top of page
  • Writer's pictureDarren Compton

Free Sample Chapter: Wrath of the Worm Wraith

The following is a sliver from the insides of Wrath of the Worm Wraith, the festering follow-up to Graveslinger! Read at your own risk.

Darnell’s Home & Garden was closing up in Nampa, Idaho. Despite the owner’s attempts over two decades, it did not take off as a franchise and remained a modest local business, but it did provide a solid job for its employees, including Hal Schraeder. Hal had been at the shop for so long that he’d become one of the Store Managers, a title held by three others and ranked only below the owner. He was a good man, even though he never took a wife or bore any children. He gave all his free time to this job and playing his acoustic guitar along to his record collection. Not that he was any good at it; he couldn’t even tell when the G string would get out of tune, which happened damn near any time he’d bend it—but he enjoyed it, and that’s what mattered.

Stevie Dillis had called in sick that night, sticking Hal with closing the store all by himself. He didn’t mind; it was on the quiet end of town, and they’d never had any trouble before. He hummed to himself instead of turning on the radio. He had gotten sick of hearing radio jockeys jabber on about their poor interpretation of the news; he just wanted to hear the damn music, even if it was just “Highway Star” for the umpteen thousandth time.

The front doors were locked when he ejected the register drawers and took them to the back to make sure everything added up. The drawer was thirteen cents over, so he placed the extra in a Red Cross jar near one of the registers. Being Tuesday, he didn’t need to go around with the mop that night. He preferred leaving Stevie with that duty anyway. Of all things, he threw himself down for Darnell’s Home & Garden; anything involving a mop wasn’t one of them.

He took one final walk-through to make sure all the merchandise was in its proper place, all facing a uniformed direction. He stopped at a single shovel, turned opposite from its peers, and corrected it.

Hal made it to the back door and was ready to type in the security code for the alarm when there was a heavy tremor from within the store. Enough of a vibration in the ground caused him to freeze with his finger hovering over the keypad. Almost all the lights were out except for the few in the gardening section that was required to stay on at all times, and his eyes watched the hanging plant displays sway. Was it an earthquake? This far away from the mountain ranges in Washington? He supposed Ranier could’ve finally exploded. He had heard about shakes occurring far away when a volcano erupts but never experienced it.

A second boom throttled the floor. Tools rattled on the racks. Since he had been paying more attention that time, he could tell it wasn’t a normal earthquake—it sounded like it came from right here in the shop!

A third boom quaked, and Hal moved away from the alarm peering down the back end of the shop. He couldn’t see down the aisles, but the street lamps out front shined enough light through all the glass that if someone was in the aisles, he could see their shadows. Nothing moved.

When the fourth boom occurred, he couldn’t resist asking, “Is someone there?!?” He felt ridiculous since he always criticized everyone in horror films for saying the same thing. He listened closely and could hear flower pots rattling when the fifth boom shook. Whoever it was, they were in the gardening section; he just knew it in his gut.

He crept along the back of the store toward the gardening section, and halfway down, he stopped at the axes. He glanced at them and then removed the largest one on the rack: a good old-fashioned fire axe. There may not have been any incidents at this store, but there was graffiti found on the Gas’n’Chug up the street not long ago. Punk kids vandalizing would not be ideal, and he was ready to shut that shit down. He hoped he wouldn’t have to use the axe for anything more than intimidation.

When he entered the gardening section, he expected to find a kid or few banging on the floor with a sledgehammer, given the level of noise that rumbled through the store. Instead, there was a girl, or possibly young woman, with pale teal skin and wearing wet rags. Her back faced him, and he couldn’t see her face. Long black hair swayed with a breeze that didn’t seem to be there as far as Hal could tell. The girl’s feet were bare, and beneath them were craters in the tile, cracks made from her footsteps. He looked at her with confusion and eased up on the grip of the axe. “Excuse me, miss?”

Her feet stayed where they were as if nailed to the floor, and the girl’s head slowly turned to him, staring at him with one molten red eye through strings of black hair. Hal felt his gut drop when her eye locked onto his. The steak burrito he had for dinner earlier was ready to claw its way to get the hell out of there.

The girl gave a coarse hiss, and the rest of her body twisted to face him. When her foot landed, he felt the floor throb. He thought it was absurd to see someone so tiny not only causing such heavy footsteps but also leaving significant floor damage behind. If he were to report the maddening details later to the owner or even the authorities, he would expect a drug test to follow soon.

He stepped into the gardening area, dreading each step. “Miss, are you okay? I can call a doctor.” Hal felt stupid even suggesting that but couldn’t stop it from stumbling out of his mouth. Of course, the girl wasn’t okay: the poor thing looked like she died from hypothermia and was dragged out of a lake. When he saw her face, he thought she looked like a Native American girl, with high cheekbones and a strong chin, possibly from one of the reservations nearby.

The brittle vinyl tile underneath Hal’s feet shattered as thick, pink worms came up from the dirt beneath the foundation and tangled his ankles, tethering him to the floor. They squeezed, and he cried from the pain, gritting his teeth. One of his molar crowns cracked. He had never seen worms like this in his life—they must’ve been the size of a garden hose and were twice as strong as an elephant’s trunk. Their grip was like a noose; they locked him in place, biting into his beige khakis with cloudbursts of blood.

In this horror, he failed to notice the girl had floated to him like a storm cloud racing on thunderous footsteps.

He tried to budge his legs, but the worms anchored him. Hal raised the axe, aiming to chop at the worms, only because he didn’t think he could forgive himself if he hit this girl with the axe, and before he could finish his wind-up, the girl grabbed his wrist with a grip like a burning vice. The incendiary pain shooting up and down his arm caused him to drop the axe. It rattled on the floor; the handle bounced off one of the worms. It squeezed tighter in retaliation. Hal felt sharp needle teeth burrowing into his legs, followed by the worm’s invasion into his flesh.

With her other hand, she wrapped her fingers around his throat, pulling him below her eye level. Hal knew sounds were coming out of his mouth, but he couldn’t understand what he was blabbering about. He stopped squealing and closed his eyes and mouth. He began to think this was just the most painful dream he’s yet to wake up from, and he hoped to snap out of it soon.

He attempted to twist his head around, to shake her grip, but she had a tremendous hold that confused his sense of manhood. Pressure squeezed near the joint of his jaws, and his mouth flung open. He peaked with one eye and saw this young, Native American woman open her cold, chapped lips as if she were about to kiss him, but instead of pressing against his own quivering lips, she vomited a swarm of rice-sized worms into his mouth. Larvae and maggots spilled as he forced his jaws shut, desperately trying to spit it all back out.

Each little squiggly creature flowed into every cavity they could get themselves into. Some found their way out of his nostrils. Others found their way into his brain and set up home.

The girl loosened her grip from his throat and wrist, and Hal fell onto his back. The large worms still bound his feet in place as they finished forcefully penetrating him.

The girl watched until Hal ceased to move.

His body never fell limp. Instead, he stiffened as if he had turned to stone. Hal’s final pose of intense pain was how the owner, Darnell Bruhl, found him the following morning.

Still with us? Awesome. Wrath of the Worm Wraith will be unleashed in December 2023 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Keep your eyes open.

Stay thrilled, everyone.

#horror #urbanfantasy #readerscommunity #bookstoread #bookboost #mustread #booksworthreading #free #chaptersample #fiction #undead #booklovers #Kindle #Amazon #BarnesandNoble #indieauthors

25 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Graveslinger is now on Amazon! I was going to wait a little longer before making the jump, but I felt the need to do it now while it's still summer. Available in paperback and more importantly, availa

bottom of page