by R.E. Palmer
File Size: 444 KB
Print Length: 212 pages
Publisher: FrontRunner Publications (April 19, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Amazon Kindle Link
About the book:
Two years have passed since Tomas was lost in the final confrontation with the Shriekers. But if Shelley hoped Tomas had defeated them, she was wrong. The dark dreams have returned, and once more, Shelley needs to find Carly or face the growing terror alone. But what had Tomas said? 'Look for me in the stars.' Could he come back? Shelley is tested to her limits as she strives to bring him back. Back to stop Selene taking form and inflicting a pain beyond belief upon every soul on the planet.
“What’s up?” Justin stirred by her side. She breathed out, her heart pounding in her ears. She felt his hand on her shoulder. “Shell?”
She turned, trying to sound calm. “Oh it’s nothing, go back to sleep.” But there was something, it had been nagging at the back of her mind for days. She hadn’t spoken to Carly in ages, and it had been almost a year since her last visit. Shelley lay back but kept her eyes open, staring into the blackness. She’d been so preoccupied with her new job and moving in with Justin, she hadn’t noticed the time passing. So why had she just dreamed for the first time about Carly?
In her dream, they were back in the cavern, standing at the edge of the dark crater left by the disappearance of the underground lake. The black maw appeared to suck the air from around them, down to the bowels of the Earth – anyone foolish enough to venture close enough to the edge, risked imprisonment along with Drax. Carly had kicked a stone and they’d listened to it ricochet off the sides. But something had stirred in the depths. Shelley didn’t have to see it, to know it was coming for Carly.
“I have to go away for a few days.” Shelley placed the cup down and sat on the edge of the bed. The covers stirred and Justin emerged blurry-eyed. He rubbed his face and yawned.
He struggled to free himself from the clutches of the duvet and sat up. His eyes opened fully as he turned to Shelley. “What about your deadline? Doesn’t your piece have to be in by Friday?”
Shelley stroked his hair. “You worry too much. I’ll take my laptop, I can easily finish it while I’m there.”
Justin picked up his coffee and took a sip. “Yeah, but you’ve got your reputation to think about.” He placed the cup down and put his arm around her and squeezed her shoulder. “I know you’re great, but you’ve got to prove it to… what’s her name at the magazine?”
She wrapped her arms around him and let her head rest on his chest. “It’s Victoria to you, and don’t panic,” she put on her American accent, “everything is under control.”
He stroked her shoulder. “So where you going, honey?”
She tried to make it sound routine. “Just down the coast… to Sydney.”
“To see Carly? Can I come? I’ve yet to meet your mysterious friend.”
Shelley sat up and looked him in the eyes. She pursed her lips. “Not this time, I’d rather go alone. I think there’s something wrong.” Justin opened his mouth, but Shelley cut him short. “It’s… girl stuff, you really don’t want to know.” She jumped up, went to the window and pulled back the curtains. “Besides, you said you’d decorate this room and get some new pictures.” She glanced at the sci-fi movie posters lining the walls. “And please, something a little less… geeky.”
Justin put his hands over his face and fell onto his back. “Arrgh, I thought you’d forgotten. You’re such a slave-driver.”
Shelley attempted a laugh. “Yep, and you better have it done before I get back,” she glanced out at the blossom on the tree outside, “or there’ll be trouble.” She walked to the bathroom and turned; “Oh and Justin?” He looked up. She mocked an angry face and spoke through clenched teeth. “Don’t call me honey.”
At last Shelley was on her way. She’d spent the day at the office thinking of nothing else but Carly and her dream. Why now? Was it just guilt? Carly had seemed fine the last time they’d met. She hoped Carly had finally accepted that Tomas wasn’t coming back so she could get on with her life. Part of Shelley had believed, or at least hoped, he would return… somehow. But after the first year following his disappearance she doubted it would happen. She’d been torn between comforting Carly, whilst trying to prepare her for the harsh reality that Tomas was dead. What else could he be? Shelley had left after her last trip, hopeful Carly had moved on - but why hadn’t she returned her calls of late? A shiver shot up her spine as a chink opened in the defences that shut out the memory of the cavern. She clenched her jaw and pushed down on the accelerator, hoping it wouldn’t be too late.
“Oh hi, Shell, not seen you in a while.” Anna stood back and opened the door wider. “Did Carly send you over to pick up her stuff?”
Shelley’s heart sank. “Stuff? Err… no. Is she not here?”
Anna’s mouth dropped open. “No way! She didn’t tell you?” Anna sighed. “You’d better come in.” She followed Anna into the kitchen and pulled a chair from under a table cluttered with books and stained coffee cups. Shelley sat as Anna filled the kettle - she spoke over her shoulder. “Can I get you a drink? I was about to make one.” Anna turned and spoke softly. “You might need it.”
Shelley looked up from the table. “Thanks, coffee would be good.” She took a deep breath and asked the question. “So where is she?”
Anna sat opposite and cleared her throat. “She dropped out just before Christmas, but to be honest I’m surprised she lasted for as long as she did after—”
“After what?” Shelley’s mind raced ahead. Were they back?
Anna frowned. “Jesus, she didn’t mention him either?”
“Ryan. She met him at the café. I can’t say I liked the guy. He seemed okay at first, but then he changed.” Shelley held her breath. Anna winced. “There’s something creepy about him, but Carly really fell for him.”
A burst of loud music blasted from the other room. A girl’s voice called through as the music stopped. “Sorry, my headphones weren’t plugged in.”
Anna nodded in the direction of the room. “Deb, my new roomy.” She made a face.
Shelley tried to smile. “So what’s with this guy, Ryan?”
Anna stuck her tongue out. “Urrgh. Not my type, you’d think Carly was punishing herself or something. I think he just happened to be in the right place at the right time.” The kettle whistled and Anna spun around. Shelley was confused. She wanted Carly to move on, but the knot in her stomach didn’t agree with her choice of companion. So, that’s why she hadn’t called. “I can’t remember, Shell. Do you take milk and sugar?”
Shelley looked up, aware Anna had just asked her a question. “Sorry? What?”
“Oh. No thanks, just black.”
Anna cleared a space and placed the drink in front of her. Shelley wrapped her hands around the cup. “Thanks.” She took a sip and held it next to her lip. “I don’t suppose you know where she is now?”
Anna joined her at the table. “Can’t say, sorry. I think she’s moved in with Ryan. But you might catch her at the café, she still works the odd shift.”
Shelley placed her cup back on the table. “Have you seen her recently?”
Anna shook her head, “Not for ages. The last time I saw her she blew me off.” Anna placed her hand on Shelley’s arm. “She’s changed. I mean, she always was… you know, away with the fairies, but that’s what I liked about her. But now she’s… sort of… distant, and has a hard edge.” Anna bit her lip, “Look, I can’t say for sure, but I think she might be on something.”
Shelley’s stomach churned again. “Carly? I can’t think she’d…” Shelley looked down into the black liquid in her cup, and for a moment saw the same emptiness she’d once seen in Tomas’s eyes. She shuddered and pushed the vision out of her mind. She sat up straight. “So where’s this café?”
She’d let her down. Just when Carly needed her most, she’d been with Justin, building a new life and having some much-needed fun. A car pulled up next to hers. Shelley peered through the dim light and could just make out the occupant – a large, middle-aged man. The manager had said Carly had a shift that evening, but he wasn’t confident that would mean she’d actually show. He’d let Shelley know her friend was one more missed shift away from being fired. Shelley didn’t want to stay in the café - it wasn’t the sort of place she could feel comfortable, and she wondered how Carly put up with it.
Shelley looked down to her laptop and made another attempt to work on her assignment; but the words didn’t come. She’d broken her promise to Tomas. Look after her. But she’d failed. Sitting in her car in the growing gloom, she finally admitted to herself that she’d been running away from the events of that summer. She’d shut it out, immersing herself in getting on with her life. But who could blame her? She didn’t want to dwell on the moment she’d spent in their presence. She’d felt the hatred, heard their soul-sapping shrieks, and looked into the eyes of Selene through Tomas and was terrified of what lay behind them.
She jumped at the screech of tires and jerked towards the sound. An old, battered car still rocked on its springs after the rapid deceleration. A door opened and Shelley heard a man’s voice. “I’ll be back at ten. DON’T make me wait again.” The engine roared and the car sped off. Shelley waited for the dust to settle and watched as the woman turned to walk toward the café. Shelley groaned and dropped her head into her hand - it was Carly. She didn’t look as bad as when she’d first met her, but she didn’t look much better either.
She dared to look again. Carly had lost weight, way too much, her hair clung to her head and she looked pale, almost ghostly under the streetlights. Shelley watched as Carly’s stooped figure reached the door and struggled to pull it open with her skinny arms. Shelley closed her mouth. She moved her hand to close her laptop, then paused. What would she say? She ran her fingers through her hair. Would Carly want to see her? Hadn’t she made it clear by not returning her calls?
She flicked the lid shut, slid the computer under her seat and opened the car door. The gravel crunched under her foot and she stopped, one leg out and one leg inside the car. She peered through the café window and saw Carly putting on an apron - it didn’t flatter her. Shelley held her breath. She’d made a decision about Carly before, sitting in the same seat, knowing it would put her in danger. So why was this one harder to make? Look after her. But she’d made a promise and she detested people who broke them.