Today’s snippet is an additional piece from Awakenings: Book One previously only available in the print and ebook versions of the serial.
The world ended on an August Sunday, in a rain of stones from the sky, like something out of Revelations. Marin Astoris saw the end of the world well before it happened, and her visions of the future become a guiding force for a small knot of survivors at her Midwestern university.
In the weeks after the end of the world, that knot of thirty students and one professor begin to awaken to supernatural gifts they didn’t expect. These newfound talents may mean the difference between life and death–for them and the rest of humanity.
Thom Ambrose loves Marin with every fiber of his being, but he can’t accept the prophetic gift they share. If he does, he’ll lose the only thing that’s important to him: her. His ignorance comes at a price.
Is it a price he and his friends can afford to pay?
Fiction below the break.
I slid down the wall of the ravine, using palms and heels to slow my descent unconsciously, my anger fueling my departure from camp. My heart hammered against my ribs as my feet hit the mud-sticky bottom of the ravine and I sucked in a few deep breaths, trying to settle down.
Why did he have to lie? It wasn’t fair. Ever since he’d bailed on that trip to Mackinac Island, there had been a wall between us, built from things left unsaid and cemented with deception. But the lie—that sent a bullet of ice right into my heart.
He was seeing something. I know he was seeing something. Daydreams my ass. Daydreams!
My feet carried me along the creek, eyes blurring with tears. “I don’t fucking understand you, Thom,” I said to no one. “You have a vision right in front of Jac and I and then you lie about it. You know that I saw it. Do you just not care? Is that what it is? You don’t care if you hurt me, do you?”
I kicked a rock, thinking it’d go flying. Instead it stuck in the mud and I yelped, hopping on one foot for a moment and nursing a toe that pulsed with pain. I kicked a smaller stone next to it and stormed on.
“Two can play that game,” I growled. “I can be just as fucking heartless as you can be, if that’s how you want to play this game.”
But it wasn’t a game—it was our lives, his life, my life.
Thom let out an anguished cry and started to move. All I could feel was pain as she saw him start to run.
Oh god, he doesn’t see it. He can’t see it.
The ugly shadow-creature, cloaked in black with brightly glowing eyes, turned slowly toward Thom. Malice-laced laughter rolled from the man’s throat. Thom ran right into that man and bounced off, sprawling and coughing painfully. He spat blood off to one side.
“Get out of my way,” Thom said, looking past the man and toward me. I couldn’t move; darkness nibbled at the edges of my vision.
Thom started to force his way to his feet. He wavered for a moment before he started to move again, toward me.
The shadow-man grasped his arm, claws flexing and digging into Thom’s flesh.
“No,” Thom whispered.
Blackness swallowed me whole.
I crashed to my knees in the creek, gasping and sobbing. I punched the water, since it was the only thing I could hit and not hurt myself.
“Damn you, Thom,” I said, gasping through my tears. “Damn you!”
I stumbled back to my feet and got moving again, trying to stomp but giving up on it as the mud tugged at my sneakers. It was just too damn wet down here to be properly angry.
Why do you do this to me? Is it some kind of sick compulsion you’ve got? I wanted to scream, wanted to throw up, wanted to hurt something—anything to make me feel better. The problem was, I didn’t think anything could, shy of pummeling some sense into Thom.
You can’t do that, either. He’s too stubborn. So are you. I squeezed my eyes shut and walked another few feet that way.
That’s part of why you love him, and if you didn’t love him, you wouldn’t be so damn angry at him.
I hate my subconscious sometimes because it tells me things I don’t want to hear, visions nonwithstanding.
I sighed and opened my eyes. Pale grasses waved in an errant breeze before me, trees towering along the walls of the ravine. I was behind the arboretum, in a place Kellin and I used to come looking for snapping turtles. It was the first place in the ravine that Thom and I had ever gone to together—Drew had been with us, and it had been dark and more dangerous than we realized until it was almost too late.
I sat down on a fallen tree and stared at the streamlet that wended its way through the grassy marsh, breathing shakily as my limbs began to tremble. I know that you can see all of it, Thom, because that night, you were the only one who could. You saved our lives that night—you could do so much good. Why are you so damned determined to turn your back on it?
Is J.T. right? Are you scared? I’m bloody terrified, but that isn’t stopping me. When did you become such a goddamned coward?
A chill shot through me—no, not me, the air. I lifted my head and looked around slowly, brows knitting. A pale, chilly mist was starting to gather.
Where did that come from? I wondered. I didn’t think it was damp enough outside for that, not with all the rain we’ve had.
I stood up, taking a few tentative steps toward the gathering mist, being careful of my footing. My breath steamed in the air. It was definitely colder.
This doesn’t make any sense.
I saw a small, pale gray face with fangs lurking in the mist and I knew.
This wasn’t a normal mist.
I sucked in a breath, turning to run.
The mist swirled around me.
Operating blind, I bolted.
I didn’t make it ten feet before I was surrounded.
Damn. I swallowed bile, staring into the faces of the Greys that surrounded me, more malicious and hateful than I’d ever seen before. Damn and damn! This isn’t supposed to happen. They’re not supposed to be angry, hateful.
“Please,” I said quietly. “I’m leaving, just let me leave.”
I could have sworn they laughed at me.
I’m going to die down here and no one’s going to find me for hours, maybe days.
That shot steel into my spine. No. No, I’m not. I dropped into an approximation of a fighter’s stance. “All right, fine,” I said. “If that’s the way it’s going to be, that’s the way it’s going to be.
“Bring it on.”
Awakenings: Book One is available where books are sold.
The continuing story of Awakenings can be found at awakenings.embklitzke.com.