Mortom: population 986.On the outskirts of town, 33-year-old Craig Moore is found drowned in the lake. A loner and town eccentric, few attend the funeral.One week later Andy Crowl arrives in Mortom, still stunned by his cousin’s death and equally confused why everything was left to him. The two hadn’t spoken in years and shared little outside of fierce childhood competition.
But Craig hardly did him a favor. The estate amounts to little more than a drained bank account and a property overridden with junk. When Andy finds a dead rat under the refrigerator with a key in its mouth, he thinks it’s some sort of sick joke. Then he finds the letter left by Craig, written two days before his death … detailing the rules of “the game.”
Andy sat in a half-crouch, listening to the rustling of the trees. The shed was no more than a black shape in the distance, but he didn’t dare use the flashlight until he was inside. More than one night of his youth had been wasted binge drinking in cemeteries, and he had no doubt the practice was still in use today. Of course, kids today were more apt to be vandalizing headstones or dealing drugs. He was probably more likely to get shot than reported to the police.
He gave the cemetery a final sweep before crossing the road. The urge to rush was almost overwhelming, and he forced himself to move slowly as he passed through the open gate. The half-mile walk to the cemetery had been anything but fun, and he couldn’t imagine trying to make his way back on a twisted ankle.
As if on cue his foot discovered a sinkhole, and he caught himself on a headstone before falling on his face.
“Stupid,” he hissed.
He brushed off his hands and pushed out an angry sigh. Everything about this was stupid. He was a grown man, creeping around a cemetery in the middle of the night, on a treasure hunt with a key he wasn’t sure was going to work. He needed to have his head examined.
Erik Therme has thrashed in garage bands, (inadvertently) harbored runaways, and met Darth Vader. None of these have come close to the thrill of releasing his debut novel, Mortom.
When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering on his oldest daughter’s volleyball team, or chilling on the PS3 with his 11-year-old. He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa–one of only 7 places in the world the UNESCO has certified as a “City of Literature.”
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