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First Of The Fallen
Book Three: Dark Muse
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-388-1
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Dark Fantasy
eBook Length: 218 Pages
Published: November 2017

From inside the flap

She felt her own emotions now as if her spirit had been violated, placed onto hot coals. The intensity was like nothing she had ever felt. Just as Lee had warned, this was not a movie.

But she felt something else. She felt a sense of loss, as if a true friend had failed and was now left behind, as if somebody whose life could have been totally different even if it would be harsh. But he had now signed off on his own demise. He was now, finally and irretrievably out of options. Then the session ended.

Astrid was drained. Empty. She took a few minutes to compose herself. It was as promised. She had seen herself as the executioner, charged with seeing to the ending of a life. She slowly looked around the room and saw Lee off in a corner, facing the wall. Then she heard Lee speak, almost shout, in a harsh, ragged voice.

“Think you could do that? Do you think you could walk in my shoes? Do you?” Astrid was silent. They both were, for a long time.

First Of The Fallen (Excerpt)


Chapter One

Just one mile south of the US Canada border is a large gas station, and after that, thirty miles of open road till Plattsburgh. After that city, the I-87 bisects the Adirondack mountain range, in a beautiful but largely empty stretch of highway. On this frigid winter night, a middle-aged couple pulled in, pre-paid for the gas and started to fill up. Then the man went in to retrieve his change.

They exploded out of the gas station, the man first, the woman trailing him. He had seen something, or somebody, inside and had inexplicably left fifty dollars at the cash to cover the thirty in gas purchased, and bolted. His wife, not knowing how to calm him down, tried to reason with her husband, but he was too agitated to listen.

The wind was fierce, causing the highway signs to oscillate on their posts. They were both dressed lightly, not at all suitably for the weather, as if they had left on their journey at a moment`s notice. She kept on begging him to turn back, but she had barely got back into the car when he turned the key and put it in gear.

"Chaim, please, let's go home. What are you running from? Won't you please tell me? What are you doing?"

"It's no use. She found me. I just don't want the children to see this. Please forgive me, Esther, I didn't want you to get involved in this. It's no use. I've ruined everything, I'm so sorry. I only meant the best, for our family, I want you to know that."

"But why are we running? I didn't see anything, nothing at all."

"She was there, behind the coffee machine. You didn`t see her? She found me, she knows everything. It`s no good."

His voice matched his panicked mood, and he kept checking his rear-view mirror as he sped down the highway. He had no real idea what to do but felt compelled to do something, run somewhere, and the familiar road to the US came to mind.

They continued: she pleading, he barrelling down the I-87, rigidly gripping the wheel, trying with all his might to avoid winding up off the road like other cars they had seen, yet knowing that his time was quickly coming to an end. When the wind would gust, the car would threaten to change lanes despite his efforts.

"Chaim, we can still turn back. Maybe you can make things better, make them all okay again. Chaim, you're going to get us both killed this way."

He kept his eyes focussed on the blackness and the white lines ahead without answering. The snow was light, and the sky clear, but the asphalt was being coated with a thin film of ice, and the wind made his speed even more reckless. Being on the road at all was tempting fate. He passed a rig heading south, and then there were no more vehicles. It was past midnight, and few others were brave -- or desperate enough -- to challenge the elements. His wife kept trying to convince him to turn back, but he was not reachable - simply saying how he should never have started; never have begun his quest.

Then he was silent as his gaze picked up something ahead, less than half a mile down the road. At first it looked like a green light, standing incongruously in the middle of the highway. They drew closer, and it became a figure, somehow a tall glowing image of a person standing athwart the roadway, beneath the overpass, with a stanchion on one side and on the other side, daring him to pass. He then saw an object, straight and long, like an incandescent sword in the hand of that figure, pointing to him and waving him to the side. Then she too saw the figure.

"Chaim! What is that? What is that thing?"

"It's her, Esther. It's her, she's found me. I'm sorry, I should never have…"

They were upon the figure, and in one last unthinking attempt at escape, he pulled the wheel hard to the right. The car skidded for a fraction of a second. He called for his God, and she called for her husband. The car flew at full speed into the unforgiving concrete and shattered. All was still.

***

An hour later the area was blocked off by a cordon of state troopers, six cars in total, lights flashing as the officers milled about, trying to understand what had happened.

"Gal at the gas station ten miles back, says she saw them. They bought thirty bucks worth, left twenty behind when they bugged out. Says the man almost left his wife behind. Maybe they had a fight, or something."

"Huh, too bad she didn`t stay behind. Didn't do her much good, did it."

"No. We finally found their licence. Herman and Esther Gold, from Montreal. They have, or had children, Vita, Rachel and Frieda, somebody has to call them. They can`t figure out….why… look at that!"

He nodded to the field away from the road, and then his partner saw it, too. A figure, wearing a broad hat and bomber jacket was walking away from them, dimly visible in the clear light of the moon, and the reflected light on the snow. From a distance they could see a faint green glow and waited no further. They decided to complete their report quickly and head back to their car. Nothing could be changed now.