Authors: Erin Hayes
By Erin Hayes
Copyright © 2014 Erin Hayes. All Rights Reserved.
This book is a work of fiction. People, places, events, and situations are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or historical events, is purely coincidental.
Edited by Felicia A. Sullivan
Cover Art by Victoria Faye of Whit&Ware Design
Formatted by Kody Boye
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A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
Welcome to my third full-length novel, the book that almost killed me.
The story that developed into Fractured came to me in a dream while I was in college. I woke up absolutely terrified and unable to sleep.
I thought it would make a good story.
I set about developing the characters, their motivations, and it wasn’t until then that I realized how dark of a story it was. I left it for a few years until the plot had solidified enough in my mind to sit down to write it.
It took me over 18 months to get a draft that I like.
Admittedly, Fractured was not an easy story for me to write. Maybe it was the subject matter or maybe I was terrified to re-enter that world, but I had to break from it and come back to it multiple times. During one of these breaks, I even wrote an entirely different book.
I stuck with it though, as I firmly believed it was a story worth sharing. And also because the characters wanted their story told and wouldn’t shut up.
My good friend Emily read the first draft and said it was a horrific novel, and not in the way I was intending. So it was back to the drawing board. It went through eight re-writes before it transformed into the book you are now reading. It’s been written in four different countries and survived a transworld relocation.
But I stuck with it.
It is my first horror novel, and as such, I had to work with a different set of rules and scenes. The characters are quite unlike any that I’ve written before, each with their own deep flaws. It took those eight re-writes to fully realize who they were.
They are in this book as they were meant to appear. Lily, especially was one character who had the most transformation. I find her to be a great character who is dealing with something bigger than herself.
This experience has given me perspective on this whole writing process. Because it’s not a process, it’s an evolving beast that an author has to decipher to put to paper. Fractured was a lesson to me.
It’s been a doozy for me, but in the end, it’s a book I can be proud of. I hope you enjoy it.
May 27, 2014
For Chris, who is cursed to living a life with my snoring. Love you, sweetie.
The unspoken word hung in front of Lily Martin. If she had been any older, the word would have been more vulgar, but because she was only three, it was the only word she knew that could convey the intensity of her feelings.
She sat on the swing by herself, glowering as her fraternal twin Bathsheba played with a group of toddlers on the far side of the playground. Bash always had friends to play with and she didn’t get into trouble nearly as much as Lily. Lily was always the one who would act out in an attempt to gain attention, and it always ended with her in timeout.
It never seemed fair, especially today.
A few minutes after arriving at the playground, Bash had steered their group of friends away from Lily. She apologized, saying that while she wanted to play with her, she didn’t like being so close to “the scary old lady”. That made no sense at all. After all,
was older than Lily, and she had no idea why she was being called “old” and “scary”. It wasn’t the first time it had happened either. Bash had constantly pulled their friends away, leaving Lily to sulk by herself. There was always an apology, but it never helped.
Today was the last straw for Lily. She pulled out a fistful of Bash’s hair with a righteous scream. Their mother separated Lily from the group, telling her she wasn’t allowed to play until she thought about her actions.
Lily certainly wasn’t thinking about her actions. She glared at her twin sister across the playground, lost in her own thoughts. Bash looked happy as she played with the other kids. Every once in a while, she would look back at Lily with a sad frown, as if she was debating going over and talking to Lily. She never did. The look on her sister’s face as she turned away was of genuine fright, although Lily had no idea why she would be afraid.
Both Lily and Bash were still recovering from bouts of the chickenpox. While Lily had been sick first, Bash was nearly hospitalized when she contracted it a few days later. That was when Lily started noticing how Bash was treated differently. Their mother seemed to love them equally, but their father doted on Bash. He took care of her and cuddled her more. It hurt on some level Lily couldn’t quite understand.
Bash had only just been allowed to go back to daycare. Lily took that opportunity to insist on going out to play. After being cooped up for two weeks, she was itching to go out and play with the other kids. Of course, now that they were out there, Bash was the one having fun while Lily was sitting in timeout.
While they were both pale skinned with their dark hair cut in the same bob, the twins had many differences in their personality. Lily was quieter, more brooding, compared to Bash’s bubbly temperament. It was Bash who always had friends to play with while Lily sat by herself.
It was times like this Lily hated her sister.
She heard a voice murmur softly,
She looked for the source. It sounded like someone had been speaking right next to her, yet there was no one around. Her mother was sitting in the shade with the other adults, and Bash was with the rest of the kids. Yet there it was, as clear as if someone was speaking directly into her ear.
Liiii-iiily...Bash is laughing. At you.
Just then, Bash giggled loud enough for Lily to hear. Lily grimaced, covering her ears. Tears sprang into her eyes at the betrayal. She struggled with the strong resentment growing deep in the pit of her stomach. A word she had only heard in passing, one that had never been spoken by her before, bubbled up into her mouth and out into the open air.
Lily instantly realized she had done something bad and covered her wide open mouth with her hands. She had no idea where that word had come from or what it meant, only that it was a bad word. She was expecting her mother to come over to spank her.
She waited for the punishment that never came.
A thin stream of blood started flowing from her right nostril, unnoticed because of what happened next. Across the playground, twenty-five yards away, Bash suddenly crumpled and fell from the top of the slide. Children started screaming in terror at the top of their lungs. The twins’ mother, Mrs. Martin, stood up, at first in curiosity, then, seeing Bash on the ground in a heap, ran to her eldest daughter’s side. Lily could tell that she was crying as she held an unconscious Bash.
Seeing her mother in such turmoil made Lily sob in terror. She had never said that word before, and now that Bash had collapsed, she couldn’t help but wonder if she had something to do with it. She started stumbling towards their mother, her legs feelings like lead.
“Lily!” her mother cried out to her, grabbing her hand. The sheer desperation in her face made Lily cry harder. “Lily, honey, come here!”
Lily hugged her mother, burying her face into her shoulder.
A woman ran across the street and banged on the doors of neighboring houses. Luckily, someone answered on the third try. She spoke animatedly with the old man on the doorstep and disappeared inside the house.
“Mary’s calling the police, Cheryl!” someone said. “The ambulance should be on its way. Everything’s going to be okay.”
Lily rubbed her eyes with her fist, trying to wipe away her tears, but they kept coming.
“What happened, Mommy?” she asked. She accidentally smeared her bloody nose across her mother’s shirt, but neither of them noticed.
“I...I don’t know...baby...I...” Her mother’s voice broke, and she wrapped an arm around Lily, holding both of the twins tightly.
That was when Lily got a good look at Bash for the first time and she screamed. Her unconscious twin was a sickly shade of gray, and she seemed even skinnier than she had before. Blood flowed in a torrent out of her nose and her eyes were rolled back into her head, revealing only white. She looked like something out of a horror movie that Lily had once walked in on. Bash looked like she was dead.
Lily was sure it was her fault. There was no other reason for it. She had wished something bad would happen to Bash, sure, but nothing like this.
Everyone around her was talking too quickly for Lily to understand, many of them trying to assure her mother that everything was going to be all right. All of the other kids were either watching with morbid curiosity, or they were crying themselves. Mrs. Martin seemed too shocked to really take it all in.
A few minutes later, an ambulance arrived and the EMTs put Bash on a stretcher. They shined a light in her unresponsive eyes. One of them spoke to her loudly, but the girl wasn’t moving. The EMTs chatted with their mother, who looked dazed, nodding absently to each of the questions.
The entire ordeal scared Lily, especially since she felt powerless to do anything about it.
As if in a dream, someone grabbed Lily’s hand. Lily looked up and recognized her friend Amanda’s mother. “I’ll take care of Lily,” Mrs. Bell told her mother. “You only need to worry about Bash, okay?”
Lily suddenly realized she was going to be left behind again, and she started crying again as panic came over her. “Where are you going, Mommy?” she shrieked. “Mommy? MOMMY!”
Her mother knelt down and gave Lily a tight squeeze. “To the hospital, honey.” She smoothed Lily’s hair back, looking her right in the eyes. “Daddy will pick you up later. Be...be good for Mrs. Bell.” Lily didn’t understand what any of that meant, only that she was indeed going to be left behind. She started bawling as Mrs. Bell dragged her away.
Mrs. Martin followed the EMTs into the ambulance, leaving Lily alone. She just kept crying.
Mrs. Bell, in an attempt to calm Lily down, sat her down on the bench. “Bash will be fine,” she told Lily in a soothing voice. “She’s on her way to the hospital.”
Lily had the vaguest understanding of the word “hospital” from a few TV shows she had seen. To her, it was where babies came from and it was also where people died.
Is Bash going to die?
she wondered in horror. She might have hated her twin at times, but she had never wanted her to die.
She burst into tears again, and nothing Mrs. Bell did would calm her down.
Cheryl Martin sat in the waiting room of the intensive care unit of the hospital. She felt as if someone had reached into her chest, scooped out her heart and blended it into a bloody mess. The thought of losing one of their daughters was inconceivable.
She wouldn’t think of it. She
believe that was a possibility.
It seemed like she had been sitting there for hours. She had lost all sense of time; she had cried herself out and felt lost in a sea of despair. She knew that her husband was sitting next to her with wide eyes, his skin pallid. He had the same amount of information she did—none—and they were both wallowing in a myriad of scenarios, only he seemed more dazed and shocked that Bash was in the hospital. Bash always had been his special little girl.
Compared to him, Cheryl felt like she was the strong one, which was a complete farce at that point. Because through the roughest times—and they’d had some really rough times—Eric had always been her rock. Now, he was as fragile as glass.
The doctors had updated them a few hours before that Bash was in a coma after an epileptic episode, although her brain functions were now normal. They were trying to revive her, however, she wasn’t waking up. It was a mystery, however the doctor assured them that they would get to the bottom of it.
Cheryl’s fists clenched in emotional agony.
What was wrong with their baby girl?