Corey Morrison is a 15-year old adolescent with a troubled past. At a very young age, he had to endure the perplexing death of his father while trying to protect his younger brother, Greg from the lack of support of their deadbeat mother and a violent stepfather (Jerry). Fortunately, he has been able to attain some security in his life through an unbinding closeness to his Uncle. (Luther). Corey begins to notice a rage building inside of him that is beginning to escalate beyond his control. He doesn’t know why it is happening, but he is beginning to notice its intensity increasing as he has progressed into his teen-aged years. After a violent act occurs between him and Jerry, his Uncle Luther swoops in to open a whole new world so surreal to Corey, that it is beyond his comprehension. The dark past of the little Midwestern town of Tatterdemalion soon comes to light as Corey’s Uncle begins to tell the tale of the former Fairbanks Asylum and the morbid Director of the facility, Dr. Mahler. Luther tells of the days when the Asylum was home to the criminally insane and the supposed inane acts posed on these patients during their time at the Institution. Soon many of these patients begin to disappear, never to be seen again. Soon after the disappearances, murder begins to rock this once wholesome community. Barbaric murders never seen by the likes of this town nor the law enforcement attempting to solve these gruesome acts of violence. The repulsive local Sergeant (Dryer) and the ever intuitive assigned State Detective (Jones) are battling time to try to figure out what may be causing these inhumane killings that are beginning to increase to astronomical numbers. Det. Jones has seen many gruesome murders in his time, but never anything with such rage and disregard for the victim. Who or what is inflicting these killings? During these occurrences, the Fairbanks Asylum mysteriously burns to the ground and is soon replaced on the exact foundation by the Ludenbach Grain Elevator. A towering facility known by the town as “The Fortress” due to its conspicuous and foreboding appearance. Hiram Ludenbach is the ornery cuss who owns the elevator. He is one that does not seem to want to converse about the horrific occurrences devastating this once fine town. Even his friend and acquaintance of many years (Uncle Luther) can’t seem to get a word out of him. What does Hiram know? As Corey’s Uncle Luther opens the doors to the Asylum’s past, Corey begins to learn more about himself and what is happening to him. The person Corey will soon become will lead him down a path of proclivity and fear beyond his wildest dreams and nightmares. There is a monster out there to be faced and this monster may more than any of the demons buried deep inside of Corey. Corey will soon learn the true meaning of the “Shortest Straw!”
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Stephen J. Bell is a Community College Instructor in Central California. For the past twenty-one years, Stephen has been teaching such subject matter as Soil Science, Crop Science, Developmental Mathematics, Guidance for students on academic probation, and Disabled Student Services counseling. He is originally from Gustine, which is a small farming community located on the western side of the San Joaquin Valley of California. He grew up on the family farm and ventured into a teaching career soon after finishing college. Stephen’s education follows many different areas of interest. He earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in Crop Science and Agricultural Education. His Master’s thesis involved the authoring of a lab course book for specialized Postsecondary Enterprise Projects. After several years of teaching, he later earned a Doctorate in Special Education. His dissertation titled, “Postsecondary Remedial Course Teacher Perspectives of the Effects of Differentiating Instruction: A Qualitative Study” is a formal insight into the issues and requirements of postsecondary students attending remedial courses in both Mathematics and English. His hobbies include creative writing, which led to the idea of this first novel. As far back as Stephen can remember, he has always loved creating stories and diverse characters. He has also been involved in bodybuilding for several years once competing in several California shows. Stephen lives with his wife, son, and two stepchildren in San Joaquin Valley of California.