For me a Gunslinger represents a force of good whose purpose is to bring order to a lawless land. But where did they originate? The DREADLAND CHRONICLES is my attempt to answer that question.
Every Wednesday over the next five weeks I will be sharing a different short excerpt from THE REAPING to, I hope, whet your appetite for its release on June 24, 2016. That weekend, the 24, through the 26th, the first book in the series ALL ROADS LEAD TO TERROR will be free on Amazon. There will also be a contest featuring a unique one of a kind prize for the winner with smaller gifts handed out to everyone who participates. See the end of this post for more details.
Without further delay I give you the first except from THE REAPING.
They heard her before they saw her, whistling a soft tune, a haunting melody that was anything but upbeat. Like a funeral dirge best shared during the procession when the casket takes its final journey to the grave. From around a bend in the small stream the sound came, competing with the babble of the water rushing over smooth stone, and the restless voice of a soft breeze that stirred what leaves remained, their dead bodies chattering against one another like skeletons dancing a frenzied jig.
Cautiously they approached the sound, coming upon an old woman kneeling on the bank as she washed clothes in the cold waters of the stream. Her calloused hands were red with the cold, and as they rounded the bend she pushed herself to her feet with the help of a gnarled cane, tilting her head to one side like she could hear their footsteps on the grassy bank.
“I been waiting for you boys to find me. Mama said you would be around,” she said as the hem of her long dress caught in the moving water and the fabric drank its fill. She wore a black shawl stretched across her shoulders, her white hair in stark contrast as it rested against her back.
“Don’t be bashful now, I know you’re out there, I can smell ya.” She turned her head to look in their direction, the cataracts coating her eyes capturing the sunlight to lend them a silvery appearance. Her face was a road map of wrinkles, each one denoting a different emotion, the lines radiating out from her narrow lips ready at a moments notice to punctuate a smile or a frown.
Window moved past the others, following the narrow strip of brown grass that served as a bank to keep the stream on its course. She blinked several times as he approached, taking a hesitant step back as he got closer, his six two frame towering over her diminutive five three posture.
“He got to you, didn’t he boy?” She said with a faint quiver in her voice. It was obvious she was frightened by Windows sudden movement, but at the same time she carried herself like one who was prepared to meet her end. She reached out with one hand, and gently caressed Windows cheek like a mother comforting her child.
“How did you know we was coming?” Window said.
She smiled then, relaxing her grip on the walking stick she used to keep herself upright. “Mama told me back when I was a young un. She said, Sophie, you help them four boys when they come, you wait right there, don’t go running off, cause they’s gonna need your help.”
“How long ago was that?” Window said.
“All my life I’ve known, and I’ve waited, cause mama told me I had to. From the time I was a wee child running barefoot down to old man Winner's little store, I’ve known of you.”
“But that was before we were even born,” Window said as the others joined them and the old woman tilted her head to each in turn.
“You can see us?” Billie-Bob said.
She laughed then, her voice filled with a joy that helped push back the chill of the late fall day, offering a brief respite from the cold as a spreading warmth filled each of them at the sound of her merriment.
“Everything that has been, and is yet to be, has been writ down for those who know where to look,” she said before turning to look in Billie-Bob’s direction.
“I can see you with my heart, and that’s all I need. I can see your pain, you did something you thought was bad, but it wasn’t. Sometimes we are pushed to do things we otherwise would not do, for these things we can’t be held accountable, least ways not to ourselves. Where each of you are going you need to leave your guilt behind, it’s the only way you will survive, the only way the world as we know it will continue on its way.”
“What good is this world?” Einstein said, “why should we worry about letting it continue on its way.”
The old woman reached over and touched Einstein’s cheek, “I feel your pain son, but sometimes we have to know loss before we can know joy. It’s the way of the world and it won’t do us any good to fight it. You can’t see that now, but you will.”
“Can you help us?” Meat said.
“That’s why I’m here,” she said as she took Windows hand into her own, “he’s got something very bad in him," she said as she nodded at Window, "they calls them reapers, I can see it hunkered down next to his soul, trying to hide from me. I can’t help with that, but I know what you need to do. Let’s go inside where we can talk.” She looked around, searching the woods around them for other intruders, the boys followed suit, finding only the empty forest.
When they turned back a small cabin stood behind the old woman. It hadn’t been there before, Meat was sure of it, it was like it had materialized right out of the forest behind them.
THE REAPING is available for pre-order HERE!
Book II, THE REAPING is due to be released June 24, 2016. That weekend, the 24, through the 26th, the first book in the series ALL ROADS LEAD TO TERROR will be free on Amazon.
Anyone who grabs a copy and leaves a review, (good, bad, indifferent) will receive an autographed bookmark, and will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a one of a kind glass mug. I'll have a photo of the mug next week.