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Deranged Souls: Supernatural Horror with Scary Ghosts & Haunted Houses (Haunted Village Series) Paperback – August 15, 2019
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From the Inside Flap
"What the hell is wrong with you?" Anthony asked.
"Damned knee," Kevin replied. "The pace is killing me."
"What the hell happened to your knee?" Guillermo asked.
"I fell," Kevin replied bitterly. "You see, I was trying to get into the Village the other night."
"When your brother went in," Anthony explained. "We wanted to go in for him, but they wouldn't let us."
Guillermo shook his head but remained silent.
"Anyway," Kevin continued. "They jerked me back, and I fell. Landed hard. Tweaked the absolute hell out of my knee."
"You should have let someone else take your spot," Guillermo said.
Kevin shook his head. "Nope. No way, no how. Not how I roll, you know that."
Guillermo hesitated and said, "I'll call an evac for you."
"No," Kevin said, not bothering to hide the disgust in his voice. "I'm not falling out."
"No," Guillermo said. "You've already fallen out. Take the ride, Kevin. I appreciate you trying to go in after Miguel for me."
Clenching his teeth, Kevin said, "Guillermo, I can make this."
"You can't," Guillermo replied. "Anthony and I will wait until you're picked up."
"No," Kevin said, shaking his head. "It's bad enough I have to ride back. No way I'm slowing up the patrol."
"Kevin," Anthony said.
"Stop," Kevin said. "Just stop. Listen, I know what to do. I'll wait for them."
"Not here," Guillermo said. "Not out in the open like this."
"Where then?" Kevin snapped.
"Back at where my brother was killed," Guillermo said tightly. "There's already a path in the snow from the site eval this morning. Shouldn't be difficult for them to get you."
"Yeah, fine," Kevin grumbled. "I'll even try out the new emergency kit they slapped together."
"I still don't like this," Guillermo said. "We should be sitting with you."
"He'll shoot us," Anthony said, and after a moment of shocked surprise, the three of them laughed. The tension vanished.
"Huh," Guillermo said and muttered something in Spanish. Then, continuing in English, he added, "I'm afraid you're right about that, Anthony."
"Damn straight," Kevin chuckled. "Go on, get out of here. I'll see you in the mess hall later. You idiots can buy me some beer and help me forget about this stupidity."
"Sounds good," Anthony said, and the two men waved as they walked away.
Grumbling and wincing, Kevin limped along their back trail. He kept the fence on his left, moving toward the new house where Miguel lay dead. It took him several long, painful minutes, but when he reached it, he felt better. He stopped near the hidden gate, switched his radio to the proper channel, and said, "Alpha One Tertiary requesting evac for injury, copy?"
"Base copies Alpha One Tertiary," came the response a heartbeat later. "Location?"
"Exterior of new house. ETA?" Kevin asked.
"Fifteen, maybe twenty Mikes, copy?"
"I copy," Kevin answered. "Out."
He sighed and looked at the house. None of the lights were on, and the mid-morning sun made the building appear more depressing than sinister. Kevin slung his rifle and peered through the wrought iron fence. Miguel's body, he knew, was on the far side of the house, half-buried beneath the snow from the previous evening.
Without thinking, Kevin limped to the gate and opened it.
He remained outside the perimeter, looking in.
Can I make it in? he wondered. Could I get around the house and bring him out? Would anyone notice?
Kevin glanced at the cameras positioned on various center posts. They were hardwired, and the malfunction was corrected. Which means I can't get in without being seen.
That's not the real issue, though. Not at all. He shook his head. No, the real issue is getting in without the dead figuring out I'm there. Hell, they don't even have a cause of death. Or at least they're not telling us anything about it.
Kevin sighed angrily. A dissatisfaction for the job was growing in him. Life had been easier when the company was in Afghanistan, hunting down Mujahideen for private companies.
Hell, we took fewer casualties then, Kevin thought, frowning bitterly.
"Hello," a woman said from behind him.
Kevin spun around, put too much weight on his sore knee and collapsed on his backside.
An attractive young woman stood in front of him. Her expression was one of mild curiosity. She was dressed in light clothing, and although there was a slight wind blowing, neither her clothes nor her hair was bothered by it.
Dead, Kevin thought, bringing his shotgun into position. She frowned as he squeezed the trigger. The weapon roared, and the dead woman vanished.
"Alpha One Tertiary, we have report of a shot fired. Status?" Command demanded.
"One female ghost, disrupted," Kevin said. Something struck him in the back of the helmet, knocking him forward into the snow. The blow was followed by more, and he let out a scream of pain as one landed against the back of his injured knee.
Laughter filled the air as he twisted around, trying to get his shotgun free from beneath him. Shots rang out, and the dead woman vanished again, dropping the length of wood she had been using as a bludgeon.
"Foolish." The word came from behind him again, and Kevin twisted, tried to find a target, and failed. A second later, the board appeared in his peripheral vision. It smashed through his visor, driving safety glass into his eyes as the wood shattered his nose and broke his front teeth.
More shots were fired as Kevin collapsed to one knee, dropping his shotgun before trying to claw the glass out of his face.
He felt cold air rush around him, and then he screamed as pain exploded in his forehead. It felt as though someone was driving frozen nails into his skull, and he shuddered as he fell back. Unable to stand up, Kevin lay on his back, blind to the world as the nails were twisted back and forth in his head. He tried to focus, tried to think about anything, but all he heard was the firing rifles and a soft, satisfied sigh from the dead woman.
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Timmy's death is long and agonizing for Marcus. Joyce return to the village is good. The end of David, perfect. Gwen's presence as a way to inflict pain to Marcus is a little out. The end of Worthe's would be better if they explain how Nurse Schumpt got Marcus Aunt. Either way...a good ending.
Top international reviews
I really couldn't see how the series could be wrapped up so cleverly and succinctly, but of course we are talking about Ron Ripley, who, without doubt, is the best author in this genre.
I shall miss Marcus, Alex, Timmy and the rest of the host of interesting characters who were so skillfully developed throughout, even Abel who I began to picture as a Monty Burns lookalike!
It'll be a long time before I enjoy a read as much as this.