Below is a series of scenes from THE ROCKLAND HORROR 4, an upcoming installment in THE ROCKLAND HORROR series.
In the following scenes, undead samurai warriors have invaded the town of Cumminsville, Kansas!
They’ve come across the Pacific Ocean and half a continent. They’re on their way to Rockland, Indiana, of course!
From THE ROCKLAND HORROR 4:
As the dusk fell, a man named Roy Hollis pushed back his wife’s frilly curtains from the living room window of his one-story farmhouse. Roy’s farm lay four miles outside the town limits of Cumminsville. The middle of nowhere, really.
Roy gazed out across the rows of his cornfield.
He had a bad feeling tonight.
Something foul was afoot.
The sun had begun to set about an hour ago, but there was still a trace of sunlight above the western horizon. It burned the top of the cornstalks gold, orange, and red.
Roy strained his eyes examining the cornfield. He was sure he had seen a trace of movement amid the cornstalks.
There was no wind tonight. It might have been a stoat or a bobcat. The little farm was surrounded by woods, and animals of every kind.
Roy hoped that it was something as harmless as a stoat or a bobcat.
“Whatsamatter, Pa?” Randy asked. Randy was Roy’s fourteen-year-old son.
Roy turned around, and was a little startled to see Randy standing just behind him.
“You alright, Pa?”
“I’m fine, son. It’s just—don’t sneak up on me like that, okay?”
“Sure. But what’s wrong outside? Why are you looking out the window?”
“I just thought I saw something moving out in the cornfield,” Roy said.
“You want me to fetch the .22 and go have a look?” Randy responded eagerly.
Randy was disappointed that the war had ended before he was old enough to serve. He was always looking for some excuse to fetch the family’s .22 rifle and go on a mock patrol.
“No,” Roy said. “Don’t you go out there.”
“Just don’t go. Now listen to me, son.”
“Yessir,” Randy said, deflated.
Randy’s other son, twelve-year-old Micah, sat at the kitchen table, poring over a copy of Life magazine.
Life magazine was filled with news about the war. Roy did not need to read Life. He already knew all about the war. He had been there, done that. Roy was a recent veteran, after all.
Although he had been married and old enough to avoid the draft, Roy had nevertheless enlisted after Pearl Harbor. He had honestly believed that Hitler and Hirohito had designs on taking over the United States. They would plant their Rising Sun and swastika flags not just in godless New York and Washington DC, but also in little salt-of-the-earth towns like Cumminsville, Kansas.
That prospect might seem far-fetched now. It had seemed all too realistic in December 1941, when Germany and Japan were winning all the battles, and taking territory left and right.
Roy had joined the United States Navy and served in the Pacific. He had had a few close calls near the end of the war, when the Japanese started going after American ships with those kamikaze suicide attacks.
His war, though, had been nothing like that of the marines who had been tasked with the duty of going ashore, and removing the enemy from their entrenched island positions. Roy was very grateful that he had chosen the Navy, and not the Marine Corps.
Since returning to Cumminsville, Roy had occasionally found himself on edge. Lingering anxiety from the war, he supposed. There were articles about that in the newspapers, too. Men who had returned from the war, but who could not remove the war from inside their own heads.
“Got a bad feeling tonight,” Roy said to no one in particular.
His wife, however, answered him from the kitchen.
“You need to relax, Roy,” Mabel Hollis said. “No one’s going to be sneaking up on the farmhouse. There are no Japanese soldiers in Cumminsville.”
Mabel was cleaning up the remains of their dinner, recently concluded.
“I know that, Mabe,” he said, closing the curtain. “I know there are no Japanese soldiers in Kansas. Of course I know that.”
Tonight, however, he wasn’t completely certain that was true. Tonight he had a bad case of the heebie-jeebies, and he couldn’t say why.
Some time later, the Hollis family was listening to a broadcast of The Jack Benny Program on the big Magnadyne radio in the living room of the farmhouse. Mabel, Randy, and Micah all laughed uproariously throughout the show, but Jack Benny’s jokes simply didn’t resonate with Roy like they had before the war.
By the time the thirty-minute show ended, Roy had barely cracked a smile.
Moreover, he had a persistent feeling that something was in his barn that didn’t belong there. The same thing that had been in his cornfield an hour ago.
He couldn’t have described exactly how he knew this. It came to him in a vision. Not a vivid, picture-perfect vision like the evangelical preachers sometimes claimed to have. This was a vague sensation, partly seen and partly only felt.
In any case, though, Roy sensed that it would not let him go until he checked, and knew for certain.
He began to stand up from his rocking chair.
Mabel looked over at him uneasily. She had been sitting on the sofa, working on one of her knitting projects while she listened to the radio.
Randy and Micah usually occupied the floor while the family consumed radio programs. The boys sat Indian-style throughout the broadcasts, leaning forward with rapt attention. They were still there, even though Jack Benny had just concluded.
The evening news broadcast was beginning. Randy was interested in news about the emerging postwar order—or rather, disorder. Randy was still planning to enlist when he turned eighteen. He said that by then, there would be another war, this one with the Ruskies.
Now Randy and Micah were looking up at their father, though. Roy stood in the middle of the living room.
“I think I’ll go have a look-see in the barn,” he said.
“Why?” Mabel asked. “Did you hear something?”
“No,” Roy answered. This was the truth. Also, Mabel was no fool. There was no way she would believe that he had heard something in the barn while Jack Benny was playing on the radio. No one’s hearing was that sharp.
“Want me to—?” Randy began.
“No,” Roy said. “Stay here with your mother and brother.”
Roy did not take the .22 rifle to the barn with him. He took a 12-gauge shotgun that he kept in the home’s mud room, immediately off the kitchen.
Before he set off, he lit a kerosene lantern. That would not only light the way, it would also keep the mosquitos at bay.
Roy desperately hoped that all of this would turn out to be nothing, that a few hungry mosquitos would be the worst perils he would encounter on his way to the barn and back.
He exited the farmhouse through the door off the mudroom. He began his walk out to the barn, the lantern in one hand, the 12-gauge in the other.
The short walk, across the main yard and skirting the edge of the main cornfield, was uneventful. No mosquitos, even.
Then he came to the big, unpainted wooden barn. The barn had been there since the late 1800s, when Roy’s grandfather, father, and uncles had built it.
He pushed the sliding barn door open, making it creak on its runners. He set the lantern down in the grass while he did this, to free one hand.
The barn door open, Roy picked up the lantern again and looked inside. He was reminded again that he needed to electrify the barn, now that he was home for good. That had been on his to-do list even before the war. There was adequate light, though, between the lantern, and what moonlight came in through the barn’s two clear glass windows.
The family had one horse, a gelding named Priam. Priam was edged back against the rear of his stall. The horse’s eyes were blank, almost as if the animal were drugged.
Priam was…scared? Was that possible?
Roy set the kerosene lantern on his nearby workbench. (He kept the 12-gauge in his right hand.) Then he spoke soothingly to the horse.
The horse did not answer him. He just continued to stare at Roy with those blank, dark eyes of his.
What was there for Priam to be afraid of? There were no wolves in this part of Kansas; there hadn’t been for nearly a hundred years.
And on a related matter: why, exactly, had he deemed it necessary to come out here?
It was just that very intense feeling he had gotten, while listening to Jack Benny. And that half-formed vision of an intruder
Roy heard something shift behind him. He turned around and saw the intruder. And yet, that description did not really do justice to what he saw.
The creature standing in the open doorway of the barn looked vaguely like a Japanese soldier from the late conflict. And yet, it wasn’t a Japanese soldier, either. It was some hideous malformation that was based on a Japanese soldier, but it had elements of something else.
Since returning from the war, Roy had taken an odd interest in Japanese history and culture. This interest bewildered even him. But he felt a compulsive need to learn more about his former enemy.
There were several books on Japanese history in the Cumminsville public library. These books informed Roy that Japan had long been a martial society. He had read about the samurai warriors, who had hacked each other to pieces with curved, razor-sharp swords.
The samurai had dressed for combat in armor that was designed to intimidate the enemy, as well as protect the wearer. Roy had seen illustrations of the old samurai warriors, clad in full battle gear.
The creature standing in the open doorway of the barn looked something like one of those medieval samurai warriors. Or a misshapen version of that.
The thing had glowing red eyes.
“Wha—?” Roy said, trembling.
The intruder opened its mouth, revealing rows of long, canine teeth. No—more like crocodile teeth.
In the space of just two seconds, a complicated series of thoughts went through Roy’s mind. There was no way he could even begin to understand what this thing was, or exactly what it wanted.
What was clear enough was that it was hostile. He had to kill it now, or it would kill him.
Roy began to raise the shotgun.
But the intruder was too fast.
Roy Hollis’s shotgun did go off in the final second of his life, as the intruder raced forward at him, but the muzzle of the gun was knocked astray. The shotgun boomed, and buckshot scattered harmlessly into the far wall of the barn.
Roy’s blood splattered on the wall of the barn, too.
Priam, the gelding, began bucking and whinnying in his stall.
The horse drew the attention of the supernatural creature.
The intruder moved with impossible speed, covering the floorspace of the barn in a mere second.
A few seconds after that, Priam was silent, too.
“Did you hear that?” Randy said, addressing his mother and younger brother. “Out there in the barn, I mean.”
Micah and Mabel nodded. They had all heard the sound of the shotgun going off. They had also heard Priam, whinnying in what sounded like distress, before his whinnying was abruptly cut silent. This far out in the country, sounds carried long distances with clarity. And the barn was a short walk from the house.
“I heard it,” Mabel said. Then she added, hopefully, “Your pa might have killed a weasel or a skunk out there.”
Randy didn’t immediately contradict his mother, but he didn’t share her interpretation, either. That wouldn’t explain why Priam had whinnied, and then gone instantly silent.
“I’m going out there to see,” Randy said.
Mabel began to object. Randy, in a rare act of outright adolescent defiance, cut her off.
“I’m going out there,” he said. “Pa may be in trouble. He may need my help.”
“All right,” she acquiesced. “But give him a few more minutes, okay? Then you can go out there and see.”
“A few more minutes,” he agreed. “Then I need to go.”
Randy stood on the front porch of the farmhouse, holding the twenty-two.
His mother had still not liked the idea of him going outside to investigate. But when another ten minutes had passed with no sign of Roy, Mabel had relented.
Looking out into the night, Randy called out for his father.
“Pa! Are you there?”
Then a dark blur, roughly the size of a man, moved across his field of vision, in front of the barn.
Randy blinked. The shape had moved so fast that he could not fully catch sight of it, especially with the darkness factored in.
Then another blur. And another. Both of similar size and shape.
Then more blurs, rushing to and fro.
There were three shapes in total. They were moving across the yard in a bizarre, zigzagging pattern.
Randy knew, somehow, that these things were responsible for whatever had happened to his father.
(And something had to have happened; because his father had not returned to the house, or answered Randy’s calls.)
But what the heck were they? He had anticipated nothing like this.
“Where’s my pa?” Randy shouted, his voice trembling.
One of the blurs paused, perhaps midway between the barn and the front porch of the house.
It looked at Randy. And now Randy could see it, partially illuminated by the moonlight. But he could not believe it.
Randy took in the creature’s glowing red eyes. Its mouth opened, exposing razor-sharp teeth.
His hands shaking, Randy aimed the twenty-two and fired.
The thing darted out of the way, before Randy had even pulled the trigger.
Randy lowered the gun. Beneath his terror, and his dread regarding the fate of his father, was bewilderment. How had it moved so quickly? The thing traveled at a blinding speed, like a large, monstrous hummingbird.
That was the last thought that would ever go through fourteen-year-old Randy Hollis’s mind.
One of the thing’s companions took Randy from his right side. Randy never even saw it coming; and he never learned the full truth of what had happened to his father, either.
That’s the end of the excerpt!
This is a secondary plot line—which takes place far from Rockland, Indiana. But it will give you a taste of that the book will be like.
THE ROCKLAND HORROR is where history meets horror!