Echoes of Darkness Excerpt
BACK BOOK COVER:
Amanda began life as a rather unusual sister.
Considered an abomination by most, the fact that her step-family's a mess doesn't help her situation. You see, Amanda's family is a bunch of serial killers following a religious sect.
Although aware of her step-family's secret, she is not one of them, but rather, someone determined to stop their killing of children. Her first attempt at stopping them failed miserably, causing Amanda to die horribly...
Thinking they had nothing more to worry about, you can imagine her family's surprise, when little Amanda returned from the dead.
Now, Amanda's mission has changed. She's no longer satisfied with just stopping them. With help from the FBI, Amanda gets down to solving what is really driving her step-family to kill children and why. They better hope that she never finds out, because when Amanda came back from the dead, she came back different, not alone, and with an insatiable appetite.
Supernatural Thriller of the Echoes Series, three book trilogy: Echoes of Darkness-Book I, Echoes of Madness-Book II, Echoes of Righteousness-Book III
You are about to enjoy Book I
The W.R.I.T.E. Affiliates ·Thursday, December 8, 2018
The rhythmic padding of bare feet hitting the cold, wet pavement echoed against the brick walls of the alley, and reverberated all around her. The night was darker than most, with there being no light from stars or the moon to push back the shadows that lined the streets. Because of the early hour, there were no people about, and the only active life appeared to be alley cats and gutter rats.
Kaitlin ran as fast as her little legs would take her. It was so cold out, and all that she wore was an old hospital gown made of worn fabric, ragged and faded from its many uses, and incredibly scratchy against her skin. It was far too big for her tiny frame, and as she ran, its folds of fabric billowed in the wind pushing cold air up her back and chilling her to the bone. She refused to allow this to daunt her efforts. So when the gown tangled and twisted between and around her legs making movement difficult, she kept pushing herself forward, and ignored the tearing sound that inevitably followed.
She scratched at the tangled, matted, mess of hair stuck on the top of her head, brushing at the strands that kept sticking to her sweaty face. Her hair was once beautiful and long, but that was several months before. Unfortunately now, it's far from resembling what it used to look like and more like a big, brown mess, dirty, oily and itchy without relief. She sadly knew it'll have to be cut from her scalp, if and when, she finds help and goes home.
Scabs, oozing scratches and horrible bruises covered her body and legs and are sore to the touch. Many rat bites from attackers in the night covered her arms and feet, and, she knew she smelled bad, really bad. Hunger gnawed at her constantly and fatigue kept insisting on taking her somewhere else; but, even with so much against her, she was determined to remain free. This time, she would find someone to help her.
Her cold limbs hurt, but not as much as her feet. The wet pavement was cracked and covered in loose stone and debris. Every time she stepped on something, it cut into her skin. The pain, she pushed to the back of her mind; there was no way she was going to let it stop her. She panted hard from her exertions, hopping curbs, crossing streets, and running for her life. She constantly stumbled, but somehow always managed to stay on her feet. Kaitlin was driven with the need to stay free and away from the nightmare that followed behind her.
She ran through a puddle of dirty water, kicking up muck and slime that soiled the hem of her hospital gown. She didn't care about the mess, focusing on the street she exited onto from the alley. Kaitlin searched for a street sign, a familiar building, store, anything that she might have seen before, but everything around her, was unfamiliar to her.
Where was she; she didn't recognize anything. Maybe she's not in Manhattan anymore. She watched as two large rats scampered across the street in front of her. They were almost the size of a small dog. Kaitlin watched them without emotion; an empty night void of movement save for rats here or there, won't stop her. Where she had escaped from had an abundance of them. It's not the rats in the shadows that she feared; she knew there were worse things other than animals and the dark to be frightened of.
Intent on moving forward, and hopefully, further away from what she feared was probably chasing her by now, she pushed herself into running again. Surely, they've discovered her gone by now.
Her ragged breathing hurt her chest. Each time she tried to pull air into her cramped lungs, she coughed and choked from a dry mouth.
"Can't stop; must keep running." She mumbled to herself over and over again.
The unfamiliarity of her surroundings created a panic in her. Not really knowing where she was going made that panic worse. She forced those feelings quickly away, and pushed herself onward. Kaitlin had gotten really good at turning her emotions off when needed.
Light shining from streetlights along the opposite side of the street caused strange shapes to form on the rain-soaked pavement, side streets and sidewalks. All provided excellent places for things to hide in. She ran down the sidewalk keeping her gaze on those shadows across the street. Those, bothered her the most. At the end of the street, she pressed up against the corner of a building trying to catch her breath. She didn't dare linger too long. Crossing the street, she headed down a side street, running along the divisional line in the center of the pavement.
“Follow the yellow brick road,” she whispered staring down at the yellow stripes as she ran over them.
Kaitlin turned another corner and came across a construction zone around a manhole in the center of the road that she had to go around. The road was dug up and refilled with loose stone, but a lot of smaller stones had been spilled outside the construction area. So when she ran to the left of the barriers, she unfortunately stepped on to a sharp stone and it stuck to her arch. Hopping a few feet on one foot, she lifted her injured foot to examine the sole. The stone had embedded itself just under the skin, causing a tiny cut to form. She pulled it off her foot and tossed it aside, rubbing the tiny dot of red that was quickly forming.
“That one hurt,” she said wiping at the blood. When she lowered her foot to the ground she walked a few steps with a bit of a limp testing the pain level of her injury. A few more steps, and she was back to running at full gait, ignoring all discomfiture in her foot. She turned a corner.
More light loomed up out of the darkness ahead of her and her spirits suddenly lifted. Was that traffic sounds and car horns blaring that she heard? Excitedly, she picked up the pace.
"Almost home!" She whispered to herself. “Mommy, I'm coming home.”
Highway signs, stoplights and a ramp that lead off to the left came into view. Her excitement increased dramatically when she headed for the ramp. Sounds of freedom grew louder and closer. For the first time in a long time, Kaitlin allowed her heart to soar.
Somewhere behind her, a noise was made, loud enough to bring Kaitlin to an immediate stop. Her heart thumped in her chest. She found herself holding her breath as she slowly, turned and searched the shadows behind her for movement.
"Be a cat! Be a cat!" She whispered ardently, but knew better when the hair on the back of her neck suddenly prickled, standing on end. Her stomach twisted in knots.
Kaitlin searched the shadows, her chest cramping against her efforts to pull air into her tortured lungs. Bile rose in her throat and if she'd had anything in her stomach, she would have thrown it up at that point. It was no cat that watched her from somewhere in the shadows across the street--she just knew it. How did they find her so fast?
Kaitlin backed away clutching at her gown. Determined not to go back to that horrible place, she spun around and ran as fast as her body would allow. This was the farthest she'd escape to, having outwitted them three other times; and, she could tell that freedom was just ahead of her. This time, she was not going back.
Running as fast as she could go, not paying attention to the cold air, the wet ground, her sore foot and how hungry she was, she headed down the remainder of the street, to the turn-off that lead to the overpass and freedom. She frantically ran forgetting to look behind her, to listen to what she knew must be chasing after her now, and what was hiding in the shadows, lurking in the alleys, wanting to catch her and bring her back.
Kaitlin wanted to go home so bad that when her gown whipped between her moving legs, bunching, twisting, and finally tearing; she ignored that too, concentrating on running faster. She suddenly veered to the left racing up the ramp to the overpass with a new-found purpose--to reach the bottom on the other side, and the highway where she will flag down help and go home.
"Someone will stop and help me. Then, I will go home." She whispered to herself.
Kaitlin's feet slapped the ground, she became aware of another sound coming up fast behind her. It increased in speed and sound, drawing nearer and sounding heavier. He was moving fast.
"No, no, no!" She shrieked, realizing just how close he was.
Pushing herself forward, she ran, forcing her limbs to hurry, straining muscles past their limitations; her hand pushed at a pain shooting through her side. She struggled desperately to pull more air into her lungs. Kaitlin would run or pass out, she decided. Up the ramp she staggered breathing harder with each step. Her heart beat thumped in her chest, echoed in her ears. Faster! She thought. Faster!
The downward slope of the overpass was just ahead. She had to make it! Her heart slammed in her chest, she thought it would explode. Faster! Spots began to form in front of her eyes. She pushed her legs faster, the muscles in her thighs cramped, shooting pain up along her groin, but she refused to stop. Stop and die, stop and die, she thought over and over again. Kaitlin was fast, but they were bigger, stronger and gaining on her.
Almost there! Her energy was fading; she could feel herself start to slow down. She's so very tired and weak; the spots in front of her eyes were growing into large balls. Her stomach twisted and bile rose in her throat. It was only because of the idea of being caught that kept her running, even after she threw up in mid-stride, a dry heave, filled with bile and nothing else. She stumbled a bit, staggered to the side; but, regained her balance quickly.
Then, she pushed off, and ran... she must not let them catch her; she needed to hurry if she wanted to reach the highway. The top of the overpass was no more than ten feet ahead. Kaitlin stumbled again, caught herself and forced her movements forward. Her stomach wretched, and bile exploded from her mouth. She staggered, stumbled and finally came to a stop at the top of the overpass. Kaitlin wiped the back of her hand across her mouth. She hung from the wall of the overpass trying to pull air into her lungs.
Taking a few more steps, Kaitlin tried to will herself back into motion, and succeeded in moving a few more paces before finally giving in to her body's defeat. She slumped forward gasping for air and staggering to the nearby concrete wall for support. Must keep moving... the voice in her head insisted, but her body just couldn't do it. Kaitlin leaned heavily against the concrete wall, her chest heaving and straining. Clutching her head to stop the stars from dancing before her eyes, she turned around when she heard him stop too, and was astonished to see him standing just a few yards away from her.
Kaitlin backed away from him, her hand gripping the wall beside her to keep her on her feet. All she wanted to do was collapse to the ground and sleep. The sharp surface of the concrete cut into her small fingertips and the tiny drops of blood ran down its surface unnoticed. She shook her head at him and backed away some more.
"I'm not going back with you!” She screamed at him, panting hard.
His head tilted slightly to the side. It was what he always did right before making her do what he wanted her to. She moved away from him dragging herself along the wall. He stayed where he was watching her with a slight, mocking smile on his face.
“You can't make me!” Kaitlin shrieked at him, tears running down her face.
His smile broadened. She hated his smile. He crossed his arms and watched her smugly.