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Kevin A. Ranson

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The Spooky Chronicles: The Terminal People
by Kevin A. Ranson   

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Category: 

Horror

Publisher:  Smashwords ISBN-10:  1466008052
Pages: 

40

Copyright:  Sep. 22, 2011 ISBN-13:  9781466008052

Still growing up as a dead boy, “Spooky” Spencer Lawson is learning about the strange world he never asked to be a part of (which is a lot more interesting than math). When a mysterious stranger he meets in an alley appears to die after touching Spooky’s hand, Spooky begins to wonder how dangerous he really is, especially to the people he cares about.

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The Spooky Chronicles

Second book in the series.
 
Still growing up as a dead boy, “Spooky” Spencer Lawson is learning about the strange world he never asked to be a part of (which is a lot more interesting than math). When a mysterious stranger he meets in an alley appears to die after touching Spooky’s hand, Spooky begins to wonder how dangerous he really is, especially to the people he cares about.
 
Meet Spooky, a dead little boy continuing to grow up. He goes to school, likes taking pictures in cemeteries, and doesn’t breathe. Accidentally starting the zombie apocalypse is his biggest fear, but it’s not his biggest problem.
 
The Spooky Chronicles is a book series about a child who comes back to life as a zombie but is still getting older. Having already overcome personal tragedy in his life, his unique condition makes him aware of (and draws him into) a secret, paranormal underworld he never asked to be a part of (but still thinks is pretty cool).


Excerpt

1 - Three Big Little Pigs

Spooky sat with his head propped up by one arm as he looked over his homework. Finals were coming up soon with only the promise of a summer vacation as a reward. Sure, he'd get Memorial Day off, but he'd probably be studying then, too. For someone who enjoyed reading as much as he did, why was it that word problems gave him so much trouble? Wasn't math hard enough without having to translate text into an actual equation before still not being able to solve it? He decided what he really needed was a hand calculator that could read for itself.

“Book Sense and Incense” was always quiet most weeknights. Spooky was sitting at the shop's front desk for Beth, the goth girl who usually ran the shop in the evenings. She was getting ready for her high school graduation and needed a few nights off to get things done (or whatever). When Beth wasn't around, Spooky liked to think of the shop as his, from the fake Egyptian fountain and sarcophagus to the Native American dream catchers. Whether the books and trinkets were fake or not, the eclectic feel of kitsch mixed with hints of the old world made him feel at home.

Finally giving up on his current word problem, Spooky shoved the textbook into his book bag and pulled the book he was really interested in from under the counter: “Spells for the Beginning Witch.” He'd gotten a lot of amusement out of it since he had started reading it, with empowerment chants coupled with object arranging to acquire love, wealth, and power. It reminded him of when he went to church with his mother, when she would point out the hymn titles before trying to sing along. It was always more entertaining, however, to tack something on after the title, and it worked just as well for spell titles.

“'A spell to make him fall in love with you,'” Spooky read aloud clearly. Then added, “In your pants.”

Just then, the shop door opened. Three guffawing teenaged boys peered in as they pushed their way inside. All three were a little older than Spooky, and all three were definitely bigger (certainly more than they probably should be). Their clothes seemed a little too tight and their grins a little too impish, likely trying to see what kind of trouble they could get into. They glanced up at Spooky seated up high on the counter stool. With his head mostly obscured by the cowl of his oversized hoodie and his face shadowed by desk lamp illuminating the counter top, they didn't give him a second thought (perhaps assuming he was older) as they made for the back of the store and relatively out of sight.

Spooky grinned. It was a golden opportunity to show the owner that he could police the shop by himself. Of course, he intended to use every advantage he had at his disposal to do it. Relaxing his eyes, he narrowed his focus on the three, reading the color of their auras. He could see a mischievous green, but it couldn't mask the bright yellow illumination of fear beneath the surface, especially the one in front, the “leader guy.” Spooky guessed they had entered the shop through the foreboding black door on a dare. Far be it from Spooky not to give the three little pigs exactly the big bad they were afraid of.

As the boys preoccupied themselves dancing like Egyptians and dropping polished stones into the fountain (that someone would have to fish out again later), Spooky extracted his contacts case from his book bag and expertly plucked the gray-colored lenses from his dead eyes. It helped people look him in the face when they spoke to him, seeing something other than glassy white orbs. He snapped the case shut and pulled his hoodie down a little farther over his face to help disguise what he'd done. Then came the sound Spooky was dreading: something glass-like shattering onto the floor.

“You guys need some help?” Spooky called out.

The moment he spoke, he knew the boys would target the distinctly non-adult voice. Spooky could have deepened his tone, but he actually wanted to lure them in. Sure enough, the ringleader pig started to waddle up to the counter with his two minions close behind. Under the counter, Spooky wrapped his fingers around a water bottle he had just taken out of the shop's mini-fridge twenty minutes earlier.

“The sign says, 'Book Sense and Incest' outside,” said the pig boy. “Is your mom and dad brother and sister?”

Spooky tried not to smirk. The remark was actually more intelligent than he'd given any of the three of them credit for.

“I just work here,” Spooky answered. “Was there something you wanted?”

The lead pig turned to his buddies knowingly, then back to Spooky. His piggy eyes sized up what he could see of Spooky, then glanced greedily at the antique cash register. “Yeah. Why don't you give me all the cash in there so I won't kick your teeth in?”

“Actually, I think you might prefer this.” Spooky set a book on the counter just far enough away so that the boy would have to reach across the counter to take it. It was a fictional handbook for surviving a zombie apocalypse. “It's free,” Spooky added. “You like zombie movies, don't you?”

The boy glanced down at the book, let the word “free” sink in for a moment, then foolishly reached for the book, adding “Yeah, I like 'em.”

Spooky snatched the piggy boy's wrist in his right hand with frightening speed, turning the boy's arm in his wet, icy grip (thanks in part to the sweating water bottle). At the same time with his left hand, Spooky pulled back his hood with a flourish and fixed the boy with a wide, hungry stare from his dead, white eyes.

“Wanna be the star of one?”

The leader's minions both screamed at Spooky's visage, backing into the black door before scrambling to open it (an issue complicated by the fact it was a top-latched handle and not a knob). The boy Spooky held by the wrist began yanking his arm wildly like a bear caught in a trap but stopped short of actually touching Spooky with his other hand to help free himself. Once his minions managed to pop the door open, Spooky released him and hissed (an effect he'd been practicing on Beth for cat-like authenticity).

As the three little pigs scrambled out the door, Beth herself entered, scowling at Spooky after watching the boys run away.

“What?” Spooky shrugged. “You're back early.”

Beth was in a different outfit than when she left, still all in shades of black that matched her hair. Her skin was smooth and white, but she might as well have had a tan compared to Spooky's pallor.

“I finished early and I was worried about leaving you here alone,” she replied. “Something feels off tonight, and I don't think it was those guys. You are aware they might call the police?”

Spooky shrugged again. “They could. They can also explain why they didn't pay for whatever they broke back there before demanding money from the register.”

Beth sighed as she surveyed the mess and stomped off to get a broom. “Do you need a ride home?”

“If you're not closing up early, I can call my dad.”

“Yeah, go ahead,” Beth lamented. “Mrs. Gorgon wants me to do some inventory.”

Spooky made an effort not to laugh. When
he had first met the Veiled Woman who owned the shop, her visage appeared on a tarot card as a snake-headed Medusa (he still hadn't figured out how). Yet to learn afterward that her name was actually Mrs. Gorgon was too much. Of course, it was also true that he'd never consider so much as a grin when she was actually there, and that thought alone sobered him up.

“Was there something else, dead boy?” Beth asked.

“Nope. All good.”

“Goodnight, then. Thanks for taking the shift. And put your lenses back in before the townsfolk start showing up with pitchforks and torches.”



Professional Reviews

J.R. Jackson, BuyZombie.com
“… an interesting twist to the Spooky Chronicles as there is now a more involved underlying storyline than just Spooky and his adventures. This is where Ranson’s writing style really shines as the reader is introduced to The Terminal People.

“As I mentioned in my previous review of the first book in this series, it’s not exactly a zombie/horror/apocalyptic genre novella. The Spooky Chronicles is more a paranormal mystery series that has quasi-zombie elements to it. As an example, Spooky is technically a little dead boy who continues to grow up yet he’s not really a zombie. If he were a zombie based on the traditional lore and canon, he would be a rotting corpse with a thirst for human flesh and there would be no articulate speech or evolution. Kevin Ranson’s take on the genre brings out more of a mythological, paranormal mystery not a gore fest about survivors frantically trying to hold back hordes of the walking dead.

“That is what makes this series so much more interesting.”


Dennis Wemm, Theater-Guy
“I was really impressed with Spooky 2. I thought… the story line was wonderful. I’m especially impressed with the development of Spooky’s voice and thoughts, especially his sense of humor that pops in so early in the narrative. He sounded far more human (well, okay…) and natural for being in such an unusual situation. The handling of his reconciliation with his father was really nice. The story flowed nicely, and I would honestly put it in the same class as the early RL Stine books for maintaining interest. I also like the intro to Schoolhouse Number Five. (Only one real quibble, and it’s minor if you read the first book: the term illuminations pops up without explanation here, and though I could get it from memory if a kid picked this up they might not get it.) All in all, a really good read.”

Madsheep Reading
“This is a really well written, really good second book in Kevin’s series. Spooky continues to find out more about himself and his kind, as well as learning how to deal with his new powers. Spooky encounters more bizarre goings on in this book. He even ends up thinking he is causing the strange things around him to happen, until he decides to investigate the truth, uncovering new people in his world… I found this book a really good second read in the series. It followed on nicely from the first book, pulling you along with Spooky… an endearing character… cant wait to see what the next installment holds for Spooky.”


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