Marissa Romano slowly started waking up, and she was very confused. She didn't know what had happened to her. All she knew was that she was sitting in her car; she was in terrible pain and bleeding all over. She looked up and saw that the front windshield was shattered, and there was glass all over the car seats and floorboard. She realized her head must have hit the front windshield. She looked into the rearview mirror and was horrified by what she saw. Large shards of broken glass were embedded in her face and head! Blood was dripping down from her eyes! She must have covered her face with her hands when she had the wreck because there were huge splinters of glass in her hands too. Her hands were also bleeding from all of the cuts on them. The last thing she remembered was getting into her car after stopping to get gas along a deserted country road in the woods. She had missed her exit on the highway and ended up on a country road in the middle of nowhere. She had looked down and noticed that she was low on fuel. After driving for miles and miles, she had finally stopped when she saw a gas station ahead. She remembered she was on her way to meet some of her friends for the weekend at Lake Sardis in the mountains of southeastern Oklahoma. Everything after that was still a complete blank. She didn't even know her name or who she was!
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Drada Koehn is a fearless, formidable fighter ensnared in a presaged war against the northern humans. When the Speaker foretells their victory upon discovery of the name of death, she sets out to unravel the mysterious prophecy. Now, bound by duty and honor, Drada faces untold horrors with her companions, searching for what may never be found. In a story of unexpected twists, she soon finds that her resolve to see the quest done will be the fortune or doom of her people.
In 1901, an innocent child was cruelly tortured, and murdered by her vengeful mother.
Twisting her once beautiful soul into something evil and monstrous.
Her name was Maisie Whitmore.
Bound forever to Promised Land Lane, she will take her revenge on those foolish enough to cross her path.
If Maisie sees you. Run, for she will never forget.
“C’mon Allison…don’t be afraid, I promise I’ll catch you!”
Seventeen-year-old Allison Roberts sat by the pool wearing a new red one- piece bathing suit. She was huddled in a corner on the floor of the huge patio where Jamie Marsden, one of the kids from school threw the biggest pool party she had ever seen. Jamie’s family had money and loved to flaunt it every chance they got and this night was no exception. She shook her head “No” as her boyfriend Joshua Patterson held out his arms to coax her into joining him and their friends in the large pool.
“Allison c’mon! You’re not going to drown, I promise! He shouted to her but as she looked at him…she saw her father standing in the river with his arms stretched out to catch a six-year-old Allison who was learning how to swim for the first time and was terrified of getting into the water.
“C’mon babe!” her father shouted as he motioned for her to jump into his arms. He promised her he would catch her and she trusted him more than anyone in the world, after all, he was indeed her father.
“Don’t let me drown daddy,” Little Allison said as she stood on a rock, prepared to jump.
“I won’t let you drown I promise. On a count of three ok?”
“Ok,” she replied reluctantly.
“One…two. Three!” he said.
Allison then raised her arms like a bird taking flight and jumped, no longer feeling the hard surface beneath her feet anymore but deep, shallow water as it quickly began to cover her face. As the cold water entered her nose she gasped. Her arms and legs moved wildly as she tried to stay afloat.
“Daddy help!” she cried out.
Russ Roberts watched her for two minutes with these dark cold eyes that made Allison’s blood turn colder than the river that began to consume her senses. He didn’t move, he didn’t blink, he didn’t flinch. He just watched his little girl scream and struggle to keep from going under; waving her arms wildly. It was her first time being in open water and she was terrified.
“Daddy!” she cried out.
After five minutes Allison grew tired and couldn’t fight it anymore as she slowly began to feel the weight of her body plummet down to the bottom of the river, salty water filled her mouth and breathing was no longer possible. Soon came darkness as she lost consciousness. Her long, curly blonde hair waved in the water as the fish began to swim around her small form lying still on the river’s surface.
Frozen with fear, she continued to sit on the patio and watch her boyfriend and her friends have fun without her.
“Allison?” Brooklyn repeated as she sat down next to her. They grew up together and had been best friends since kindergarten. She knew Allison better than anyone and knew it was a bad idea for her to come to this party. Brooklyn was a lovely African American girl from Chicago’s northwest side, whose parents moved her to Milwaukee Wisconsin when she was four -years-old. She came from a good family with a doctor for a father and a Singer for a mother who had sung backup for many famous artists throughout her career. It kept her mother away from home a lot and often times put a strain on her parent’s marriage. Brooklyn never noticed just how much of a toll her mother being away so much took on their family. She was too busy trying to battle the daily misery machine called School.
Being one of the few black people in the entire school made Brooklyn feel isolated and alone. If it weren’t for Allison, she probably would’ve killed herself by now. She was a very pretty girl but rarely ever thought so herself. She was a perfect size ten but thought she was too fat. Allison talked her into wearing the yellow bikini they bought during one of their many shopping excursions but she chose the blue one- piece instead. The two girls sat together trying to look like they were having fun, but soon their cover would be blown.
“Where were you just now?” Brooklyn asked.
“The River,” Allison responded.
“You flashbacking again?”
“Was it that obvious? Allison knew she would have been better off staying home and watching a movie on Netflix or something. But it wasn’t every day that you get invited to a party at Jamie Marsden’s house. That was something you just didn’t turn down if you were lucky enough to be invited.
“This party blows…” Brooklyn said as she watched everyone drink and act like complete idiots. Parties were never her thing.
“Josh should’ve known not to ask you to get in the pool, after what your father did to you?” Brooklyn said as she watched him guzzle down a can of beer while talking to one of the guys at the party. Every now and then stealing a glance at Allison, his longtime girlfriend of two years.
“He doesn’t know about that Brook, and don’t you tell him either.”
“Why not, he loves you.”
“He won’t love me so much if he knew about my past.”
“But He’s going to find out eventually.”
“Not until I’m ready for him to know,” she said looking at her.
“Ok, fine. He won’t hear about it from me,” Brook promised.
Jamie and her boyfriend Jake approached the girls, both with a beer in their hands and appearing to be very drunk as they couldn’t keep their hands off of each other; looking like they just had a quickie in one of the bedrooms.
“You girls are killing my party, what’s wrong with you two?” she scolded.
“Hey Jamie,” Allison said as she tried to fake a smile.
“You girls are two of the finest looking bitches at this party,” Jake rattled off while trying to stand up straight.
“Hey!” Jamie shouted as she smacked him upside his head, “What about me dick head?”
“Oh sorry I meant you are the finest looking bitch at this party, is that better?” he corrected.
“Much,” she replied with sarcasm as she dragged him away from the girls and disappeared with him into the house.
Allison and Brooklyn laughed at all of the fakeries at the party. Every guy there was trying to get laid and weren’t even being discreet about it and whatever bullshit they were laying on these girls, seemed to be working. The party raged on until 1:00 am and then people started clearing out leaving Allison and Josh alone to talk as they prepared to go home. Josh was visibly concerned as he watched Allison not having any fun that night. He was hoping she would and felt like bringing her there was a bad idea. He didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable. He helped her put on her jacket and lifted her long curly blonde locks to let it cascade down her back. He could smell just a hint of strawberries.
“You should’ve told me you didn’t want to come to this thing Allison. I can’t read your mind.”
“I did want to come until I had to watch you drinking with your friends all night. I guess I have to drive us home now…your too drunk,” Allison couldn’t help but smell the liquor on his breath, but she was kind of used to it now. Josh always
partied hard when he was around his friends, and it was ok with her as long as he didn’t forget she was in the room; like he did that night.
“I’m sorry Ally, I didn’t mean to ignore you. I just thought you wanted to hang out with Brook since she was here to,” he said as he looked into her pale green eyes. Allison then turned away and headed for the parking lot until he stopped her and took her in his arms. His penetrating ocean blue eyes always seemed to stop her in her tracks when he gave her that look, you know the one that says you’re his and no one else’s? And the way he caressed her soft oval face in the most loving way. He really was sorry.
“Hey…will you forgive me, baby?”
Damn, he always knew how to destroy whatever resentment she had for him and his many issues. Even making his issues her issues, but when you are in love with someone you really don’t care. You just deal. He slowly leaned in and allowed his lips to capture hers for a long lingering kiss. When they broke away he smiled and that was it, her anger had melted away.
“I hate you so much,” she said smiling as she put her arms around his waist.
“I know, and I am helplessly in love with you,” he said as they walked to his car.
Kerry sat on her bed, headset on, playing her favourite video game. She was pitted against an online buddy from California. And she was kicking his ass. Her parents were asleep on the other side of the house, their bedroom door closed. It was way past midnight but Kerry wasn’t tired. She was a night owl, who’d probably sleep till the early afternoon, much to her parent’s annoyance. The room was dark, save for the light from the screen. That’s how she liked it. It made the game seem more real, like she was in a movie theatre. The top window was open a crack, letting in the sea air. She always slept with the window open, whatever the season. It had been a warm night with a pleasant breeze blowing in from the ocean. Now as she sat cross legged in a pair of joggers and vest top she started to feel a chill. She pulled the duvet up over her shoulders to keep warm. The video game was in mid battle and she didn’t want to pause it to put her bed socks and fleece on. She would do that later. She heard a cat howl in the distance, like it was squaring up for a fight. Her cat, Gizmo was out somewhere. Probably patrolling the gardens, garages, and roadway at the back of the houses she guessed. She heard another howl, making her look around at the window. It had become misty outside. Not like normal. Really misty, cold too. She paused the game, her buddy forgotten. Taking her headphones off, she slid from the bed and shuffled to the window. The mist was really thick. It seemed to stick to the glass, swirling and pulsating. She’d never seen mist like this. She shivered involuntarily, hugging herself to keep warm. She could not even make out the garage at the bottom of the garden, such was the thickness of the fog. She placed her hands on the sill to try to look to the house next door. As she did so she knocked the frame containing Jake’s buttons. They fell to the floor, landing in a muted clunk on the carpet.
“Shit,” she said, scooping them up. “What the,” she said, holding the frame. It was freezing. She set them down on the sill, rubbing her cold hand on her joggers. A deep drone from outside made her look up suddenly. She broke out in gooseflesh, hugging herself tighter. Something was wrong out there. Was it a ship’s horn? she thought. There it was again. What the fuck is it? She peered left and right, trying to see into neighbouring gardens. Nothing. It was like pea soup. She looked towards the garage at the bottom of the garden, noticing for the first time two glowing red points of light in the air. Her face looked puzzled. “What the hell is that,” she murmured. They vanished for a split second then reappeared. They looked to Kerry like far off car lights. She shuddered again, feeling increasingly cold. Something started moving on the sill. She looked down to see that the frame was gently vibrating. What the hell is happening, she thought. She watched it transfixed as it gently rotated on the white painted sill. She looked out the window to see that the red orbs seemed closer. Her heartbeat was now racing, her breathing constricted. She turned and grabbed her inhaler from the shelf, administering a double blast as she felt a panic coming on. She sighed heavily, placing both hands on the sill to try to steady herself. The frame suddenly shot left, shattering against the wall making her gasp. She pulled the top window closed and dove onto her bed, pulling the duvet all around her. She lay there shivering, her breathing hoarse, teeth chattering. She tried not to look out of the window. She buried her face in her pillow, trying to shut everything out. Something in her head was telling her to look. Something in the back of her brain was cajoling her to take a peek. She moved her head right, opening one eye. Nothing. The mist was still there though. She sat up in bed and looked at the window. She rubbed her eyes with the palm of her hands. Kerry opened her eyes, looking at the window. Looking at two red eyes, staring in at her. She could make out the shape of a head too, floating in the mist. She screamed, crashing back into the wall.
"They're surrounding us," Lucy panted, "Gotta move or we'll be cut off….."
Sarah was too winded to respond. She let herself be dragged down the causeway, then they were into a side street and another alley just as quickly. She had a few seconds to register the appearance of a dark mob at the far end, then they were back on a wide avenue and charging toward a distant rectangle of light. A knot of alphas came barrelling around the corner, so Lucy plunged her into yet another alley where she was allowed to stop just long enough to help roll a trio of garbage dumpsters across in a makeshift barricade, then her hand was back in Lucy's and they were off again at a sprint.
A secluded little alcove appeared midway down the alleyway, piled high with cardboard boxes and discarded bits of lumber, and covered over with garbage bags. Sarah assumed that it was simply one of those dead spots where the flotsam of the streets always seem to gather, but as they drew even closer, something stirred within, the mound of trash suddenly erupted, and a dirty, ragged, howling thing launched itself directly at the two of them, hair flying out in wild confusion and angry red froth dripping from its gnashing teeth.
Sarah gave a single startled yelp and lashed out a foot that caught the alpha just above the ankle, dropping it to its knees, but it didn't stay down for long. It leapt back to its feet in a flash, clawing at the air, but it had lost track of its prey, and Sarah and Lucy were giving nothing away. They both froze like statues, and as the wild thing flailed wildly about, Lucy put a finger to her lips and they both backed slowly away, inch by cautious inch. The alpha charged about in confusion, first one way, then the other, then spinning back, snorting and huffing like a wild boar. At last, it took two angry steps toward Sarah, but where anyone else might have fled, she froze defiantly in place. She drew in a deep, slow lungful of air that stunk of stale urine and vomit, then she held her breath and moved not a muscle as the creature advanced close enough that she could actually taste its hot acrid stench. The thing took one more puzzled step toward her, then it suddenly halted, silenced its incessant snorting and snarling, and assumed the familiar head-tilt.
It knew they were still there. The sounds had stopped, but the prey hadn't fled, so the alpha was waiting. Waiting for that first faint echo to give it direction.
Sophie continued to ask around town about the previous owners of her house. She then found out that about fifty years ago, a woman that lived in her house vanished without a trace. What is even worse is that she was nine months pregnant! She was still missing, and the mystery was never solved. Sophie wanted to find out even more about the house after she heard that unsettling news.
Sophie was told that they searched and searched for the missing woman years ago. They dragged all the local ponds and questioned everyone in the neighborhood. Her husband had passed a lie detector test, so he was dropped as a suspect. A search party of over one hundred people searched nonstop for the missing woman during a twenty-four hour period. The police were dumbfounded by the lack of evidence. There were no clues and the case eventually became a cold case. Even though the husband passed a lie detector test, many people still believed that the husband was responsible for the disappearance of his wife. For the first year after his wife's disappearance, he was under scrutiny from the whole town every time he left his house and was seen out and about the town.
Many years later, the husband was diagnosed with flesh-eating bacteria in his hands. The doctor believed that he got it from working in his garden. His doctor treated him for the bacteria, but it continued to get worse. The flesh-eating bacteria spread throughout his entire body, and it was literally eating him alive! He had a major stroke and not too long after that, he had a massive heart attack and died.
Shane jolted from his chair, stumbled over his own feet and fell to the floor. He must have fallen asleep, but he didn’t remember doing so. He was shivering and a layer of perspiration coated his body. Though feeling shocked and unsteady, he scrambled up and glanced at his watch. Two hour had passed. Unexplainable fear gripped him. He spun around, looking for something, but what was it that he was trying to find? Whatever it was that he felt so compelled to locate was not real. He’d been only dreaming.
He tried to remember details now that he was awake, but what had seemed so vivid while he slept now appeared hazy. One word flashed from his memory: Murder. Much of him did not want to remember, but curiosity overrode his apprehension. Trying to recall was challenging, as if the dream was made from old faded photographs. Shane tried harder to filter tidbits of latent info into his mind and slowly he gained specks and pieces. It had not been a clean killing. He remembered the smell of all that blood. Through his mind’s eye, he could still see it covering the carpet of Pile Hall’s lobby. There was no blood now, but the haunting memory of it remained, choking him. He bent over with his hands on his knees, trying to breathe, but feeling strangled.
Abe staggered along the old road, a shadow of what he had been. His hair was disheveled, his eyes were dull, and his gait suggested one much older than his thirty years. No signs existed to tell him if he was going the right direction, but according to the copy of the handmade map that he’d been given, he was heading toward Geddon, California. He couldn’t reach it soon enough. It was hot. It was dry. He had run out of the meager provisions of water that the Ra had given him. He was miserable.
Still, he was thankful. The Ra had left him alone on the road and he preferred it that way, regardless of how poorly they’d provisioned him. It was as if they didn’t care one way or the other if he survived his mission.
His mission: he shook every time he thought of it. He was to infiltrate the enemy where they were strong, in Geddon, and when the time was ripe, assassinate their leader. He disdained it. He was not a murderer. Sure, it had all been explained to him. This was war. He was a soldier following orders.
The description of the leader made his job even more distasteful. Their leader was a woman, a hundred-year-old woman. He would know her by her unusual brown eyes.
He hadn’t received the mark of the Ra, so he didn’t see how he could be in the army. He would receive it after his mission was complete. It was a mark he no longer wanted, yet one he saw no way of avoiding.
He wondered how he would be received at Geddon. He felt dirty, as if the stench of the Ra was upon him. Would the enemy notice the stench? Would they see him for who he was? A snake in the grass waiting to bite? But he was being fanciful. Of course they couldn’t smell the stench of the Ra. It was a stink only he could smell. It leached to him from within.
As he walked the desert road, he had time to plan. I’ll claim to be a defector, he decided. If they can tell I come from the Ra, I’ll claim to be a defector. He thought about it as he trudged along. He needed to make sure there were no holes in his strategy. He couldn’t think of any, but then, dehydration was hardly conducive to brain activity.
He stared ahead as far as he could see. He strained his eyes until they stung. As he gazed into the distance, the road seemed to take on a life all its own, shimmering and wiggling as if electrified. It was a result of the heat, he told himself; still in his dehydrated state, he wondered.
He wore denim jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. Despite the heat, he refused to remove his clothes. They were the only thing protecting him from the sun. Perhaps it was because the Ra were foreigners to Earth, or maybe they didn’t care about their human charges, but they also hadn’t provided him with a cover for his head. That, along with the lack of water, played havoc on his body.
He walked on. No, he trudged, his legs barely picking themselves up for the next step, and when they came down, landed haphazardly, chaotically.
With every yard, it became increasingly difficult to keep his path straight. He was unsure if he was unsteady or if the road itself wobbled and veered. Several times, he stumbled into the culvert that hugged either side of the deserted two-lane highway.
The highway itself was hard to follow. Sand dunes covered entire sections and it was clear no one had driven down it for years, maybe even decades. It made sense. Only an abandoned road would lead to a secret city like Geddon.
Something flickered above him. He glanced up, just for a moment. The sun above was too bright for staring. He could only see that something, some things, circled above him. Their shadows contrasted darkly against the bright sky. He couldn’t tell what they were. He kept walking.
A breeze blew, an unpleasant dry breeze. It blew away what remnants of moisture remained within him. He stumbled. He fell. He rolled into the bone-dry culvert and got a mouthful of sand. He spit out the wad, but a grainy coating stuck to his tongue and refused to leave.
Even when his body settled to a stop, his head continued to spin. His perception danced and wavered, as if he were drunk. He knew dehydration was the mastermind behind his state of being. However, basic thinking was now being trumped by the more primitive attributes indicative of a dying man.
He rolled onto his back, telling himself he would only rest a moment. He looked up into the sky and felt the desert rays bake him.
That strange flickering persisted. He stared hard, no longer caring if the sun burned out his retinas and realized what those strange dark bodies were. They were buzzards. The scavengers circled above him, effortlessly riding the hot-air currents that pushed up from the desert floor. He knew these creatures to be skittish. They would descend to him eventually, when they thought it safe, after he was dead. Lucky buzzards, he thought. They won’t be waiting long.
He would have shed tears at the thought of his impending death, but had no moisture for their creation. Still, he lamented his future which now appeared quite short. He heard a noise. He turned. He saw. Crap!
The reptilian face before him appeared larger than life. It flicked a forked tongue. Its eyes were like pearls with elliptical pupils. The image of it shimmered in the desert heat. It took a second for Abe’s dehydrated brain to register what he was looking at. At first, he thought it was Lucifer, but then he noticed the eyes were not as powerful. He was face to face with a rattlesnake. Its tail was vibrating, its rattle sounding.
In his delirium, he wondered if the snake really existed, or if it was just a byproduct of his altered state of thinking. He watched the pit viper levitate away from him arching into strike mode. It seemed real. A snakebite was the last thing he needed. Sure it would bring his death quicker, which was the only thing he had to look forward to, but it might make the process that much more painful, which he was not looking forward to at all.
The snake was poised, but did not strike. Again, Abe questioned the reality of what he was seeing. If it was real, what was it waiting for?
He couldn’t stand it any longer. He had to know if his predicament was real. Slowly, he reached out his hand knowing he would grasp empty air or get pierced by venom-dripping fangs.
As he reached out, the rattling intensified. The head of the snake retracted back almost to its tail. Abe stopped mid-reach. His tension was maxed. Everything froze. His hand, the snake; even the air around him felt still as if he existed within a hiccup of time. He didn’t know what to do. His moisture-deprived brain was unable to make a decision.
“You just don’t understand. But you soon will Jake. I’ll not return here until everyone you know and love is long in the ground. My work was almost done. Now I must hope that I have done enough.” Jake noticed a faint blue outline appear behind Smeets as the wind kicked up around him.
The trees whistled and strained as a gust whipped up along the hillside. To Jake, it felt like his ears had just popped as he saw the blue glow strengthen into the shape of a doorway. The big man put his cases on the floor, bowing his head and removing his dark glasses. He spoke as he looked at the ground, the wind blowing his coat around his long legs.
“Do you know why you’re stood here, Jake? This very minute?”
Suddenly unsure of himself, Jake hesitated. “No, why?” he shouted over the roaring wind.
“Because I wanted you to be. You are my gift to a friend. Now I must leave you.” He looked up at Jake, his red eyes penetrating the night. Jake’s mouth fell open as he swayed on his feet.
Smeets took two steps back, turning his head to the blackness behind him. “Enjoy him, Anya, for he is fresh and very healthy.” He walked backwards until he vanished from sight, the blackness swallowing him whole.
Jake took a step forward, dumbfounded. His mind a whirling maelstrom. He stopped in his tracks when another figure emerged from the void. He stared in horror at the figure, dressed in a dirty grey gown that fell almost to her white bony ankles, dark mottled blotches covering her bare arms. Her yellow eyes are searching out and finding Jake, who felt like the earth was tilting at a strange angle.
She smiled at the sight of him, her dirty canines filling her blackened mouth as she moved closer. He tried to move backwards, tripping on a fallen log and crashing into the crook of a small tree. She sensed an advantage and moved to within ten feet of Jake, edging closer to him with shuffling feet. He wanted to turn and flee, back to his car, back to the safety of his house where he could bar the doors from all this. He then remembered his friend who lay dead on his lounge floor.
Not even his house would keep him safe from this. He was brought back to reality as two hands seized the lapels of his coat. He looked into the eyes of the woman as they bored into his. The yellow light seemed to dance like firefly’s, slowly taking away his fears. He welcomed the inevitable. He could almost see himself floating in a red river as her face filled his vision. He was at peace as her hands yanked apart the material of his clothing, exposing the flesh underneath.
Two things happened at that moment.
Firstly, his ears were filled with the deafening sound of her screams. Second, his eyes were blinded by a flash of light from below as he felt the hold on him released. The woman staggered backwards, her hands in front of her face, trying to fend off the piercing light that threatened to engulf her. Jake tried to rub his eyes and blink away the fuzzy shapes that floated in his vision as he suddenly felt a searing pain on his chest, followed by the smell of roasting flesh and burning hair.
He tried to grab at whatever it was that was causing the pain, his fingers touching the pendant that hung there. He pulled his hand away at the intense heat, flapping his fingers in the cold air. The bright light had dissipated enough for him to see that the woman had made it over to the glowing blue doorway between the two trees, one hand resting on the trunk as she tried to recover her resolve.
“Next time we meet, you’re mine,” she hissed before turning to trudge into the blackness.
He hit it again and again. Each time he made contact, Ethan’s ears wished he could drown out the chilling, blood-curdling, cringing sound of each bone breaking, like snapping chicken legs with pliers, echoing in the pit. The cobra’s face was pulverized. Its blood spurted like a fountain, hitting Ethan in the chest and neck. The flesh on the cobra’s face had split, exposing its smashed in skull. The mouth had separated from its jaw. Its two fangs just dangled outward, bent at an awkward angle.
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