“The Dark Down There” by Joe R. Lansdale
(Originally published in Dead Man’s Road, October 2010.)
Reverend Jebidiah Mercer smelled them before he saw them. They came out of the brush along both sides of the trail. There were four of them. One had a pistol, one a shotgun, the other two were carrying digging tools, a shovel and a pick.
His hand went swiftly inside his coat, pulled his .36 Navy Colt. Before the fellow with the shotgun could lift it, the Reverend shot him right between the eyes, spraying blood and brains out the back of his head in a mess that looked like vomited strawberries.
A pistol shot whizzed by Reverend Mercer’s head. He shifted in the saddle and fired twice, aiming low and letting the revolver buck. The first shot caught the shootist in the balls. The second shot found a spot on the center of his chest and nestled there like a horrible chest cold.
Champion mojo storyteller Joe R. Lansdale is the author of more than forty novels and numerous short stories. His work has appeared in national anthologies, magazines, and collections, as well as numerous foreign publications. He has written for comics, television, film, newspapers, and Internet sites. His work has been collected in more than two dozen short-story collections, and he has edited or co-edited more than a dozen anthologies. He is a recipient of the Edgar Award, eight Bram Stoker Awards, the Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award, the British Fantasy Award, the Grinzani Cavour Prize for Literature, the Herodotus Historical Fiction Award, the Inkpot Award for Contributions to Science Fiction and Fantasy, a recent Spur Award for Best Historical Western Novel, and many others.
His novella Bubba Ho-Tep was adapted to film by Don Coscarelli, and the film adaptation of his novel Cold in July was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. A television series based on his Hap and Leonard novels debuted recently on SundanceTV.
He is currently co-producing several films, among them The Bottoms, based on his Edgar Award-winning novel, with Bill Paxton and Brad Wyman; and The Drive-In, with Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead). He is Writer In Residence at Stephen F. Austin State University, and is the founder of the martial arts system Shen Chuan: Martial Science and its affiliate, the Shen Chuan Family System. He is a member of both the United States and International Martial Arts Halls of Fame. He lives in Nacogdoches, Texas, with his wife, dog, and two cats.
Learn more about him at joerlansdale.com.
About the Narrator:
Eric Luke is the screenwriter of the Joe Dante film Explorers, which is currently in development as a remake, the comic books Ghost and Wonder Woman, and wrote and directed the Not Quite Human films for Disney TV. His current project, Interference, a meta horror audiobook about an audiobook… that kills, is now available on Audible.com.
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The Audio Fantasy Fiction Magazine