Jubal, the last Carlyle, lives the full width of the continent away from his Abenaki ancestors until a letter from a lawyer draws him and best friend Sal to the suffering town of Whitewater, Vermont – where dark forces, unleashed by one man’s obsession, bring depression and hopelessness to the people. Jubal’s father was unable to drive back the incursion, but Jubal knows he must try; without knowledge or training he has only instinct to rely on – and Sal, who is rapidly becoming far more than a ‘friend with benefits’. The dangers they face are insidious, and their lives and sanity are at risk – and so much more!
|File size:||328 KB|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Chris started creating stories not long after she mastered joined-up writing, somewhat to the bemusement of her parents and her English teachers. But she received plenty of encouragement. Her dad gave her an already old Everest typewriter when she was about ten, and it was probably the best gift she'd ever received – until the inventions of the home-computer and the worldwide web.
Chris's reading and writing interests range from historical, mystery, and paranormal, to science-fiction and fantasy, mostly in the male/male genre. She also writes male/female novels in the name of Chris Power. She refuses to be pigeon-holed and intends to uphold the long and honourable tradition of the Eccentric Brit to the best of her ability. In her spare time [hah!] she reads, embroiders, quilts and knits. In the past she has been a part-time and unpaid amateur archaeologist, and a 15th century re-enactor.
She currently lives in a small and ancient city in the south-west of the United Kingdom, sharing her usually chaotic home with an extended family, two large dogs, fancy mice, sundry goldfish and a young frilled dragon (Australian lizard) aka Trogdorina.
Read an Excerpt
"Was wondering when you were going to wake up," said the voice.
Since his head currently felt as if an axe was embedded in it, coherent thinking wasn't an option. Jubal managed a slurred, "Shut up," and tried to open his eyes. It didn't happen. His lids seemed to be glued shut. Not that it fully registered with him. The mere effort had been enough to send the pain soaring to a new level.
"You don't want to think about moving just yet." The deep voice sounded wryly amused. Jubal decided he hated the guy, whoever he was. "You got a minute or so."
"Wha…?" he groaned. At the same time he became aware of bruising pressure across his chest and legs. A hard and jagged cage-like something enclosed his body. He heard the pings of cooling metal, the steady drip-drip of leaking gasoline. Smelt it as well. Not good. His memory surged back in a nauseating rush.
He'd been returning home after his shift at the forest ranger station, looking forward to getting out of the deluge that hadn't let up all day, and into a hot shower. Friday night with the rain lashing down, he'd had the back roads leading from Seattle's Capitol State Forest to himself. Until a deer had come out of nowhere, dashed in front of him in a flash of glistening wet hide and black eyes. He'd slammed on his brakes and—nothing at all after that.
"You don't want to hurl either," the man said. "Trust me."
"Help me, for fuck's sake!" Jubal snarled. He tried to raise his right arm so he could scrub at his eyes, but the pain struck again and he nearly passed out.
"Can't." The man didn't sound regretful, just matter-of-fact. "You gotta do it yourself. And if I was you, I'd start right about now. Bastard's struck a match."
"Mother-fuck—" A faint crackling sound started up and another smell assaulted his nostrils. Something was burning.
Panic exploded through Jubal in a scorching tide. He tried to simultaneously shove off whatever was pinning him, roll over and get to his feet. He failed at all three. The agony was oddly distant, but the whoosh of flames and heat were not. His fear became a savage beast that clawed at his brain, at any vestige of self-control that remained. There was only the all-consuming need to be somewhere else—
Something tore deep inside him and Jubal howled. He must have blacked out for a while, because the next thing he knew the biting weight had gone from his body and his arms were free. Rain pattered on his upturned face, sliding its chilled fingers across his skin. He had just enough time to register the texture of the earth and grass beneath him before the gas tank exploded. A wave of heat scooped him up and dropped him into a puddle.
The rain did Jubal a favour. It softened and rinsed away the whatever it was gluing his eyes shut. He still couldn't move his limbs, but he managed to force his eyes open.
Flames painted the night in flickering red light and shifting black shadows. The silhouette standing over him could have been a statue carved from jet and there were no other colours in Jubal's world.
"Better late than never, I guess," it said disparagingly. "Why is it always hard work with you, Jubal?"
"What the hell happened?" His voice was a wheezing croak, but he put every ounce of command into it that he could. "Call nine-one-one, for God's sake!"
"No need. You're outside the Butler place. He's already called it in and he's on his way over. See you around."
Jubal lost track of things then. When he managed to blink his eyes open once more and focus, Pat Butler crouched beside him, swearing in a monotone.
"Jesus Christ, Jubal, hold still, don't move! Don't try to talk, just breathe. You're gonna be fine, I swear."
"Oh, my sweet Lord!" Ellen Butler bent over him, shielding him from the rain with her body. Her tears fell glittering like rubies. Their touch on his face scalded and froze at the same time. "Jubal, honey, you got to hold on..." She covered him with a quilt, careful not to move him. It did nothing to dispel the ice invading him.
"Heard the crash, saw the explosion," Pat was saying. It sounded as if he was a long way off, in an echoing place. "You're a lucky sonofabitch, Jubal. You got thrown clear before the tank blew. Hold on, son..." But the red and the black were swirling, merging into a foggy haze, and Jubal was swamped.
* * * *
"Had to happen, sooner or later."
Jubal had no difficulty in recognising this voice. It wasn't a surprise. In between wondering how the hell he was still alive, he'd spent the last half hour mourning the loss of his Toyota and trying to recall exactly what had happened in anticipation of an official visit. It hadn't been easy. He hurt all over, and the pain in his head made thinking difficult. The ongoing noise and bustle of the Emergency Room didn't help either. The gap in his memory had narrowed though, even if it still didn't make any sense. But that wasn't new in his life. He opened his eyes and squinted up at the bearded man looming over his bed, not needing the blue uniform and the Washington State Patrol badge to tell him why he was there. His cubicle suddenly seemed even more cramped. "Hi, Chet."
"How many times have I told you about speeding on that road?" the officer demanded, his normally good-natured features set in a scowl. "How many tickets have we given you since you got your licence?"
"I wasn't speeding," Jubal said indignantly. "Not this time. A deer crossed the road in front of me just before the bend. I couldn't have been doing more than thirty, thirty-five."
"Yeah? Or maybe you slammed on your brakes and lost it because you were pulling your usual hell-for-leather stunt."
"Shit, no! Give me a break, man. I'd slowed right down before I went into the bend."
Chet pulled up a chair and sat down, producing a notebook and pen with a flourish. "I'd love to believe you, Jubal, but I've seen you take those forest roads like you're on a race circuit."
"Not this time. Word of honour, Chet."
"So tell me what happened."
Jubal described the sequence of events as best he could, but didn't mention waking up in the middle of a jagged tangle of metal. The whole scenario seemed unreal. It didn't help that some of the stranger's words slid away from him and only the stark facts remained. "Then I was on the bend, just coming up to the Butlers' driveway, and—it felt like the right front tyre blew. That's the last thing I remember. When I woke up Pat and Ellen were there."
Chet shook his head, more in wonder than disbelief. "You are one lucky sonofabitch," he said. "The doc says all you've got are cuts, bruises and a mild concussion. I can't see how the hell you managed to get away with just that. You weren't wearing your seatbelt, though if you had, you'd probably be in as many pieces as that damn Toyota of yours. Did the airbags deploy?"