QSFer Michael G. Williams has a new queer horror/urban fantasy book out in his “Withrow Chronicles” series: Nobody Gets Out Alive.
THE ACTION-PACKED CONCLUSION TO THE WITHROW CHRONICLES
Withrow, Roderick, the Technopagans, the Book People, and all the rest of Withrow’s friends, allies, and accomplices are back again to bring the fight to their enemies – and to finish it once and for all!
The elder vampires have issued their challenge and Withrow has taken them up on it. Now he and the rest of the gang have teamed up to go to where they’ve always known they shouldn’t go: the stronghold of the elders, a gated community on the outskirts of Charlotte, North Carolina. Tucked away behind the high walls and locked gates of their unholy fortress, the elders stand ready to spring their villainy on the unsuspecting modern age and only Withrow stands in their way.
Withrow, Roderick, Jennifer, and their friends know they have only one chance to stop these ancient evils from roaring back out of the past – and it will take risking everything and everyone they old dear if they’re to succeed. Join the fight alongside these unlikely heroes as they risk life, limb, souls, and sanity itself in a no-holds-barred free-for-all against the monsters who stand ready to re-enslave the world!
Michael is giving away an eBook copy of Perishables, the first book in this same series. Comment below for a chance to win.
Doorbells say a lot about a home.
Lindt pressed his finger to the doorbell, and a small barrage of muffled chimes fired off behind the door. That same cacophony surprised him by continuing, stretching into a bar of a song he could almost recognize. It seemed out of place somehow, and he felt sure if he heard the tune in another context, he would instantly know it.
Lindt, round and pink and as hot as bacon grease in the sun of an August afternoon, shifted back and forth from one bloated foot to the other. He mopped his forehead with a handkerchief he then wadded back up and shoved in his pocket before the homeowner could get to the door. He didn’t want discomfort to be his first impression. First impressions make all the difference in the door-to-door sales business.
The doorbell finally clattered to a halt, but no one answered. A ridiculously stubby little red convertible squatted impatiently in the driveway. The perfectly manicured lawn wilted in the summer sun. White roses and red trumpet honeysuckle scaled trellises at each end of the wide front porch. The house resembled a stage production’s set of a Victorian manor: overwrought design and exploded details as far as the eye could see. Lindt could smell money from a block away.
He rang the doorbell again. You never got anywhere by giving up easily.
The song repeated, chiming slowly through its chords, slightly arrhythmic and off beat.
The neighbors’ dog began howling.
Make that dogs, plural: a whole litter went bananas over there.
Lindt glanced at the high fence between the next house and this one and was damned glad they couldn’t get over here. He didn’t need a half-dozen Chihuahuas chewing his ankles whenever these people answered the door.
Speaking of—the door made noises.
Bolts slid back.
A chain rattled.
A deadbolt clacked open.
The lock in the doorknob turned.
The door creaked and swung wide.
A thirty-something Caucasian woman with a permanent smile and sharp eyes, wearing an apron and a helmet of platinum hair, assessed him from head to toe. “Yes?” The house behind her blinded him with its overlapping and crowded assortment of white surfaces: white walls, white carpet, white furniture, white curtains, white coffee table, white upright piano, white-painted chandelier.
The neighbors’ dogs escalated from bananas all the way up to ape shit.
“Lindt Industries, madam, and I am Luther Lindt it is a tremendous pleasure to make your acquaintance I don’t wish to take up too much of your time but I represent a variety of home goods of use to the well-to-do lady of today in need of time-savers, life-hacks, and conversation pieces I realize door-to-door is a bit old school by the reckoning of most but madam let me be the first to say that I prefer the personal touch when it comes to representation of commercial interests and I feel only by introducing myself to fine people such as you can I do the best possible job of making sure you are satisfied with any and all purchases you make today,” Lindt expelled in one long continuous stream, impervious to interruption. He had one foot on the doorstep, as well, in case he needed to stop a slam of the door, but the woman stood there and stared at him, smile unchanging, all the way to the end.
She never spoke. She just kept staring.
“Might I ask,” Lindt continued at a guarded cadence, suddenly finding himself not yet thrown out and not yet invited inside, “what song is your doorbell?”
“Our community—our homeowners’ association—has a covenant against door-to door solicitation.” The woman’s smile didn’t shift in the slightest.
Lindt wondered, for a fleeting moment, if the woman had not yet blinked or if his mind deceived him.
The dogs next door were positively apoplectic.
“The security guard told me I could come in—at the gate? At the entrance?”
A child of maybe eight peeked around the woman at Lindt. He tried to smile at her.
Another girl—obviously a twin—leaned into view around the other side.
A third—okay, so, triplets, unusual—stood on tiptoes behind the first.
Then a fourth leaned around.
Then a fifth pair of shoes appeared in the back.
Then a sixth.
“I’m sure he did.” The woman’s smile did not change.
She definitely did not blink.
Lindt felt his salesman mask start slipping.
“I’ll go, madam.” He touched the brim of his hat. “My apologies.”
“Tiffany,” the woman called. Lindt thought for a moment she was introducing herself, but instead, she issued orders to one of the six—no, seven?—identical children behind her. “Go tell the Douglases to get their pups inside. They’re giving me a headache, and these are quiet hours. Remind them we have an association meeting next week, and I am not above adding an agenda item to discuss this in front of everyone.”
“But, Mooooooom.” The petulant voice originated somewhere far back.
Jesus, thought Lindt. Are there eight?
“Do as I tell you, Tiffany,” the woman barked. Her eyes had not left Lindt’s face, and her smile had not wavered, and her eyes had absolutely not blinked. He knew this because now he watched for it.
“Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” Lindt said. “That’s the song, isn’t it? The doorbell?”
“Your sisters will save a share of him for when you get back,” the woman said. Her hand shot out and grabbed Lindt by the tie, twisting it around her fist. Her mouth split into a glistening grin. “I promise.”
Michael G. Williams writes wry horror, urban fantasy, and science fiction: stories of monsters, macabre humor, and subverted expectations. He is the author of three series for Falstaff Books: The Withrow Chronicles, including Perishables (2012 Laine Cunningham Award), Tooth & Nail, Deal with the Devil, Attempted Immortality, and Nobody Gets Out Alive; a new series in The Shadow Council Archives featuring one of San Francisco’s most beloved figures, SERVANT/SOVEREIGN; and the science fiction noir A Fall in Autumn. Michael also writes short stories and contributes to tabletop RPG development. Michael strives to present the humor and humanity at the heart of horror and mystery with stories of outcasts and loners finding their people.
Michael is also an avid podcaster, activist, reader, runner, and gaymer, and is a brother in St. Anthony Hall and Mu Beta Psi. He lives in Durham, NC, with his husband, two cats, two dogs, and more and better friends than he probably deserves.