Next week, ‘Sixty-Six’ will be available to download for free from Amazon in the run up to Halloween. You’re welcome. It’s a spooky tale, and I thought I’d share a sneak peek at the first chapter.
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The number consumed Carl’s mind as he walked further into the dream.
He looked back to see his open laptop on the coffee table, an email from an old friend still visible. Carl turned away and stepped through the bathroom doorway, not onto cold floor tiles, but onto wet, crisp grass.
He could feel the cool breeze caressing his skin, blowing in towards him across the still lake water. Carl hadn’t been back to this lake since he was eleven years old.
He moved towards the water’s edge.
There was a boat waiting for him.
Carl didn’t want to get into the small wooden boat with its rough-handled oars, but he did. He stepped in and sat on the damp plank. Mouth a grim line, he dragged the oars through the water, propelling himself across the lake.
He didn’t have to look to know it was there. That it was waiting for him. Wanting.
Carl tried to ignore the children’s hands that reached out of the watery depths to claw at the boat as it skimmed overhead. Their flesh was grey and soft, falling away from bone as they dragged their fingers across the coarse wood of the vessel.
Lakeside House. Was he in there? Was it time? How long had passed, since? How many years?
No. No. No. Not yet. Not yet.
All too soon, the grasping dead things were too many in number and going any further seemed impossible. Carl tried to beat the hands back with an oar, but they fell away only to reappear, more determined than ever. Stopping to catch his breath, he looked over the boat’s edge into the water. He saw a face he recognised looking back. A face that seemed untouched by the years or the water. It sat on a body that wasn’t its own but which had claimed it as such.
As the first, small hand found its way to his wrist and began to pull him into the water, Carl felt terror grip his heart. Not through fear of the dream, because he knew that was all it was. No, fear of what was to come. Of what had happened before and what would happen again. Fear of what he knew he had to do, but wished he didn’t.
He had to go back.
Back to Lakeside House. Back to him.
He finally yielded to the hands’ desperate insistence. They pulled him overboard and below the surface.
The thick, foul water invaded Carl’s body, filling him with death as, all around, skulls spiralled like trapped bubbles suddenly released, racing for the surface.