The Silent Woman: A Psychological Thriller

The Silent Woman: A Psychological Thriller

by Keith Rommel

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620064412
Publisher: Hellbender Books
Publication date: 03/11/2017
Pages: 194
Product dimensions: 11.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Keith Rommel is a self taught award winning author and screenwriter. Having penned thirteen novels and co written three movies, Keith had the honor of seeing his first movie hit the big screen in a private viewing on October 31st, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. Keith's novels and movies have garnished over 40 combined awards from 'best horror novels' to 'best feature screenplays and feature films'.

Keith's writing has been called, "Horror for the curious mind" and "Thinking mans fiction."

Read an Excerpt

The Silent Woman


By Keith Rommel, Jennifer Cappello

Sunbury Press, Inc.

Copyright © 2017 Keith Rommel
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62006-441-2



CHAPTER 1

THE MAN


The past.


Stacey took her doll and tossed it up in the air. "I've got you," she said and caught it with care. She spun around, dancing with the stuffed toy. It had button eyes, string hair, and a stitched mouth shaped to look like a smile that was more like a devious smirk.

"Hey, little girl, come here," a man at the rickety screen door whispered. Stacey backed away with a gasp and dropped her doll.

The man blended into the shadows of the night, and his features were completely hidden. He wore a white tank top that was easy to see, and Stacey just stared, paralyzed by her fear, feeling the danger this person presented.

"Come on," he said.

She licked her lips and tried to speak but could only manage a dry dull croak. Her feet felt like they were nailed to the floor, and the beat of her heart rammed the inside of her ribcage. She could sense the danger and knew enough to flee, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't get her legs to respond.

"I'm hoping you can help me," the man said and pressed his face against the aluminum screening. "I'm just needing to ask you a few questions is all and I'll be on my way."

The light from the living room cast onto his face. One eye looked at her and the other drifted upward, staring at something on the ceiling. He had a bushy mustache, and his lips were parted by a wily grin that showed his bad hygiene.

"Ask your question then," she managed to say, stumbling over her doll as she backed up some more. Her legs were as stiff as wood and her feet as heavy as cinder blocks.

"I don't want to have to talk too loud." He looked over his shoulder and all around. He faced her again. "Come here, what I have to tell you is a secret," he said. This time his words were accompanied with a beckoning finger that might as well have been a knife.

"No," she managed to whisper and shook her head. Her heart started to pound faster now, threatening to break out of its bone cage.

"What do you mean, 'no'? What are you afraid of?" He reached and placed a hand on the door handle, pausing before he did anything else.

Stacey stiffened and everything slowed to a crawl. Her thinking became clouded at the strange phenomena. What was happening?

"I won't hurt you," the man said. "I just want to talk to you. Don't you understand? Innocent conversation is all I want. I'm lonely and just want someone to talk to."

Just then everything came back to normal as if someone had clapped their hands to bring her to. She knew she was afraid of his being there and what his intentions might be. Being terrified of the person was an understatement, and she didn't want to show it because it might empower him. So she swallowed hard and looked down the hallway, wondering where her sister had disappeared to.

A breeze from the cool night air rushed inside the living room and carried the smell of bad body odor into the house. It reminded her of her stepfather. So did the stains on the man's tank top. Her knees smacked together, and she had a strong urge to urinate right where she stood.

"You couldn't imagine how defeating the loneliness is." He looked over his shoulder again. "Where are your parents?" He craned his neck as he tried to look inside the house. He pulled the door open. "Are you home alone?"

The spring whined and awakened Stacey's fear into a desperate fit to survive.

"Deb!" she shouted over and over again, her screams growing louder with each call until her voice strained. In response, the man let the door go, and it snapped shut with a bang.

Stacey watched the man run off into the night as if he'd never been there at all. Just a thing from her imagination.

"What is it?" Deb said, hurrying into the room. "And what the heck is that I smell?"

Stacey stared at the door and pointed. "There was a man there, trying to get me to come over to him. Something wasn't right about him, and I knew to stay away. When I didn't go over to him he opened the screen door, and it really scared me. I thought he was going to come inside. I wanted to run, but my legs felt so heavy, I couldn't move. All I could do was call out to you. That's when he ran away."

Deb went to the door, and Stacey backed away with her limbs still stiff and heavy. Her eyes stretched wide from fear.

"Don't go over there," she said with tangible concern. "He still might be out there, waiting."

"Shh," Deb said and held up a finger. She looked around, searching, and her being anywhere near that door only increased Stacey's anxiety. "Well I don't see anyone." She continued to spy the dark street. "Everything is quiet." She walked over to the heavy inside door and closed it. Locking the handle, she helped her sister over to the couch and picked up her doll along the way, placing it in her lap. "Maybe it best we don't keep that door open while Mom is at work. No matter how nice it is outside. Does that sound good?"

Stacey nodded her head. "OK."

"Are you?"

"Yes," she said and her jaw quivered. "I mean I think so. That man really scared me."

"I know because I can see it in your face, and your body is really stiff. Relax." She took Stacey's arm and studied the tightly clenched fist. "Open your hand."

Stacey's knuckles were white. Deb helped pry her fingers open.

"I'm just glad you had enough sense to call for help and not go over to him," Deb said.

"I said I know better than that," Stacey said with a dry tongue that stuck to the roof of her mouth. The palm of her hand hurt, and she saw her fingernails had left impressions in the skin.

"I know you do, Stacey. You're wise beyond your years and that is proof that I've taught you well."

Deb smiled and the mood lightened.

"You're not that much older than me."

"No," Deb said with a growing smile. "But four years is enough. It is experience, and it might have saved you."

"He was an ugly man," Stacey said and made a face of displeasure then shivered. "His eyes were weird."

"What do you mean his eyes were weird?"

"One of them was looking at me and the other was looking up or something."

"Sounds creepy. I'm sorry I wasn't there to protect you."

"He was very creepy, and you did protect me. He ran away when you came."

"I suppose. Is there anything else you can remember about him?"

"He smelled like sweat and wore a dirty tank top. It was hard to see but he reminded me of Stepdad. I know this sounds crazy, but for a second, I thought he came back."

Deb sighed. "You know that's not possible. He's gone, and no one will ever question the reasons why. The circumstances surrounding his death were good enough for the local police so that means they're good enough for us. They knew he was no good. Nothing about him was. Do you hear me?"

Stacey nodded with a measure of disbelief. Not that he was worth a shit — rather that his death seemed to have this aura of doubt surrounding it. She always worried that would catch up to her. His death haunted her, and she tried so hard to keep it tucked away in some imaginary pocket that could conceal all bad things like that — even dirty secrets. But she found this pocket was swollen and overflowing, becoming hard to keep closed.

"Why did Dad leave us?" Stacey said.

"Because him and Mom didn't get along," she said. "You know that. Mom wanted him out for some reason. These adult things can be complicated, and I'm not going to pretend I fully understand it because I don't. But I'm sure they both had their reasons."

"Do you think she brought Chad home to spite Dad?"

"I know she did, Stacey. They were complete opposites. Dad was refined, and Chad was dirty and rough. He changed everything about the way we lived, about the way Mom dealt with us."

"Why do you think mom married him then?" Stacey said. "Does she not love us?"

"I don't think it's that at all. I think she did it to spite Dad. I believe you had that right. There were some friends in school I was talking to that had parents go through a divorce, and they said it was ugly and they would do things to hurt each other all the time. It sounds stupid, I know. They're supposed to be adults, but sometimes they don't act it."

"I hate the way Chad made us call him 'Stepdad' after they married."

"There were a lot of things I hated about him, and having to call him Stepdad was the least of them."

"Me too," Stacey said. "I suppose you're right."

"Well we don't have to worry about him anymore, now do we?"

"No we don't," Stacey said and imagined she buttoned that stuffed pocket closed and put it away. She tossed her doll aside.

"I want you to know that you did good," Deb said. "You really need to know that. What happened tonight could have ended really bad if he would've gotten his hands on you."

"I know it." Her eyes grew wide and wet. "I could feel it inside here." She placed her hand over her heart. "That creep was trying to come inside the house--trying to get me."

"I thought I heard the door bang shut just before I made it into the room."

"It did." She paused in thought, the stiffness loosening and turning into a tremble. Her eyes let tears fall. "I don't know why he ran so fast when I called your name."

"It doesn't matter. What matters is you scared him off, and I'm glad he's gone," Deb said and walked over to the tube television and turned it on. The black and white screen flicked to life, and Looney Tunes came on. Fuzz distorted the screen, and Deb fiddled with the rabbit ears antenna until the picture cleared. "I don't know what I could have done if he actually came inside."

"That scares me to think about that."

Deb played with the antennae a bit more. "How's that?"

"Good," Stacey said when the picture cleared. She shivered hard. The man's wild eyes were emblazoned in her mind, and she didn't want to close her eyes ever again. The memory of her stepfather was fresh now, too. It was like someone was trying to pry open her conscious mind, get to the secret pocket, spill its contents, and expose her guilt. She worked hard to push the thoughts away and protect what she kept tucked away. "He must not have known we were home alone. That's the only thing that makes sense to me," Stacey said and thought about it some more. "Maybe he thought I said Dad instead of Deb?"

Deb sat next to Stacey. "That sounds like a reasonable explanation to me. And that means that our stepdad might have been good for something after all."

CHAPTER 2

CHECK IN


Present day.


Stacey sat on a cold hard seat. The strange room had stark white walls with no decorations to add anything to the aesthetic. Bright fluorescent lights overhead hurt her eyes.

A woman sat behind a desk at the head of the room and worked feverishly on a stack of paperwork. There was a rhythm to her movement like a beat to a pulse. Stacey meshed her fingers together and placed them in her lap while she continued to watch the woman with unwavering curiosity. It was strange how pale the woman's skin was and the way she blended into the walls. She would have been invisible if it wasn't for her powder blue scrubs.

The temperature of the room was a little too cold for Stacey to find any real comfort in, and the white walls made it feel like a winter wonderland. The light jumpsuit she wore let the chill seep in, and the flip-flops left her feet exposed; her toes were equally as numb as her hands. She shivered.

"Stacey," the woman behind the desk called out without looking up. "Step forward, please."

Stacey forgot about the chilly air that penetrated her strange outfit, and she approached the desk, unsure where she was, how and why she was even there.

Something had interfered with her routine, and the day was a blur of decisions that were not her own.

"I need you to sign the bottom next to the X," the woman said and dropped a pen on top of the paper.

Stacey picked up the paper to read it, but the woman behind the desk slapped a hand on the page, slamming it onto the desktop with a thump. She left her hand on top of the page.

"It doesn't leave the surface of my desk, and neither does that pen," the woman said. Her face turned red, and she bared her teeth. Those are the rules. Besides, you know why you're here. This is the reason why you came in the first place, isn't it?"

Stacey just stared, her confusion deep.

"You're the one that wanted to do this, so why do you look so lost? Besides, is there anything you're going to read that's going to change your having to go into that room?"

Stacey still stared. There were no words to thwart off this woman.

"No, I didn't think so. Just sign the paper, and let's get on with this."

"I just want to see what it says."

The woman sighed. "It says to sign right here." She jabbed her pointer finger on the X. "Now sign so I can get Mr. Dubreuil to escort you to your room."

Stacey didn't dare challenge the woman now that she seemed so agitated. She didn't like confrontation so she signed the paper without reading it, and the woman snatched the pen away and motioned someone over. "I can't leave you with anything to hurt yourself or others.

Silence and confined spaces has a way of getting to people and making them do stupid things. Take this, and make sure you hang onto it. That's all you're getting."

She set a small bag on the desktop.

"If someone takes it away from you or you don't ration it right, that's not our problem. Remember that. We don't put up with complainers."

"Who would want to take this from me?"

Before the woman could respond someone from behind Stacey said, "Is she signed in?"

Startled by his sudden appearance, she went to turn around, but a powerful hand clamped onto her upper arm, controlling her, keeping her focus straight.

"No sudden movements, young lady."

The woman cleared her throat. "I'm not saying she wasn't being a little difficult, but yes, she's signed in, and she's all yours. Good riddance."

"You," he said and moved his mouth close to Stacey's ear. "I want you to understand something right now before we even get started. While you're here we are in control. You do as you're told, when you're told and nothing else. Do you understand what I'm telling you?"

"Yes," she said, but didn't understand why she was being told these things and being treated this way. His firm grip hurt and she tried to peel it away with her other hand.

"Nuh-uh," the man said and moved away from her ear.

"Any sudden moves might be taken as a threat and will be met with force. I'll remind you again not to do anything unless instructed to do so. Do you understand what I'm telling you?"

"Yes."

"Good. Now put your hands by your side. If you follow these very simple instructions, you'll do fine here.

Anything else may prove to be a difficult and uncomfortable stay for you."

"OK," she said and lowered her hand to her side, cringing at the pain in her arm from his cinching grip.

"Now keep your eyes straight and move along like your ass is on fire," the man said. He gave Stacey a shove from behind, getting her feet moving, releasing his hold.

"But where am I to go?"

"Just as I said, you're going straight ahead and through them doors you see."

That's not what she meant, and she hadn't noticed the doors until now. They blended into the white perfectly. Pushing through them, a long corridor with doors on either side of the hallway spread about every twenty feet apart held her attention. They reminded her of a place she just came from. In fact, wasn't even sure she made it anyplace else at all. Did she go in a circle in her mind, or maybe she was just in a different part of the facility? The people were different. Of that much she was certain.

The doors on either side of the hallway were solid steel with a gap at the bottom. There was a hatch on every door that shut with an outside lock about waist high. The floor was buffed to a high sheen, and her flip flops squeaked with each step. The chill didn't let up.

"I want you to go three more doors down and stop in front of the door on your right," the uncaring man she knew as Dubreuil said.

Stacey counted the doors, faced the third one, and stopped in front of it, her eyes trained on the dirty smudges left behind by unclean hands and the deep scratches that bore into the paint from years of use.

"Number five," Dubreuil shouted and tapped a nightstick against the wall. The door slid open. "Inside," he said and encouraged Stacey into the room with another heartless shove.

She turned and faced the large man; the dark-colored correctional uniform, black nightstick, and badge were all she could see. He was a mountain of a man and as wide as any she'd ever seen before.

The door slid closed and met the jamb with an echoing bang. Stacey flinched and stared at the cold metal where the paint was worn away, scratched by prying hands that had obviously become desperate to escape this room.

She could feel that emotion rising in her chest already and slapped the door.

"Please, open the door," she shouted. "What am I doing here, and who are you people?" She whimpered.

"You're all so mean. Why are you acting this way?" The echo of her own voice bouncing around the small room she now occupied was the only response she got.

CHAPTER 3

ENTICED


The Past.


Crazy Eyes had run about a half a block away from the house with the screaming little girl and was winded. Sticking to the shadows, he paused every now and then to see if he was being followed. He'd made a stupid mistake, and it almost cost him.

Certain he wasn't being followed, he rested his shoulder against a tree and tried to slow his breathing.

He felt safe and far enough away from the screaming girl that he wouldn't be caught. The bulky tree trunk he leaned against had a thick overhead canopy that blocked the moonlight above, providing him with a blanket of darkness so deep it would help keep him concealed until he could figure out what his next move was going to be.

A house — one with a patchy lawn and kids' toys left here and there — caught his attention. It was directly across the street from where he was resting, and it made him smile.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Silent Woman by Keith Rommel, Jennifer Cappello. Copyright © 2017 Keith Rommel. Excerpted by permission of Sunbury Press, Inc..
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

Contents

Prologue – Fate,
Chapter 1 – The Man,
Chapter 2 – Check In,
Chapter 3 – Enticed,
Chapter 4 – Roommates,
Chapter 5 – Secrets,
Chapter 6 – Living Arrangements,
Chapter 7 – Buried Secret,
Chapter 8 – Special Delivery,
Chapter 9 – Sisterly Love,
Chapter 10 – Small Place,
Chapter 11 – Serial Killer,
Chapter 12 – A Visitor,
Chapter 13 – Bending the Rules,
Chapter 14 – Trades,
Chapter 15 – He's Back,
Chapter 16 – Pieces to a Story,
Chapter 17 – Reckless Act,
Chapter 18 – Epiales,
Chapter 19 – The Pact,
Chapter 20 – Awakening,
Chapter 21 – Friends,
Chapter 22 – The Letter,
Chapter 23 – You Had It All Wrong,
Chapter 24 – Nightmare Truth,
Chapter 25 – The Real Arrival,
Chapter 26 – Many is One,
Chapter 27 – The Tub,
Chapter 28 – I Need to Get Out,
Chapter 29 – Carnage,
Chapter 30 – The Next Day,
Chapter 31 – Voices,
Epilogue – A Guiding Hand,
About the Author,

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