Free Read Friday: Covenant Part IV




Covenant

Part IV


Read the story from the beginning to this point HERE!

She stood on the other side of the glass, watching him with sparkling blue eyes, a faint smile playing hide and seek on her full red lips.  His back complained loudly as he pushed himself to his feet, and pulled open the door. She took a step back, her eyes never leaving his, as he emerged from the phone booth.

“Who are you?” He asked.

“Don’t you know? She answered before she turned and walked away, sashaying down the length of the bar to her seat. She stopped, turned, and motioned for him to follow with a crooked finger.

“Who is she? He wondered as he moved the length of the bar, aware of others on their seats, obscure shadowy shapes that muttered and groaned at each other in his peripheral vision. 

Coming abreast of where she sat he stopped and gazed at her. She looked so much like Pat when she was younger, yet there was something missing, some little thing that stood her apart from the woman he loved and had grown old with.

She motioned to the seat beside her, inviting him to sit down, and the shadows to her left shifted with a faint, yet menacing, growl, to clear a seat for him. As he sat down he realized he still had the baby monitor clipped to his belt, the hard plastic shell digging into his belly as it became trapped against his thigh. Removing it he placed it on the bar in front of him. A harsh white object surrounded by the murky depths of a bar that could be anywhere from a lonely stretch of two lane blacktop in the middle of nowhere, to the bustling center of a crowded city that never slept.

She lifted her hand, her index and middle finger pointing up, and two drinks appeared on the bar in front of them. Emerging from the shadows crowded around them. Above the bar a faint neon light glowed with a muted brilliance, its light battling the dense shadows that were as thick as smoke. From his left came assorted growls, moans, and monosyllable grunts, accompanied by the muted tinkling of glasses colliding with one another, and the surface of the bar.

“What is this place? What do you want?”

She smiled over the rim of her glass as she took a small sip. Archie followed suit, the amber liquid burning on its journey to his belly, almost taking his breath away, and causing him to choke. That was some powerful stuff.  As the heat faded he detected a nuttiness about it that left a strange aftertaste in his mouth.

“Don’t you remember me?” she said as she lowered her glass to the bar, turning to look up at him with sparkling blue eyes. Her eyes grew brighter, glowing with an internal light. They looked as if sparks were about to start shooting from them.

He shook his head as he tried to recall, the features of her face were familiar, her name playing hide and seek on the tip of his tongue, frustrating him as his thoughts became a muddled morass of shadowy images like the indistinct shapes that jostled around them.

He knew her, he knew he should know her, yet every time he tried to put his finger on that elusive name, to pin it in place long enough for him to grab it, it faded into the crowding darkness that was threatening to overwhelm him from within, and without.

Something bumped into his back and he swiveled his head around, an act that seemed to take impossibly long, and peered into the murky depths that pressed in close on every side of him.

“Hey, watch it,” he said, his words slurred as he peered into the that crowded emptiness. A hand shot out, slapping him across the face, hard, and a memory blossomed. They were supposed to have been home by supper, but hadn’t made it until after dark. He sensed fear and anger, tempered with a touch of love and caring, all battling for dominance. Something could have happened to you, the sensation trickled through his thoughts as the memory that didn’t belong to him faded into the shadowy recesses.

He spun back around, intent on finding out once and for all who she was, but she had vanished. Her empty stool remained, glowing in a soft light that held the crowding shadows at bay. He spun round on his seat searching for her in the murkiness that was gathering even closer around him. Dark shapes moved through the emptiness, bustling and jostling for position as ebony hands darted out of the shadows to snatch at him. He slapped at the shadow hands that reached out for him.

Spinning around on his stool he reached for the baby monitor as a pair of black hands emerged from the darkness to grab it.  Each finger was tipped by an ebony claw that clicked against the plastic case with a sound reminiscent of a bird pecking at a window.

“Archie,” Pat’s voice shrieked from the monitor and he struggled to pull it loose from those shadowy hands as one of the claws raked his hand, laying open his finger that bled onto the white surface of the monitor, staining it with his blood. 

He yanked on it with all he had, pulling it free, his actions causing him to spin around in his seat and slam his elbow against the side of the phone booth. Pain shot down to his hand as numbness danced through his fingers. He dropped the baby monitor with a clatter. He looked around wildly, searching for shadows that weren’t there as the realization slowly dawned that he was still sitting in the phone booth.

It had been a dream bordering on a nightmare.

“Archie,” Pat cried out again, her voice tinny, and filled with static, coming from the plastic grill of the monitor lying on the floor at his feet. 

It was just a dream, he sought to console himself. All the stress he’d been feeling coupled with his horror at his recent revelation had given him a nightmare.

“Archie,” she cried out for a third time, driving him up from his seat, and he pulled open the door of the phone booth. As he did he noticed the small cut on his finger, already starting to scab over, and a cold fear slowly unwound in the pit of his belly.

It had been a dream, right?  He sought to convince himself.

To be continued!


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New This Week in Post Apocalyptic Fiction 9/6/2017

Fire From the Sky  N.C. Reed


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Synopsis:

Clayton Sanders left home the minute he had his high school diploma in hand. He waited that long only because the Army wouldn't accept him without one. Now, ten years later, he's home. Home with no warning, no advance notice, no anything after being gone ten years with almost no contact with his family. Home carrying a secret that is burning him up from the inside. A secret that has pushed him to the brink, forcing him to become a criminal in order to be where his family needs him to be, even though they don't realize it yet. Because Clayton knows something they don't. Something that hasn't happened, but will. Something that will burn everything it touches. And change the face of the world forever.

Aletheia Megan Tennent


Click on cover for more info!


Synopsis:

War. Chaos. Panic. These are the things that tore down a seemingly indestructible society. But for the survivors, it was forgetting who they were that cost them their humanity.

Nearly two decades after the fall, the transcendent city of Iris is the only place rumored to have a cure to the disease that decimated the world. Beyond Iris, are the remnants of the old world, crawling with the Depraved. Infected with Lethe, they no longer remember the people or dreams they were once willing to fight for, and are left instead with familiar voices that whisper dark and unfamiliar words within their minds. Instinct is all that keeps the diseased struggling to exist another day.

Deep underground, below Iris, exists a compound, prison to the Nameless who traded their freedom for the cure to Lethe. It is here that 736 fights to protect those she loves. Not against the Depraved that she's taught to fear, but against the society that saved her from that fate. She was willing to trade away her rights to regain the ability to form memories, but she won’t let the cult that cured her treat the lives of the Nameless like a resource to be used and discarded. At least, not without a fight.

How much is 736 willing to sacrifice for revenge against her captors? For those she cares about? For freedom? Everything has a cost, what would you be willing to pay?


Genesis Ellis Barrett


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Synopsis:

Captured, brutalised and held captive as a serious security risk, Quincy Emerson once again finds herself in the grips of the sinister city of Oasis. In her way stand the walls of the Colosseum, a maximum-security prison. Escape, they say, is impossible.

With the city on the brink of anarchy, rumours of a rebel group powerful enough to take down Oasis abound. Could this be Quincy’s one last shot at freedom? Or will her determination to seek revenge on Oasis’ deceptive leader ultimately destroy her?


Island Chaos Aden Cabro


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Synopsis:

Scarce food. Radioactive fallout. On the run. This wasn't Chuck's idea of an island vacation with his young son Paxton.

Keeping his child safe is Chuck's top priority. Safety seems like an outdated idea, though. The Jakkyls and the Harriers are fighting each other for resources and revenge, and father and son are caught in the middle.

When a third group shows up, all bets are off. Their heavy firepower makes the guns of the island gangs look like toys. It's clear they're out to kill everyone. But why? Chuck has no time to seek answers before the Jakkyls capture his son.

With Paxton's life in the balance, the hunted must become the hunter. Chuck must rise up even though he knows he's ill-equipped to mount a one-man rescue operation.

Chuck has nothing left to lose and the Jakkyls are about to find out what that means...


Solar Storm  Marcus Richardson


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Synopsis:

Solar Storm is the ongoing saga of the Cantrell family as they try to survive a coronal mass ejection that plunges mankind back to the pre-industrial age. The story is told in episodic format, each one consisting of between 20,000-25,000 words (about 80-90 pages). Season 1 had 5 episodes, Season 2 will have 6.

In Episode 4, the group mounts a daring rescue mission to retrieve one of their own held by the Grover County Militia. They're willing to risk all to bring home the one they left behind, but at what price?

Free Read Friday: Covenant Part III




Covenant

Part III

For a week he kept his promise, remaining attentive to her every need, even though it seemed she was unaware of him. Her mind having wandered to a remote place that lay beyond the edge of reason. He tried not to think about the phone booth in the basement, or the strange dream he’d had, a dream that had felt more real that imagined. But it was hard, that brief moment had reminded him what it felt like to really be alive.  That mysterious woman haunting his thoughts as he went about his duties.

Every day he brought her breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the appointed time. Every day she watched him with guarded mistrust. Like he was a stranger in her home, and not the man she had spent over fifty years with. She was slowly becoming just like her own mother in her final days, and the thought brought out another that had lain buried by sorrow.

The day they laid her mother to rest she had cornered him in the cemetery, in the older section where the stones were not as polished, and the names once chiseled sharply on those granite faces were losing their edge. Fading into the past like all of them would eventually.

“I don’t want to end like that,” she’d said as they walked among the tombstones. Her once vibrant red hair had already started to lose it luster, here and there the gray of her approaching old age had started to show through. Her steps were not as assured as they once were, and she carefully picked her way through the graveyard, ever watchful for hazards that might cause her to lose her footing.

“Like what?” he’d asked as he followed, noting, not for the first time, that the curvy figure that had caught his eyes so many years ago had softened around the edges. It was still there, just not as pronounced as it once was.

“Like my mother,” she said as she spun on him, forcing him to stop abruptly, “I don’t care what you’ve gotta do, I don’t want to end up like that.”

“What are you talking about? What are you saying?”

“You know. “ She looked at him with a hard stare, an unrelenting gaze, her blue eyes as cold as ice. He was forced to look at his feet, the ground, the tombstone to their right that carried the worn name of another. Anywhere but into her unrelenting gaze. A part of him noticed the crows feet spreading out from the side of each eye, the way her cheeks had grown just a tad heavier, her lips a little less defined.

“A bullet to the brain would be preferable to spending the last years of my life confined to bed, unaware of who or where I am, not even recognizing you or the boys. I couldn’t live with myself like that,” she said.

Archie was taken back by the sheer intensity in her voice.

“Promise me,” she said, stepping close enough for him to see the fine lines gathered at the corners of her lips.

“Promise you what?” He asked, but he knew all too well what she wanted. It was what anyone else in the same situation would want. What many already trapped in the illness likely begged for silently every day. An end to the suffering, the not knowing, the loss of self. An end to the indignity of being forced to rely on others for even the simplest of things.

“You know what,” she said, following him step for step as he backed away from her. The backs of his legs came against the curved top of a tombstone and he was forced to put his hand back to steady himself.

“What?” he said again. “Say it out loud, tell me what you want me to do.”

“I want you to kill me, it if comes to it. The doctors say I have a seventy five percent chance of becoming just like my mom. If I do, I want you to end my suffering.”

How? How could he kill the one thing he truly loved. He knew death, had walked hand in hand with it in the jungles of Vietnam, but that had been war. This was different, this was murder plain and simple

“I’m begging you not to let me suffer the same fate as my mom.”

He couldn’t respond, hell he couldn’t even wrap his mind around it, to kill his wife, the mother of his children, the woman he loved. It was too much to ask. It was one thing to kill your enemy in a battle. It was quite the opposite to kill the one you loved.

He stood at the foot of her bed as she slept, the memory of that day receding into the dark depths of his mind. It would be so easy. Hold the pillow over her face until she stopped struggling.

Would she struggle?

The direction his mind was taking frightened him and he raced from her room as fast as a man his age was capable of. Seeking the refuge of the basement. He reached the bottom of the steps and stared across the room at the phone booth as the memory of her sparkling blue eyes filled his mind. Before he even realized he was going to do it he was halfway across the room.

Reaching the phone booth he yanked open the door and stepped in to settle onto the hard wooden seat. There he sat as the stress from the past week slowly drained away and a heavy sadness settled over him. Lowering his head he cried softly, his hot tears dropping onto his hands.

It was too much to ask.

There was a knock at the door, and he looked up.

To be continued!


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free starter library.



That's 2 complete novels and a 
collection of short stories.
Absolutely Free!



New This Week in Horror 8/30/2017

The Soprano  Sarah England


Click on cover for more info!


Synopsis:

'It is 1951 and a remote mining village on the North Staffordshire Moors is hit by one of the worst snowstorms in living memory. Cut off for over three weeks, the old and the sick will die; the strongest bunker down; and those with evil intent will bring to its conclusion a family vendetta spanning three generations.
Inspired by a true event, 'The Soprano' tells the story of Grace Holland - a strikingly beautiful, much admired local celebrity who brings glamour and inspiration to the grimy moorland community. But why is Grace still here? Why doesn't she leave this staunchly Methodist, rain-sodden place and the isolated farmhouse she shares with her mother?
Riddled with witchcraft and tales of superstition, the story is mostly narrated by the Whistler family who own the local funeral parlour, in particular six year old Louise - now an elderly lady - who recalls one of the most shocking crimes imaginable.'


Tales from the Boiler Room  Assorted Authors.

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Synopsis:

Leprechauns are out to get me. I'm not kidding. They're real, and they're a**holes. I'll tell you why. And while I'm at it, I'll tell you about the two guys who took on Hades’s demons on a drunken dare. What they brought back you'll never believe. I also heard about a dude who answered a help wanted ad from a vampire hunter. Hoo, was that a bad idea… But I bet you thought vampires weren't real or ghosts either. Pull up a chair. I'll tell you some stories that'll give you the creeps, maybe make you laugh a little, too. That's ok. I used to laugh at this stuff, until I met Patrick.
Terrors That Tingle  Wesley Thomas


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Synopsis:

Want to experience terrors that make you tingle?

'The pages are drenched in blood, dread, and fear. Read at your own risk! But trust me, you will want to read this collection. It's sure to scratch all your horror related itches.’ – Horrornerd.

From the British horror author that brought you the bestselling horror collection 'Nightmare Fuel' comes his latest collection of horrifying tales.

From ominous messages, doll makers, transformational stairs, stage fright, crazy old ladies, malfunctioning elevators, and terrifying helicopter rides.
This collection is a must-read for horror bookworms.

‘This thriller will tingle your senses and send shivers down your spine. Another great collection by a go-to author of horror.’ – Pamela Winn, Author.

'A great collection of scary short stories.' - MP Book Reviews.


Broken  Stefan Mears


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Synopsis:

Darien, a man on the verge of collapse. Not eating. Not sleeping. Not since his wife died. Not since the night of their last fight.

Darien visits a psychic. A specialist in hauntings. His last hope.

Darien will do anything to contact his dead wife.

"Broken", a tale of ghosts and one man's quest to reach beyond death. From Stefon Mears, author of The House on Cedar Street.


The Demon of London  Ayse Hafriza


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Synopsis:

What does every demon want in life? To be invisible of course. Jassassah the Demon finds herself on the London Tube, and just what is a demon meant to do when traveling with busy distracted commuters? Well if she isn't ruining their lives it would be a wasted opportunity. Jassassah picks off her victims one by one, delving into their secret, dark and most disturbing thoughts. Reminding them of the monsters they once were or showing them the monsters they can become.

How would Jassassah play with your mind? Or could you even distinguish her whisper from your own thoughts?

Read the first book in The Demon Series and follow her adventures. Just don't read it in the dark, because she might be reading over your shoulder.