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Friday, May 24, 2013

FIGHTS: Read an excerpt from 'Room 26 and the Army of Xulhutdul'

by Bowie V. Ibarra

Coming summer 2013 is the new superhero adventure 'Room 26 and the Army of Xulhutdul'.

Below is an excerpt from the book.  Check it out, then keep an eye out for its release in early summer 2013.



And the









            Bill Frasier could hear the ancient spirits moving swiftly behind him. 

The noise the ghosts made as they pursued Bill was like the wind dancing across a treeline, or the collective exhale of a group of people.  Their shadows danced across the moist trees, green vines, and leafy foliage like the hands of a child making shadows of monsters on a nursery school wall.  The disembodied voices taunted him in a language long forgotten, audible over his heavy breaths, his hands slapping away flora, and the squishing of his boots against the muddy jungle ground.

            Fear laced the blood that was pumping through his heart as he turned to look at his ghostly pursuers.  Their gray, snaking mists swirled and dashed after him around ancient trees.  Sinister expressions shifted around the malevolent fogs like faces in the clouds.  Long, misty arms stretched out like the branches of a tree long dead, bereft of leaves for decades.  The fingers stretched and threatened as if they were spikes, or blades.  They snaked through the foliage, playing hide and seek in the jungles of Central America.  But this chase would not end with the joyful laughter of friends.

            A large root jutting out of the jungle floor tripped Bill, sending him flying into a tree.  His pith helmet absorbed most of the collision against his head.  But it still hurt.  His safari khakis were so soaked in sweat that there was an audible splat.  He groaned, dazed.

            It took him a moment to realize he had dropped the source of his impending doom.  At his feet lay a scroll.  Tied to the scroll was a piece of heavy paper, a map to the temple he had discovered, a shrine with a curse.

            Turning to look at the ancient spirits in hot pursuit, he picked the scroll off the ground before he returned to his feet.  His eyes bulged as fear pierced his heart.  The ghosts manifested themselves, and though they whispered in the language long dead, the sound of their mocking laughter was completely understood.

            Knowing his fate was sealed, he started running again, delaying the inevitable.  No one ever ventured this deep into this particular portion of the Guatemalan jungle.  No one, neither native nor animal, was going to help him.

            Or so he thought.

            In a clearing just ahead, Bill could make out a tent and a campfire.  Someone was clearly present at the site.  It was a chance to at least get the scroll away from him.  Perhaps the spirits would spare him if he released the scroll.

            He ran to the camp.

            In the clearing, a teenage girl was preparing a simple meal of beans, vegetables, and bread.  She wore her long brown hair in pigtails.  Her pale face held a gentle sea of freckles.

            Bill ran faster, feeling the spirits close behind.  The clearing was just moments away.  He knew the ghosts were getting closer as the air around him was beginning to hold a subtle chill in the balmy heat of the jungle.

            Bill broke through the treeline into the clearing.  The girl shrieked as Bill fell by the campfire, panting like an exhausted dog.

            “Little girl,” he gasped, hyperventilating.  “Take this.  Hide it.  Never open it up.  Do you understand me?  Never.”

            The little girl trembled in fear.  Her eyes became glassy.  Her heart beat against her chest with fearful cruelty.

            When the ancient ghosts broke the treeline and appeared in the clearing, they grabbed the unsuspecting explorer.  Bill Frasier was prepared. 

            Lifting him up into the air, the mysterious fog wrapped him up tight, covering his mouth.  It was an effective gag, as all the little girl could hear were his stifled cries of terror.  Though she could barely hear him, she felt his terror in his eyes.

            The little girl watched as he floated up into the air before being pulled straight into the darkness of the jungle, never to be seen again.

            Trembling, the little girl looked at the object she had been handed.  It was a carved tube of wood.  Along the tube were elaborately carved stone faces.  Tied by a thin piece of hemp cord was a piece of cloth.  The little girl dare not touch or adjust any of it.  As far as she was concerned, the tube was probably responsible for the ghosts.  The man said never to open it, after all.

            It was very fortunate that her mother and father returned to camp.  They had traveled just yards away to catch fish in the river.

            “Sara,” asked her father.  “We brought lunch.  Is the fire ready?”

            Sara’s mother knew immediately something was amiss.  “Sara, what’s wrong?” she asked.

            Sara tossed the scroll into the nearby brush.  It easily became hidden.  “I’m fine, mommy.  Just a little scared.”

            Her mother kneeled down beside her daughter.  She wiped a tear that had fallen across her cheek, saying, “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

            Sara didn’t want to look foolish in front of her mother.  So she meekly responded, “I just got a little scared, that’s all.”

            Sara’s mother gave her a big hug.  “Oh, you don’t have anything to be afraid of, sweetheart.  We’re here.”

            Sara’s father had already started cooking the fish, stating, “I think the village of El Rinc√≥n is just a few more miles from here.  We should probably take off in the morning.”

            “No,” shouted Sara. “We should just go tonight!”

            “Sara,” said her mother.  “Listen to your father.  He’s right.  It’s getting late, and we’d get lost in this jungle at night.

            “But we could be in danger here,” said Sara desperately.

            “Sara, calm down,” stated her father.  “What’s got into you?  Jesus has brought us this far to find those that need to be saved.  He will protect us tonight.”

            Sara’s perception of the saving grace of Jesus was suddenly skewed.  She had just witnessed the fog of demonic forces take a man into the jungle.  The man disappeared.  No Jesus to save him.  It was just the ungodly force that consumed him.  What made her think it couldn’t happen to her, or her parents?

            “Sara, everything is going to be alright.  Say a prayer with me.”

            Sara shared a prayer with her loving mother.  And though later that night she ate in peace as the Father of Jesus spread stars across the night sky, she still couldn’t rest until her Lord brought the sun up in the morning sky the next morning.

            Jesus favored her.





            “The San Antonio arts community has lost a true hero.”

            “I agree.”

            “It’s a sad day for the arts here in San Antonio.”

            “It is.”

            “Seventy years.  Can you believe that?”

            “She was a real dynamo.”

            It was the theme of the afternoon at Ms. Sara McNulty’s funeral.  All Lorraine Blacksmith and Jackalyn White could do was agree as they stood together watching the funeral party pay their respects.

            “You know, when Ms. McNulty founded this museum years ago, I never thought it would get as big as it became,” said a mourner.  “But I’ve always been a supporter.  I wanted to see it work, to see it grow, and it did.”

            “It got bigger than any of us could ever imagine,” said Lorraine.

            “She spent decades building the museum up,” chimed in Jackalyn.  “Its reputation grew and grew every year.”

            “Every day,” countered Lorraine.

“And the arts community was elevated with it,” continued Jackalyn with a subtle look at Lorraine.  Though the two representatives of the museum had worked together for a time, it was Jackalyn that did not appreciate the upstart Lorraine, who had worked at the museum several years earlier.

            “Have a good rest of the day,” said the mourner, excusing herself from the awkward tension.

            Lorraine and Jackalyn glanced at each other.  Both took a deep breath simultaneously and looked away.

            “I’m so proud of the work Ms. McNulty provided for our fine city,” said a tall and well-groomed man, who approached the ladies.

            “Well, we owe a lot of that to you, Mr. Sosa,” said Jackalyn.  “Your donations to the museum have led to the new wings that have housed some of our most treasured artistic and historical artifacts.”

            “It is labor of love, Ms. White,” he said, smiling magnanimously.  “I’ve always allowed for my resources to provide for the artistic and intellectual growth of San Antonio.  And as a city Councilman, it’s important to nurture growth like this museum in our city.”

            “And it most certainly has,” said Lorraine.  “The exhibits we have been able to bring in due to your donations have provided us a venue for local, national, and even international artists.”

            “The museum has always had a broad spectrum of modern and ancient art,” chimed in Jackalyn.

            “That is true, and a wonderful attribute to the museum.”  He then turned to Lorraine.  “And, may I say, it is good to see you again, Lorraine,” he said, reaching in for a side hug that Lorraine accepted cordially.  “How is your schooling?”

            “Done with school.  Just working now.”

            “Ah,” he said, changing the subject by the subtext of her response, which didn’t seem to intimate she enjoyed the work.  “Well, I hope to see you two again under more jovial circumstances,” he said, excusing himself.

            The two ladies watched the funeral party take their leave of the cemetery.  Mourners had spent the past twenty minutes paying their final respects at Ms. McNulty’s grave.

            “She will be missed,” said Jackalyn.

            Lorraine chuckled.  She knew Jackalyn was as sincere as the fox of fables past.  She really did not appreciate the false attitude.  Lorraine remembered how rude Jackalyn had been to her mother, Helen Blacksmith, who used to work for Ms. McNulty for many years.

            Lorraine responded.  “Well, Jackalyn, the peace and happiness she brought to the museum and the community will be missed as well.”

            Jackalyn felt the subtle jab.  As per her personality, she chose to make sure she remained in control.  “Well, considering I’ll be running the museum now, I will try and keep the peace like she did.”

            “God help the McNulty,” murmured Lorraine.

            Jackalyn heard the remark.  “Care to say that again?” she asked, turning to Lorraine.

            “God blessed the McNulty with such capable people to run it.”  Lorraine didn’t want to fight.  Participating in open conflict was not something she was good at.

            With the pride of a lion, Jackalyn beamed.  “Yes, he did.”

            “Ladies,” said an approaching mourner.  “My condolences.  Two deaths so close together is so hard to deal with.” 

            “Thank you, Ms. Baumgarten,” said Lorraine.  The reminder of her mother’s death only a few years earlier gave her a twinge of sadness.

            “Your mother will be remembered along with Ms. McNulty fondly by all.”

            “Yes,” Jackalyn replied solemnly.  “Yes, she will.”

            Sally Baumgarten was a Gold Member of the museum, and a bit of a gossip.  Today was no exception.

            “So, I guess you ladies are excited to hear who Ms. McNulty has chosen to run the museum?”

            “Well,” said Jackalyn, lacing her tone with arrogance.  “I will be taking the reins very soon.”

            “That’s not what I heard,” said Ms. Baumgarten, smiling.  She didn’t like Jackalyn, either, and enjoyed yanking her chain.  As a Gold Member of the museum, Jacklyn could not afford to insult her.

            In truth, Baumgarten had a real piece of news that she knew would bug Jackalyn.  As a confidante of the late Ms. McNulty, she had been privy to the thought process in picking her heir, though she didn’t know the final decision.

            “Tomorrow at twelve, as per request by Ms. McNulty, her legal advisor, Mr. Gonzalez, is going to read her will.  In it, she will name her successor.”

            “That’s impossible,” said Jackalyn, smiling, thinking she was being teased.  “It’s clear it will be me.”

            “Well, looks like we’ll all find out tomorrow at twelve,” she said, shaking their hands once again.  “I’ll see you ladies then.”  Ms. Baumgarten walked off, smirking.

            “I swear, I would choke that lady to death if I could,” grumbled Jackalyn.

            “Classy, Jackalyn,” chuckled Lorraine.

            “Just as classy as the place you work,” said Jackalyn.  “What do you do again?  Hustle old people for books?”

            Lorraine groaned.  “They’re alumni directories, and they are a valuable networking tool and…”

            “… heirloom quality book,” they both said together.

            “I know all that,” said Jackalyn.  “Well, if you ever want out of that dream job, I could get you work here on our cleaning team,” said Jackalyn with a cruel smile.  “I know you worked here previously, so you would know where all the trash cans are and high-traffic areas to mop.”

            Lorraine sighed.  Her job wasn’t the best.  But it made some money to maintain the house bills for the place she lived in alone.  Her family house.

            “Thanks, Jackalyn,” said Lorraine as one of the final mourners approached.

            “Condolences, ladies,” said the man, clad in a black suit.  “We’ll miss her.”

            “You were always one of her closest friends, Mr. Strickland,” said Jackalyn.
            Reece Strickland chuckled.  “I wouldn’t go that far.”

            “Your donations have been appreciated, Mr. Strickland,” said Lorraine.  “In fact, Mr. Sosa was here moments ago.  You two are our most generous providers.”

            “Mr. Sosa, eh,” he said, smiling.  “Well, I’m glad I missed my rival’s tribute to our beloved Ms. McNulty.”

            The comment went over Lorraine’s head as she remembered something.

            “Oh,” gasped Lorraine.  “I need to get to work.  It was good to see you, Mr. Strickland,” she said, shaking his hand.

            “Have fun,” said a smug Jackalyn.

            “I will,” said Lorraine, smiling back sarcastically.  “Meanie,” she muttered as she walked away.

            Jackalyn thought she heard what Lorraine said, and eyeballed her as her former colleague at the museum walked away.


What will happen at the meeting and how will it affect the future of San Antonio?  Pick up the action-packed superhero book, 'Room 26 and the Army of Xulhutdul' today at in paperback or Kindle.

BOWIE VALERIANO IBARRA is the author of the 'Down the Road' zombie horror series from Permuted Press and Simon and Schuester.  His latest zombie story, The Fall of Austin, tells the story of military, police, convicts, and citizens of the Texas capitol as they deal with the zpoc.

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