Welcome to our annual Halloween blog hop. There are all kinds of authors to visit … all kinds of prizes to win along the way … including our grand prize of a Kindle Paperwhite. If you’ve stumbled here without jumping on the bus (or if you lose your way) click HERE to start at the beginning.
Our hop runs from now until SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21 at 3 pm EST so you don’t have to enjoy all the yummy Halloween goodness all at once.
Once again this year I accepted the challenge and let a “word generator” tickle my Halloween muse. I’ve been challenged to write a short scene using a BODY GUARD, WEREWOLF and DENTIST as my characters. I need to work in the characteristics of DRIVEN, DIRTY and LIFELESS. And it all has to take place in a THICK FOREST. Please enjoy this excerpt:
Catherine ran blindly through the night. Though a full moon hung in a cloudless sky, its light didn’t penetrate the dark forest. Branches slapped against her face and tangled in her braids. Tree roots grabbed at the hem of her skirt and the toes of her boots, but determination kept her on her feet. She had to keep moving—had to reach Elijah.
She hadn’t been in time to save Doc Nichols.
Though she’d arrived in Colorado six months earlier, Buzzard Roost’s local dentist had met their stagecoach, overlooked her dirty eastern high-society dress and her little brother’s cranky attitude and settled them into a small cabin just off the main thoroughfare. A second cousin to her late father, Doc Nichols had given her a job and a new start. Now he was dead and Elijah was missing and Catherine didn’t know if the future she’d seen in her dreams would become her reality this All Hallow’s Eve.
Catherine hadn’t believed her visions were true until tonight when she’d arrived home from town, her arms filled with local produce and kitchen staples. Discovering the cabin door ajar and the cloying aroma of an animal filling the small space, she’d known instantly the wolf she’d trusted had somehow come for Elijah. She’d run to Doc Nichols for help, only to find the first of her nightmares played out in gruesome reality.
There had been no doubt Doc Nichols had been killed only moments before she’d arrived. The stench of death and evil still hung like a moldy curtain in his small office. Blood oozed in a rusty puddle from his torn throat, his lifeless eyes and gaping mouth beseeching her to save him. But she hadn’t believed her dreams and had never warned Doc Nichols of the malevolent forces hell bent on destroying his little town. Catherine didn’t have time for guilt— nothing could undo the horror that had befallen the dentist—but there was no way she’d let the same fate come to her little brother.
Grabbing the good doctor’s spare pistol from his desk drawer, Catherine had bolted into the forest. She’d never been to Elijah’s favorite fishing hole. Didn’t know in the inky blackness if she was even on the path. Driven by love. fear and instinct, she pushed through the unfamiliar forest. Her brother was only nine. Sassy and full of anger at their circumstances—he was all she had left in this world. She’d give her own life if she could save him from the death she’d seen in her dreams.
Until this night when she’d sensed the wolf, Catherine hadn’t wanted to acknowledge the visions she’d recently experienced weren’t the nightmares of a woman on the brink of insanity. At twenty, she thought the murder of her parents and the trip across country had triggered the violent dreams. Images of torches and thick forests, angry men and vicious wolves, blood and death had filled her nights until she’d feared falling asleep.
And then just last month she’d seen the wolf of her dreams on the far side of the river as she’d been gathering water. With eyes the blue of a cloudless sky and a coat that rivaled the purest of snow, the animal had watched her every move. At the time, there had been no fear, only the overwhelming sense of peace, as if the animal were a body guard protecting her from harm. It had come nearly every night to watch her from afar and she’d taken it as a good luck omen.
Catherine wondered now if she’d invited the monster to steal everything from her.
And then she heard him howl. Not the playful wail of a wolf calling his pack, but the plaintive call of distress. Catherine quickened her pace, tripping in her haste to find Elijah, her knee coming down hard on a rock. Ignoring the pain, she followed the sound, pushing herself to save the brother, somehow knowing the wolf called directly to her.
She was out of breath and nearly panicked with worry when she finally broke into the clearing. The ebony surface of the fishing pond that had brought her brother such joy over the summer now sat still as death, its ebony surface broken only by the reflection of the moon—and the ghostly specter of the white wolf standing over Elijah’s still body.
Even in the muted wash of the moon, Catherine knew the dark shadow running across her brother’s forehead and down his cheek was blood. It had soaked into the soft chamois of his shirt, prickling her soul with dread. Instinct took over as she raised the pistol, not sure the lessons Doc had given her could bring down the animal from this distance. It didn’t matter, she had to try— Elijah’s life depended on her bravery.
The wolf sprang and Catherine closed her eyes and pulled the trigger. The bullet missed its mark and she heard the wolf land not two feet from her in the spongy moss on the edge of the pond. Bracing herself for the inevitable attack, she brought the pistol up to shoot again, opened her eyes and gasped at the sight of a man standing naked before her, his shock of white hair nearly luminescent in the moonlight.
“Catherine, I didn’t hurt your brother. I’m trying to save him—trying to save both of you.” He took the pistol from her trembling fingers. “Someone killed the dentist and tried to kidnap your brother. I—”
She pushed past the man and ran to her brother’s side. Falling to the damp earth, she cradled Elijah in her arms, tears stinging her eyes. The blood on his head had dried, but he was so still, his tiny chest barely moving. She searched for claw or teeth marks, but found none. “What did the wolf do to Elijah?”
The man knelt next to her, careful to shield his nakedness from her. “I did nothing. Men were in your cabin and I ran them off and brought the boy here. They must have knocked him out. I haven’t been able to rouse him. I knew you’d find us if I called for you.”
“You? But I thought the wolf—”
“Catherine, I am the wolf. A werewolf. Both man and beast. I’m the one who’s been watching over you. I’m not sure why fate has brought us together, but I know our paths are as connected as your heart is to your brother.”
A gunshot rent the stillness of the forest.
He took Elijah from her arms and pulled her to her feet. “And so our journey begins … run!”
Happy Halloween! I hope you enjoyed that little Halloween excerpt.
*** CONTEST IS CLOSED ***
So what’s your favorite part of this spooky holiday? Leave a comment on this blog post between now and SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21 at 6 pm EST and you’ll be entered to win:
A signed copy of my erotic suspense “Healer’s Garden”
goodies from my prize closet
(shipping to US or Canada only. An international winner gets a $15 Amazon gift card)
One winner will be chosen at random from all commenters this weekend. Best of luck … and enjoy the rest of the hop!
Here it is, the seventh installment of Test Drive my short story. Last we saw car salesperson, Margo, she was trying to escape two men who kidnapped her during a test drive.
Please enjoy …
***** TEST DRIVE *****
“What the hell’s the matter with you?” The taller man stepped between Margo and the gun and offered her a hand. “Put that fucking thing away, John. That’s how people get hurt you idiot.” He pulled Margo to her feet. “We’re wasting time, we need to get moving. We have a short window of opportunity here.”
“She was running away, we can’t have that. I don’t know what the hell to do with her, but having her jumping in the river isn’t the solution.” He tucked the gun at his waist under the jacket and picked up the heavy duffle still sitting on the ground in front of the car. “If she isn’t going to behave …” He let the threat fill the air before he strode to the back of the car.
Margo had a hard time filling her lungs.
“My brother’s a good guy. He’s just a little on edge. I’m Peter.” He bent and looked into her eyes. “Don’t do that again. I can only buffer you from his temper for so long. Do you understand?”
“You won’t get hurt. Just let us get through the next couple of hours.” He led her to the back of the Sebring. The trunk was open and John stood with a length of rope, his eyes searching Peter’s expectantly.
Fear rolled over her, a nauseating tsunami that washed her in a rib-crushing wave that stole the air from her lungs, and had her heart pumping hard. She tasted the bitter flavor of bile as her stomach lurched. She wondered if they would put her in the trunk. Perhaps that was why John insisted on opening it at the dealership. At least she knew where the trunk release was in this model. She never thought of it as a useful safety feature until now.
“No way in hell, John.” Peter emphasized the man’s name. She’s not going in there if that’s what you’re thinking.”
John snapped the rope. “Peter,” he said the name with venom. “Where you going to put her? The back seat like we’re some taxi service?”
“Fuck you. She’s not going anywhere. She’ll sit in the front and I’ll be right behind her.”
John stepped up to her, his eyes narrowing to tiny slits, but the daggers flying through them made her wince. “One wrong move …” He slammed the trunk shut walked to the other side of the car.
Amazing how is wordless threats hurt more than the slap to her face.
“Just get in,” Peter said. “Don’t screw with him, Margo. He’s serious.” Peter opened the passenger door and she slipped hesitantly into the seat. Going with them didn’t seem like a good idea, but fighting them when they were armed … hardly seemed like a good life decision.
Copyright Nina Pierce 2008