Mark is uprooted from his home and high school in the Twin Cities and forced to move with his family into a Victorian in Nowhere-ville. Busy with the relocation and fitting in, Mark’s parents don’t see what’s unfolding around them—the way rooms and left behind objects seem alive with a haunted past.
Of course, Mark keeps his ghostly encounters to himself, all the while sinking deeper into the house's dark, alluring, and ultimately terrifying history. As romantic entanglements intensify, the paranormal activity escalates. Past and present come together. Everything is connected—from the bricks in the walls to the hearts beating in their chests, all the secrets of Fountain Dead are finally unearthed.
The vapor wafting from the stagnant pool smelled like the rancid rot from inside a carcass. Mark felt he breathed in fire. The gooey surface boiled and foamed as if a prehistoric substance. His heart stopped as something emerged. A goopy and gnarled dome became a sickly face. The eyelids still closed, the rest of the form rose, covered in green.
A tattered dress clung to the feminine curves. The cloth slipped from the shoulders, drawing his attention to her skin. The texture made him gag.
A sour taste of bile filled his mouth. His skin contracted as he contemplated her spongy flesh. Her black eyes sprang open like a demonic doll’s. Her inhuman gaze stabbed his very core, and he knew he was facing a soul-less being. The eyes burned like hot stove burners.
A decomposing hand extended toward his throat.
Mark woke, wet with perspiration. His pillowcase and sheets were damp, as if he’d taken a swim in the fountain. That idea made him unable to breathe. His heartbeat sped along at a rate close to heart attack status as he tried not to blow a gasket about the evil that lie in wait. He whipped his pillow from behind his head and squashed it to his chest. No one would grasp what he’d been feeling—or what he’d been seeing.
His lip trembled.
Something—a fiend, a spirit, the fountain—wanted to hurt him.
Mark’s chest compressed.
The devil on his shoulder advised him that his mother had to be right. All of the metal music, the cartoons, the swearing, had been an invitation for demons and darkness. Forget the fact that none of his friends had ever mentioned opening some gateway to hell. These dark forces had chosen him.
He lied back, exhaustion sinking him deeper into the mattress. After pulling the blood warm sheets up to his chin, he shunned the moonlight streaming into the room. The crooked claws of the branches squealed against the half-open windowpane. Summer’s hot breath puffed into the house. Mark didn’t have to strain to hear its griping—the sighs of the woodwork and the building’s various joints.
The door to the servants’ quarters was open again. However, that bothered him less and less. A perfume of fragrant flowers sent him to sleep.
Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides. An English teacher and adjunct college professor for over thirteen years, she continues to share her enthusiasm for literary arts with her students. She earned a Masters in English literature with a thesis on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. In her spare time, she enjoys delving into her own creative writing, painting, photography and even ghost hunting. Spending time with her family and traveling as often possible are two of her passions. In fact, her world meanderings are often backdrops for her work. Striving to make the world a better place is something dear to her heart.
Why write a teenage protagonist?
Looking back at myself as a teenager, I realize what a confusing and crazy experience it was. Not that being an adult feels easy whatsoever. I often tell my high school students that grownups don’t grow up all that much, really. We are all kind of big kids. The difference is that most of us have a car payment and a mortgage, and some of us have kids of our own. (Or, pets). Going back to teens, I feel that it’s such a significant time. You’re finding yourself and figuring out what you think of the world, striving to somehow get there on your own terms, despite the fact that you have parents and other adults telling you what to do.
Throw in some ghosts into the mix, and that creates the ultimate recipe for teenage overload. Let’s not forget about the raging hormones. In Fountain Dead, Mark lives in the 1980s with a conservative mother and a super chill father. His sister is kind of like him, willing to rebel against social constraints put upon them by their parents. I wanted to tackle some modern issues, but still set the story in a time that seemed so iconoclastic and repressed all at the same time. We had gender fluid celebrities and musicians, but a culture not ready to fully embrace them. We had people like Madonna who were willing to shock the world with suggesting a sexual revolution, but people were terrified of the AIDS virus.
So I got to thinking, what if my protagonist was coming to terms with his own sexuality? And, what if he was bi-sexual, which made for a more confusing scenario. How does one define sexual orientation in a society that still pushed everyone to be straight? Furthermore, what if a ghost helped this protagonist get clarity? Very off-putting indeed.
Another issue that I spend a lot of time thinking about is social justice. Here we are thirty years later and we haven’t achieved equality in terms of religion, gender, or race. Those things haven’t gone away and need our discussion. Sure, gender comes up in the novel, in addition to sexuality. However, the characters also face racial issues. Since Minnesota has a rich Native American history, I wanted to incorporate that into the story. Whenever we marginalize one group, it definitely affects society as a whole. I hope Fountain Dead helps foster a discussion about that—while at the same time entertaining readers.
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