Date Published: May 31, 2017
Publisher: Darkwater Syndicate, Inc.
Vincent, a musical prodigy, is caught up in a concert rivalry with a former student. He travels to Romania to settle the score, but what he discovers is the horrific true story behind the song his protégé wrote, “The Man in the Forest.” Supernatural phenomena and horrific sights abound, but the locals are tight-lipped about the mysterious goings-on. Can Vincent and his group upstage their rival, or will they fall prey to the curse of the man in the forest?
Behind him, in the hallway leading to the front door, he heard a light pattering of footsteps. He looked over his shoulder. The footsteps stopped, but he couldn’t see anyone in the doorway. Out of the corner of his eye he detected movement in the hall, but turned in time only to catch a shadow scurry away.
It had been a small shadow—a child perhaps? But what would children be doing so far out in the forest without their parents, and this late at night?
Vincent chased after the shadow, but when he got to the hall, nothing was there. Just then he heard something behind him. He quickly turned and caught a glimpse of what looked like the ventriloquist’s dummy—what was his name? Johnny Nelson—skipping to the stairs and out of sight. Vincent’s eyes grew wide.
Vincent ran through the living room to the stairs. He froze upon hearing a childlike laugh and looked up. The puppet stood at the balcony with its face in between the rails, leering at him. It looked exactly like the one in the painting.
First taking a breath to steady himself, Vincent climbed the stairs, the doll watching him all the while with tiny, creaking movements of its wooden eyes.
All at once the lights in the cabin went out, blanketing the house in shadow. He heard the pattering of small feet run down the second story hall. Vincent halted midway up the stairs and listened… nothing.
Then the lights blinked back on. Vincent ascended the rest of the stairs to the second story balcony. Johnny Nelson was gone without a trace.
Further down the hall, Vincent noticed the door to Mary’s bedroom was ajar. The lights inside her bedroom flickered as though the electrical wiring had gone bad. He went to the door and pushed it open.
It was dark when he stepped inside, the light mounted in the fan providing only sporadic bursts of light. He reached up and flicked the light bulb, and it steadied. As he lowered his gaze, he caught sight of Johnny Nelson in the reflection in the mirror atop the dresser. Before Vincent could even react, there was a muffled pop and crunching of glass. He dove to the floor as shards of the light bulb in the fan rained down around him. “Vince!” Mary shrieked. “Are you okay?”
He looked over his shoulder from the ground. Mary and Tyler stood in the doorway.
Vincent got to his feet, but didn’t answer right away. The mirror in the dresser was little more than an empty frame with a wood backing, its glass having burst all over the dresser’s surface and the floor. On the backing, in red letters that looked too much like blood for Vincent’s liking, was written: “Johnny Wants To Play!”
About the Author
Born and raised in Central Florida, Michael Warriner pursued an early interest in learning music and creating characters in hand-drawn comic books. He began his career working simultaneously in the mental health industry and as a character performer at his local theme park. It was while pursuing his degree in Psychology that he began writing stories “just to kill time.” Before long, he had written two manuscripts. This developing interest in telling stories was further driven by his fascination with amateur filmmaking. By day, Michael now applies his education and training to assist clients diagnosed with mental illness. By night, he writes novels, and in his free time he composes music. He draws upon these varied interests to create unique characters and thrust them into memorable stories.