Phantom in the Pines by R.K. Latch
Henry Lawton is a young man in 1930’s Mississippi. He works for his father in the family moonshining business and is one of the best bootleggers around.
He is secretly in love with the granddaughter of a woman the locals consider a true-to-life witch. So he has plenty to keep him busy.
But, when a relentless federal agent enlists the aid of the corrupt local sheriff, things take a turn for the worse. Lives and families are destroyed.
As the death toll mounts and the situation grows dire, perhaps the only thing that can fight man’s evil is the supernatural.
When the spirit of the trees walks free, evil runs in fear.
Targeted Age Group:: All audiences
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 3 – PG-13
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I live around a huge pine forest. Sometimes you see things that aren't really there. Then I got to thinking, what if they were. And the book mostly grew from that.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Like all writers, I think the characters in my story are amalgamations of people I've known in life and that I've met in other stories.
The corpse swayed gently in the summer breeze. Dangling legs half-danced to a tune only the dead could hear. A thick cloud of fat green flies buzzed about.
Hanged by the neck from a tall oak tree just off his driveway, old Jeb Fowler died within eyeshot of his tiny clapboard shack.
It was hot out. Too damn hot for a dead body to waltz upon the wind.
Three men, two of them brothers, stood with wide eyes. They took in the sight, unable to look away. Something like this, once seen, couldn’t be unseen. It stayed with you, always, like a scar.
“Cut him down,” Cletus Mayhart said.
“How long you reckon he’s been up there?” Judd Mayhart, Cletus’ younger brother, wondered aloud. Despite the heat, Judd was chilled to the bone. He’d liked the old coot, as far as old coots went.
Cletus considered. It was hard to say. Jeb’s skin was light blue in spots, sunburnt a mad red in others. Hands blackened, pooled with blood. In life, Old Jeb had been a thin man, rail-thin, but now he was about twice his usual size. An old, wrinkled face stretched so tight the few wrinkles remaining were nothing but faint lines. His eyeballs bulged and his tongue, swollen like a sausage, lolled out.
The skin split apart in a couple of spots, revealing the meat beneath.
“Too long, I’d say, hoss,” Mudbug Johnson finally answered in his half-Creole, half-southern bumpkin way. “Too damn long.” Mudbug was the oldest of the trio. Both brothers often looked up to him despite only coming to town recently. Well, as much as boys like them looked up to anyone, he reckoned.
Mudbug, not his given name, of course, stood a head over six foot tall and almost as broad in the shoulders. He was a fighter. Not a professional boxer, not even a streetfighter. He took jobs from those that paid well, and in the course of the job, there always arose an occasion to brawl. He didn’t mind it a bit. In fact, he rather enjoyed it. When not pursuing his duties, he was laid back and didn’t seem to get excitable about too much of anything at all.
Raised on the Louisiana coast in a tiny village no one had ever heard of, he’d walked away at age twelve and never looked back. It had been a hard row to hoe, him on his own, but he managed as best he could. Things changed when he hit his first growth spurt. Then, when his muscles began filling out within the year, things got a bit easier, and he’d traveled that path ever since. From here to there, looking for any piece of the action.
Abruptly, Judd turned and strolled over to the edge of the trees that flanked the drive within a few half dozen feet, took a few halting steps toward a thicket of honeysuckle, leaned forward with his hands on his knees, and spewed his guts.
The stench of the cooked and decaying body was acrid. Just a hair’s breadth past what Judd could stomach.
Stomach voided, Judd wiped his mouth clean with the back of his hand. He stood up and drank in a lungful of clear, untainted air. Then, willing his stomach to settle, Judd stood still and straight. He shivered slightly. He needed a moment. Just a minute to settle his nerves and his jiggly guts.
A silent flash in the corner of his eye. From beyond the tree line.
At first, his mind couldn’t decipher what he saw. Was there someone out here with them? Was whoever put Jeb up in that tree still out here?
He took a few steps forward, mindful of sidestepping the sick splattered on the ground at his feet. Peering deeper into the woods, Judd saw nothing out of place. The trees grew thick, and the floor of the woods was covered in wild, flowing green: vines of sumac, honeysuckle, and all other manner of thriving plants.
Judd thought about hollering for Cletus. He quickly thought better of it.
Had he really been spooked so easily? Judd was no hero, but neither was he a coward. He took a couple more steps to the tree line.
“Judd, damn it, boy, taking a coffee break?” his brother called. “Get your ass over here and give us a hand.” With eyes glued to the trees in front of him, Judd raised his hand and waved, without turning to his brother or Mudbug…or Jeb’s body.
Still, he saw nothing. Maybe he’d seen nothing in the first place. That was probably it. His nerves, already frayed from fighting with his ole lady this morning—she’d caught him stepping out on her, so she decided to return the favor, permanently—then finding Jeb hanging the way they did. It had to be his mind playing tricks on him.
A blur flew by right before his eyes. A breath escaped him, and he took a step back on instinct.
He saw nothing more. With eyes peeled, he took in the whole scene in front of him. Nothing but pines and oaks and lots and lots of underbrush. He saw nothing, no sign of anything. All he saw was a giant hornet’s nest but with no hornets. He didn’t see a single squirrel, no rabbits, no sign of life whatsoever. There was not even birdsong on such a lovely, sunny morning. The silence and absence of any wild thing seemed wrong.
Judd felt hot, like too much blood had run too fast to his brain. His skin was clammy to the touch. Then, the chills were gone, replaced by something else.
“Screw this,” he muttered under his breath.
Links to Purchase Print Book version – Click links for book samples, reviews and to purchase
Buy Print Edition at Amazon
Links to Purchase eBook version – Click links for book samples, reviews and to purchase
Buy this eBook On Amazon
Buy this eBook on Barnes and Noble for Nook
Buy this eBook on iBooks
Buy this eBook on Kobo
Buy this eBook on Smashwords
About the Author
Please join this author’s email list
For joining the author’s email/newsletter list you will get:
occasional free content
Learn more about the author on their website
Follow the author on Amazon
Follow the author on Social Media:
All information was provided by the author and not edited by us. This is so you get to know the author better.