The first two books (VAMPIRE and WEREWOLVES) should be out on Kindle in the next 10 days, FRANKENSTEIN will be out a week after that, and PETER AND THE MUMMY will probably follow about two months after that.
I'll give you more updates soon!
Peter and Dill sat in Grandfather’s truck the next day as they rode to their appointment. Grandfather and Peter were still not on the best of speaking terms, but Dill chattered away the entire time.
“Dude, this is messed up – you know the jump rope song, right? ‘Janey was a little girl – ’”
“‘Who liked to play with knives,’ yeah yeah, I’ve heard it,” Peter grumbled. “What’s the problem? I thought you would’ve loved to go see this place.”
“Why would I love to go see a place for crazy people? I already live in a house full of ‘em.”
“You wanted to find out about the werewolves on Thanksgiving – ”
Dill clapped his hands over both ears. “I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT!”
“ – so you could tell everybody at school,” Peter finished.
“Dude, we’re going to a place for crazy people. Why would I tell anybody? I don’t want people to think I’M crazy.”
“Too late,” Grandfather muttered from the driver’s seat.
Peter smiled the tiniest bit, though he tried not to show it. He didn’t want to give the old man the satisfaction.
“Hey, you’re old,” Dill said to Grandfather, as though he was just realizing it for the first time. “Did you know that Janey girl in the jump rope song?”
“They were singing that song when I was your age, idjit,” the old man growled. “I doubt there ever was such a person.”
“Well…is there anything else we need to know?” Dill asked.
“Like Indian stuff.”
Grandfather looked puzzled. “‘Indian stuff’?”
“Yeah, old Indian stories that we’re gonna find out are true after something really bad happens to us.”
“You know…like what usually happens,” Peter said as he stared out at the road.
“Ooooooh, burn,” Dill chortled.
Grandfather glared down at them. Peter could feel the old man’s gaze boring through his skull, but he wouldn’t turn around. Dill, however, cowered behind Peter.
The old man scowled and turned back to driving. “There aren't any Indian legends associated with Shadow Hills, if that’s what you mean.”
“How about anything else?” Dill asked.
Dill struggled to find the words. “Like…anything I wouldn’t usually want to talk about.”
“Shadow Hills is a very reputable institution,” Grandfather said. “Despite what your idiotic school friends might say, there’s nothing wrong with it.”
“Except for the crazy people,” Dill added.
“There hasn’t been a single breakout in the time I’ve lived in Duskerville,” Grandfather snapped. “It’s a mental hospital that serves a useful function.”
“To keep cra-A-zy peo-ple,” Dill said in a sing-song voice.
“Shut up,” Grandfather snapped, and that was the end of that.
Until they came to Shadow Hills.
They turned off the main route to Charterton and drove down a two-lane road through a mile of forest – and then emerged into an expanse of rolling hills completely devoid of trees. Fields of yellow grass rippled spookily in the wind.
Up on the horizon was Shadow Hills.
It looked like a giant square, two stories high and made of brick. The walls were dotted with regular patterns of windows and the roof was apparently flat.
Two towers rose from the center. They were notable not just because they loomed twenty feet above the rest of the building, but also for their slanted green roofs that gleamed in the late afternoon sun. Each one had a tiny, sharp spike sticking up into the air. And the color of brick in the right tower was slightly different from that in the left.
“Why are those roofs green?” Peter asked.
“They’re copper,” Grandfather said. “Copper turns green over time. There was a fire here 50 years ago, when I was a young man. Lightning hit one of the copper roofs and exploded the tower. After they rebuilt, they put in those lightning rods.”
“That’s the little pointy things?”
“Nobody got out when the roof exploded?” Dill asked.
Grandfather was silent for a long moment. “There were four men who got out. But two were killed and the others were recaptured.”
“I thought you said that there wasn’t a single breakout your whole life!” Peter snapped.
“I said there hasn’t been a single breakout while I’ve lived in Duskerville,” Grandfather growled. “I wasn’t in Duskerville when it happened.”
“That’s a good one, I gotta remember that,” Dill said. “‘I did my homework every night I was at home…except I’m never home at night.’”
Grandfather just scowled.
As they drove closer, Peter noticed that the entire complex was surrounded by a giant chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. At each corner of the fence was a wooden guard tower, thirty feet high. On the tower nearest him, he could see a lone figure standing with a rifle, watching as Grandfather’s truck approached.
“Why does that guy have a gun?” Peter asked, slightly alarmed.
“Duh. To shoot the crazies if they try to escape,” Dill said.
“But they don’t ever escape, right?” Dill asked Grandfather.
“As long as I’ve lived here. Correct.”
“Do the crazies know you moved back?” Dill asked. “I don’t want ‘em saying, ‘Hey, that crazy old dude doesn’t still live here, right? Let’s go escape.’”
Grandfather ignored Dill this time.
Along the road, right in the center of the chain link fence, was a small brick building with a sign above it:
SHADOW HILLS INSTITUTE
FOR THE CRIMINALLY INSANE
Through the middle of the building ran a tunnel. Two cars could have driven through it side-by-side without any problem. At the end of the tunnel, metal gates stopped vehicles from going any further.
A man in a police-looking uniform came out of an office inside the tunnel and held his hand up. Grandfather stopped the truck.
“Visiting hours are over,” the man said. Peter noticed that he had a gun holster strapped to his belt.
“I’m dropping off Peter Normal and Dill Bodinski to see Dr. Prescott.”
“Driver’s license,” the man said.
Grandfather handed him a card from his wallet, and the guard stepped back inside his office. Peter could see him working at a computer terminal, typing in some words on a keyboard. A printer spat out a colored piece of paper, and the guard carried it back out to the truck.
“Put this in your windshield for as long as you’re on the premises. Do not touch the metal fences, they’re electrified. You will be electrocuted if you touch them.”
“Drive up and park anywhere in the visitors section on the left. Dr. Prescott will meet you at the front desk,” the guard finished.
Grandfather took the piece of paper and his driver’s license and nodded curtly.
The guard walked back inside and typed something in his computer. The metal gates shrieked, split in the middle, and pulled back to the left and the right on grooved tracks in the ground.
As the truck pulled out of the tunnel, Peter was shocked to see they were surrounded by chain link fence on both sides – and then, after about 15 feet, it stopped. Peter looked behind him and saw that there were not one, but two chain link fences surrounding Shadow Hills, separated by about 15 feet of grass. The walls of chain link they had driven through were the single pathway between the two fences (the two ELECTRIFIED fences, Peter thought), and the only way out was through the small brick building with the guard and the gates.
Wow, they REALLY don’t want anybody getting out of here…
Grandfather pulled up into a regular parking lot with about 40 cars and stopped the truck.
“Out,” he barked.
Peter and Dill piled out of the truck…only to find themselves staring at Gwendolyn Wainwright.
Copyright © 2011 Darren Pillsbury. All rights reserved.