Fiction Fest: June free peeks close with excerpt from Phyllis Gunderson’s ‘The Mounds Anomaly’

Mounds Anomaly 2x3As June comes to a close, we offer one last peek at Phyllis Gunderson’s “The Mounds Anomaly,” which was released on June 11 and is currently available in bookstores and on,, and

Tune in next week as we begin sharing excerpts from our exciting July titles!


Matt receives a cryptic invitation to see Barnes Cave in Illinois. She takes her ten-year-old daughter, Marisa, along where they meet with a grizzled, pistol-toting man named Jones who leads them in circles through a wilderness.

Padding behind the master, we crossed yet another ravine and I bent over at the bottom for deep breathing in preparation for the climb up. I happened to look down the gully to my left. Several feet away sat the same green boulder I’d seen from the opposite side fifteen minutes ago. We had crisscrossed the same ravine several times. Concentrating all my energy on self control, I called out, “Mr. Jones, wait.”

He grudgingly turned. When I reached him, I spewed anger in his puckered face. “Why are you taking us nowhere?  You’re the one who invited me here, I came at my own expense. YOU wanted me to see—“

Marisa had caught up and tugged on my jacket. “Mom?”

“Not now, Marisa, Mommy’s busy yelling at Mr. Jones.” I glared at the man, planning to push him over and sit on him before he reached his guns.

“Mom,” she insisted, still tugging, “There’s a man behind that tree.” She pointed to a stunted tree across the gully, its trunk thick, the bark shaggy.

I glanced at it to reassure her, “It’s just a tree with a bump, sweetheart.”

Jones, however, had a different opinion. He whipped out a pistol, ordered us to take cover, and fell to the ground like an action figure toy, gun firing into the tree. The sound of bullets whacking into bark was louder than Marisa’s scream. My own reaction turned out to be paralysis as we cowered behind a bush.

Jones stayed in the dirt and called out, “Ya got ta the count a’ three ta come out with yer hands up. One, two three!” He commenced firing at the defenseless tree until the air rained splinters. A man’s voice lifted beyond the noise.

“All right!” He whined. “Gimme a chance to get out.”

“Show both hands,” Jones’ gravel voice commanded, “an’ git in that gully where I c’n see ya, an’ ya better run fast.”

Two hands appeared under a cracked branch, then a man slunk from behind the tree, slid into the gully, and sprinted away from us. “You’re crazy, ” he yelled behind him.

Jones aimed his pistol at the retreating man and shot into the ground directly behind him. The guy picked up speed.