Read The Summer I Died: A Thriller Online

Authors: Ryan C. Thomas,Cody Goodfellow

The Summer I Died: A Thriller

The Summer I Died: A Thriller
Ryan C. Thomas Cody Goodfellow
Coscom Entertainment (2009)

****}}36 So much screaming.

Roger Huntington is home from college for the summer, and he and his best friend, Tooth, can’t wait to start having fun. It’s going to be a summer full of beer, comic books, movies, laughs, parties and maybe even girls.

So much pain.

The sun is high and the sky is clear as Roger and Tooth set out to shoot beer cans at Bobcat Mountain. Just two friends catching up on lost time, two friends thinking about their futures, two friends—

So much blood.

—suddenly thrust in the middle of a nightmare. Forced to fight for their lives against a sadistic killer. A killer with an arsenal of razor-sharp blades and a hungry dog.

So much death.

If they are to survive, they must decide: are heroes born, or are they made? Or is something more powerful happening to them? And more importantly, how do you survive when all roads lead to . . . death!


"A tense, bloody ride!" - Brian Keene

"A down and dirty drive-in splatfest, 70s style!" -

"This book is everything you wish
was!" -

"Thomas may very well be the next big name in extreme horror." -

"This book hooked me in hard. I blazed through it, loving every minute of it." - Creature

The Summer I Died
is one wicked trip through man-made hell and I was glad I hitched a ride." -
Insidious Reflections

"This novel takes us deep into the bowels of hell where Thomas doesn�t hold any punches." -

"Keeps you in suspense and keeps the pages flying." -

"Sharp and ingenious and a whole lot of fun. Ryan C. Thomas is not just a writer to watch, but one that has already hit a stride that most others at their own game should envy." -

"I loved this book . . . it makes an Eli Roth film look like
Sesame Street
." -

"A hell of a promising beginning from a hell of a writer." -

"My muscles were actually sore the day after I finished reading this book because I was so tensed up." -
Multiverse Reviews

"The most brutal story I've experienced since Poppy Brite's
Exquisite Corpse
. When you think the author can't wring any more raw energy out of a situation, just turn the page and things spiral even deeper into anguished pain." - John Sunseri, editor/author

"I have never flinched so much while reading a book. An excellent, nasty little book. I loved it!" - Desmond Reddick, (podcast 72)











This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and events either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events
, locales
or persons living or dead is purely coincidental.


The Summer I Died

Copyright © 200
by Ryan C. Thomas. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce in whole or in part in any form.

Published by Coscom Entertainment

Second Edition

Cover art by
Matt Truiano

eBook Edition





A lot of people helped in the making of this book. I would like to thank Jay and Lisa French for giving me a home and unbelievably comfortable couch to sleep on while I spent all my money on ink and postage; Patrick Errins for his expert knowledge of handcuffs; Megan McKeever for her editing skills; the focus group of many friends who gave me immeasurable feedback; Brian Keene
for being
kind enough to take a look at a no-name’s manuscript and give advice and encouragement;
Cody G
oodfellow for being such a kick-
ass writer
it forces me to improve my game;
and of course
my family for their continuing support no
matter how stupid my ideas are.



For my friends





Whether or not a writer tries

and perhaps even more if he or she doesn’t

your first book is
. Into the first book goes a slice, a sliver, a core-sample of the writer’s uncertain soul, of everything that has led the writer to that desk. You write your first book as if you’ll never write another, giving the world both barrels, and then step back and wait to see if the world invites you back.

If I wasn’t lucky enough to know Ryan C. Thomas, I would still believe that I know this guy better than most who see him every day, because the voice of his first novel

the free and easy storyteller’s voice that lures readers in and leaves them helpless and naked when the shit gets real, and the deeper themes so seamlessly tucked into this grueling dark carnival ride

that voice seems like such an honest and apt self-portrait. I see Ryan in there, but readers who have never had the pleasure of meeting the man might think they’re looking into a mirror.

Ryan’s not a comic book artist like the hero


of this book, but he is a shit-hot guitarist who fronts a rockabilly party band and has bad-ass tats, and basically comes across like how you might’ve thought you’d grow up to be when you were ten. And if you never read his book, you might come away thinking this guy rides a chopped Indian hog, battles mummies before breakfast and sleeps in a pile of hot chicks every night. It’s only through his writing that Ryan Thomas can let you see that he doesn’t sleep very well, at all.

Thomas’s voice has a natural economy and poise to it that many writers spend their entire lives learning how to fake. As we embark with Roger and Tooth on the kind of sweetly aimless summer day that defines nostalgia, he takes the care to show us who they are and how much they love life, even as they’re squandering it in dubious shenanigans and grabasstic horseplay. The looming unpleasantness might be sharpening its tools in the wings, but Ryan understands how much of the impact of horror is lost when it’s deprived of its cardinal virtue. It comes out of nowhere, exacting irrevocable loss and forcing unacceptable choices. It is not what gets the characters out of bed in the morning, though it’s what keeps us turning the pages. The carnage in
The Summer I Died
does not slide hand-in-glove over Roger and Tooth, as in so many bogus horror stories where hapless human sock puppets get date raped by fate. Its sudden and seemingly arbitrary detour into bedlam is a much more disturbing prospect, because it suggests that every idyllic summer scene hides an abattoir.

Layers of bone-deep meaning lurk behind the hot, runny red stuff in this novel, but don’t worry about choking on it. Thomas serves the quality chops so drenched in sauce you’ll never know you’re swallowing some serious themes. Sure, he could just tell us that American society has sanitized and censored all but the lamest remnants of the initiation rites that draw the line between boys and men, so that we can drift into terminal childhood if we wish, until death makes us instant adults, helpless and doomed. But questions keep us up later than even the most unacceptable answers, and the awful agony Ryan wants to share with you will leave scars like question marks on your brain.

As modern initiation rites go, first novels are tougher than

somewhere between being left alone in the woods and circumcision by fire ants. But Ryan came through it with his inner boyhood intact, and has revisited it now to find it hardly stings at all. Because he writes like he plays guitar, and he’s never stopped looking for the new hooks hidden in the old songs. He builds and drives tension like a screaming dream in broad daylight, and throws in whipsaw moments of staccato shock that’ll wring a nervous laugh out of you, before they start to really hurt.

Because he
that guy you wanted to be when you were ten.

- Cody Goodfellow

March, 2009

Los Angeles, California








To avoid the nightmares of that summer, I take caffeine and diet pills, any type of speed to keep me up for as long as possible. As a result, I haven’t slept more than a couple
hours a night in a long time. My eyes have sunken near to the hollows of my skull and I shake with malnourishment because the pills suppress my appetite. My face is bruised and my thighs are dotted with
purple welts and half-moon scars
from where I have punched and pinched myself to keep myself awake. I am eroding. But this is a far better alternative than the dreams of that summer. That summer of lost innocence, pain, and bloodshed b
eyond anything you can imagine.

The pills don’t, however, prevent my daily questioning and ranting, nor do they stop me from cursing at God. They don’t keep me from shaking my fist at the sky and crying with disgust, irreverence, gratitude, confusion, or any other of the myriad emotions I experience
each day. Still
though, I am unsure whether God played a part in it at all, or w
hether or not God even exists.

There are times, late at night, when the pills have worn off and I
into a semiconscious state, that I wake myself yelling at the top of my lungs. I
find myself
back in that summer,
only this time
I am telling myself to leave the dice at home, or to put the gun to my head and pull the trigger. I wake up and continue to yell,
until I am hoarse,
until the bloody images dissipate. Then I yell
some more. I don’t know why I keep yelling once I realize I am at home in the present. Perhaps to feel my own rage and fear, to know I still have emotions.


People have asked me

therapists, friends, even a biographer

how I felt that summer when I got home from college, before the bloodshed began. I tell them I was happy. They seem to think they can return me to that point. But, trust me, that person

the me from

is dead.

For all intents and purposes, the moment I picked up the gun the first weekend I was back was the moment that started it all. Tooth was
excited to have me
from school and I was eager to hang out with him. He had convinced me to go shooting with him






The gun jumped back in my hand like a startled cat. I winced at the shot, a screaming thunderclap that cut off my hearing as if someone
snuck up behind me and shoved cotton balls in my ears. The empty bullet shell bounced off my foot and rolled onto the ground. When I opened my eyes, I saw a puff of smoke breathing out of the tree trunk a few yards away from the trashcan I was aiming at.

Shit, I thought, not even close. If I’d been aiming at Kennedy I would have hit Oswald.

Next to me, Tooth let out a whoop and slammed his palm against my back.

Well wrap my nuts around a pole and call me Mary, looks like you just popped your cherry.

It was the first time I’d ever fired a gun. A .44 magnum to be precise, a big mother of a cannon that Tooth swore would make my dick hard. And he was right. I felt bigger, brighter; hell, I felt invincible. Holding a .44 in your hand, well, it’s a bit like being deified.

You missed the shit outta the can though,

Tooth said, taking the gun and aiming at the target. He squared his feet, looked down the barrel, took a breath and squeezed the trigger.


With my ears still clogged, the shot sounded like I was underwater. Tooth’s hands, wrapped around the grip, went flying up over his head with the recoil. He burst out laughing.

The metallic bong and firefly sparks that erupted from the metal can proved he was a much better shot than me, but then again, he’d had all winter to practice while I was down at the university.

Did you see that? Dead on!

he shouted.

I could barely hear him through the humming in my head, but I flipped him off
and motioned for the gun back. On the road out past the woods a car drove by. It seemed to slow a bit, like it was trying to spy on us, so I quickly hid the gun behind my leg. Tooth
read my concern, s
hook his head in disappointment
and said,

Will you relax? Ain’t nobody gonna care about some gunshots out here. Besides, we’re too far out to be heard.

exactly true. The spot we were at

a dirt clearing in the woods that overlooked a small valley of evergreens

used to be a popular hangout area
for teenagers, and most everyone in town knew about it. True, it was set back far enough off the road that passing motorists couldn’t really see through all the trees, but no amount of dense foliage would
the echoes of
a .44’s gunshot

We’d been here many times before, whether to get high, drink beer or just shoot the shit on a Friday night. Used to be you could come here and expect to find at least someone you knew hanging around.
But its popularity had waned of late

s ago
Mark Trieger, the prodigy running
back for Lakewood High, jumped to his death
and now
the place had become associated with ghost stories and bad vibes. No
body came up here much anymore.

Yeah, I know,

I said.

It’s just

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