Day 18 – Chapter 11 – 13

            Marin hit one of the stacks of furniture just inside the boundary of the tents with a sickening crunch mingled with the sound of splintering wood.
            No, no, no, no.  Not this, not now, I can’t.  I can’t.
            All pain forgotten, Thom ran toward her.  Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Rory slump over, collapsed in a heap with Jacqueline and Kellin.  His own heart was in his throat.
            He could only see the vague outline of whatever had thrown her, but he could see it just the same.
            It turned.
            A voice exploded inside of his head.
            Seer.  I know your face, I know your measure.
            Thom hit the shadow and bounced off, sent sprawling, fires igniting in his ribs.  He coughed and agony ripped through him, but the pain in his head somehow overshadowed that.  He blinked at the shadow, eyes tearing.
            “Get out of my way,” Thom rasped, looking toward the pile of broken furniture where Marin was.  I have to get to her.  I have to.
            The voice laughed.  No.
            Thom growled, forcing his way back up to his feet.  His body didn’t want to cooperate, but he wasn’t taking no for an answer.
            Pain like this is temporary.  Losing her would be forever.
            His breath rattled in his chest as he made it to his feet and started moving again, slowly but surely.
            Something took his arm, claws digging in painfully, burning.  He looked.
            All he could see were wavering shadows that rippled, roiled like heatwaves off blacktop.  For half a second he stopped breathing altogether, just staring at the creature as his entire body went from burning agony to ice, so cold his teeth began to chatter and his muscles tightened painfully.
            Forsake the rest, and we will spare you.
            “No,” Thom whispered.
            Forsake the rest, and you will live.
            Thom shook his head slowly, willing his body to move again.  All he could do was twitch feebly in the grip of mass of shadows, something dark and wrong that he couldn’t see, could only feel.
            The kind of thing he’d spent the past eight months denying existed.
            Forsake the rest, and we will spare her.
            He froze.
            “What?”
            The thing laughed.  It sounded like it was gargling glass and grasshoppers at the same time.
            If I can—
            But she wouldn’t—
            But she’d be—
            She would hate you, Thomas.  She could never forgive you.
            But she’d be alive.
            He squeezed his eyes shut.  He saw himself in some future time, battered and bloody, holding her hand like a lifeline.  She was saying something, something he couldn’t quite hear…
            I can’t live with her hating me.
            His eyes snapped open.  For a brief moment, he could see the creature, see the outline of smooth face hiding in the shadows of a deep hood.  He saw the glint of gold, reflective eyes in the shadows.
            Thom set his jaw.  “I said no.”
            He drove his fingers into those eyes, hooked for gouging.  They hit something sensitive inside those shadows, and the Shadow Man dropped him, roaring in pain and reeling backwards.
            Thom hit the ground like a sack of rocks and gasped in pain as he felt something in his chest pop.  If his ribs had only been bruised before, one of them was certainly broken now.  He rolled feebly, onto his stomach, then uncurled and started to crawl toward where Marin was.  He could see her hand outside the pile of furniture.
            Darkness nibbled at the edge of his vision.
            I have to get to her.  Have to.
            Only inches from where Marin lay, he felt the hairs on the back of his neck starting to stand on end once again, skin prickling with the telltale sign of something very, very not right.  He risked a glance backwards.
            The Shadow Man strode toward him.  Thom could see the thing’s hands now, dark flesh with claws like obsidian.  One hand dripped blood.
            Thom glanced at his sleeve, bloody and shredded.  That blood was his.
            The Shadow Man stopped a step away from where Thom struggled.  He delicately licked the blood from his claws and stared down at Thom.
            So be it, Seer.  So be it.
            His vision clouded further.  Thom sucked in a breath and lunged for Marin’s hand.  If he was going to go, at least he wanted to touch her one last time.
            His fingers brushed against her palm, and then he ceased to know anything at all as the blackness swallowed him whole.


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2 Responses to Day 18 – Chapter 11 – 13

  1. Climactic scenes + no buffer + new position at the store + Nanowrimo = RECIPE FOR DISASTER!

    Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

    Wednesday is a J.T. scene…

    • Side note to all of my readers here — my first full-length e-book is now available at Smashwords, Amazon (US, UK, DE, and FR stores), and Barnes and Noble. Epsilon: Broken Stars is the story of Aaron Taylor, a military spy for the Epsilon Alliance who joins a movement of men and women struggling to protect their homes and lives from the encroachment of the Drilin Imperium. It’s just over 80k words and is available for $1.99 — or free on Smashwords through January 31, 2012 using promo code CE44U at checkout.

      *wanders off to write more Awakenings and plot for Nanowrimo*

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