Jean has been a good friend of mine for many years now. I've posted excerpts of her work on this blog before, and I'm doing so again to draw attention to the fact that she has a Kickstarter campaign going so that she can write a sequel to her delightful first novel, Restless Spirits (formerly This Old Haunt).
Here's a sample of her work -- short and self-contained -- set in another of her universes.
by Jean Marie Bauhaus
The lights still came on at night in the city. The girl wondered how long they would keep doing that, without anyone around to turn them on. The screens and news tickers in Times Square had been broadcasting the same warnings to stay inside and lock your doors for two weeks now. She didn’t think there was anyone left in the city still capable of heeding the warnings.
But she kept looking, just in case.
She stuck to the shadows and avoided streets where she could hear the tell-tale moans. She wasn’t afraid of those things. They weren’t that hard to kill, one on one. But swarms were a different story, and she couldn’t afford to get injured. Too many depended on her to lead them. To feed them.
So she hunted, even though it seemed more useless with each passing night.
A scream pierced the silence, filling the girl with hope. Only the living screamed like that. She scanned the street, the shops and restaurants. The living tended to show up where there might be food.
But the unliving tended to show up where there was screaming, so she had to hurry. The woman screamed again, and the girl raced toward the sound. There, up ahead. The Starbucks on Eighth Street. The windows were broken. A woman backed out of the door, clutching a broken and bloody two-by-four like a club. A shopping bag hung over her shoulder.
The girl came up from behind. Peering over the woman’s shoulder, she saw a man lying on the floor, swarmed by the unliving. They were devouring him. The woman sobbed. For now, they were too distracted to hear her.
The girl spun her around. The woman screamed and raised her weapon, but didn’t swing it. “Are you bit?” the girl asked.
Dazedly, the woman shook her head. “My husband.” She looked back at the man on the floor . . . what was left of him. “David. . . .”
“We can’t help him. Come with me.”
“Away from them.” Inside, the ones who couldn’t get their fill were starting to take notice of them. “Now.” She grabbed the woman’s hand, and pulled. The swarm filed out through the door behind them. They ran together down the street, turning here and there, tracing a path through a maze the girl knew well. The woman kept sobbing as they went. “Be quiet!” the girl commanded.
They ran down an alley, to a dead end. They turned around. The woman screamed again as the swarm followed them, blocking the entrance. There was nowhere to go.
The others emerged from the shadows. Her children. Together, they fought the oncoming horde. It was easy, together. When they were finished, covered in gore and surrounded by squirming pieces of the unliving, they turned to the woman as one.
She looked confused, and terrified. “My . . . my name is Sheila.” She held out the grocery bag with a trembling hand. “I have food.”
“We know,” said the girl, her fangs descending. “And we’re so hungry.”