Well, it’s Friday. Made it to the end of the week without too many issues. Got the cover design for Endangered Memories done. Finishing up a new website layout today. Just getting everything ready for the official ebook release on June 14th.
With that, I decided to post a sample of Endangered Memories today to give all of you something to read this weekend.
an Expired Reality novel
Copyright 2011 David N. Alderman
Tuesday, November 10, 1998
The icy wind rushed against Kimberly Sebastien’s face, sweeping through her long blonde hair as she bounded through the vacant dirt field. The blue crescent moon lit up the ground just enough for her to see her way across the damp surface. The chilly air induced a burning sensation in the mark on her right cheek, causing it to sting more than when she received it only an hour ago.
The cell phone jostled in her hand, the blue screen illuminating her beaten face. The time on it read 6:34 p.m. She hit the redial button on the keypad, her heart wishing that this time someone would pick up on the other end. Holding the phone to her ear, she heard a steady busy signal, just as she had the last three attempts. This can’t be happening. She closed the phone and shoved it into the pocket of her jeans, glancing behind her briefly to make sure the monster wasn’t closing in on her. No one. Well, no one she could see anyway. That didn’t mean he—it—wasn’t there.
She scanned the tops of the giant trees in front of her, making out a small orange spire glowing on top of the roof of the stalus beyond. The stalus—a building designated by the government for weddings and funerals—was the only building she could hide in for miles, and she hoped it would, by some miracle, be open. Her body relentlessly quarreled with her, scolding her for pushing so hard, pleading with her to stop and rest. But she couldn’t rest, not yet, not when her life was at stake.
Plowing through the trees, thick leaves that hung from crooked branches slapped Kimberly, each one a stranger’s hand reaching out to snatch her and carry her off somewhere dark and dangerous, somewhere she would never be able to escape. She fought through them and stumbled into a parking lot, her knees meeting the asphalt with a flash of pain.
Kimberly stood to her feet, ignoring the pain swelling through her kneecaps, and pressed on across the lot, finally slamming herself into the glass doors of the building. Inhaling a deep breath, she grabbed the door handle. Locked. Panic seized her as she tried the next door and the next, all of them locked as well. She pounded madly on the glass. “Help! Somebody, help me! Open up!” Her voice came out hoarse, and she suddenly realized that wasting her breath would do no good if nobody was in there to hear her pleas.
She turned and leaned her back up against the door, clutching the burning cramp in her side. Gazing into the distance, she saw nothing but the trees reaching into the wind. Her heart throbbed, threatening to leap out of her chest while she fearfully waited for something to lunge at her. Don’t be scared, she thought. Keep moving! Get away from him! A gust of frosty air slipped through her white sweater, chilling the sweaty mess that spread itself under her tattered clothes. The chills warned her to run.
She peered through the glass at the dark lobby inside. She could see the desk where the receptionist who handled the wedding and funeral parties sat during operating hours. Stacks of flyers covered the counter, accompanied by mysterious shadows that seemed to dance around as if a party was going on in the desk owner’s absence.
Kimberly had nowhere else to go. Only orchards and farms stood between her and the city. The closest house was too far to run to, unless she wanted to backtrack, which was impossible without risking running into him.
Turning back toward the lot, she pulled out her cell phone and hit redial. Her heart skipped a beat with the brief silence that ensued, but then the busy signal droned in her ear and she sighed loudly, despair covering her like a dark blanket.
She shoved the phone back in her pocket and watched with fright as the tree branches shook vigorously in the distance. Her eyes narrowed, trying to make out the figure stumbling through the barrage of giant leaves. A face peered out, red eyes glowing in the night.
Kimberly’s voice caught in her throat.
Swinging around, she tugged at the handle again. This time the door swung open, almost knocking her off balance. A bit confused, she passed into the stalus, not stopping to ask herself questions. She pulled the door shut and turned the latch, locking it. She swung back around toward the desk to try and make out what little she could from the light that shone in from the parking lot lamps.
The large round government seal hung on the wall in the foyer. The symbol of the Enera Government—three triangles overlapping each other at different points—was etched into the stone slab surrounded by the words “SECURITY, EFFICIENCY and CONFIDENCE.” The first time she had seen the seal was when her parents died and she had been forced to come to a stalus for the funeral.
She shook the thought away and peered to the left and right of the desk, where double doors stood tall and erect—doorways to other dark places. Farther to the left and right, hallways swarmed in shadows. I should be able to hide in the main sanctuary until daylight. She approached the left set of double doors and made her way through them.
She couldn’t see anything in the sanctuary except for the red glowing EXIT signs and the doors they perched above on each side of the room. Kimberly stepped forward and bumped her leg on something hard. Reaching down, she felt the glossed wood of a bench. She knelt down and crawled underneath, creeping through the sanctuary until she figured she was in the center of the room. Lying still, her back to the floor, she closed her eyes.
The quiet stillness invited her mind to wander. Thoughts flew at her at lightning speed: Where is he? Why did this have to happen to me? I can’t believe he’s dead! It’s all a dream, just a nightmare. Tears broke from her eyes and streamed down her cheeks as her gut convulsed with torment. She wanted her family back. She wanted this man—this creature—to stop chasing her. Events rushed through her mind: the man with the dark eyes at her doorstep; the chunk of cold crystal her uncle gave her from the freezer; her uncle being broken like a toothpick in the jaws of a giant.
The vision of her uncle’s face blurred into view each time she remembered him begging her to “take this and keep it safe.” He handed her that piece of crystal, wanting her to flee with it. But the man with the dark eyes had just as quickly slapped her to the floor, knocking the crystal from her hands, taking it for himself.
Kimberly remembered getting to her feet and running from the house, the man yelling for her to come back. His face couldn’t be placed exactly, just dark and round, with an evil, hollow gaze peering out from under his bald head. He had an uncanny familiarity about him, something that seemed to have escaped from the nightmares Kimberly had when she was younger.
Only a miracle can save me now.
Her thoughts diminished and fatigue kicked in. She slipped in and out of consciousness. It was hours to daybreak, and there was no way for him to get into the stalus without her hearing him first. At least that’s what she told herself. She needed to drown everything out long enough to regain her strength for her journey to the city in the morning.
A clicking sound echoed through the sanctuary, waking her senses. Her eyes shot open as a door creaked slowly and then thudded shut. She knew it was him by the dark presence she suddenly felt seeping into the room. Kimberly held her breath. His squeaky footsteps passed the aisle she hid in. She followed that sound to the other side of the room and then back near the door he entered the sanctuary through.
She quietly bent her arms and legs, rolling onto her stomach, and shuffled out from under the bench. Moving to her knees, she glanced up at the red EXIT sign over the hallway door. That was her only escape, and there had to be only a few rows of benches in the space between.
The footsteps stopped and silence thickened. Her heart thrashed in her chest like a caged animal. She took a few quick breaths and sprung up, rushing for the door. She maneuvered and stumbled around the benches, relying on all of her instincts to get her through the maze of wood and darkness. Her body plowed into the door, and she grabbed the cold metal handle to open it.
She turned around slowly and found herself staring at two glowing red wedges that seemed to float in the air. Her voice caught in her throat again, like she was trying to vomit up an apple. Her nails clawed frantically at the surface behind her, scraping against the hard wood, peeling away part of her fingertips.
“Kimberly Sebastien.” The man’s raspy voice released a foul smell into her nostrils as he came under the red light, the crimson eyes matching the EXIT sign’s glow. The repugnant scent turned her stomach in knots.
“Wh…wh…wh…,” her lips quivered. She turned her face to the side, attempting to avoid the stench that permeated the air between them.
“Your sssoul, Kimberly. That issss what I want.”
She closed her eyes as he moved in closer. She could feel the sensation of his breath floating across her skin. His hand touched her cheek, turning her wound cold and sending vibrations through her whole face. The wound stung and then burned like fire. She let out a yelp, and the hand retracted for a moment. She started shuffling across the wall toward the front of the sanctuary.
“Go where you want. You can’t essscape me. I am everywhere and in everything.” He moved in front of her, like an ethereal arrow, so quick. The red eyes dangled in front of her like demonic puppets suspended by shadowed strings.
She felt tears crawling into her eyes. “What do you want with me? Why can’t you leave me alone?” The tears broke out and she cupped her hands over her mouth, terror engulfing her. “Why can’t you leave me alone? You killed my uncle. You killed my uncle! What more do you want with me?”
“I need you. I need your sssoul, your ssspirit. Then I will leave. Then you can rest in peace, without the nightmares, within the darkness.”
She shook her head and fell to her knees, her face covered in a moist film. She had a boding feeling that she wasn’t going to make it out of the building alive. The doors to escape seemed so far away. This is where I’m going to die.
He reached his hand out to her again, the silence in the stalus falling on her like a ton of bricks, allowing her to experience the dreadful sound of her sobbing. The thought of her life ending here, in this place, was violent and yet comforting to her. She could be with her uncle soon…
The man retracted his reach and spun around. Kimberly looked up through her blurry vision at two silhouettes in the open doorway at the back of the room. One was tall with the chiseled build of a man. The other had the thin, hourglass shape of a woman.
“You?” the evil stranger squealed.
They stepped into the stalus and allowed the doors to shut behind them, darkness swallowing everyone in the room.
“Let her go,” a female voice demanded.
Kimberly wiped the tears from her eyes and slowly started to her feet, her mind racing to figure out who these people were. Probably Anaishan Sentries. If that’s the case, they’re no match for whatever he is.
The man grabbed Kimberly from behind, wrapping his arm around her neck. His fingers moved across her throat, and she felt the cold tip of his long, sharp fingernails begin to etch their way through the tender surface of her skin.
Kimberly’s neck burned, and her body drooped in his arms like a sack of manure.
The two strangers said nothing, yet their shuffling movements could be heard throughout the room.
Kimberly, a female voice whispered in her mind. We are here to help you. When he releases you, leave this stalus and go to the city of Lysallis. Wait for us there. We will catch up with you. Her eyes struggled to stay open as she tried to put together the words floating through her thoughts.
The dark man’s fingernails pressed harder into her neck, carving through the skin. She felt a small amount of blood trickle down.
“I told you two to show yourssselves. I will ssspill her blood all over thisss place!”
“Not tonight!” the female shouted. A strong force slammed into Kimberly and the dark stranger, knocking them back to the floor. Kimberly rolled to her side, her strength rapidly coming back to her, allowing her to scramble to her feet. The creature reached out and tried to grab her, but only managed to rip the bottom edge of her sweater as she escaped from his clutch and reached the exit. She grabbed the handle and swung the door open to the dark hallway.
“Go, Kimberly. We will meet again.” The confidence in the male’s voice filled her with ease. She darted out into the hallway.
Kimberly made her way to the front doors of the stalus and retreated outside. She stood in the lot for a moment, taking deep breaths and staring at the line of trees, picturing the field that stretched behind them. Across that field stood the housing community she had escaped from. I can’t go back. There’s nothing left for me there. The only place to go now was Lysallis and hope these strangers were true to their word. Doesn’t really matter. As long as they’re keeping him occupied, I have a chance to escape.
She cautiously made her way around the stalus and headed into the orchards that stood between her and the city.
***Check out more of Endangered Memories in ebook format June 14th. Paperback coming soon.***