Cast Down; Masked (teaser)

The third book in the Cast Down series should be finished in about two weeks. Want a little taste?

For over a month Gabby woke to the smell of her father’s aftershave lingering in her room, as if he’d spent the night sitting in a chair at her bedside, keeping a silent vigil over her.  Every morning she spoke to him and asked for him to stay with her through the day and give her his strength and his protection.  She spoke to him the way she spoke to God when she was younger.  Her father was someone she knew, and God seemed so distant, so unapproachable.  She knew how much her father loved her; she was his only child.  To God she was just one out of billions.

            She could feel his presence with her, especially at home.  Sometimes, as she slept, she could feel his gentle touch as if he sat there stroking her hair, like when she was a little girl.  Those were the good moments in the house.  The bad moments were beginning to outweigh them, though.

            The kids complained of noises in their bedrooms at night.  Gabby was beginning to fear that might mean mice, or worse.  She just didn’t have the energy or motivation to clean much anymore, and her mother apparently didn’t, either.  Laundry piled up on the chairs and in baskets until no one had anything clean to wear.  Snack wrappers littered the house, along with dirty dishes and glasses.  It just seemed like too much of an effort to wash them lately.    

            In addition to the noises the kids were now afraid of the basement.  They said they saw shadows and felt like someone was watching them.  They’d always played down there even if it wasn’t really a finished basement.  Gabby’s father’s workbench was there, with a dozen unfinished projects all around it; the lamp he was fixing, the table leg he was making to replace the wobbly one on the coffee table in the living room, the jewelry box he was making for his granddaughter. 

            Gabby glanced at the workbench as she struggled down the old stairs with her arms full of smelly clothes, trying not to trip and break her neck.  The laundry area was in the far corner of the dank basement.  She hit the light switches at the foot of the stairs and the incandescent lights flickered and buzzed overhead.  The stairs and the door to the upstairs always seemed so far away.  She didn’t bother sorting the clothes.  She stuffed the first load into the washer, sensing eyes from everywhere in the basement staring at her.  She added the detergent pods and some fabric softener, feeling her heart rate kicking up and a cold sweat breaking out on her brow.

            From deep in the shadows of the huge basement she heard a soft hissing sound and stopped dead, holding her breath.  She heard it again; a long, slow hiss that sounded less like a snake than someone trying to form words through a horribly disfigured mouth. 

            Gabby’s mouth was dry as a desert and she swallowed painfully.  The kids were at school.  Her mother was napping.  She was effectively alone with whatever was in the basement.  The hissing came again, closer now, but still in the shadows. 

            “Daddy,” she managed to plead in a raspy whisper.

            The voice of her father was clear in her head if not in her ears.  Run, the voice commanded.            

Her feet became unrooted from the floor and sensing her father’s spirit holding back the dark, hissing entity she bolted and ran for the stairs, taking them two at a time up to the main floor.  She slammed the basement door behind her, sobbing. 

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