I'm going to start featuring an excerpt from one of my title's each week. This week, I chose Murderland. I just re-designed the cover for it, so I figured it was a good candidate.
You can purchase Murderland here in e-book and paperback. The paperback version is still showing the original cover, but that should change soon.
Copyright Anthony Izzo
“This is going to be amazing,” Jerry Stanton said as he stared at the towering Ferris wheel that dominated the sky above the amusement park. White Sands Amusement Park had closed two months ago, but the place was still largely intact. A six-foot fence surrounded the property, no doubt designed to keep people like him out.
Marissa nodded. “I can’t wait to see the funhouse.”
She took out a Nikon digital camera. The photos would go up on their website. Two urban explorers about to set out on their next adventure.
They were at the rear end of the property. The waves from the beach crashed in the distance. When this place was operational, people had flocked to the cottages and spent their days on the beach or at the park.
“Someone probably cut this fence,” Jerry said. “Can’t imagine we’re the first ones to explore the park.”
Marissa tied her hair back with a scrunchie-thing. At least that’s what he called it. “God, you’re beautiful.”
“You’re laying it on thick. What do you want?”
“Oh, nothing,” Jerry said.
Jerry slung his backpack over his shoulder. He had some protein bars and Gatorades in there, along with his camera and a Moleskin notebook. He liked to make observations about the places they explored.
“Did you bring a weapon?” Marissa asked.
“Do I ever?”
“Dangerous place,” Marissa said. “Eight people dead in the park’s history. That one girl fell off the lookout. Or was pushed.”
“Accidents. It happens at amusement parks, unfortunately,” Jerry said. “I suppose a few of them were suspicious, though.”
“Murderland,” she said.
“Let’s find the hole in the fence.”
They made their way along the fence until Jerry eyed a spot where the fence had been cut. On the other side of the fence was a concession stand called the “Dog Hut.” It was a long building covered in cedar shakes. Surrounding it were picnic tables and benches. It somehow made him sad to see the place empty like this.
The two of them ducked through the hole in the fence. Security was spotty at the park. There may or may not be a guard patrolling the grounds. Although in mid-October it was getting chilly and a guard might not want to be bothered freezing his ass off walking out here.
Marissa stopped to snap a few pictures.
“That Ferris wheel shot is going to look good on the website,” she said. “Dramatic against the sky.”
“Big bastard, isn’t it?”
“It was from the World’s Fair, I heard,” she said.
“Where do you want to go first?”
“Funhouse. Definitely,” she said.
They made their way through the area of the park dedicated to concessions. Pizza shacks, stands advertising cotton candy, soft pretzels, and candy apples. Jerry imagined he could still smell the food. He was here once, for his twelfth birthday. He’d cut his belly on an inner tube valve stem at the water park. His mother had yelled at him for being careless. Some damn fun this place was.
They turned left, passing the shuttered game stands. The Whack-a-Mole, the ring toss, and the dart throw among them. After another turn, they came to the funhouse.
The structure was all angles and turns, painted black and deep purple on the exterior. One side had a giant skeleton painted on it. In the corner of the wall was painted a cartoon witch with a crescent moon in the background. Typical carnival cheesiness.
A ramp led up to a boarded-up door. Over the door was painted the words Enter if You Dare.
Between the two of them, Jerry and Marissa pried the plywood from the entrance with enough room to slip inside. They took out flashlights and turned on the beams.
They moved down a corridor, Jerry noticing holes in the floor. “What are those for?”
“Air holes. They would blow air up to scare the customers,” she said.
They came to a room and entered. Jerry lost his balance and slammed into a wall before realizing the floor was tilted at a crazy angle. Marissa giggled. “They used to tilt the floor mechanically. Weren’t you ever in here?”
“I didn’t come to the funhouse,” he said.
Marissa snapped a few pics, her flash illuminating the room.
From the tilted room, they proceeded to a room of mirrors. Jerry spotted a door at the rear of the room and got curious. He gave it a push and it opened, cool air wafting into the room of mirrors. A dank, damp stink emanated from the other side of the door.
He poked the beam through and realized it was some sort of maintenance corridor. He turned the beam on a ladder which descended into an opening. “This might be interesting.”
He slipped through the door and heard Marissa say, “Wait for me.”
The corridor ran the length of the building and turned at the end. He guessed workers could reach any of the rooms in the funhouse through this hallway. But the ladder intrigued him. What was down there?
Marissa slipped through the door.
“We should check that out,” Jerry said
“I don’t know. Could be flooded or something down there.”
“I just want to have a quick look,” he said.
He threw a leg over the ladder and descended. At the bottom, he was surprised to find a long tunnel. He shined his beam into the darkness.
The tunnel had smooth concrete walls tagged by bright graffiti. It appeared to take a left turn up ahead.
“How is it down there?”
“There’s a tunnel. I wonder if these go under the entire park?” Jerry said.
“I’m coming down.”
Marissa joined him at the bottom of the ladder. “Whoa.”
“We should see how far it goes,” she said.
“Okay. This is really cool.”
They proceeded to the turn and followed it. There was a mechanical zombie with rotting skin leaning against the wall, a castoff from the funhouse. Next to that was a golf cart. The tunnel was quite wide. Jerry guessed you could fit two golf carts side-by-side in here.
They made a few more turns.
“We probably shouldn’t go too far,” Jerry said.
“Just a little farther,” Marissa said.
They ventured a little further, past an abandoned popcorn popping cart.
“Did you hear that?” Marissa said.
“Behind us. Something scraping in the tunnel?”
Jerry strained to listen. He did hear something. It was a scraping noise, followed by tapping. Tap. Tap. Tap.
There was definitely someone in the tunnel behind them. Probably just kids coming down to explore, maybe making noises just to freak them out.
Tap. Tap. Scratch.
A stench wafted down the tunnel, something like ripe garbage mixed with rotting flowers.
“That stinks,” Marissa whispered.
“Homeless person maybe?” Jerry said.
“Lower your voice,” Marissa said.
“They already know were here.”
“Turn off your light, Jerry. Do it.”
She clicked off her flashlight, and a moment later, he did the same. They stood in the darkness, the sound of their breathing filling the air.
The smell grew stronger. More clicking noises.
“We should go,” Jerry said. “I don’t know what the hell that is.”
“C’mon,” Marissa said, turning her light back on.
They continued down the tunnel, heading farther from the funhouse. Now footsteps sped up behind them, someone coming out of the darkness.
The two of them broke into a run. Something hissed. It sounded angry. Or maybe hungry. What the fuck was it?
As they reached another junction, Jerry turned to see something tall coming at them. It had to hunker down to avoid hitting its head. Something with impossibly long limbs. Crooked fingers ending in claws.
Jerry tried to turn the corner. The tunnel thing was on him. Something swiped at his face, slicing open his cheek. He screamed and fell to the ground, landing on his belly.
Marissa turned and screamed.
“Go!” he said, and something like a heated knife dug into his neck and ripped him open to his tailbone.
Marissa sprinted down the tunnel, the sound of Jerry’s screams bouncing off the walls. They were high-pitched and awful. She got a glimpse of what had followed them, and she was having trouble wrapping her head around it. Hadn’t gotten a good look at it, but what she saw was something out of a horror movie.
She came to another ladder at junction. Looked up and saw a hatch at the top. She prayed it was unlocked.
Marissa climbed the ladder, let go with one hand, and pushed on the hatch. It gave a little, unlocked but heavy as hell. She strained to push it, her arm muscles searing.
She got it open far enough to allow a wedge of light in. A little more and she could force it open. Of that she was sure.
The hatch was halfway open she almost had it. She threw her weight into it, at the same time holding onto the ladder.
Something gripped her ankle and squeezed, a bone-popping pressure that made her cry out. She looked down to see two eyes staring up at her. They seemed to glow in the darkness. There was a hard tug, then a popping in her hip. It felt like someone fired a nail gun into her hip joint, and she realized her hip had dislocated.
Marissa screamed again before she was yanked off the ladder.