Is Netflix The New King Of Horror?

Netflix has been releasing a stunning series of original horror films for the past few years, making it a worthy competitor for Blumhouse, Ghost House, and Lions Gate. The democratization of horror distribution brought about by the explosion of streaming have led many talented indie directors to eschew the studio system and find a more flexible home with those who prefer to view first-run movies in their own homes rather than in a cinema.

As I grew up in the great ’70s era of drive-in features and grind house cinema, I have to say that the nostalgic part of me winces at the new trend, but as an avid consumer of pop culture horror, the bigger part of me is thrilled at the freedom given to young filmmakers who have found a new home at Netflix, which has been at the forefront of creative, quirky horror directors for some time now.

The impact has led to a new renaissance in horror, and the big studios have been racing to keep up. Even films with an indie feel like Jordan Peele’s Get Out and the upcoming Us are Universal Studio Productions. But for consistent quality productions, Netflix stands out.

Below are some of my favorite Netflix original horror films, movies that chilled me to the core in the quiet solitude of my own home.

HUSH (2016)

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Hush was a breakthrough film for the incredibly talented writer/director Mike Flannigan,  who later went on to direct a stunning series of original films for Netflix and is currently helming the much anticipated Doctor Sleep, Steven King’s sequel to The Shining.

Hush was a stunning film, rejecting many of the horror film tropes to focus on a strong, deaf female character. Not since 1967’s Wait Until Dark, has a film effectively dealt so compassionately with a disabled main character in the worst of situations.

Kate Siegel’s Maddie, a deaf author living in a secluded house in the woods, finds herself terrorized by a masked psychopath who takes perverse interest in her disability. The cat-and-mouse game that ensues not only highlights the ignorant perceptions regarding the deaf community, but also provides for one one the most nail-biting climaxes in modern cinema.

Hush is terrifying, captivating, and extremely well-crafted.

 

The Ritual (2017)

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David Bruckner’s The Ritual is one of those rare films that is considerably better than the novel upon which it is based. Adam Nevill’s novel left me a bit off-put. There were moments of excruciating tension that were undercut by a rather pedestrian subplot involving young death metal fans that just struck a wrong chord for me.  Bruckner wisely dumped the death metal line and focused straight in on the horror in his filmic version, tightening the focus and bringing everything down to the bare roots.

And in doing so, he brings to the forefront the major themes of regret, guilt, and buried secrets that, once unearthed, bring the story to a shattering conclusion. This is a film in the people-out-of-their-element-finding-themselves-lost-in-the-primal-woods-genre that pulls no punches.

A group of four friends with a dark secret heads off for a hike through the dark Scandinavian woods to encounter a malevolent evil that hunts them relentlessly. Bruckner strips the film down to the bare, mythic elements of what happens when we stray off the path.

 

Bird Box (2018)

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Susanne Bier’s new film Bird Box, based on the stunning novel by Josh Malerman, brings nail-biting horror to a new level. Jumping back and forth between the arrival of strange entities on Earth who drive any who see them to violent suicide and the post-apocalyptic world five years later, Bird Box is a harrowing tale of survival, family, and very, very hard choices.

The film opens in a moment of excruciating tension as Sandra Bullock bluntly explains to her young children that they must keep their eyes shut and covered once they venture outside or else they will die. It’s a jarring and brutal opening to a stark and relentless film. Th jump back to five years earlier is no less jarring, as the world teeters on the edge of collapse as the bizarre suicides reach pandemic proportions. Bird Box takes the familiar small group of people under siege theme and creates some surprising twists, brining a fresh perspective to a time-worn narrative.

The cast is stellar, the direction sharp and tense, and the creeping sense of paranoia absolutely infectious. Like many of the films in this list, this movie saturates viewers in paranoia and danger, but ultimately ends with a sense of sacrifice, family bonds and hope.

 

Hold the Dark (2017)

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Jeremy Saulnier has  been on my radar for some time now. His psychological revenge film Blue Ruin left me breathless and his follow-up Green Room completely blew me out of the water.  Moving to Netfilix Originals, he expanded his filmic exploration of the impotent ritual of masculine revenge to a larger, mythic arena of cosmic forces and primal drives.

Set in a remote village in Northern Alaska, the film begins with the arrival of Russel Core (Jeffrey Wright), an expert on wolves who has been contacted by a young mother who claims that her son has been killed by a wolf pack haunting the village. The aptly-named Core has his own tragic history with his daughter, and agrees to hunt down the wolves, even though he has qualms about the whole endeavor.

What follows is a wintry tale as twisted as they come. Core soon discovers that the wolves aren’t responsible for the boy’s death. The father returns from active duty in the Middle East to exact his own revenge. Things escalate rapidly, and the body count rises.

What makes Saulnier such an amazing director is his exquisite detail in both intimate scenes of dialogue and long periods of silence that underscore the remote landscape of the film. When the violence erupts, it is all the more shocking. Not to give anything away, but an extended shoot-out in the middle of the film hits you like a sucker punch to the gut. Solnier doesn’t romanticize the violence… he shows the carnage, chaos, confusion, and raw pain for what it is.

To say any more about the film would be a travesty, as part of the joy of watching is being continually surprised by the twists and turns in the story, which can ultimately be summed up by Core’s explanation of “savaging” as a trait in pack animals. Watch the film to see his explanation and how it extends to the animal nature in humans as well.

 

The Haunting (2018)

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I’ve saved my favorite for last. Yes, this is a one-shot series rather than a feature film, but Mike Flannigan’s ten episode thriller is as exquisitely-crafted as any horror film this year. Loosely based on Shirley Jackson’s famous novel, this series takes off in a different direction while remaining true to the core of the original story.

Flashing back and forth between the present and the past, Hill House lays out the story of one family whose lives are forever altered by the odd and terrifying events in the crumbling old house they move into, hoping to renovate and flip it.

I’ve never seen the long-standing effects of childhood trauma played out so effectively and so believably in a horror film. All ghost stories are about the past living on in the present, and Hill House locks its focus on the horrifying legacy of trauma throughout the lives of Crain family, who each find their own dysfunctional way to navigate the horrors of their childhood: drug addiction, morbid attractions to death, sex addiction, writing horror stories… all serve only to push the horror back into the corners where it lies in wait for moments of vulnerability.

By the time the series reached its conclusion, a conclusion that deviates from Jackson’s novel by the changing of a single word of voice-over, I was tearing up, emotionally wrought by the sense of hope in the most hopeless of situations. For a year as dark as 2018 has been, Flannigan’s emphatic emphasis on hope makes Hill House stand head and shoulders above other horror films this year for its bold and unapologetic courage.

Best Lines In Crime Cinema

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Any attempt to list the best lines from any film genre is destined to provoke outrage and protest from readers. With that in mind, I’m audaciously throwing my hat into the ring and listing my five favorite bits of dialogue from crime and noir cinema.

Taste, as critic Terry Eagleton has noted, is a very individual thing tied intrinsically to our own subject positions and experiences. What we most value is shaped by inescapable social ideologies. Our value judgements refer in the end not simply to private taste, but to the assumptions of specific social groups.

So allow me to lay bare my own assumptions regarding the essence of crime cinema and what makes for the best lines that encapsulate either specific characters or the overall worldview of the gritty cinematic world.

I’ve avoided the better-known one-liners, the lines that jump out for their punchy memorability in favor of the ones that reflect philosophically on the themes of the films and give viewers pause to consider all that is implied in the well-crafted words. It’s all about context, friends.

In case you haven’t seen these films, be warned, for unavoidable spoilers follow.

 

THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE (1973)

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Eddie Coyle, the protagonist of this marvelous film based on the George V. Higgins novel, is a character straight out of Greek Tragedy.  A hopeless loser struggling to survive in the Boston underground world of mafia business, smuggling, and gun-running, Eddie has spent a long life never catching a break, seeking out a semi-living on the outskirts of the criminal world in which he finds himself. He can’t make it as a crook, can’t make it as a police snitch … can’t make it, period. Towards the film’s conclusion, as he awaits sentencing for an illegal sale of machine guns in a failed police sting, he thinks he’s off to a Bruins game with Dillon, another crime figure, the night before the law lands on him with full force.

Eddie, getting progressively drunk as his sentencing deadline looms, assumes Dillon and his young protege are taking pity on him, luring him into a false sense of criminal community. As the game enters the third period, Coyle remarks on the young Bruins player Bobby Orr:

“Can you imagine being a kid like that? What is he, 24 or something? Greatest hockey player in the world. Number four – Bobby Orr. Geeze, what a future he’s got, huh?”

Coyle extols nostalgically on the prospects of Orr’s future in a moment of tragic identification, secure in the knowledge that even though he was headed to prison, he still had his friends, never suspecting that Boyle was going to kill him later that night and leave his body outside a bowling alley in Dorchester.

This line perfectly captures Coyle’s role as the tragic figure in this tale, a man who never caught a break, yet never gave up hope.

 

THE THIRD MAN (1949)

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Harry Lime, the mysterious antagonist of Carol Reed’s post-war noir masterpiece, The Third Man, may well be one of the most engaging, charming, and throughly soulless villains in cinema. Lime, as played by Orson Welles, has relatively little screen time in the film, but his presence shadows every moment of the story.

As the film’s hero Holly Martins (played by Joesph Cotton) attempts to solve the mystery of his friend Lime’s supposed death, the horrifying truth of who his friend had become over the course of the war hammers him. Lime became increasingly involved in the Vienna black market, eventually selling diluted penicillin that caused severe brain damage to the children of the city.

When he finally confronts Lime, he listens to his friend’s rationalization for his behavior in one of the greatest moments in all of film dialogue:

“Don’t be so gloomy. After all, it’s not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

Lime’s justification wonderfully sums up the sociopathy created by war and horror, and cuts off any simplistic rejoinder from Martins. The insane logic of crimes of war and profit have never been expressed so powerfully in cinema.

 

 

M (1931)

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Fritz Lang’s masterpiece of German expressionism and critical social analysis is more than just a film that routinely shows up on film school syllabi.  It’s an astoundingly fresh, thoroughly engrossing film that rivals the best crime thrillers of today.

Peter Lorre plays Hans Beckert, a horrifying sociopathic serial killer driven by a compulsion to murder children in Berlin. His murders send the criminal underworld of the city upside down, as the increased police investigations begin to hamper their illegal trade. Lang’s film is firmly centered on the tensions between crimes of profit and crimes of compulsion, and at the conclusion, a kangaroo court of the criminal underworld eventually captures Beckert- not out of any sense of moral decency, but rather to allow them to continue to operate out of the eyes of the police. As Beckert is held accused by the heads of the city’s organized crime network, he utters a pitiful articulation of the difference between those who kill under a psychological compulsion and those who kill merely for profit:

“It’s there all the time, driving me out to wander the streets, following me, silently, but I can feel it there. It’s me, pursuing myself! I want to escape, to escape from myself! But it’s impossible. I can’t escape, I have to obey it. I have to run, run… endless streets. I want to escape, to get away! And I’m pursued by ghosts. Ghosts of mothers and of those children… they never leave me. They are always there… always, always, always!, except when I do it, when I… Then I can’t remember anything. And afterwards I see those posters and read what I’ve done, and read, and read… did I do that? But I can’t remember anything about it! But who will believe me? Who knows what it’s like to be me? How I’m forced to act… how I must, must… don’t want to, must! Don’t want to, but must! And then a voice screams! I can’t bear to hear it! I can’t go on! I can’t… I can’t…”

 

These lines are remarkable in that they, for a moment, elicit sympathy for the most heinous, unsympathetic of characters, due solely to Lang’s intricate and biting social satire. In a cinematic world populated by charismatic sociopathic madmen, Lorre’s performance of Beckert as a craven, cowardly, sweaty ball of pathological insecurities does more to drive home the ultimate horror of the fractured class divisions of German Weimar culture (and by extension all Western culture) than all the Hannibal Lecters and Patrick Batemans that followed in his wake.

 

CHINATOWN (1974)

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This is my only one-liner on this list, but it’s a killer that I couldn’t resist. Chinatown may well be the best of the Neo-noir thrillers (yes, even better than LA Confidential), and if I picked one line that could sum up everything about the film, this would be it:

Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

 

Chinatown, a word that enigmatically represents what is happening at the core of the film, is more than just a reductive metaphor. As cultural critic Michael Davidson has noted, cold-war masculinity and sexuality were often couched in narratives supported by narratives of disability and ethnic “otherness.” The Chinatown metaphor in this film represents not only the inscrutability of racial tensions in pre-WW2 Los Angeles, but also the connections between the city’s growing power structure and decadent family secrets, deviance, and a level of personal and public perversion that operated while horrific stereotypes of Asian populations held the public’s attention.  The “Chinatown” of the quote refers ultimately not to the Chinese residents of the LA community, but to the corrupt power brokers who controlled the city.

 

THEGODFATHER (1972)

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And I’ve saved my favorite for last. The Godfather is the grandaddy of crime films, with a long list of memorable lines :

I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

We’re going to the mattresses.”

“Lucca Brazzi sleeps with the fishes.”

But for me, the best line of the film is also the best in all of crime cinema. Abe Vigoda, playing Tessio, an underboss in the Corleone family, proves to be the final betrayer of Michael (Al Pacino) as Michael cements his role as the new Godfather.

After arranging for a meeting between Michael and the head of a competing Mafia family in which Michael will be killed, Tessio heads to the cars, believing that Michale has fallen for his ruse. He is stopped and informed that the plans have changed and he needs to get in the car without Michael. Tessio pauses for a moment, then realizes what is happening. The shift in Abe Vigoda’s face, the subtle shift from confidence to fear to resignation is so swift that it’s almost hard to catch. But when he turns to the family consigliere (Robert Duvall), his face betrays just a hint of hope in the most hopeless of situations as he says:

“Tom, can you get me off the hook? For old time’s sake?”

The scene could be a master class in crime cinema. The little, hopeless smile Vigota gives before saying “for old time’s sake,” the double take he gives before the line, the way his features fall in resignation of his fate all serve to represent the life of an aging mafia soldier who has finally entered his last battle and will go out according to the mafioso code. There is no fight, no gunplay, no histrionics. Just a man who knows he has outlived his ambitions and is prepared to pay the price. I would practically sell my soul to be able to write such a subtle, yet all-powerful line.

 

Book Buying Extravaganza!

Hi everyone. Just a quick reminder in case you haven’t heard that the RRBC Holiday Pop Up Bookshop is up and running through December 16. This is a wonderful chance to do some holiday shopping for those you love… or for yourself. So many great authors, so much great writing to choose from. Support your indie authors today! My novel, Blood Moon Fever, is featured (and yes, you can see me doing a short reading from on the Author Reading Room page) along with some other fantastic writers from all genres.

https://bit.ly/2SEDpJg

Love For Indie Authors

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I wanted to take some time to appreciate some of the immensely talented indie authors you may not have heard of yet. The world of independent publishing has been a wonderful boon to writers, but getting their works out to the public can be a Sisyphean challenge for writers seeking an audience.

Doing my part to support other indie authors, here’s a short list of novels I’ve found that tickled my terror bone and left me with a sense of wonder at the largely unsung talents striving in the much-neglected world of indie authorship.  Read these wonderful writers and enjoy the shudders to follow.

 

HOUNDED: ELLIE DOUGLASS

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I don’t know what it is about dogs that can inspire such primal fear. I’ve been a dog lover my entire life and have a wonderful, lovable old Akita who is my constant companion. But still… there are moments when I realize that the loving pet in my home could rend me to pieces if the situation were different. Ellie Douglass has tapped into that primal fear and produced one of the scariest, goriest, all-out canine horror-fests I’ve ever encountered.

Douglass’ Hounded is a zombie novel, but unlike most, the zombies aren’t human. Something has turned the dogs of the world into slavering, ravenous zombies. The pandemic virus SB 16 has sent over two thirds of the global population into irreversible comas while turning the canine population into savage beasts. A small band of survivors try to fend of the hideous furry beasts, and then a stunning twist sends the novel spinning into a nightmare beyond the nightmare.

And a nightmare it is. Douglass rides that oh-so-fine line of balancing wonderful writing and fully-developed characters with fascinatingly intertwined backstories and grisly gore.  Those who poo-poo ultra-violent novels without giving them a fair chance should really discover Douglass. Her writing is fresh, vivid, and graphic. This is a novel for both gore-hounds (pun intended) and lovers of exquisitely crafted prose in horror fiction. I give my highest recommendation (even though I envy her for her talent in lending class and pathos to the splatter novel).

 

SECOND CHANCES: AARON D BRINKER

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I’m a huge fan of the thriller/horror genre, but the books I like best are the ones that ground the thrills and scares in psychological and ethical issues. Second Chances does just that. Chaun Hutchins is a man haunted by many things in life: a dysfunctional marriage, anxieties over becoming a father, and a fateful few words before a tragic accident that follow him through the novel like vengeful ghosts. There are ghosts in this novel, to be sure, but the most potent and horrifying haunting is the haunting of regret, resentment, and trauma.

This is a novel of quiet horror, horror for readers who enjoy having their minds played with by a talented author with a keen sense of suspense and pacing.  A stunning achievement for author Aaron Brinker.

THE CIMMERIANS: THERSA JACOBS

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Theresa Jacobs’ The Cimmerians is a wonderfully eerie novel that had me fighting the urge to look over my shoulder while reading. The opening poem that begins the novel is wickedly eerie and sets the tone for the ghosty and ghastly events that follow. I was taken by the central character, Emersyn, from the beginning as she attempts to leave her troubled New York Past behind and begin anew in a small Midwestern town. Unfortunately, she quickly discovers that the house she moved into was the scene of a suicide ten years prior. Rumors around town were that the young woman killed herself in a state of grief and shock after discovering a grisly scene at the home of her boyfriend. As Emersyn digs deeper into the mystery, she discovers hints of shadowy figures who may have been haunting the deceased. As she peels back the layers of the onion, she unwittingly releases an ancient evil and finds herself in a frantic fight for her life.

This novel has all of my favorite things: ghostly figures, a haunted house, a compelling mystery, and strong characters that I truly cared about. A wild ride through a landscape as surreal as the paintings of the main character, Crowley’s Cult twists and turns through multiple realities of horror, sacrifice, occultism, and erotic extremes. If you like a good shuddery tale well told, give this one a try.

CROWLEY”S CULT: ANDREA MERCHAK

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A wild ride through a landscape as surreal as the paintings of the main character, Crowley’s Cult twists and turns through multiple realities of horror, sacrifice, occultism, and erotic extremes. Renowned painter Zane Kelly is forced to flee with fiancee Olivia from a terrifyingly omnipresent stalker and winds up unwittingly involved in the resurrection of ancient and malignant forces. The novel’s breakneck pace took me on the wildest of rides through scenes of surreal mystery and depraved violence.

The occult themes in the novel are exquisitely portrayed, as Zane and Olivia descend ever deeper into a world turn upside down. Balancing the line between the truly perverted and the gorgeously poetic, Merchak’s writing reminds me very much of the young Clive Barker, who explored the Janus face of pain and pleasure like no other before. Crowley’s Cult has well earned a special place in the pantheon of erotic horror.

 

THE DEAD GAME: SUSANNE LEIST

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Susanne Leist’s The Dead Game offers a new take on an old horror trope.  The novel is set in a world of fascinating polarities represented by the idyllic-sounding Florida beach community ironically named Oasis and the aptly named End House. While very quickly in the novel, readers find that the hopes connoted by the name Oasis prove to be a shimmering mirage obscuring the hideous forces at work, End House couldn’t have a more apt name.

The town’s pristine beaches become stained by corpses that have a disturbing habit of washing up on shore. People disappear on the town’s dark streets. An abandoned haunted house looks down on the town, holding untold horrors within its walls. A plethora of vampires (a combination of the good, the bad, and the ugly) find themselves locked in a chilling game of strategy, vying for survival and control.

Leist combines so many fascinating elements of the horror genre in this novel that the end result is an all-out assault on the nerves: vampires, a haunted house, betrayal, romance amidst the paranormal chaos, a sleepy beach community that hides a terrible secret, creatures out of your worst nightmare.  Those are the ingredients for a cracking good horror tale, and Leist serves up a deliciously chilling and thrilling meal with this one.

Leist’s strong, intelligent female characters add much to this chilling breakout novel, and her wonderful attention to detail and uncanny description add much depth to the compelling narrative.  As I’ve said above, I’m a reader who is willing to follow authors damned near anywhere as long as they give me characters that I can believe in, who are well-developed and engaging.  Leist scores high marks on all points in this regard.  I took in this novel in one great gulp, not setting it down until the heart-stopping conclusion.

Read, if you dare, and enjoy the nightmares that follow! And please remember to write an Amazon or GoodReads review.

 

 

Sample Chapter from Blood Moon Fever

In a shameless act of self-promotion, here’s a sample chapter of my werewolf thriller Blood Moon Fever. In the novel, FBI agent David Goodwin isn’t having a good month. Sent on a manhunt after escaped felon ‘Hard Time Jake’ Griffon, he finds he has bitten off more than he can chew as he moves from the wooded Northern California wilderness to the mean streets of LA in pursuit of a man who has become something beyond human.

During Griffon’s bloody prison break, something happened in the woods of the Modoc Forest. Something inhuman. Something evil. Something terrifying.

Now, as the full moon prepares to rise over the City of Angels, Goodwin must piece together elements of a puzzle involving a fugitive on the run, a crooked lawyer, a violent drug cartel, and a string of bloody corpses left in the wake of an ancient terror now awake and hungry for fresh carnage.

Below is a sample chapter…

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Goodwin sped through the night, weaving in and out of traffic as Chiha gripped the dashboard tightly, his face expressionless.

“He will be gone before we get there.”

Goodwin kept his eyes on the road, scanning for gaps between the cars as he blew past.

“Probably good. Forgot my silver bullets, anyway.”

“That is part of your mythology. If you shoot him in the head or heart, he will die the same as you. The type of bullet is not important.”

“You can be killed like that?”

Chiha considered.

“It is not easy. On your own, he will kill you before you even get to fire. He is as intelligent as you, but faster and stronger than you can imagine. But even a pure blood can be killed if wounded badly enough. We heal faster and can survive wounds that could kill a man, but we are mortal.”

“So you can kill him?”

“Yes, as he can kill me. But neither of us will get the chance to kill the other if we cannot find him. In the forest, I can track him anywhere. In this city … it is more difficult. I cannot find him without you.”

Goodwin pulled a hard right from the far left lane, leaving the squeal of tires and angry honking of horns in his wake.

“We’re stuck with each other, then.”

“It would appear so.”

***

Goodwin pulled up sideways in front of the Sons of Leather. Police cars and two ambulances blocked the right lane. Officers were questioning bar patrons and keeping onlookers at bay in the flashing red lights. A large man dressed in a shirt emblazoned with the bar logo sat on the curb while a young paramedic tended to a gash on his head while a patrolman took notes.  Goodwin listened in as he approached.

“I wouldn’t believe me either, man. But you didn’t see his face. Ask anyone, man.” He swept his arm to the shell-shocked witnesses huddled in groups on the sidewalk. “He jumped backwards on the bar like a fuckin’ cougar, then jumped halfway across the fuckin’ room. An’ his face … it fuckin’ changed, man. There some new drug on the street? ‘Cause whatever it is, count me fuckin’ out.”

The paramedic and the cop exchanged glances.

“C’mon guy. You got a concussion.” He helped the bouncer to his feet. “We’ll get you checked out, okay?”

Goodwin looked at Chiha. The paramedic walked the bouncer to the ambulance and helped him inside. Goodwin walked over to the detective, holding up his ID card.

“Special Agent Goodwin. This was Jake Griffon?”

“We don’t know exactly. The description that was called in fits, but then we show up and we got wits giving us conflicting descriptions of his face. All we know is the guy was leaping around the bar like Superman, took out three guys, jumps on the bar, then hightails it out the back door. One in the morgue, two in the hospital. We got cars combing the area looking for him.”

“How long’s he been gone?”

“Maybe twenty minutes.”

“Shit. Clothes?”

The detective flipped back a few pages in his notebook.

“Jeans. Sweatshirt. Baseball cap. No one’s sure of the colors. You know how it goes.”

“Thanks.” Goodwin turned to leave.

“Sure. One other thing though.”

Goodwin turned back to him.

“People think he was on some new kind of drug. Not just because of how he moved, but because his face … shit, I don’t believe this myself.”

“What about his face?”

“They said his face was … rippling. That’s their word, not mine. Rippling like waves. Fuckin’ crazy, huh?”

Goodwin said nothing, grabbing Chiha by the arm and steering him towards the bar.

“He ran out the back about twenty minutes ago. The cops have a rough description and are looking for him. From what they told me about his movements and energy, he’s probably sprinted to the city limits by now.”

“No. He will be tired.”

“What?” Goodwin asked, pulling him to a stop.

“When he becomes angry or frightened, he has already begun to change. But after, he will be weak. He will feel sick almost to the point of death. He may be close by, hiding until his strength returns. If we find him soon, he will be easier to take.”

“That’s great, but if the cops get to him first, they won’t know what they’ve got.”

“Take me into this building where he was fighting.”

“Why?”

“I can track him.”

“This is the city. There won’t be any tracks to follow.”

“I don’t mean footprints.” The irises of his eyes grew slightly larger, and his nostrils flared.

“Fine,” Goodwin hissed and steered him towards the bar.

Inside, a forensics unit was busy searching for evidence, anything that would positively identify Griffon as the instigator of the violence earlier that night. The band’s equipment was still on stage, the instruments laying where they had been dropped in the panic that set in once Griffon, if in fact it was him, had let loose. Goodwin steered Chiha to the bar.

“According to the witnesses, he jumped up on here before fleeing out the back. Apparently, he’s not too…”

He trailed off, staring open-mouthed at Chiha, who lowered his head a few inches off the bar top. He took a long, slow breath in through his nose and held it. From the other side of the room, the forensics people stopped what they were doing to stare. Chiha exhaled and moved towards the back door.

“I know,” he said.

“Know what?”

Chiha didn’t acknowledge the question, moving purposefully to the door. Goodwin followed as he pushed open the door and walked into the dark alley behind the bar. Chiha paused, holding up one hand. Goodwin stopped, opened his mouth to repeat the question, then closed it. Chiha slowly rotated his head from right to left, bent at the knees, and squatted on his haunches.

“You know what?” Goodwin asked again, irritated.

Chiha stood to his full height and peered into the darkness at the east side of the alley.

“It was him. I know which way he went.”

The back door banged open and one of the forensic team stepped into the alley.

“Who the hell are you guys?”

Goodwin held up his ID.

The man looked at the ID, then to Goodwin, and finally to Chiha.

“I know you’re a fed, but that guy sure the hell isn’t. What’s he…”

“He’s with me. Get back inside and do your damn job. Every minute you waste asking dumb questions, Griffon gets farther away.”

The forensic man blustered, “Yeah, but he isn’t supposed to be in here.”

Goodwin strode up inside his personal space, jamming the ID under his nose.

“This tells you all you need to know. The Bureau’s running this one, and I don’t have time for lab geek bullshit. I said he’s with me. Now get the fuck back inside.”

The forensic man stammered and blushed, then retreated back into the bar, no doubt headed for one of the detectives.

“I hope you know the hell what you’re doing,” Goodwin said as Chiha walked off down the alley and into the night.

Thanks for reading. Blood Moon Fever is available as a paperback on amazon or on kindle. https://amzn.to/2CZNKuy