Thought I’d squeeze in an excerpt of my own, if you guys will indulge me. This is a scene from Chapter 3 of Harbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3. Hope it gives you a shiver or two, and you get a small hint as to the kind of man Cadey Hagen is, along the way. Enjoy!
3:00 A.M. Sunday, March 2, 2014
Morganton, North Carolina
EYELASHES FROZEN, EACH gasping breath a snowy plume in the frigid night air, the boy ran for his life. Heart pounding, he scrambled up the wooded slope, terror driving him faster and faster.
There! Just ahead, a warm light glowed in a small window. Home. Safety. Only a few yards more.
He lurched forward, sure he was going to make it, now. His heart sang with joy, even as his foot slid on an icy patch of old snow, and he went down hard, knocking the wind right out of himself. The metallic taste of blood from his bitten tongue flooded his mouth, and for a moment, he couldn’t move. He was simply too tired to keep going.
No, no, no…get up. You got to get up. You’re almost there.
Desperation gave him a last burst of energy, and panting, he struggled to his knees. The woods loomed dark and silent around him, and he dared to hope he had outrun his pursuer. Then he heard it. A soft rumble at first, the sound built into a full-throated growl, coming from the last stretch of trees between him and his daddy’s tiny cabin. Somehow, it had gotten in front of him. He was cut off!
As he stared in horror, two glowing pinpoints of red appeared not ten feet away, growing steadily larger, as the beast stepped out of the bushes and into the moonlight. The dog was huge, and black as coal. And those fiery eyes stared unblinking, directly into his.
Whimpering, he felt a rush of warmth as he wet himself. He’d seen the Black Dog, and that meant it had come for him. He was going to die.
Somewhere in the dim recesses of his mind, he heard his aunt calling his name, but it was already too late. When Ol’ Shuck shows up to get you, it’s always too late. Still, she called, her voice coming from far away.
“Cadey? Cadey . . . ?”
He tried to answer, but could make no sound, and stood helpless, watching. Just before it leapt, the Black Dog’s lips peeled back, revealing long, gleaming teeth. Hot, foul breath washed over his face, as Ol’ Shuck opened its mouth impossibly wide, and Cadey tumbled forward into its reeking maw.
At last, he screamed.
“Cadey? Cadey? Wake up. You’re tearin’ all the blankets off the bed with your thrashin’ around. Come on. Wake up, honey.”
With a cry, Cadey Hagen bolted upright, head swiveling this way and that, as he recognized the familiar shadows of his darkened bedroom.
His wife of ten years was sitting up, as well, her face lined with concern. “Are you okay now? You were havin’ a bad dream, hon. Haven’t had one like that in a while, have you? You want to talk? Bet you won’t be goin’ back to sleep any time soon. I can make coffee, if you like. It won’t be any trouble, Cadey. How about I make some coffee for us, and you tell me about your dream? Would you like that?”
What he would like would be for his wife to shut the hell up and let him catch his breath. But of course, that wasn’t going to happen. The woman didn’t know how to close that mouth of hers, even when he asked her to.
“No, Vonda. No need to get up. I’ll be fine in a minute. Just go back to sleep, okay?” He swung his legs over the side of the bed.
“Where are you goin’? I mean, I really can make some coffee, if you can’t go back to sleep. I’ll be happy to get up with you.”
“Vonda, for God’s sake. Can I just go pee by myself? I’ll be back as soon as I’m done in the bathroom. I don’t want to talk, and I don’t want to listen to you talk, either.”
He glanced at the clock. “It’s three in the morning. No one drinks coffee at three in the morning, even if they’ve had a bad dream. Now go to sleep, dammit!”
To give her credit, she did shut up then, lying back down, but her hurt silence made more noise than her rapid-fire chatter. He knew if he didn’t apologize, the rest of the night would be a lost cause.
He patted her arm. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you. It was just the dream still hanging on. Really, I’m fine now. Just go back to sleep, and I will, too, when I’m done. We can talk tomorrow, if you want.”
She gave him a tremulous smile, nodded, and turned over, always ready to do his bidding. It was one thing he really liked about her. Maybe the only thing.
In the privacy of the bathroom, he sat on the closed toilet seat, and buried his head in his hands. The dream had really shaken him up, even though he’d been having it every three or four months for twenty years. You’d think it would have disappeared by now, or at least changed in some way. Or maybe, he could just once be smart enough to realize it was the dream, as soon as it started.
But no. That never happened. And every single time, it all proceeded exactly the same way, except for one odd thing. It was always the same season in the dream world that it was in the real one.
Other than that, nothing ever changed. The dream would start with him running through the dark woods, heart pounding, and desperation building, as he tried to make it back to the safety of his home. Every painful gasp, every terrified cry, the same each time, until he pitched forward into the foul-smelling darkness of that hideous mouth.
When his shivers subsided, he washed the sweat from his face, got a drink of water, and headed back to bed, where Vonda already snored softly. Hoping he’d have no trouble falling to sleep, he crawled in beside her. Only a few hours until he had to be at church, to take care of several tasks before his Bible study class got underway. Plus, there were items to get ready before regular services started, too.
Being the deacon at the Light of Grace Baptist church carried important responsibilities, and he wanted to be sure people noticed how well he carried them out.
Harbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3 is available on Amazon here, in both print and Kindle format. (Do be aware that while it can be read alone, there are some things that will make more sense if you’ve read the preceding two.)