"Bloody hell this story took off at speed and I found myself gasping, feeling frustrated and loving every minute of it." –Books from Dusk till Dawn
A thrill ride through time that will make you hold your breath.
Sitting by the campfire, Brandy admitted a secret to her friends. She swore she saw a ghost when exiting a cave earlier that day. Was she seeing things? Did they believe her? The next day, breaking a cardinal rule, she snuck back to the cave alone. No one knew where she was. What if she fell or was trapped? There would be no rescue.
For ten thousand years Alexander had kept the time streams of this universe safe from an eternal destructive force that continually threatened to tamper and destroy all. Locked in an unremitting battle, the two foes become sidetracked by an unexpected visitor. An entangled journey begins with chilling twists and turns until becoming locked into an inescapable death in a submerged cave.
Who will come out of the watery depths alive?
|Publisher:||Black Rose Writing|
|Edition description:||First Printing ed.|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.83(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
THE TIME WATCHER. 10,000 YEARS AGO.
"She's still there," he thought to himself. He glanced her way as he slid effortlessly through time and across the room. He batted absently at the wisps of spider webs. one moment only a strand, the next a full web, then it was gone. Dank, dead air pressed against his skin.
It was the look in her eyes that perplexed him most: sad, lost, empty. He sat next to her, followed her gaze into the pit's depths. She stared into the dark, seeing nothing but memory. He could see through all of time and regarded the pit in its infancy, as it enlarged, and the recent past. There, only a few days ago from the world's current time, a broken figure lay a hundred feet below. He could see the rock that had caused the fall, the look of horror on her face as she had watched her friend disappear, an outstretched hand grasping. He sat, watched the emotions on their faces. Surprise on the face of the one who fell. Horror and anguish on the face of the one who lived. Simple mortality. Why did she mourn the loss of her friend? What freedom to die. What joy to know you could end so easily. Why did she mourn? What did it matter? They all die; linears all die, so very easily. Linears, the outcast species spawned from his own ancestors: genetically malformed, weak, enslaved by time, oblivious.
His body, nearly immortal, had held his consciousness to this earth since the landmass had emerged as one continent from the sea. Time stretched behind him; his name lost, found, recreated, lost again over the endless existence. The last name he had claimed had been Alexander. He had forgotten the others, perhaps, or simply preferred to not remember them.
Alexander sat still, movements slow and thoughtful. He did not experience time, did not feel its pull upon his body's metabolism. Yet, he could see all of time from the moment he had become a man until now. It appeared and danced before him as ghosts. At will he could focus on a given moment in time and dial back the rest of the clouded ghosts before him. He crouched before the pit near the entrance of the cave, his cave. He took comfort in how slowly this cave had changed. The quiet of it: peace. The lack of visual clutter: bliss. Until now.
Like a healing bruise, a yellow stain smeared across the images of her as she mourned her friend's death. Yellow tinted the ghostly images of her friend falling then broken at the bottom of the pit, the color of puss. Ignoring the obvious stain in time was easier than ignoring the pain it caused him: a slow ache in his bones. The rock that had caused the fall stood out as the brightest tint of a ghastly yellow. This rock had been changed, altered. The accident had been caused. A manipulator had entered his sanctum and dared to alter events here. Alexander tried to muster the anger and indignity he knew he should feel. His heart felt too cold, too weary.
Looking up again, he could see misty visions of her throughout time, always coming here to sit and gaze. She didn't cry. It would have been a relief to see tears. Instead the sadness seemed to him as infinite as the universe.
He fell in love with her. How else could Alexander explain his procrastination to do what he should, to fix the error in time, to erase the yellow tinge that seeped into his body and across all the time he could see? To fix time would be to lose her. She would not visit the memory of her lost friend. He would not see her continuous trek span out before him as she progressed through her time. How long would she continue to visit and sit at the pit and mourn her lost friend? If he fixed time, he would not be able to sit near her, be with her, study the emotions on her face. Why mourn? He could wait; the pain was bearable. The universe was only mildly off its time track, a river with only a few divergent streams. Eventually, he would fix it, change it back. He had all of eternity, until the ache turned into agony, until the stream of time was too altered and threatened to leave its streambed.
The universe moved forward in time, slowly, for years. He entered his cave, welcoming the dark peace there and looked to the alcove where she sat.
Still sad, still looking, never moving. She would be there in his vision forever. Her time had happened, she was there in that space and he could always see her, could focus on that moment or any of the other moments she had crawled, climbed or walked through his dark home. He studied them, all of her times spent there in the dark, until he knew her smile, how she touched her chin when talking, and the silly faces she made at her friend — before her friend had plunged to her death. He always returned to when she sat at the pit's edge and gazed mournfully.
From Alexander's frozen moment in time he began to anxiously watch for the ghost visions of her to appear as global time moved forward. Year after year, she returned, sat at the pit, mourned, then left. He sat with her. He cherished watching the new ghostly images of her appear in front of him while he viewed from his frozen moment, his time. He never dared to go close to her moment in time and risk being seen. He longed to. Alexander considered synching with time and waiting for her when she visited. He rejected the thought with a sudden, intense burst of anger. Hadn't he learned?
Eventually the visits were less often. Alexander waited and watched, having grown content with the ghost images of her. He spoke to the images of her upon his waking as he moved about his cave. First he spoke to her as a friend, confided in her image his secrets. He asked her questions. She did not answer them. Eventually he spoke to her ghost as a beloved companion. Then she did not visit anymore. No new images of her appeared. He watched. Alexander waited longer. How long do linears live? He looked towards the entrance of the cave. She did not appear again; only the ghostly images of her remained. It would be useless to find her. He considered the darkness outside his cave.
His bones ached as time struggled forward in its altered state. Alexander weakened, having forgotten to eat, for how long? He couldn't remember. Elsewhere he could feel other instances of time being altered, molested. He did not want to leave his static vigil here by her ghostly side. What if he stayed, let time slip, let the universe go? Would his inattentiveness to the keeping of time be enough to tear the universe apart? Probably not. He sighed, slowly, soundlessly — air molecules disturbed and sent through time to collide and slide into unseen dimensions.
Somewhere, something, someone else was being altered, more streams of time being sent off course. Pain made his vision swim, tinged yellow then orange. No, he alone could not bring the destruction to the universe, but it would list and tear at him until he wished he could end it all. What if the others of his kind felt the same way? What if they all just stopped and allowed the manipulators to push time off its course until it had ripped apart at the seams and rendered everyone into ... what? Death? Another existence? Energy? Nothing? Alexander felt the weight of his own eternal enslavement: heavy, all encompassing.
He sat again at the pit. His foot overlapped hers. His foot solid, her foot translucent. After all these years he had grown so accustomed to her. An eternal frown tugged at her mouth. Darkness obscured the color of her eyes.
A simple, nagging question burned through the darkness of his mood. The question refused to surface at first; it haunted and teased him until he could think of nothing other. He could not see the color of her eyes. What color were they? He couldn't see. No matter how he tried. How ridiculous it seemed to him that he had to know. Her sadness was even more profound in some way, heavier, more wrong for the fact he did not know whether blue, brown or green eyes held back tears.
His home. His cave: darker than night. No light had ever existed in this space. Not anywhere, not in any time. Alexander slowly and meticulously followed her movements through the cave on every visit she had ever made. She had crawled through this tunnel on her first visit. She had stood there with her friend that same visit. She had only sat at the pit a dozen more times, never venturing any further into the cave on the remaining visits. Only on the first trip did she smile, Alexander realized, a beacon in the dark. He could see frozen laughs shared between her and her friend. He dared to come close to her time, trying to see her eyes. She had used a head lamp when she explored. Long shadows tore across her face. He hurt to see the color of her eyes, always hidden from him.
A hundred years had passed and Alexander came to accept that he was holding onto something he could not have. A memory, a ghost, a linear who had been. For what? Why? The thought occurred to him that he could go find her, hear her laugh. He had never seen her laugh after her friend had died. Did she mourn only inside this cave or when she was outside as well? He had to let go of this. How do you let go of a thing that you see for all eternity? Forever visible? Forever part of your life.
The universe threatened to pull from its course, time had been altered in too many places. What if all others had stopped as well and this was the end he was looking for? He could hope. His vision was tinged with red as the time stream pulled over its banks and rushed towards entropy. He didn't see the red in his vision. He didn't feel the pain that pulsed through his body. Instead, he sat opposite of her. How could he let it end and not know the color of her eyes? She was beautiful to him. A linear. Hadn't he learned not to love them?
A new thought encompassed him. It was slow, deliberate and drowned out all pain. He could end her sorrow, release her. Enough with this self indulgence, a weakness. Remorsefully, he reached forward and back in time to when the rock still rested on the ledge.
He wasn't going to look at her, but his eyes betrayed him.
He saw her sad face.
He touched the rock in the past.
He didn't say good bye.
He loved her.
He pushed the rock into the pit.
It fell to the bottom where now no broken body lay. It would not be there to fall when his love and her friend would come to climb out of the pit. It would not be there to cause the death. No death, no broken body at the bottom of the pit, no sad look to haunt him, no yellow altered time pulling the universe towards chaos, no pain tearing through his body. He watched as the vision of her sitting, always sitting, disappeared. The air where she had been was no longer tinged that awful, sick yellow hemorrhaged with red.
She and her friend had left the cave into the sunlight where he could not go. Fifty feet before the entrance, she had stepped from the dark into the first twilight rays of light then had turned, as if she had heard something.
In the dim light he could see her grey eyes look back towards the dark of the cave.
He would not see those grey eyes again in his dark home. She was gone. He sat at the pit alone and stared into the darkness at the rock, a hundred feet below, where once a broken body would have been. Pain no longer gripped his body. He did not care. He would have cherished everlasting pain in place of the emptiness that now echoed in his soul.CHAPTER 2
THE MANIPULATOR. THURSDAY AFTERNOON.
Yindi had to hurry. He didn't want to get caught. Then he would miss the moment and now, now was the moment. Grass stuck to his feet as he ran. He whistled to himself, tunelessly. Birds, startled, fled his path. Fidgety and hopping on one foot he paused to look around. Where would she go? There, there! She was going to cross this field and go into that cave. He searched through the future to see where his best chance would be. He had to hurry before she got there. He couldn't get caught.
There, right inside, he could feel the moment. It was simple. She would be here soon. Yindi paused again. Oh, she had a friend. Good, good. He searched again. Unable to see the particulars of what happened in time, he could only feel what would best sate his need. The feeling drew him to the opening of the cave. He cast about, nearly frantic, touching and feeling the air and walls around him. Where was it? What was it? When was it? The moment. The thing.
He ventured further into the darkness, groping. Pebbles. Grit. Cave crickets skittered from his fingers. A lustful warmth engulfed him when his fingers grazed the rock. Willing himself to see into the darkness, he tensed: muscles bunched, heart pounding. A moan escaped when he grasped the rock and the full impact of the thing spread through his veins.
Quick, quick, he had to see the best way to adjust time before she got here. He lay on his belly in the dirt, both hands outstretched around the rock. A pit gaped in front of him. He didn't look into it. It didn't matter, he could not see into the darkness. His eyes looked into nothing and everything. It wasn't a decision that moved his hands; instinct and raw need showed him what to do. He loosened the rock and felt the rush of elation. That was it. Yes. He could see the time shift, turn yellow. No longer green. Altered. It caught his breath. It felt good.
He scrabbled back and sat on his haunches, rocking slightly and chewing the nail of his right hand. That was fine. Just a small shift. He could go do more elsewhere. This was good here. He felt time unraveling and slipping in this future. Intoxicating. He couldn't stay to watch. He had to keep moving, find the next thing. The things were everywhere. Had to keep looking and pushing. He itched to go, already anticipating the next rush when he found the next moment. Yindi chewed his lip and let out a snort through his nose. This was good. This was ...
He paused. Looked into the darkness ahead of him. Was this ...
Yindi tipped backwards, his feet going in front of him, and landed painfully on the pebbled ground. He giggled and hugged himself. How amazing, he had never been here before, never seen this place before. Smirking, he hastened his efforts to retreat from the cave, slightly panicked. Dust rose on the cool air. The draft carried the dust from the cave entrance to the dark passages beyond.
Already the pull to go somewhere else, to find the next thing, beckoned him. A siren song that never ended. A thirst unquenched. Yindi looked back, one foot scratching the other ankle. The thing, the rock Yindi had manipulated, was here in his place: the watcher's place. It was day, though the manipulated thing was in the dark. Could the watcher change it? The need to find the next thing itched. Curiosity is a need too. It cried louder. Yindi scurried, ran, jogged, fell and nearly crawled on all fours through the grass and into the woods to watch.
Two women walked casually across the grass towards the cave. Yindi hid behind a tree, biting his lip nervously. Drops of blood fell unheeded to his filthy shirt. The women both wore backpacks. One carried a rope coiled and draped across her shoulder. They clanked as they walked, harnesses and gear hung from their hips. Each paused at the entrance, turned her headlamp on, then walked into the darkness. Someone laughed. A small sound, then Yindi could not hear them.
Yindi's breath came in short bursts while he waited. Would the watcher be able to change it? It was day. But the thing was in the dark, a dark that has always been. No sun has ever shone there. Yindi's eyes darted to the sky, the sun, the trees, the cave opening. Yindi picked at his nubbed fingernails.
He could still feel the slight unwinding of time. It still felt good and washed through him. The watcher was not aware and had not changed anything back. Yet. The world would turn yellow then slide to orange and red and with it satisfaction. Peace for Yindi. Chaos for all. Yindi's eyes fluttered and rolled to the back of his head momentarily overcome by ecstasy.
A mental snap, a jolt of lighting to his stomach. Yindi doubled over and wretched dry heaves. His moment, his thing, was gone. He had changed it. He was there. Yindi tried to see a shape, an indication of someone there, but could not find anything in the darkness of the cave's entrance. Suddenly afraid, Yindi straightened. Waives of nausea threatened to double him again. He calmed himself visibly. It was day. The watcher couldn't come out here. Yindi knew he was safe, for now.
The need to find the next thing intensified. Where would it be? When? What was it? Who would be the one altered. Already excited to find it, Yindi turned and did not look back. Squirrels chittered at being disturbed. Yindi jogged, walked, ran at an uneven pace into the woods and away from the cave.
* * *
Yindi was not there when the two women exited the cave, just at sunset. One turned and looked back towards the entrance. A whip-o-will whistled from the trees. After a while the taller of the woman grabbed the shorter one's sleeve and tugged her away. Reluctantly, the shorter woman turned, glanced back again, then turned and walked away. The two muddy figures traipsed through the field and disappeared.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Absolute Darkness"
Copyright © 2018 Tina A. O'Hailey.
Excerpted by permission of Black Rose Writing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Also by Tina O'Hailey,
1 THE TIME WATCHER. 10,000 YEARS AGO.,
2 THE MANIPULATOR. THURSDAY AFTERNOON.,
3 THREE DOOMED TO DIE.,
5 BLOOD IN THE WATER.,
6 A FOOL.,
7 COLD, DARK, RED EYES.,
8 THE CONVERGENCE.,
9 DEATH AND LOVE FOR LINEARS.,
10 UNEXPECTED RESCUE.,
11 DUCKS IN CIVILIZATION. DEADLY DIVES.,
12 I AM NOW. SNAKES, INTESTINES. STAND OFF.,
13 STANDOFF REVISITED.,
14 LOCKED TIME. WEDNESDAY, AGAIN AND FOREVER.,
15 PAIN EVERYWHERE IN NOWHERE.,
16 10,000 YEARS & 10 WEEKS. CONFESSION.,
17 ALONE AND DOOMED IN THE DAYLIGHT.,
18 WATERY DEATHS.,
19 ONLY THE ONCE.,
EPILOGUE: 10,000 YEARS AGO.,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR,