I have a long series in-progress, which I aim to get published someday. Below is the prologue for Book 1. Feedback is welcome!
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Girl in the Dark
The heavily pregnant woman staggered from her house, a sleeping 3-year-old tucked under one arm, a pen and a scrap of paper clenched in the other. After scanning for her car through the freezing rain, she stumbled towards it, her black hair whipping around her in the brutal wind. Behind her, a man snuck back into the shadows, studying her, watching as her struggled to place the child into the car seat and as she lurched into the driver’s seat.
Once situated in the car, the woman shot a look out the window, back at the house, a whirl of emotion in her violet eyes: remorse, relief, fear. It lasted only a second. Hastily, she opened her fist and scribbled fiercely on the scrap of paper, knowing this was her only chance. Knowing she had to get it right.
She stopped writing. This was it. There was no room for mistakes. Reading the words out loud, they flowed with a purpose, yet eloquently, articulately, as though some vital secret was being uttered. The woman finished reading and instantaneously the car filled with a vibrant crimson light, filling her with exulted pleasures she hadn’t known in ages. But it ended all too soon.
The pleasurable feelings dissipated, leaving only the exhaustion and the terror, but she forced such feelings aside. Turning on the car, she slammed on the gas pedal and the car lurched forward, speeding off into the foreboding night.
Escape was a necessity.
Death was a certainty.
Unbeknownst to the woman, two black cars stalked her, following at an easy pace. The sky roared as lightning illuminated it, exposing the assassin– mid-20’s, scruffy, unkempt, his brown hair matted with mud and blood, and his light brown gaze vacant, almost lifeless – in the first black car.
The assassin, Matthew, scrutinized the white car, squinting at it through the pelting rain. He knew it was the target, the women he had come all this way to kill. With no idea who or even why he had to assassinate her, all he knew was killing her would set him free. One kill for one salvation. A bargain.
A voice snarled in his mind. “Fool. You missed your chance.”
Matthew shuddered at the invasion. Though he’d been the Morte-Manos’ prisoner for as long as he’d known – which, thinking logically, wasn’t that long because the only memories he had were of his imprisonment – the creatures still sickened him.
Eyes the color of blood, skin – slimy, sickly green, and scale-like – an unquenchable, unrelenting lust for torture, neither human nor animal, they were demons.
“I’ll have plenty of time,” he thought calmly back, suppressing his distaste for the creature inside his head. “She is a fool. After all, running will only delay the inevitable. It only aggravates her life further.”
“We need her dead.” Matthew tightened his hand on the gun, and sped up in order to keep the white car in view, to keep the woman, in his grasp. “Do it now!” The menacing voice ordered.
His hand shot up automatically and, though it was a hard shot, there was no doubt he would miss. He was a master assassin: trained in the art of killing…And yet, such beliefs were merely conjectured – he couldn’t remember his past, couldn’t remember being an assassin – yet, for some inexplicable reason, he held no doubt that was who he was: Matthew the Assassin.
“Kill her now! What are you waiting for?”
What was he waiting for? Who was he waiting for? Was he waiting? Couldn’t he be free after he killed this one woman? This woman. What was her name?
“I said to kill her! What name she has now will be of no consequence once you dispose of her!”
Katrina. Wait, who was that? This was Meredith. Meredith Huldon…so who was Katrina? Had he made her up? Was she a part of his forgotten past?
“We will rip your limbs off one by one. Then burn you, castrate you–”
Matthew paid no heed to the Morte-Manos’ ominous threats. He knew they didn’t jest, but his past intrigued him. Something. He knew something was coming. All he had to do was continue questioning the limited knowledge he already possessed…
Suddenly and without warning a swarm of memories surfaced. His brother talking with him. Someone bound and unconscious. A beautiful child with vivid violet eyes, her long black hair sweeping around her head as she ran…He tried to continue the images, but it was like attempting to catch smoke.
One thing he didn’t understand was: how had he known the women’s name? The Morte-Manos had never told him; in fact they revealed nothing about the women, except that it was his duty to kill her.
The Morte-Manos broke through his mind, their rage palpable. “Kill her!”
Without thinking, Matthew redirected the gun and fired.
As the shot hurtled through the air, a lightning strike illuminated the sky; a flash of white light followed and the faint outline of a Mondomistican appeared in the middle of the street. It was there and gone so quick Meredith was positive she had imagined it. Even so, it caused her to veer to the side and missed being crushed by an inch, but simultaneously a bullet smashed through the back window, shattered glass everywhere, and lodged into her arm
The sleeping child jerked awake and immediately began wailing loudly, as his entire being shook with fear, confusion, and pain – a piece of shattered glass from the window stuck out of the child’s arm. “Mommy,” the child whimpered. “Hurts! Mommy. Mommy help!”
To Meredith, the pain from the gunshot impeded her ability to think. Dizziness permeated through her entire brain, making all but one thought fuzzy: protect the Power. She fumbled for the door, but a second wave of excruciating pain joined the first, this time originating from her stomach.
It was at such a level that it prevented her from thinking straight; it blocked out all thought and reason, so Meredith did not hear the child screaming in the back seat, she did not think to bring her child with her, and she did not think of the killer who was undoubtedly following her. No, she didn’t think of any of this.
Disoriented, Meredith finally managed to jerk open the car door and stagger out into the rain, but she didn’t remain standing long. Immediately, she collapsed from sheer exhaustion and pain
As she stepped onto the rain-soaked cement she fell from exhaustion and pain but she managed, by sheer will power, to stand herself up again and walk over to the nearest house. She hammered on the door and it was answered by a woman, taller than her, with dark brown, shoulder length hair, light green eyes, and a young but tired face.
The woman, Ally Titler, glanced sleepily at the pregnant woman in front of her, covered in blood, and let out a shriek.
“Don’t,” Meredith said, in a hoarse and labored voice. “Don’t scream, they’ll…they’ll hear you.”
“M-Meredith?” Ally stuttered, her mouth wide open in shock.
From inside the house John Titler, Ally’s husband, heard the commotion and came running down the stairs. He slowed when he reached the bottom, rubbing sleep from his eyes. Then he walked quickly around the corner of the wall. As he joined his wife, he looked from Ally’s pale and scared face to the bedraggled woman in the doorway. The woman’s unique violet eyes fluttered and her breath came heavy as she swayed and then collapsed.
John stood there for several seconds, his mind racing. What had just happened? Who? Why…He shook himself; he had to help the woman. Still shocked from the scene before him, John bent down slowly and, with unbelievable strength, he was able to pick up the collapsed woman. He put her arm around his shoulders (he was so tall he had to bend a little) and supported the woman into the house. John took her to a room, just a few feet from the front door, lying in front of the staircase. The room contained a nice, clean, queen-sized bed with a huge window opposite it.
John turned the light on as he helped the woman sit down on the bed. His mind flashed with questions – who was this woman? What happened to her? What in the world was going on?
But he turned away, burying his curiosity; he had to fetch his wife. Just as he did so the woman’s eyes snapped open, and she attempted to speak, but instead a moan escaped her and she began to breathe irregularly.
“What’s wrong?” John asked, panic taking hold of him. “Is that water…?” John trailed off as he realized what had happened. “Never mind,” John said, terrified at what was happening, for he had no idea what to do. “I…uh…I’m going to get my wife. She’s better…more…well…just…um…while I’m gone, try and breathe through the…the pain…”
John helped the woman into a more comfortable position, propping her up on several pillows, and then he turned around and started out the door at a quick walk. He walked down the hall and saw his wife, still standing, frozen in shock, with the front door wide open. He reached Ally and closed the door, just as lighting struck the power line and the power went out. Ally jumped in surprise at the sudden darkness but seemed to come out of a deep revere.
He took a deep breath as panic continued to engulf him. He had to gain control of himself. “Ally,” John said firmly. “Ally, you have to go to the pregnant woman. She’s going to go into labor soon. Ally? Ally where are you?” It was pitch black and John’s eyes burned as he tried to see through the black curtain.
“I’m here,” Ally said in a slightly shaky voice, as the past…her past flashed through her head. What was Meredith doing here? How was she here? What happened to her? John’s voice broke through her thoughts.
“Good, now go to the pregnant woman,” he said in a commanding voice.
“Right,” Ally replied, her voice still shaky.
John felt Ally walk past him, but he stayed still for a moment. What was up with Ally? She never acted this way.
Ally was always quick thinking in tough moments. She was always calm, taking things slowly. She never showed shock or fear, she was always in control. But the appearance of this woman had stunned her. So much so that John knew that Ally and the woman had some deep connection…
John walked slowly away from his wife and into the kitchen. Within seconds, John found and lit two candles. Carefully John walked back to the bedroom and when he reached the door he was relieved to see Ally’s figure next to the bed. John was about to walk in when he noticed Ally was talking quietly with the woman. Curiosity gripped him and he stopped to listen.
John was unable to make out the full conversation but he was able to hear a few things.
He heard Ally say, “I’m so surprised you’re here. I thought you were dead. I mean, it was years ago when I saw you at your wedding, there you told me that you were in hiding…And . . . Tyler visited me and went to see you. What happened after that?”
“Tyler…you knew him?” An unfamiliar voice answered, sounding disoriented and confused.
“Yes. I’ve heard a lot about you from him.”
“Oh, yes… Of you do, what am I saying?” The woman said vaguely. “So, you know . . . my husban – . . . no, wait, it’s so confusing…everything’s mixed up… Tyler he’s–” The woman started softly, but stopped as pain went through her stomach.
“I think I understand,” Ally said. “Now just lie still, I would have brought you to the hospital but there’s no time.
“Oh…that must be why Tyler sent me…here . . . trust” The pregnant woman said, her voice dying, as it grew even softer. “But please tell Tyler I love . . . help . . . I mean, tell him . . . tell him I owe him life.”
John shifted his position slightly unable to catch full sentences. He stepped closer, just as the thunder had quieted. The floorboard’s creak was loud in the sudden silence. The noise came to the attention of Ally.
She looked around and saw John standing outside the door. “Quit lurking and get in here.” Yes, there was the Ally he knew. John walked in slightly abashed. John’s eyes flicked to Ally who started at him quizzically and accusingly, calculating how much he had heard.
“Is there anything I can do?” John asked after a short pause.
“Oh, yeah can you go get some bandages, towels, and some water.” John hesitated, looking curiously at Ally before setting down one of his candles on the bedside table and then walking out of the room.
He walked up the stairs and to the bathroom where he took out several towels and, after searching frantically, found a bandage. He threw the towels over his shoulder and went down the stairs and to the kitchen where he filled a bucket with cold water.
Once John left, Ally went back to Meredith. “We can talk later,” Ally said quickly as the woman opened her mouth. “Right now the baby will arrive soon.”
“You need to know,” Meredith said softly.
“Fine, but just give me the outline; I don’t need all the details.” Ally watched as Meredith nodded slowly. She leaned in and Meredith opened her mouth just as John walked in. Ally shook her head slightly, her eyes wide. She walked over to the opposite side of the bed and took the bandages, water, and towels from John. She watched from the corner of her eye as John’s stare bore into her. She ignored his suspicion and washed and then bandaged the pregnant woman’s arm, all the while Meredith whispering her story.
John watched as the women started to whisper something into Ally’s ear. He stepped forward and heard the pregnant woman say softly, “told me to leave but first to…” John strained his ears but a roll of thunder concealed the following sentence.
“I didn’t mean to but I left my son in the car. It’s my fault, I must go,” groaned Meredith who attempted to stand, but fell back writhing in pain.
“No,” Ally said firmly. “It’s not your fault. You were in too much pain anyway. You couldn’t have carried him…We can’t do anything about it, you know this. If anyone in this house goes outside they’ll be captured or killed.”
“I must go! My child…” Meredith said her voice stressed with remorse. “I can’t just sacrifice…”
“You have to,” Ally said harshly, causing the concealed John to flinch in horror.
He banged his fist against the wall, and stepped in to the room. “I’m going,” he declared.
Ally stared at him in horror, shaking her head. “Please don’t!”
“I don’t know who you are right now,” John said turning his back on her.
“No, no, no!” Ally stated in a shaking voice, which matched the movements of her head. She stared into the mirror across the room. Her own reflection devoured by the darkness. She stretched out her hand towards her love. But as she did so, light illuminated through the window brightening John’s image and the space just out of her arm’s reach.
“I’m doing this for you,” John declared, touching the reflection of Ally’s obscured face before sprinting away.
“No!” Ally cried and started to run after him, but Meredith gave another groan of pain, even greater than the one before it. Distressed, Ally looked frantically back in forth from the doorway to the Meredith. She frantically beat her head with her fists, shaking her head back and forth. She needed John to live… but the world needed Meredith.
Suddenly, the room was filled with crimson light as Meredith let out a high pitched scream. The bedside alarm clock, which flashed 12:00 hurled past Ally’s head, smashing the mirror. Ally jerked around to stare at the stunning sunlight Meredith, but before Ally could think or do anything else, she felt a giant wave of pressure as the crimson light consumed the space before her. She slammed into the already partly broken mirror, shattering it completely. Pain exploded all over her body, as she forced herself to stay conscious.
“John,” she cried, lifting a bloodied hand out to reach towards the door. However, she did not have the strength to hold her arm up. Before her arm dropped, a glowing hand gently grabbed it.
“It’ll heal you…don’t worry…Please don’t worry…” Meredith said softly. “I know I can’t ever atone for all the pain and horror I’ve brought on you…yet, now you’re the only one… You have to protect my baby girl, my Lily.”
Ally squinted up at Meredith, the bright light hurting her eyes. “For the world…” Ally murmured and Meredith nodded.
Meredith placed her hands on Ally’s back. Ally writhed as pain shot through her. “Please endure it. I must heal you,” Meredith stated.
At that exact moment, a bullet came hurtling through the window, shattering glass everywhere. The bullet made an ark, as though guided by an invisible hand. Then it plunged straight at Meredith.
Meredith summoned all her healing magic and pushed it into Ally, she needed Ally to live. She had to pass on her power. The pain was so intense, hot knives shot through Ally’s body, yet she could not move at all.
Ally watched as Meredith turned her head and reached out her hand with inhuman speed, crimson sparks trailing at her fingertips, and plucked the bullet straight from the air. Meredith then magically lifted Ally, who was on the brink of unconsciousness, to lay her gently in the bed.
“The Morte-Mano is coming!” Meredith suddenly said. Ally felt Meredith place a crying bundle-like thing in her arms and then move different parts of Ally’s body into weird positions. Then she suddenly heard a moan of pain as Meredith conjured a knife and cut her arm, spraying something wet and red all over Ally. Then Ally heard Meredith say something, but the pain finally overtook her and she fell into darkness