You are invited to the official Soulless in Seattle virtual book launch party on Tuesday, September, 2014.
So stop on by at any of these places on September 25th after 5pm and get the latest news on the release, sign up for giveaways, and chat with me. I hope to see you there!
By Melissa L. Webb
Something about the house felt different when Kara awoke this morning. She couldn’t put her finger on it as she got out of bed, but that feeling was there, heavy as a mallet slamming into her. Something wasn’t right.
She padded through the empty house on her way to the bathroom. She couldn’t figure out where these feelings were coming from. Sure, she lived alone. That was enough to make anyone paranoid, but she had lived there for six months.
Six months was way too long to suddenly feel creeped out.
She hurried about, quickly getting ready for work as she tried to brush the dark thoughts from her mind. There was no place for them. She was an adult. Adults didn’t get freaked out, especially when it came to being in their own home.
Kara poured herself a cup of coffee and let the warm, caffeine-infused liquid flow through her soul. She tried to rationalize her feelings as she stared into the steaming mug. Some forgotten dream was haunting her mind. That’s all this was. She needed to let the morning sun burn away such thoughts. A woman afraid to live alone was doomed to live in someone’s shadow forever.
That wasn’t her. She was good at being alone. She even thrived in it to some extent. She wouldn’t let some ridiculous feeling shatter her solitude.
She grabbed her purse and locked up, heading to the car. Rays of sunlight danced around her, driving back the morning chill as she warmed up the car. A small laugh escaped her lips and a foolish feeling washed over her as she sat there, taking in the surrounding day.
Kara couldn’t believe how spooked she had let herself get. She needed to learn to let her dreams go before getting out of her bed if they were going to do this to her. This was her home, her sanctuary, and there was no reason that would change in one night.
She slipped the car in reverse and glanced up at the house one last time, a smile still on her lips. Her foot came down hard on the break and the smile faded. Something moved in her bedroom window.
Something black with red eyes.
It watched her, tilting its head side to side, as if gauging the amount of fear it caused.
Kara wanted to scream, but she was frozen in fear, her hands locked tightly on the steering wheel. She didn’t know what she was seeing, but she knew it was watching her back with a terrifying purpose.
In a blink of an eye, it was gone, leaving nothing but a fluttering curtain. An eerie reminder that the shape wasn’t imagined.
Tears flooded her eyes, silently slipping down her cheeks as she backed out of the driveway. Her solitude was broken, her life shattered in an instant, because something had changed over night.
The nightmare hadn’t plagued her sleep last night; it began the moment she woke up. That was the reason everything seemed so wrong. She was no longer alone.
© 2014 Melissa L. Webb
LITTLE LOST GIRL
By Melissa L. Webb
The white blur moved gracefully above the city, dropping low here and there as its search continued. It listened for the cries and sighs, for the discontented and the hollow. It needed to set things right, to give peace to the youth who so deserved it.
A sob echoed through the night, the tortured sound piercing the white shadow’s heart like thousands of tiny daggers. It jerked to a stop, instincts taking over as it flew straight to a window and perched on the sill, drowning in the sorrow contained within.
A girl sat on the edge of a bed. Teardrops glistened in the moonlight as they streaked down her face causing the shadow to gasp. It had never seen anything quite as beautiful before. Or quite as tortured.
Her chest heaved with an unknown burden as another cry escaped her lips. She was suffering. Another innocent had fallen victim to the cruel society around her. A society that used and abused their youth, turning then into nothing more than dirty, discarded objects. Children weren’t human beings to this world. They were property.
The shadow slipped through the open window, causing no more noise than a single breath. It moved near the girl, aching to free her from the pain.
“Why are you crying?” it asked her softly, knowing it really didn’t matter. It would stop whatever was troubling her.
The girl sat up, her bright green eyes going wide as she took in the white shadow. “What are you?” she asked, pushing herself away from it.
The shadow stood there, confusion plaguing its mind. Couldn’t she tell what he was? “Well, I’m certainly not a little white bird.”
She frowned, not daring to take her eyes off it. “What are you doing in my bedroom?”
“I heard you crying. I came to help you.”
She slid back to the edge of the bed, curiosity getting the best of her. “What do you mean? How can you help me, shadow?”
“I can free you from the sadness. I can take you to a place where you will never be treated badly again. A place where you will never grow old. It’s a place where you will have no responsibilities or expectations. A place where you can simply be you.”
A ghost of a smile now haunted her eyes. “This place…no one will yell at me? No one will ask things of me? I can do what I please?”
The shadow nodded. “Yes. This world will have no hold on you there. You’ll be free.”
She got up from the bed, her excitement at the offer no longer contained. “You can take me there? Right now?”
“If that is what you wish.”
“Oh, I do,” she said, practically jumping up and down. “I want to be free of my parents and their rules.”
The shadow sped around the room, bouncing off the walls with delight. “You and I will have so many adventures.” It stopped, looking down at the girl. “Are you sure you want to leave this world? You can’t come back once it’s done.”
The girl stopped, seriousness creeping into her face. She was quiet for a moment before looking back at the shadow. “I won’t have to be sad anymore, right? I can be free?”
The shadow moved closer. “Yes, I promise no more sadness, little lost girl, for I have found you.”
A smile spread over her lips. “Then let’s go.”
The shadow swept forward, reaching out for the lonely child. The girl waited for its embrace, thinking of all the lovely adventures in store for her. They’d fly to its world together and start the life she always dreamed of having.
Her smile faded as soon as the shadow’s hands made contact with her. They sank into her chest like wisp of smoke, tearing at her insides. Pain swept through her and she gasped, dropping to her knees.
The shadow stared down at her as its fingers dug into her core. The look of terror in her eyes displeased it. It wanted to free her from the pain, not add to it, but it knew this was the only way.
It ripped its fingers free, a blue glow sticking to them, coating them with a shimmer that pulsed brightly.
The deed was done. It had saved her.
Her body fell to the ground with a thud. It lay still, a pale shell no longer tortured by the world.
The shadow leaned close to the body, holding the girl’s essence close to its chest, shielding it from the sight. “Don’t worry,” it whispered, “death is the greatest adventure after all.”
Holding it’s prize close, the shadow turned and flew through the window. It was eager to show the girl its impossible world. Another lost soul for his collection.
It rose above the city, soul in hand, and headed for the second star to the right.
© 2013 Melissa L. Webb
BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY
By Melissa L. Webb
It shouldn’t have been possible. There was no rot. There was no lightning. No earthquake. No wind. The tree simply fell apart for no reason.
I stood there, staring at it in disbelief. How did a perfectly good tree come apart at the seams? The wood inside was a nice healthy color and sap oozed in several different places.
I kicked the fallen piece. It was solid and heavy, my boot barely causing it to move.
Something wasn’t right. This was one of my prized apple trees. I took painstakingly good care of it. There wasn’t a single thing wrong with the tree. It should be in one piece.
I glanced at the base of the tree, where the separation started. Four protrusions of shaped wood stood out of the raw wound. They were no bigger than pencil erasers. I’d never seen wood grow like that before, but nothing about this seemed normal.
I went back inside and got my camera. I needed to chop the tree down, but I wanted pictures first. I needed documented proof of this strangeness.
I rushed back out and started snapping pictures. No one would believe me without proof. As I bent to photograph the protrusions, I nearly dropped my camera in shock.
The bumps weren’t the size of erasers any more. They were now the size of the whole pencil. They attached to a larger bump and included another chunkier pencil shape.
It looked like a hand.
A wooden hand now stuck out of the split wood.
I looked around me. This had to be a joke. I’d been set up. Someone came and split my tree and now they were trying to scare me.
Well, they picked the wrong guy to mess with. Anger flared in my chest as I turned back to the caved hand someone obviously glued to the tree.
My anger died instantly as icy fear took over. Another hand accompanied the first one.
I backed up, wondering if I was going crazy. This wasn’t a joke. There wasn’t time for someone to attach the other hand. What was going on? This was insane. Thing like this didn’t happen.
I turned around again, the hairs on my arms rising instantly. I felt I was no longer alone. Someone was messing with me. I was sure of it. But this time I was beginning to think it wasn’t a human.
I needed to get rid of the tree. That’s all there was to it. Nothing could mess with me if there wasn’t a tree.
I glanced at the tree and almost screamed like a girl. A carved wooden face peered out at me. It remained motionless as I stepped forward.
With each step, I was convinced the thing would blink its eyes and come alive. It didn’t though. It remained frozen, nothing more than a statue, as I moved even closer.
I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew I had to stop it.
I turned and sprinted for the barn, dropping the camera along the way. The pictures didn’t matter any more. Only ridding myself of the tree did.
I grabbed my ax and raced back out to the tree. I lifted the ax high above my head and froze. The thing was gone.
The split was the only thing there. The sent of apples filled my nose as I peered closer at the raw wood. It was as if the figure had never been.
I lowered the ax, wondering if I had indeed lost my mind. Too many long, hot hours working in the sun. That’s all it was. I was seeing things.
Nothing peered out at me. Nothing freed itself from inside my prized tree. The world was as normal as it ever was.
I looked at the fallen piece of tree. Maybe the tree was sick after all. No use risking the health of the other trees.
I raised my ax and started to chop. Who knew what might happen if I let it live.
© 2013 Melissa L. Webb
By Melissa L. Webb
The man climbed across the charred ruins. The burnt flesh of the fallen redwood trees cracked under his weight. He didn’t know where he was, but he struggled forward, trying to free himself from the hellish landscape.
Acrid smoke hung heavily in the air, causing his lungs to labor. His body slowed without his consent, but still he did not stop. He couldn’t. Stopping would be the end of him.
He wiped filthy tears from his eyes, tears that seemed to burn more than his lungs did. When his sight cleared, he saw the bits of metal for the first time.
They were giant and hollow, looking like pieces of a knight’s discarded armor. However, no knight the size of this armor ever walked the earth. The pieces made the man feel no bigger than an ant playing near some child’s toys.
He couldn’t identify any of the parts except for the eyeholes. Large empty spaces where optical orbs should be stared back at him. They seemed to mock the man as he scurried by.
What had happened here? Had he stumbled across the aftermath of a battle? Was this the death lands of some futuristic race, or was it something worse? Something closer to home?
The man couldn’t think about that now. He needed to keep moving. He needed to find away out of this mess. The dead would have to stay dead.
But as he hopped over a chunk of wood, the black soot staining him worse than before, he heard something under his feet. A slithering sound echoed around him.
The man realized with pure horror that he wasn’t alone after all. Something was moving below. Something that squirmed under the metal and the wood. He wasn’t in the aftermath after all.
The battle was still going on.
Darkness blurred next to him as the wood rattled. Something was moving close by, like a shark waiting for its victim to make a mistake. It slowly entwined itself into a metal piece. Its movement caused a hollow thump to rise up around the man.
He stopped, fearing his heart might seize in his chest. He didn’t want to know what the thing was, but he knew there was nowhere to go. It already knew he was there.
Something peered out of one of the eyeholes from deep inside. A hissing sound rattled the man’s teeth as the thing watched him. Neither one moved. They stayed there, locked in silence as decisions were weighed.
The man knew he couldn’t stay there much longer. He needed to move. He needed to put as much distance between the thing that lurked and himself.
He stopped thinking and ran, hurrying back the way he came. More movement rattled the wood around him as he flung himself through it. It wasn’t just one of those things. They were everywhere, including under his feet.
The man didn’t stop. He kept his body moving through the ruins. Tears from the smoke and fear coming fast and hard. He didn’t know why he was there. He didn’t even know where these death lands were.
He had fallen asleep in his bed. He should be there right now, back in the normal world of work, bills, and family. This was insane. This place couldn’t exist.
Maybe that’s all it was. Just a dream. A horrible nightmare brought on by too much meatloaf before bed.
And…maybe that giant mouth that had popped up in the blacken debris in front of him wasn’t really going to eat him.
© 2013 Melissa L. Webb
By Melissa L. Webb
The dark distorts things in ways we can’t even begin to imagine. Something as innocent as shrubbery or utility equipment tend to take sinister shapes when night falls. We’re tricked into believing something lurks nearby when it really doesn’t.
The dark is tricky like that.
I was leaving my sister’s house last night. My arms were loaded down with the remains of our family dinner as I made my way to the back of my station wagon. Darkness had already descended on our town, leaving my car shrouded in shadow as I approached it.
I fumbled with my load as I unlocked the hatch back. A chill swept up my back as I finally got it open. I could feel eyes on my back. I didn’t know where they were, but they unnerved me to the core.
I turned quickly, tying to find my silent watcher. I couldn’t see anything at first. The only thing surrounding me was darkness and nothing stood out.
As my eyes adjusted, I realized there was something odd across the street from me. A white shape loomed near the curb, silently waiting for something as it watched me intently.
A gasp escaped my lips as I turned away. I didn’t know what the thing was but dread washed over me as I realized something was wrong. I had never noticed anything there before.
I shoved my stuff in the back of the car as fast as I could and hurried back to my sister’s door. I stepped through and slammed the door, causing everyone to look at me in shock.
“Is there normally something white and creepy across the street?” I asked breathlessly. I was sure there wasn’t, but I needed to hear it from her.
My sister gave me a puzzled look and headed outside. I followed close by, eager to have a witness to the insanity residing outside. Her porch light was burnt out and we stood on the porch, squinting in the darkness at the shape across the road.
“Um…” she began, “there’s an electrical transformer box over there, but…” She fell silent, confusion forming on her face. “That’s not the transformer.”
We stepped back inside, trying to put distance between the thing and us. We both knew something was off about the shape, but without walking right up to it we couldn’t tell for sure what it was.
When we were safe behind the closed door, my sister turned toward me. “It looks like some kind of goblin thing. Like Dobby on steroids.”
I had to agree. A dwarf from hell had taken up residence outside my sister’s place.
I couldn’t leave now. I couldn’t leave my sister and her children there alone without knowing what was there. We had to be wrong. It had to be something normal, something we just never noticed before.
But my sister should know what was normally outside her house.
She quickly went to go look for a flashlight. We would go confront our silent watcher. We would make sure our mind was only playing tricks on us. We’d end up looking like idiots, but at least my sister and her family could sleep peacefully.
She came back, defeated. The flashlight was missing.
We would have to confront it in the dark.
We stepped back outside and stopped in the middle of her yard. The squat creature was still there, in the same spot, staring back at us. We stood there, trying to screw up enough courage to approach it.
Sudden movement caught our attention. A guy was walking down the street. He was going to pass right in front of the thing.
We watched as he passed, waiting for either one of them to react. Neither one did. The man continued into the night.
He hadn’t even notice the thing.
We had been scaring ourselves over nothing. It was obviously nothing more than some everyday object. Something that couldn’t have been watching me in the first place.
Unless…it was something only we could see.
We had to find out what it was. I couldn’t leave without knowing the truth.
We moved closer to the street when suddenly a car came by, shining its headlights on the small creature. My heart thudded as I realized we were idiots.
It was a fire hydrant.
I let out a small laugh, feeling foolish to my very core. Boy, had I spooked us all over nothing. However, even as dumb as I felt, I was glad that was all it was. Just an overactive imagination running rampant.
“I don’t remember a hydrant being there,” my sister said and smiled sheepishly at me. I didn’t remember it either, but I guess we weren’t the most observant people in the world.
I finished packing and left her house, feeling silly the whole way home. I had been creeped out over a fire hydrant. How was I ever supposed to live that down?
Maybe I don’t have to.
I said the darkness tries to trick us into believing something’s there that isn’t. However, maybe it’s not tricking us. Maybe it’s helping us.
By trying to show us the truth.
I say this with some certainty. I did feel eyes on me last night. And my sister and I are more observant than we thought.
Because, today, that fire hydrant is gone.
© 2013 Melissa L. Webb