Coming March 14th from TEB: Rich Montoya's story--
I thought instead of babbling I'd share a bit of the next Spirits book. I may have posted some of it before, can't remember, but I don't think I put this much up. Hope y'all enjoy and have an awesome day:)
Wait Until Dawn
So much anger. Rich Montoya squeezed his eyes tightly shut as the nerve endings in his fingers and toes burned, sending pin pricks of pain up his limbs. He tried to will back the evil he felt roiling inside him, but as had happened every time before, his control was hammered away at until bright spots danced behind his closed lids and the foreign presence that haunted him wreaked havoc on his body and mind. It exploded inside him like a geyser, pressurized hatred shooting up and spewing throughout him, splattering Rich’s soul with inky black streaks of the malevolent being that tormented him.
“You know who I am.”
Rich grunted as he fought the black waves of fury, the twisted desires and memories that were forced into his mind. Images of mutilated bodies, his own and another man, seared into his memory. A whimper slipped free as Rich pressed the heels of his hands to his temples, trying to push out the hated invader who tormented him. If he could pop his head right open and put an end to this now, he’d do it.
Screams of pain, dark eyes filled with horror, the sadistic glee as the invader forced helpless victims to bear the brunt of his twisted games. Rapist, victim, murderer, victim—Rich was shunted back and forth, experiencing each. His own shouts mixed with the ones shared by the invader, filling Rich inside and out with sounds of terror and denial. Rich’s body jerked at the vision of a brutal penetration, agony ripping through him as if he were being torn into with the force of a jackhammer. His back bowed as he cried out, his hands alternately pulling at his hair and pounding at his head.
“S-stop it! Jesus, God, oh fuck, help me…” Rich pleaded, knowing it was useless. His fears and begging only ever speared the invader on. Curling into a fetal position, Rich trembled, his teeth chattering as he was mentally subjected to more atrocities. He couldn’t do this, couldn’t experience this again and again and stay sane. And if he didn’t keep his sanity, then the invader would win, maybe even take Rich over and have a willing body in which to act out the sick desires.
“No,” Rich whispered, then yelled as his own fury erupted, “No! You won’t win!” He rolled off the bed, hitting the tiled floor with a loud smack. The pain of the fall helped center him, giving him something physical to focus on when his mind was in such turmoil. Pushing himself up to his knees, Rich pried his eyes open, unsurprised to find himself shrouded in darkness. The invader always came in the early morning hours, the witching hours, Rich’s grandma would have said.
On the nights the invader didn’t come, Rich found himself wide awake, unable to sleep for fear of having his mind hijacked and filled with horrors no one should ever have to see or experience. He’d wait until dawn, then try to catch a few hours sleep. It was a pattern that was draining him of his energy—and his will to live. What was the point of living if he no longer had a life of his own?
Even without the presence that insisted on shredding Rich’s mind, his nights were filled with his own memories of pain and fear, the glint of light off a sharp edged knife, the searing fiery pain as it sliced into his skin over and over again. His skin was striped with his experience at the hands of a mad man, lines smooth and jagged etched forever into his flesh. He’d never forget, never have peace, never be who and what he was before.
Another wave of images streamed through his head, more screams and agony, more sick delight from the one inflicting the torture.
“No more, you fucking evil bastard,” Rich muttered. He grabbed the nightstand with one hand to steady himself and pulled the top drawer open with his other. Even in the darkened room, a sliver of moonlight slipped through the curtains and caressed the cold steel, giving off a subtle glow that seemed to promise salvation, if not respite. Rich picked the gun up, his hand steady despite the rapid beat of his heart. He’d had enough, couldn’t deal with it any more. If he went to Hell, it couldn’t be any worse. He wasn’t sure he’d want to go to Heaven anyway, if such a place existed, not if God was real and let shit like this happen to people.
Flick-flick-flick. Images skipped and sputtered like a film reel misaligned in its projector. Memories or fantasies that weren’t his own, would never be his no matter how deeply branded into his mind they were, faded in and out.
“Enough,” Rich rasped, flinching only a little when he pressed the barrel under his chin. It wasn’t fear of death that made him twitch, only the shock of how very cold the steel felt against his skin. Rich closed his eyes and took a deep breath, already feeling a sense of peace at having found a way to escape. He slipped the safety off and tucked his finger against the trigger before remembering that finger wouldn’t work. He shifted his hand a bit until his middle finger touched the trigger.
Mocking laughter, so loud in his head as to seem audible, caused him to hesitate. The invader wasn’t afraid of being vanquished, was, even as Rich began to doubt this course of action, egging him on. “Do it, pull the trigger, blow your goddamned brains out! You’re useless, pathetic, you scarred waste! No one will give a shit, no one will even come looking for you—“
Except now Rich didn’t know if it was the voice of his tormentor or his own thoughts pushing him to end his life. He’d thought of suicide many times since he’d woken up in the hospital in McKinton, his body and face bearing the marks of a mad man. It wasn’t only during these darkest moments that death seemed the only solution for his misery. He’d had to quit the job he loved, had shoved away his family—what there was of it—and his friends.
Despite the drugs he’d been given for pain while in the hospital, he’d been cognizant of Deputy Matt Nixon sitting by his bed, talking to him, encouraging him to wake, to fight, to give them a chance. As soon as Rich had been able to speak, he’d spewed cruel words at the man, unable to even consider letting anyone touch him, look at him… Rich had wanted to die, but each time his heart stopped while he was in the hospital, the determined staff had brought him back.
Rich had seen himself laying in the hospital bed, his eyes wide and lifeless, bandages on his cheek and brow, on his chest, arms and stomach as the defibrillator was fired up and pressed to his chest. Twice Rich had hovered above his dead body and screamed silently at the nurses and doctors to stop, let him die. He’d have rather been swallowed by the endless darkness he sensed waiting for him than be returned to the damaged body and mind lying on that bed. Better to spend eternity in black nothingness than to live with what remained of the man he’d once been.
He could fix it all now, with one pull of the trigger. “Do it!” the voice ordered, and Rich decided he would, but not because the invader wanted him to, but because he wanted to. If that made the presence that seemed to have become a part of him win, then fuck it. Rich would win, too.
“Yes, come on, fucking pussy! What are you waiting for? Pull the goddamned trigger, do it do it do it, you know you want to—“
“Yes,” Rich agreed. Then all hell broke loose in his head as his body was shoved backward by an icy cold gust of wind. The gun was jerked from his hand despite Rich’s efforts to hold on to it. His desperation to escape what his life had become, to finally sleep, drove a cry of protest from his numb lips. The hope for release was receding rapidly, chased off by the painful shards of ice that began spreading from the bones in his toes, melding with marrow, freezing it, deepening the ache. Rich gasped as the frigid feeling intensified, working up his legs, to his hips, through his pelvis and into the base of his spine. It seemed to pool there for a long moment, then rocketed up his spine, slamming into the bottom of his skull and demolishing the invader’s voice, at least for now. Splintered strips of light filled his vision, dagger sharp icicles chasing away the last of the curses from the twisted presence that often shared Rich’s mind.
Rich curled up into a ball on his side, gripping the back of his head and pulling it down until his chin pressed against his chest. The gun lay forgotten as he tried to think. What had just happened? His bones still ached with cold, his head felt as if it were packed with ice. The invader wasn’t gone permanently, that much he knew, though he couldn’t say how he knew it. This reprieve was temporary, an opportunity for him to find a way to free himself from the demon or whatever it was that made his life hell. But how?
Or maybe this was just another sick game the invader was playing, trying to make Rich think he had a chance at…Well, not a normal life, he’d never be normal again, not with the scars and the memories he had, his and the other’s. Maybe he should end it all now, roll over and find the gun, press it to his skin and blow his goddamned brains out.
Rich cried out as the chill spread from bones to tissues, his muscles spasming, cramping and burning. He panted as he curled in on himself even more, his body refusing to help him end his life.
I can’t do this! Nothing, I have nothing, I am nothing! And I’m so fuckin’ cold. Coppery sweet wetness trickled over his tongue and down his throat. Rich gagged as he tasted blood. He must have bitten his tongue since his teeth were chattering like the old wind up chattering teeth he’d had as a kid. Rich concentrated on not puking or doing himself more damage, which was funny, considering he’d just tried to put a bullet in his brain. Tipping his chin toward the floor, Rich spat, not giving a shit about the mess he was making. He’d been prepared to make an even bigger one, after all.
But this one I’ll have to clean up. And who would have cleaned up the blood and brain tissue if he’d killed himself? Not his father, but someone would have. Rich cringed at the thought. How selfish was he to not have considered that someone would see his dead body, his head half blown off, and have to live with that image the rest of their life? How could he ever do that to someone else? He wasn’t any better than the invader who tormented him with sickening images.
But he could be. Something inside him seemed to hum, the sound causing the fine bones in his ears to vibrate. Warmth spread to chase away the horrible chill. The shivering should have stopped, but it didn’t. Too much had happened, and the taste of blood still lingered in Rich’s mouth. And no matter how fucked up he was, he hadn’t imagined what had happened. Two, there were two presences toying with him, although the new one didn’t seem malevolent. Yet. He didn’t try to delude himself into thinking it’d remain that way, not after everything else in his life had gone to shit.
Rich ignored his trembling muscles and forced himself to roll. He pushed up onto his knees and immediately looked for the gun. When he didn’t find it, he stood on shaky legs and stumbled over to the light switch, fumbling to flick it on. Bright light flooded the room, and Rich squinted as starbursts danced in front of his eyes.
Blinking furiously until his vision cleared, he kept himself upright by slumping against the wall. When he could finally see, his stomach dipped and he slid down the wall, landing on his ass hard enough to knock his breath from his lungs. Rich shook his head slowly and looked around the room again. He crawled across the floor and peered under his bed. Nothing but months of dust was under it. Sitting back on his heels, he looked in the nightstand drawer and his heart slammed hard against his ribs. His ammo was gone, both boxes.
“What the fuck?” Rich mumbled as he started trembling again. Just like the gun, it was gone, vanished into thin air. “This can’t be happening!” Although, why not? If he could be haunted, or whatever the hell was going on, why couldn’t his weapon and bullets disappear? Maybe nothing in this world was real. Maybe he’d blink and the room would be gone, blink again, he’d lose his home, then his land, then layer by layer the world would cease to exist, until finally he was left in that vast empty blackness he’d wanted to remain in.
Except nothing changed when he closed his eyes for several minutes then reopened them. The gun was still gone, as was the ammo, but everything else remained. Anger surged through him. Rich tipped his head back and screamed, “What the fuck do you want from me? You don’t want me to die, but you don’t want me to live either? This is no fucking life!” He didn’t know who he was yelling at, fate, destiny, a god he didn’t believe in, the forces of chaos that seemed to love to target him—it didn’t matter. He could shout until his vocal cords ripped and it wouldn’t change anything other than his ability to speak.
Exhausted and defeated by his own thoughts, Rich crawled on to the bed. His own negativity made him sick, but what was he supposed to do? Be grateful to be alive when he was an ugly, scarred man who had things trying to control his mind? How could he see anything positive about any of that?
“Fuck it.” His eyelids refused to stay open. It’d been so long since he’d truly slept, and his mind was playing tricks on him, enticing his body with the promise of rest. Rich didn’t believe it would happen, but he still closed his eyes, scoffing internally at the kernel of hope that he might sleep. It was the last thought he had before he slipped into the first peaceful dream he’d had in a year.
“Aw, c’mon!” Rich slammed the cabinet shut hard enough to rattle the hinges. He dropped to his knees and jerked open the kitchen drawer where he’d kept a back up bottle of Jack and a plastic bag with a handful of pain pills. “Goddamnit!” His hands were shaking so bad he could hardly make his fingers pluck at the tools and odds and ends he’d accumulated over the three years he’d lived in his house. No Jack. No pills.
“This isn’t funny!” Rich slammed the drawer shut with the palm of his hand. He needed something now to take the edge off…off everything! His head ached terribly; the pain pills would have helped with that. Even aspirin might have dulled it some, but every bit of medicine and alcohol in his house had mysteriously disappeared overnight. When he’d slept peacefully, for the first time he could remember since he’d nearly been killed in McKinton.
Rich’s stomach heaved again. He coughed and groaned at the same time, which made his throat burn. Stomach muscles-- already sore from throwing up until he’d nearly passed out—clenched and Rich moaned as hot rays of pain spread through his abs. Sweat dripped from his face and hands as he panted and tried to keep from falling over. A twitch kicked in at the corner of his left eye. If this was what a decent night’s sleep got him, he’d stick to the insomnia and nightmares he’d had when he did manage to sleep for an hour or two.
“You’re not gonna do this to me,” Rich mumbled as a vague notion of driving himself to the liquor store popped into his mind. Bracing himself on the cabinets, he stood. His head spun and black-grey dots speckled his vision. Blinking didn’t help, he discovered, it only made the dots spin and flicker into varying shades of light and dark.
Fuck it, then. I’ll walk to the convenience store down the street. They wouldn’t have any Jack or any other hard liquor, but they’d have beer and some kind of pill he could pop along with it that would surely fuzz his brain up good. He didn’t want to call a cab and wait like he usually did when he needed something.
Rich took a step and nearly gave up. It had been like trying to walk through three feet of wet cement. He could barely find enough strength to move. A second step didn’t prove to be any easier to take, and the third had him halting completely as his heartbeat escalated until it felt like he’d swallowed a dozen hummingbirds and they’d lodged in his chest.
“What do you want from me?” He cried, wiping his clammy hands on his jeans. A new tendril of panic took root and blossomed inside him. He couldn’t survive without self medicating; the booze and drugs were all that made it possible for him to deal with the bizarre horror movie his life had become. Rich swiped at the sweat pouring from his brow. His forearm slid across his skin doing nothing to stop the flow of moisture. He tried again, this time pulling up his t-shirt and mopping his face with it. He grimaced as he caught a whiff of himself. Rank didn’t even begin to describe it. The t-shirt was soaked even before he scrubbed at his face with it.
Withdrawals, he thought dully as his body began shaking, working its way up to double digits on the addict’s version of the Richter Scale. His stomach clenched painfully as the pounding in his head increased. Rich pressed one hand to his belly and the other to his brow. “Shit,” he hissed, sliding down the wall, his vision dimming as his thoughts churned into a blend of nonsensical tripe. He welcomed the darkness that swamped him, toppling willingly into it. It didn’t matter if it was temporary or permanent, it was an escape for now, and that’s all that mattered.