Publisher: Booktrope Forsaken Imprint
Date of Publication: July 14,2015
Number of pages: 290
Word Count: 93,908
Cover Artist: Gonet Designs
Mara Singleton, ghost hunter, went pro when California real estate laws demanded that agents must disclose when a house is haunted. When the Halloways turn to her to examine the paranormal goings on in their home, Mara agrees—as a favor to old friends.
Everett, Mara’s father, has always had a talent for speaking with the dead. He reluctantly aids law enforcement when ten-year-old girls are targeted for kidnapping and murder—as a favor to an old friend.
Lieutenant Sam Bradford made his career on killing a serial rapist-murderer, the Predator Priest. Recent reports indicate a suspect with a similar MO stalking the city, and Bradford seeks help, both from a higher authority—and from an old friend.
Father Bill Tarter, Monsignor Francis Capelli and Reverend Holly Owen have experience exorcising personal, intelligent evil. Yet none have them have ever faced anything like this—the Ancient Enemy of all humanity.
Call it Satan, call it Legion, call it the devil—how can they stop a rampaging evil ravenous for bodies, for blood, for meat, for life, for souls? How can they recognize an eternal foe that clothes itself in the visages of Willing Servants?
Prologue: November 1991
SERGEANT BRADFORD LOOKED OUT over the devastation from the safety of his patrol car, the radio squawking at a barely audible volume. Below, blackened remains of neighborhood upon neighborhood stretched off to meet the setting sun. When the last of the contractors′ trucks swept headlights across the empty road and disappeared over the hill, he got out and walked down a steep driveway to nowhere. This point, the farthest south and east of the firestorm damage, looked like a pointing finger from above, as if the fire sought out this one site, so far from the rest of the burn, with intelligent purpose.
He remembered the row of cottages that lined the street before the fire, split-levels on the odd side of the street, single-stories on the even. In a neighborhood most Oakland residents knew nothing about, gardens blossomed and tall trees grew; structures and paint appeared well maintained, save for one property.
In his mind, he could still see the house at the end of the driveway, behind a screen of dead branches from trees planted so close to the structure that the foundation reared up. Windows either stared with flat darkness or hid behind gray plywood patches. While around the rest of the neighborhood stood cords of fresh, white lumber, this patch of ground remained black and burned, so far untouched by reconstruction.
Bradford continued down the driveway and around to the concrete slab, a former porch. Where the front door once stood now lay a steep drop to the crawl space under missing hardwood floors. The sergeant stopped here, not wanting to sift through the charred remains.
″I just wanted to make sure you burned,″ he said aloud.
His eyes couldn′t help but trace a trail he himself had followed nearly ten years before, the length of time this house had been abandoned. Through the front door, his foot exactly parallel with the lock, charging headlong into a living room filled with antique furniture and hundreds of knick-knacks and pounds of fragile bric-a-brac. Screams and growls had come from the other end of the house. Bradford had run though the kitchen to a hallway, finding three doors. Two stood open, and his eyes had darted to them and away as quickly. Bradford was almost certain he’d shouted, ″Police!″ as he broke down the bedroom door, gun drawn.
His lips formed the word silently as he stood amid the wreckage. He mused that those two impacts—his foot against the front door and his shoulder against the one in the bedroom—set him on a dual path from that moment on. On one hand, it led to a promotion from traffic patrol to the Violent Crimes Unit, and he believed subsequently to his current rank of sergeant, on the fast track to command, as his lieutenant put it. On the other hand, it led to his divorce and his inability to sleep at night.
Philosophy aside, he couldn′t shake the goose flesh that crawled up his arms beneath his warm Tuffy jacket or stop fondling the 9mm holstered on his hip. Even though the nightmare house remained only a bombed-out hole in a fire-blackened neighborhood, his memory rebuilt the place more solidly than any contractor ever would.
His feet had slipped when he smashed the bedroom door half off its hinges. Slipped in blood that soaked nearly the entire off-white wall-to-wall carpet, that painted the walls in arcing spatters, dotting the ceiling and overhead light in bright red.
All of it had come to him in the quick beam of his flashlight, held away from his body to make him less of a target for gunfire. On the bed, the beam had caught two eyes, reflecting the bright light like an animal′s. He was crouched on the bed on all fours, black shirt, white collar, stripped from the waist down. The man, too, had been dripping blood, chalk white flesh peeking through in streaks on his face, his legs. The shirt had shined with fresh liquid, the collar pinkish with it. When the man saw Bradford, he’d snarled, showing teeth stained almost black, ragged bits of flesh hanging from the gaps. Bradford had aimed his gun, a .38 special in those days, at the dark mass of the bloody man′s body.
″Freeze!″ With his finger slightly squeezing the trigger, Bradford had edged closer. ″Get on the floor!″
At the same moment, he saw the woman.
She’d lain on the bed beneath the crouching animal-man, white hair matted with dark crimson and brown, eyes staring at nothing. Red had smeared her mouth and cheeks like ghastly clown makeup. Frail and naked, her age must have been somewhere around eighty. The old woman had bounced and flailed on the bed with stiff, creaking movements.
Because the animal was still fucking her dead body.
And worst of all, he’d recognized a series of torn, glistening marks running up and down the victim′s corpse, though his mind desperately wanted not to acknowledge the fact. But he couldn′t have denied his senses, even in the wan light of his flash. Bite marks, human bite marks torn into the skin, some surrounded by drying brown stains—pre-mortem, the coroner would say. The man had savagely ripped the woman apart with his teeth, eating her flesh before she died, and while she died, and after…
Bradford′s teeth had clenched involuntarily.
His gun had fired.
The man had jerked back from his victim in a spray of blood—his or hers, Bradford couldn′t tell—and fell half off the bed. Growling and snarling, the murderer had tried to rise on palsied limbs. More blood added to the gruesome slaughterhouse, and more again as Bradford walked forward, still shooting.
In flashbulb moments from the blasting revolver, the officer had seen the downward-pointing pentagrams scrawled on the walls, satanic, fresh.
Four, five shots had entered the predator, making his body jerk, his naked legs spasm, his red-stained erection fall.
″This is Officer Bradford. I need back-up at 9092 Greene Street,″ he’d said into the mic on his shoulder—rote, routine, training.
Six, the last one in his head right between the reflecting beast-eyes, and the cop had seen that the eyes were white-blue, darkly ringed, wolf′s eyes.
Bradford had inhaled, cordite, blood, shit, viscera burning his nostrils, then exhaled hard. Dumping his shells, he’d reloaded—rote, routine, training—and gone to the victim. Just a quick look had shown her to be eviscerated from her sparse gray pubic hair to the visible bone between wrinkled breasts. He’d moved out of the room, searching the rest of the house, talking in his radio; he needed backup, detectives, an ambulance; he′d found the Predator Priest, code three, please, everyone.
Leaving a trail of red footprints across hardwood floors and throw rugs, he’d checked closets, cupboards, any place large enough for a man to hide. Point of entry, he saw, was a jimmied back door leading onto a deck. He’d touched nothing, leaving only scarlet shoe marks that faded more with each step.
As he’d examined the grooves on the back lock, a crowbar, he imagined, he froze as the growling and the screams came again from the bedroom. He’d ran back, slamming his hip against the corner of the stove, nearly falling. Sirens echoed in the distance, the sound of little solace compared to the predatory snarls coming from twenty feet away, the tearing scream of defiance or pain or both—neither sound very human.
Again, with the flashlight held away from his body, Bradford had entered the bedroom, this time turning on the overhead. Shock flooded through him, sudden and cold, leaving him paralyzed in the doorway.
Light, still smoky with gunpowder, had blazed clinically down in a solid beam. The body of the woman once again floundered on the mattress, dead arms flopping. The bony knees were raised, the feet off the bed. Her torso heaved back and forth on the scarlet- and sienna-drenched sheets. Howling, shrieking sounds had filled the room, echoing off the walls. On the floor, the half-naked man had lain dead. The din rose in volume as the dead woman′s corpse was flogged harder and harder. Sounds with no source.
Bradford had pointed the gun at nothing, at the nothing that raped the lifeless body, at nothing, nothing, nothing there, though he could see indentations around her ankles where fingers seemed to grip, twin indentations on the mattress where knees must have been—must have been, but were not. Organs, purplish gray, green, sickly, creamy white, fell from the open cavity on the victim′s abdomen, spilling to both sides of her wracked, pale form.
A dresser on the far wall began moving, bumping up and down on the floor. Pictures fell from the walls as one, smashing simultaneously on the soft carpet. Both bedroom windows exploded inward, showering the bedroom with shards of glass, shutters banging in a gust of unfelt wind. The bed itself lifted, pounding its legs on the floor but barely disturbing the victim and invisible predator.
Reaching a crescendo of pounding, screeching, roaring cacophony, the fragile old woman′s body tore in half, head lolling to the left, gore-slick spinal column and ribs to the right, meat falling on all sides, with a tremendous rip louder than all the unnatural noise in the small chamber.
Bradford fell on his ass, gun still aiming in mid air. At once, the room froze into quiet, normal stillness, save the quite pat of dripping.
Officer Bradford had twisted, gun raised, finger tight on the trigger. Someone knocked the weapon from his hand. It went off, a bullet puncturing the ceiling. Cops everywhere, uniforms, suits, the hall full of people and light, hands shaking him, someone vomiting behind him. Jump-suited EMTs had run forward in spite of the voices shouting for them to leave. Then, Bradford had gazed at the ceiling racing past him like a maze as they wheeled him out of the abattoir on a gurney.
Standing on the concrete slab, Sergeant Bradford felt his heart race at the memory from ten years before. Unconsciously, he took his pulse. Those ten minutes of his life remained fully focused, fully intact, a burn scar on his mind; yet, the month after the incident was lost to him. He knew he was hospitalized for a time. Perhaps for the whole month, but he couldn′t be certain.
Bradford′s refusal to talk about what happened after gunning down the priest ate away at him, awake or asleep. To this day, he never said a word about the invisible presence; to this day, it still festered inside him, waiting to be purged.
At least the place, the house, the room, no longer existed, the firestorm pointing a blazing finger and erasing an entire neighborhood. Bradford last visited two years before almost to the day. He hoped that 7.1 on the Richter scale was enough to shake the place apart. But, the Loma Prieta earthquake, destroying half the Marina District over in San Francisco and collapsing the Cypress Structure on the west side of town, hadn′t touched the quiet neighborhood in the hills, though it stood less than a quarter mile from the Hayward Fault. Not one crack in the stucco walls, leaving Bradford to believe that an act of God was not enough to rid the city of the hellish place.
Now, with the house razed, the real underlying problem surfaced again. Bradford′s promotion hinged on the fact that he′d solved the case of a serial rape-murderer, ending the matter without a trial—only a brief inquiry into his actions that, considering the violence and the apparent strength of the suspect, passed without a great deal of scrutiny by the IAB. But in the sergeant′s mind, the case remained open.
He′d tracked the Predator Priest, as the papers called him, through several eye-witness accounts that the detective squad overlooked, mainly due to the proximity of St. Stan′s Cathedral to the scenes of the attacks, mostly on hunches, mostly on his own time. Father Mark Joaquin Bloch, actually defrocked for a decade, lived in his deceased mother′s house three blocks from the church. Through happenstance, Bradford learned the first murder occurred a week after Bloch′s mother′s death. And Mrs. Bloch′s resemblance to the other victims sparked a deeper suspicion than the mere hunches he followed.
For all the good police work he put in, however, the end result still stood out as unsolved in his mind. What happened to the final victim, Lorraine Hartwell, white female, age seventy-eight, was not the work of what the FBI called a sexual sadist.
But what had happened to her, Bradford couldn′t say. He wanted to know, with absolute certainty, that it wouldn′t happen to anyone else ever again.
And yet another hunch, a persistent twitch in the back of his brain, told him otherwise. Pulling a pack of cigarettes from his coat, he remembered the fatal words of his doctor two weeks before. He hesitated, staring at the butt of a filter, then put them away, feeling he needed to hang around a while longer.
″Applying the strict rule of caveat emptor to a contract involving a house possessed by poltergeists conjures up visions of a psychic or medium routinely accompanying the structural engineers and Terminix man on an inspection of every home subject to a contract of sale. Whether the source of the spectral apparitions seen by defendant seller are parapsychic or psychogenic, having reported their presence in both a national publication and the local press, defendant is estopped to deny their existence, and, as a matter of law, the house is haunted.″
—Ruling from Justice Israel Rubin of the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court
MARA SINGLETON PARKED on the road and trudged her way up the driveway. Mike and Bridgett′s house sat in a lake of clipped lawn surrounded by a bright shore of California poppies, weedy (but pretty) oxalis, and ground-hugging ivy. The exterior walls of the cottage looked freshly painted, white going on pink with the setting of the sun, hunter′s green trim shifting to black.
She shrugged the case higher on her shoulder, the weight of it all the more evident with the awkwardness of her purpose—a professional endeavor in a personal setting. Mara had known Mike since college, and Bridgett she met not long after graduation. Maybe she didn′t get out to their house in Rockridge as often as she might, but she still considered both of them good friends. She′d never brought her military-style bag to a friend′s house before.
A small silver cat, not long from kittenhood judging by a still-oversized head and paws, eyed her uncertainly from the patio. Mara shut her eyes, turning her head away for a second. When she rang the doorbell, the little feline was already in a close orbit around her ankles.
Bridgett peeked around the door, and her eyes lit up.
They exchanged a hug, Mara′s case knocking conspicuously against both women.
″Hey, Mar! Come on in,″ she heard Mike′s voice call from within.
The house felt warm, even looked warm with the last of the day′s light reflecting gold off the hardwood floor of the living room. Mike Halloway strode out of the kitchen, still in his contractor′s uniform of T-shirt and jeans. Mara noticed his gut hanging over his belt, and took it as a sign of domestic content. She struggled out of her bag to give him a quick squeeze.
Mike took a half step back, hands still on her shoulders, giving her the once over.
″Still lookin′ good, Mar.″ His gaze then fell to the case she had set on the floor with a bump. ″Crosses and holy water?″
Mara felt a little heat rise from her collar and grinned. ″Worse.″
Bridgett folded her hands together over her own belly, which was much flatter than Mike′s. Except… Mara looked up into Bridgett′s gold-brown eyes, and felt a tickle somewhere in the back of her head.
Expecting, she thought, it′s a girl.
″If you′re uncomfortable with this,″ Bridgett said softly, ″I don′t know how comfortable I am with this.″
Mara nodded slowly. ″You should both know that I′ve done this hundreds of times. But I′ve never done it for friends. It may be a little weird at first.″
Mike smiled. ″I think it′ll be weird all the way through.″
″That′s usually the way it goes,″ she said grimly. The smile dropped off Mike′s face. She grinned. ″Gotcha.″
He smirked. ″You want a beer?″
″No,″ she said quickly, ″and I don′t think either of you should, either.″
Bridgett glanced over at her husband.
He gave a half shrug. ″I already had two since I got home.″
″That′s fine,″ Mara said. ″But no more until we′re finished here, if that′s okay.″
″I′m going to go through this like I would do with any clients. I don′t know any other way to get at the problem.″
Bridgett′s eyes hadn′t left Mike.
″Well, this sure ain′t my thing. Tell us what you want us to do,″ Mike said.
″I want to start with some preliminary interviews. Separately.″ She didn′t wait for a reaction before she said, quickly, ″It′s not that I don′t trust you two, but that′s just the way I like to start. Is that okay?″
They nodded as one. As a couple, Mara thought.
″Ladies first,″ Mike said.
″This won′t take very long. Do either of you mind if I record the interviews? I promise not to use them in any public forum without your consent. I won′t even use your names if you don′t want. If it′s not too late when we′re done, I′d like to do a reenactment, too.″
Receiving blank stares, she hurried on. ″The only people who need to see the tapes are me and my team, and I′ll even introduce you to them before you agree to that.″
Bridgett raised her eyebrows. ″I guess I don′t mind.″
″Always the showoff,″ Mike nudged his wife. ″I′ll secret myself in my office until you′re done.″
Enjoy the office while you can, Mike, Mara thought. Your little girl is going to need a room soon. Guilt crept up her neck with a blush, as it always did when Mara knew things she couldn′t possibly know. Wasn′t supposed to know.
″Where do you want to do it?″ Mara asked, hefting her case.
″Let′s sit in the kitchen. Would you like some tea?″
″Tea would be great,″ Mara said, following.
The kitchen was bright, done in green and yellow tiled countertops and white tiled floor. A small oval table sat in the corner by a doorway leading to a laundry room, and a deck beyond, Mara recalled.
While Bridgett set the kettle on the stove, Mara opened her square case and removed a tripod. With practiced speed, she extended the legs and mounted a small video camera. She checked to make sure the batteries were charged, then aimed the camera at an empty chair. From the bag, she extracted a DAT recorder and a microphone, connected them, and placed both on the table. Bridgett tossed a couple unguarded glances over her shoulder, eyebrows knitting at the sight of the electronics. Mara pretended not to notice the scrutiny, dragging out a few stapled sheets of paper she printed out earlier—her questionnaire—and a thin reporter′s notebook.
″You really come prepared,″ Bridgett said, tongue playing on her lower lip as she placed two steaming mugs on the table.
″Just hope you′re not here when the team gets going,″ Mara smiled. ″It looks like a going out of business sale at Circuit City.″
Bridgett gave a smile a try, but it didn′t pan out.
″This is weird for me, too,″ Mara said to comfort her. ″Usually, when I do an interview, it′s the first time I meet somebody. It′s somehow easier that way. I don′t know why.″
″I′m just,″ Bridgett began, and stopped. ″I don′t know. I guess I′m just embarrassed by this whole thing. But I don′t know what else to do. I′m losing a lot of sleep. Mike′s losing sleep, too, and he′s out of here at five every morning, every day…″
Mara reached out and took the other woman′s hand. She could feel a thready pulse in the ball of Bridgett′s thumb. ″Then let′s see what′s going on here, exactly, and hopefully we can take care of it.″
Bridgett squeezed her eyes shut tight and gave a nod so deep and slow it looked almost like a bow. ″Yeah. That sounds good.″
″When is she due?″ Mara asked.
If she′d been slapped with a dead trout, Bridgett could not have looked less shocked. ″Mike told you?″
″You′re worried about the house, about her in the house. Let′s get to it.″
Taking a long, deep breath, Mrs. Halloway eased into her kitchen chair. Mara fiddled with the video camera, getting her client in frame and focus.
″Tell me what happened.″
Bridgett Halloway turned off the television and stared out the window at her garden, obscured by the heavy rain sluicing down the panes. January had been quite the month. First, the entire world ushered in the new millennium (although she herself really didn′t consider it new until the following year, but she was definitely in the minority according to what she′d seen on TV). The Y2K bug had been all but exterminated by diligent system managers like herself around the globe. The planet continued to spin, and no new messiah had appeared on the news to judge the living and the dead. Quite a relief all around. Week two, Mike announced that his small contracting firm, not half as old as their marriage, had landed a contract refurbishing and remodeling the interiors of houses for a huge real estate company. Work for him had started almost immediately, and the money poured in (especially considering the season). At the beginning of the third week, the line turned pink on her home pregnancy kit, confirmed two days later by her OB-GYN. They were having a baby. This sent Bridgett into a frenzied nesting mode—one which proved most unfortunate for Michael′s waistline, especially in this post-holiday season. Week four, Mike celebrated in his own manly way by beginning a project to refinish the basement into a new workspace. He wanted the baby to have a room of her own. Or his own, maybe, but Bridgett was already certain the baby was a girl.
She raised the footrest on the recliner and draped the afghan hanging on the chair-back over her shoulders. Rain sizzled in the yard, tumbled across the roof, steamed along the street, and she snuggled hard into the blanket, taking in all that she could of the storm before the gray day faded. Bridgett would talk her husband into building a fire when he got home. Two could snuggle better than one.
Bridgett′s hands unconsciously slid to rest on her abdomen as she pondered this little miracle. A tiny life was growing inside her. A future little person was depending on her fully, on the very functions of her body. It frightened her a little, this benevolent parasite lodged inside her. At the same time, she felt a soft warmth that spread from the exact center of her outward, and she swore she would see herself glow if she gazed at herself sideways in the mirror.
For the fifth or sixth time that day, she considered baking bread. She′d thought about it from time to time at work. Michael had bought her a new bread cookbook as soon as her nesting phase kicked in. Though not thoroughly familiar with pregnant women, he certainly knew how to best take advantage.
Bridgett smiled at this thought then sat bolt upright, sending the footrest back into the La-Z-Boy bottom with a reverberating thud.
She turned her head, lifting her nose to test the air like a dog. Definitely, that was the smell of cooking pork hanging in the air, the precise odor shifting from the realm of bacon to the kingdom of pork roast to the distant hold of barbecue. Not ham, that was for sure.
Okay, she′d had a few cases of the cravings, but she had a snack as soon as she got home from work. A bowl of soup, the last of the homemade bread, a small bowl of ice cream and… so call it a sub-meal.
At any rate, she wasn′t hungry. The meaty fragrance in the air did nothing to make her feel any hungrier. She glanced at the window and decided not even the most determined barbecuer could be out in that cold rain. The closest rib restaurant was at least three miles away, and besides, the wind blew in the wrong direction.
Bridgett slowly rose from the recliner. Sliding into a pair of slippers, she padded from the living room into the kitchen. Had she left on a burner, or maybe the oven? She twisted each knob counter-clockwise, but none had any play. In the kitchen, she noticed, the scent had disappeared. She walked back into the living room, where the smell was strong, then opened the front door and stuck her head out. No porky smells outside.
This is really weird, she thought to herself (she remembered thinking those words very clearly and related it to Mara verbatim), not knowing the weirdness had barely begun.
When she closed the door, a breath of hot air caught her in the face, lifting her hair with the force of a good hair dryer. The atmosphere in the living room suddenly seemed fully comprised of cooking, burning, smoking pig. Oily, hot, smoky air rushed through her nostrils, down her throat, scratching its way to her lungs where it clung like mustard gas.
Bridgett bent double, hacking out the repugnantly flavored air. There was no overpowering smell nearer the floor, and she gasped deeply, hands on her knees. She raised her head, tentatively tasting the air as she did. It was clear. There was no fleshy smell at all.
What the hell was that? She wondered, gazing around the quiet living room. The day was all but gone. She turned on the overhead lights.
The moment the bulbs flared, she felt it again, a blast of wind hot enough to prickle sweat along her hairline and again the smell. Bridgett jerked away, her shoulder impacting the door. The flow of air blew past. Missing me, she thought. And then it doubled back, whipping through her hair, gagging her with the greasy odor.
Batting the air in front of her wildly, she darted from the door to the corner occupied by the television set. A hot blast shot past her arm.
Suddenly, the TV came on, full volume, drawing a shriek from Bridgett. Almost immediately it snapped off again. The overhead light flickered and died with it. She strained her eyes, teary and sore from nonexistent smoke, at the iron gray rectangles of the windows, at the dark shapes of furniture in the perfectly cozy room that suddenly seemed to go insane.
″Bridgett,″ a voice, deep and rough, whispery yet perfectly clear, called her name, making her spin around in a circle looking for the source. She couldn′t identify the voice, not even whether it was male or female, but it carried undertones like steam in a kettle before a full boil. Her hair raised on her arms, her neck.
″Bridgett. You belong here with us.″
Panic seized her. She scrambled for the front door, slamming it behind her. Standing in the driving rain, eyes locked on the door, panting, she waited. For what, she had no idea.
After a few minutes, her heart rate slowed. Her eyes moved to the window. She could make out the silhouette of the armchair against the dim front windows.
″Working late?″ Mike′s voice made her nearly jump out of her skin. He received a fierce embrace that nearly knocked him off his feet.
Mara looked up from her quick scribbling on the forms.
Bridgett gazed toward the living room, her eyebrows bunched and frowning.
″And since then?″ Mara prompted.
″Same kind of thing.″
″Regularly?″ Mara asked, ″daily, weekly?″
Bridgett shrugged. ″Every now and again. When Mike′s not here.″
Mara reached over and turned off the video camera, pressed the stop button on the DAT recorder with her pen. Her friend was holding back something. It may have been something she didn′t believe herself (or thought Mara wouldn′t believe), or maybe she was distressed, recounting her odd story. Either way, now was not the time to press.
″Okay, this isn′t anything I haven′t heard before,″ she said.
Bridgett looked at her incredulously. ″Really?″
″Similar stuff, yeah. A few times. Here,″ Mara dug in her case, and found a bound notebook. ″Write down the other events. Give me dates and times if you remember them. Do it while you′re at work. Anywhere you feel comfortable.″
″Right,″ Bridgett said, seeming more at ease.
″It′s getting pretty dark. Why don′t we pick this up again tomorrow? I′ll get an interview with Mike then.″
Bridgett readily agreed, as Mara knew she would. The interviews always went best in the daylight, in situations less likely to bring about a reoccurrence of the phenomena. And, a time when people were less likely to be afraid.
Lugging her case down the driveway, she turned right on Eucalyptus Road, walking toward the tight bend in the looping street. With her gear piled in the trunk, she climbed in the Toyota and started the engine. Mara jumped as the radio blared static loud enough to hurt her ears. As she turned it down, she noticed the writing on the windshield. Though hard to make out, it had been written so that she could read it from inside the car.
Cut you bitch Stay Away Piglet
Those letters were written largest, though smaller cuss words, even more difficult to read, surrounded the most prominent message. Leaning close, she tried to make out the medium, reddish-brown, shining with the light from her dash, much of it oozing down the glass. She clicked the mist button on her windshield wipers. Thankfully, it gushed away after several squirts and wipes.
But why would anyone write that on her car?
Newspaper founder, bookstore owner, artist, musician, and slacker Eric Turowski writes lots of mixed-genre books when he’s not too busy playing laser tag with Tiger the Cat and his fiancée Mimi deep in the Central Valley of California. He is also the author of Inhuman Interest (Story By Tess Cooper #1).
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