Here’s a sneak preview of Sundown Rising, the Small Things novella from Sundown Rising and Other Stories that’s set between Small Things and Threads, available soon at a bookstore near you!

Summer, 1976 – a Wednesday

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?” Henry 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 was the best 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 rundown 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 his father 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. If, however, the old mansion no longer belonged to them, there was no telling what Kingfisher and Quarry might discover.

“Tell you what,” Henry Spencer said, with a sigh, “how about this? You come with me to the meeting with Mr. Kingfisher and Mr. Quarry tomorrow. You sit and listen to what they have to say. Ask questions. I trust you, son. If you’re still worried at the end of the meeting, I’ll nix the whole deal. Fair enough?” He held out his hand.

It was more than fair, actually, but Shawn was worried that it wouldn’t be enough, that somehow the mysterious pair would convince his father despite Shawn’s objections. But what else could he do? He’d avoided meeting Kingfisher and Quarry in person during the three days they’d been in town, so perhaps it was finally time to see what he was up against, or if the whole thing was just in his head.

“Thanks, Dad,” Shawn said, grasping his father’s hand. “Fair enough. It’s a deal.”


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From Joe's writing

‘I couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat. I was afraid we’d lost him when suddenly there it was. I was about to go and get Dr. Bartlett, another doctor in the practice, one who had a lot more experience than I do, when I finally found it.’

— Memories of a Ghost, chapter 45