An excerpt from Towering Pines Volume One: Room 509 by Bruce A. Sarte, a top 100 Kindle Horror Book for the months of August and September 2010. Available in Paperback, Kindle, Apple iPad, Nook and Sony readers on BucksCountyPublishing.Com!
Liam felt it walking up his spine before it swept up the back of his head. He rolled over on his back and swiped at it absent-mindedly. The blankets pulled down exposing his chest and stomach, and his shirt slowly moved up to expose his stomach and chest. Liam felt the chill in the air, stirred and groped around for something to cover himself up.
“Hey man, cut it out.” Liam slurred as he rolled back onto his good shoulder. Suddenly, his blanket was ripped from what little of him it still covered and he was very awake. Before he could register what was happening, he felt a strong push and practically flew out of bed landing on the floor with a loud thud. Liam curled up on the floor with the wind knocked air out of him gasping for air. The room was freezing cold and the only light came in from the window was bathed over the desks. Liam couldn’t see anything else. The air was heavy and Liam found it difficult to breath. As the temperature in the room began to gradually return to something more comfortable, Liam’s breathing slowly returned to normal. Finally, he was able to get up. He stood in the middle of his room looking from one corner to another, looking for someone or something that was in his room that shouldn’t be there. He slowly walked to the lockers and opened them both. He rifled through the contents but saw nothing but hanging clothes and shirts folded on shelves.
Liam bolted from the room, slamming the door open. All he could see was a dim light at the other end of the hall lightly illuminating the corridor. Liam walked the length of the hall quickly, but quietly, searching for anyone or anything that might be out of place. He knew that he wouldn’t find anyone.
Liam stood in the middle of the hallway trying to convince himself that he had simply fallen out of bed. There was no other rational explanation. Standing there, staring into the community bathroom, he smelled something that just wasn’t right. After sniffing himself, he realized that he hadn’t showered since he had been arrested. He considered that he wasn’t going to be able to fall asleep again. So, he decided this was as good a time as any to rectify that situation. Liam walked into the bathroom and started one of the showers along the wall.
The bathroom was laid out like the shower room in a gym. After a steamy half an hour under the water, Liam was finely feeling better about the entire situation. He resolved during his shower that there was a plausible explanation for everything that has happened to him since he arrived here. He rationalized that he has been under intense pressure and stress. That would explain some of things he felt and thought he was seeing. These are old buildings; his room is just very drafty so that explains the temperature variation in his room. He couldn’t exactly explain what happened in sickbay, but he figured he could just write that off to stress, as well. Liam grabbed one of the towels and wrapped around his waist before he made his way out to the hallway and ran headlong into Lieutenant Snyder.
“What the hell do you think you are doing?” he spat out at Liam.
“I was just taking a shower, Sarge. I had a mean stink goin' on.” Liam moved to go around Snyder. Snyder blocked his path by putting a hand on his chest.
“Not so fast mister soft and fluffy. Do you know what time it is?” Snyder didn’t wait for a response. “It’s past your bed time, now do you think I was awake?” Liam shook his head no, “Very good, I can assure you that not only was I not awake, but I was having the most wonderful dream involving myself,
Shania Twain, a very skimpy bikini and a beach. Now, normally I might slap you upside your head and go back to bed. But see, you are new here and I feel like I need to set an example… make it clear that we have rules and there are penalties for waking me up from my Shania Twain fantasy. It is now 0210, yes that is two in the morning in your little world. You will get your ass down the stairs, get to the track...you know, the one you can see from your room? Once you get to that track, you will run. You will not stop running until 0600 when you here reveille. Then you will get your ass to Mess with everyone else.”
Liam stared at Snyder in disbelief. He really expected him to run for three and a half hours? Snyder’s expression went from irritated to a look that could kill.