Escape

Today was a bit more hectic than normal, and I didn’t have a chance to write something brand new. So I thought I would share another passage from the novel I’m working on, The Shifter. Looking at this excerpt with the previous one, it would seem Cassie spends the entire novel getting attacked and knocked out. I swear that’s not the case.

Cassie walked into the general store. A bell rang, but there was no one in sight. Looking around, she saw various tools and cooking implements. Perhaps this was merely a store front for the blacksmith. She wandered around a bit and found some sacks of grains and flour: food, but not what she needed.

She was headed to the door when she spied a small rack of dried meats near the counter. It wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing. She was counting out strips when an older woman appeared through a curtained doorway.

“I hope you’re planning on paying for those.” The woman seemed preoccupied and barely gave Cassie a disapproving look.

“Of course.” She hadn’t been planning on stealing the food, but Cassie felt guilty anyway, as though she had been caught somehow. “How much?”

The woman looked at the strips of meat and opened her mouth to answer when she finally really looked at Cassie. “I don’t recognize you.”

“No, ma’am. I’m just traveling and stopped to buy some supplies.”

“Traveling? Alone? A young girl like you? That is… unusual.”

“Well… I… Um…”

“Wait. Were you traveling with a boy? Weren’t you at the inn last night?”

Terror overwhelmed Cassie’s attempt to find a believable lie, and she ran out the door. She couldn’t know how the woman would react, but she didn’t expect it to be good. All she wanted to do now was to get out of the village before anything else went wrong. She was still holding some of the dried meat, so she shoved it into a pocket before running down the path.

A voice shouted after her, “Hey! Wait! Come back!” But she didn’t slow down to look back.

As she neared to the edge of the village, she saw a horse with a rider headed towards her. Immediately, she recognized the man’s colors: Terrgat. Her terror increased, and she ducked behind the nearest building.

Had he seen her? Did he know who she was? There was nothing to be gained in finding out the answers. She started running again, making for the trees behind the building.

Blood pounded through her ears, covering any sound of pursuit. She didn’t dare slow down to look behind her. There was no goal, no destination; she just ran, barely noticing anything around her. The trees might provide cover. It had to be better than running out in the open.

She felt someone behind her. Whether it was paranoia or real didn’t matter; she simply ran faster. And it made her reckless; he first misstep was nearly her undoing. Somehow she managed to keep from falling down. She was not so lucky the second time as her feet flew out from underneath her, and she sprawled out onto the forest floor. Expecting to hear her pursuer or even find herself being grabbed, she scrambled back to her feet and began running again.

Her body ultimately betrayed her. It couldn’t keep up the pace, and she fell again. Still feeling urgency born of fear, she forced herself back up, more slowly this time. The next time she fell, however, she hit her head on a branch. She tried to hang on to consciousness, to keep moving, but this time the blackness took her.

Attack in the Woods

I am finally getting back to working on The Shifter, the sequel to The Mage. I don’t want to give too much away, since I left some things hanging at the end of the first novel, but I also want to give people a taste of what I’m working on. I hope this is coherent enough to stand as an engaging excerpt.

The woods were quiet. Only now did it seem unnatural to Cassie. No song birds called out; no insects buzzed. She felt a chill inside as she tried to locate the source of the strange silence.

There. She could sense a kind of emptiness off to her left. Whatever it was, it eluded her senses. There was no smell nor sound. Instead, it was an absence that she noticed, a slippery nothingness that she could not quite locate. She turned to face it directly, but it seemed to slide away from her attention.

Curiosity fought with primal fear, and that froze Cassie in place. She wanted to know what was happening, what was causing this strange occurrence, but she also wanted to flee and find a place to hide. Unable to decide in favor of one impulse or the other, she simply stood transfixed, staring deeper into the woods.

A deep growl behind her broke the spell, and she spun around. A wolf stood several feet away, teeth bared and hate in its eyes. If it was the same wolf she had seen earlier, it had shed all pretense of friendliness. Again she was caught, unable to react. This time it was broken when the wolf’s growl increased and it leaped on her. The force of its body crashing into her knocked her to the ground. The wolf stood, snarling over her. Terror choked her, making it difficult for her to breathe. The world began to fade to black.

Something struck the wolf and knocked it off of her, relieving some of the pressure on her chest. The smell of burnt hair replaced the weight in causing her to choke. She tried to sit up, but she had been too close to losing consciousness. Blackness began to take over her vision once more. She fell back to the ground. There was growling nearby and the sound of running, but it seemed to be away from her. She dared to hope she might be safe just before finally blacking out.