My upcoming short story collection will feature a Small Things novella, taking place after the events in Small Things and before Threads. As a special treat for you, here’s the first two pages:

Summer, 1976

In a town the size of Carthage, you notice when someone new moves in — especially when they’re driving a 1937 black Ford Coupe. But it wasn’t the car that worried sixteen-year-old Shawn Spencer, it was the pair of men who owned it: Mr. Kingfisher and Mr. Quarry, who had taken up temporary residence at the Hotel Carthage overlooking the town square.

Kingfisher was nearly as tall as famed professional wrestler Andre the Giant, while Quarry was maybe 5’2″ on a good day. They wore identical matching black suits, and were supposedly housing developers looking to perhaps build in Carthage.

What made Shawn nervous wasn’t the thought of rising real estate prices or cottages being built around the lake, but that the pair had shown a particular interest in the old Spencer house on Randolph Street, the very same house where he and his girlfriend Jenny McGee had almost been murdered last summer.

After months of legal wrangling, Shawn’s father and grandfather had finally been granted ownership of the house that once belonged to their distant relative Colin Wainright and were planning to turn it into an apartment building. Kingfisher and Quarry, however, had offered Henry Spencer a deal that was (to quote his father) “Almost too good to turn down.” Which is how he found himself arguing with his father just 24 hours before the papers selling the old Spencer house were to be signed.

“I just don’t think it’s a good idea,” Shawn repeated for the third time in fifteen minutes.

“But why, Shawn?” Spencer asked, stressing the second word in the sentence. “The apartment building is a gamble at best. But this… the money from the house would put your mother and I a good five years closer to retirement, your grandparents could finally take that trip around the country they’ve been talking about for years, and you wouldn’t have to worry about working while you went to college.”

“Those two guys, I just don’t trust them. They blow into town in their old Ford Coupe, looking to buy up property, and offer you double what the place is worth. It just seems suspicious to me.”

His argument sounded suspicious to him as well, but that’s the best that he could come up with. He just couldn’t shake the feeling that anyone willing to pay that much over the market value for a run-down mansion must be after something more than just the house itself.

Even though Shawn now had possession of the enchanted nickel that had once lay hidden within the house, he knew the old Spencer place still had its secrets. There was the shimmering curtain of light hidden in a secret room behind the stairs on the third floor, for one, not to mention the underground cavern he and Jenny had used to escape the murderous intentions of the fetch.

All of that would still be a problem if Henry Spencer went through with his plans to turn the building into an apartment home, of course, but if Shawn involved himself in the renovation, he was confident he could keep the house’s secrets safe. But if the old mansion no longer belonged to them, there was no telling what Kingfisher and Quarry might discover.


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From Joe's writing

The corpse moved slowly and her husband, broken arm hanging limp from his shoulder, seemed to be keeping pace with it. That would give them a few extra seconds, maybe enough time to hotwire the car. If only she’d thought to grab the keys on their way out.

— Memories of a Ghost, chapter 34