Sunday, November 06, 2011

Red Winter Excerpt and Giveaway

Red Winter
By Clark Hays
Pumpjack Press, 2011

How do you kill someone who just won’t stay dead? It will take more than a steady hand filled with a blazing six shooter if anyone in LonePine lives through the “Red Winter.”
Sheriff Early Hardiman has seen a lot of bad things in his life, but nothing could have prepared him for the first Vampire to visit the Old West.

The year is 1890 and winter is closing like a noose around tiny LonePine, Wyoming. When the snows come and the mountain passes are buried and the train stops running, there’s only one way to leave LonePine — boots up in a pine box. For Sheriff Hardiman, once one of the fastest guns in the West, it’s another four months of watching over the foolish and the foolhardy and praying for the arrival of spring. At least he has the lovely Miss Grace, his new wife and former madam of the infamous Pearl brothel, to keep him company.

But then a murderer turns up out of the cold and dark. People are being killed and not in the usual way, either — they are dying hard, tortured and drained of their blood. Worse, it appears Miss Grace may be next on the list.

Fans of “The Cowboy and the Vampire” (Midnight Ink, 2010) know that LonePine will see plenty of Vampires in another 120 years. But in 1890, no one had yet even imagined the kind of terror Jericho Whistler brings with him to the isolated little town when he hunkers down for a long winter of feasting on the terrified and trapped residents of LonePine.

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“Want to tell me what the hell’s got you all shook up?” he asked Avery.

“It’s awful Sheriff, one them old gals.” His face turned green as he conjured up the image. “Someone cut her all to hell. Dammit Early, there’s blood everywhere.”

They stalked on, Early feeling a cold ball of dread in his stomach. His fists clenched unconsciously. Out past the railroad station they crossed the rough-hewn bridge spanning the dark rush of Wet River, boots crunching on the frozen ground. Lights were burning around the peeling exterior of the Hog Ranch, lanterns setting on the porch and people standing close together shivering from the cold but unwilling to go in.

As they walked up and those gathered recognized Early, they clustered around him and all began talking at once, a knot of pale, worried faces. One of the whores was holding the edge of the porch rail, wiping vomit from the corners of her painted mouth.

“Quiet,” he bellowed. “Somebody tell me what the hell’s going on here,” he shouted, cutting through the questions and clamor.

“Go see for yourself,” a man said weakly, pointing through the door. “It’s like a goddamn slaughterhouse.”

He stepped into the front room, lit by candles and guttering oil lamps. The smell of sex and smoke hung heavy in the air. “Where?” he asked Avery, standing in the door.

“Upstairs and down the hall.”

Senses straining, he walked slowly up to the second story and the row of doors standing open, the empty rooms silent and accusing. The familiar scent of sin and body odor was overpowered by something else. Fear. And death. He looked into each room as he passed, cataloging the contents in his mind. The last door on the right was closed. He turned the knob and jerked it open, felt bile rising in his throat and sagged against the frame.

“Sweet Holy Jesus,” he muttered. He had always considered himself a hard man, one accustomed to death, but the scene that lay before him shook him to the core. What had once been a woman lay tied to the bed with rawhide cords, dead eyes open and frozen wide with fear, a bloody rag stuffed in her mouth.

A fresh wave of nausea washed over him and he choked it back, tearing his gaze away to look at the familiar objects in the room: a dirty wash basin, cracked mirror, an expensive brush with a bone handle, a few dresses. Not much to live for, nothing at all to die for.

About the author

Clark Hays is a writer, poet and lapsed cowboy living in Portland, Oregon, with writing partner Kathleen McFall. Their first book, The Cowboy and the Vampire, was re-released October 2010 by Midnight Ink. They are hard at work on a sequel, Blood and Whiskey, which will be released in early 2012.

In the meantime, Red Winter, edited by Kathleen, is available as an eBook.

Twitter: @cowboyvamp


Debby said...

Wow, this one sounds exciting and very scary.
debby236 at gmail dot com

lindalou said...

Sounds great! Thanks for the giveaway!

The Cowboy and Vampire said...

Hi Debby, thanks for the kind the words. We can assure you it is both of those things!

The Cowboy and Vampire said...

Good luck, lindalou!