Welcome to the inaugural edition of Storytime Wednesday, where we will enchant your imagination or tease your sense, with featured stories and book excerpts.
Today's guest writer is the talented writer Ellen C. Maze, author of the acclaimed vampire books of the Rabbit Trilogy. Her wonderful contribution is an excerpt from The Judging, the first book in her series, The Corescu Chronicles:
An Excerpt from The Judging by Ellen C. Maze
(TreasureLine Publishing 2010)
This last one wouldn’t scream.
Tate rolled the corpse over for one last look. She was Emily all over again; it was uncanny. But why didn’t she scream? It really sucked the fun out of the exercise. Emily had screamed, and oh, what a sound.
With the toe of his work boot, Tate shoved the body over the edge of the bridge. Nobody would ever find her. He’d chosen this spot three years ago, and since weighted down and buried seven such Emilys. Deep in the Talladega National Forest, but no more than a mile from his granddaddy’s farm, the traffic on the abandoned road was nil. Only equestrians and hikers ambled by these days, and with the latest summer flooding, not even they traversed the treacherous terrain surrounding the defeated wooden crossing.
The eighth Emily made a surprisingly small splash and disappeared. The water was twelve feet deep and hardly moved. Tate thought about the others down there, what they must look like, wrapped in ropes, chains, and shower curtains, with only their long brown hair free to wave at the fishes that happened by.
Tate frowned and looked toward the noise, his flashlight dark for the moment. It was half-past midnight and he was alone. Maybe an animal?
Tate switched on his halogen beam and it sliced into the dark of the tree-line fifteen yards north. The noise was deeper in, snuggled into the way he was to go. It might’ve been a “woodland creature,” as his mother Emily called them, but she’d been a whore—Tate spat out the bile that rose as his memory of her sharpened. Cursing under his breath, he puffed out his chest. The sound occurred again, but this time on the opposite side of the disrupted clay path that used to be a road.
“Who’s there?” he whispered, unnerved that the forest had fallen quiet. The only noise that filtered into his ears was the echo of the latest branch breaking. It wasn’t an animal; someone was toying with him.
Tate backed two steps from the last noise and swallowed. A list of possible suspects paraded past his consciousness as he worked to divine who might have followed him to his killing field. Whoever it was, they had to die. There were too many Emilys left to locate and destroy before his work was done. Tate opened his pocket knife and hid it in his palm. If somebody rushed him, he’d do what the Army trained him to do twenty years ago. He was an excellent killer.
“Tatian Murphy, you are being judged.” A raspy voice filled the clearing with no definite source or direction.
Tate whirled to his right and presented his blade with a stiff arm.
“Who’s there?” he shouted, jerking to the left, behind, and then right again.
“You have killed for the last time. Repent of your murderous deeds and you will find forgiveness.” The voice rumbled closer now, eerily emanating from the air itself.
Tate jabbed at nothing and sought a reply. Intending to scream curses, he ended up repeating himself, “Who’s there?”
Strong hands from behind took hold of his shoulders and held him fast as Tate yelled out, this time in surprise and fear. Twisting backward to see, he caught a glimpse of a pale face floating in a sea of black, the mouth open and red.
A hungry mouth with the sharp teeth of an animal.
“Your sins have called me here and the time of judgment has come. Repent,” the voice hissed into his ear.
Tate screamed and swiveled his upper body with all of his strength only to be pulled into the thing’s wide chest. Twice more, his attacker whispered for him to repent, now speaking telepathically, penetrating his mind with icy fingers.
“Get away from me! Help!” Tate shouted until his throat was raw, but didn’t expect rescue; he’d chosen this desolate location well.
Still behind him, his attacker repositioned to hold Tate immobile with one arm while the free hand yanked down the collars of his coat and T-Shirt. Tate’s panic level rose as the monster’s breath whispered across his bare skin.
“Once more, Tatian Murphy,” the telepathic voice threatened, “repent of the murder and violence you have perpetrated. Repent and be saved…”
His assailant’s fang-like teeth touched his skin. Tate increased his struggle, accidentally pushing himself upward until blood trickled from the self-inflicted punctures. The monster inhaled, held him tighter, and sent him one last mental message.
“You should’ve repented. Bye, bye, Mr. Murphy.”
With that, the fangs were thrust as far as they would go into his jugular. Tate’s eyes bulged as the fire that raged at the wound site was surpassed by the undeniable sensation of his life slipping away.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” he shouted, his knuckles white where his fists grasped the attacker’s sleeve. “God, help me! I’m sorry!”
Did he make it in time? Who was God and was He listening? The vampire drank deeply, squeezing Tate’s chest until it was difficult to breathe. Whimpering, Tate’s knees buckled. The monster supported his weight and held him fast, still brutally draining his life.
“I don’t want to die. No…”
Tate’s pleas fell to a whisper and then became internal as a white fog encroached on his senses.
Would God help him? He’d worked hard to punish his mother for what she did to him. He was washing evil from the planet; wasn’t that a good deed in itself? Should he have left that job to God?
Tate moaned and realized the lub-dub thump in his ears had become irregular. Soon, it would stop altogether.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
He tried to say it, but he had no breath. Oh, but he was sorry.
A recovering vampire/horror fanatic, Ellen uses her experience in that subculture to bring the Light into the vampire genre. Addicting and delicious, Ellen’s brand of story-telling is rife with deep character study and honest emotion. Ellen graduated from Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and a minor in Sociology, and lives in Historic Montgomery, Alabama with her husband, daughter, five cats, and one spoiled dog.