GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Spotlight: Night of the Possums by Jacob Floyd + chapter 1 excerpt | I Smell Sheep

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Spotlight: Night of the Possums by Jacob Floyd + chapter 1 excerpt

Can't think of a better way to spend your holiday...reading about attacking possums!

Night of the Possums
by Jacob Floyd
November 2, 2018
296 pages
Publisher: Nightmare Press

The night of the possums began on a chilly autumn morning around 2am in late October.

On a dark country road, a young man is torn to shreds by wild animals. The news of his grisly death rocks the town. When a similar death occurs later that day, the town is in the grips of fear. 

In rural Bardstown, Kentucky, opossums have risen up against the populace. People are being maimed and devoured throughout the city. These are not your ordinary opossums, either: they are smarter, stronger, faster, and far more vicious--some larger than any opossum anyone has ever seen, growing as long as four feet and as heavy as fifty pounds, with teeth capable of cleaving bone.
As the flesh-eating scourge quickly spreads from one end of Bardstown to the other, a few of those who survived the attacks band together in an attempt to eradicate the maniac marsupials. But, the number of the beasts grows by the hour and the force becomes too insurmountable; the survivors soon realize escape is their only option.
But, beyond the berserk behavior of the carnivorous creatures is a darker secret--something ancient and unnatural that threatens all those who are bitten. Before anyone can find out what is driving these opossums to kill, the survivors must battle their way through the merciless onslaught of claws and teeth and leave the threat of Bardstown behind them.

Chapter 1
The night of the possums began on a chilly autumn morning around 2am in late October. Brandon Smith was driving his girlfriend home and the headlight beams from his raggedy Honda hit the misty night, sweeping shadows across the street. The bushes by the roadside looked like tiny animals skittering through the dark, so Brandon didn't see the fat possum try to cross the road until it was too late.

“Shit!” he exclaimed, pressing on the brakes.

His Civic needed work underneath: whenever he tried to stop, the whole car rattled. He stomped down so hard this time that the vehicle, barely slowing, pulled to the side and crunched the creature beneath the front passenger tire.

Rachel Owens felt the bump and cringed. Possums didn't exactly qualify as cute, cuddly creatures, but they were still living things with feelings; the thought of one getting smashed beneath the car made her sad. There was never a shortage of road kill in Bardstown, Kentucky—especially possum—but she didn't want be a party to the slaying.

“Brandon! Weren't you watching?” she snapped.

“Yeah, but the damn thing came out of nowhere.”

“Do you think you killed it?”

“Probably—that was a pretty bad bump. But, those things are resilient as hell. It might have lived.”

She nodded but knew he was only trying to make her feel better.

They drove on with the radio playing one of Brandon's metal CDs that Rachel didn't know. He liked so many bands but she wasn't into a lot of them. She knew some of the names, like Suicidal Tendencies, Ghost, and Wizards & Demons, but she couldn't pin a track to any of them. She didn't mind hard rock—she could name several songs by Aerosmith and Bon Jovi—but she didn't get into the heavy stuff. She was more into artists like Lady Gaga, Amy Winehouse, and Bruno Mars, anyway.

She and Brandon had been together for nearly seven years—since they were seniors in high school. Neither of them had pursued college after graduation. Brandon managed a grocery store and Rachel had worked at a local hardware store since she was sixteen. Tools and gadgets interested her. She'd considered trade school until her parents died in a hotel fire during a business trip in South Carolina. She was about to turn twenty then and it really put her life in a stasis from which she had yet to recover. Her little brother, Todd, was seven when it happened. He was twelve now and still having serious problems dealing with the loss. All he'd had since then was her, and Rachel knew she wasn't the best role model. She didn't set a bad example or anything; she just didn't have any life experience to impart. She was pretty much rolling aimlessly along, same as him.

Brandon had always been good to Todd, playing video games with him, horsing around with him, and her little brother warmed up to him. It was good to have someone help her with life. Having no idea what it was like to be a boy, she couldn't teach Todd to be a man. Brandon had taken Todd under his wing, and he was a good role model; he always tried to do the decent thing even if he came off as abrasive sometimes.

“You ever notice how many possums we have here?” Brandon asked. “They're everywhere, always getting into trash and shit, walking out into the road and getting smashed. You can't even feed a dog outside without them scrounging around.”

Rachel had no response for that, so she just shrugged.

It was always dark at night on the roads through Bardstown, like traveling through an endless shadow. The only place that looked like it had much life was the west end of Stephen Foster Avenue that cut through the historic district, and then Third Street down to John Rowan Boulevard. These were the main thoroughfares, and everything beyond them was a shady side street.

Rachel and Todd lived on one of those streets: Cypress Street, in a house willed to her upon her parents' death. Getting that mess settled was a headache, but a lot of folks were willing to help her through it since they knew her and the family. But, once the smoke had cleared, most of them vanished. There were a few that still came around to see if she and Todd were okay, but their number began to dwindle not long after. Soon, it was just her, Todd, and Brandon.

As the Civic pulled onto Cypress, weariness hit her and her eyes wanted to close. The hours at the hardware store were long sometimes because of the turnover rate, and tonight she had worked almost twelve hours and wanted to die.

They pulled into her driveway and Brandon walked her to the door. As she fiddled with the lock, he put a hand on her shoulder and said, “I know you're tired. I won't keep you up. Do you need anything before I go?”

She shook her head, feeling the sharp strands of her sweaty brown hair whip around.

“Okay then.” He kissed her on the cheek. “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight,” she replied and kissed him back.

She watched as Brandon went to his car and left. Once he was gone, she went inside.

Todd was asleep in his room. He was on fall break but didn't stay up late because he was a morning person, just like her—just like mom and dad had been.

The doors were locked, all lights were out. She made herself a light sandwich and went to her room to eat it and fall asleep watching Night of the Living Dead on Netflix.

Brandon drove back the way he came, a little faster than before, as he often did when he drove alone. As he drew nearer to where he had hit the possum, he wondered what became of it. He was sorry he ran it over, but he couldn't help it. He didn't have time to stop though he tried. Stupid things supposedly had good night vision, couldn't it see the headlights?

The CD in his stereo had come to an end so he turned it off for a regular station. There was an announcer talking in a really serious tone about some dead body found somewhere Brandon didn't catch. He turned up the volume so he could hear it better.

A very grisly scene indeed, the newswoman said. It appears the young man was gouged several times all over his body, with some severe tissue damage and heavy lacerations. Authorities think he was mauled by animals. In the last two days, there have been reports of animal bodies found in similar states—a couple of dogs and even a horse—but no humans, until now.

“Damn,” Brandon said and turned the radio off.

Something’s going around chewing people up?

He recalled stories about the Chupacabra he heard back in the 90s, but he'd thought that was all bullshit. People got all excited about that creature because of Art Bell and the X-Files. But he figured that creature was just a coyote anyway, and that's probably what had killed the person they were talking about on the radio—that or wolves.

The Honda's headlights cut once more into the rolling mist. He expected to see the bright-red splatter of the obliterated possum festering on the ground any second. No one was on the road with him so he slowed down to take a look, simply out of morbid curiosity.

He hoped he'd missed the creature altogether and that the crunch under the car was just a big tree branch, though he doubted that was the case. When he came upon the scene of the crime, he saw the carcass from more than fifteen feet away. The bright lights revealed the mangled corpse of the poor possum spread across the road. It looked like he had rolled the thing with the tire once or twice. He crept closer and saw it was pretty twisted, and he felt bad because of it.

As he pulled upon it, he thought he saw its ears twitch. The cranium, amazingly, was still intact. Suddenly, the head shot up and started looking around, causing Brandon to hit the brake hard.

“What the hell?”

The car screeched to a halt, the squeal of the tires piercing the still night. He got out and left his headlights on so he could see ahead of him as he walked towards the animal. The possum seemed to watch him approach, its white-face with light specks of blood on it looking more like a Halloween mask than the countenance of a living creature. When Brandon stopped just a few inches from it, gazing upon the scattered viscera, the dying beast peered up at him with shiny black eyes and began to growl.

Brandon sighed. “You should be dead, little buddy. Sorry, I hit you.”

He decided it would be best if he got his gun and put the thing out of its misery. When he turned for the car, he heard hissing from the yards beyond the light. He looked around and saw nothing. More growling, not coming from the injured possum, joined the noise. The sounds grew like an echo in an alleyway. Dogs barked far away. Brandon started to get chills from the eerie orchestra, so he continued to his car and halted a few feet from the vehicle when he saw some small dark shapes running behind it.

“What in the hell?”

He leaned into the car, snatched the .9 millimeter from his glove box, and moved back out into the night. He walked up the road, partly to euthanize the possum, and partly to find out what was causing the strange, intense noises whispering around him.

In a few seconds, he stood above the possum. “Sorry about this,” he said and then shot it, blowing its face to bits.

The gunshot rumbled through the night like thunder. No doubt that would draw the cops. When the air finally fell silent, he looked around wondering what had happened to the sibilant symphony that had been recently conducted in the dark. He didn't have to ponder long; seconds after the echo faded, more small shadows darted through the lights. The hissing resumed and the growls grew more menacing. Soft scrapes and clacks of tiny claws started to click away like the chattering of katydids in the summer. Brandon saw small glowing orbs dancing in the darkness as more shadows passed behind him. The scraping started to resound up the street in front of him.

Nervousness settled in. The presence of an unknown predator began to press upon him. The growling and skittering were on every side and the flash of shiny orbs was multiplying by the second. Brandon decided the orbs were eyes and immediately recalled the radio report about the man who was torn apart by an unidentified assailant.

Away down the road, another car was coming. Its beams were extremely bright, and even though it was many, many feet away, it cast enough light to reveal an army of small creatures gathering in the road. There seemed to be a hundred eyes reflecting the light. The car soon turned and when its headlight glow dissipated, Brandon noticed his own lights were not as bright as they had been.

He looked around and saw dozens of the creatures had emerged from the darkness and were actually blotting out the light. There was a cacophony of warning growls circling him. When he turned back around and took a closer look, he saw the band of tiny white possum faces staring back at him, their lifeless black eyes glittering in the small shafts of the headlights.

“No fucking way,” he muttered as the threatening mass converged upon him.

His car was his only escape and the path to it was blocked. So, he turned and fired into the crowd, blowing away some of the possums. This seemed to make the rest of the mob angry. The growls and hisses grew even louder and Brandon rushed for his car.

He had to shoot down a couple more possums along the way. One lunged at him from out of nowhere and bit down on his shoe, driving its fangs through the material and right into his foot. He cried out, shocked that he was actually being attacked by animals such as these, then kicked at it and drove it away.

A possum was waiting for him in the driver's seat when he reached the car. It looked up at him and hissed so hard that saliva flew from its mouth. He leveled his gun and shot it, spraying blood all over the car's interior. He quickly sat down, but jumped out when he saw the inside of his car had been invaded by a horde of the creatures. They hissed and came for him, barely missing him as he got out. He then shot a few more and backed away. He looked up and saw three large possums on the roof of his car; they stared blankly at him and growled. He shot all three before filling teeth sink into the back of his right leg. After crying out, he tried to run but felt his left leg be set upon by a heavy weight. When he looked down, he saw two possums had latched onto him; they pressed their faces to his flesh and started gnawing away.

Brandon screamed as he felt the teeth begin to destroy his skin, chewing and tearing away the tissue. He tried to fire at them but couldn't get a good shot, so he started swinging the butt of his gun and connected with the skull of one possum and knocked it loose. But, it was too late: too many had gathered at his feet and were chomping down on them, climbing on one another to bite at his legs.

He stumbled in front of his car and a possum that was standing on the hood flew out and bit down on his right arm, causing him to drop the gun into the teeming pile of attackers. In the headlights, he saw before him a writhing, bustling rush of possums, flooding around him like an overflowing river. He felt the severe stings and pains of his skin being gnawed upon. His flesh was flying and his blood was squirting out. He fell onto the Honda's hood to escape them, but two more possums leapt at him, one landing on his left shoulder and the other on his arm, and they went to town flaying his skin from the bone.

Rolling off the hood, he fell to his knees, smashing possums under his weight. It didn't matter, though; there were dozens more coming at him, and the searing pain ripping through his nerves brought him to the edge of unconsciousness.

Teeth bit down onto his quads and thighs, dug through his scalp and into his skull; a possum flew onto his face and gouged his left cheek and tore out an eye before descending back into the mass of small angry beasts. Just before everything went black and he fell onto the ground, he felt something dive into his naval and rip into his guts. The last thing he saw was a bunch of anxious white faces with small sharp teeth snarling. His body soon fell down to greet them.

Brandon hit the road unconsciously and never woke up again.


About the Author:
Jacob Floyd is a paranormal and horror author out of Louisville, Kentucky. He and his wife, Jenny Floyd, are known as the Frightening Floyds and write paranormal books together, run Anubis Press and Nightmare Press, Frightening Floyds Photography, the Frightening Floyds' Shepherdsville History and Haunts Tour, and the Frightening Floyds' NuLu History and Haunts Tour.

The Frightening Floyds have authored four nonfiction paranormal books: Louisville's Strange and Unusual Haunts, Kentucky's Haunted Mansions, Haunts of Hollywood Stars and Starlets, and Indiana's Strange and Unusual Haunts. These books include ghost stories, historical accounts, and other eerie legends. 

Recently, the Frightening Floyds started Anubis Press, a small press that publishes paranormal nonfiction. Haunts of Hollywood Stars and Starlets is the press's first release. Nightmare Press is the horror imprint of Anubis and Night of the Possums is its first release. They intend to release works by other authors in 2019. Other imprints will follow.

As photographers, they enjoy taking pictures of Gothic and Victorian architecture and cemeteries. They just opened a shop of Etsy called FrighteningFloyds.

Jacob is also a horror writer and his debut novel, The Pleasure Hunt, was published December of 2017. Night of the Possums is his second horror novel. He has a short story in an anthology called 19 Gates of Hell and will have another soon appearing in another anthology by Stitched Smile Publications. He is working on several more novels at current time. So be on the look out for those in the near future!

If you're ever in the Louisville area, and you like ghost stories and history, check out their tours. You can hear history and haunts from an Old Stone Jail, a forgotten cemetery, and house that is more than 100 years old and has seen some major tragedy on the Shepherdsville tour. On the NuLu Tour, you can hear many chilling tales from the most haunted street in Kentucky, Louisville's East Market Street. Look them up on Facebook for more details.

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