TERRITORY Book One: The red Thunder Clan

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Sample excerpts from TERRITORY Book One: The Red Thunder Clan

Submitted: September 17, 2012

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Submitted: September 17, 2012

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CHAPTER ONE

October 10th; 11:00 p.m.

Somewhere near Hood River, Oregon…

Josephine Sommerset’s heart pounded in her chest; pounded hard against her ribs until it ached to the point that she thought it would burst. It swelled and subsided rapidly, building tangible pressure as it did so, like a heavy balloon being rapidly inflated and deflated mercilessly in a space in which it did not fit comfortably.

She could hear the rhythm in her head; she could feel the pressure in her ears and in her eyes. She had to stop to catch a breath but she could not stop; she simply could not stop. The chill of the night air smothered her and pressed her thin jacket against her tightly; her wet jacket, soaked through with icy sweat.

She blinked and her eyes burned as her hair stabbed at them, driven by the wind; those strands of hair that refused to blow away from her eyes, those strands of hair anchored to her cold wet skin by the thick spray of Aunt Laura’s coagulating blood that covered Joey’s face; Aunt Laura’s blood mixed with her own that poured over the right side of her face from the deep gash just below her hairline, or at least it felt to be. Her eye throbbed and her vision came and went on the right side, throwing her off balance at several instances and pitching her to the wet, cold ground where sharp rocks and debris from the towering trees cut and tore into her hands and knees, shredding her wet and blood-soaked jeans until the pale flesh of her knees seemed as two bright orbs of light glowing through the jagged holes in the dark surface of her ruined Levis. Her nose was broken as well, or so she believed. She had broken it once before as a teenager and it had felt very much the same then; that sharp pain of breathing and the rhythmic, dull tender ache all around her tearing eyes as she blinked away that stinging sweat and the dirt which sprayed into her face each time she fell.

She turned now as she ran; turned only briefly, turned only slightly to be certain her brother Ethan was still there. She clutched his hand fiercely and knew he was there but had to look to be sure. She had to be certain. She could see him fighting to breath, drenched in cold sweat; his skin so flush with fear that it nearly illuminated the pitch darkness of the forest, his eyes stretched wide with indescribable fear. She could see him suffering, she could easily see he suffered as badly as her but she could not hear him. She could not hear his erratic gasping, she could not hear his words though she saw his lips moving but could not tell if he was whispering or shouting.

She might have told him to shut up; she may have said to keep quiet so they couldn’t hear them; so they couldn’t find them. She might have done that, had she thought it mattered at all, if she had thought that it would matter one bit. It didn’t matter. They would hear them no matter what they did, no matter how quietly they did it.

Joey and Ethan scrambled onward through the pitch black darkness of the thick forest, the darkness that was only occasionally and mercifully cleaved by random shafts of intense moonlight that managed to slice their way through the thick canopy of leaves and wind-swept moss and illuminate patches of moss-covered ground and rocks; perilous and slick with the falling rain. They were following an overgrown path vaguely recalled from Joey’s summers here as a young girl, her summers with Aunt Laura and Kevin, many years ago. She and Ethan continued running, using the shafts of moonlight to find their way but ducking into shadow with each booming clap of thunder to avoid being seen in the bright, blinding flash-crack of lightning that would seem to tear open the sky proceeding each clap of the thunder. She hoped it was the right path, she prayed she had gone the right way but she was not sure. Dear God, let this be the path.

They broke through the tree line then and stumbled into a clearing surreally lit by an unobstructed flood of moonlight, a clearing Joey recognized. She remembered something else then, too, she recalled the reason she had loved this clearing so much as a girl. She gripped Ethan’s hand tightly and in a way that seemed reinvigorated and reassured in the hasty plan with which they had fled Laura’s house and those terrible, terrible screams.

They moved quickly but quietly around the edge of the clearing and stuck close to the tree line, in the shadows and out of the moonlight. She had prayed for light only moments ago, she had cried out in her mind for even a sliver of it and had been so thankful, had felt so blessed by each and every tiny, silvery ray. And now, here in the clearing, she was desperate to avoid that light as she half-dragged her exhausted brother around the perimeter of the clearing, against the tree line, in the shadows.

Joey led Ethan up and over a series of rock ledges that formed a crude set of natural steps to a large flat rock outcropping jutting from the side of a gently sloping moss-covered hill and which, silhouetted in the moonlight, looked just slightly like a wolf’s head cocked back and howling at that intense moon above. She dropped to her knees and crawled under the outcropping, dragging Ethan behind her, into the shadows of a shallow cave formed by a washout of earth deep behind the wolf-shaped rock.

“What are they, Joey?” Ethan said quietly. He was anxious; desperate for an answer from the older sister he so admired, desperate for an answer that would somehow make it all okay again.

Joey was good at that. Joey was good at making everything okay again.

“Are they monsters?”

“I don’t know, buddy” Joey said as she tried to make everything sound okay again. “I don’t know what they are.”

She was lying. She knew exactly what they were but could not bring herself to say it out loud, it seemed so absurd. She pulled Ethan tightly against her to try and stop his shivering and fought to ignore the pain of the lacerations that crossed her hands in chaotic patterns over her palms and knuckles and on at least of three of her fingers that she could see, the bright white bone gleamed in the moonlight, she had been cut so deeply; her fingernails torn short and jagged, at least four of them nearly missing completely and streaming blood over her hands and arms that washed away in the pouring rain.

“How many of them are out there, Joey?”

“About eight, I think. I think there are maybe eight of them.”

Ethan pulled quickly and tightly against Joey then; an involuntary reaction of fright and clutched her arm as he tried not to breathe too loudly. Joey followed his gaze out into the clearing, followed Ethan’s gaze into the shadows at the tree line where they had broken into the clearing minutes ago.

Joey could see movement there; she could only see something moving, nothing of a distinct shape; only something moving. Another clap of echoing thunder now; another bright white flash-crack of lightning. She saw it then; saw what Ethan must have seen. She saw now the first thing she could remember seeing back at Aunt Laura’s house an hour before, Joey could see the reflection of two silvery white eyes darting back and forth in the shadows along the tree line; two glowing silver eyes searching for the woman and child that had escaped them.

Another pair now, yes; another pair of silver eyes that seemed to glow in the moonlight; emerging silently from the moss-draped trees a few yards to the left of where the other eyes stood scanning the clearing.

Joey had lied to Ethan. She never lied to Ethan, she never lied to him unless she knew the truth was beyond her control and knowing the truth would not do anything to make everything okay again. Joey knew exactly what was out there; in the forest, in the trees only a few yards away. She had seen them at Laura’s house; she had seen them kill Laura. Ethan had not seen them, but Joey had seen, and she knew exactly what they were.

They were vampires....

They were hunting by scent for certain; Joey had seen this. But could they see them? Could vampires see in the dark, as they could in movies and in stories? Could real vampires see in the dark like that? Was there any chance they might be able to lose them if they reached the river, if they reached it in time, if they reached it before the vampires tired of their game?

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Excert from Chapter Seven......

The werewolf lowered itself even closer to the ground, digging its massive rear claws deep into the soil and sprang forward from the brush toward the young man and woman; a terrible freight train shredding earth and foliage as it closed on the couple with impossible speed. They turned toward the sound and froze with horror and confusion at what they saw, unable to move or to even breathe; trembling violently and uncontrollably.

People always think that they will respond instantly in these moments; lightning-quick actions triggered by that primal fight-or-flight impulse. Or maybe they imagine they would scream; scream out with terror as they come to understand what they’ve seen before fleeing. But this rarely happens, hardly ever; it doesn’t work like that. The fact is people freeze in such a situation. When confronted with the impossible, standing in the shadow of what we’re taught does not exist, we freeze; the mind stammers like a computer struggling to process too much information and it just freezes and tires to sort it; to comprehend the incomprehensible. They froze in this manner, the man and woman; rooted to the ground wide-eyed, slack-jawed and confused as that primal response screamed at them to run without question or hesitation while the more evolved and intellectual mind struggled to make sense of it all.

The creature roared now; an unimaginable sound like a tiger’s roar blended with a deep human scream; a terrifying sound like nothing they had ever heard. It was almost on them now, extending its massive arms out in front like an Olympic diver as it came off the ground and sailed through the air like a missile in what seemed like slow motion.

There was little Derik could do now and he knew it; knew it in a way that left a sour taste in his mouth. They had seen it now, this massive werewolf that was not supposed to exist. Random and brief encounters with humans were not uncommon and easily washed away in a jaded and dismissive world but an attack such as this could not be dismissed so easily, nor could a fight between two such creatures should Derik intervene. He could do nothing but let it happen, let this non-shifter kill these humans or be resigned to kill them himself.

The woman finally screamed then as her boyfriend stepped uselessly in front of her and was torn down in a thick spray of blood, washing over the woman’s face and chest as she was thrown violently aside by the impact. The man had not even had a chance to react fully, simply stepping in front of her in a confused and instinctive state. He had suffered little, despite the horror of it all. The impact alone had killed him almost at once, leaving the beast to feed at leisure; unburdened by a struggling victim.

The woman watched and that was all she could do; soaked in blood, wide-eyed as her lips trembled as if trying to form words or to even find a voice with which to scream. As she watched in horror that terrible, impossible thing had stripped her boyfriend Andy’s body down to bare, blood-stained bone; a hollow and unrecognizable carcass to which his badly torn face was attached. She found her voice then and screamed with such ferocity that it seemed even for a moment to startle the massive animal as it turned in her direction, its jaws and teeth draped in bloody flesh from the corpse that lay steaming at its feet in the chilly morning air. It abandoned its meal for a moment and charged her then as she rose up, screaming and ran toward the tree line. With its belly full it was a bit slower now; less aggressive and driven by a need for flesh. It sprang forward suddenly and punched its long, broad fangs through the woman’s shoulder and drove her down; the pain silencing her as she again lost her voice with the shock of it all.

Something crashed into the beast then; something massive and powerful that let out the same unbelievable roar as the werewolf had.

It was another werewolf, very similar to the first in several ways but very distinctly different. They slammed hard into the trunk of a nearby tree with a deafening crack as even the highest branches trembled from the impact and showered the clearing with Fall leaves and splintered bark.

The first werewolf sailed awkwardly through the air suddenly in an end-over-end fashion as if it had been thrown. It landed head-first in the bright green moss of the forest floor, throwing up a blanket of wet earth and the bright moss. It was on its feet now, shaking its head to clear the effects of the violent impact; standing upright on its massive and powerful hind legs but only briefly; it did not seem capable of sustaining this posture to any effect. It moved on all fours in a cautious half-circle, as did the other one; sizing each other up and preparing for attack. Derik crouched suddenly into a four-legged stance as well now; a defensive posture to protect vital organs.

He charged the non-shifter now and drove it hard into the ground amidst another shower of earth, moss and debris. They were grappling ferociously now; a lightning-speed tangle of teeth and claws and loudly snapping jaws as they roared violently; each struggling to gain the upper hand, two massive and powerful machines clashing over and over again; shredding the terrain around them and shaking the ground with each impact.

They toppled from one side of the clearing to another, smashing the trees and upsetting large boulders that rolled out toward the clearing. The air had become filled with the brown and orange leaves of the trees; shaken from their branches and sent adrift like huge flakes of brown and orange snow.

Derik was thrown back violently now and twisted through the air. But he did not land awkwardly as the non-shifter had; instead he twisted over with fluid grace and landed with one massive paw on a large boulder which he instantly used to his advantage, propelling himself forward; his impossible claws cutting into the very stone as he did so. He struck the non-shifter in an unexpected way and gained the advantage for which he had fought. As they slammed again into the ground Derik managed to get his jaws around the head of the Second-Breed and snapped his neck with a swift and deafening crack.

The woman watched as it fell to the ground, limp and motionless as the other stood triumphantly in a wide stance, breathing heavily through its massive nostrils like a wild, powerful horse. She watched him, speechless and confused, as the massive creature with its beautiful patch-work fur, splattered and streaked with the spilled blood of both creatures, changed shape quickly and fluidly before her startled eyes; changed into a tall lean man with a bright red Mohawk and several tattoos over his pale, muscular form.

There was nothing he could do but watch her die as he knelt beside her silently and held her hand. She had bled out almost completely; the wet, leaf-covered ground beneath her dark and slick with blood that steamed slightly in the cold. It was fast, at least; mercifully quick, he thought as he watched her draw one final deep and ragged breath before going limp and motionless.


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