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When Mike Temple hears the voices of the dying in his head after eight years of silence, he fears this time his secret will destroy all he holds dear.
Everything is fine until his student, Aiden Stoute, stops showing up for high school. Always eager to stick his nose where it doesn’t belong, Mike bypasses protocol and visits Mrs. Stoute at home to demand why she isn’t concerned with her son’s education. Upon arriving Mike finds Mrs. Stoute dying from cancer. Aiden suspects her hospice nurse, Elizabeth Black, is speeding up the process. Having recently lost his own father to cancer, Mike believes Aiden is just grieving--until he hears Mrs. Stoute’s dying voice in his mind confirming Nurse Black’s murderous intentions.
A devastated Aiden is h***-bent on revenge against the shifty nurse. Meanwhile Mike suspects Black is connected to the return of his supernatural condition, because the only voices he hears now are her
patients. And they tell him she’s killing them too. Now Mike and Aiden must join forces to stop this secretive woman’s murderous spree before the voices drive Mike insane once again.
THE LAST DOOR ON THE LEFT is a 75,000-word thriller/suspense novel in the vein of Ruth Ware’s IN A DARK, DARK WOOD with a paranormal twist. I am the son of a Hospice nurse, and I used my family’s familiarity with the subject to craft the story details. Last year I attended both DFWCon and Writers Digest Annual Conference in NYC and plan on attending both again this year.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
THE LAST DOOR ON THE LEFT
There was nothing strange about the day, other than it was, for lack of a better word, strange. Mike Temple had been more than patient with his students, and yet Aiden, who's behavior was always impeccable, seemed to have taken advantage of his good graces. His phone was out yet again.
“Aiden, bring it to me.”
The boy grumbled something incoherent before laying the device on the desk in front of him, face up.
Mike held his gaze a moment. He didn’t want a confrontation, and trying to confiscate it might lead to a screaming match with a student. The kid was edgy enough as it was, beads of sweat glistened off his head from across the room.
Ignoring the slight, but making a mental note, Mike turned and addressed the class. “I know you are all anxious because we’re one day closer to the day the state sees fit to--God help us all--release you into the world. But I just wanted to quickly go over something. It doesn’t really have much to do with civics, though I wish I had known this when I was your age.”
“You are our age!”
The class prickled with laughter.
Mike grimaced. Next year he was coming in with a full beard; cover up some of his boyish features. More than once some of the faculty had mistaken him for a student. Could he help it if he looked young for twenty-seven? Though, he couldn’t let Mackay get away with it. He hated this part.
“Dylan, maybe if you learned when it was appropriate to speak and when it was appropriate to listen you’d have a prom date by now.”
A loud round of “Ohhhh’s” rose from the class as Mike glanced at a couple of the girls, smirking to each other. He didn’t like embarrassing the students, but sometimes it was a necessary evil of the job. It was like they said in grad school, if you don’t drop the hammer at least once in a while, they’ll walk all over you.
Dylan, his face beet red, slunk into his seat. Mike turned away, embarrassed himself, his gaze landing on Aiden again. He was eyeing his phone like a piece of candy. The screen was lit, but Mike couldn’t see the notification. And Aiden hadn’t picked it up. Yet. Mike pushed down the urge to snatch it from his desk and pour through every text.
“Look, you guys are graduating in four months. I know it seems like forever but it is really very little time. By a show of hands how many of you have applied to college?”
Almost all of the twenty-five hands shot up.
“Okay. Now how many of you think you’re prepared? That you’re ready for whatever is thrown at you?”
Almost all the hands went up again.
“Are you about to tell us college is a waste of time?” Kevin asked.
“G** no. You’re going to face things you’ve never dreamed of in college, and you need to prepare yourselves.” He glanced at the clock. Only a few minutes left. He could fit this in, it was important enough. Movement on the left side of the room caught his attention: Aiden typing another furious message on his phone. Mike sighed. Why couldn’t he have been a teacher in the seventies?
“I don’t expect you to answer so I’m not even going to ask. Let’s just assume all or most of you have sampled alcohol at some point before today.”
A collective round of groans passed through the students.
“I know, I know. But listen, I don’t care you’ve taken a drink or two or ten. I don’t care you’ve gone to your parent’s liquor cabinet, popped the back off with a screwdriver, stolen a bottle, then replaced it with colored water and tapped the nails back down with a rubber mallet so no one will hear you at two-thirty in the morning.”
The class regarded him.
“Okay so maybe that last one was just me.”
A few laughs bubbled up.
“As Dylan pointed out, it wasn’t so long ago I was in your position. But what I never considered was the level of access I’d have in college. The funny thing about high school is most of the time you really have to work for your booze. Really work for it. At least I did. I had to be meticulous, finding out all my parents’ secrets, coming up with creative ways to find sources. The point is, in a way I earned it. Maybe it’s been like that for you too. College is completely different. There it flows like water.”
“Sounds like you were a straight-up alcoholic, Mr. Temple,” Cole said, leaning back in his chair. “Ever bring a little drinky-drinky to work?”
Mike wanted to wipe the indignant grin right off his face but ignored him instead. “Temptation can be a powerful motivator. When there are no consequences, when everything is easy. Be. Careful.”
“The only thing I’ll be careful about is not to fall off when I’m doing my keg stand!” Cole yelled to a couple of cheers from his classmates.
Cole’s parents ran a successful travel agency--which, in the short time he’d been in Hawksburg, Mike had learned was a prominent staple of their town. They were probably one of the most respected families around. Did he expect Cole to be anything other than an entitled a**? Mike glanced at the room.
The students had stopped interrupting; only because they were hoping for some sort of scuffle worth recording. Half of them had their phones in-hand, watching Mike intently. But not Aiden, his device was back on his desk.
“I’ll be honest with you. I let temptation get the better of me. I thought I could handle it, and it turns out, I couldn’t.”
Some of the students shot glances at each other.
“What happened?” Lavarius asked, leaning forward.
“I’m not going to go into detail, but it wasn’t pretty. Things got bad for a while. It was a dark time.” Mike stared into the distance, images gathering at the edges of his memory. If he didn’t reel it in he’d say something he’d regret.
“Did you hurt someone? My grandpa had a problem with alcohol, he took it out on my nana. She ended up getting a restraining order,” Hannah said.
Mike watched the young lady in the back row for a moment, his heart going out to her. How much damage had witnessing those events done? “Nothing like that,” he said, gathering himself. “The only person I hurt was myself. By not paying attention to how bad things were getting. It was only by some miracle I figured it all out. I just don’t want all of you to go through the same turmoil.”
“Oh, don’t worry. I’m never taking a drink,” Hannah replied.
“If he thinks we’re not drinking in college--” Gabriella whispered to Marie a little too loudly.
“I didn’t say that.” Mike sighed as Gabriella snapped to attention. “Look, what you do when you’re out there is your business. Most of you are already eighteen, you can do what you want. Go nuts.”
“Thank you,” Cole said, taking the opportunity to stand up in front of the class as if he were about to make an oration. “You heard the man, do what you want!” he announced. He turned back to Mike. “Hey Mr. Temple, got a pick-me-up?” He winked.
The class snickered.
“Sit. Down, Cole.”