Free Kindle Book Giveaway

I’ll be giving away several of my Kindle books for free starting tomorrow, 18 April 2019. I’ll also be selling my latest book, The Trail in the Woods for a reduced price for 5 days. I hope that everyone has a chance to get these books, The Killer Within, The Segmented Tail, and The Trail in the Woods

While you’re getting your books, check out my website at Stanleystraubauthor.com.  A good website with all the information about my writing.  Stop in and say hello.  Stan

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The Bookstore Find

One day long, long ago, I walked into a bookstore on Mainstreet USA.  I was in search of a book that would provide me with the wisdom of life.  My name is Bob Green, I’m eighteen years old, and I needed help in finding my way in life.  High School was a mere ten days behind me and I was about to start out on my own.  My family had kicked me out and said now that I was out of high school, it was time to become an adult and take care of myself.  They said that they had taught me everything I needed to know to make it in life as an adult.

That’s what my parents said but I felt differently.  After a swift kick out the door, I was standing on the street, and on my own.  I felt like a new-born bird that had just fallen from a tree and its mother was looking down saying bye.  I was still a baby and now I was on my own; my parents had deserted me.  I had no idea what I was going to do or even what I was doing.  My protected home life had come to an end and I was standing outside my house in the cold without a clue.

The door closed behind me and I felt the warmth of the books beckoning me.  The storekeeper looked up and smiled.  She asked me what I was looking for and if she could help me.  I thanked her and said I was just looking.  I didn’t want to tell her that I was lost and needed help to find my way.

I walked down the narrow aisles and found the “Self-help” book section.  Looking at all the titles made me feel more lost until I noticed a book that had a title that seemed to be made just for me.  The title was Are you lost?.   I reached over and took pulled the book from its resting place on the shelf.  Looking down at the book, I said to myself, self, I’m lost and hopefully this book will help me find myself.

I was oblivious to anyone else in the store as I opened the book and started looking at the pages.  I need help and here, right in my hands, was a book proclaiming to be my savior.  One of the first chapters I noticed was “How to Find Yourself”.  I jumped to the chapter and started reading.  I was so excited that I didn’t notice that I had company.  A young lady that looked to be about my age was standing right next to me.  She smiled and introduced herself.  “That looks like a book I need,” she said.  “Maybe we can explore it together.”  The warmth in her eyes made me feel right at home.

She introduced herself as Rhonda and said, “Let’s buy the book and take it to my place.”  I was caught completely off-guard by her suggestion and, although I found her attractive and before I had a chance to think, I was on my way to the shopkeeper to buy a book.  Rhonda and I walked out of that store hand in hand and with a book between us to explore.  I wasn’t sure what the future held but I felt like I was headed in the right direction.

When we got to Rhonda’s place, which was only a short walk from the bookstore, she unlocked the door and I gladly followed her in.  We sat on the couch and both of us dove into the book.  After reading the chapter, I looked at Rhonda and said, “I feel like I’m home and back up in the tree.”

“Back up in the tree?” she asked, looking puzzled

“Back up in the tree with my mom.”  Rhonda wasn’t sure what I meant but I knew.  With a smile as wide as an overflowing river, I explained to her about the baby bird that had fallen out of the tree.

This isn’t the end of my story but just the beginning.  I moved in with Rhonda and we went on to find our way together.

I hope that you liked my short story.  If you did like it, you might like my other stories that I’ve written.  You can find them on my website at Stanley C Straub Author.

The Trail in the Woods – Chapter One

Here is the first chapter of my Science Fiction thriller, The Trail in the Woods.  I’m putting it on my blog for free so that everyone can have a chance to read it and decide if they want to read the rest of the book.  I owe a huge thank you for editing suggestions provided by my friend and professional colleague, Mark Schultz.  He also performed a review of my book, which you can read here.  I hope that you like Chapter one and will want to read the rest of the book and the rest of my books and poems.  You can check out my website here.  Thank you, Stan Straub    

If you like this chapter, you can buy the book at Amazon.com.  Here’s the link to the Kindle edition Kindle ($2.99) Paperback ($12.99). 

Book Description:

The Trail in the Woods is a Science Fiction thriller.  It’s a captivating book that will carry you from the opening chapter to the unexpected ending.  Along the way, you will encounter an electrified greenish-yellow fog and then you will meet humans with gills.  You will meet the Tribulator, a creature that runs the Valley of the Gods and thinks he is God.  The valley is an environmentally perfect place that the Tribulator has established as his area to use as a base on earth.  He and his people have captured many people over the years. The story begins when two people, Bob and Janet, get captured and taken to the valley.  They get locked up in the valley along with thousands of other earth people. They are coerced into helping promote the Tribulators brand of religion. Will he be victorious or will they win their fight against him?

The Trail in the Woods is a frightening book that leads us to a possible future world waiting for all of us.  The fate of the world may hinge on whether Bob and Janet can lead a successful escape from the valley and get away from the powerful Tribulator.

The Trail in the Woods: Chapter One – The Beginning. 

1

             Bob rushed to the door and greeted his long-time friend, Janet Johnson.  He hadn’t seen her in over two years and he was excited that she had come to visit him. 

            “Gosh, I’m glad to see you,” Bob said hugging Janet tightly.  “Come on in.”  Bob took Janet’s coat, hung it in the hall closet, and told her to have a seat on the sofa.

            “Would you like a coke?” Bob asked.  Janet said she would.  While Bob went into the kitchen, Janet sat down on the sofa.  She looked around the room to see what new things were there since her last visit.  Everything looked about the same.  However, she noticed a blue notebook lying on the coffee table that had the words “The Devil’s Tail” on the cover.  The name intrigued her and she picked up the notebook and started looking through it.  When Bob got back with the drinks, she was fully engrossed in the notebook. 

            “Is this something new?” she asked.  “I don’t remember seeing it before.” 

            “The notebook is new, but the articles in it are not,” he said.  “Last year, I started putting newspaper clippings and things I found about the trail into the notebook.”    

            Janet continued glancing through the notebook.  “These are all stories about people disappearing from the trail.  That sounds scary.  Where is this trail?” she asked, pointing at a headline that said that people disappeared and had never been seen again.  

            “It’s less than five miles from here.”

           
            “I don’t remember that you ever mentioned the trail to me before.”

            “It’s always been there.  I guess it just never came up when you were here before.”

            “Can you show me the trail?” 

            “Sure, but I really don’t like it or even to be too close to it.”

            “Why?”

            “Too many scary stories about it.  You did read the stories and not just glance at the headlines, right?”

            “I read most of them and I’m curious if any of the stories are true,” she said with a slight questioning smile.

            “I hate to say this, but I believe that they are all true,” Bob said, trembling.

            “All of them?” Janet asked and saw how nervous Bob looked. 

            “Well, at least most of them,” Bob said.  “I knew a few of the people that hiked the trail and I never saw them again.  A couple of the stories about UFO’s and aliens may not be true, but on the other hand, they may be and that trail scares the hell out of me.”
            They sat on the sofa and caught up with all that had happened since the last time that Janet had visited Bob.  “It’s only been two years, but it seems much longer than that,” Janet said.

            “Two years too long,” Bob said smiling at Janet.  Then, he asked, “Would you like another drink or anything to eat?” 

            “No thanks,” Janet replied.  “I ate before I got here.” 

            After they’d talked for quite a while, Bob went to the closet and got Janet’s coat and handed it to her.  “Come on,” he said.  “Let’s go for a ride.  I’ll show you what’s left of the trail.”

           Janet Johnson looked thoughtfully at her long-time childhood friend, Bob Wild, as they stood at the entrance to what used to be a trail.  After she had read the stories in the notebook about the trail, she was really excited to know more about it.  She was happy that Bob was going to show it to her.  Now, more than anything she wanted to hike the trail.  The trail disappeared into the forest in an array of blackberry vines and jungle-like foliage.  The once popular trail was covered with vines, scotch broom, thistles, sword fern, and tons of sapling fir trees.  Janet thought that it would take a machete to get through that jungle-like stuff.  As they stood looking at the beginning of the dilapidated trail, a large bolt of lightning struck the ground not far from them and illuminated the trees.  Dark clouds boiled in a cauldron above them.  Immediately after the lightning flashed, a loud clap of thunder rolled through the woods and rattled their bones.  Bob nearly panicked when the trees in front of them lit up from the lightning and he thought he saw someone standing there looking at them.  Janet noticed that her friend looked totally petrified and she assumed the lightning was what scared him. 

            “You’re not scared of lightning, are you?” she asked with a laugh.  She had known Bob for years and she’d never seen him look this frightened.  He looked at her with an expression that said otherwise.   

            “No,” he fibbed.  “I’m not afraid of lightning, but when the lightning flash lit up the trees I thought I saw someone standing there.”

            Janet snickered at her friend, who stared at the trail and trembled.  “I think you’re imagining things,” she said laughing.  “I didn’t see anything except trees.”

             Evilness seemed to emanate from the forest and shook Bob’s bones as he looked at the covered trailhead and the forest behind it.  He didn’t know if Janet felt it or not, but he did and an involuntary tremble crawled through him.  The loud thunder and lightning didn’t seem to bother  Janet as it did Bob.  Dark ominous clouds hung over the lush brown-green forest as Bob and Janet stood in the pathway opening looking at what remained of the trail.  The clouds opened up and a light rain fell steadily and an accompanying murky fog clung to the tree leaves as if punctuating Bob’s thoughts about evilness.  Bob jumped as another flash of jagged lightning knifed through the dark sky and was instantly followed by a loud echoing clap of thunder which rattled Bob’s nerves even more.  Janet looked at Bob and laughed as she relished the fear that he was showing.  Nothing seemed to faze her, Bob thought as he admired her strong facial features.  His friend had a toughness that he’d never had.  He knew that her fearlessness had carried her through many dangerous hiking adventures and situations.  Bob only wished that he had half the toughness that Janet carried with her.

            “Where does that supposedly scary trail go?” Janet asked, studying her friend.  He had a cute ponytail and a slightly upturned nose with high cheekbones and rugged facial features that belied how childish appearing he really was.  Bob stood over five foot, eleven inches and weighed just over a hundred and eighty pounds.  He was solid muscle, but the fear in his eyes and his trembling hands gave him a look of weakness, not toughness.  Janet’s rough and tumble appearance was just the opposite of Bob’s meek look.  Maybe we complement each other she thought with a smile.           
            Before answering, Bob thought about the fertile forest and the trail.  The forest, which was more like the Amazon jungle, got that way because of all the rain that Oregon provided.  Bob thought about why he liked living in Oregon.  Many people who lived in other states never got to experience the beauty that adorned the state.  True, it rained a lot in Oregon, but that’s what made the state so green.  Bob knew that without the rain, there wouldn’t be lush forests like this one near his house  Bob was happy that he had the forest within walking distance of his front door.  It was just the abandoned trail that he lived near that bothered him.  He glanced at Janet and noticed that she still maintained her calmness.  She didn’t seem to be affected by the scary trail, the overgrown remains of the trail, the close lightning strikes, or the loud rumbling thunder.  Janet reached down and smoothed a wrinkle out of her shorts.  Bob thought about Janet and how she usually wore Khaki hiking shorts, a wool T-shirt, and leather hiking boots.  She was definitely not a fashion model for anything other than hiking and mountaineering outfits.  He smiled while looking at her roughened knees and weathered face.  Her tanned brown skin showed that she had spent many hours outdoors in the sun.  She smiled at Bob as she waited for him to answer her question.  Her rugged face and taut facial muscles gave her the appearance that she had no fear of anything.  Bob liked Janet and sometimes wished that he had gotten the nerve to get closer to her.  However, although he cared for her as a friend, he just could never get up the courage to be more romantically involved with her.  Several times over the years Bob came close to kissing Janet, but he was too shy and always chickened out. 

            “That trail,” Bob finally said, “goes deep into the woods and I believe it follows the up and down terrain up to Smokey Mountain.  I’m not sure what’s at the end of the trail, but there are so many terrifying rumors and stories about it that I don’t want to know what’s at the upper end.  All I know is that there is a mountain up there and I assume it ends at it.  From what I’ve heard, it’s a pathway to hell,” Bob added.  “It’s been said that the devil lives on the trail.  As far as I know, aliens or something even more frightening may be on the trail.  Believe it or not, the trail is called ‘The Devils Tail’,” Bob said, shaking apprehensively at the name.  “I think that path is beyond scary.  Scary would be a joy compared to what’s supposedly on the trail,” he added, trembling.

            Janet noticed that Bob was getting goose bumps on his arms.  She knew that fear could cause them and she almost snickered and asked him if he felt any fear. 

            “You have goose bumps on top of goose bumps on your arms,” she said.  “They’re so big that I’d actually call them Elephant bumps.”  Janet laughed, but Bob didn’t see the humor in it.  Instead, he just looked at Janet. 

            “Maybe,” she said laughing, “It’s just large gnats on the trail that have scared people.”

            “From what I’ve heard, it’s not gnats,” Bob said and the goose bumps got larger. 

            Finally, between gnat swings, Bob managed to say as sweat poured down his face.  “You’ve never heard what’s so scary about that trail, other than what you read in the notebook?  I know you didn’t grow up around here or spend all of your early years around Dead Rock, but I thought that everyone knew.  I’ll tell you what I’ve heard about the trail.  The scariest rumors are that anyone that’s ever hiked the trail, never came back to say what’s on the trail.  The rumors are not just about one or two people disappearing, but many people.”

            “No one’s ever come back that hiked the trail?” Janet asked with a non-believing expression.  She looked at the signs nailed to the trees around the parking lot.  “Is that why all the warning signs are posted here?”

            “Yes, that’s exactly the reason.   After so many hikers disappeared, they put those signs up to warn people about the dangers.”

            Bob repeated what he’d  previously said, “As far as I know, no one that’s ever hiked the trail has come back.”  He tried not to look too terrified.  However, his five-foot, eleven-inch frame was shaking like a bowl of jelly and the goose bumps were shaking along with him.  He took out his handkerchief from his back pocket and again wiped the sweat from his forehead.  It was a nervous gesture and completely involuntary.  “I’m not sure if it’s that hot or I’m just too nervous thinking about the trail,” Bob said. 

            “It’s not that hot,” Janet said with a slight laugh.  She looked at her friend and for the first time, she saw that he had a full head of hair that looked kind of cute pulled back in a ponytail.  She looked at him more closely than she ever had and noticed that Bob was no longer the young boy that she went to grade school with.  He had matured and she admired his clean-shaven mustache which adorned his face.  His mustache was neatly trimmed and it gave him an even more mature appearance.  My she thought, he’s grown up to be a very handsome man.  There were no gray hairs showing in any of the hair on his head.  Other than a large black mole on the side of his face that he’d always had, he didn’t have any unusual characteristics.  Janet knew that Bob didn’t have many friends around the area and as far as she knew she was one of his closest friends.  She lived several miles from him in the town of Deadwood and although they were fairly close friends, she had done other things during the last couple of years.  Janet took a swat at an oversized mosquito that had landed on her arm and she knocked it a few feet away.  After disposing of the giant bug, she smiled at Bob and said, “I took care of that little devil.”  Then, she turned serious and asked, “So do you have any idea what lies at the end of the trail?

            “I don’t even know what lies along the trail, let alone at the end of the trail,” Bob said nervously. 

            “Let’s hike the trail,” Janet said suddenly with a wry smile.  “It should be fun.  Then, we can find out if any of the rumors are true.  I really feel that they are just that, rumors.  I can’t imagine that people wouldn’t come back.  The rumors probably started because someone got lost and couldn’t find their way back.  That’s usually how rumors like that get started and then people add to them by making things up.”

            “No way,” Bob said shaking his head. 

            “What can be so scary about a trail?” Janet asked.  “I’ve hiked a lot of trails.  I’ve been hiking trails for as long as I can remember.  Some have been almost impossible to hike with near vertical hiking terrain.  I’ve even done rock climbing.”

            “This trail is different.”

            “What do you mean by different?”

            Before Bob could answer, another bolt of vicious lightning sliced through the darkening sky and hit a tree close to them.  Bob jumped as lightning struck the ground not far from them and a loud clap of thunder shook the area. “That lightning struck very close!” Bob exclaimed nervously.  “In fact, too close for comfort,” he added.  “Didn’t that one scare you just a little?” Bob asked, looking at Janet.  She smiled, shook her head no and asked him again about what he meant by the trail is different.  
            “What I mean is that of all the trails that you’ve ever hiked, you came back,” Bob said.  “I think we’d better get away from here and get back to my house.  That lightning struck too close for me and from the looks of that sky, I have a feeling that it’s going to start pouring soon.  Come on,” he added, “let’s get back to the car.”

            “Okay,” Janet said and turned to go.  Just as they started to go back to the car, the rain started falling and Janet’s hair quickly became a wet tangled mess.  Water ran off of her head and onto her shoulders.  They raced to the car and jumped in.  As Bob started the engine, Janet again asked with an almost comical expression, “Are you saying that if I hiked up that trail, no one would ever see me again?” 

            “That’s what I’m saying, at least from what I’ve heard,” Bob said, staring back at the trail that disappeared into the woods.  The thought of people hiking it and never coming back terrified him.  He was shaking so hard that Janet almost laughed.  He tried to quit shaking, but fear clung to him.  He looked at Janet and could see that she was a very strong person and probably not afraid of anything.  She had a sense of humor and maybe, he thought, that’s what carried her through her rigorous adventures.  Bob looked at Janet and noticed the strong piercing look in her eyes and he shuddered thinking about what she could do to someone that crossed her.  She could overwhelm people just with her look.            

            Bob started to get in the car but, but he stopped when he glanced back towards the trail and saw a stifling greenish-yellow fog that seemed to be rolling towards them from the woods.  Bob and Janet both jumped as another jagged bolt of lightning lit up the sky and then shattered a nearby tree, less than a couple of hundred feet away.  The lightning was followed by rumbling thunder.  They jumped in the car and quickly closed the doors.  Bob looked back towards the trail and to his surprise, the fog had disappeared.  It was a strange evil looking fog and it scared him.  He’d never seen colored fog like it before.  He started to say something to Janet about the fog, but he was afraid that she’d just accuse him of imagining it as well.   

            “You said that the people searching came back, right,” Janet continued and interrupted his thoughts.  “So, if those that were doing the searching came back, I could do it too,” she said, confidently.

            “I never said that those that were doing the searching came back,” Bob said looking nervously out the window.  “I said that those that were doing the searching never found them.  Those that were doing the searching also disappeared and never came back.”

            “Just those that were searching went out and never came back?” Janet asked skeptically.  She looked at her long-time friend and noticed that he was shaking.  “You really are scared aren’t you?” she asked with an amused expression. 

            Bob drove out of the parking lot as fast as he could.  Janet smiled at Bob as the tires spun on the wet pavement.  “Don’t kill us,” she said laughing.  They were almost to Bob’s house when another bright bolt of lightning lit up the sky and loud thunder bounced the car and echoed through the mountain valleys.

            The lightning shook Bob and he took a couple of moments to compose himself again.  He pulled up in front of his house and they both sat there watching for more lightning and listening to distant thunder reverberating in the mountains.   

            “Come on,” Bob said, looking through the rain at Janet.  “Let’s go in the house before we get completely soaked.  I get the shivers just thinking about that trail and yes I do believe the stories.  I don’t think they’re just made-up.  There were too many documented newspaper articles.”     

            As they started up the path to his house, Bob said glancing at Janet, “I hope that you’re not thinking  seriously about going on that trail.” 

            “I wouldn’t think of hiking that trail by myself,” Janet said smiling and watched the goose bumps rising higher on his arms.  She could see that Bob really was afraid of the trail.  “I can take care of anything I would meet on that trail,” she said fearlessly.  “I have a black belt in Karate and besides that, I have two pistols and plenty of ammunition to take care of anything dangerous that I run into.”

            “Anything?” Bob asked questioningly.

            “Yep, I’m ready and I just need you to come with me,”  Janet said with a devious smile.  “As I said, I prefer hiking with someone.”

            “I don’t know if I ever want to hike that trail,” Bob said.  “I’m not sure I could ever be talked into doing it, even with you.  If anyone could hike the trail and come back, I feel that you could do it, but I’d have to give it a lot of thought.”  

            “Don’t think too long,” Janet said as they went in the house.  “I want to hike that trail and find out what’s on it and I don’t want to have to do it by myself unless I have to.  I’m sure that we can prove the rumors untrue.”  After they were in the living room, Janet got closer to Bob and asked pleadingly, “Will you please go with me?” 

            “I told you that no one has ever come back that went on that trail and you expect me to go with you.  You don’t believe the rumors and now you want to go find out what evil thing is lurking on the trail?”

            “I’m not afraid,” Janet said confidently.  “After all, I’ve fought off some ferocious animals on some of my hikes.  One time, I managed to scare a black bear away that attacked me.  The bear took off with its tail between its legs.  Besides scaring the bear away, I managed to fight off a large evil brute of a man that tried to attack me.  The guy ran off into the woods screaming after I kicked him in his groin and broke his arm.”  Janet smiled at Bob with an ‘I’m-ready-for-anything fierce look’.  Besides proving herself to be very tough, she had the fierce looks of a fighter.  Her body showed that she was no slouch when it came to her strength.  Her arms and leg muscles showed evidence of having done physical labor.  Janet had a scar on the left side of her face that she’d gotten from being in a fight with a boy when she was ten years old.  It was a jagged scar and made her face somewhat distorted.  The scar made her look a little evil, but he knew she wasn’t evil.  He somewhat liked her face with the scar.  It gave her a special feature and made her look rough.  Looking at her ruggedness, Bob could see why a bear might fear her.     

            “Okay,” Bob said, “I believe you, but I think we might run into something way more frightening than what you’ve ever encountered.”

            “I doubt it,” she said.  “I can’t imagine anything worse than what I’ve seen.  Bob, I really want to go,” she again pleaded and added, “Believe me, I can handle anything.”

            “I don’t know if you could handle anything,” he said, again looking questionably at her.  “What may lie on the trail isn’t just anything.  Give me a few days to think about it.” 

            Bob looked at Janet and saw a different person than the innocent looking girl that he knew in grade school.  Janet was born and raised just outside Portland, Oregon in the small rural town of Deadwood.   She was born Janet Tonya Johnson and Bob first met her when they both went to the same grade school in Deadwood.  At the end of his seventh grade, Janet’s folks moved to the outskirts of Portland.  They’d kept in touch over the years by visiting each other several times since she moved away.  He had always liked her as a friend and thought she looked kind of cute, even with the scar on her face.  In grade school, students used to tease her by calling her scar-face, which infuriated her. Now, she looked different, older and more mature, as she stood before him.  However, as cute as Bob thought she was, she looked resolutely fierce and he almost thought that he could see smoke coming from her nostrils.  He’d known her for a long time and he knew that she wasn’t as tough as she looked, but sometimes she almost scared him.  Damn, he thought, maybe she could handle whatever she’d meet on the trail.

            “Is there some reason other than being scared that you can’t hike the trail?” Janet asked. 

            “I guess not,” he answered meekly.  “I’m not working right now.  I was laid off from my store job a month ago and I haven’t been able to find another job yet.”

            “Well then,” she said, “you don’t have any excuses.” 

            “Would you like a cup of coffee to warm up?” Bob asked hoping that she’d forget about the trail. 

            “I would like a hot cup,” she said.  “That sounds good.” 

            “Do you want cream and/or sugar?”

            “No, I prefer it black.  Sugar and cream are for sissies,” she said with a wry smile.  Bob made them some coffee and brought Janet her strong black coffee.  They talked while they sipped the hot liquid.  Finally, Janet asked, “Well, do you have any excuses for not going on the hike?”   

            “No, other than fearing for my life,” he said sheepishly.  

            “I’ll tell you what,” she said with a forceful smile, “I’ll give you until next Saturday, seven days to make up your mind and if the answer isn’t yes, then I’ll have to twist your arm until you cry and give in.  I don’t take the word ‘no’ very easily and I promise to do all I can to persuade you.”  Janet again said that she wanted to hike the trail more than anything and that she’d wait for his answer.  They finished their coffee and then Janet told Bob goodbye and headed for her car.  Bob fondly watched her go and thought about how persuasive she could be.

  2

            Early Saturday morning, as promised, Janet knocked on Bob’s door.  He apprehensively opened the door and said, “come on in, I’ve been waiting for you.” 

            “Well,” she asked with piercing eyes that tortured Bob’s soul, “What’s your answer?”  She asked and waited for his reply.

            Bob hesitated before saying anything.  After a couple of minutes, he managed to timidly blurt out, “I’m still not sure.”

            “What do you mean by that?” Janet asked.  “Jeez, you’ve had a week to make up your mind.  I’ll tell you what,” she said, in a demanding voice, “I’ll give you to the count of three to decide that you’re going to do it.”  She smiled at Bob, but the smile tore through him like a dagger.  It was the look that said do it or else.  He knew that if he told her he wouldn’t go, then she would never give up her quest.  So, after more thought, he looked at her with an expression that said, “I give up.”  

            “I think you’re the only one that could ever convince me to go on that trail.  However, I’ll only go with you under one condition,” he said resignedly. 

            “One condition?” she asked.  “What’s the one condition?”

            Bob looked at her seriously and said, “That we are given our last rites. I want us to be prepared.”       

            “Come on, you’re kidding, right?” she asked.  However, Bob didn’t look like he was kidding about it.  He looked as serious as a person begging for mercy from someone trying to kill him.      “No, I’m dead serious,” he said.   “I have a deep discomforting feeling that if we go on that trail that we won’t be coming back.  I feel very strongly that we’ll end up just like all the others.”

            “Whatever you want to do, it’s okay with me, but don’t count on me doing it with you,” she said.  “I assure you that I fully intend to come back and I don’t need any first or last rites.”  She looked at Bob like he was a little child.  “Go ahead and get your last rites, if it’ll make you feel better, but don’t look for me to accompany you.  I don’t need any divine intervention to help me,” she added with emphasis.  

            “Thanks,” he said looking at the ground and kicking a rock.  “It might be a waste of time, but I’ll feel a lot better.  Just thinking about hiking that trail scares the Holy Grail out of me.  I’d feel better if we both were given our last rites, but if you don’t want to do it then that’s okay.  I know that not everyone believes in it.”

            “I don’t know about you and your last rites,” she said smiling. “but I assume that from what you’re saying, you will go with me.” 

            “Yes, but against my better judgment and only after I’ve been given my last rites.  At least after I’ve been given them, I’ll be ready to face anything that would  kill  me on the trail.”

            “I think you’re being silly,” Janet said. 

            “Maybe, but I want to be prepared.”

            “Prepared?  Prepared for what?”

            “My death,” Bob said cringing at the thought of death and the trail.  As the thought of death floated through his mind, he resignedly looked at Janet. 

            “Oh, I think that you’re just being a big baby,” she said.  I didn’t expect you to be this silly.  You’re like a little kid that’s afraid of his shadow.  Then, she added, smiling, “It’s a good thing I like babies.  Well, let me know when you’ve done it.  I hope that it doesn’t take too long.  I want to get going on the trail and I want to do it soon.”

            “It’s not silly,” he protested.  I just want to be ready in case we never come back.”  Bob appreciated the fact that Janet was confident in her abilities.  However, he wasn’t as confident in his abilities. 

            “Okay, whatever,” Janet replied with a look of disdain.  “Give me a call after you’ve done it.  I’ll be waiting.”

3

            The road to Bob’s house wound through the woods and went by the evil trail that they were going to hike.  Janet glanced towards the trail as she drove by.  The Devils Tail, she scoffed as she looked at it.  She laughed as she said out loud, “I’ll grab you by the tail and grind you up into a thousand pieces.  You will be devil’s mincemeat when I get through with you.”

            Janet thought about her friend as she drove the rest of the winding road to Bob’s house.  He was born Robert J. Wild in Mojave, California.  His folks moved to Grange, Oregon when he was two years old.  It was a small town about thirty miles east of Portland.  Bob’s dad couldn’t find a job in Grange and when Bob was six years old, they moved from that town to the town of Dead Rock, Oregon.  It was not too far from Grange and was just a few miles southeast of Portland and close to the town of Deadwood.  They lived next door to each other and their parents worked at the same local lumber mill. 

            Bob’s parents called him Bobby and some close friends still called him that.  However, he preferred Bob to Bobby.  He told Janet that the name Bobby sounded too childish and he didn’t like it.  Janet liked the name Bobby, but whenever she called him that, he would get mad at her.  So, to make him happy she called him Bob and only teasingly called him Bobby when she wanted to get under his skin in a fun way. 

            Janet anxiously walked up to Bob’s door and knocked.  She was eager to get their hike started and hoped that he was ready to go. Bob came to the door and greeted her.

            “Good morning,” Janet said smiling.  “Are you ready?” 

            Bob didn’t look well and Janet asked if he was okay.  “No,” he answered, “I was sick all night and I don’t really feel like going on a hike today.” 

            “I think maybe you’re too scared to go,” she said looking at him with a crooked smile. 

            “Think whatever you want,” he said, “but I really don’t feel like going today.  Can we plan on going next Saturday?” he pleadingly asked.

            Janet was disappointed beyond words, but she reluctantly agreed to wait another week.  “Okay,” she said and turned to go. “But, you’d better be ready when I get here next Saturday.  We’re going to go whether you’re ready or not.”

            Bob had to admit that although he liked Janet, she was extremely strong-willed.  “I’ll be ready,” he assured her and had no doubt that he had better be.

            Bob watched Janet walk out to her car and closed his door after she got in and drove away.  He wished that he felt better because he didn’t want to see her go.  He thought about Janet and why she seemed so tough.  She was a lot like her mom.  Janet’s mom had worked on the green chain at the mill pulling lumber off of it for sorting.  Some of the lumber was heavy and it was a hard job, but she liked it.  Bob figured that Janet got her toughness from her mom.  Both his dad and her dad worked inside the mill.  Bob’s dad ran the lumber edger and her dad worked as a foreman.  Bob’s mom was a housewife.  She preferred that job to working for someone else.

            Bob still felt a little sick and he went to the kitchen and got a big dish of vanilla ice cream.  Ice cream, especially vanilla, always seemed to make him feel better when he was sick.  For him, it worked better than any medicine.  He might even have to eat more ice cream to make sure he was ready for next Saturdays hike, maybe a lot more.  The thought of eating more ice-cream to make him feel better brought a smile as he headed back to the comfort of his bed.  He pulled the blankets up around him and laid there thinking about Janet until he fell asleep.  It wasn’t long before he drifted off into dreamland.

            “Where does this trail go?” Janet asked, holding Bob’s hand and skipping along the trail.

            “I don’t know, but I do know that I love you,” Bob said.  He smiled at Janet and pulled her to him and kissed her.  Janet laughed and pointed out the shadows on the side of the trail.  There were shadowy figures that danced in a greenish-yellow fog that flowed out of the woods and enveloped them.  They struggled to breathe in the stifling fog.  I think I see several people on the side of the trail with spears,” Janet said, trembling.  “Are they going to kill us?”

            “I don’t know who they are, but they scare the hell out of me,” Bob said.  “I hope that they’re not going to kill us.”  Then, he smiled and said, Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.”  He hugged Janet tightly and kissed her again, hard and long.  He was starting to get aroused when suddenly a loud clap of thunder shook the whole house.  Bob sat straight up in bed as the thunder echoed throughout the house.  It finally subsided and Bob thought, as he pulled the blanket up around him, I’ll never get back to sleep.  However, it wasn’t long until he was once again sound asleep.  The only thing missing was Janet and the dream. 

 

 

#Free book, The Trail in the Woods#

Free book, The Trail in the Woods.   The book I wrote is a winning Science Fiction book and I’ve revised it and now it’s even better than when I originally wrote it.  I want everyone to have a chance to check out the book.  So, I’m going to be giving it away free this coming Monday and Tuesday, March 11th and March 12th.  What’s the catch?  Only two, it is the Kindle edition available on Amazon.com and I’m asking for a review in exchange for the free book.    

The book sales have really started taking off and for that, I’m extremely happy but I would like to have more reviews.  Although many people have told me that they liked the book, they haven’t written a review.  Book sales from Amazon really do well if they have reviews.  So, all I’m asking is an honest review, short or long, for a free book.  Sounds fair to me and I thank you in advance for your help.  Believe it or not, Amazon book reviews really help book sales.  Many people rely on reviews to decide whether or not to get a book.      

For all the people picking up my free book and for all of those that have already read my book and said they liked it, I’d like to ask you to please write a review and post it on Amazon.com.  I love to write and Amazon reviews help me and all of the people reading the reviews.  I want people to write honest reviews.  They are the ones that help me and readers the most.

Remember, the free book will only be available for two days, March 11th and March 12th.  Don’t miss out on a great Science Fiction book with a surprising ending.    

Also, if you like my writing, check out my website for information on what I’m working on.  I’ll sit inside the door and be waiting for you to drop in.  The door is always open and ready for your entry.  Come on in, check out the website, and leave me a note.  Also, if you like my books and want to follow along with my writing, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter.  The newsletter is free and it’s a great way to keep abreast of my writing career.  I’m young and my writing has just gotten started.  Each new book I write gets better.    

Thanks for picking up a free book and thanks for writing a review and thanks for signing up for my “free” newsletter.  Stan   

#Books are a dime a dozen#

Books are a dime a dozen or so it seems.  Millions of books are written each year and there are more being written each and every day.  Go into any library or bookstore and you’ll see shelf upon shelf lined with books of every type and description.  It seems that there are more writers than there are pens.  Everyone that can pick up a pen can write and publish a book.  Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is a writer nowadays.  They don’t even have to write well or put out anything very literary.  They can write gibberish with poor spelling and grammar and then without batting an eye they can self-publish and proclaim themselves to be a famous writer.

Books are a dime a dozen but there are a few gems hidden within all of the millions of books written each year.  For a rare treat of a well-written Science Fiction book read my book The Trail in the Woods.  The story will capture you from the beginning and hold you in suspense until the final page that carries a deep hidden unsuspected message.  The book is available in either paperback or Kindle edition.  It’s a book that you’ll want to proudly display on your bookshelf and on your coffee table.

Books are a dime a dozen and many just end up in the garbage dump.  However, if you read The Trail in the Woods you’ll come away satisfied that you read a good book worth reminiscing about.  Lots of exciting scenes take place throughout the book and you’ll want to read it till the exciting ending.  The ending will be waiting for you but it will still catch you by surprise.  As one professional reviewer said, “I didn’t see the ending coming.”

People are captured and held in a pristine valley described as the Valley of the Gods.  Someone or something controls the valley and they think that they are almighty.  Who is it and why are they capturing people and keeping them as prisoners in the valley?  The story will lead you to the ending and you’ll uncover the answer to the question in the book.

The Trail in the Woods is just one of the books that have been written by Stanley C Straub.  He’s been honing his writing skills for years and has produced many other books and poems.  You can find his other books and find out what he’s currently writing on by visiting his website at https://stanleystraubauthor.com/    Say hello and sign up for his monthly newsletter.

#Writing for Improvement#

Writing for improvement.  Every time I write, I try to make my writing better.  Not just the grammar but the dialogue, the character depth, and the story description.  I try to make my writing better with and even though it takes a lot of work I believe its more than worth the effort.  The story flows better and makes it easier for the reader.

Writing for improvement is something that I do to hopefully grow my writing adventure.  I feel that every book I write is an adventure and something that I want to have readers enjoy.  For example, the new book that I’m working on now, The Terminus List will hopefully be the best book that I’ve written.  I can hardly wait to finish it and get started on my new and exciting adventure series, Bobby McDane and the missing Unicorn.  (Book One).  Readers can find out the status of my books and what I’m up to by visiting my website and signing up for the monthly newsletter.

Every writer should be writing for improvement – not just me but every writer.  No matter what you write, it can be made better.  It’s a learning curve that we all should be following and making our writing stand out in a crowded field.  There are many writers but if we keep improving, our writing will pull readers in and they’ll be looking for our next book.

I’ve published five books, The Killer Within, The Segmented Tail, The Trail in the Woods, A Grandma for Nicole, Wally and the Fisherman.  The books can all be found on Amazon.com.

I love reviews, both positive and negative.  I learn more from the negative reviews because they express things that I can learn from and help me improve my writing.  I hope that you visit my website and keep reading my books as I improve my writing with each new one.

Thank you for following me, Stan

#Last Day to get your free Kindle eBook#

Last day to get your free Kindle eBook The Trail in the Woods.  A scary Science Fiction book with a surprise ending.  Don’t miss out on this.  The story will draw you in and carry you along till you reach the exciting ending. 

Thanks for getting my book, Stan  (Ps.  While you’re at it, check out my website.  Leave a note and say hi.  I’ll leave the lights on for you.)