For those who are waiting patiently for the release of Dark Creations: Hell on Earth, here is a little tease…the first chapter
Dark Creations: Hell On Earth
Copyright © 2013 Jennifer and Christopher Martucci
All rights reserved.
First edition: February 2013
Sitting atop her worn, down comforter with her book in her lap, Sarah Miller felt completely content for the first time since she’d moved. She’d been having trouble sleeping weeks earlier and recently found that a good book worked better than any sleeping pill possibly could, and relaxed her enough to doze long before her husband joined her for bed. Her brief period of sleeplessness had likely been caused by moving her family from Michigan to Minnesota. After all, the bustling city of Ann Arbor differed dramatically from Taft.
Taft, a small township nestled in Cook County, was picturesque, but remote. She was certain its remoteness was what had given her sleepless nights. Silent nights free of the wail of sirens, horns honking and trains passing had taken time getting used to. But the view from the south side of her house had not. The living room, kitchen and her bedroom boasted spectacular views of Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior. The cramped condominium she and her family had left had only offered other condominiums in its landscape.
She looked out at the bay. Moonlight danced across the water and glistened like innumerable diamonds. The perpetual motion of the water and the quiet of her bedroom made Sarah doubt she would even need to read, that is, until her husband and sons erupted with cheers from downstairs. She started, but only briefly. They were undoubtedly watching a sporting event of some kind and celebrating their team’s latest achievement. She smiled to herself, still a little shaky from the outburst, and opened her book to the last page she’d read. The intrigue of the plot absorbed her immediately. She did not know how much time had passed after several chapters had been read, but stopped reading only to rub her eyes. As she did so, a loud yelping sliced through the peace and quietude of the night. She sprung to her feet and her book fell from her lap to the floor. The cry had sounded like her dog Max’s. She knew he was outside. She had heard the door close, had heard him lumbering around on the deck.
She moved to the large window and stared out. She did not see Max, or anything else for that matter, just shapes. The moon no longer lit the water or the deck outside her bedroom. The world beyond her windowpane was black. She stood completely still and concentrated, listening for the sound again. But instead of a yelp, a new sound rang out unexpectedly. The doorbell echoed through her contemporary home. She jumped and nearly knocked over the lamp on her nightstand. She wondered who would be visiting at such a late hour, especially since the area she lived in was so sparsely inhabited. The entirety of Cook County had less than three thousand residents. The homes were set on large lots of land, most of them rural. Neighbors did not simply drop by as they had in Ann Arbor. None of her current neighbors were close enough to pay a quick, spontaneous visit. Something felt wrong. She wasted no time and trotted across her room into the hallway and leaned over the balustrade.
“Jake!” she whispered as loudly as she could before she realized he was right below her. She jumped again. “Oh jeez! You scared the crap out of me!”
“Sorry,” he said and the doorbell rang a second time. “What the hell is this about? It’s ten o’clock, for crying out loud!”
“I don’t know. Something’s wrong. I don’t like this one bit,” she said.
“All right, let’s not overreact here. Let me just answer the door and find out.”
“Wait,” she said and gestured to the hall closet.
“Good idea,” he replied and reached for his shotgun. He quickly loaded it and looked up at her and winked. “Just in case, right?”
Her son Keith dashed up the stairs and past her to his room. He returned from his room with his own shotgun in hand. She gave him a stern look of disapproval.
“What?” he asked.
She did not respond verbally, but narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips at him.
“It’s in the Constitution,” he said and smiled slyly. “I have the right to defend myself and my family,” he said and sounded just like his father.
Though seeing her nineteen-year-old son wielding a shotgun did not exactly make her heart swell with pride, she knew he had been to the range with his father and had been taught to use it safely by a trained professional. She even felt a degree of reassurance that half of her family was currently armed.
Thumping from the deck that wrapped around the rear of the house stripped her of her reassured feeling, however. She, along with her husband and Keith, froze and listened. Another thud sounded, softer than the previous one, but audible, nonetheless. They all exchanged nervous glances and her husband called for their youngest son.
“John,” he said in a strained whisper. “John!”
John appeared immediately in the foyer.
“What’s going on, Dad? What was that thumping sound on the deck?” he asked nervously.
“I don’t know, son, could be just animals, but I need you to get the phone and go to you room now, okay. Get in your closet and press speed dial number two, that’s the sheriff’s office. You tell him there’s trouble out here and he needs to come right away.”
“I’ll go check it out,” Keith said with authority. “I’ll secure the kitchen. There’s nothing to worry about, little bro. Dad and I are prepared for anything, right Dad?”
“Sure, Keith,” he said to his eldest son then turned to John. “Now, go upstairs, John, all right?”
“Okay Dad,” John replied and breezed past her, phone in hand, to his room. She continued slowly down the steps, all the while her heart knocked violently against her ribcage. The doorbell sounded a third time and her husband answered it before the tolling stopped. She was midway down the staircase when she saw who stood in their doorway.
Sarah drew her breath in sharply, shocked, but also relieved. It was a young woman, an extraordinarily beautiful young woman. The girl couldn’t have been more than twenty years old and had short dark hair that fell to her chin stylishly, and large, dark eyes. Her husband immediately relaxed his grip on the gun he held behind the door.
“Can I help you with something, Miss?” her husband asked the girl.
“I’m so sorry for the late hour, but is Keith home?” she asked politely.
“Uh yeah, he’s here,” her husband fumbled, confused, and turned to call their son. “Uh, Keith, there’s someone here to see,” he started. But before he could say the word you, the girl brandished a pistol.
“No!” Sarah heard herself say and watched in horror as white bursts flashed silently from the long-barreled muzzle of the gun into the back of her husband’s head. He fell to the floor instantly and she screamed again. “Jake! No!”
Her legs felt leaden and her mind froze. It was as if something in her brain, in the deepest reaches of her psyche, had shut down. She wanted to run to her husband, to help him, but her body refused to cooperate, her brain halted by shock.
The sound of glass exploding from the kitchen roused her from the shock that gripped her, glass exploding and the sound of more screams, her son Keith’s screams. Shots rang out from the kitchen, and then an eerie silence fell.
“Keith!” she shrieked, but knew her oldest son was gone. Screams from behind her brought her body back to life, and an instinctive need to protect her last living child overtook her. She turned and saw John at the top of the steps and shouted, “Go! Out your bedroom window! Now!” then felt a bullet graze her ear. The pain seared and the sound left her ear ringing, a shrill, deafeningly loud noise. More bullets rained at her in quick succession and peppered the wall behind her. She moved up the steps quickly, away from the spray of bullets and after her son, determined to ensure his safety, his survival.
“Go!” she ordered him. “Just go!”
Sarah knew he was small enough to crawl out his window onto the roof of the screened-in porch and drop to the ground below. If he hurried, he’d be able to escape. He knew the woods beyond their house well, knew to stay close to the bay and follow the shoreline to town.
Thoughts of his escape ran through her mind as she rounded the corner to John’s room and found him still standing there.
“What, what’re you doing? Go!” she pleaded.
“I’m not leaving you!” he argued.
“I’ll be right behind you,” she said but knew she could not fit through the window. “I promise I’ll be right behind you.”
He looked at her and nodded in agreement then climbed out his bedroom window.
Her lie had appeased him and he scampered out onto the roof of the porch and disappeared over the edge. She felt a moment of thankfulness that at least one of her family members would survive the night; just one. Tears burned behind her eyelids and spilled down her cheeks. Unimaginable heartache clenched in her chest and tore at her. Only one of her family of four would live. Two were already gone. She couldn’t understand any of it; nothing made sense. But she did not have time to mourn or consider her situation. Footsteps echoed behind her. She looked to the doorway and saw that a slender figure flanked by two larger ones filled it. The girl had returned. And she was not alone. Two young men, around her age, accompanied her. Up close, she could see that all of them were remarkably good-looking. The men were tall and strapping, with faces that were almost angelic. All three had chestnut-hued hair and equally dark eyes that stood out against their pale skin. She guessed from their considerable similarities, their identical delicate features and coloring, that they were siblings, divine looking siblings. But something in their eyes was far from saintly.
“Who are you people? What do you want?” was all she could think of to say.
“We are the Millers,” one of the men said calmly. “I’m Keith Miller.”
Sarah looked at each of their faces, searching for an answer, but they remained stoic.
“Excuse me?” she said and felt tears well again. She tried to blink them back but to no avail.
“I’m Keith Miller, and you’re intruding in my home,” he replied.
The room began to spin, slowly at first, then faster and faster. Sarah thought she would vomit, but swallowed hard instead and said in a trembling voice, “Keith Miller is dead. You killed him, you sick bastards!”
“Who are you and why are you in our house?” the woman asked.
Sarah looked over her shoulder out the window and prayed her son had made it safely to the shore. Surely, he was long gone and well on his way to town. She turned back and found the girl’s face inches from hers. The girl seized her by the back of her head and grabbed a handful of her hair. She dragged Sarah to the window and pressed her face to the glass. All Sarah could see were the inky silhouettes of tress against the darkness.
“Oh don’t worry about John,” she hissed. “He’s not going anywhere.” The woman then pulled a flashlight from a utility belt that hung around her hips and shined it into the night. The small tool produced a beam of light like a floodlight and lit the entire yard. And that’s when she saw John.
Her son stood, motionless, and surrounded by three creatures the likes of which she’d never seen. They looked like mythical gatekeepers of the underworld. They glared up at her with murderous, yellow eyes, the eyes of predators. Her son called out to her. “Mom!” he shouted and all the beasts but one turned their attention from her to him. They stalked around him on all fours crouched low like wolves, but not any wolves she’d ever seen. Massive with mains of golden hair, they circled him lithely, their muscled flanks rippling in anticipation; except one. A single creature glared at her. She watched her son, but felt its eyes on her.
“John,” she whimpered.
“Not for long,” the woman whispered at her ear.
Sarah refused to turn and face her. Instead, she cried out her son’s name, tears burning down her cheeks, “John!” she wailed.
The beast that watched her rose on its haunches and furrowed its brow. She gasped and saw that when standing, it towered over John. It appeared to be at least seven feet tall, and looked remarkably human. Its features were expressive. It narrowed its eyes at her and smiled, revealing its sharp, fanged teeth then looked beyond her at the woman. In her peripheral vision, she saw the woman gesture. At the woman’s command, the creature spun and dropped back on all fours and descended on her son.
“No!” she screamed.
Her son cried out, and the others in the pack attacked him.
Sarah’s legs gave out from beneath her, and she felt the woman’s grip on the back of her neck relax. She collapsed to the floor in horror and disbelief. She sobbed uncontrollably. Her worst nightmares had never been as horrific as what she’d just witnessed, as her evening had been. She felt as though she’d been cast into hell and was enduring the worst suffering a person could bear. She’d watched her children die, watched her husband die. No pain could possibly be worse, no punishment more depraved.
“Oh now, stop your crying,” she heard the woman say flatly. She looked up and saw the woman watching her impassively, without the slightest trace of humanity. “Your time on Earth is over. Our time has come.”
The woman raised her gun and aimed it at Sarah’s temple.
The last sound Sarah Miller heard was the loud popping of the pistol firing as the woman pulled the trigger, then silence, blessed silence. Her hell ended.