May 2019 is here. My novel about Vree Erickson is growing and taking on a life of its own.
Meanwhile, to everyone who follows my blog, I am continuing to release a few chapters of the new book’s beginning over the next few days.
More of Chapter 1?
The ride home:
Vree and her mom said little to each other as they drove from the hospital’s parking lot. A numb cocoon enveloped her and she barely saw the world around her, including the lighted sign of Molly’s, her favorite restaurant. She rose from her funk at her mom’s insistence and ordered a large cherry berry punch at the drive-through window. Then she slumped in her seat again as they turned on Main Street, leaving the heavier rain at North Hill. The fractured pavement gave way to three sets of bone jarring railroad tracks that ran past an abandoned factory that once said RIDGEWOOD STEEL on its gray, two-story brick wall facing Vree. Now it said ID WO EEL because either the letters had fallen off or someone had removed them. Many broken windows along the building looked like sharp teeth of glass in dark mouths wanting to devour passersby. She took new notice to the cruel obscenities spray-painted along the lower wall. Her own angry words came to mind. She looked away.
Main Street’s ancient brick and cement storefronts pressed tight against each other on both sides of the street. Big windows with names like Suzie’s Styles & Cuts, Jerry’s Discounts, and Coleman’s Sporting Goods in large white fonts called for attention, but few people shopped here. Parking was no problem on either side of the street.
The rain quit, but the sky remained dim with bruised looking clouds. Vree rummaged inside her hospital bag, then bolted upright.
“We have to go back. I left my phone at the hospital.”
“It’s in your overnight bag. I put it there when you got dressed.”
Vree fell back against her seat and sighed.
“Relax,” Karrie said. She stopped at a red light next to The Pickled Pub, a nondescript brick and mortar building with a green steel door that belched two ragged looking men onto the uneven sidewalk. The men staggered past the building’s three grimy windows that had neon signs advertising ice-cold beer inside. The last window sported a black and white sign in it that announced fifty-cent wings on Friday and Saturday nights only.
The men disappeared around the building’s corner and a moment later, three girls on bicycles turned up the street. They shrilled and shrieked at each other as they raced by. The green door belched again and a dark-complexioned, white-haired woman exited. She propped open the door with a broken cement block, leaned against the front wall of the three-story building, and smoked a cigarette. She seemed to pay no attention to Vree watching her, or anything else around her for that matter while she inhaled deeply from her cigarette. Her lined face looked ancient and her plump body had on a tattered green Army jacket, a red sweatshirt, and blue jeans that looked brand-new.
A chill crossed over Vree as a giant black dog filled the beer joint’s doorway. large red eyes peered at her.
DOES IT SEE ME?
The words came to Vree in a shout that hurt her ears.
CAN IT SEE BLOOD?
Vree put her hands to her ears and shuddered from the voice’s ferocity.
Buzzing sounds followed, as though thousands of bees had flown inside the SUV and were now inside her head.
The air rippled around her like disturbed pond water and made her nauseous. She fell back, worried that she was going to lose her cherry berry drink all over her lap.
“Wait,” she cried out when her mom started through the intersection. Something terrible was going to happen. A chill ran between her shoulder blades. “Stop the car. Please stop the car.”
Karrie brought the SUV to a quick stop. “What’s wrong?” Worry mixed with the fear on her face.
The rippling air stopped. So did the buzzing noise, which made way for the hammering of blood rushing past her eardrums. Outside the window, the white-haired woman still leaned against the wall and smoked her cigarette. The dog and its red eyes were gone.
A hand pulled at her chin. “Vree. Look at me. Are you okay? Let me see your eyes.”
“I got really sick for a moment.” Vree turned and fumbled for her drink.
A car horn sounded behind them. The Sorento’s engine stalled for a moment before it roared to life and the SUV leaped through the intersection. Vree almost dropped her drink.
Her hands trembled as she sucked the last of her cherry berry punch though the straw.
“Are you okay?” Karrie asked. Worry edged her voice.
“I’m okay,” Vree lied. She closed her eyes and tried to relax, but her mind replayed the red-eyed dog she had seen and the words she had heard. Does it see me? Can it see blood? What did that mean? What blood? Whose blood? Who had said those words?
Whatever had happened to her was not a seizure. And it frightened her more knowing there was something else wrong with her.