Sinister: A Paranormal Fantasy (Sinisters Book 1)

BOOK: Sinister: A Paranormal Fantasy (Sinisters Book 1)
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SINISTER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COLLEEN FLESHMAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Text copyright © 2014 Colleen M Fleshman.

 

Ϯ

 

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the publisher
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

 

Printed in the United States of America

First Printing, 2014

ISBN 978-0991428700

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

 

 

A lamp flared to life with a crackle and hiss, throwing the iron desk it sat on into sharp relief. The flames illuminated woven carpets that lay scattered on the stone floor like toys tossed down by careless children. A wooden chest huddled against the far wall, barely visible in the dim light. The primary occupant of the room rested behind the desk, his long legs stretched across the desk. A pensive frown marred his face as he stared at the scuff marks on his boots. His thoughts were on the news he had just received. It seemed clear now that he had underestimated Peter's power, or the speed at which he would progress through his experiments. He thought he would have months, if not years, before he needed to move against the man, but if the latest reports were true...

"Neb, how certain are you?" He addressed the cherub floating in front of him, his small body supported by a pair of pale coral wings.

Neb sighed and shook his head. He was only 183 years old, but despite his youth, he was one of Luke's most reliable informants. "Entirely."

Luke only nodded. He had expected that answer, though he would have preferred some chance that the news was wrong. With a wave of his hand, he dismissed the cherub and returned to his contemplation of his boots. He would need to call up new recruits for this one, since his current defenders were all either busy or too far away from the threat. He started running through his mental catalog of possibilities, eyeing the scuff marks as he did so. He dismissed choice after choice as he wondered how he had managed to scuff his boots when he rarely walked anywhere.
Too far away, too young, not the right skill set.
..they must have come from his last trip to earth, he decided. He had walked quite a bit then, even ending up on a gravel path. No matter. With a thought, he removed the marks, leaving only polished leather behind. He had gone through a few hundred more potential candidates and was getting to the end of his catalog.
What if there was no one?
He scoffed at the thought as soon as he had it. Of course there was someone. There always was.

He sifted through the last few possibilities, honing in on the person that a small part of him knew was the only option. He was young, true, but not too young, and he could be great given time. And given Peter's abilities, he needed someone who could fight fire with fire.

He rubbed a hand across his eyes. He wanted someone who could match Peter, true, but he did not want to make the situation worse by setting loose someone without proper training. Perhaps he could pull someone off of their current assignment. He ran through the list again, but even as he searched, he knew it was pointless. Before Peter, no one had been able to do what he could. He had thought it would be a turning point, a sign of evolution among the humans, but until now, no one else had shown the same abilities. When he had tested the child, he had shown the same genetic abnormalities Peter had. It was either him, or someone who would only fail.

His feet hit the ground with a thud as he sat up.

"Zeer!"

Another cherub appeared in the doorframe to his office. He was much older and had a dignified look about him, despite being only three feet tall. "Yes?"

Luke stood. "I am going to Earth to get new recruits. Could you please take control here while I am out?"

Zeer's eyes lit up, but he only nodded solemnly. Luke suppressed a grin at the cherub's excitement. Nothing much would happen in the few hours while he was out, but he knew Zeer relished the opportunity to show his leadership skills.

"Thank you. Then I shall be off." With a few long strides, he was through the void to Earth.

CHAPTER TWO

 

 

 

 

A bead of sweat formed on Matt Reynolds' brow, creating a tiny stream as it ran down his face. With a flick of his wrist, he diverted the stream before it entered his eye. He sucked in a deep breath of air as he sprinted forward, bumping shoulders with Dean. The pair struggled silently for a few moments before Matt came free victorious. He ran, trying to escape Dean's reach before his opponent recovered his stance. He could hear footsteps pounding behind him as Dean raced to catch up.

Another opponent appeared through the growing darkness in front of him. Matt swerved to the left, narrowly avoiding contact. He could see the field open in front of him and pushed to reach the goal before the footsteps caught up. Josh stepped out from within the white poles framing him, crouching slightly to better block Matt's kick. Matt swung his left foot back and, with all his strength, angled the black-and-white ball into the upper right corner. Josh leapt, but he was too late. The ball sailed through the posts and hit the net.

"Whooooo!" Matt raised his fists triumphantly.

"Nice shot." Dean came to a panting halt beside him, his hands braced on his knees as he gulped in breaths. "You've gotten really fast. You been practicing?"

Matt nodded proudly. "I run every morning before school. You should come sometime."

Dean gave a half shrug. "I dunno. I like soccer, but I'm not sure I 6-AM-run like it."

Matt chuckled, though he couldn’t understand Dean's perspective. He loved soccer, plain and simple. If he had to get up at 5:30 every day in order to be the best, he would. He was getting so close to beating Damien for the center midfield spot, and more than anything he wanted to outplay him for the position at the regionals match next Tuesday.

Out of the corner of his eye, Matt caught a glimpse of iridescent blue, like aqua lightning, racing by. He whipped his head to the right, but there was nothing there. All day, his eyes had been playing tricks on him, and each time a flash went past he was certain he would see what it was.

"Did you see that?" he asked his best friend.

"See what?" Dean replied.

"That streak of blue. I just saw it over there—" he gestured with his hand—"but it vanished as soon as I looked over."

"Hmm. Musta missed it."

Matt peered across the field, but whatever he'd seen was gone. He gave a mental shrug and turned with his friend back to the soccer game. Practice wasn't over, and he had a spot to win.

Ϯ

Light from the television flickered over the walls of the family room, casting an eerie glow over his family’s faces. They were watching the latest Batman movie, and Batman was currently locked in a tense battle with the Riddler. Perched on the edge of the floral couch, chin resting in his hands and elbows on his knees, Matt watched the fight intently. He wasn't normally allowed to watch movies on school nights, but since it was his birthday, he'd decided to take advantage of his mom's leniency.

A sudden flash of red above his mom’s head caught his eye, and he spun to try to capture the cause before it vanished again. This time, a shadow from the lamp seemed to be sitting on the back of the rose-colored recliner. Matt felt a brief spurt of triumph as he peered into the corner. He would finally see what was causing all the peripheral flashes of light. Red eyes glinted in the shadow, and a flash of bright light from the television illuminated claws digging into the cloth just above his mother’s head. That was the biggest bird he'd ever seen. Why was a bird following him around, anyway? And how in the world had it gotten into his house?

“Mom,” he said slowly, trying to sound calm. His voice cracked. “Don’t freak out, but there’s…something….behind you.”

Her eyes widened in alarm, and Irene Reynolds turned around. Her brown hair swung as she turned her head to scan the area, levering her torso up to peer behind the chair. She set her hand on the back of the recliner, just inches from those sharp claws, and twisted back to her son. A puzzled expression covered her face. “Where?”

Matt frowned at her. "It's right there." He pointed at the bird, which hissed in response. Its forked tongue wagged in the dim light, and Matt shuddered. He'd never realized birds had forked tongues. It was kind of creepy.

Irene followed the path of his finger with her eyes, then turned back, still looking puzzled. “I can’t see where you’re pointing, honey.”

Matt gulped, a strange sense of panic welling in him. His gut told him something was very wrong. His mom wasn’t blind, after all, and the creature was too strange to ignore. He forced down the feelings that were rising in his chest. He didn’t believe in gut feelings, he reminded himself, only what he could see and reason out.

“Is it a spider?” she continued, her voice just above a whisper. Her eyes darted to Carrie, who lay on the floor with her legs kicked up. The sight of her legs swishing back and forth to tap against the carpet reminded him of the first time he’d realized her fear of spiders. He’d been six, she four. They had been playing on the swing set in their backyard, Carrie’s chubby legs pumping furiously to gain momentum. She couldn’t master the rhythm, and the pumps had merely translated into a jerky foot-long path, so Matt had given her pushes from behind. The rusty chains had creaked with every movement. Then, over the backdrop of squeaks, Carrie had screamed. Matt, thinking his baby sister had been hurt, instantly grabbed the swing, his tiny muscles fighting to stop the movement. Terror had shone from Carrie’s wide hazel eyes. “Get it off!” she had whimpered, holding out her left arm. There, crawling across her skin, was a spider no bigger than Matt’s thumbnail.

“Don’t worry,” Matt had said, trying to sound big and strong. “It’s just a spider. See?” He had pressed his hand against her arm and the spider crawled onto it. He’d been able to feel the whisper of its legs as it marched its way across his palm, tickling him.

Carrie had still been whimpering, pressed against the chains of the swing as though she could merge herself into them and hide from the spider that way. And just at that moment, Alice had walked up. Her hands were covered in mud from the pies she’d been making, and a liberal streak of one pie ran through her brown hair. “Is the baby afraid of a spider?” she had taunted.

Alice had resented Carrie usurping her position as the darling girl of the family and never missed an opportunity to pick on her sister. Carrie’s bottom lip had quivered in her pudgy face, seconds away from tears.

Matt had stepped between his sisters. Alice was his best friend, but he had a duty as an older brother to protect Carrie. “Leave her alone,” he’d commanded.

“Why?” Alice had asked, cocking her head to the side. She had sounded genuinely curious.

Matt had thought for a minute. Arguing with Alice never worked, so he decided to try reasoning with her. “If you pick on her, Mom will get mad and put you in time out. Then you won’t be able to play outside.”

Alice had considered his words, then she’d flashed a grin. “And I couldn’t do this.” She’d rubbed her hands on his face, smearing mud across his cheeks. It had felt cool against his skin, refreshing on the hot summer day. Alice had laughed and run off, Matt chasing behind.

The memory faded, replaced by five confused faces staring at him.

“No, it’s…” Matt trailed off, as he looked at the spot again. Nothing was there. All he saw was a shadow.

“There was a bird there a minute ago, but it's gone now." His voice sounded uncertain.

For a moment, the only sound was of the Riddler's laugh. Then his father said, “Fascinating. Can you describe for me exactly what you saw?”

Matt turned to see the excitement shining on his dad’s face.

“Greg,” Irene said warningly.

“What?” Greg Reynolds asked. “Matt might be experiencing some sort of visual hallucination. In the absence of other symptoms of psychosis—you don’t have any, do you, Matt? Good. No one knows the cause of hallucinations. This could be valuable scientific evidence.”

Matt sighed, too quietly for his dad to hear. As a professor of neuroscience, his dad was obsessed with anything having to do with the brain. Every time something out of the ordinary happened, he wanted to record it in painstaking detail and try experiments to isolate the cause. Involuntarily, he glanced at Alice, who sat on the couch with Daniel’s arm around her shoulders. She rolled her eyes at him, and he grinned. For a moment it felt like old times, before she’d left for college. If only she hadn’t brought Daniel home with her this weekend. And just like that, his mood soured.

He turned back to his dad, who was still staring at him with eager eyes. Matt suppressed a laugh. His dad was on the edge of his seat, hands clasped around his knees, and he looked like a little kid on Christmas morning. He’d long ago stopped expecting concern from Professor Reynolds when it came to his field of study. When he was seven, he’d fallen out of a tree and cracked his head against a root. The resulting concussion had caused his mom to fuss over him nonstop, and she had refused to let him play anything that wasn’t “quiet.” His dad, after a perfunctory question about how he felt, had decided his son would be a perfect study subject for the impacts of “childhood concussions on cognitive development.” At the time, all that meant to him was that he had to sit in his dad’s study and fill out worksheets, answer hundreds of repetitive questions, and generally be bored out of his mind. After a week, Alice had sprung him from his parental prison and dragged him out to play Soldiers.

Knowing that his dad wouldn’t stop asking questions until he got answers, Matt said, “I don’t know. It was black and had red eyes.”

“Hmm. And its shape? Size? Any unusual or distinctive markings? Did it remind you of anything, or bring any memories to mind? Wait!” His dad jumped up from the leather recliner he sat in, the footrest slamming shut with a thud. “Let me get my notebook so we can record this precisely.”

“Leave him alone, Greg." Irene tried to keep her husband's work confined to his workplace. Although she had limited success, she was usually able to prevent her children from becoming subjects in his experiments.

“But…” Greg’s face fell.

"No buts," Irene commanded. “Your son is not a study subject. And certainly not today, of all days.” She threw a bright smile at Matt. "My little boy is sixteen!" Her smile dimmed a little as she added, "I am curious what you saw though, honey. I couldn't see a thing."

Matt made a helpless gesture. "It was right behind you. Maybe you couldn't see it in the dark?"

The background music from the movie abruptly went silent as Carrie flipped off the TV.

“The movie was over," she said when five pairs of eyes turned to her. "Cake time?”

Irene glanced at Matt. He tucked the image of the strange creature into the corner of his mind where he could examine it alone and responded with an enthusiastic, "Yeah!"

His family obligingly made their way to the kitchen. Matt trailed behind. He didn't want them to know how worried he was that he was seeing things they couldn't. Was he getting a tumor? He'd heard they caused hallucinations. He'd have to ask his dad—privately, when the rest of his family couldn't hear his fears. For now, he'd eat cake and pretend everything was okay.

 

BOOK: Sinister: A Paranormal Fantasy (Sinisters Book 1)
3.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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