Judgment Cove now on Sale! .99 cents at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

by 10:18 PM 0 comments

I wanted to make sure that Judgment Cove was available and fully listed in both Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com before I had the coming out party on my blog, and I feel safe now in doing so. 

I've included the first chapter below to whet your appetites ;-)

I am really happy with the way it came out, and the links to purchase it ( 99 cents y'all ) are active on the "ebooks" tab on the top of this page.

And if you do happen to pick it up, please let me know what you think-Good, Bad, or Ugly.

So without any further adu, I give you the first Chapter of Judgment Cove!

Judgment Cove
By: Christopher Godsoe


Part 1


An artist is never appreciated in their own lifetime.....

Steve’s eyes flicked from side to side, tracing a seam in the kitchen table’s veneer. Distractedly, he turned his iPod Nano over and over in his hands, the two actions unconsciously in sync.

From the table’s perspective, it might have looked to the casual observer like he was mulling over a plan of escape. And that casual observer wouldn’t have been far off.

He knew that art, by its very nature, was subjective He also knew that because of that not everyone appreciated his work, with most actually considering graffiti vandalism.

He knew better, and failed to see how he should be responsible for those that lacked the open mind required to appreciate it.

His parents, for instance, never understood the talent required to create a large mural, typically at night, and always under the threat of prosecution.

Those same parents were in front of him now, asking for an explanation that he knew to be impossible to give.

The act of creation is like the act of riding a bike-something that is nearly impossible to explain in words, but something that you carry with you innately after your first success.

“Your mother and I are very disappointed in you Steven.”

Steven.

It was always Steven when he screwed up. Not Stevie, Stevie-boy, Steve-a-roo, or any of the other idiotic nicknames his father often employed, but Steven.

He stopped his oscillatory examination of the table and focused on his father.

His normal response would be to roll his eyes, maybe offer a witty comeback, but as he had royally screwed up this time, he decided that a show of restraint might expedite the conversation.

Sometimes you have to pick your battles.

“We really don’t know what to do with you.” His mother contributed.

Great, my alcoholic mother has decided to join the party, and it’s not even happy hour.

He stifled a laugh, but his contemptuous smirk was noticed instantly. His father snatched the iPod from his hand and set it down on the counter behind him.

This surprised Steve, as it was a birthday present from his uncle that had arrived via Fed-Ex only yesterday, and his parents normally wouldn’t take away gifts that they hadn’t bought themselves.

Apparently this time his father was really pissed off.

H
is father had seen the smirk because he was looking for it. He expected an attitude, because that's what he usually got from Steve in these situations.

Steve would break something, steal something small, get caught smoking dope, and it was never his fault. In this case, he had been caught by the school’s video surveillance “tagging” or spraying graffiti along one of the gymnasium’s exterior walls.

He had spent about three hours completing his masterpiece, which just so happened to be three more hours than he had spent studying this semester. His grades reflected it, and in turn the attitude he had received from his parents over the flagging grades had been returned two fold.

His father had come to expect no less, and Steve felt compelled to live down to those expectations. His therapist called it a "Self Fulfilling Prophecy".

“Something funny?”

Steve shook his head, but his expression remained defiant.

“What do you have to say for yourself?”

He had the whole routine committed to memory. He could interrupt his father with a pitch perfect imitation of what he would say at any time. For the life of him he couldn't understand why his father kept attempting discipline when it hadn't gotten him anywhere with Steve for the past year.

If it hasn’t worked yet, dad. Why do you keep repeating it? It’s not like you’re wearing me down.

As if hearing the thought, his father stopped mid-beratement and turned to his mother.

“Alright, I’m tired of doing this. Where is that brochure?”

Steve looked up, his gaze alternating between his mother and father with suspicion.

His mother’s expression had sunken from detached disappointment to unease.

“What brochure?” Steve hated the fear in his voice, but was unable to bite it back in time.

T
he junk drawer in the vanity rattled as it was roughly yanked to it's stops. The vanity held his mother’s cheap “collectible” plate set. She always referred to it as her “good China”, but if those plates and dishes were either good or from China, then so was he.

"Just a second and I’ll show you. Ah, here it is”

He produced a slip of glossy paper that unfolded twice to display a camp where stern looking adults were patiently awaiting some unknown action from subservient children.

Steve jumped slightly as the drawer was slammed back into place with emphasis. If he had been unable to remove his eyes from the brochure at that moment, he would have seen the withering look his mother shot his father for playing fast and loose with her most prized possessions.

Yet another thing that defied explanation, there was something about the tri-folded paper that commanded his attention.

The paper was smudged and worn. Steve could tell that it had been handled quite a few times, most likely by his parents as they decided his fate after each one of his run-ins with local law or the school principal.

“It’s a camp….for kids like you that have a problem following the rules.”

“A concentration camp?”

His father glared at him fiercely. “Don’t you dare…..”

Steve’s parents were only a generation or two removed from their ancestors that had survived the Holocaust, and while there was much that his father would tolerate, mocking the Auschwitz atrocities was one he would not.

“Sorry.” Steve tried to look contrite, but he didn’t see the big deal.

Those things had happened a long time ago. He didn’t see people from the south glaring over the Mason-Dixon line at every passing car like it was full of Union soldiers. Sure, they may hate to see visitors put down roots, but Steve still thought that getting angry over something that hadn’t happened to anyone you had ever met was a little ridiculous.

Needless to say, his father cared a great deal more about what his great grandfather and mother had gone through. It was something that they would likely come to an understanding on eventually, but today did not hold much hope for catharsis.

“You need to learn some respect.”

Steve said nothing, as he was engrossed in the brochure. His first thought was that the facility looked like a military camp, but closer inspection of the photographs indicated that it had a pirate theme.

Not an altogether campy one, but seriously, who themes their concentration camp?

Steve had a horrible thought.

“This thing isn’t run by a bunch of fags is it?”

His father glared at him ominously. The comment had been carefully structured to evoke a response, and at first he thought it had succeeded.

While Steve himself was straight, a childhood friend of his since birth had come out a few years ago and Steve had never had a problem with it. Of course, his father knew this, and the comment's venom missed it’s mark.

Steve, angered by his misstep, said firmly, "I'm not going.”

His father's glare became a victorious smile. A sinister, foreboding smile that unsettled Steve, and his facade of superiority began to crumble.

"Luckily, the state sees it differently. The lawyer just called, they are willing to drop the charges if you attend an approved rehabilitation program, and it just so happens we were already looking at that idea for you ourselves.”

Steve looked confused. He understood perfectly, but if his parents had a summer of inconvenience planned for him, he planned to make his father spell everything out first. He wanted his father to hear the words coming out of his own mouth, giving him one last chance to reconsider.

“So…”

He let it trail out a little, partially for effect and partially because the snappy retort that sounded so promising in his head died on his tongue.

“So… you’re going.” His father finished Steve's thought, much to his own satisfaction.

The slick paper in his hands sagged as he realized he would be in for a very long summer.

There's a resignation that sets in when your fate is sealed. The fight in you has a way of ebbing, and the frustration and malice that typically run up the sides of your spine to keep you upright goes with it.

Rather than an omnidirectional explosion like a fire cracker, it seems to wheeze out like slightly cracking the cap of a soda bottle and allowing the pressure to bleed out harmlessly.

Steve's pallid complexion removed any doubt that he had accepted his fate.

"We done here?"

"Yes" his father replied.

Steve reached for his iPod that had been sitting on the bar, half expecting his father to protest, but he glanced at it dismissively and turned away, following his wife into the kitchen.

Steve turned and staggered up to his bedroom, flopping onto his bed so firmly that the headboard banged against the wall in a final show of protest. He placed the white headphones in his ears and let his playlist shut out the world.

After awakening the
following morning, Steve allowed himself to be led docilely into the family Suburban, and they departed. He had packed light, being a city boy and having no idea what a summer in the woods would ask of him.

Their entire journey passed without a word from his parents, and he volunteered none of his own.

The first thing that Steve noticed about the entrance to the camp was the poorly engineered sign that arched over the drive. The entire thing seemed to have taken about 15 minutes to erect and "Judgment Cove" had been stitched across the warped planks with as few strokes of black paint as possible. 

Everything
had an overgrown, unkempt look that managed to make Steve's skin crawl. Steve was no definition a neat freak, but this place achieved a level of filth that even he was unfamiliar with. He saw picnic tables that looked like they had been made out of driftwood, he saw things hanging in trees, and no evidence of running water.

All of these points he had been
tempted to point out to his parents, to leverage the general "Land that time forgot" tone of the place to get them to reconsider, but one look at their wondrous gazes told him that they were not looking at the same run down facility he was.

His father
parked the Suburban in what appeared to be a gravel parking lot, but as there were no markers or lines it may well have only been a lawn that had long since lost the battle with the salty air and lack of topsoil.

He hefted his backpack over his shoulder and followed his parents into the gathering in front of what appeared to be the main hall.

Steve understood one thing immediately, if he was to survive this summer, he would have to carve out his place in the hierarchy as soon as possible. He saw several larger kids that were undoubtedly jocks, who would try to exert their control over the rest of the populace at the earliest opportunity.

He also saw plenty of kids that didn't belong here. He could see it in their eyes. If he had to question what they had done to have been sent here, then chances are their parents were overreacting.

Steve stood perfectly still.

He let the others go out of their way to avoid him, forcing some of them to stop and circle around and, in some instances, stop for a moment while their parents filed past before following.

Steve remained still, feigning disinterest. It was all an act of course, one of the “alpha dog” tactics that his older brother had taught him before he had left for college. His brother had taught him that whenever he found himself in a group of strangers, that he needed to assert a measure of control over the group immediately to keep from getting shuffled to the bottom of the food chain.

You’ve got to let everyone know that you aren’t someone that they can push around, that you’re not going to politely step aside as they line jump you in life.

It was perhaps the best piece of advice that his brother had ever given him, and would remain the best as his brother had been killed by diving atop a grenade, saving  several of his friends six months into a tour in Afghanistan.

So Steve listened to his big brother and stood his ground.

If someone wanted to get around him to the registration tables, then they would literally have to go around him. The fact that he was in no hurry to get there himself bore no significance in the matter, as it was all just a power play.

Eventually, his parents finished rubber-necking the facility and made their impatience to get moving known. Steve meandered to the registration desk and was assigned a bunk with a boy named Linus Green.

Linus was one of the smaller kids in the group, and seemed to be afraid of his own shadow. Steve was thankful for this, as it would make his time here a lot easier, not having to keep up his charade 24/7. Even "Alpha Dogs" need their rest.

Once he had stowed his belongings in the chest at the foot of his bed he rejoined the rest of the group assembled around the deck on the Main Hall.

The chest had been a fairly faithful representation of the kind that was told to contain pirate treasure. He couldn't quite wrap his head around why some aspects of this place had received little to no attention, the signs and the picnic tables for instance, and in other places the theme had been carried out with an exacting level of detail.

Of course, when a scraggly man emerged from the front door of the Main Hall and began to address the crowd, he quickly formed an opinion on that subject-The place was just poorly managed.

This man looked like the Dos Equis guy might if he had grown up without the privilege of running water or proper dental care. A minimum of work had been employed to make him presentable, but what remained was clearly out of place when laid against the creased khaki's, impeccable dock shoes and bright white "Judgment Cove" polo.

The man made Steve uneasy, but of course the persona he was hard at work crafting wouldn't allow him to display uncertainty.

Even if something surprises you, worries you or is completely foreign to you, don’t let those around you see it. You must always appear comfortable and prepared. If you don't feel that way, fake it until you do.

More sage advice from his brother the war hero.

"Welcome to Judgment Cove", the man began. His voice was a little gruff, Steve noted, but his words were not. The entire speech carried a polish of pretense, but as before, he kept his opinions to himself. He made a mental note to steer clear of the camp director at every opportunity.

Probably ex-special forces or something, from some country where they haven't discovered toothpaste, he thought, and had to suppress a smile.

The thought was a little overwhelming, that the mass of parents here would put such a man in charge of their kids for a summer, but then again, he would be dealing with a motley crue of juvenile delinquents.

When you are dealing with a group capable of talking back at any time, underage drinking/smoking and occasional minor vandalism, the ability to kill a man in 101 different ways might come in handy.

The word overkill came to the forefront of Steve's mind.

After the choreographed speech had concluded, Steve bid his parents farewell and returned to his bunk to lay down.

His parents were the last to leave, almost as though they expected him to try to sneak aboard one of the other family haulers and escape. As they left, a wrought iron grate with what appeared to be vine overgrowth was locked into place, securing the perimeter.

Steve noticed that as the gate was tilted and levered into place, the sun danced across the simulated vines and light reflected off something inside.

Razor Wire.

Just then, one of the other campers shouted, “What the fuck is that?”

He
whirled, gazing out across the Cove, where a mass of gurgling water had erupted in its center.

Some of the boys started hypnotically pacing towards the water, wanting a closer look but not too close a look. Others ducked behind cover before carefully peeking from positions that would offer little vantage.

Steve didn’t move. He could see enough from where he was to recognize an authentic pirate ship emerging from the depths when he saw one.

Linus turned to him, and Steve could see the panic in his eyes.

“What do we do? What do we do?” He pleaded.

Steve ignored him. He simply let go of the window frame he had leaned against and laid back onto his pillow. He tried to act as if an ancient pirate ship bursting from the ocean like a surfacing submarine was an everyday occurrence..

It was shaping up to be a very long Summer indeed.


Chris Godsoe

Developer

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