoned his teacher voice. “Stop fooling around.”
But what if they weren’t just messing around? Starting toward them, his stomach flopped with that sinking feeling he always got whenever stepping over that little gap from a jet bridge onto a plane.
“I mean it.”
That didn’t even convince himself. He passed empty tubs and tanks, and his teeth chattered as the temperature dropped. A figure slumped in the steel tank next to him, and Miles jerked backward, cursing. A shirtless boy stared with hollow eyes; shuddery breaths shook the slats of his ribcage.
“Are you okay? Kid?”
From the front of the room came a squeak like a shoe on a gym floor.
The tubs he’d passed had been empty, but now another emaciated boy stood inside of one, watching him. Across the aisle, a youngster with skin the color of sour milk planted his hands on the lip of a high-sided tank. As he pulled himself up to climb out he slipped, and again that squeal as his feet skidded on the smooth inner sides.
How had he missed these kids?
Both the others swung their legs over and out from the tubs. Their skin had a grainy quality like old Seventies’ films. The boy with struggling breath lurched away from his tub, his hips and legs misshapen as if they’d been broken and put back together wrong.
Beastly thing: and he looked as if he was wet all over: and I’m not at all sure that he was alive.
Three new boys in strappy tee shirts and boxer shorts emerged from between tanks, and limped on malformed legs toward him. Some weird interplay between light and shadow gave the illusion of transparency as they advanced, dripping on the floor.
Impossible.
Overtired, that’s all. He wasn’t actually seeing through them.
Except he was. Right through the boys’ bodies to the walls.
Will-o’-the-wisp flickered over the remaining tubs, the tanks, and through that spectral light incorporeal boys sat up, stood up, climbed out. A waif two tubs away turned his tousle-haired head.
Miles froze. “That’s a really good trick, guys.” He sounded stupid. This wasn’t a trick.
A kid in the tank next to him blinked rapidly. Dark bags under the boy’s eyes distorted his face into a skull with gaping empty sockets. His voice croaked. “Tear us apart.”


About the Author




Michael Schutz was born and raised in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin, where the macabre tales of Ray Bradbury and Stephen King kept him warm at night. He’s seen way too many horror movies to be healthy. He is the author of the novels Plank ChildrenEdging, and Blood Vengeance. His short fiction has been featured in Crossroads in the Dark II, III, and IV, Ravenwood Quarterly, Dark Moon Digest, and Sanitarium. He lives with his naughty cat-children in northern California. You can keep tabs on him at http://michaelschutzfiction.com

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