Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rian's Torment ~ An excerpt of my novel "To Stand with Angels"~

Rian awoke with a start. Cold sweat was running down her back. She sat up and felt not the soft down of her bed, but the hard grit of gravel and dirt beneath her finger tips. She looked about in confusion. Then, with terror, she recognized her surroundings. She had been here many times before.
It was twilight. The sky was still an ugly, murky orange marbled with engorged, blackish-red clouds. She shuddered as she looked up the empty street. The buildings on either side stood dark and stared vacantly down at her with windows that were hollow, ominous eyes. Their shutters flapped sluggishly despite the fact that the air was eerily still and malignant. A chill ran down her spine as she turned to look along the other side of the street.
At the far end, just at the town’s edge, was the outline of a man sitting on a horse as black as the Devil’s heart. It was not the horse, but the man, injured and slumping atop the horse, that drew her attention. This time, she knew who it was.
She could not make out his face but the picture was all too familiar. A scream, silent and gagging, wedged in her throat. Rising with the horrid sluggishness of one trapped in a nightmare, Rian ran to the horse. Her footsteps clanged like the fall of a blacksmith’s hammer on steel as they struck the ground. “Bradyn!” she cried in a voice barely more than a mocking whisper.
Limp and lifeless, he sat upon the horse whose eyes glowed with the raging fires of Hell’s brimstone. His body was riddled with bullet holes, but only a thin trickle of blood ran from his chest. She screamed out to him again and this time he lifted his gaze to her. Rian felt her blood run cold as she looked at his face. He was missing an eye and his mouth was nothing more than a bloody, bashed-in hole. She saw that his hands had been sliced and bruised, then tied to the saddle horn in horrible reminiscence of the day she’d first seen him.
Fierce anger and numbing fear drove her to his side. Stumbling up to the horse, she worked frantically to untie him.
“I wouldn’t touch him if I were you.” A voice as deep as a river and as electrifying as a jagged streak of lightning filled the street. “I wouldn’t touch him.”
Rian turned slowly and felt the fury of a thousand hurricanes begin to churn through her blood. Two figures stood at the other end of the town. They were black against a dismal setting sun. Their dusters flapped lifelessly in the heavy, unmoving air. Why were there two men now? Who had the demon brought with him?
“Stay away from us!” She heard her voice, a foreign and distant shriek, echoing down the dead-calm street.
A rumbling chuckle drifted through the town. Quiet at first, it grew in volume until it was an eerie, ubiquitous thundering. Ravens gathered by the hundreds on the roof tops and along the streets, their cackling caws blending with the demonic laughter.
“Stay away from us!” she shouted again. Her eyes searched the town for someone, anyone who could help her.
One of the men began walking toward her, his body weaving hypnotically. He floated down the street as though his feet did not touch the ground. She worked furiously to untie Bradyn, but the knot only grew tighter with her efforts. “Bradyn!” she shrieked. “Bradyn, you have to get out of here! You have to! If you go into town, they’ll kill you!”
“Who’ll kill me?” Bradyn asked. His brutalized face twisted into a horrific, toothless smile. “No one is going to kill me, Rian,” he assured her in a taunting voice.
“It’s too late for him.” The voice, menacing and barely more than a whisper, touched her ears.
She turned. He was standing right behind her now. Shrouded in the purest black, his eyes glowing red from beneath the brim of his hat, he stared at her with a wide grin upon his face.
Rian choked on her tongue as it rolled with thick, terrified indolence to the back of her mouth. She knew him, she knew his face. Long, bony fingers closed around her arms as he smiled evilly down at her. His teeth were sharp fangs, long and viciously canine. His eyes were a dastardly, malicious yellow now.
“I’m coming for you,” he whispered as he licked his lips like a feral dog. “I’m going to kill your precious lover, and then I’m going to rip your heart out of your chest and eat it. I’m coming for you, Moriana.”
“No!” Rian screeched as she felt his teeth sink into her neck with rabid hunger. She looked up at Bradyn sitting lifeless on the horse. His eyes were glassy with death. She hadn’t been able to save him. “No!” she screamed again. ”Oh, Bradyn, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”

"TO STAND WITH ANGELS" on sale now at Amazon (PRINT & KINDLE) and Eternal Press (EBOOK EDITION).

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