Just for giggles, I thought I would throw a little teaser your way. This is the first chapter of Drums of the Nunne’hi
, due for release after the first of the year. I hope you enjoy it.
September 23rd, 1997
“Tommy, get up! We gotta keep moving, man,” Josh shouted over his shoulder to his fallen friend.
Tommy lay writhing on the ground, grasping his ankle and trying with all his might not to scream. The moon was out, but it wasn’t enough light to keep him from stepping in the hole as they ran for the tree line. At six foot, two hundred pounds it didn’t take much for his ankle to buckle from his momentum.
“Son of bitch, it hurts. I think it’s broken,” he panted as he rolled over onto his knees and tried to move it around.
“It’s probably just sprained. Give me your hand,” Josh offered, casting quick glances behind them. “We can’t stay out in the open like this. I don’t know if anyone else seen us make it out of there.”
Tommy tried shifting his weight to the left side enough to enable him to walk. It only took him a couple of steps to realize that he wasn’t going to be able to do it alone. He shot a quick look back the way they had came and turned his attention to how far they still had to travel before they could reach the safety of the trees.
“Josh, I am going to…,” he began, hopping on one foot.
“Quiet. Do you hear that?” Josh held up his hand as he cocked his head to one side.
Only the creaking sound of the leather in his letterman’s jacket could be heard on the night air.
“I don’t hear anything,” Tommy replied in confusion, looking behind them for signs of pursuit.
“That’s exactly my point! I don’t hear anything; no crickets, no birds, there isn’t even any wind blowing through the grass,” he said in a soft voice.
They watched the darkness roll towards them from across the field. The moon was going behind some clouds, robbing them of their only source of light. It moved with a speed that defied the stillness of the night.
“Josh, I can’t walk. I need your help,” Tommy whispered, flinching at the sound of his own voice breaking the silence.
“Huh, you’re on your own, pal. Best of luck to you then,” Josh said before trotting several paces away from him.
“Josh!” Tommy cried out, his shoulders sagging in disbelief. “I am truly screwed. What the hell am I supposed to do now?”
“Just kidding, dude. Let’s get a move on,” Josh said appearing at Tommy’s side from the darkness so quickly that it almost made him fall.
Josh put Tommy’s arm over his shoulder and they resumed their flight. Tommy quietly thanked the lord that they were about the same size. The darkness was all but complete. They were immersed in a blackness that felt almost tangible. As they pressed on through the void, both boys found it hard to breath. The lack of light and sound left them disoriented and Josh prayed that they were still heading in the right direction. Their footprints even sounded muffled as they trudged through the grass.
Thump. A single sound rolled through the darkness that surrounded them. It sounded like a single heartbeat pounding out of the chest of a giant. The sound carried through the air like a cannon shot. As its echo died away, it left them both with a cold shiver embracing their spine.
“What was that?” Josh asked, trying in vain to pinpoint the origin of the sound.
“I don’t know, but unless you really want to find out, I suggest we pick up the pace.” Tommy wished that he could find a way to keep his teeth from chattering.
“Maybe it’s the others. They could be just trying to scare us.”
“I doubt it. I don’t know if the others made it out of there. Hell, I was surprised to see you,” Tommy shook his head.
“Did you actually see any of them get it?” Josh struggled to maintain his grip on one last sliver of hope.
“No, I couldn’t see anything in that house, but I heard…”
Lightning crackled to life above them. It snaked across the sky, momentarily sparing them from the darkness. Josh was relieved to see that they were still traveling in the right direction.
“It must have been thunder that we heard,” Tommy offered in a voice that lacked conviction.
“Before the lightning? I don’t think so.” Josh redoubled his efforts, realizing how far they still had to go.
The thunder made its presence known in a low and grumbling voice. They nearly stumbled in their hasted to reach the trees. The silence that followed was brief, replaced by the heartbeat from before. This time the sound continued, slowly at first with a steady thump. Soon it began to take on a rhythm that unnerved the boys to no end. It was a sound they knew all to well, but had never had it affect them this way.
“It’s drums. Oh shit, Carl was right, dude. The drums are back. We never should have come here. We never should have done that. Why did I listen to you? What the hell did you get me into?” Tommy began to rant as his panic set in.
“Shut up, Tommy. We are almost there. Get a hold of yourself; if we make it to the trees we can hide.”
“How can you be so sure?” He wondered if anyplace would be safe for them now.
“The darkness works both ways, right? They won’t be able to see us any better than we can see each other. If we can make it to the trees we can hide there until morning,” Josh replied, as much to assure himself as anything else.
“It was dark in that house and they found us. I can still hear their footsteps.”
“And the screams, we can’t forget those god-awful screams. I just kept thinking that it had to be some sort of prank; that Carl had somehow set the whole thing up. He knew we were coming and wanted to teach us a lesson.” Josh flinched as a leaf caressed his cheek from the void.
The lightning lit up the sky again just as they passed the first set of trees. They pushed deeper into the woods, moving slowly as they felt there way past the branches. They wormed through the trees for what felt like an eternity.
“This should be far enough. I can barely hear the drums from here.” Josh helped Tommy sit down with his back against a tree.
“What are we going to tell everybody?” he asked after he made himself as comfortable as he could under the circumstances.
“That we were attacked by the Res Kids.” Josh slid down beside him with a grunt.
“Carl was the only Res Kid I saw tonight and he wasn’t putting up much of a fight, as I recall.”
“Well, what do you want to tell them? I am not going to say anything that will make us sound crazy. This town’s too small to get a rep like that,” Josh shook his head. “I say we blame it on the whole god damned reservation and let them explain what happened.”
“Hey, the drums have stopped. I bet that means they have stopped looking for us.” Tommy perked up for the first time since the sun went down.
“Thank god! They were driving me crazy. I still say we wait for first light before we try to…” Josh began, but was interrupted by the burgeoning storm.
A brief flash of lightning revealed a man standing in front of them, not more than five paces away. He was wearing buckskins tucked into calf-high moccasins. Seven feathers dangled from his hair in the wind that had sprung up an instant before. He stood before them with his arms crossed over his chest, a tomahawk gripped firmly in his right hand. His skin was gray and cold, not red like the boy they had carried into that old house. When the lightning faded, his eyes were still aglow. They emitted an eerie blue-white light that lapped at the edges of his eyelids as he stared down at them.
Tommy and Josh whimpered in the darkness. Josh didn’t know whether to pray for more light or pray that it wouldn’t return. His stomach knotted as he tried to make sense of the image he just saw. Was it a trick of the lightning or could he see through the stranger? Tommy had seen something like it in a sketchbook once, but he still couldn’t believe it was real. It had to be a trick of the lightning. Perhaps, his guilt was making him see things.
The lightning flashed again to reveal these apparitions everywhere the boys looked. There must have been hundreds of angry faces bearing down on them. The ghastly warriors brandished their weapons as they circled around the tree. When the darkness returned to cover them in its embrace, the air was filled with the screams of the damned and the sound of splintering wood.