DSPP Author B. A. Tortuga has a new MM Horror / Paranormal tale book out:
Some ancient secrets are better left buried….
When Jacob Keys gets the call every man dreads, he leaves his Wyoming home to find his mother’s killer. A whole archaeological team in Sardinia is dead, all of the bodies accounted for—all but Caleb Paulsen, consummate scholar and Jacob’s former lover. In Italy, Jacob sets out to discover the cause of the tragedy. And to find Caleb.
Meanwhile, a shipment arrives for Jacob in Wyoming. Jacob’s friend, Ben Walking Turtle, and his partner, Sam MacDougal, retrieve the box… and with it, a ruthless and cunning entity that’s been biding its time.
From Sardinia to Wyoming, Phoenix to Denver, this lethal ancient evil travels toward its bitter last stand, leaving death and destruction in its wake.
None of the men who touch it will ever be the same.
First Edition published as Diggers by Dallas Coleman, from Torquere Press, 2008.
HONEST TO God, he was going to murder the little son of a bitch. Pick up a shovel, walk across the room, and just swing it hard enough that Patrick’s head went flying—stupid red curls picking up all the dust on the workroom floor.
For ten years, Jacob had been happy, left alone in his Wyoming mountains, spelunking and searching for artifacts and random gemstones, photographing and recording and going about his job, his life’s work. His calling. He’d survived floods and blizzards, pissed-off bears, lost tourists, and territorial cowboys. He’d been blistered and frozen, hungry and sick as a dog. He’d loved every fucking minute of it.
And all it took was one phone call from the pretentious little fuck to have the rangers come up to hunt him and drag his happy ass to Cheyenne to get on a plane headed for Phoenix. In August.
Fuck him raw.
He wasn’t really sure why Dr. Gee-I-Sign-Your-Paychecks Hoder wanted him down here, besides just busting his balls. Of course, he probably would, had he been listening, but, goddamn, he was just a man made of flesh and bone, and God knew Hoder begged to be beaten soundly about the head and shoulders.
“…even listening to me? Goddammit, Plant! Can’t you get your head out of the altitude long enough to function?”
Of course, killing might be too good for the little fuck. “Why am I here, Hoder?”
“I’ve been telling you.” Patrick sighed, stormed across the room toward a little laptop set up near a pile of what he’d imagined were chicken bones, possibly guinea hens, something used in ritual, he’d bet, from the scattered markings on them.
“Is it AV club time already?” He couldn’t control the jibe. Patrick and he had graduated together, Patrick taking the scholastic route while he headed straight for the action.
“Shut up and come here, Jacob.” There was something in that voice, something a little odd, a little off. Something enough to make him curious and have him heading over to look at the little screen, tilting it to lose the glare. “Not too hard, the hinges are twitchy.”
He waved Patrick off, frowning at what he thought he was seeing. No. No, it couldn’t be. He squatted down, knees and new jeans creaking in harmony. The photo was blurred, fuzzy, but there was a stone wall, bones seemingly sunk into the rock. The bones themselves weren’t the fascination, though. Bodies had been interred in caves from the beginning of the human age. No, what fascinated him was the structure.
“Are those…?” He looked up into Patrick’s face, got the nod. Wings. Those bone structures were huge wings that appeared fused on the bony scapulae. Insane. Obviously a hoax. Undoubtedly a hoax.
A well-done hoax.
“These came in from an expedition in Sardinia. A series of caves were unearthed during some excavation of a nuraghe. They reached the bottom of the cavity and the stones literally crumbled away.”
“Yeah?” Like it mattered. He didn’t work overseas. Not his specialty. Not his problem.
“They spent three days down there, cataloging and recording, while we negotiated with the Italian government. I received the downloads a week ago with the initial findings. Photos, measurements. The bones are old enough to have fused with the cave wall. There’s no evidence the site’s been tampered with.”
“Okay? So?” He couldn’t imagine yet how they got the wings to merge so seamlessly; to build such a delicate structure spoke of amazing craftsmanship, patience. And if this find predated the nuraghi? That meant four-thousand-year-old craftsmanship.
Still, not his find and no reason to pull him off his mountain, but fascinating nonetheless.
“They received the go-ahead from the government, started excavating with a signor Carlo Monteverde.” He clicked the cursor, and more images appeared. The nuraghe’s exterior had been shot—the irregular elliptical-shaped fascia common for the ancient Mediterranean towers, the stones resting against one another, providing the support for the massive structure. Jacob grinned, chewed on his bottom lip. He always thought they looked like tits, honestly. Weird little Sardinian tits. Another photo of the inner cavity showed the south-facing entrance glowing with a yellow light, funneling the sun in and lighting the entire interior. All fairly typical of the stone mounds that had brought archaeologists to the Mediterranean for years. Then the images changed.
The cave below the floor level of the nuraghe was damp, the stone near black, which given the white sands of Sardinia was… unusual, to say the least. People started appearing in the photographs, a black-and-silver-haired man with skin as leathered as his own, a handful of young eager faces that were the mark of grad students on assignment. Typical. Normal. Boring.
“Wait, go back.” A familiar face caught his attention, a woman with blue eyes wreathed in heavy wrinkles, a blond-and-white braid as thick as his wrist, and the finest archaeologist’s hands on earth for the last seventy years. “Annie. What the hell is Annie doing out there?”
“Dr. Key was leading the party. Sort of a last hurrah.” Patrick wouldn’t meet his eyes, and he knew why. The asshole knew Annie had terminal lung cancer, knew the doctors had told her to take it easy, try to let the chemo work. Let her body try to recover from fifty years of those evil-smelling cigars she smoked. Knew there was no way she ought to be gallivanting around Italy in the heat and….
“Was?” Oh. Oh, that was why they’d called him down.
“Was.” Patrick reached out, fingers squeezing his shoulder tight. “But that’s not all. I need you to listen to me, Jacob.”
“That’s not all? Is she dead? Is it…?”
Patrick squeezed harder, steadying him, digging into his skin. “They’re all gone, Plant. All of them. Dr. Key, Sheila Morgan, Rick Bay, Tony Underwood, Kathleen Harris, Carlo Monteverde. The police found all but one person in the group, dismembered, torn to bits, scattered over the cave.”
Jacob stood, the move sudden and sharp, sending his blood pressure down in a rush. There was no way. No way. “Who…?”
Who did this? Who was left? What the hell was going on?
BA Tortuga, Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, spends her days with her basset hounds, getting tattooed, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting, and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.
Having written everything from fist fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery ménages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head.