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Authors: Carter Quinn

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Out of the Blackness

BOOK: Out of the Blackness
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Out of the Blackness

Carter Quinn



Carter Quinn


Copyright © July 2013 by Carter Quinn


Cover Illustration Copyright © 2013 by SJL Graphics, LLC

Cover design by Scott J. Latimer, SJL Graphics, LLC


ISBN: 978-1-4675-8142-4

Published in the United States of America


All rights reserved and asserted by the author.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from Carter Quinn Books.


Carter Quinn Books

[email protected]


This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.



This one is for the
. You all made my GRL 2012 experience something I will treasure for life. Thank you for the love, laughter, and friendship.

Table of Contents



Author’s Note

Chapter 1 - November

Chapter 2 - November

Chapter 3 - November

Chapter 4 - November

Chapter 5 - December

Chapter 6 - December

Chapter 7 - December

Chapter 8 - December

Chapter 9 - December

Chapter 10 - February

Chapter 11 – March

Chapter 12 - April

Chapter 13 - May

Chapter 14 – August

Chapter 15 - August

About the Author




This book wouldn’t exist in any form without the help of some wonderful people. I really do have the most amazing friends. Special thanks to Lara Brukz, Marie Sexton, Marilyn Blimes, Scott Latimer, Janet Sidelinger, Aniko, Jan, and Whitney. Without your input and hard work, Avery’s story would still be nothing more than a Word file on my laptop. You’re all incredible.


To those of you who purchased, read, and/or reviewed
The Way Back
, I offer my deepest thanks. You all made a dream come true.


Lastly, to Avery, my little Whisper Boy, who literally started out as a susurration in my brain. I feel you, free and happy, in my heart. Thank you for letting me know and love you over these last two years.


Author’s Note


I am not a psychologist, nor do I play one on TV or the internet. This book was a labor of love, but also an absolute work of fiction. It is not meant to provide any real medical advice, nor is it meant to be an accurate representation of any state child care facility or practice. Any mistakes or inaccuracies are either unintentional or designed to forward the story.

Out of the Blackness


Chapter 1 - November


t takes a minute to realize the scream comes from me. I cut it off with an extreme effort and force my eyes open. The bedroom is dark, save for the slivers of blue moonlight that force their way around the old-fashioned shade pulled firmly over the window. I gasp and pant for breath, even as the nightmarish images are already fading, but the terror stays very, very real.

The bedroom door opens and I squeak in alarm at the massive shadow in the doorway. My trembling turns to outright vibrating and the panting becomes sobs.

“Oh, Aves,” I hear Sam say on a sigh. He crosses to the bed and envelopes me in those steel-strong arms of his. I lean into him and sob against his t-shirt-covered wall of chest. He holds me until I begin to calm, then leans back and caresses the tears from my face with gentle strokes.

Even though his are the only eyes I can look into without fear, I can’t do it now. My eyes flick up no higher than his mouth before going back to study the steady rise and fall of his breathing. “I’m sorry,” I whisper, ashamed.

He tilts my head up with a curled index finger under my chin. I fix my gaze on his nose, crooked from many breaks, but still my favorite nose ever. “Hey.” His soothing voice washes over me. “There’s nothing to be sorry about.” He starts to lay me back down, but I yelp in fear and cling to him. “Shh,” he coos, brushing his thick fingers through my longish dark hair. Trembling again, I finally force myself to meet his gaze. He must see the terror there, because he grimaces slightly and pulls me off the bed with him. “C’mon,” he says, indicating the door with a jerk of his head. “Let’s go get some hot chocolate.”

It’s code and I know it. But I also know Sam is in Calm Avery to Sleep mode again, so on trembling legs, I follow him into the kitchen, grateful to him—for him—as I have been since the day we met fourteen torturous years ago.

I sit at the kitchen table while he heats the milk on the stove. One of Sam’s rules is that milk must never be microwaved. He has only turned on the light above the range, so I can pretend I don’t know he’s crushing an Ambien tablet into powder. It mixes well with the hot chocolate so I don’t taste it in the final product, but we both know it’s there. Even though they’re prescribed for me, I won’t take them like normal people do. But then, there’s nothing normal about me.

I feel hot tears bubbling up from my belly, but I force them down, hugging myself against the cool night air. I refuse to let myself think about the reason I have that Ambien prescription. Of all the painful memories I have—and I have few that aren’t, and all of those involve Sam—those are the worst.

Sam’s gentle hand on my shoulder brings me back to the present. He hands me my mug and I get up and follow him to the living room where we settle together on the couch. I curl up against him as he turns on the television.

“Sorry,” he says when I duck my face against his chest to avoid the too-harsh light of the TV. He quickly mutes the sound and changes the setting from Dynamic to Movie, making the picture on the screen dimmer and more appropriate for the low light in the room.

He swings an arm over my shoulder and gives me a brief squeeze. “Wanna talk about it?” he asks gently.

I shake my head no, clamping down hard on the resurgent terror. “I—I don’t remember,” I whisper. It’s mostly true. I rarely recall specifics from my nightmares, just the overwhelming terror of them. Sam knows this, but he always asks. He’s there to help me pick up the pieces, just as he has from the beginning.

I sip my doctored drink and he copies my actions. I know we’ll both be able to sleep, thanks to Dr. Sam, but until then, I let myself absorb the comfort my best friend and roommate offers.

I hate being small. The only times I don’t hate it are times like these, when I’m on the couch with Sam as he watches television. At five-four, I’m eight inches shorter than Sam, short enough my shoulder fits under his armpit while his arm wraps around my shoulder. My head rests against his shirt and I can hear his heartbeat, feel his chest rise and fall with his breaths. Sitting here with him like this is the only time I ever feel safe. Loved, too, but I know that’s an illusion. Sam is my older brother, not by blood, not by legal adoption, but because he took care of me when everyone else decided I was a punching bag. He rescued me then and he still thinks it’s his job to keep me safe. I snuggle in closer to make myself smaller, to avoid the assault of those memories, and his huge hand slides up and down my thin arm, petting and comforting me. I curl further around him, almost into a fetal position, and his other arm comes around to hold me tighter to him. He knows when I need this and he never turns me away. I feel his lips in my hair as he kisses my head and whispers, “It’s okay. I won’t let anything hurt you.” I nod against his chest even though I don’t really believe it. I know he’ll try and I am incredibly thankful to him for it; but I also know I shouldn’t have been born and the world has been trying to fix that situation since that very moment. It will win in time—when I’ve hurt enough, when it has punished me enough—no matter how much Sam tries to protect me.


The next day at work, I’m even more grateful for the almost-full night of sleep. It is crazy busy, especially for our small store. That hateful pre-December shopper’s holiday is almost upon us and it seems like the whole city wants to give books as presents, and they all want them right now for the lowest possible price or less. I’m able to escape to the stock room most of the day, unloading cases of books and loading them onto carts for Molly or Brian to shelve. On high volume days, Walter, the elderly owner of the store, allows me this escape because he comes down from his office overlooking the sales floor to mingle with the customers. He thrives on crowds, where I want nothing more than to escape them.

Molly is as Goth as she can get away with and still be in uniform. Instead of the black pants we’re supposed to wear, she dons a long, flowing black skirt. Her makeup is still dark and artfully, if liberally, applied. People stare at her all the time, but she doesn’t seem to notice most of the time. When she does, though, she somehow manages to make the gawker feel embarrassed for judging her. I don’t know how she does it. Aside from Sam, the woodwork is my best friend. I try to blend in with it as much as possible. If no one notices me, I’m less likely to take a fist to the face or a boot to the ribs.

Brian is Molly’s opposite in every way. Even after working with him for two years, he still makes me uncomfortable. He’s blond and jovial, and it’s obvious he’s a jock. What he’s doing working in a bookstore is beyond me. Actually, that’s not fair. When his scary and loud as hell jock friends come in, one would swear they only know six words between them, most of them variations of “dude” or “bro.” But when those guys aren’t around, it’s obvious Brian enjoys words. He’s read enough of the classics to be helpful, but his favorites are science fiction. Most surprising is that he loves comics; not the usual suspects like Batman or Superman, either. No, his favorites are cutting edge and cult classics most people have never heard of.

Molly and Brian burst into the stockroom in the midst of an already-heated argument about the merits of the Nabokov translation of Mikhail Lermontov’s
A Hero of Our Time
, and I involuntarily recoil against one of the large stacks. I listen to them go back and forth for a minute before Molly turns to me with a disgusted look on her face. “Would you tell him, Avery?”

I look between them, taking in the swiftly throbbing pulse points in their necks and shake my head. I back away from both of them and go around the stack, the tall bookshelf, placing it safely between us. “I—I’m going outside,” I stammer, heading for the door.

“You see what you did, you big dumb oaf,” I hear Molly practically screech before the heavy metal door closes behind me with a thud … and a click. I bite back the groan at my own stupidity. I was in such a hurry to escape the argument I forgot to place the wedge in the doorjamb. Now I’m locked out and will either have to hope Brian or Molly hears me pound on the door or go around front and wade through the masses of customers. Neither idea is particularly appealing.

I sit down on the smoking bench beside the door, though I’m not a smoker, and catch my breath for a few minutes. It’s only an hour before lunchtime and already I want to go home. I really wish this holiday would hurry up and be over. At least it’s not snowing, I think, realizing I’m shivering with cold.

I’m about to blow on my hands, thinking the cold metal of the door will hurt less if I pound on it with warmer hands, when I see him. He’s a mountain of a man, at least compared to me. He’s dressed in fashionable blue jeans, with a short leather jacket over a button-down flannel shirt, and he’s striding down the alley toward me. He’s chattering away on his cellphone, so if I keep very still, maybe he won’t notice me. I try to make myself smaller on the bench, knowing a beating from this guy would take weeks to heal. I cringe inwardly when he pockets the phone a few feet away from me. I keep my eyes on his feet, ready to run at the first sign of intent. It’ll be pointless, but I have to try. He never breaks stride, just calls a jovial, “hi,” as he passes. I nod slightly, so as not to anger him, which either ignoring him or speaking is likely to do. I watch him in my peripheral vision as he continues on by. When he is far enough away, I let myself look in his direction. I only have a second to notice what must be the finest butt in the Western Hemisphere before he turns around, now walking backwards. I’m almost too startled to notice the nice heavy package in his jeans—almost—when my gaze, practically compulsorily, cuts up to meet his. He grins beautifully and waves before turning again and mounting the stairs beside the dock of the furniture store next door.

BOOK: Out of the Blackness
11.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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