About Lean Season: Contemporary Tales of Primordial Terror
When a gang of rednecks kills the mate of a local sea legend … the result is bloody terror.
From Lean Season:
“Shut up, ” said Handlebar. He wiped his lip. “Listen.”
The floorboards were shifting beneath their feet.
Carl looked around. “What is it?”
“Is it under the dock?” said Ned.
Handlebar ignored them, listening. The planks of the pier flexed and fell like piano keys.
Lonny retreated still further. “Maybe we should get back inside.”
“You gonna swim for it?” said Stanley. “We’re cut off.”
Lonny looked at the cedar pole laying across the deck, and the downed lines which popped and frizzled. His lower lip started to tremble.
Suddenly, starting at the apex of the dock, the floorboards jumped—rifling and breaking and splintering in a line. The men clambered off Chin, scattering as something split the dock up the middle, like a torpedo. Chin turned, saw a wave of busting boards rushing at him. He scrambled to his feet and dove out of the way, landed at the edge where he saw a dark shape sweep past just below the surface. A tail—long as the first creature’s entire body.
Everything stopped, and there was a silence.
“Stay alert,” shouted Chin. He scrambled away from the edge. “It hasn’t gone. It’s still under the dock.”
Everyone looked at each other as wood creaked and water lapped. Even Handlebar seemed frightened and disheveled.
“Screw this shit, man,” said Lonny. He backed toward the cafe, toward the spitting electrical cables. His eyes were bugged out and his flesh had gone white as bird shit. He dropped his rifle.
Handlebar stared at his own boots, which were soaked in blood. He seemed to be having some sort of internal crisis. He reached up with a trembling hand and twisted his mustache repeatedly. He came out of it suddenly and looked at Lonny.
“Hey. Kid. Listen.” He walked toward him, changing clips. “You’re taking all this too seriously. It’s toying with us, that’s all.”
He held out his shotgun to him. “Here. The goo—Chin—he’s right. It’s still beneath the dock. Probably scared. Why don’t you do the honors?”
Lonny hesitated, trembling. “Y-you mean it’s just trying to scare us?”
Handlebar tweaked his nose. “That’s right.”
The fire returned to the young man’s eyes—almost. He looked around the shattered dock, at the riddled corpse and the oily, bloody water, at the spitting power lines and the dead lights, the peeling boardwalk on the shore.
He shook his head. “No, it’s not. It—it doesn’t pretend, like you. It’s gonna kill us, that’s all.” He stepped closer. “Can’t you see that? You posing hillbilly? The spill’s given it a—a lean season. It’s sick, and it’ s hungry, and …”
He glanced at the corpse. “We probably just killed its mate.”
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Wayne Kyle Spitzer is an American writer, illustrator, and filmmaker. He is the author of countless books, stories and other works, including a film (Shadows in the Garden), a screenplay (Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows), and a memoir (X-Ray Rider). His work has appeared in MetaStellar—Speculative fiction and beyond, subTerrain Magazine: Strong Words for a Polite Nation and Columbia: The Magazine of Northwest History. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Eastern Washington University, a B.A. from Gonzaga University, and an A.A.S. from Spokane Falls Community College. His recent fiction includes The Man/Woman War cycle of stories as well as the Dinosaur Apocalypse Saga. He lives with his sweetheart Ngoc Trinh Ho in the Spokane Valley.