Middle of the Road (an excerpt from The Matriarch)

SkyTreeFangMoon10After accelerating out of a curve, Craig glanced down at his dashboard. The Escalade was just about to turn over its first hundred miles. He grinned as he repeatedly sneaked looks down at the dash trying catch the number rolling over. Just as it did, he looked back at the road in time to see something on the right side of the vehicle fall into its path.

Impact.

Craig gripped his steering wheel and stomped on his brake; the Escalade skidded to a stop in an impressively short distance. After shifting into park, the shoulder strap on his seat belt disengaged. He wondered for a moment why the airbags never inflated before finally assuming that whatever he’d hit hadn’t been big enough to set off them off.

What the hell was that?

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Everything Old Made New Again (an excerpt from The Matriarch)

SkyTreeFangMoon10Halfway down the corridor were two recreational rooms, one on either side. Unlike the solid condo doors, these rooms had glass door fronts. The one on the left had shades drawn, but the room on the right was full of elderly folks, including two she immediately recognized. Louisa stepped aside and held the door to allow Janiss to enter first.

“Mr. Fisher! Vivian!” Janiss could hardly believe it. They looked great, and Mr. Fisher was out of bed. How was he standing up on his own when he couldn’t walk before?

“Just call me John, my dear,” Mr. Fisher replied. “It’s good to see you again.”

Janiss gave both her old acquaintances quick hugs, then noticed how everyone was looking at her. It was as if she was the most important person in the room, or possibly the one that something terrible was about to happen to. It all seemed too well and good, as though something sinister lurked beneath the surface of the situation.

Then it dawned on her: it was their movement. None of them were doddering or shuffling about. Their actions were quick and deliberate, like a younger person’s movement. Janiss imagined that people half their age might have been wearing the masks of the people they had become. What was happening? Janiss looked back toward Louisa, who was conferring again with her thin assistant.

“Questions?” Louisa asked, looking toward her potential new employee.

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Clean and Professional (an excerpt from The Matriarch)

SkyTreeFangMoon10 It was getting close to sunset, but there was no sun to be seen; the sky was fading from gray to black. The driver of a black Cadillac Escalade parked off the side of Route 5 took notice of a red Kia Soul as it passed him heading toward Glenville. He casually started his vehicle, checked for other traffic, and followed.

The Kia turned into a shopping center just before the merge onto Route 33 up to the college. It was the only chain grocery store in Glenville, so either it or the sandwich shop next door was the most likely destination. The Escalade’s driver turned into the other side of the lot and inched along for a moment, waiting to get a better look at the Kia’s owner. He noted the Glenville State College parking sticker.

The woman who emerged was young, taller than average but on the thin side, and pleasant-looking enough. Her clothes looked more expensive than how most locals were dressed and certainly nothing a young lady would wear for visiting a prison. He had seen enough, at least enough to ask her a carefully worded question. With luck, the answer would be all the confirmation he’d need.

It just wouldn’t be so lucky for her.

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He Said He Was the Devil (an excerpt from The Matriarch)

SkyTreeFangMoon10It was unusually cold for the first Sunday of November. The sky was clear and the moon was full.

Just after midnight, an old man placed two rusty gas cans next to a plastic fuel container, all of them full, into the bed of his 1965 Ford pickup. The truck’s red paint was scratched and faded. He kept the vehicle patched together with duct tape and coat hangers, but it still ran all right.

After locking up his trailer, he drove to the top of the hill and parked his truck just off the two-lane highway. Across the road was a one-room church next to a cemetery. No one used the church anymore, but headstones kept popping up next to it as the tiny West Virginia community continued to die.

With his good hand, he was able to carry the two cans together and still manage the plastic one in his weak one. He carried them to the other side of the road and looked up at the door to the old church.

It terrified him.

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An Awakening In the Cellar (an excerpt from The Matriarch)

SkyTreeFangMoon10Janiss opened her eyes.

Was it still dark? How early was it?

The bed felt wonderful, like waking up the first morning after getting over being sick. She closed her eyes again. The smell of freshly turned soil made her remember helping her Grampa work in the garden.

Soil?

Her eyes snapped open. She was laying on her stomach with one arm behind her and the other against the bed, only it wasn’t a bed. She clawed at the imagined sheets only to dig her fingers into earth.

Sitting up with a start, there was a hint of light coming through a small opening very high up on the wall. It looked familiar. Her mind raced; where had she seen that light?

The cellar. She was in the cellar?!

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