As a way to start off the new year, I offer you a glimpse into a thrilling scene from False Light, Book Two of The Sunrise Trilogy. Enjoy!
The heaviness in her chest, followed by the wheezing of breath, roused Marie from the dark slumber. Heavy eyelids refused to budge, but the ever-increasing difficulty to breath forced them open.
Blurred vision revealed the interior of Parker’s car. Whoever the assailant had been, he’d left her in the driver’s seat of the vehicle.
Marie blinked several times, hoping her eyes would adjust, but the distorted view confirmed the presence of the plastic bag that billowed and retracted further into her mouth with each labored breath.
Her body jolted from the danger, and she grabbed the transparent cover from her head.
An acute pain raced from her forehead, sending shockwaves of discomfort into every limb as she gasped for air.
Wincing from the sudden ache made taking in oxygen that much more of a struggle. She kept her eyes closed for a moment, waiting for the pain to subside and her body to relax.
A few deep breaths helped ease the tension from her muscles, but the tenderness in her forehead remained. With some reluctance, she opened her eyes again and probed for the source of the wound.
Her fingers found the edges of paper. Thin but firm, the object felt of crisp stationary – a texture that had become all too familiar.
She tried to remove it. Searing pain raced from her forehead again, and she cried out, writhing in agony.
Although it shifted slightly when she’d tugged at it, the note remained fixed to her skin.
The bridge of her nose tickled from something warm dripping underneath the paper. An examination by her fingers revealed a liquid she assumed to be her blood, something not seen in decades.
Opening the car door triggered the interior lamp. Glossy silver smudged her fingertips, the viscous internal fluid oozing into the palm of her hand. She straightened up and adjusted the rearview mirror for a closer look at her face.
Her lips parted suddenly as she took in a quick breath. The image reflected back to her could not have been anticipated.
A large hook lay flat against her skin and jutted below the piece of stationary, which rested in the curve of the sharp instrument. The shank of the fishhook pierced the note, affixing it to the meat of her forehead.
She shuddered and closed her eyes for a moment, hoping that perhaps the trauma of the assault and the lack of oxygen had produced a hallucination.
A coyote howled in the distance, its lonely cry fading into the moonless night.
Peering into the mirror once more confirmed the same ghastly image.
Getting hurt was not a new experience. She’d been burned by angel fire a dozen times, even suffered the stabbing from an angelic sword. Protecting humans from demons invariably led to combat with the enemy.
But this was different. This was… sadistic.
She took a few deep breaths and steeled herself for what she had to do next. Grimacing with pain, she slid the note down the shank and around the bend, barb, and point of the hook until the paper came free from its hold.
Tears streamed down her cheeks and dripped onto her shirt, creating small dark circles of salty wetness.
Her threshold for pain had always been high, but this excruciating experience pushed her to the limit. Hopefully, removing the fishhook would be easier.
Using Kleenex from the glovebox, she wiped up the thin stream of angelic blood between her eyes and gently swabbed around the wound.
With each of the previous notes, the delivery of the messages had been benign. But now?
The wanton violence associated with the present note had to mean something. An escalation, a turning point in this psychopath’s sick game.
Marie’s stomach churned at the thought of what message the note contained.
With trembling hands, she turned over the paper and read the neatly typed script:
Squeeze. Pressure. Intensity.
The fight to breathe is the hardest fight you’ll know.
Fear. Panic. Gasp.
The end is coming, Marie – make your last breath count.