Author Eliot Baker contributes a rolling-on-the-floor-laughing-thank-God-that’s-not-me story to Goosebumps today. Eliot writes historical mysteries and supernatural suspense The Last Ancient is his December release for Champagne Books’ Burst imprint. Eliot worked for two years as a reporter on the island of Nantucket, where the book primarily takes place. After moving to Finland, he found himself longing for the Grey Lady. A story emerged incorporating the elements of his life and work there as an environmental and general reporter, along with his interests in Greek mythology, coinage & history, alchemy & philosophy, science & psychology, peak oil & conspiracy, and the meaning of love & relationships. Check out “Snoring at Monsters” and a blurb from The Last Ancient.
“Snoring at Monsters”
Jimmy was snoring—he just wouldn’t stop. Every time he’d snort and shift his football player’s bulk, the thing outside in the Yellowstone darkness would harrumph and stomp, shaking the ground and loosening my bladder. It belched primal, savage snorts that rumbled in my guts.
I smacked my buddy and whispered, Jimmy! Jimmy, shut up! Stop snoring! There’s something out there. Half awake, his eyes went wide, and he said, “Whatever that is, it is big.” Then he conked out. I should mention we had an empty bottle of tequila outside on our camping table beside our scraps of dinner. Having driven from Seattle, we’d celebrated the first night of our last epic college road trip together.
Jimmy shifted into his chainsaw snore. The monster circled us, depressed my side of the tent with its gigantic snout, snorted hot, foul breath at me, and pawed the ground as if to charge or to devour. It was either telling us to shut up and let it sleep, or come out and let it eat. I shook Jimmy awake again. He looked at the monster’s head pressed against the tent. “Whatever it is, it probably would have eaten us already if it wanted to,” he said sagely. “Just go to sleep.” Worriers and warriors, indeed.
Six hours like this. Time bled by like hourglass sands before an execution. Each second involved me shivering, Jimmy snoring, and the thing outside harrumphing and pawing the ground—HRUMM! Pppphhh. STOMP STOMP. Unable to dream, I imagined heroically bolting from the tent to my SUV, knowing I would not. Even if I made it, Jimmy would be left for chum for an angry bear, yeti, sasquatch, wendigo, bigfoot, landshark, James P. Sullivan, or whatever this monster was, hot-blooded after a failed pursuit. Worse, Jimmy might have had to actually wake up, and if he blamed an untimely rousing on me there was no telling what violence would ensue.
Finally, the sky beyond the tent brightened, shining rays of hope onto those primal knowledge centers we humans continue to carry to remind us: Monsters are shy of sunlight. The thing raised itself on all fours. Stomped its mightiest of stomps. Let out its mightiest harrumph. Pushed against the tent with a big, broad part of its body. Unloaded a whizz-banging eruption, followed by an avalanche of plopping sounds, like wet stones thudding onto the grass. The monster was pooping on us. A long, dramatic, heavy, decisive monster poop. The monster plodded away, snorting and grumbling. Then silence. I began laughing giddily, terror overwhelmed by a five-year-old’s sense of hilarity. Meanwhile, Jimmy snored on.
I poked my head out of the tent. I just had to see our grizzly bear roommate. A large buck stood a few yards away, staring at me nonchalantly. No, no way, that couldn’t have been the monster. I swiveled my head towards the valley behind us, surveying the tall grasses swaying in the pink dawn sunlight, ensconced by majestic peaks and diminishing stars and the silver moon glimmering over Yellowstone.
Buffalo. Dozens of them, sleeping. Except one–a mutant mega-buffalo, if memory serves—stood like an angry living boulder twenty yards away. It stared at me icily while the rest of the herd still snoozed, nestled into their grassy beds. I surveyed our tent grounds. Sure enough, there was a buffalo-sized patch of dirt pawed into the grass right by where we’d raised our tent. Squatters, we were. We’d slept in a buffalo’s bedroom. And Jimmy was still sleeping, his snores roaring over the valley like a challenge to all creatures who would stand between him and his pillow.
I laughed even harder then, maniacally perhaps, until Jimmy stumbled from the tent, confirmed the monster’s identity, and said, “Told you to just go to sleep. Wuss.”
The Last Ancient
He knows he should write the story. Maybe even kill the mythological creature hunting on Nantucket. A mysterious French alchemist and his best friend, a charming Greek hit man, tell him billions of dollars and lives are at stake if he doesn’t– not to mention the story of the century. Trouble is, he’s falling in love with it. And She doesn’t want him to write the story. She wants something else. Something only he can give.
While following a trail of ancient coins left at animal mutilations and murder scenes, Pulitzer-nominated reporter, Simon Stephenson is forced to piece together a diabolical conspiracy – and confront his family’s darkest secrets. Meanwhile, his tennis-champion fiancé is going Defcon One bridezilla, and a gorgeous TV reporter has her own intentions. Battling panic attacks and pursued by a host of nasty characters – from deadly alchemists and virulent beasts, to a sleazy rival reporter and a corrupt Sherriff – Simon faces a world where no one is what they seem. Especially not himself.