Banshee – Chapter One

Here is the first chapter in my new young adult novel coming soon from SynergEbooks!

Banshee – Chapter One

A loud wail catapulted Simon Rogers from his bed in the attic where he’d made himself a messy nest away from his parents. He landed on his elbow and tailbone and let out a squawk of pain and fright.

The screech outside reverberated through the night once more, blasting through the trees and crashing into his safe haven.

What the crap?

He shoved to his feet, rubbing his elbow, then his tailbone, and shuffled toward the window. He couldn’t imagine what could be making that infernal noise, but it had kept him awake for the past three nights in a row. He probably should have been used to it by now, but it still managed to startle the ever-loving heebie-jeebies out of him.

With trembling fingers, he twisted the lock, then shoved the window up. A brisk brace of wind blew past him and made itself at home among his scattered pillows and flannel bed sheets.

He stared into the night. Uneasy. For several months now, strange things had been wandering around in the backwoods of Hayton County, North Carolina. The last encounter had been a Wendigo—a Native American legend come to life—in one of his friends. Or what passed as a friendship with the ever-difficult Bradford Phillips—all around jock and misunderstood bad boy. What a cliché.

Simon stuck his head outside the window and searched the surrounding forest for—he had no idea what.

Another screech caused him to recoil and bang the back of his head on the bottom of the raised window.

“Shit, damn it!” he muttered, then yelled loud enough to strain his vocal cords. “What do you want?” His words ended in a spasmodic cough. He struggled to draw breath. Crap! Now I probably woke Mom and Dad up.

The night grew unnaturally quiet. Fog drifted low to the forest floor and a light drizzle of rain washed the dead leaves on the ground with a small patter. The only sound in an otherwise silent night.

He held his breath and listened for any sound that might give away his tormentor.

After several long seconds, no other sound broke the night. Simon drew back in and shoved the window down. Unnerved, he crawled back into bed and pulled the covers up to his chin. He had no idea what knew horror stalked him now, but maybe it was time to loop Mandy Jensen in.

 

~*~

 

The next day at school, Simon found Mandy sitting near the back of the cafeteria alone reading a book. Abe Abernathy or Bradford Phillips, for that matter, usually had their noses up her butt, but they were nowhere to be found.

“What happened to your worshippers?” he asked with a smile as he plopped his backpack on the table, then flopped down in the chair next to her.

Without looking up from her book, she turned a page, and pulled the plate, with a half-eaten donut on it, away from his ratty, and filthy backpack, and said, “If you mean Abe and Bradford, they’re elsewhere.”

Simon shoved the chair to his right outward and threw his legs onto the seat, unsure how to tell Mandy about his nightly visitor. He didn’t want to sound stupid, or worse, afraid, but the truth was he was terrified of this new creature even though she, it, or whatever, had made no effort to get inside his attic bedroom. It probably came from the Facility—a compound-like place they’d discovered while investigating the disappearance of a few tourists last year—and that place scared the bejesus out of him.

Mandy closed the book and set it beside a carton of chocolate milk and the plate with the glazed doughnut resting at its center. “What’s up?” she asked and took a bite out of what was left of the doughnut, rolling her eyes in sugar heaven.

“Something weird is happening at my house at night.”

“Define weird, and it better not involve some kinky thing going on with your sister and her boyfriend.”

Even though they’d become closer since the incidents right before Christmas, Simon regretted confiding in Mandy and the rest of the gang about his older sister’s fascination with food and sex. She hadn’t let him forget it. Neither had any of the others in their sort of gang.

“I don’t think I’ll ever eat peanut butter again in my entire life, and given how young I am, that’s a long time.”

“At least you didn’t walk in on it, but that’s not what I’m talking about.”

“Well, spit it out. We have to go to class here in a few minutes.”

“I’ve been hearing this ungodly screaming outside my window.”

She dropped the last bite of doughnut back on the plate and it landed with a soft plop. “Did you call the police?”

“No.” In truth it hadn’t even occurred to him to call the police.

“Really? Someone could’ve been hurt or in the process of being murdered.”

“Every night? Besides, whenever I get up to look, there’s no one out there and the wailing stops.”

“Weird.”

“The sound is so forlorn, so sad, and terrible all rolled into one. I don’t know what to make of it. Sometimes it just sounds plumb angry, like I’m not getting some sort of message she sending me.”

“She?”

“Yeah, I think it’s a girl. Looks sort of like one anyway.”

“You’ve seen it?” Mandy’s eyes widened in alarm. “Maybe it’s a ghost asking for your help.”

“Then why doesn’t she just talk to me? Anyway, wouldn’t surprise me after what we found up in the mountains over Christmas last year. We really need to do something about that. People are missing loved ones.”

“Like what?” Mandy gave him a look. “We’re just teenagers.”

Abe arrived and bent to kiss Mandy on the lips, but she turned her head, and he got her on the cheek instead. A flicker of hurt crossed his face, but he shook it off and asked, “Walk you to class?”

Mandy shook her head. “You go on. I’ll head that way in a minute.”

Abe gave her a look, then sighed and walked away.

“Things okay between you two?”

“Define okay.”

“You forget the definition of words today?”

Mandy glared at him and shoved the remainder of the doughnut into her mouth.

“I get it. Too many things have happened as of recent.”

Mandy stood. “Tell me about it,” she said through a mouthful of pastry and pulled the strap of her backpack over one shoulder. “Meet me at the Retro Game Room. I’ll buy you a soda, or something, and we can talk about your night visitor a little more.” She downed the carton of milk and swallowed.

“Sounds good to me. And, Mandy, thank you.”

“For what?”

“For being you.”

“Oh, my, have I gained another worshipper?” she laughed and bumped his shoulder.

“Not even!”

Simon watched Mandy weave between the tables and, for a moment, he wished he was more like Abe or Bradford, and not so geeky. No one like Mandy would ever fall for him. But, maybe, someone like Mandy wasn’t meant for him.

“Out of your league, Buster Brown.”

Simon turned to see a tiny, bone-thin, girl with long, honey-colored hair, wearing big round glasses that made her green eyes pop like an owl’s, standing next to him. “Isn’t Buster Brown a shoe?” he asked.

“Haven’t a clue. Could be clothes. My name’s Samantha, by the way. Samantha Posey.”

“Simon Rogers. And I think it’s both.”

“Both?”

“Shoes and clothes,” Simon clarified.

“Oh. Pardon me for noticing, but you seem kinda washed out.”

“How do you know I don’t look like this all of the time?”

“We have several classes together.”

“Really?”

“Thanks for noticing I exist.”

“Sorry. A lot has been going on lately.”

“You in love with her?” Samantha tilted her chin toward Mandy’s retreating back.

“God, no. We’re just friends. Besides I’d be in competition with two jock-like gods.”

“Yeah, no chance you’d win her heart with two of those around.”

Simon laughed. She’s sorta cute. “Do you like science?”

“Love science. Especially fringe science.”

“Fringe? Don’t you mean science fiction?”

She shrugged. “Call it what you want, but fringe isn’t always fiction.”

“After school tomorrow, meet me downstairs in room 101.” Simon couldn’t pinpoint why, but he felt the urge to trust this girl. It might be the biggest mistake of his young life, but he didn’t think so. Mandy was too preoccupied to help him—perhaps. So, Samantha might be a good second choice. He’d take the chance but go slow about it.

“Really?” Samantha asked with a hopeful look on her face.

“Yes, really. I need help with a howling ghost.”

Simon left her staring after him with an open mouth.

~*~

Pick up the first book in the series CREATURE

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