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Teenage surfer Eric receives a letter from his estranged father and tries to flee his small Michigan town to be with him. But after a mysterious surfboard washes ashore and frightening paranormal events occur, Eric realizes there's a deeper mystery he must solve, right there in Great Water.

You can buy Kings of the Earth here.

Eric hung up the phone and stepped out of the booth. There was a hum in the air, like telephone wires on an August night.

Hello there.

A man stood at the edge of the forest, less than ten feet away from him. He was around forty and had thick blond hair that was soaking wet and drooped over his eyes. He wore only a pair of pink board shorts that seemed out of a different era.

Startled, Eric’s breath caught in his throat. “Hi,” he said, finally. “What were you doing back there?”

Waiting for you, the man replied—but his mouth didn’t move. Why aren’t you out on the waves?

“Do I know you?” Eric asked. Something about the way the man’s eyes were hidden by his wet hair made his pulse quicken. The stranger was barefoot and muscular and radiated power.

Maybe. I’m just looking for a surf bud.

The man took a step toward him, but his feet made no sound on the loose gravel.

“I—I don’t have my board,” Eric stuttered.

No problem, compadre. Just take my hand and we’ll swim out to the break together.

Eric backed up against the phone booth. There were no people around, no cars coming down the road. No one would hear him if he screamed.

“I really have to go,” Eric said. “I have to meet someone.”

The man reached up and wiped his hair away from his eyes, which were nothing but hollow sockets. A black beetle crawled across his cheek and down his neck.

Eric tried to take a step, but he felt glued to the gravel. Then he realized who the man was.

“You’re Rod Kalanchoe. You drowned in the lake. There’s a statue of you downtown.”

I came back just to see you, pal. I want to show you something, way down below. It’s dark down there, and you can finally have sweet dreams.

“Stay away from me,” Eric whispered. Summoning every bit of strength he possessed, he lunged away from the phone booth and took off running, his backpack clumping against his back as he beat a path down the road.

Excerpt from "Kings of the Earth"
October 01, 2023