Deep within the bowels of a Tennessee cave, the vindictive spirit of the Bell Witch awaits the catalyst to unleash her vengeance again after a decade of dormancy …
Ten-year-old Abby Whitaker is troubled. Her devoted father, Brody, a gifted Clarksville medium, is aware that she is beginning to pick up on subtle signs presented by spirits of her late relatives. But who is the stranger loitering across from Abby’s school, seeking her attention and worrying her so? While Brody juggles Abby’s angsts along with the myriad demands of fatherhood and personal financial struggles, he fatefully crosses paths with two dangerous small-time hoodlums, leaving him to wonder if his unique ability is a blessing or a curse. As the slumbering Bell Witch is roused once more, Brody is propelled into a desperate life-or-death maelstrom where he is pitted against sinister forces that will stop at nothing to get what they want: the one he holds closest to his heart.
In this occult mystery, a gifted medium and his young daughter unwittingly become embroiled in a perilous clash with both criminal and supernatural worlds—awakening a vengeful spirit in the process.
With no response at the front door, Deputy Landon Popplewell took off around the Trent house, his weapon drawn, peeking in between open window blinds. He checked the entire perimeter but found no sign of anyone, so he retreated to his black and white and headed down the road almost to the intersection. He backed into a convenient opening in the thicket, well off the pavement, and waited. Roughly forty-five minutes later, an approaching vehicle alerted the dozing deputy. A white Chevy service van passed by, and even through the heavy dust cloud it kicked up as it crossed his path, Popplewell could recognize a clean-shaven Teddy inside. Teddy didn't seem to spot the hidden patrol car; he proceeded down the long stretch of driveway to the Trent house and around to its rear. Deputy Popplewell radioed in that the suspect had returned home-although the van sported a logo of "Peter's Pets and More" on its side-and that he was moving in to investigate. He eased out from the underbrush and headed up to the dwelling. He parked in front and walked to the steps, casually yet with a savvy patrolman's heed. After knocking, he stood by, waiting. He knocked once more. Nobody came. He stepped down onto the weathered paving stone walkway and moved toward the corner of the house nearest his vehicle. Glancing around the side, he drew his revolver once more and chested it. He swung around the corner, weapon at the ready. All clear. Ducking underneath the twin windowsills, knees bent and his back to the wall, he slid along the brick, stopping at the rear of the house. Pausing, taking a deep breath, he whipped around the corner aiming his weapon at-nothing! He swayed the gun in wide arcs, toward the house and to the detached garage, repeating the semicircle as he moved to the outbuilding. He saw no faces peering from the windows or the back door glass. As he made it to the side of the garage, perspiration coalesced across his forehead; it dripped down his cheeks, his neck, and the length of his back. As he inched his way to the rear, his heart thumped wildly in his chest; his breathing was rapid and shallow, his focus intense. With his gun pointing skyward, the deputy lunged around the back of the garage, dropping the nose down in anticipation of catching Teddy off guard. But Teddy wasn't there. The garage door was raised, however, and the service van sat inside, exhaust still hanging thinly in the air. A yellow El Camino was stationed beside it, and hanging between the two was a well-worn boxer's speed bag. Popplewell reclaimed his breath and crossed to the rear of the van. He tested the handle. It was locked. Suddenly, noises came from inside the van-the sound of movement, along with a frail voice calling out, "Help!" He holstered his service revolver and snatched up his portable transponder hooked to his belt. He placed the microphone to his lips and relayed the following in hoarse, succinct sentences: "Dispatch, this is Officer Popplewell. I am at 311 Downer Lane requesting immediate backup. The vehicle believed to be involved in the Clarksville 211 is parked at the rear of the residence. It sounds like the victim may be in the rear of the vehicle. I am going to attempt to free the victim. Again, this is Officer Popplewell requesting immediate backup. Over and out." "Roger that, Officer Popplewell. All units, attention all units, Officer Landon Popplewell requesting code 82 at 311 Downer Lane. Repeat: code 82 at 311 Downer Lane. Please respond. Over." He reclipped the microphone to his belt and searched for something inside the carport to pry open the door. On a nearby workbench, he found a heavy-duty screwdriver and applied it with some leverage to the crease between the panels. "Well, well, well-if it ain't Popplewell," Teddy suddenly sneered from behind the deputy. His voice dripped with mock molasses. Out of the corner of his eye, Popplewell could see Teddy's pistol trained on him, inches away. He hadn't heard Teddy's approach at all. "Deputy Dawg," Teddy smirked, creeping forward. "Long time, no see." "Help!" Another muffled cry of distress, youthful sounding, came from within the van. "Who's in the van, Teddy? What have you gotten yourself into?"
JERRY GUNDERSHEIMER is an optometrist practicing in Sherman, Texas. A former photojournalist for Texoma Living! Magazine, he has also written over two hundred songs that include his rock musical DROCKula, and has acted in several productions at the local community theater. He and his wife, Debbie, have six children and six grandchildren. This, Dr. Gundersheimer’s debut novel, has garnered both the Editor’s Choice Award and the prestigious Rising Star designation from iUniverse.
I enjoyed reading Face of the Bell Witch by newcomer author, Jerry Gunderscheimer, with its twisting plot and colorful characters. I felt Gunderscheimer did an excellent job using foreshadowing without telegraphing the path of his story. At times I questioned some of the dangling strings of information and events presented to the reader, however, they were all woven together to complete the reading experience. Well done!