Today I am taking part in the blog tour and sharing an extract from Dark Drink by Tina O’Hailey, published by Black Rose Writing.
Jude and Mercedez have kept deadly secrets from each other.
Jackson’s suicide haunts Jude. She burned all evidence of her brother’s depravity. One less monster in the world, right? Tech-savvy Mercedez is the last living witness to a teenage amateur horror film that ended with a gruesome death. She never told.
A viral video (thanks, Whiskers) brings internet fame—forcing flip-phone wielding Jude to choose between her job as the second female in the VP motorcycle motorcade or her mixologist hobby.
Global visibility brings naked vulnerability—someone has subscribed to Jude’s channel.
Missing neighbors found dead in side-by-side freezers, viral drunk “I quit” videos, spammed porn magazine subscriptions, snail mail severed fingers, sabotaged cave trips, cryptic social media comments, and stalking photos push the codependent friends over the edge (literally, off the side of a bluff) when best friends find out secrets can kill.
This is a flashback showing Jude’s “adorable” older brother.
7 – JOLLY JELLY SHOTS
“You want to see what is in there, don’t you?” he asked. “You aren’t too scared?”
I firmly set my jaw and declared as bravely as a 6-year-old could, “I’m not scared.” Of course I was. I wasn’t going to let him know.
“You can’t tell anyone.” His eyes grew cold and his voice stern.
I pulled my hand out of his for amoment and hesitated. That cold voicecould be followed by a hard slap if Ididn’t tread lightly.
He softened his tone, but his eyesdid not soften. “You don’t want to see me get in trouble? Right?” He tugged at my hand. “Come on. You have to see what’s in there.”
I once lost a Barbie doll to thedrain and stuck my arm in as far as I could to retrieve it. I never once considered opening the access cover up. Mom forbade it. I was a straight arrow even then.
Jackson had a short crowbar in hand and maneuvered the cover off. Being of slight build, he grunted with the effort.
I’m sure my eyes were as big as the access cover and sweat poured into them. I secretly hoped he would get caught, for any adult to look ourway and see him for the creature hewas. Arrest him. Get him in trouble.They never saw. I was too afraid ofhim to make them see.
I had learned how to read his fluctuating moods, his intentions before they became actions. It had been a steep learning curve. Now, hiseyes warned I should not make apeep. Or else.
“You have to get closer to see.” He got down on his belly and poked his head into the open hole.
I did as he did. The gravel crunched on my belly where my t-shirt had ridden up. I tried to pull it back down to protect my bare skinfrom the freezing, hard concrete. Atfirst I couldn’t see anything in the dark hole. The smell was wetness filled with a sweet-rotten odor grasping with long tendrils snaking into your sinuses. You knew that smell wasn’t going to leave you for a while. I didn’t know it was the rotten stench of death.
Jackson clicked on a small flashlight and illuminated the carcasses at the bottom of the dark hole. “I keep them here.”
The sickly, pale light made thehorrible sight more gruesome. Icouldn’t count how many deadanimals there were. I couldn’t even tell what they were. Rabbits. Dogs. Cats. All of their heads removed from their bodies.
Jackson’s words crooned and echoedinto the dark, “Can you hear them whisper?”
The flashlight bounced on thelapping water and sparkled on the dark wet patches which squirmed and moved with maggots and things I could not define. It was as if the mound of death had coagulated into a new life form and threatened to inch its way upthe mold covered wall towards us. Itthrobbed and lulled. Dead eyes glared.Skulls and teeth barred. Matted furclotted and pulled back to reveal bone. Viscera pulsing with lower forms of life.
“That’s where I’ll put you.” Heflashed the light in my face.
I winced from the glare. “If you evertell.”
I couldn’t tear my eyes from the glaring skulls, accusing me of telling and begging me to at the same time.
“Fuzzy Bunny is over there.” He pointed to a far corner. My pet rabbithad disappeared a year ago, Mr. FuzzyBunny.
(Kids are so good at coming up with original names.) “You’re lying,” Iretorted as only a little sister can. Boldfor a kid who was going to have their insolence rewarded by being buried with the molding dead.
He merely smirked at me. A “I’mbetter than you” smirk that to this day irrationally pisses me off when I see it on someone’s face.
I looked but couldn’t see anything inthe stinky carcass mass. He turned theflashlight and clicked it so a higherbeam shone brightly. It focused into asmaller disk of light and reflected off asmall collar. Grime covered the fadedcollar, the color barely discernable. The tag on it—pitted and no longer shiny—had an engraving on it. I couldn’t readit, but I knew what it said. When wehad bought the tag, I was inconsolableFuzzy Bunny couldn’t fit on it. We put“Fuzzy” on one side and “Bunny” onthe other. That poor rabbit probably didnot want to wear a collar or be in a rabbit hutch. I loved him dearly for about four months before he disappeared. The cage door had still been closed.
I screamed and got up from my prone position to run. Jackson was on me within a second. He grabbed me by the shoulders and held mysquirming body towards the gapinghole. “Remember. You can’t tell orI’ll throw you in there to sleep with Mr. Fuzzy Bunny in the dark. Maggots will crawl in your ears.”
His fingernails dug into my skin as he sang, “The worms crawl in. The worms crawl out.”
I’m sure I whimpered something,but I don’t remember it. I justremember the fear I had of being putin a dark, wet, maggot- infested hole and seeing Mr. Fuzzy Bunny’s zombie body crawl towards me with its jaw gapping and slime covered bugs oozing from it.
DARK DRINK BLOG TOUR
Follow the tour along the way for these blogger’s thoughts on Dark Drink.
LET’S GET TO KNOW TINA O’HAILEY
Tina O’Hailey is an animation professor, a caver, and an occasional mapper of grim, wet, twisty caves (if she owes a friend a favor or loses a bet), whose passion is to be secluded on a mountain and to write whilst surrounded by small, furry dogs and hot coffee. Tina was once struck by lightning.
She has served as an artistic trainer for Walt Disney Feature Animation, Dreamworks, and Electronic Arts. Any movie credit she has is minimal and usually found in the special thanks section. The meager credits do not account for the great honor it was to teach talented artists who worked on numerous feature films and games.
She has authored animation textbooks “Rig it Right”, “Hybrid Animation” published by Focal Press, and the Darkness Universe novels “Absolute Darkness”, “When Darkness Begins” published by Black Rose Writing. O’Hailey is a member of the NSS, VES, and International Thriller Writers.
Her favorite motorcycle is her BMW R1200C—mathematically perfect for her short legs, turns on a dime, and is the ugliest bike ever.
BLOG TOUR ORGANISER
Thanks to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for my invite to join in with this blog tour and for the promotional materials.