Exclusive Excerpt: The Worst Is Yet To Come by S.P. Miskowski
Releasing Feb. 22, 2019 from Trepidatio Publishing, an imprint of JournalStone, is the latest from S.P. Miskowski, The Worst Is Yet To Come, a return to the author’s old stomping grounds of Skillute, WA, a fictional town that’s been featured in her previous works, like Knock Knock. A short while ago, Trepidatio unveiled the cover art for The Worst Is Yet To Come, designed by Mikio Murakami, and it immediately shot to the top of my Must Read list, as well as High Fever Books contributor Logan Noble.
Today, we’re proud to present an exclusive excerpt of Miskowski’s forthcoming release, courtesy of Trepidatio. Head on down for your first taste of our return to Skillute, and if you enjoy it, just remember…The Worst Is Yet To Come.
About The Worst Is Yet To Come
For most of her fourteen years, Tasha Davis has languished in the rural-suburban town of Skillute, Washington. Her parents offer plenty of comfortable—if stifling—emotional support, but what she needs is a best friend.
In her final year at Clark Middle School, Tasha meets a strange new classmate. Briar Kenny is the self-styled rebel Tasha wants to be, and the Davises are the kind of close-knit family Briar covets. A moment of unexpected violence spawns a secret between the two girls and awakens a mystery from the past.
Unknown to Tasha and Briar, their secret also attracts something monstrous from a forgotten corner of Skillute. The town is haunted by its history, scarred with the lingering spirit of broken and scattered families, abandoned real estate ventures, and old scores never settled between neighbors. But there's more to the place than memory and legend. Beneath the landscape, something malignant rages, and it will stop at nothing to find a route into the physical world.
About the Author
S.P. Miskowski is a recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. Her stories have been published in Supernatural Tales, Black Static, Identity Theory, Strange Aeons and Eyedolon Magazine as well as in the anthologies Haunted Nights, The Madness of Dr. Caligari, October Dreams 2, Autumn Cthulhu, Cassilda’s Song, The Hyde Hotel, Darker Companions: Celebrating 50 Years of Ramsey Campbell, Tales from a Talking Board, Looming Low and The Best Horror of the Year Volume Ten. Her second novel, I Wish I Was Like You, was named This Is Horror 2017 Novel of the Year. Her books have received three Shirley Jackson Award nominations and a Bram Stoker Award® nomination. Her M.F.A. is from the University of Washington. Her novels and novellas have been published by Omnium Gatherum, Dim Shores, Dunhams Manor Press and JournalStone/Trepidatio. She is represented by Danielle Svetcov at Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency.
Excerpt from The Worst Is Yet To Come
The morning they first noticed one another, they were changing clothes in the girls’ locker room, the central portion of a dank warren of shower stalls and dressing areas one floor below the Clark Middle School gym. They tied blue laces on their Nikes and slouched morosely in identical P.E. uniforms—baggy, one-piece blue-gray jumpsuits that made them look like prison inmates. The locker room was alive with chatter about the spring dance, the newly created girls’ basketball team, and the latest Netflix series featuring everyone’s heartthrob, Noah somebody.
It was the time of year when purple crocuses began opening into the light. The shadows and angles of winter had softened, and there was a hint of tart Indian plum in the air. In the locker room, acrid sweat mingled with deodorant and jasmine body powder.
From opposite sides of the cramped room, they glanced across the swarm of girls and spotted one another, a sudden reflection—angular and awkward—without a mirror. Their pulses quickened in the same instant.
At least, that was how Tasha would remember it.
In one heartbeat she stood alone, dreading another boisterous gym class—dodging elbows while jogging, wincing at rope burns on her palms, gasping for breath after every fall from the balance beam onto the floor mat. In the next heartbeat she caught herself stupidly grinning across the locker room at this new girl, not caring what else might happen that day.
They had in common brown eyes and brown bobs, cut along the jawline and seldom brushed. Physically they could not have been more alien to the waxed and spray-tanned girls who surrounded them, fourteen-year-olds determined to achieve a new level of sophistication before high school.
To protect herself from the scrutiny and derision of her classmates, Tasha practiced a superior nonchalance, the attitude of one who had given up on the world so long ago it barely mattered anymore. It took all of her nerve to make eye contact. To her astonishment the new girl gave a silent shrug and grinned back at her. Half an hour later, while watching a classmate show off on the trampoline, they exchanged an eye roll.
The next day they acknowledged one another in homeroom. Over her shoulder, Tasha scanned the back row until she found her new friend, who signaled with a nod so slight anyone not paying close attention would have missed it. Tasha replied in kind.
On their third encounter, they spoke. It was a Friday afternoon, near the end of sixth period. Tasha was creeping through a vacant corridor with her backpack slung over one shoulder, sneaking out for the afternoon. She turned a corner and discovered Tyler Blanchard leaning against a row of lockers. A year older than Tasha, he was barrel-chested and broad-shouldered, but not very handsome.
On the floor beside him, Tasha’s new friend crouched on her knees. With one hand Tyler was gripping her by the hair, forcing her down. His teeth and gums were bared in a hateful smile.
Tasha glanced at the empty corridor behind her, hoping despite her delinquency to see a teacher, the janitor, a hall monitor, anybody. There was no one. The three of them were alone.
Tasha froze. Tyler turned his grimacing smile toward her.
“What the fuck are you looking at, Natasha?” he asked. When the girl in his grip tried to stand, he shoved her down and mumbled, “Stay where you belong.”
In the time it took him to say these words, Tasha rushed forward and slammed him in the chest with her backpack. He crashed against the lockers, but he was only startled for a second. Then he grabbed Tasha by the arm.
When he let go of her hair the new girl, still kneeling on the floor, bit his wrist with such ferocity that he let out a high-pitched, unmitigated shriek. The naked shock of it reverberated down the hall…