Friday, March 20, 2009

Jack Kilborn's "Afraid"

Jack Kilborn applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new novel, Afraid, and reported the following:
My name is Jack Kilborn, and this is an excerpt from my technohorror novel, Afraid, coming March 31st.

In this page 99 scene, a young firefighter named Josh, and and aging county sheriff named Streng, have managed to momentarily subdue two psychotic commandos who have attacked them in the Wisconsin woods at night. They're trying to figure out what to do next....

“We need to run,” Streng said.


“I know what you’re thinking. But what if one of them wakes up before we find a weapon? Then we’re both dead. These guys are too skilled, too strong.”

“Maybe Ajax has a gun or a knife on him.”

“You want to frisk him?”

“We have to try.”

Josh’s spirit was willing, but his feet did not want to go anywhere near Ajax. Santiago scared him in a bullying, sadistic way, but Josh still considered him human. Ajax was like a creature from a bad dream, a monstrous force of nature. He didn’t seem to be the same species, or even to belong on the same planet.

But the only way to stop being afraid was to kill him, and the only way to do that was to search him for weapons.

Josh quickly dismissed using his flashlight, as it might wake his tormentors up. He put his hands out before him and walked cautiously through the darkness, trying not to smack into any trees. His knees bumped into Ajax and he drew in a sharp breath. He reached down, amazed that he could touch his chest without bending over. This guy was freakishly huge. Time became measured in heartbeats, only a finite number remaining before the creature woke up.

Josh screwed up his courage and felt around for the giant’s belt. He found a Velcro pouch, ripped it open. It held a smooth metal container, and some kind of electronic gizmo, but no weapons. Josh pocketed the box and continued around the perimeter of his hips. A canteen. Josh took it, attached it to his own belt.

Ajax moved, shifting away. Josh stood absolutely still, fighting the impulse to flee. He needed to finish this up fast.

He patted down the rest of Ajax’s waistline, but found nothing else. Josh wondered why Ajax didn’t have a gun, and then realized that the man’s enormous fingers probably would be too big to squeeze a trigger. Then why not a knife, or some other weapon? Maybe in his vest.

Josh reached up, fingers exploring. The material was soft, pliable. It amazed Josh that it was actually bulletproof. He found an empty pocket, and then a zipper that was stuck. Ajax’s chest rose and fell beneath his hands, so huge that Josh felt like he was frisking a fallen horse.

“I found matches, and some capsules.” The Sheriff’s voice startled Josh. He must have been searching Santiago. “You?”

“A container, some sort of electric thing, and water.”

Josh reached up higher, touched Ajax’s throat. Any thought of breaking the man’s spine while he slept vanished when Josh realized how large it was. It would be easier to snap a log in half.

“My knife should be in his ear,” Josh told Streng.

“Not there. Maybe he pulled it...umph.”

A gentle, rustling sound. Then the forest went quiet.


Streng didn’t answer. Josh strained to hear, but only heard the steady rasp of Ajax’s breathing.

“Sheriff Streng? You okay?”


Dumb question. Of course the Sheriff isn't okay. This is a horror novel. By the end of it, almost everyone the entire town of Safe Haven, Wisconsin, has been murdered.

Why are they being murdered? What evil has come to this little town?

You can read a much larger excerpt on my website,

But be warned. This isn't a book for the faint-hearted. This page 99 excerpt isn't really indicative of the horror, the violence, and the suspense in Afraid. What came before, and comes after, is much scarier.

If you're brave enough, I hope you give it a try.
Jack Kilborn is a pen name for award winning thriller author JA Konrath.

The Page 69 Test: Afraid.

--Marshal Zeringue