by Chris DiLeo
PART OF GOD’S PLAN
an average street in a typical suburban town, a child dies in an
all-too-plausible accident. For Sherri Matthews, a neighbor who has
dedicated her life to God’s calling, this is part of God’s plan.
And when the child wakes in the morgue seemingly healed, Sherri knows
she must now prepare the way for what comes next.
SINISTER POWER AT WORK
big is coming,” the revived child promises. His pet dog, dead and
buried weeks prior, has come back as well, but more monster than
mutt. Abbott French and Ellie Pike have never trusted Sherri or her
unwavering belief and don’t believe these resurrections are God’s
work. But how to explain when his sickly mother dies and is
resurrected? And what about the horror Chance Gold encounters in the
woods and the voice that insists, You’re
mine? Or the secret a
mental patient who murdered her friend knows? Or the terrible thing
Carl Nichols is hiding in his basement? Or the hundreds of crows
gathering across the street as if in anticipation?
SHOWDOWN BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL
Sherri gathers believers, she takes an unthinkable step to fulfill
God’s plan. Meanwhile, Abbott and Ellie must find out why this is
happening and how they can stop it. The stage is set for a gruesome,
apocalyptic showdown between good and evil, between life and
death—where life may be the most horrifying prospect of all.
your typical zombie novel, Revival
Road is a
fast-paced thrill ride of horrors human and supernatural, an
exploration of the dark underbelly of suburban life, and a testament
to fears elemental and otherworldly.
The only guarantee
in life is death.
Except when you die on Revival Road.
In the woods behind her house, Maria told Juliette to close her eyes.
“It’s a surprise.”
Juliette did as asked. Freckles saddled her nose. At fifteen, she was all-American cute, pulling stares from boys at school, especially in their fifth-period English class where even the teacher watched her cross the room to sharpen her pencil.
“He walks in the woods,” Maria said.
Bailey, their third wheel, stared at the printout in her hands. Saggy jeans and an awful Ramones T-shirt made her look like a little kid.
“Come on,” Maria said. “This is supposed to be fun.”
Bailey’s mouth creased but she started reading, voice unsteady. “He walks in the woods. He lives in the spaces between the shadows. He haunts our dreams. He comes for us. He is hungry. He must be fed.”
“This is stupid,” Juliette said. Her blue dress billowed around pale knees.
Maria slipped the knife from a front pocket.
Fading sunlight streaked the sky red and orange. Mosquitoes hummed. Trees towered all around. In the distance, little kids laughed and cars thumped across a bridge.
Juliette was peeking.
Maria hid the knife flat along her thigh. “Eyes closed, Julie.”
She sighed, slapped her arm. “I’m getting bit.”
“Read the rest,” Maria said.
“He walks in the woods. He lives forever. He is eternal.”
Another arm slap. “Seriously. We’re not little kids. This is dumb.”
“We’re almost done.”
Darkness creeped through the trees, shadows eating the light.
A bird’s cry echoed.
Maria opened the knife until the blade locked in place. She bought it for thirteen dollars at Gander Mountain. The guy at the counter pushed greasy hair behind his ears and asked her if she knew how to handle a knife like that. She played the flirt and let him show her. He asked how old she was, and she said, Old enough.
“The rest, Bailey.”
Bailey swallowed. The paper crinkled. “We come here as day dies to offer supplication to he who lives forever. Only the gift of death can save us.”
“I’m not scared,” Juliette said. She lifted her dress in a curtsy and hummed a stupid pop song.
“Patience, Julie. The surprise is coming.”
“She’s right. This is stupid,” Bailey said. She folded the paper, but couldn’t meet Maria’s stare.
“Don’t you dare, Bailey.”
“Let’s go,” Juliette said. Sunset-orange brushed her open eyes.
The knife, curved to a tip and serrated along the straight edge, pointed at her.
Disgust trumped fear. “I’m not doing that blood-friendship thing.”
“That’s not what this is.”
Bailey was a blind witness, refusing to look.
Juliette swallowed, fear creeping into her now and that was good. As it should be. Life wasn’t all bare legs and cute smiles. Would Juliette insult her? Maybe say something derogatory about Maria and Bailey’s friendship. Go ahead. Jealousy burned hot.
“I’m going home,” Julie said.
Children’s laughter floated above them.
“What about your surprise?”
She played the knife slowly back and forth.
Juliette straightened, flattened her dress. “You’re sick.”
“That the best you can do?”
She stared, her breath quickening, and that was good too, would make it faster. She huffed, a little girl trying to be tough, and started away. Ground debris crunched under her flip-flops, pink like her toenails.
Maria went for her.
Bailey finally looked up. “No!”
Juliette spun around, and there was the knife cutting through the air, and her hands came up in defense. Sliced her palms. She screeched more in surprise than pain.
“What the fuck? Look what you—”
Maria stabbed Julie’s hand, the girl’s eyes going huge, and then she shoved it all the way through flesh and bone. Julie spasmed, a scream dying in her throat.
Maria pushed hard and they stumbled several feet before Julie tripped and Maria landed on top of her. The knife pushed in to the hilt and the blade pierced her stomach. She gagged, mouth wide, eyes enormous shadows. The sharp metallic-bite of blood mixed with her apple-scented body spray.
Her free arm batted at Maria, smacked her in the head.
The knife came out with a hard, mushy yank. Blood slipped from the blade. Soaked her dress.
“Stop,” Bailey said. “STOP!”
Juliette convulsed, choked. Her face paled. She swallowed several times. “Please,” she said.
The next stab was a hard and merciless punch between her breasts.
After that, it was like beating a rag doll.
Bailey said nothing on the way back, head down. Maria walked tall, a strange grin on her face, her red hands at her sides. Blood stained her arms and blotted her clothes.
Three little kids ran in a circle in her neighbor’s backyard. They laughed and cheered. Maria could not tell who was chasing whom. A woman stood on the deck, watching, a yellow light behind her. The woman raised a hand to Maria. Backlit, the woman was a faceless shadow person.
Maria waved back. Moonlight darkened the blood to oily smears.
She did not tell Bailey to keep her mouth shut, and it was just as well. In the bathroom, Maria stared at herself, black hair long and silky, pale cheeks splashed with blood. She pulled two fingers down her cheek through the blood to reveal the tannish birthmark beneath.
Maria scrubbed her arms, and her mother pushed open the door mid-sentence and was halfway through explaining the latest office gossip when she stopped.
They stared at each other.
“It wasn’t my fault,” Maria said.
Watery blood splashed against white porcelain and whirled down the drain.
DiLeo grew up in a house filled with books and fell in love with the written word before he even started school. That love grew even further when he penned his first story, a tale he wrote in second grade about a raindrop that is born in the clouds, lives its full life as it plummets, and dies in a watery splash on the sidewalk.
His love for the macabre comes from his father. Warren DiLeo loved Halloween, decorating the house in lavish, grand fashion, complete with gravestones, costumed mannequins, fog and strobe lights. But the centerpiece was a wooden coffin fit for Dracula. In full disguise, Warren would emerge from the coffin to delight trick-or-treaters.
During the rest of the year, that coffin stood among the bookshelves in the basement. Its contents: horror novels. Following Warren’s death, 11-year-old DiLeo began reading those novels as a way to commune with his father.
DiLeo’s love for story and language found a home in the horror tale.
He sold his first short story (a Poe-esque tale of teenage madness and murder) when he was seventeen. He wrote his first novel two years later, and he hasn’t stopped since.
DiLeo self-published the novels Hudson House, Calamity, and Blood Mountain. Bloodshot Books published The Devil Virus, Headshot Books published Dark Heart, and JournalStone published Dead End. They are all available.
DiLeo teaches high school English in New York’s Hudson Valley where he tries to inspire a love for the unquiet coffin in his students. He is also at work on his next novel.
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