REVIEW and GIVEAWAY
The In-Ko-Pah Spirit
(A Rocky Novella)
(A Rocky Novella)
by Wally Runnels
Author Wally Runnels stops by today to share an excerpt from his first release, The In-Ko-Pah Spirit, now available for only $0.99. You can also read my review and enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to win one of five Kindle copies.
The In-Ko-Pah Spirit is part of a series of five novellas and short stories in which the same characters are interwoven, but which have no plot connection. Also available (for only $0.99): Tupho’s Pink DeVille, Heavenly Pain, Death Karma, and Mother's Nature (read my blog post).
This robust novella, the first in Wally Runnels' ongoing Rocky series, brings us to the eerie In-Ko-Pah Mountains, where mysterious forces confound even the best laid plans of the Mexicali drug cartel.
Rocky, a mercenary and expert hitman, is paid to track down a rebellious member of a Mexicali drug cartel. The search leads to the In-Ko-Pah Mountains, an isolated region on the Mexican-American border, where Rocky must confront his darkest memories and desires if he is to survive the supernatural challenges that arise as he hunts down his latest target, a hunter much like himself. Both the hunter and the hunted soon confront the ominous presence that inhabits the In-Ko-Pahs.
The Stuff of Bad Dreams
Rocky woke to shift a numbed muscle and saw a flicker of light on the canyon wall behind his camp. He knew it was still night. The air was thick with moisture, lacking the crisp resin flavor of dawn.
He rolled on his side and looked over the lip of the bluff. A fire burned on the spot where he had met Dionisio. Everything was still except the blaze lighting the sheep skulls that flared and dimmed against the unsteady flames. Rocky’s eyes adjusted to the shaking light and began to make out details.
A figure shifted between substance and shadow moved around the flickering radiance. It looked like Dionisio but without clothes. A bony frail figure, human, it turned and gyrated in a shuddering animated dance. Rocky watched its grotesque shadow dance on the canyon wall.
There was a moon, its reflected cyclopean eye looked back at itself from the spring. Rocky felt a chill run up his body. Not bothering to dress, he quietly moved to the edge of the bluff, trying not to breathe for fear of being heard.
Adding wood to the flames, the naked figure was washed in a red glaze. Rocky knew this was Dionisio. It could be no one else. From a basket, the figure drew what looked like wet clay, mud, and slathered it over his face and body, which twisted, transforming into a succession of organic shapes.
Wet smears and a headdress of water grass swirled around his head, changing his features. He pulled the long grass stems of grass into horn shapes that curled upwards and back, mimicking a bighorn’s rack.
Out of this twisted diadem grew curls of roots, hanging over his face like horns. From the creature came a low incantation that rose and built to a rumble like distant thunder.
Rocky watched as the phantom’s skeletal right hand threw blue powder into the fire. Flame flashed upwards, producing puffs of animal and mythic shapes that climbed in the air. From his left hand he threw a white powder, which popped and twisted the flames, raising the smell of decayed flesh.
Slowly his shape degenerated into a demonic form; its head became horned and swung to a rhythmic chant, clapping its hands producing blooming blue light that filled the canyon.
Rocky knelt and rocked to the rhythm of the mantra. A peyote vision, except this was real, a few yards away.
Praise for the Book
"This book is a must-read for fans of action-adventure, horror and magical realism. Runnels masterfully combines old and new, myth and reality in this page-turner. The characters are layered and mysterious and everyone has something to hide. I loved the setting and the way it played a role in this book. Can't wait to read more from this author." ~ Alison
"Wally Runnels has written a thriller/horror novella that is nothing short of a great read that will keep you glued until the last page. With a knack for lush descriptions Runnel beckons his readers into the spirit world of the In-Ko-Pah mountains [...] Runnels character development is point on. Glimpses of the inner workings of the protagonist's mind and the history that has made him the man he is, enables the reader to connect on many levels. The sub-plots both stand alone and become part of the story in a whole each giving credence to the outcome. All in all, I recommend The In-Ko-Pah Spirit to the suspense/thriller/horror aficionado. You definitely won't be disappointed." ~ Jodi Chapters
"The In-ko-pah Spirit is a spellbinding page turner that combines characters of a remarkable depth in a fantastic tale of crime, drugs, and magical realism. Runnels crafts characters that are both gut-wrenchingly inhuman and yet incredibly sympathetic at the same time, somehow maintaining a remarkable balance. The book reads like a drug-fueled journey where all roads lead to everywhere and everything unexpected that happens seemingly needs to have occurred. This story is more than just the grit on the surface, it contains both heart and spirit that will keep you going straight through and wondering how it could have ever ended. I'm looking forward to reading even more!" ~ Andrew
"The In-Ko-Pah Spirit by Wally Runnels is a fast-paced novella that I finished in one sitting. Also, it was different because it was a very realistic story, but had shades of magical realism." ~ Mark Williams
"I liked Mr. Runnels writing style. I thought the characters were the most interesting part. This is a more literary read. An interesting read that will appeal to fans of suspense, literary fiction, and surrealism." ~ Samantha Ryan
By Lynda Dickson
Rocky is an ex-Marine and a one-armed hired killer, or as Wally Runnels himself describes him, "As a mercenary, he worked for anyone who'd pay him." Rocky's current boss is drug dealer Roberto Cruz, who works out of the Tuna Club in Mexicali, and his current mission is to kill one the cartel members who has been making a nuisance of himself. Rocky is led to the In-Ko-Pah mountains, where a strange presence in lurking. Who will make it out alive?
In this first book in an ongoing series, we find out about Rocky's past - about the mysterious Bo Kwan, how Rocky lost his arm, and how Rocky began his bizarre ritual of tasting the blood of his victims. We are also introduced to a cast of interesting characters: Rocky's friend Hector, Gabriel the Elvis look-alike, Modesta the prostitute, Dwayne the hunter, Chili the curandero, and Nature's protector Dionisio. None of these are likeable characters, but the author nevertheless manages to make us care about what happens to them. Rocky himself is redeemed at the end of the book, compounding our interest in his future adventures.
The story itself deals with similar themes to Mother's Nature (the latest book in the series but the first one read by me): spiritual forces, Indian beliefs, and the power of Nature as an entity. There are a few editing errors, especially the inconsistency of name spellings, but overall this is an entertaining and captivating read.
Warnings: horror, graphic violence, coarse language, sex scenes.
Message from the Author
I've been to all the places where this story takes place, except the inside of the mountain where Rocky and Dionisio met the great sheep. The Tuna Club exists, but under a different name. And the print shop is closed.
About the Author
The Border – the Mexican/American edge - a territory filled with bizarre characters wrapped in myth and legend. Ancient beings. Shape-shifters. Impossible? Think again.
Wally Runnels was born in San Diego, California, raised at his family’s ranch on the border (whose original deed was recorded in 1870), and has traveled extensively through Mexico and Latin America. Hanging out on the border between two countries, he’s met a lot of unusual people: Hollywood types, Border Patrol Officers, professional trackers, smugglers, and people he won’t mention by name. He’ll remind you that no matter how weird a story can get, it’ll contain some grain of truth.
Enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to win one of five Kindle copies of The In-Ko-Pah Spirit by Wally Runnels.