Authors: Mark Lukens
A novel by
The Summoning – copyright © 2013 – Mark Lukens
All Rights Reserved
No part of this book may be reprinted without written permission from the author.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead (or in any other form), business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Cover design by: Damonza.com
As always, I dedicate this book to my wife, son, and family.
Descendants of Magic: Devon Richards and the Dark Storm
Something dripped in the darkness. Water? Blood?
He could feel something near him; it was breathing heavily, coming for him, trying to take him away and drag him deeper into the darkness.
“No! I’m not ready to go yet!”
Ryan’s eyes popped open. He lay in the bed and stared up at the ceiling for a long moment as the nightmare began to fade away.
In the dream he had been in a dark place, a terrible place. But it was a familiar place. He’d been there before, he was sure of that. And he was sure that he could never allow himself to be taken back there again.
Ryan sat up in the bed and swung his bare feet to the floor. He looked around at the dingy motel room he was in. The room was murky. The heavy drapes were pulled tight over the windows that looked out onto the motel parking lot. He had kept the drapes shut through the night, but he had left the TV and the bathroom light on all night. He needed the light – he couldn’t be in the dark.
He knuckled sleep from his eyes and sighed. He didn’t remember much about getting to this motel room. And he didn’t remember anything about his life at all before he’d driven here. His entire past was a blank. He didn’t know where he’d been. He didn’t know who he was.
Maybe he’d been in a car accident. That seemed to be right, but he wasn’t sure why he was so certain about that. Maybe he’d hit his head and lost his memory somehow. But he’d checked his head and he hadn’t found any wounds.
found scars on other parts of his body.
Ryan looked down at his lean and muscular body which was naked and sheened with sweat – it wasn’t particularly hot in the motel room, but he’d been sweating during his nightmare. He saw the scars on his chest and abdomen. Three of them. He’d noticed them yesterday when he’d gotten to the motel room. He could only remember back to yesterday – his earliest memory was speeding down the county road and seeing this motel – The Starlight Motel – off the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with hardly any cars parked in front. He pulled into the parking lot and checked in. As soon as he was inside the room, he locked the doors. And hours later, he eventually drifted off to sleep. He knew he needed sleep, but he was afraid he would wake up and not remember anything before that.
But now he remembered part of yesterday.
And he remembered the dream last night.
So maybe his memory was beginning to come back.
He brushed his fingertips over the thick scar tissue on his torso; there were two scars on his chest, and one on his abdomen. He was pretty sure they were bullet-hole scars. At some point in his past he’d been shot three times and lived.
But he couldn’t remember any of it.
Ryan looked at the nightstand next to the bed where there was one of two clues to his past life – the other clue was stuffed underneath the bed. The first clue on the nightstand was a wallet. Inside the wallet was a driver’s license. According to the license and the photo, he was Ryan Freeman from 811 Cordova Street in Oakland, California. There was only one other thing inside the wallet besides the driver’s license; a scrap of paper with an address on it – a street address in a place called Edrington, Oregon. The address had been scrawled on the paper, like someone had written the information down quickly. He guessed that it was his own handwriting.
It would seem to make sense to go back to the California address on his driver’s license, but for some reason he felt like it wasn’t safe to go back there. He felt like he had been running away from that place.
would be looking for him there.
But who were they? And why was he so certain that people were after him and they would be at the California address? He couldn’t be sure. It was like the memories of his past were there under his consciousness, just underneath the fog of his memory loss. He could almost reach it, but no matter how much he tried, he couldn’t remember. It was frustrating, but if this was some kind of temporary brain injury, then maybe he would remember soon.
He felt like he
to remember soon – he felt like his life depended on it.
Ryan thought briefly of seeking help; medical help or help from the police. But because of the other clue to his past, the one stuffed underneath the bed, he knew that seeking any kind of help was out of the question.
And he knew that if there were people after him, then they would be after what was under the bed.
He got up and walked across the room to the heavy drapes that covered the window. He pulled the drapes to the side just a bit and peeked out at the parking lot. Bright sunlight invaded the room when he pulled the drapes back and he had to squint for a second and let his eyes get used to the light before he could see the parking lot.
Out in the parking lot was his car (which he was sure wasn’t really his car), and only one other vehicle – an old Ford pickup truck. Beyond the parking area was the county road he’d driven last night. Cars and trucks rumbled by in the early morning light; people on their way to work or on the way home, people who knew where they were going, people who knew who they were.
Ryan let the drapes fall back in place and he walked back to his bed with its rumpled sheets and covers.
He crouched down beside the bed and pulled out the duffel bag from underneath it. He unzipped the bag and stared down at the stacks of money – stacks of one hundred dollar bills wrapped tightly in plastic. One of the packets had been torn open. He guessed he must’ve opened it to get money for gas and for this motel room – he didn’t remember doing it, but he must have because there was a wad of hundred dollar bills in his pants pocket.
Where had this duffel bag of money come from? A bank? A business? A drug deal?
Ryan had dumped out the duffel bag last night; he’d taken all of the stacks of money out and searched the bag, he’d looked for any other items inside, or a hidden pocket, any kind of clue that he could find.
He found nothing but the money.
The only other thing that he noticed was that the canvas duffel bag felt damp and smelled a little musty, like it had been wet at some point in the past. His clothes had the same musty smell as the duffel bag so he had washed them out in the bathtub with a small box of laundry soap that he’d bought from the vending machine in the motel’s laundry room. He’d also bought a few sodas and snacks from the other vending machines in the laundry room. His shirt, pants, underwear, and socks now hung from the shower curtain rod in the bathroom.
He zipped the duffel bag back up and he took it with him into the bathroom. He closed and locked the bathroom door. He took a quick, hot shower. Then he dressed back in his clothes – the only clothes he had with him. He would need to find some more clothes when he got to Edrington, Oregon.
He’d already made up his mind that he was going to find the address that was written down on the piece of paper in his wallet – it was his only choice.
There was something about the name of the town – Edrington. Something familiar about it. He wasn’t sure why, but he felt certain that the answers to everything were in that town.
Ryan walked across the parking lot to his car, his car keys in one hand and the duffel bag of money gripped in his other hand. He unlocked and opened the trunk and stuffed the duffel bag down inside, he shoved it as far back into the trunk as he could. There was nothing to cover the duffel bag with; the trunk of the car was clean and completely empty except for the spare tire and a jack. He had searched through the car last night, but it was devoid of any kind of clues as to who the previous owners were. No registration, no insurance papers, no paperwork of any kind in the car. Had he gotten rid of everything when he’d gotten the car? Had he stolen the car? He couldn’t be sure, and he didn’t want to think about it right now.
He slammed the trunk lid closed and stuffed the car keys into his pants pocket. He looked at the Starlight Motel office which occupied the last room at the end of the strip motel. He walked across the dusty parking lot to the small office with its cheap plastic OPEN sign in the window.
The bell dinged when he opened the door to the office. He could remember checking in last night, but this person wasn’t the same clerk he’d checked in with. This clerk was a little chubby and needed a shave. He sat behind the counter playing some kind of game on his cell phone, and he didn’t even look up when Ryan entered. A small TV sat on top of a battered filing cabinet – the TV was turned on, but the sound was turned all the way down. The area behind the checkout counter was a little messy and disorganized, but it didn’t seem like it bothered the clerk one bit.
Ryan stood at the counter. The clerk seemed very interested in his phone at the moment. Ryan slapped his room keycard down on the counter top. “Checking out,” Ryan said in a loud voice.
“Thanks,” the clerk muttered without looking up. “Hope you enjoyed your stay at the Starlight Motel.”
Ryan was about to turn away and leave, but he turned back around and looked at the clerk. “I need to get to a town called Edrington. Do you know how far it is from here?”
This got the clerk’s attention; he looked up from his phone with bloodshot eyes set deep in his unshaven face. “Edrington?”
The clerk cleared his throat and sat up a little more in his chair. “You go out on that county road out there, hang a right, drive north about three hundred and twenty miles and you’ll run right into Edrington.”
“Small town. Don’t blink; you might drive right through it.”
Ryan nodded and gave the clerk a fake smile. “Thanks,” he said again, about to leave. But the clerk’s next words stopped him cold.
“What do you want to go up to Edrington for? You got family up there or something?”
Ryan turned and stared at the clerk for a moment. “I’m visiting a friend,” he lied.
The clerk shrugged and turned his eyes back to the game on his phone. “Just trying to make conversation,” he muttered.
Ryan opened the office door and the bell dinged again. He stepped outside, shut the door and walked away.
The clerk looked up from his phone and stared at the closed door. He could see Ryan through the window, walking away from the office towards the parking area.
“That town is famous for only one thing,” the clerk said to himself and went back to the game on his phone.
Ryan got in his car (which he was even more certain wasn’t really his) and he stuck the key into the ignition. The car was a Chevy Impala. Silver. 2003. It was definitely well-used; some wear-and-tear on the seats and interior, a few dings and dents in the rear quarter panels, a crack in the front bumper. But it ran well. Started right up when he turned the key.
He sat there for a moment as the engine purred. He checked the gauges. The gas tank was almost three quarters full. He caressed the steering wheel which was already warm from the morning sun beating down on it through the windshield. It was going to be a hot day.
He shifted into reverse and backed out of the parking spot. He was ready to get on the road. He felt an urgency to get to the town of Edrington. Part of the urgency was because he knew that the answers waited for him there. But not just answers to his foggy past, but also to his nightmare. And the other reason for his urgency was because he was sure someone was after him – someone was following him. And that person would find him if he stayed anywhere for too long.