Price: $4.99 (eBook)
Man’s will to survive the most dismal of odds is well-documented throughout history. Many of the more miraculous entries into the legendary canon of such tales involve individuals of such stout inner fortitude—perhaps shaped in personal faith or simply a psyche forged of pure iron—that the chances of escaping the reaper’s sharp-edged scythe improve by default.
Welcome then, into the desolate, stony confines of The Purgatory Inn, where the limits of human endurance are put to the ultimate test in the form of two involuntary guests, each forced to overcome the most formidable foe of all…the specters of their respective pasts.
On sale at Wings epress in both paperback and ebook formats.
Now available at Amazon.com in paperback format; soon to be available in Kindle and other ebook formats.
Barnes & Noble
Where check-out time for one's sanity is nonexistent...
Terry Lloyd Vinson's 'The Purgatory Inn' is the author's first published novel in over three years. Equal parts nail-biting thriller and mind-bending mystery, it bodes a simple question: what are the true limits of the human will to survive?
"A fellow inmate, I presume?”
“Safe bet. You don’t…look familiar. That is, the face doesn’t ring a bell.”
“Ditto. Should it?”
“I guess not. The boss goes through hired hands like busboys at the Corner Bistro.”
“By the boss you mean…Hanley?”
“Who else? You here for movie-time?”
“Appears so. ‘Bout damn time the old fucker explains himself, ugh, pardon the fractured French.”
“No strain. I’m familiar with the word.”
“Yeah, well, ugh, I guess you’re the her?”
“Yep, and you be the his. Bizarre little resort they have here, right?”
“That it is…but then, when a fuc…ugh, a guy like Hanley has unlimited funds, the sky’s the limit.”
“Or the cave, at least in this case.”
The theater room’s surprisingly roomy interior was fittingly dim, though illuminated just enough for the well-adjusted eye to properly survey its content. A new smell, like that of a recently purchased auto, permeated the cool air within. With a dozen high-back recliners to choose from, all broken down into four rows of three, LeAnn had gone front row to the extreme right, within touching distance of the nearby wall. Upon reaching a brief respite in their initial verbal volley, Jorgenson side-stepped between the third and fourth rows and anchored down in the middle chair.
“Wonder if we’re it?” he finally blurted, clearly overdoing it and coming off woefully insincere in the process. Going by reputation, he could probably care less if a troupe of boy scouts waltzed in to fill the remaining ten spots, much less the reason behind the fat chick’s presence.
“Hard to say. The boss is nothing if not unpredictable,” she answered flatly, refocused on the dark, flowing curtain at the front of the room. A curtain that, hanging within the surrounding gloom, could’ve been either dark brown or velvet maroon.
Upon first glance, LeAnn might’ve naturally assumed the stranger unkempt and thuggish in appearance, though as moments passed and he’d taken his seat, several shades of murkiness had faded to offer a better visual. Facing front to better cloak her interest, she might even have decided a rugged handsomeness existed, even with the addition of the horrendously baggy sweats. She tugged at her own collar, a red outline already present at her neckline from the constant friction. Wincing from the persistent discomfort, one could safely assume she pondered if their intended wardrobes had been accidentally switched upon arrival.
“Some pad, huh?” she spat, possibly for no other reason than to pierce the maddening silence.
“Some wild shit all right...” he replied, pausing to clear his throat, “…like canned Spam shoved in a rabbit hole. Makes me wonder where we are, I mean, still U.S. soil or maybe some third world shithole a thousand miles from nowhere. Knowing Hanley, I kinda tilt toward the latter.”
“You see the tunnel physician, that is, you get your physical and pre-brief yet?”
Scratching a build-up of stubble at the tip of his chin, Jorgenson snorted.
“Oh yeah, and how about that cast of characters? Beam me the fuck up, Scotty. Oh, you have the displeasure of jawing with Foghorn Leghorn?”
LeAnn giggled despite herself, pinching a knot in her outer right thigh in order to refrain from guffawing aloud, an action she possibly feared might trigger a laughing jag she might not be able to control if it got its head.
“A real charmer, that one. Hologram or not, little psycho gave me the willies.”
“Yeah, well…I’d take him over ol’ doc Mengele any day.”
Another brief bout of awkward silence ensued, the low hum of flowing air through unseen vents providing the lone dent. His vision presumably well-adjusted to the gloom, Jorgenson appeared to take note of the woman’s extreme girth and no doubt felt an instant twinge of disgust. For a man who made his living from staying so remarkably fit, it would be an understatement to assume this was the single pet peeve he not only couldn’t comprehend but also not tolerate: that being the lazy, bloated masses that made up a large majority of modern society. No matter the excuse, be it health issues or the ever-popular ‘inherited glandular condition,’ men of Jorgensen’s ilk simply could not understand how anyone could attain, much less maintain, such a pathetic condition. Simply put, they despised what he referred to as the slob majority—despised their laziness—despised their inability to push away from the table—despised their doughy looks, labored huffs and multiple chins. It took equal effort, he’d presumably rant and preach, in terms of sloth and gluttony, to stay out of shape as it did to transform one’s body into a slim, trim specimen of physicality. Fatties were, in such men’s considerably biased opinions, justifiable targets for ridicule and loathing. In the case of this new, morbidly obese acquaintance, it was obvious her unflattering, skin-tight wardrobe did little to alter the perception. Then again, he had to figure the scuba gear had been no less her idea than the circus tent he had been forced to don had been his.
“You, ugh, land here of your own free will or someone el…” he asked boldly only to be cut off by a dull humming as the curtain peeled gradually apart at the center to reveal a wide ivory screen.
Almost immediately upon its reveal, the screen flashed to life in nova-like fashion, initiating a series of rapid blinks from both temporarily blinded viewers.
“Wowza. Let there be light,” LeAnn grumbled through a tight squint.
The man’s face didn’t as much fade into view as explode there, a colossal head and shoulders shot that that filled the eight by ten foot screen in 3D-like grandeur.
“Greetings Brian….LeAnn,” his voice boomed, the words not quite matching the speaker’s lips as if badly dubbed.
Reactions to both the speaker’s appearance and identity were similar, though expressed by each respective witness in both verbal and non-verbal terms.
“Well hello there, you ugly fucker,” Brian Jorgensen whispered harshly, reaching up to clamp the chair back in front of him in a twin vise.
As for LeAnn Garner, she merely rolled her eyes, nodding knowingly and chewed into her lower lip.
“I know…I know…you both feign shock as to why you’ve been…displaced so.” The man paused, leaning in to the camera with the back of one hand tucked to the corner of his mouth, “Feign…that means fake to you, Brian. From here on out, I’ll attempt to dumb-down the vocabulary for your sake. This particular project is over-budget enough without me having to hire a translator,” he concluded, dropping the hand and leaning back.
“Eat shit, old man,” Jorgensen grumbled, the knuckles of each hand snow-white from the pressure applied.
Decked out in his trademark black suit, popularly referred to by associates and rivals alike as undertaker duds, Peter Hanley’s cleanly shaven face was chiseled in deep furrows, the most prominent of which ran the length of each jawline like a river path’s viewed from afar. His thick, full hair was tinged in gray and combed back to reveal a forehead creased in similarly defined lifelines. Thin-lipped and of full jowl, he peered into the camera with deep-set, dark blue eyes and blackish brows two shades darker than his coif. If one were to guess his age from facial features alone, the range could have swung dramatically by a decade on either side of fifty.
“Ah, it’s a real shame that, since this is a pre-recorded message, I’m unable to hear what is sure to be a typical Brian Jorgensen response…full of filth and bile. As for my little party girl, I’m of the belief she’ll remain silent and introspective as my little speech commences. She never was big on feedback, no matter how I ranted or raved.”
“Party girl?” Jorgensen whispered to himself, staring over at LeAnn with wide-eyed curiosity.
In turn, as predicted, she refrained from any obvious response—resting a tilted head against a propped fist as if already overcome with boredom.
“Now, down to brass tacks. At this point, you’ve both been processed and given the ten-cent tour. I gave the staff strict instructions not to divulge my reasons for bringing you here. By ‘here,’ you should know that the facility you now inhabit is, or was, a former government missile silo located in, well, let’s just say it is located within the borders of the United States. It was originally purchased and rebuilt, four years-plus in the making, with an underground resort in mind. A resort for those financially fortunate individuals with the means to invest in a nuclear fallout shelter that would include individual condos, a full kitchen, a theater, well, you get the idea.
“An obvious point here, but it needs to be vocalized nonetheless—to attempt escape is pure folly. Though the odds are truly slim and none, even if you did manage to reach ground level, the lobby is encased in unbreakable glass, as Mister Jorgensen can fully attest to.
“Also, abandon all hopes of outside intervention, law enforcement related or otherwise. Sadly, the two of you being plucked from society won’t cause even the tiniest of ripples. LeAnn, every so-called friend you have is, in truth, no more than an acquaintance. Disposable one and all. A few might question your absence from the party scene, but not nearly enough to kick-start any potential investigation. I would think such drunken or stoned individuals hardly blink a bleary, bloodshot eye when one of their kind vanishes.”
Pausing to retrieve a glass of water, pulled from off-screen, Peter Hanley took a lengthy sip before motioning to some unseen entity.