Authors: Kayla Krantz
Copyright © 2015 by Kayla Krantz
All rights reserved.
Alive at Sunset by Kayla Krantz
No part of this book may be reproduced in any written, electronic, recording, or photocopying without written permission of the publisher or author. The exception would be in the case of brief quotations embodied in the critical articles and reviews and pages where permission is specifically granted by the publisher or author(s) Kayla Krantz
Although every precaution has been taken to verify the accuracy of the information contained herein, the author and publisher assume no responsibility for any errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for damages that may result from the use of information contained within.
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Cover Design by: Kayla Krantz
Interior Design by: Kayla Krantz
Editor: Kayla Krantz
This book contains dark horror and instances of violence.
edition printed in the United States of America
Book One: Dead by Morning
Book Two: Alive at Sunset
Table of Contents
una Ketz relaxed against the seat of Amanda’s car as she drove them to school. Luna felt her usual trill of excitement at attending another day of college. Most people dreaded it, but she enjoyed it. She found that it made her productive, and so, she strived every day to learn as much as she could. She found that college was the perfect outlet to quench her thirst. For almost two semesters, she had attended Bowling Green State University, and she was glad for every minute of it.
Beside her, Amanda let out a huge yawn. She was the opposite of Luna in a lot of ways. Waking up early was one example.
Luna smiled at her. “Tired?” she guessed.
Amanda glanced at her for a minute before she nodded and turned her attention back to the road.
“I told you, you should’ve drunk that second cup of coffee,” Luna said.
Amanda shook her head. “I think I need an energy drink. Coffee doesn’t work for me anymore, I swear.”
Luna blinked as she looked at her for a long minute.
She had met Amanda at the beginning of the fall semester a little over a year ago. Many late night study sessions in the library had bonded them. They had moved in together before the semester began when both of them needed a place to stay.
They had a lot in common; both of them were going into the medical field. Amanda was going into nursing, and Luna was studying to be a neurosurgeon.
Amanda tucked a strand of blonde hair behind her ear, and Luna turned her gaze back out the window. She watched the scenery that flicked past and felt her heart seem to well with anxiety as she anticipated the building that was ahead. For three years her life had slowly fallen back into place. No matter what she did, the scars from that day weren’t fully healed. Six days out of the week, she could pretend she was normal.
On the seventh, she needed to find peace for her constantly worried mind.
Amanda was keen to reading the emotions of her roommate. She noticed the way the smile disappeared off of Luna’s face and how rigid her body had become as her gaze fixated out the window.
Amanda noticed where her gaze was aimed. “That time of the week again?” she guessed.
Luna turned to look at her and nodded. Amanda had never actually gone inside the hospital with her. She had no idea why Luna needed to go once a week, all she knew was that it was deathly important to her. Luna hadn’t told anyone about what had happened to her all that time ago.
To the town, it was a secret.
“I won’t take long, I promise,” Luna said as she stared at her roommate through distant eyes.
“Take your time,” Amanda said. “We still have an hour before class starts after all.”
“I’ll be back in about five minutes,” Luna assured her.
Amanda was silent as she pulled her car into the parking lot. It was hard to tell what she was feeling by the look on her face. Luna felt solemn about the trip ahead of her as her friend allowed her to get out of the car. Her weekly trips definitely weren’t pleasant, only necessary in her mind.
Luna hurried across the parking lot and through the sliding doors of the hospital. She checked herself in at the desk and quickly sought out the elevator. It stopped a few minutes later, and she found herself on the eerily white hallway of the third floor. She traveled all the way down the hall to the last door. None of the nurses that she passed made eye contact with her. She knew they recognized her like she recognized them.
They didn’t know what to think of her. Most of them looked at her with pity, and she knew that they misjudged the relationship between her and the patient. Luna shuddered at the thought.
She stopped outside of the door for a minute and took in a deep breath to settle her nerves. Slowly, she pushed the door open. Inside was a single hospital bed. She had to force her eyes to look at the boy that lie on it as she cautiously stepped inside the room. She set the door closed behind her as she eyed him.
He was wired with a multitude of cords that ran from his arms and chest. A beeping monitor signaled that he was still alive. His eyes were closed and his head lie unmoving on the white sheets that lined the bed.
She knew he was unconscious.
That didn’t stop her from feeling wary. He wasn’t above trickery. Like usual, she stood at the foot of the bed, observing every detail of him. The blankets had been shifted about and changed by the nurses since the last time she had visited. Other than that, he looked the same. The boy had long blonde hair that encased his angelic face. To anyone that didn’t know better, he would’ve looked innocent.
Luna was fully aware of the demon that lie within.
Luna instantly remembered back to high school. She remembered being stalked, kidnapped, and stabbed by the “angel” that lie before her. She was the reason that he was in the coma. It was the only way she had been able to contain his evil short of killing him.
Every week, she earned a new sense of peace by visiting the hospital to see that he was still in the same condition. Each time, she feared that she would open the door to see that he would be sitting up and responsive. It was oddly comforting to see that he remained the same. Her old friend, Max, had told her years ago that when (if) he woke up, his memory would be wiped clean.
Luna didn’t feel too certain.
She was only relieved to see that his condition remained the same, week after week. She observed how hollow his perfect face looked. He had been in a coma for three years. Odds were -he never would wake up from it.
At least, Luna hoped so.
ll at once the blackness was upon him. He was inundated by the unconsciousness that had swelled upon him from nothingness. His senses were drowned out, and not only did he not know where he was, he had not a clue of
he was. When the blackness had come, it had taken pieces of him with it.
When he opened his eyes, he found that his sight wasn’t of any use to him. He still wasn’t aware of where he was. He felt overwhelmingly groggy and unfocused; his mind was a blazing pit of non-understanding. He could feel his eyelids threatening to droop from the weight of his exhaustion. He wanted to do nothing more than to sleep though part of him felt that that wasn’t a good idea. Not in a place he wasn’t even aware of.
He managed to keep his eyes open to survey his surroundings. The place around him was gray and hazy. No notable surroundings could make their way through the fog. The air weighed him down, making him feel sluggish and uncommonly heavy. Frosted grass crunched beneath his feet with every step, but he wasn’t aware that he had been moving. The sudden feeling of his legs made him stumble, and the crunch of the icy ground seemed deafening as he struggled to catch himself from falling. His every movement was shaky. He felt as if he was learning to walk all over again.
He kept himself balanced and looked around, hoping to see anything that he knew. It was in vain. No matter how hard he tried to see his surroundings, the haze compromised his vision. It surrounded him like a set of walls he somehow had the ability to walk through.
Part of him wondered that if he could see, would he even know where he was? If he could see, would it even matter? He pulled himself from the thought and whisked around frantically to see that the haze was as thick as it surrounded him on all sides; there was no freedom from it. The more he walked, the deeper into it he became. There would be no going back.
“Hello!” he called out. His voice echoed strangely in the barren land, but he got no response from within the life sucking fog.
Tiny lights seemed to float in the haze resembling large fireflies. It was the only sign of life he could see. He couldn’t make heads or tails of the place. But he knew he would get no closer to finding an answer if he stayed in the middle of the fog where even a hawk’s sight would be compromised.
No one would explain things to him out there, primarily because no one else was there to help him. He sighed and began to walk again, though part of him was wary of falling. The icy grass beneath his feet seemed to be the only real thing. He didn’t know if he was close to civilization or if that place was as far from society as he could get.
He stopped again as he wondered to himself where it was. At best, that place was maddening; it wasn’t designed to hold life. That explained why nothing else was there, why there were no people or beasts to greet him. He wanted to know how that kind of a place could exist.
An answer had to be there somewhere. He wasn’t looking hard enough was all. He needed discipline to find what he was looking for. He needed to not lose a hold on his cool. If he let panic sink its fangs into him, then all rationality and hopes to escape the place would go out the window. He kept walking, feeling drawn to some unseen source that waited for him in the fog. He frowned deeply, what was out there calling to him?
Was something waiting out there for him in the middle of the fog? And if it was, was it dangerous? Could it hurt him if he was off guard? Or would it be someone willing to help him find his way out? There was the possibility that there could be nothing out at all. He might follow that tugging in his heart until he collapsed from exhaustion.
He had to find out what it was…he had no other hopes, nothing else to accomplish in that place besides finding out where his feet were going to take him. He crept forward, and a tree branch smacked him gently across the face. His first reaction was to swipe out in defense. Once he realized it wasn’t a threat, he groaned and pushed it away.
The fog seemed to get thicker, and it formed tendrils that ran down his throat and made blindfolds over his eyes so that all he could see were hazy, white cataracts. He waved his hand in front of his face, desperate to clear the haze out of his eyes, desperate to catch any glimpse of his surroundings.
It didn’t help much as the fog condensed in his face, making a mask that made simple functions impossible. He stumbled over his feet again. Only that time, he couldn’t keep his balance. He fell forward, his arms out in front of him as his chest collided to the ground. His hands ripped up some of the frost-covered grass in pain when his hands collided with the ground, but he hardly noticed it.
“Ooff,” he gasped, blinking as his vision swirled black to mix in with the fog. He had fallen hard.
The cold grass blades brushed his nose, the ice turning to water as his breath landed on it. He sat up, furiously wiping at his face. The dirt under his nails wasn’t noticed. He looked around, hoping the fog would be thinner towards the ground, but he still couldn’t see a thing. He didn’t understand that place; it was upside down to him. Why couldn’t he find his way?
He sighed, feeling almost depressed as he stood to his feet. The white-gray haze was back to suffocating him again. He waved quickly at it (he knew it wouldn’t work but his reflexes were automatic) and began walking again. He didn’t know where he was going. Thanks to the fog, his eyes were of no use to him. He kept stumbling aimlessly along, hoping to find something, anything to alert him to where he was.
A piercing scream sounded from somewhere deep in the fog. It was a pained voice from a female, but of course, he didn’t recognize who it was from. Even though the noise had been sudden -he didn’t jump from it, almost like part of him was expecting it. Or part of him had heard it somewhere before.
He stopped walking; his head instantly flew that way, hoping that he could pick up an image of what was making the sound. What was making that noise? Was it another human? Was she facing something dangerous, something life threatening? No matter what, there were other people there too. If he found the source of the sound would it get him out of that strange parallel universe?
The screaming stopped as suddenly as it had started, and he frowned. It would be impossible to pinpoint the source of the sound on his own. He smacked at the heavy tendrils of fog that gouged at his eyes and clung to his cheekbones. He couldn’t stand the haze much longer -it was driving him insane.
“Where the hell are you?” he yowled into the white smoke around him, finally losing the hold on his temper.
Silence greeted him once again. He gritted his teeth and wondered if maybe that scream had only been in his head. Five minutes, and he was already going insane. He didn’t know how much longer he’d be able to handle it. He kept walking, and thought to himself,
this is hopeless.
For all he knew, he had made a wide circle back to where he had started from. The fog looked the same in all directions. He tried not to let his thoughts dishearten him and forced himself to move on. There was always the possibility that he was going the right way after all. The grass beneath his feet began to disappear and waste away until only dirt remained on the path. The first layer on it was undisturbed until his feet churned puffs into the air, ruining the frosty blanket to add to the haze in the air.
The thick air still clung to him stubbornly as he waved at it. Once again, he neglected to watch his footing. A heavy ivy vine ran the length of the ground, and his foot caught on it. He stumbled, twisting around (which to anyone watching would’ve seemed comical), and the ivy twined itself higher up his leg. It seemed to be growing inches with every second that passed.
He tried pulling it off but was unsuccessful as it snaked higher and higher up his body. Eventually, it would reach his neck and escape would be impossible. Was it aiming to zap the life from his body? The weight of it finally won, and he toppled forward. His chest was radiating pain from his previous spills. He knew he was doing some serious damage, part of him worried about a cracked rib. He coughed and a bit of crimson splattered out.
He stared at the dirt where it had landed. How hard had he fallen? A light shone the same color as his blood from nearby. Then, the piercing female scream sounded again. It was right by his head, and the sound shattered his eardrums. If there was something dangerous, then chances were he’d get caught up in it as well. He held his hands over his ears and pushed himself forward, trying to free himself from the bind of ivy.
The thick green strand had a tight hold of his waist, halting his slow progress forward. He could feel it slowly making its way higher. If it squeezed his stomach or his ribs then breathing would be impossible.
The scream beside his head dulled for a moment, and Chance seized his moment to act. He reached into his pocket for his precious dagger and managed to pull it out. In one quick efficient movement, he sliced the thick tendril off of him. It fell limply to the ground like a deadened hand.
The moment he was free, he wasted no time scooting away from his prison. If the vine had grown that quickly, who knew if it was truly wounded or not? He scooted himself forward on his elbows, trying to get a better glimpse of the shining red. He needed to know what it was…did it have something to do with the ivy trying to hold him back? Were the screams from a girl that had also tried to escape the desolate wasteland, but had ended up being killed? If that was the case, where was her body?
He kept crawling, and finally, he was beside it. The piercing scream had risen to unbearable levels. He could hear the sound which seemed to be radiating from the very ground itself. The red color he had seen earlier was bright and fluorescent. He couldn’t see “it” exactly so he took a hand off of his ears. It was risky with the ear shattering scream, but he reached out and grasped the item, trying desperately to see if whatever it was (person or object) could help him.
Pain shot up his arm, and he found that the harder he tried to pull his hand away, the more attached to the item it was. It was nearly paralyzing, struggling between life and death, knowing he needed to stay conscious, but not sure how much longer he could do so. The pain was everywhere at once, alerting him to places in his body that he wasn’t even sure had existed before that moment.
The pain flooded in his veins (his chest pain long forgotten), and he struggled to stay awake. Every heartbeat made the pain excruciating. Every minute seemed to drag into eternity as the slow torture took over him. He could feel it in his bones, his tendons, his muscles…even his blood seemed to be rioting with the feeling. It was the worst torture someone could endure. He almost wished it would kill him. The logic in his brain knew that there was no plausible explanation for why he felt so bad.
The heavy white haze around him slowly began to recede, but he didn’t notice it. The pain was immense enough to send him into temporary shock. He wondered when it was going to kill him or if he would suffer for a while longer first. He was growing weaker and weaker, the life being drained from him.
When he was about to give in and let the place take the last of his life away, the pain and the fog vanished all at once as if it had been a staged performance. Finally, he could see his surroundings. See the strange place that he had somehow ended up inside.
Beneath the haze, the sky was black. The ice disappeared from the grass as it melted, and the shrunken blades suddenly grew luscious and long. He realized that beneath his hand he clutched a bone with a heavy, beautiful, long-stemmed rose wrapped around it. He knew that without seeing it. Suddenly, everything made sense to him.
He had known that place all along. He had spent hours of his time there every day. He could navigate it with precision and ease. He knew
With the haze gone, he knew who he was once again.