Indie Author Excerpts: Try Not to Die: At Grandma’s House by Mark Tullius & Anthony Szpak

Posted on 11/14/2014 in Indie Author Excerpts / 0 Comments

Indie Author Excerpts\r\n\r\nWelcome! Indie Author Excerpts is a feature allowing indie authors the chance to showcase one of their books and allows readers to find their next favorite story. Each week, an indie author gets to promote a 1-2 page excerpt of their book here at BookShelfery. This is a win-win for everyone! This feature was inspired in part by Indie Author Spotlight, a meme hosted by Beckie @ Bittersweet Enchantment and CYP @ A Bookalicious Story.  Are you an author that would like to be featured in Indie Author Excerpts? If so, check out this page and fill out the form.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n[indie-author-excerpt]\r\n\r\nDad takes the turnpike to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. It’s all lit up; a hundred cables bathed in yellow-green light. Each one stretches to the top of the two towering pillars, creating alien-looking sails rising above the water.\r\nIn the rearview mirror, I see sweat beads rolling around my father’s forehead. “Take the wheel,” he tells Mom.\r\n“What?”\r\n“I need to take my jacket off.”\r\n“I’ll just turn down the heat.”\r\n“No, I’m hot now.”\r\n“Let’s…at least get across the bridge.”\r\nDad forces her hand to the wheel and starts jerking back and forth to get his arm out of the sleeve. Mom’s hand is gripping the wheel so hard it’s like she’s trying to squeeze juice out of the thing. Her arm’s shaking and it’s causing the minivan to wobble.\r\n“Tom, please, you know I hate this.”\r\nDad keeps grunting and shuffling. His whole body turns to the left and the engine revs. The cables of the bridge start passing by so fast I can’t even see the spaces between them.\r\n“Tom!”\r\n“My…foot’s…stuck.”\r\nAnd so are his arms, both trapped in his jacket.\r\nMom tries to gain control, but we end up swerving. A car honks. Dad’s foot must be pressed to the floor because we’re going faster and faster…\r\nI look over at Sam who’s grinning like a devil.\r\n“The brakes. Brakes!” Mom screams.\r\n“What do you think I’m…” Dad trails off and the tires skid. We’re thrown forward, but we’re not stopping. The bridge must be too wet. The sound of rubber scraping against pavement is almost as loud as Mom’s shrieking. The blast of horns follows. More screeching. Headlights shine through the windshield then sweep out as cars swerve to avoid us. I see the railing of the bridge. It’s getting close. Maybe ten feet. Five. Nothing but dark sky beyond the metal bars. The van pops up on the curb. We slam into the railing. It’s creaking and I can’t open my eyes. I know we’re heading over.\r\nMom just keeps repeating, “Oh my God…Oh my God…”\r\nI clench my fists so tight it feels like I’m going to snap my wrists.\r\nBut the creaking starts to fade. I hear my parents’ breathing.\r\nSam starts laughing. “Way to go, Dad.”\r\nSoon, everyone’s laughing. We’re not dead. It was just a wreck. The minivan’s totaled, but it needed to go anyway. Mom’s been saying that for months. The airbags didn’t even pop out.\r\nDad unbuckles himself and turns towards us in the backseat.\r\n“Everyone all right?”\r\n“Yeah,” Sam says. “But I think my ants spilled.”\r\nAny other time, Mom would be freaking out, saying something about Sam knowing better than to take them out of their tank. But all Mom’s doing is looking at me in the rearview, her voice even more tender than usual when she asks, “How about you? You okay?”\r\nDad’s laugh is a little shaky. “They’re fine. No blood, no foul.”\r\nSuddenly, the van’s filled with light. It’s so bright I can’t even turn to see where it’s coming from. Dad’s eyes double in size. The blaring horn says it’s a semi. Eighteen wheels sliding, skidding right into our back bumper.\r\nThe railing cracks and everything sounds muffled – the screams, the metal bars clanging off the sides of the van as we plummet down, down…\r\nDad’s arms are locked against the wheel as if he could actually stop this. We’re falling for so long I start to think we’ll never land, that we’ll just fall right through the planet and float out into space.\r\nBut we hit the water and my hands fly up to the roof. Sam’s hair is sticking straight up. We must be upside down.\r\nDad’s body crashes up on the dash and his head bangs the windshield. Blood seeps into the spider cracks spreading in the glass. It’s spreading fast.\r\nEverything gets dark and cold and I know we’re completely underwater. The water is leaking around the doors.\r\nSam must have unbuckled herself because she’s suddenly on the ceiling crawling towards Mom. We’re still upside down. Mom is trying to free herself, but her seatbelt won’t unlock. Sam tries to help her. Their hands keep slapping and pressing, but it won’t unbuckle.\r\nWater sprays in through the windshield. It’s going to burst any second. Mom sees it and frantically jerks at the buckle. But it won’t budge. Finally she gives up, grabs Sam’s face.\r\n“You two have to go, honey.”\r\nSam’s little fingers keep pressing the button. “No, I can get it.”\r\n“Samantha, stop! Look at me.”\r\nI’ve never heard Sam cry like this before, and I realize I’m crying, too.\r\n“I’m not leaving,” Sam says.\r\n“It’s going to be okay. I’ll get your father. But you both have to swim.”\r\nSam screams, “David, help!”\r\nI push my button, and for a second, I think I’m trapped just like Mom, but then I hear the click and my whole body thwaps against the ceiling. I crawl over to help, but it’s really stuck.\r\n“David, stop!”\r\nI don’t want to look at her.\r\n“You need to take care of your sister. You swim out after the glass breaks.”\r\nMy fingers are still pressing the button. Mom takes my face in her hands.\r\n“Promise me you’ll always protect her.”\r\nI want to tell her to be quiet, that we have to keep trying, but the sound of splintering glass fills the van. Water is going to come like an avalanche. Mom yells at us to get behind the seats, but I don’t want to move. I don’t want any of this.\r\n\r\n*****\r\nContinue to try and free Mom. Turn to page 43.\r\nPull Sam behind the seats. Turn to page 90.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

About Mark Tullius

I’m a father and a husband, a brother and a son. I’m an Ivy League grad who worked in a warehouse, an MMA fighter with too many defeats. I’m the bouncer and bodyguard, the drunk guy in the fight. The jailer and the jailed, the guilty and innocent. I’m a writer shaped by influences, too many to count. I grew up on King and Koontz while force-fed the Bible. I narrate Dr. Seuss and Disney nearly every night. Like you, I’ve seen things I wished I hadn’t, heard some truths I won’t forget. Writing is my heavy bag, the sparring partner that doesn’t punch back. It’s where I shed my armor and cast off the blindfold, take a look at myself and the world around me. The writing takes me wherever it wants. Dark alley or dinner table, classroom or morgue. I go along for the ride and try to capture the moment, show life like it is.


About Anthony Szpak

Anthony Szpak started stand-up comedy at sixteen, toured the country and performed on Comedy Central. He has sold television pilots to Castlerock, FX, and 20th Century Fox. His award-winning blog,, has been featured on AOL and The Ricki Lake Show. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their dog, Sunny.



Disclaimer: All material and links in the Indie Author Excerpts feature have been provided voluntarily by the author, publicist or publisher. Any materials quoted before publication date may change with final copy.  No affiliate links were used in this post.
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Jennifer became addicted to books when she randomly picked up a Sweet Valley High book in grade school. She never looked back. After blowing through the SVH and SVU series faster than her parents could put them in her hands, she began perusing her stepfather's bookshelves and reading fantasy like Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series, which she still maintains is some of the best fantasy ever. She collects books like the Duggar family collects kids and began waiting for her Hogwarts letter at the tender age of 33.


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