Relentless, p.4
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       Relentless, p.4
Download  in MP3 audio

         Part #1 of Relentless series by Karen Lynch

  Chapter 3

  THE SPARROW TWITCHED restlessly in my hands, so I opened them and watched him take flight, his newly healed wing moving like it had never been broken. I giggled as he circled my head happily a few times then flew up to perch on a branch above me.

  “I hope you’re more careful next you see that old tom cat,” I told him as I stood and brushed dirt off my jeans. I pulled on my mittens and set off across the small park at the end of our street. The sky was heavy with gray clouds, and I could smell snow in the air. If we got enough snow this time, Daddy promised to take me sledding. My pace picked up, and I hurried home.

  I could hear our neighbor’s basset hound, Charlie, baying from halfway down the street, and I wondered what had upset him. Charlie was old, and he didn’t even bark at squirrels or cats anymore. When I reached our neighbor’s house I walked around to their backyard to see what Charlie was making so much noise about. It surprised me to find him straining at his wire run, barking and howling at my backyard. Something about the way his hackles were raised made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

  I ran back out to the street and up the walkway to our front door. “Daddy, I think there’s something wrong with Charlie,” I called, opening the door. I tossed my mittens and cap on the bench in the hallway. “Daddy?” I called again.

  No answer.

  Where is he? The house was filled with the aroma of pot roast, so he had to be here. He would never leave with the stove on.

  Something did not feel right. Then I felt the cold draft coming down the hallway. He must have gone out back to see why Charlie was barking and left the door open. I shook my head. He was always scolding me for doing that.

  I smelled it just before I reached the kitchen, a warm coppery scent that made my stomach lurch and my pulse quicken. A cry burst from me when I stepped inside and saw the spray of red across the white cupboards and the trail of blood that disappeared out through the open door.

  Fear exploded in my chest. “Daddy!” I cried, running for the door. My boots skidded on the slick blood, and I flailed as I fell through the doorway, landing hard on my hands and knees on the back step. My head came up, and I saw the bloody steps, the broken railing, and…

  “No!” I crawled frantically toward the figure lying at the bottom of the steps, his favorite blue shirt shredded and bloody. I felt it then, the horrible pulling sensation of a life draining away. “No, Daddy, no!” I threw myself on him, begging him to stay with me as I poured my power into him until there was nothing left to give. It was not enough. His green eyes stared sightlessly at the gray sky as the first snowflakes touched his ravaged face.

  “No!” I came awake with a cry and stared blindly in the dark with my heart thudding against my ribs. Reaching up a trembling hand, I swiped at the tears on my cheeks and pushed damp strands of hair out of my face. I lay there for several minutes as my heart rate returned to normal and the last vestiges of the dream left me.

  The curtain fluttered, drawing my eyes to the pale light coming through the window. Far out in the bay a buoy clanged, and closer to shore a sea otter whistled. Soothed by the familiar noises, I threw off my covers and went to push the window open wider, letting cold morning air fill the room. I took a deep calming breath of ocean air as I listened to the muted sounds of the bay and let myself think about the dream.

  In the beginning the nightmare came every night, the same paralyzing dream that ripped me from sleep, screaming in terror. Time after time Nate tried to get me to tell him about the dream, to talk about what I’d been through, but to speak of the horror out loud and relive those moments was more than I could bear.

  I’d seen the police reports. Our neighbor called in the disturbance, and when the police responded they found me lying on top of my father’s body, both of us covered in snow. At first they thought I was dead too, until one of the policemen checked and found a pulse. I was rushed to the hospital, suffering from shock. The child psychologist who examined me later said I suffered from “severe psychological trauma from witnessing her father’s brutal murder.” She recommended a few weeks in a child psych ward.

  Nate’s response was “Absolutely not.” My uncle knew something about post traumatic stress. He was twenty-three when he was hit by shrapnel in Bosnia that left him in a wheelchair. He said I needed to be with family, and since my grandmother was too ill to care for a child, he brought me here to live with him. I knew it wasn’t easy for him, a single man in a wheelchair suddenly faced with raising a traumatized kid. But he did it anyway, and I loved him for it, though I could not find the words to tell him what it meant to me. Sometimes I thought of us as a pair of damaged bookends. We both had our flaws, but we belonged together even if there was always something between us, keeping us apart.

  My alarm clock said six o’clock, so I knew it was useless trying to go back to sleep. Instead, I drew the covers up over my bed and headed for the bathroom to get ready for school. I splashed cold water over my face and studied my pale complexion and my eyes that were still haunted by the lingering effects of the dream. I released a shuddering breath and started the shower. What a way to start the week.

Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up