Friday, March 30, 2012

First Five Friday - Willow in the Desert (WIP)

Former Army sergeant and current tactical leader of Freetown’s version of a military force, Dean Arner stood in the desert about five miles outside of the settlement watching as the first streaks of daylight broke over the horizon.  
Like most humans, he loved seeing a new day.  It drove the creatures that had invaded his world underground.  His light brown eyes squinted welcome to it in his prematurely seamed face.  His still military-short hair, bleached by that beloved sun, stood at buzzed attention as the night crept back, taking its horrors with it.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Fave Five Horror Movies

Last week I posted my favorite horror villains.  Apparently you like horror too, because that was a very popular post.  So continuing on that theme...

I just love horror movies, and to keep it to five is an exercise in restraint.  But these are my ultimate favorites when it comes to scares:

5.  The Omen (1976)

This movie was just so suspenseful with twists and turns you rarely see in today’s horror offerings.  Smart and chilling all at once.  How often do you root for the guy trying to kill an adorable little child?

4.  The Ring (2002)

This one was just freaky, and I loved every second of it.  I’m not one for the chop-chop gore you see so often, and The Ring was the psychological scare I prefer.

3.  The Shining  (1980)

Jack Nicholson with an axe.  The creepiest little girls ever.  Pages upon pages of ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’  And so much suspense I was ready to jump out of my skin at the least little thing.  Every Halloween I’m screaming at Shelley Duvall to hurry the hell up and get him in the pantry before he wakes!

2.  Psycho  (1960)

Talk about your mommy issues.  Norman Bates was truly frightening in his madness.  And that shower scene…yeah, that will make you lock the bathroom door. 

1.  The Exorcist

For me, this one is the ultimate in horror.   There are just too many terrifying, chilling moments to count.  And if you get to see the freaky scene cut from the original where the girl comes down the staircase … nightmares for weeks!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Excerpt from The Willow and the Stone - Now Available

            In that initial vision the pitted stone, as tall as Leo’s shoulders, hulked on the ground.  Its companion's delicate, graceful branches bowed in contrasting genteel beauty.  He studied them, wondering what the strange pair indicated.
            The massive stone sat atop several crushed aliens.  More dead aliens tangled in the thin branches of the willow, limp insect marionettes in the delicate grip.  The air hung heavy with the coppery tang of blood. 
            Leo ran his fingertips over the stone’s craggy surface.  Hard, implacable, it told him nothing.  What it represented he couldn’t imagine.  He dusted the grit from his hand.
            He turned to the tree.  It drew away from him, and its shuddering fronds fled from his touch.  Leo stared; it was actually aware of him.  He reached toward it, palms up, the way one might offer a hand to a friendly but skittish cat.  The tree’s limbs drifted toward him.
            Trembling branches whispered against his legs.  He felt a hesitant touch on his cheek.
            He shivered at the shy touch of the mind that called to him.  He caressed tiny leaves with his fingertips.  "Friend," he whispered.
            A breeze sighed through the willow's branches.  Who?
            "A survivor.  I live in a safe place, a hideaway inside an old limestone mine.  It‘s called the Rock."
            "No aliens bother us here.  We’re well hidden.  It's just north of Pittsburgh in a town called Boyers."  He motioned to the corpses hanging from the tree's limbs.  "What did you do to them?"
            "The aliens."
            The tree shuddered all over.  The dead aliens jiggled an obscene dance, their limbs jerking as if under the control of a puppeteer having a seizure.  Aliens?  Where?
Leo realized only he saw the horrible creatures.  Many of his visions were filled with symbols that demanded careful analysis.  The willow was aware of him, but not the components of his vision. 
            "Hush," he comforted the tree.  "It's all right.  You have nothing to fear here."
            All fear.  Nothing else.
            He stroked a branch.  "You’d be safe at the Rock.  Can you come to me?”
            Maybe.  Fronds reached to brush the craggy stone.  Both?
            The stone was a companion then, another person.  The vision grew hazy as wisps of smoke drifted across the air.  Leo was running out of time.  “Of course.  Remember, it's in Boyers, Pennsylvania.  You and your friend are welcome."
            Heavier curls of smoke drifted between them obscuring Leo’s view.  He had so many questions for the willow, but he’d have to hope he‘d be given another opportunity.  “Come to me, Willow.  Come to the Rock."
            Then he'd found himself back in the basement, trembling with excitement.  Someone was out there in the wild, someone with abilities that matched his own.  The presence had felt feminine.  Who was she?  Would she come to the Rock?  She’d said she’d try, but there’d been a world of doubt and fear in that one word. 
            He sent a prayer to the ancestors for her safety and wished he could do more.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - Willow in the Desert (WIP)

Instead they had great, grinning mouths, mouths filled with dagger teeth that gnashed as they came on, as if anticipating biting into Royce and his fellows, of tearing and rending flesh and bone and gristle.

As if in a nightmare, Royce turned from the oncoming monsters, his numb legs starting to run for the sleeping building three blocks away.  He ran for his gun, but his feet slapped the sand-covered road in slow motion.  His heart boomed in his ears, a bass drum in the sudden cymbal crash of yells and screams behind him as the men scattered in different directions.  His breath sobbed in and out, screeching like a badly tuned violin.  Beneath the hellish symphony whispered the dry whir of the mutant alien creatures gaining on him.

Friday, March 23, 2012

First Four Friday - Lilith

Chapter 9:

A Mercedes purred down a dirt road that was little more than a rutted, root-tangled trail.  The car with its German-engineered suspension managed to seemingly float over the uneven road.  Trees crowded the path, and the car’s occupants cringed instinctively at the branches that reached out in an attempt to claw the expensive finish.  Somehow contact was averted in every instance, the car navigating the tight confines with aplomb.

Under contract, release date TBA

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Ghost Who Followed Me: My Third Haunting, Part 1

The house on Ellis Street in Brunswick, Georgia, was like any other in that neighborhood.  It was older, built in the 1940’s, with a huge front porch and pull-chain ceiling lights.  Not fancy but not bad.  The neighborhood was still middle class at the time (early ‘80’s) with a low crime rate.  Kids could ride their bikes on the streets after dark without worry.  You knew your neighbors. 

We lived in a wood plank-sided house that was painted a nice clean white.  The eight rooms of the house all opened into each other, no hallway required.  The two front rooms were the living room and my bedroom, the next two were my mom and stepdad’s room and the dining room, then my brothers’ room and the kitchen, and at the back were the bathroom and back porch.   It was unremarkable to the eyes.  There was nothing about it to suggest anything but a comfortable home.

I moved in with my mom and stepfather when I was eleven, having lived with my father and his wife for four years.  My mom celebrated by buying me beautiful French Provincial bedroom furniture.  My room was cozy and perfect for a temperamental pre-teen who liked her privacy.  I had a television, stereo, and a phone with my own number.  What more could a girl want?

The first indication that I’d landed in Spook Central for the third time was the intermittent sound of those pull-chain light fixtures.  I’m sure you know that distinctive sound they make when you turn the lights on and off.  I heard it in my bedroom often when I was alone though I was nowhere near the light.  That metallic sliding of the chain being pulled, followed by the click that announced it had been turned on or off would sound and I would whip around to see … nothing.  And the light’s status of either on or off wouldn’t change. 

There were also numerous cold spots that I would run into throughout the house.  These spots occurred year-round, whether it was the deep of winter or the nastiest humid summer day you could imagine.  They popped up all over the place, but mostly in my mother’s room.

None of these things were really a big deal.  I shrugged them off and continued to be a self-absorbed adolescent, more interested in music and my friends than a few strange noises and temperature changes. 

But then the truly weird things began to happen.  About a year after moving in, I had my best friend visit for a sleepover.  We were having a fine time when my mom poked her head in the bedroom to say she needed to make a run to the corner store and to keep an eye on my two-year old brother who was asleep in her bed. 

Beth and I were cool with that (we were either cool with a situation or SO not cool with it … life is amazingly simple when you’re twelve), and Mom left to run her errand.  Shortly afterward, I heard my brother make a noise.

“I’d better check on him,” I told Beth, and she went with me to my mom’s bedroom.

The instant we walked through the doorway, the air turned freezing.  This wasn’t a cold spot; the entire room was frigid.  Though the rest of the house was toasty warm, I could actually see my breath in there.  My skin crawled, and Beth’s eyes were big round saucers.  The room felt not just cold, but bad.  I covered up my little brother to the chin.  My mom’s bedspread was a heavy red velvet piece, so I was reasonably sure the tyke would be warm enough.  Then we got the heck out of there.

“It was so cold in there,” Beth whispered the instant we got back to my room, as if afraid she would be heard.  “Tamara, that room didn’t feel right.”

I wholeheartedly agreed.  I was still shivering and suddenly couldn’t wait for my SO not cool mother to return home.  And I thought I’d check on my brother in five minutes, just to be sure he was okay.  I’d recently seen The Exorcist, and I had scary thoughts running in my head.

We didn’t get to check on my brother.  A vertical beam of light, like a shaft of gold, appeared in my room near the door.  I thought I had to be seeing things, but Beth gasped and was suddenly pressed to my side like we’d been superglued together.  The light moved slowly across the room towards us where we huddled on my bed.  It was between us and the door.  There was nowhere to run to.

It was probably three feet away when it stopped moving and slowly faded from sight.  An instant later the sound of my mother’s car door closing let us know the parental protection was back on site.  I rushed to her bedroom, Beth hot on my heels, to make sure my little brother was okay.  Not only was he okay, he’d kicked that heavy spread off because the room was now warm.

Pretty creepy, but the next occurrence was downright freaky.  You remember that shower scene in Psycho?  Yeah, there’s nothing like being vulnerable when you’re naked and emerging from the bath.  I know this from experience because that’s where I was when I was confronted by the grinning boy who couldn’t possibly exist.

To Be Continued…

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

An Excerpt from The Willow and the Stone

            Carli had tried to get up the courage all day to again broach the touchy subject of moving farther north for the winter.  Coming across the three sisters crop with its Native American connotations seemed like an omen.  She took a deep breath.
            "I had the dream again."
            "Don't start with that."  Renee turned her back on her. 
            "I don't think we should ignore it."
            Renee spun on her.  "I can't believe you expect me to travel north just because some Indian tells you to.  An Indian you dreamed, may I remind you."
            "I don't think it's just a dream."  Carli tried to keep from begging, but a plaintive note crept into her voice.  "It's so real.  It's not like any other dream I've had," she lied.  Renee didn't need to know about the other dreams, the ones that came true.  "It's just as real as you and I standing here right now."
            Renee shook her head.  "This is ridiculous."
            "Please."  Carli had to make her listen this time.  "Last night he said we can reach the Rock before the first snows if we start north now.  All we have to do is go to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—"
            "Then north to an old limestone mine converted into a secret hideaway the aliens know nothing about.  And we'll live happily ever after."  Renee straightened to tower over her.  Her dark brows beetled together, but she kept her voice below a shout.  "It's just a dream, a fairy tale.  If you don't get that through your head, you'll really crack up."
            A lump formed in Carli's throat.  She swallowed it down.  "What could it hurt to check?"
            Renee threw her hands up.  "Remember how cold it was last week?  This is just a brief hot spell.  Winter is coming, which means snow up north.  Which means you and me freezing to death."
            "But the Native American—"
            "Enough about the Indian and the Rock!  They don't exist!"  Renee exploded, her last vestige of patience disappearing.  "You need to make a choice.  Come south with me to Florida, or follow your delusions to your death.  Either way, I don't want to hear another word about the Rock."
            She tied her bag closed with sharp, economical gestures, her lips tight.  She slung the bulging sack over her shoulder.  She looked like a harridan Santa Claus.  "I've put up with this dream nonsense for two months now.  I'm not going to listen to any more.  I'm heading south, and it makes no difference to me whether you come along."
            Carli knew Renee cared more than she would let on, but she meant business this time.  The tall woman turned and stalked away.  Carli fumbled to tie her own bag closed.  She looked after Renee's retreating back then turned longing eyes in the opposite direction. 
            He waited there, in the north.  Waited for her.  But to go alone, without protection, where the specter of Death beckoned with a mocking grin and empty eyes...
            With a resigned sigh she hoisted her heavy sack and hurried to catch up to Renee.

Ebook now available from New Concepts Publishing

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - Lilith

  “I nearly choked on the poor guy's fear.  I saw what he saw, which was the most gorgeous and horrifying woman ever created, if that makes any sense.”  He surprised Alex by shuddering.  “I guess you had to be there.  She made short work of him.  I don't think he lasted five minutes once they started – you know.”

Under contract

Friday, March 16, 2012

Now on Sale: The Willow and the Stone

It's published!  Available as an e-book from New Concepts Publishing.  It will go out to Kindle and Nook in approximately 8 weeks, though it is supposed to be Kindle friendly direct from the publisher.  It turns out my netbook and Kindle hate each other, so I can't verify that personally.

A little tease is in order here:

Four years ago, insectile aliens arrived on Earth in great pyramid ships.  Now mankind is reduced to a few pockets of survivors, skulking in the shadows to elude the creatures that rule the planet.  Among those survivors are Carli Dixon and Renee Johnson, an ill-matched pair thrown together through circumstance.
Battling their extraterrestrial enemy and the betrayal of their own kind, Carli and Renee struggle against impossible odds to find safety.  Rescuing each other from certain death cements their friendship.  But to survive and save others like themselves, they must risk everything … including each other.

Category:  Science Fiction.  Includes graphic violence.

Chapter 1

            Renee slapped her hand over her companion’s mouth.  The brunette manhandled the smaller woman into the shadows beneath the stone bridge they‘d just emerged from.  Carli didn’t struggle against Renee’s grip, but she squealed a muffled cry of protest into the stagnant West Virginia night air.
            "Sssssshh!" Renee hissed, her grip tightening.  "Aliens!"
            Carli froze against her for an instant before breaking free.  She slammed herself against the inside of the arch to merge with the blackest of shadows.  Renee crowded her, also sliding into the dubious cover of darkness.  The bridge, more picturesque than a bastion of protection, was small with wooden beams buttressing the stones above.  A perfect spot for vacationing tourists to pose on for pictures to bore their co-workers with, but a ridiculous spot to depend on for one’s life.    
            Two monstrous creatures glided into view, their elongated insectoid figures silhouetted in the bright moonlight.  They stalked up to the bridge that spanned the dry, dusty creek bed and joined the women in the darkness.  Carli and Renee melted behind a support beam. 
            Trapped, Carli's frantic mind whispered.  The monsters had them for sure this time.  She squeezed her eyes shut but couldn't block out the aliens' cricket speech.  They chirped and chittered, grating against her ears.  She wished she could be struck deaf.  Sweat tickled its way down her spine. 
            Muscular Renee, who couldn't begin to approach the power of the spindly aliens, tensed beside her.  The creatures came abreast of the hidden women, chirping ear-bleeding conversation right in front of them. Carli tried to shrink further back, mashing her backside into the unyielding, unsympathetic stone.  Renee crushed against her. 
            A pebble slid from under Carli's foot and clinked in protest as it dislodged and rolled down the slope.  Her mouth flew open to scream; surely the monsters heard the rock crash down.  No whistle of sound escaped her locked, straining throat, but her heart was a bass drum of thunder booming through the night. 
            Her eyes screwed shut against the sight of the looming predators, Carli waited for the bristle-haired mantis arms of an alien to embrace her.  She waited for its needle proboscis to slide into her flesh and secrete its paralyzing poison.  She waited to sag helpless in the grip of the monster while it sipped the life from her veins.  She waited to die a slow, fading death.  Her heart pounded louder than ever, as if to beat as hard and fast as it could in its few remaining minutes.
            The chittering aliens, intent on their conversation, stalked past.  Disbelieving, Carli’s eyes flew open, and she watched them pass from under the bridge.  Motes of moon-glittering dust danced in the wake of the monsters’ long, tapered legs. 
            She released the breath she'd been holding in a rush and sucked it in again as one alien swiveled its head around.  It looked back at the bridge that hid the two women.
            Carli's stomach lurched at the pale orb of the creature's face glowing in the moonlight.  Wispy tufts of hair sprang in sparse bunches from its bullet-shaped head.  The proboscis writhed like a blind worm where a nose and mouth would have been on a human.  Its grayish flesh seemed stretched too tight over its skull; there were no wrinkles, not even creases on its face.
            Its eyes shocked her the most; eyes cold in intent, but horribly human in appearance, almond shaped and ringed with black lashes. 
            The creatures’ naked torsos were long and smooth without benefit of hair, muscle tone, or even genitalia.  Carli had no idea if skin or a harder shell covered their bones; happily she’d never been in contact with one.  Odds were she’d someday lose that joy.
            The searching alien's too-human eyes slid over the women without alerting.  Carli's body sagged as the creature turned away and stalked on with its companion.
            The women huddled under the bridge listening to the monsters' conversation die away and smelling the sour tang of their own sweat.  Carli shuddered violently, knowing that Renee could feel it, and didn’t care.  Probably Renee was shaking too; this had been their closest call yet. 
            Frogs broke into chorus from their shelters within the tall grass on the banks.  Renee shook free of her paralysis, grabbed Carli's hand, and yanked her out into the open.  Under the moon's accusing glare they sped away, tearing a path through the grass to escape the creatures that had all but destroyed the human race.

Click here to buy.

Still Waiting for the Release - But We Have Cover Art!

Yay!  I like it.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tomorrow is the Release of The Willow and the Stone

To say I’m excited might be putting it lightly.  It feels like I’ve waited forever for this day to come.  Now as long as PayPal’s shenanigans against my publisher don’t cancel the party, the long wait is over. 

Tomorrow instead of the usual ‘First Four Friday’, I’ll be posting the blurb and first chapter of The Willow and the Stone.  I truly hope you all enjoy my book.  Thanks to everyone who sent supportive messages.  Thanks to Randy and Jeanette, who looked it over and made sure I didn’t inflict horrible typos and continuity errors on the rest of you.  Thanks to Holly for reading and critiquing those first stumbling drafts.  And thanks to Peter for just being there and listening to me fret and whine and worry.   You’re all the best!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - The Willow and the Stone

A roaring blast pounded her ears.  Lightning flashed blinding white.  The alien fell and blanketed her with its insectoid body. Her hypnosis broke, and Renee shrieked.  She kicked and clawed at the hard flesh of the monster, expecting to feel the needle prick of its siphon in her neck at any moment.  Her maddened screams echoed throughout the warehouse.

Coming March 16 from New Concepts Publishing

Friday, March 9, 2012

First Five Friday - The Willow and the Stone

Chapter 7:

This brisk morning everyone devoured their meal, anticipating the hard work of harvesting the Rock's crops.  Every table filled with the harvest crew — all except the table where Leo sat.  He breakfasted at one end while half a dozen others huddled at the other.  Surreptitious glances in his direction told him several conversations centered on him.  He ate with little appetite.

Coming next week!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Uh Oh … Is PayPal Big Brother?

                My publisher, New Concepts Publishing, is very small.  And until I came along, it was putting out one genre:  erotica.  (Did you get the pun?  Putting out?  Are you groaning now?  Ha-ha.) 
                Anyway, so they publish a bit of the naughty for the ladies.  And yes, I’ve read some of their titles.  No big deal.  Stories with graphic sexual encounters; so what?  I’m a big girl and I’ve had a child.  Obviously, I know something about graphic sexual encounters from personal experience.
                Last week, New Concepts Publishing posted the following news:

What happened to all the books? Many of our books have been banned by the Morality Police. Like our contemporaries, we are no longer allowed to sell books using PayPal if they find them objectionable. Due to the graphic nature of some of our books, we can no longer sell them through the New Concepts Publishing website. We have been working toward a solution to this problem and will post new information as it becomes available.

                Wow.  Censorship.  Not cool.
                Officially, PayPal’s issues with erotica include graphic scenes of incest, bestiality, and pedophilia.  Okay, I can see why most businesses would get squeamish over such material.  But here’s the weird part:  NCP doesn’t publish books with those things in them.  It’s right in their manuscript submission guidelines. 
                Also victims in this bizarre morality crackdown are sites Siren/Bookstrand, Smashwords, and All Romance e-Books, along with others.  PayPal, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to cut off these publisher/distributors’ ability to sell their inventory to paying customers.  Hard hit were also self-published authors, who have received little to no warning before they were suddenly unable to fill orders.
Again, a large number of these books do not contain the “graphic scenes of incest, bestiality, and pedophilia” PayPal objects to.  A large number of these erotic stories take place between unrelated, consenting adults.
                Another issue:  PayPal has extended its definition of pedophilia to 18-19 year old women having intimacies with older men.  However, it is still apparently okay for erotic stories of 18-19 year old gay men to have such encounters with older men.  So let’s add gender discrimination to the list of PayPal’s sins.  You do know most erotica writers and readers are women, right?  Double whammy on us gals.
                Don’t forget, Ebay and PayPal are owned by the same company.  It is still perfectly legitimate for people to buy and sell print erotica of any type via PayPal on Ebay. 
                One would say to the affected publishers, “So use another service besides PayPal.”  Unfortunately, nothing on par with PayPal exists.  They are very nearly a monopoly when it comes to being the go-between for businesses and banks.  There are so few options left to the small publishers as to be almost non-existent.  To go with another company means incredibly high fees, along with accounts payable and receivable incompatibilities. 
                PayPal says it’s the credit card companies dictating the issue.  And we know what bastions of morality our banking institutions are. 
                To put it bluntly, PayPal is telling us what we can spend our money on.  It’s like a restrictive parent telling us that the money we earned can only be used to buy what it approves of.  It’s tyrannical, dictatorial, and more obscene than the books it doesn’t like. 
                PayPal, what I do with my money, so long as it’s legal, is my business.  You have no say in where I spend or what I spend it on.  Many people I know are cancelling their accounts with you in protest.  Because while it’s erotica now, which quite a few will have no quarrel with, it will be certain political views tomorrow.  Or you will decide a particular religion or religions must be suppressed.  It always starts with something small and unnoticed then grows like the proverbial snowball as it tumbles down that slippery slope.   I for one want to see you stopped before you get too far.
                I say no to PayPal.  It is an unethical, power-mongering company who thinks it not only knows what’s best for me, but that it has the right to force its policies down my throat.  I hope others will also deny this company its strong arm tactics.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - Willow in the Desert (WIP)

There was something moving within the dust, and the whirring sound grew steadily louder.  It wasn’t the heavy thuds of cow hooves at all.  This was a finer, lighter sound, like the pad of children’s shoeless footfalls.
 It made Royce’s throat close with anxiety.  He halted, noticing out of the corner of his eyes his fellow Gulchers doing the same.  “What the hell is that?” he asked.

Friday, March 2, 2012

First Four Friday - Willow in the Desert (WIP)

Scene 1:
Royce Cummings sat on a splintered park bench, eating a slab of ham and grape tomatoes with his bare hands.  The ham was pure salty goodness, but he couldn’t help wishing it was between two slices of pillow-soft white bread with a couple of slices of Swiss cheese and some spicy brown mustard slathered on thick.  Six years hadn’t cured his craving for store-bought white bread, for Swiss cheese, for spicy brown mustard, or any kind of mustard for that matter.  Hell, he’d settle for that dijon stuff they used to make the funny commercials about with snooty men in the backs of limos sneering over sandwiches.

First draft of this new one is complete! (sequel to The Willow and the Stone which releases March 16)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Now Underway: Willow in the Desert

With The Willow and the Stone set to come out this month, I decided it was time to start writing the sequel that's been nagging at my brain for ages:  Willow in the Desert.  I don't want to give too much away at this point since The Willow and the Stone still hasn't seen the light of day, but it's impossible to completely contain my excitement as I move along on this work-in-progress.

The alien menace returns in a new and more deadly form, and humans face their greatest challenge yet.  Returning characters and new ones take center stage as mankind fights to survive a greater foe than ever before.  I'm through the first draft of this story, and I hope to have it completed by autumn.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share an excerpt from The Willow and the Stone, slated for release March 16.   Enjoy!

Only minutes after the dark descended, the sound of alien chittering buzzed through the fog.  All three prisoners lunged to their feet and clutched frantic hands.  Quiet returned for a moment.  Carli's rasping breath roared in her ears.  She pressed against the bars as far as she could get from the door she couldn’t see in the fog.
The cage rattled.  The sound that haunted her nightmares exploded in her ears from all around.
Chittering.  Chirping.
Renee screamed.  Her dim form jerked away into the mist.  Adam thrashed then he too disappeared, his hand torn from Carli's grip.  Mute with terror, she crouched on the ground, shaking her head in silent negation.
Something caressed her cheek with a bristled touch.  A quick pain stabbed her neck.  She found her voice.  "No!  No!"  Sobbing denials, she slapped at the face of the thing that pulled her close.  Her limbs swung heavy, useless.  Her eyes thudded shut.  The wild thumping of her heart slowed.