Thursday, July 16, 2009

Excerpt from my new novel, Winterborn

A cool breeze chilled the sweat on Tam's brow. Slowly, she opened her eyes to a bright blue sky, white clouds, and winter-faded trees. The day glowed bright and crisp, unmarred. Tam breathed in slowly and spat in the dirt a few times to clear her mouth of bitter bile. The taste remained. She had water bottles in the fridge. Her throat burned, and the just-vomited feeling coated her teeth and tongue.

But the car was just a few yards away, and she didn't feel like dragging Kevin back in the house and then back out. If she remembered correctly, there was a water bottle in the floorboard of the car, an unopened one.

She marched Kevin to the car and ordered him to get in. After a short protest, he got in and slammed the door. Tam hit the button on her keychain that made the doors lock. At ten years old, the car's electronic entry system shorted out in the passenger door and only opened from the outside after anyone pushed the lock button.

“Strap in.”

He glared at her from under his too-long bangs.

“Quick being a brat and strap in.”

Kevin turned his head and stared out the window, arms crossed over his chest.

With a weary sigh, Tam reached over and grabbed the seat belt. Before she could pull it across his narrow body, he leaned forward and grabbed her arm with both hands. He chomped down on the fleshy part of her forearm, grinding his teeth through her flesh as he tore away a mouthful. He growled and went for seconds. His teeth pierced muscle like razors.

Tam screamed and punched him in the side of the head. He growled like an animal and just dug in deeper. She had a terrifying though; if she jerked her arm away, she would rip another hunk of her arm away. If she didn't he would eat her alive. Blood pulsed around his mouth and ran down his chin, where it dripped into his lap.

She heard someone screaming. Why wouldn't they shut up?

Oh, it's me. He had the strength of two grown men. Nothing she did even loosened his grip in the slightest.

Kevin's fingers dug into her arm like talons. The pain was unbearable! She stopped trying to pry his mouth away from her arm and slugged him in the side of the head again. And again.

With the third blow his grip loosened enough for the snatch her arm away.

She couldn't stop screaming. Her voice grated, cracked, until the only sound coming out of her mouth were harsh, painful grunts. Kevin bared his teeth at her, bloody lips peeled back like a mad dog's. Blood—her blood—ran down his chin and soaked into his shirt.

His teeth narrowed, sharpened. His eyes widened and his pupils turned into slits of black. Reptilian. Evil. The tiny veins in the whites of his eyes pulsed visibly, thickening. Blood welled up like tears and ran down his face. His skin paled, cracked.

Tam cried out and flung herself against the door. Locked, it held.

Something on the outside flung itself against the other side of the door.

She opened her eyes and saw the monstrous thing that had stalked her the night before, staring in, snarling. Drool ran down long, yellowed fangs. Bits of past meals hung in the gaps between the teeth, brown and rotting.

It's not real!

Tam smacked her head against the window. Once. Twice. Hard, then harder, eyes clenched shut. She forced her eyes open.

The monster was still there, staring at her. A big crystalline drop of saliva ran down one long, sharp fang. The thing didn't move. Just that drop of drool, that spiraled down its fang. Tam's breathing hitched in her chest with every breath. Fear left her frozen. Her blood sang through her veins, pricking and tingling like electricity.

She turned her head. Her neck creaked. Kevin--

He looked normal. Bloody, grinning, but normal. No fangs, no vampire-eyes. Smooth, pre-adolescent skin.

“Even if I'm not here,” he said. “It is. And it's going to get you.”

“Shut up.”

The monster remained. The gaping, dinosaur-like mouth closed slowly. It leaned closer to the window, where its hot breath fogged up the glass in rhythmic puffs.

“It'll eat you slow. One part at a time. Then it'll lick up your blood.” Kevin demonstrated by swirling his own tongue around his lips.

Tam took a deep breath. He had to shut up. She couldn't take any more of his violent threats. Couldn't deal with the fear anymore. Enough was enough was enough. “Shut up. Now.”

“My mom's going to watch it eat you. Maybe it won't eat you all up. Maybe it'll eat out your insides and then use your body to hold its baby. You killed Jake-O, so it needs to have another one.”

Tam lashed out and hit him, sending his head crashing against the window.

He didn't move.

Oh God, had she killed him?


She nudged his shoulder. He didn't move. But he was breathing, she saw, she her concern faded somewhat. As long as he was breathing. His eyeballs twitched back and forth behind his eyelids. That was good, right?

Ignoring the thing outside her window, she cranked the car and jammed it into gear. The drive to town was one she hated, dreaded. It would be ten minutes or more, even going sixty, before she saw another house.

God forbid they ever need help out there.

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