Monsterland Series Book 1
by Michael Okon
Genre: YA Horror
Wyatt Baldwin's senior year is not going well. His parents divorce, then his dad mysteriously dies. He’s not exactly comfortable with his new stepfather, Carter White, either. An ongoing debate with his best friends Melvin and Howard Drucker over which monster is superior has gotten stale. He’d much rather spend his days with beautiful and popular Jade. However, she’s dating the brash high-school quarterback Nolan, and Wyatt thinks he doesn’t stand a chance.
But everything changes when Wyatt and his friends are invited to attend the grand opening of Monsterland, a groundbreaking theme park where guests can interact with vampires in Vampire Village, be chased by werewolves on the River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville.
With real werewolves, vampires and zombies as the main attractions, what could possibly go wrong?
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The sky was a sparkling, powder blue, mosquitoes droned lazily over the tepid water, frogs croaked messages while they sunbathed on waxy lily pads. The fire he created burned bright, rabbit roasting on a spit made from hickory, the juices dripping to hiss in the flames. Seven of them lay in scattered repose, enjoying the late afternoon lull—two napped, the others tossed a stuffed fur in the form of a ball around the clearing, hooting with amusement when it rolled into the brush. They traveled in a pack, his group, his makeshift family, foraging together, hiding in plain sight. It had been that way for generations. But the glades were getting smaller, the humans invasive.
The sun started its slow descent into the horizon, hot pink and lilac clouds rippling against the empty canvas of the sky. Their color deepened as the sky filled, the rosy hue morphing into a burnt orange as the sun hid behind the condensation. The air thickened, moisture causing the leaves to lie heavily against the branches. Here and there, fireflies lit the gloom, doing a placid ballet in the humid air. The men moved closer as the sun sank into the western treetops, the fading sky promising another clear day tomorrow in the Everglades despite the moving ceiling of clouds.
A lone hawk cried out, disturbing the peace of the glade. Huge birds answered, flapping their wings, creating a cacophony of swamp sounds. The area became a concerto of animals responding to the disruption of their home—wild screams, squeaks, and complaints of the invasion of their territory.
The lead male stood, his head tilted. He heard it again. It was music, the strange organization of sounds, predictable as well as dangerous. Where those rhythms originated meant only one thing—they were not alone. They all rose, tense and alert, searching the waterway. Billy pointed, his dirty hands silently parting an outcropping of trees to expose a flat-bottom boat with strangers floating slowly toward them. It was filled with people, excitedly searching the banks of the swamp, their expensive khaki bush clothes ringed with sweat. Many held huge cameras. It was obviously a film crew, invasive, nosy individuals looking for something, anything, to enhance their lives. Men’s voices drifted on the turgid air. Billy stood, sniffing, his mates following suit. He glanced at the sky, gauging the time, his eyes opening wide. It was late. The bald top of the moon peeked over the ridge in the south, the sky graying to twilight with each passing second. Night came fast and furious in the swamp, dropping a curtain of darkness, extinguishing all light except for the beacon of the full moon. That chalk-white orb floated upward, indifferent to the consequences of its innocent victims. A halo of lighter blue surrounded the globe, limning the trees silver, the cobwebs in the trees becoming chains of dripping diamonds in the coming night.
What were the interlopers doing here? Billy thought furiously. This was their territory. The humans didn’t belong in the swamp. The moon continued its trip to the heavens, the familiar agony beginning in his chest. Billy fought the demons churning within his body, feeling the pain of metamorphosis. He curled inward, hunching his shoulders, the curse of his nature making his spine pull until his tendons and muscles tore from their human positions to transform into something wicked. A howl erupted from his throat, followed by another, and then another. Grabbing handfuls of dirt, he tried to fight the awful change, but, as the sun dipped to its fiery death, the moon took control of his life, and the unnatural force tore through his unwilling body. Reason fled; his heart raced. Falling on his hands and knees, he let loose a keening cry as his face elongated, his body changing into a canine, fangs filling his mouth. He raced in a circle in a demented dance, knowing his fellow pack members did the same thing. Slowing, he regulated his labored breathing, forcing the icy calmness he needed to keep some semblance of reason. He peered through the dense brush. Lights from the search party bobbed in the distance. The odor, the stench of humanity, filled the clearing.
He turned, digging furiously on the ground, throwing dirt on the flames, hiding their existence. It was no good. Discovery would ruin everything. No one could live with their kind. Humans brought disease, humans brought anger, humans brought hatred. They were there; he could smell them, see their clumsy bodies invading his home. “They’ve found us,” he growled in the special language they used. “Run!” he barked as he turned to his pack, watching his friends’ naked skin transform until it was covered with the same silvered fur. They cried out in unison at the pain, howling with the injustice, and then ran in fear from the interlopers threatening their habitat.
Monsterland Series Book 2
During his journey he discovers a new threat released from the bowels of the defunct theme park.
When an army of relentless mummies, a life-sucking ooze called The Glob, and a hybrid reanimated Behemoth rise from the depths of Monsterland, who will survive?
"Another true gem of dark fantasy action/adventure by a master of the genre, Michael Okon's "Monsterland Reanimated" is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Fantasy Fiction collections." - Midwest Book Review
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President of the US, World Leaders,
and Thousands Dead
Many still missing as the world reels from the impact of the Monsterland disaster
Multitudes are still unaccounted for and presumed dead. Escaping werewolves, vampires, and zombies of Dr. Vincent Konrad’s theme parks inexplicably escaped en masse and massacred unwitting parkgoers ... Massive government shutdowns as the world teeters on the brink of chaos.
The Night After the Monsterland Catastrophe
A bright moon painted the desert’s surface pewter. Here and there, dark spots soiled the landscape like oil spills. Most of the bodies had been taken before the troops were ordered to leave. They carted away the corpses, bulldozing the zombies into mass graves, until radios chirped with urgent orders deploying the soldiers to the bigger threats that erupted in the main cities like a chain of angry volcanos.
Monsterland was extinguished, its carcass left for the vultures to pick, the exhibits silent as a tomb.
The dead president and his equally dead entourage were whisked away on Air Force One, along with the dark-clad special operatives that came and left like the brisk desert wind that now howled through the empty streets.
A gate screamed in the silence, slamming with a reverberating smash. The uneven gait of someone with a physical challenge filled the void. The scrape and plod of his limp echoed against the wall of mountains framing the theme park. His labored breathing huffed as he made his way down the streets.
A door creaked loudly as it was blown by the wind. He stopped, his distorted figure silhouetted in the pale moonlight, his body turning silver. He looked at the broken glass littering the pavement like diamonds, then up to the still, pre-dawn sky. He considered the sun peeking over the jagged horizon in the east, its golden light painting the dips and hollows of the hills. Soon the coming day would chase the darkness away.
Time was the enemy now. He had to move faster, or it would be too late. He picked up his pace, lurching along the winding road. A keening howl ricocheted through the streets, bouncing off the walls. It sounded like a ... no, he thought, it couldn’t be. The werewolves were all dead. Destroyed by Vincent Konrad when he made their heads explode.
The old man paused, listening for it again, and was not disappointed when the animal whimpered. He gauged it to be inside the defunct vampire exhibit. He moved toward the entrance. The storefronts had been destroyed. A few body parts lay on the pavement, as if people had discarded them in a rush. He heard the scraping of paws on the street and a shiver went down his crooked spine.
He knew the werewolves were dead; he had seen it with his own eyes. A figure detached from the shadows. Igor flattened himself against the wall. He watched it move stealthily down the street, stopping when it scavenged a morsel of rotting flesh. It looked up to stare at Igor, its eyes glowing in the darkness.
A coyote? He waved a hand, dismissing it. It had to be a coyote; it was too small to be a wolf, too big to be a dog. The beast twitched its ears, then resumed its meal.
Igor knew the coyote was not a threat, and he continued his mission. His lame foot hit a can, sending a cacophony of sound like an explosion in the deserted park. The beast dropped the bone it was gnawing on, sniffing the area. Its iridescent eyes searched the streets.
It could be a baby wolf, Igor thought, keeping himself as still as possible. He felt it watching him, even from this distance. It was not a threat, yet.
Igor skittered away, hugging the walls of Monsterland, putting as much distance as he could between them. Not an easy feat, considering his distorted hips. He muttered to himself about carrion and the wind. His eyes darted nervously, scouring the hills, not exactly sure what he was looking for. Adrenaline coursed through his veins. His heart pounded so loudly he was certain that the creature watching him could hear it too.
His feet stumbling to a halt, he bent over, gasping for air, cursing Vincent and those meddlesome teenagers, as well as the rest of the world.
The beast gave another mournful howl that went right through him. Igor glanced at his empty hands, berating himself for not bringing a weapon. He searched his surroundings for anything to protect himself.
Then he saw it, one of the axes they had on almost every corner. All of them had been pulled from their protective cases. One was lying in a pool of coagulating blood, the blade long gone. He picked up the broken axe handle, turning in a semicircle. He was ready for an attacker.
A new, larger outline made his heart quiver with fear. It crouched in a corner, its snout covered with blood. This one was bigger, not a coyote, a wild wolf. Wait, he thought. Weren’t the gray wolves of California all but extinct?
Igor narrowed his eyes. The beast was a light reddish brown and not the silver gray of a wolf’s pelt. A chain hung from its neck, the pendant of a werewolf’s head dangling, emerald eyes flashing. What was it? Was it a mutant coyote? A wolf? Some weird hybrid, he wondered for a minute, his breath harsh in his ears. They watched each other soundlessly.
A hybrid then. He’d heard about them, a rare mixture of wolf and coyote. What did they call them? Coywolves ...? or was it Woyotes? He shrugged indifferently. Perhaps someone’s pet, he decided. Igor’s mirthless laugh came out like a snort.
The coywolf stood still, its ears alert, its head cocked as if it was observing him.
Igor dropped the makeshift weapon, calling out, “Eat the rest of your meal, you dumb beast.”
The animal continued to watch him, its two front paws on the remains of a zombie’s chest.
Igor wiped his forehead, waiting, his eyes coming back to search the village, confirming it was empty, except for the carrion eaters like the coyotes and vultures. He looked up, noting the circling predators waiting for him to move on.
“Interrupted your meal,” he chuckled. Just the local scavengers looking for food. That was all; the shadows revealed nothing else. Satisfied he was alone, he moved on. He had work to do.
A paper flew past him, hitting a kiosk as the wind plastered it against its surface. It flapped like a dying bird. Igor reached over, taking the fluttering paper, peering at the map of the park, the one they gave people as they entered Monsterland. A bark of laughter escaped his mouth.
He looked up at the giant monolith that was once the Werewolf River Run, its hulking shape obscuring the horizon. “You are here,” he giggled, pointing a grimy finger on the paper’s surface. He dragged his deformed body further down the pavement. The storefronts that used to be Monsterland’s Main Street yawned vacantly, the wind whistling through the narrow alley- ways. “Now, you are here,” he laughed. Shouting, he listened to the sound of his voice bouncing off the blood-splattered walls.
He made his way to the back end of the zombie village, feeling like the last man on earth. He glanced around at the desolate landscape. His home, the beautiful theme park, was little more than ruins destroyed by the army.
His nose twitched from the fetid smell of rot. The US Army had massacred the zombies. The troops came like a force of nature wiping out everything in its path, every last one of them blown away by the troops.
They were black ops, special forces, he knew from their uniforms. He wondered if things were indeed going as planned. He shrugged, knowing right now nothing mattered except for what he had to do. The irony that he was just about the most important man on earth brought more amusement to his smile.
The local police force was gone, as were the leaders of most countries in the world. He knew all was chaos outside, perhaps even war, each nation blaming the next for the loss of their leadership. Not to worry, he thought. Vincent left America in capable hands.
Dreams do come true, he snickered. Nightmares too, he finished the thought. A long line of drool pulled at his lower lip. He paused at a pothole in the road, decomposing body parts glistening, the disappearing moon turning the bits of bone and brains pearly.
Anxiety bloomed in his chest as he passed the opaque windows of Vincent’s derelict Monsterland hotel, the Copper Valley Inn. He hated that place. Abandoned construction vehicles were frozen in their spots, testimony to the hotel’s unfinished business.
Despite the pastel colors of its exterior, it sat like an ominous crypt to the part of the theme park that Vincent could never control. Told Vincent it was a money pit. Crews couldn’t work because ... well, it didn’t matter anymore. The help was all dead. He thought he saw a light flicker in the window, but when he turned, he realized it was nothing more than a sputtering gas lamp that had never been disconnected.
He stood for a while, staring for more activity, and then jerked with the realization that he waited too long and wasted precious time. Surely no one expected him to go searching during the heat of battle.
Vincent said it was enough time to set up the timetable. Vincent knew everything, and Igor felt his panic ebb. It had been barely twenty-four hours since the attack. For all he knew, he could be on a fool’s errand.
He pressed his hand on his hip, his back screaming with resentment at so much movement. He was not used to any exercise. He sighed, wiping his brow with the ragged end of his costume, the lace scratching his skin. He caught the cuff, snagging the material with his teeth, tugging it free from his velvet jacket. He loathed the show and was glad he’d never have to endure the humiliation of performing again, especially with the vamps. Those condescending, blood-sucking parasites. He wouldn’t have to worry about them anymore, he thought with satisfaction. Vincent had promised he’d not have to endure them for long, living up to his part of the bargain quite nicely. They were gone, torn apart by the werewolves or transformed into a tasty dinner by the zombies. Either way, they wouldn’t be bullying him with their nasty insults. Something buzzed around him, and he swiped at it.
It felt as though he walked to the other side of the earth. Why Vincent had to pick Zombieville to make his last stand, he’d never know. The Werewolf River Run would have been much more convenient. It was getting lighter now, and he could easily make out the smoking devastation.
He searched the horizon, his eyes resting on the burnt wreckage of a golf cart, the torched skeleton listing at an odd angle.
Pulling his lame foot, he pushed himself as fast as his body could travel, his breath hitching with the effort.
The corpse was gone. He knew they would have taken that for DNA testing, proof that the enemy was vanquished. The only things left were the putrid carcasses from Monsterland, the decaying zombies, massacred vampires, and what was left of the werewolves after Vincent had exterminated them.
He climbed a small hill, his bad leg screaming with pain. Igor crowed with triumph when he saw it, the discarded lump of flesh, lying forgotten in a ditch, face down. He shivered as the desert wind stirred and eddied around him. Damn, but it was desolate here.
He hunkered down, forcing himself to skitter on the hard- packed earth. He wondered what his son, the vice president—no, he corrected himself, the new president of the United States, Mr. Nate Owens—would think of his father now, scrambling like a dung beetle in the dirt.
He cursed. The drool was back, dripping from his mouth like a sparkling spider web. Instead of rising—it was beyond him at this point—he shimmied over to the severed head, reaching forward, reverently, grabbing it by the matted hair, and grasping it to his chest.
The black eyes stared back dully, the dark depths reflecting the hunchback’s twisted smile.
Vincent Konrad’s lifeless face lay in his hands, the pale lips open in a soundless scream.
“I’m so happy I could kiss you, Vincent!” he told the decapitated head. He cradled the face of his friend. “We’ll get you fixed up in no time.”
The moon bathed the face a pale blue. The hunchback jiggled the dead weight, cackling with delight as the one papery eyelid drooped as if it were winking.
In the distance, that coywolf howled, making Igor suck in his breath with fear. He tucked the head under his arm as he struggled back up the small hill, mumbling something about Plan B.
Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.
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Movies. I can watch any movie, and completely switch things up. For example, I was watching Jurassic Park with my family, and wondered why there has never been a theme park with monsters. The story for Monsterland was born.
Do have a bunch of characters in your treasure chest or do they each develop with a new story idea?
Each character is a piece of me, and someone I know. Their stories are beaten o before I write so I know where every character arc is heading.
How long have you been writing?
Terribly since I was 15. Better since I was 22. Much better since I’m 30.
What was the first thing you published?
My first published book was Monsterland under the WordFire Press banner. Kevin J. Anderson signed me to a two-book publishing deal. I had self-published under a pen-name until a publishing company picked me up. I write all genres and love to jump around trying different styles.
Who is your favorite character that you've developed?
It’s like choosing children, but if I had to choose one – Alastair from Witches Protection Program.
Which book gave you the most trouble?
Honestly none of them. When you love what you do, your work shouldn’t frustrate you.
Which book was the easiest to write?
They were all pretty easy. I would say Witches Protection Program was the easiest.
What advice do you give readers?
Read as much as you can. Read all mediums Watch as many movies as you can. We are so lucky right now and so much is being produced. Between live streaming and regular production, you can satisfy all types of imagination. I like to be diverse and sample a bit of everything there is to offer out there. Learn how to tell a compelling story.
What advice do you give new authors?
Read Save the Cat by the late great Blake Snyder. Will change how you write your stories.
What books inspired you as a child?
There’s a Monster at the End of this Book.
What movies inspire you?
There Will Be Blood, Back to the Future. Rounders. Caddyshack.
What is your writing day like?
Plot and research my story all day. Learn about my subject. Google is my best friend. Read and watch YouTube videos about storytelling and what makes people successful. Tuck the wife and kids in by 9pm. Write until my eyes go, every single day.
What trends are you seeing in entertainment?
It’s a strange world out there. I’m getting into the entertainment side of things through my film agent, so I can’t really say. From what I see, some studios want the big budget type of movies. Some studios want a smaller budget for more of the mediums available. It appears right now that literally 'anything goes.'
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