Genre: Horror, Dark Fantasy Publisher: The Wild Rose Press Publication Date: December 8, 2017
Vincent must find the Spitting Post, but only the purple swan knows the way.
Vincent Carpenter’s life is a wreck. He has given up his dreams. He has lost his job after an economic disaster. His ten-year marriage is crumbling. Then he awakens in a maniacal land of frighteningly vivid realism with skull trees, glowing forests, ravenous beasts, and other psychologically haunting adversity.
While traveling through this demented unearthly world, he has a chance encounter with a beautiful maiden dressed in green; before he can start a conversation, she disappears into the unknown. Vincent must try to find her at a fantastical place known as the Spitting Post. But first he must overcome many macabre misfortunes and face nightmares that question his sanity. Will he reach her? What will the Spitting Post reveal? Will he suffer more disappointment and tragedy? Or will he find peace at last?
Vincent Carpenter isn’t having a good day. It’s the weekend and he forgot to turn off his alarm. When he rolls out of bed, he’s surprised to see that his wife, Erika, isn’t there. When he does find her, he mentions the dinner reservations he’d made for their tenth anniversary but she doesn’t want to go. What follows is a slow trip down a rabbit hole to the land of the mundane.
Until it isn’t.
Suddenly, he awakens in a strange world where nothing is normal. From the glowing forests to the skull trees, Vincent is lost in a world that would rival the minds of some modern masters of the macabre. A chance meeting with the Green Maiden forces Vincent through this nightmare world in search of a place called the Spitting Post but to get there, he must face some intense nightmares that could destroy even the strongest of psyches.
I had no idea what to expect when I started reading this story and I found it as intriguing as it was disturbing and that’s a good thing. With each new ordeal/event, Vincent finds himself more immersed in his nightmares, and we as readers, gain a bit more information. So much so that once you reach the end (Spoilers!), you’ll find yourself going back to reread sections again.
For when you do: “You must rethink everything you thought you knew. You must let your mind go back to the beginning and reconsider what it is you thought was truth, what you thought was reality, and what you thought was a dream,” and even then, THE SPITTING POST will surprise you.
When night settled in, the trees began their song of despair and completely blocked out any other noise. This is great, I thought. The beast could be right on me, and I would never even hear it. But the trees continued their sad symphony just the same.
With the thought of the beast ripping at my body and consuming my insides and the tree’s wailing, I found myself at the edge of lunacy. When dawn finally broke, the trees stopped their wailing, and the silence became deafening yet again. At last, peace and quiet. I picked myself up from the madness and marched onward. I was not a bit hungry, and my stomach was far too nervous for breakfast, so I went without. I also knew this would save time. One extra moment in this place was one too many.
Again I found my thoughts racing as fast as my feet. It would be a complete triumph when I escaped this land, or so I thought. If only I could make it to the bridge, then maybe I would be safe. As I raced on like a frightened animal about to become the beast’s dinner, I thought about the townspeople. I hoped they were safe in their new home far from here; I felt empathy for them knowing what fear the beast inspired.
I was lost in thought when again I heard the violin’s call. It was close this time—too close. I stopped and surveyed the land with terrified eyes, growing more anxious with each passing note. The ambient tune working itself into a manic frenzy. Can’t they shut up? With that racket the beast would find us, and I knew what would happen when it did. There would be no more violin playing for that musician, and I would never find The Green Maiden.
I scanned the countryside for the insane violinist and spotted him on a small hill just to my right. When I saw his ghastly appearance, I almost wished I hadn’t found him. He was a stout man dressed in total blackness with a red violin resting against his shoulder. His skin was a brilliant white, as white as a bed sheet. On his head was a black top hat, and he wore a twisted grin on his porcelain face.
“What are you doing?” I yelled. “It will hear us!”
The man said nothing and kept playing his maddening melody.
“Are you crazy?”
The man opened his mouth wide and without moving his lips, he said, “Precisely.”
Then he began to cry tears of blood, yet still he played. The blood rolled down his face and pooled on the grass. Then I came to a grotesque realization. He was not playing for amusement; he was calling the beast.
About Jason R. Barden
Jason R. Barden began writing poetry around the age of thirteen. At age thirty three he decided to transition into fiction writing with his first novel The Spitting Post. In addition to writing he enjoys hiking and photography. Jason lives in Fort Worth, Texas where he is currently working on a collection of his poems.