Even when you're
dead you shouldn't lie down and let yourself be buried.
Abduction -Dan Allen
Susurrus – Jim Dyar
Death Dealers – Nicole Givens Kurtz
Earth And Smoke And Iron - Sandra Davies
Bitten - Olivia Arieti
Last Stop - Justin Boote
The Song Of The Sea - Rie Sheridan Rose
Night Vision – Wendy Lynn Newton
When The Night Bus Comes – David Turnbull
The Price of Ignorance - Wondra Vanian
Maggoty Jo – Diane Arelle
When the Devil Knocks - Olivia Arieti
Journey Into Darkness – Stuart Holland
To Die For – Chris Rodriguez
Gilded Demons – Terrie Avery
The Gypsy Curse – Mark Towse
Telling The Bees – Dona Fox
Stealing Souls – Justin Boote
Canvassing - Michael B. Fletcher
Payback – Michael H. Hanson
When They Come For You – Rie Sheridan Rose
Can You Not Smell Them – Dona Fox
Tragic Lullaby – Jim Dyar
Just A Woman - Frances Gow
Devil’s Spawn – Diane Arrelle
In The Small Hours – Gary Budgen
Book 1 - Abduction
Ruth stares at a
blank television screen. Yesterday she watched the entirety of The Sound of
Music this way, even tapping along to the songs and singing when she
remembered the words. Today her mind is blank. A slice of soft bread sits in an
unplugged toaster. A tea bag rests at the bottom of a cup of cold water. If
this is breakfast, the old woman has lost interest.
The phone rings and Ruth doesn’t flinch. The noise is
far away and its purpose is not clear. It rings until replaced with a monotone
request to leave a message.
“Hello, Mom? You need to pick up the phone. It’s me,
A garbage truck stops in front of Ruth’s bungalow.
There are banging noises and men arguing. Something crashes on the sidewalk and
Ruth grabs the armrest of her rocker. Her fingernails penetrate the wood.
“Please, Mom. Answer the phone.“
Ruth doesn’t recognize the voice; she believes the
words have come from the television.
Gunshots, breaking glass
and men shouting wake the girl. She looks out the second-floor window and
watches a uniformed man throw a torch through a broken window. Yesterday it
was the bookstore, she says to herself.
Today it’s the bakery. She slides to the floor and hugs her
knees. A truck rumbles down the street and screeches to a stop. Hard leather
boots stomp over cobblestones, each step sounding synchronized as if
The girl dares
take another look. Soldiers drag a woman and her child, forcing them into the
back of the truck. Just like the other families, she thinks. They pull a
man from the building and beat him to his knees. Jacob, the baker. The
girl presses a hand against her heart as if to stop it from breaking. Another
soldier in a perfectly fitted black uniform points a pistol at the baker’s
head. The girl has never seen an officer before, at least not this close, and
is mesmerized by the contrast of the bright red armband against the black
uniform. She watches his grip tighten on the luger. The baker topples a second
before the blast echoes down the street.
The girl covers
her ears and screams. She shrieks until her face goes red and tears blur her
vision. She takes a breath and covers her mouth. Did they hear me? she
wonders. Did I give myself away?
Ruth’s skin is paper-thin, her once beautiful
legs now fragile sticks, and her teeth abandon her nearly as fast as her
memories. She has no idea how old she is but curiously remembers her birth date
being in August 1925. What that has to do with her age, she has no clue.
The phone rings
“Mom, I’m just
calling to remind you that we are picking you up tonight. You’ll only need to
pack for a couple of days. I’ll send the rest of your things over later.”
Still dressed in
her housecoat and slippers, Ruth watches out the window and stares at a fire
hydrant. She slowly shakes her head. That little girl has been waiting there
all day. Parents these days don’t deserve children.
“Mom, pick up. I
know you can hear me. We’ve been over this a hundred times. You’re going to
like Rosewood Manor. You’ll meet lots of new friends, eat great food and wait
till you see the games room!”
Harshly spoken commands direct the
familiar sound of boots running. They come closer and closer. Now at the
entrance to her building. They heard me she thinks and she stops
breathing. Fists pound on the door, someone barks orders and the soldiers
demand entry. Her flesh freezes as if covered in ice. She knew this day would
come but still isn’t prepared. Hide. Now! The girl squeezes behind a
massive armoire; her petit body starved thin enough to make it possible.
Wood splinters and
breaks. She flinches at the sound of the front door crashing against the wall.
Footsteps thunder up the stairs. The girl tries to count how many. Two? Six?
No, at least ten soldiers. More than enough to find me. She misses her
mother and recites a prayer.
The soldiers make
a lot of noise, running from room to room. They yell at each other, not in her
language, but she knows it well enough to understand. There’s another noise,
like a hush. Seconds later, the soldiers retreat. Everything is quiet, but the
girl doesn’t relax. It’s a trick, she tells herself. There wasn’t as
much thumping on the stairs. They haven’t all left. She holds her breath,
afraid to make a sound. Something tickles her foot and she watches a spider
crawl over her toes. She sucks in more air, good on top of bad and her chest
cavity expands. A button from her sweater snags and pops off. The glass disc plinks
on the first bounce then rolls out from under the armoire, sounding louder
than a handful of marbles on a hardwood floor.
“What do we have
here?” The man speaks with a thick accent. An accent that causes her skin to
crawl every time she hears it. “Come out from behind there, little gutter rat.”
A banging sound wakes Ruth and she gasps.
An old fear rushes through her veins like a shot of adrenalin. She hears her
front door open and her hands tremble. A single thought flashes in her
mind. Hide. She slides into the broom closet, not quite fitting and
leaves the door ajar.
“I got the
bedroom. Check the kitchen.”