Shady Characters: A Short Story

“Look—over there!”

“Where?”

Donnie pointed out his window and said, “There, in that field. See that bunch of trees?”

Sammy took his foot off of the accelerator while peering through the windshield. “Yeah. What’s a patch of trees like that doing in the middle of a corn field?”

“Who cares?” Donne asked. “It could be just what we’re looking for. Let’s check it out!”

With a simple nod, Sammy cranked up Guns N’ Roses’ “Sympathy For the Devil” and then veered off the country road onto a dirt path leading down the middle of an empty field. He hit the gas and roared with laughter as his 1981 black and gold Firebird fishtailed on the loose dirt.

Donnie screamed over Axle Rose’s shrieks: “Punch it, Chewie!”

Both boys beamed as the spring air whipped through the open T-tops and their hair.

Once Sammy reached the dense circle of trees, he slowed down and found an opening. After easing the Trans Am into the thicket, he cut the engine.

They found themselves within a clearing, an open space the size of a baseball infield.

“Oh, my god, dude!” Donnie cheered while pumping his fist like Arsenio Hall. “This is perfect!”

Both boys opened their car doors before exiting the vehicle. They looked at the canvas of leaves above them. With each gust of wind, small pockets of sunlight peeked through the organic canopy.

Sammy ran over to Donnie and punched him on the arm while bellowing, “This is the place—most definitely!”

“For real,” Donnie continued. “You drive out here at night, cut the lights, and no one will ever know! No houses around to see you—just make sure no one else is on the road before pulling off, right?”

“I can’t believe our luck,” Sammy said before clapping his hands together. “We’ve been looking for a spot like this all day! Finally!”

“And dude,” Donnie added, “once summer’s here, you won’t even have to worry about her getting cold!”

“Yeah,” Sammy said with a smirk as his thoughts became obvious. That devious grin suddenly turned sheepish, though, when he said, “I guess I better find a ‘her’ first, huh?”

“Hey, you’ve got your license and a cool car now—the chicks are going to line up for you!”

Sammy laughed a little, then mumbled, “If you say so.”

Donnie said, “You got the wheels. You got the spot. Now you just need the girl. You got me beat! I don’t get my license until August.”

“Yeah, but you’ve already got a girl,” Sammy said.

Donnie smiled smugly. “Yes. That I do.”

Sammy shook his head while taking in their surroundings. Something near the center of the clearing caught his attention. “What the hell?” he muttered.

“What’s up?” Donnie asked.

Sammy pointed at three tombstones in the middle of the space.

Donnie squinted. He then whispered, “Those look like … Are those graves?”

While craning his neck forward, Sammy asked, “Does that one in the middle say ‘Fido?’” 

A thunderous barking suddenly erupted, causing both boys to jump. Moments later, a black dog sprinted into the area with its tail wagging furiously. It leapt up onto Donnie, knocked him over, then dashed toward Sammy. Crouching down, Sammy rubbed the dog between the ears while looking at Donnie. He said, “You should have seen your face, man! You looked like you saw a ghost or something!”

Donnie stood up. He brushed the pine needles and leaves from his jeans. “Ha, ha. Real funny. Ghosts don’t come out in the daytime, dummy.”

“Well, that ain’t entirely true,” something said from beyond.

Sammy shot to his feet while he and Donnie followed the direction of the voice. They saw a man emerging from a dark patch in the trees. His clothing looked decidedly… old. Very old. 

The dog began turning in circles while incessantly barking.

“Yep. They can come out whenever the hell they want,” a new voice crooned.

Sammy and Donnie’s eyes darted to the tombstones, and there, atop the one on the right, sat a woman. Her clothing appeared antiquated as well, though, unlike the man, she wore a dress instead of trousers.

The man pointed at Sammy while demanding, “You—what year is it?”

“What?” Sammy replied in a quivering voice. 

“He asked you the year,” the woman clarified.

“You guys dope fiends or something?” Donnie asked while feigning bravery. “It’s 1994.”

The man’s eyebrows lifted nearly up to the brim of his cowboy hat. “1994? You don’t say? Let’s see here, then. Whoo-whee. That makes it about thirty years since our last visitor and there about … 140 years since the fire. Ain’t that right, darling?”

The woman rolled her eyes at the man as she said, “Sounds about right.”

Donnie said, “Yo, I don’t think you should sit on that stone, lady. It’s disrespectful.”

The woman burst out laughing. Moments passed before said, “Not if it’s mine, sugar.” 

Sammy’s eyes fell upon the tombstone the woman perched upon. “Nettie Norman,” he read.

Donnie looked at the other stone and read, “Guy Silas.”

“That’s us,” Guy said with a sneer. He approached the boys and hissed, “What are your names, fellas?”

As they backed up, Sammy answered, “I’m Sammy—Samuel. This is my friend, Donnie.”

“Dude!” Donnie yelped while slapping at Sammy’s arm. “Don’t tell them our names!”

“Hey, Nettie,” Guy said. “This boy, Donnie, he looks as though he might be black like you. Two black people in Cass County. Who’d have thought?”

Sammy glanced at Donnie and asked, “Are you related to her?”

Donnie shoved his friend away and yelled, “Am I related to a ghost? Did you see her tombstone? She died over a hundred years ago! No, we’re not related!”

“I thought maybe she was like a great-great-grandma or something. And they’re not ghosts.”

Nettie noticed Guy getting agitated. She chuckled as she said, “Sammy, make no mistake, we’re definitely ghosts. Donnie: relax; we’re not related. Guy and I never had any kids, and besides, I wasn’t from around here anyway. This was Guy’s home.” 

“Yep. Thought we’d be safe up here,” Guy said. “Brought Nettie back so we could be left alone. But we wasn’t, was we, Nettie?” Guy walked up to Sammy. He leaned down while staring hard with his hazel eyes into the boy’s face. “In fact, you look a lot like the guy under that white hood. Remember when I yanked it clean off, Nettie? They had you all tied up. I was fighting hard.” He then paused a minute before muttering, “Not hard enough, though.”

“We’re still together, Guy,” Nettie said. “That’s all that matters.”

Guy then screamed into Sammy’s face, “Tell me your family’s name, boy, or I’m gonna skin you alive!” At the conclusion of his eruption, the skin upon Guy’s face melted off, first revealing muscle and veins before giving way to patches of smoking, ivory bone. 

Both boys screamed in terror, turned, and raced to the Firebird. Donnie dove headfirst through the T-top opening. Sammy had the car started and in reverse before even being fully seated.

As the car sped away, the dog continued to bark without end while prancing from foot to foot.

Nettie slipped off the stone, approached Guy, then wrapped her arms around him. “Why are you so mean to visitors? We don’t get them very often.”

Guy looked down at her, his face fully restored. “Can’t have them coming back,” he replied. “They’ll stay quiet if they’re scared. I don’t want people out here moving us.”

“Even if they did, they’d keep us together,” Nettie said. “Heck, the Klan had the decency to bury us all together. Still can’t believe they gave the dog a stone.”

“Yeah,” Guy seethed. “Real Christian of them after burning us alive … including the dog.”

Both Nettie and Guy looked over at the third tombstone. The dog wedged between their knees as they remained in an embrace. 

“Maybe we could move on,” Nettie said quietly after releasing Guy. She bent down, kissed the dog on the nose, then stroked his back. “We could meet in the hereafter or Heaven or … whatever.”

“Maybe,” Guy agreed. He too leaned over and patted the dog’s rump. “But what about Fido here? You think they’d move him, too? You think dogs are allowed past the Pearly Gates?” 

Fido began to whine.

Nettie took Fido up in her arms. She sauntered over to the middle tombstone before sitting with her back against it. Fido remained in her arms. Guy followed, took his place next to Nettie, put his arm around her, and then leaned his head against hers. 

All three of them remained silent in the copse of trees. 

“You know,” Nettie said after thinking for a few moments. “This place isn’t so bad. Plenty of shade. I think we should all just stay right here.”

At the conclusion of her statement, Fido barked in joy.

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Copyright © 2021 by Scott William Foley

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this story may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews or articles.

My Thanks To Jen Weaver For Her Souls Triumphant Review

I wanted to take a moment to thank Jen Weaver for the following Souls Triumphant review …

“Disclaimer: I describe myself as a lover of murder and psychological thrillers…this does not mean I hate on Sci-fi, but it is not often my first, second or third choice. That being said, when someone gives me a book to read, I read it, and today, I’m glad to say that I may not be putting those Sci-fi books on the back shelf!

I have read a lot of Scott Foley’s other books and I always enjoy the depth and reach of his characters. Souls Triumphant is no different! Within the first few chapters you instantly can relate to Joe! He is kind, inquisitive, and who doesn’t like a dreamer? The action starts fast and doesn’t stop! What will happen to Joe? What will happen to Alexandra? Can they survive? Can their love survive?

I flew through this book, it is easy to read, keeps you turning the pages and ends with you wanting more!

So the real question is….When is book 2 coming out?”

Reviews are so important to an author. They help readers decide if they want to try a book out while also spreading the word. During these busy, difficult times, I greatly appreciate Jen’s time and effort!

Interested in Souls Triumphant? Click the cover to visit it at Amazon.

There’s Something Normal About Souls Triumphant

I recently released the 15th anniversary edition of the one that started it all, Souls Triumphant. I initially came up with the idea for Souls Triumphant while attending Illinois State University in Normal, IL. Then, when I neared graduation, I took an amazing creative writing class and really started fleshing out the plot in the form of a short story. Of course, this eventually led to that short story becoming a full-fledged novel, and the rest is history.

Before uptown Normal became Uptown Normal, it was just a humble stretch of buildings consisting of barber shops, comic book stores, coffee houses, and bars aimed at the college crowd. Those of you who attended ISU before the much needed revitalization of the area may recognize certain characteristics of the old uptown Normal in Souls Triumphant.

This may be the first time I’ve publicly announced this, but uptown Normal absolutely served as the inspiration of the uptown area in Souls Triumphant. Though I never specifically say in the book that it’s taking place at Illinois State University in Normal, IL, the area certainly served as the basis for the primary setting.

If you’re familiar with Normal, IL, and want to play a fun game, see if you can match up certain bars, locations, and cafes in the book with the Normal that existed in the late 1990s.

Haven’t read Souls Triumphant yet? You can find your copy by clicking the cover below.

My Thanks To Rebecca Fortner For Reviewing Souls Triumphant: 15th Anniversary Edition

I want to offer a very special thanks to Rebecca Fortner for reviewing Souls Triumphant: 15th Anniversary Edition. Reviews are tremendously helpful to an author. It spreads the word about a work, helps potential readers decide if they want to read a book, and, especially in this case, offers valuable feedback to the writer.

Time is the most important of all commodities, and I want Rebecca to know how much I appreciate the time it took her to write this review.

“When a writer can blend fantasy with relatable characters that you find yourself cheering for throughout their journey, you know you have a good story on your hands. That is what Scott Foley has given us here. Souls Triumphant is a blend of sci-fi and inspirational fantasy in a realistic setting. I found myself relating to 20-something Joe and Alessandra in different ways and cheering for their love-at-first-sight romance to survive. The good-vs-evil plot kept me wondering what would happen next, right until the end (which also seems to lend itself to a sequel?). What are Joe and Alessandra up to now?” ~Rebecca A. Fortner

Click the cover to visit Souls Triumphant at Amazon.com

Special Thanks To Dr. Jane Thomas For This New Review Of Souls Triumphant

Dr. Jane Thomas has long supported my writing. Once again, she has gone above and beyond by writing a review for the 15th anniversary edition of Souls Triumphant. Here it is!

Souls Triumphant is a must-read. Part Christian allegory and part thriller, the story offers a few ‘Avenger-like’ characters, with two very interesting protagonists, one of whom grows from doubts about himself and total unawareness of his powers to a warrior of legend. The other grows into the being she is meant to be and provides one of the twists in the plot line. Percolating through the story, as in all Foley’s stories, is an assurance of the essential goodness of creation, though it must be fought for and defended. The story is so fast-paced, it’s almost impossible to put down until you’ve reached the end. Ten-star recommendation!”

If you’d like a copy of Souls Triumphant, simply click the cover below. Thank you!

Now Available – Souls Triumphant: 15th Anniversary Edition

AVAILABLE NOW. CLICK THE COVER TO PURCHASE.

Souls Triumphant is the story of Joe and Alessandra, two recent college graduates who meet on the street and experience love at first sight. Through a series of adventures and tragedies, they learn that the evil Ned and his fallen angels pursue them. If the world is to survive, they must evade the villains’ nefarious intentions, befriend the enigmatic Buddy, and rekindle their true natures. It’s a story of romance, action, intrigue, fantasy, and faith.

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What people are saying about Souls Triumphant …

Souls Triumphant is a must-read. Part Christian allegory and part thriller, the story offers a few ‘Avenger-like’ characters, with two very interesting protagonists, one of whom grows from doubts about himself and total unawareness of his powers to a warrior of legend. The other grows into the being she is meant to be and provides one of the twists in the plot line. Percolating through the story, as in all Foley’s stories, is an assurance of the essential goodness of creation, though it must be fought for and defended. The story is so fast-paced, it’s almost impossible to put down until you’ve reached the end. Ten-star recommendation!”

~Dr. Jane Thomas

*

“In Souls Triumphant students find a novel they are able to understand, they can identify readily with the characters, and they are encouraged to exercise their imaginations. All of these features yield students who want to discuss all aspects of the book and dig for its applications to their own lives. ‘Theme’ suddenly becomes relevant to their own lives, not just an idea that represents thinking of another age and time, even though it may also be universal in nature.”

~Randal Reichert

*

Souls Triumphant has something for everyone. Part love story, part fantasy adventure, and filled with action. Readers are thrust into the classic dilemma of good vs. evil. However, this is not the tradition tale that has been written many times. Foley has delivered a refreshing and entertaining read for all ages. Adults and teens will finally have something they agree on … this is a good book! … Scott William Foley has penned a one of a kind novel, where the characters, while interacting within a fantasy world, could not be more real. Questions of spirituality, ethics and morals are presented through detailed plot lines that could easily be woven into the fabric of our daily lives. Foley has delivered a well constructed novel that combines interesting characters, intriguing dialogue and explosive moral conflicts. This rare mix, will undoubtedly place Foley on the favorites list of many readers.”

~RJ McGill, 3Rs-Real Reader Reviews

*

“In Souls Triumphant, Foley propels the ever-present struggle between good and evil to the forefront of our world, urging us to choose sides while traveling with two evolving, very human characters. An exciting delight to read – the perfect vehicle to ponder your past or present road to spirituality.”


~Layne Moore

*

Souls Triumphant is an interesting and mature tale about angels and demons. I found myself pleasantly surprised by Foley’s voice because he takes the whole mystical and spiritual aspect of Heaven and Hell and makes it his own. This is a very intellectually written book and it relies very heavily on dialogue rather than all action … Scott William Foley has written a book that is not the normal pop culture fluff that is being written. Any fan who is into religion, spirituality and fantasy should pick this book up and lose themselves in the world of good and evil.”

~C. Garrabrant

*

“For readers, [Souls Triumphant] a contemporary fantasy full of adventure, humor, passion, and optimism that, despite its familiar ingredients, is surprisingly unpredictable … “


~Robert Thompson

*

Souls Triumphant introduces strong, well-defined characters, some evil incarnate, others venerable. The plot offers a love story in an epic tale with a fantasy backdrop; a page-turner(!) with a myriad of literary allusions. It appeals to teens and adults who enjoy reading fantasy, love stories and those who like literary allusions and heroic tales. A delightful read! Teachers and librarians will be pressing this title into the hands of teens!”

~Keran Johnson

*

“Scott Foley has written a wonderful readable adventure… I found that his writing style and storytelling ability held my attention through to the end. Pick up Souls Triumphant and let your imagination flow. You’ll be glad you did.”

~Marilyn Best

*

“I thought it [Souls Triumphant] was one of the most imaginative stories I’ve ever read. It was very meaningful, spiritual, and thought provoking.”

~Barb Gillespie

Dr. Nekros: Book Three Is Live! Download Your Copy Now On Nook Or Kindle

In this last book of the Dr. Nekros saga, you will experience reunions, betrayals, final confrontations, reappearances, deaths, and reconciliations.  Every epic must end, and so concludes that of Dr. Nekros, Zetta Southerland, and the demon Xaphan.

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Dr Nekros Book Three Cover