A Thursday teaser from the Readers Favorite-selected read
By David C. Cassidy
The black car eased left, onto the dark country road that would lead to its destruction.
“I’m telling you,” Christensen said again, tapping his wristwatch. He’d been going on about it for nearly five minutes. “No way it’s nine-thirty.”
Strong glanced up at the rear-view mirror, then brought his focus to bear on the road. He seemed quite put off with the private’s obsession with the current time, even more put off by the ill color of his own bloodshot eyes. “Just shut the fuck up.”
Christensen looked like he might say something about the lieutenant’s skin, which was quite unsightly now, what with its odd blister here and there. He studied it a moment longer, then simply turned and faced the road.
The headlamps cut through the darkness. After a short distance, Strong shut the air vents. “I can’t take this no more. Smells like cow shit, for Chrissake. Fucking hick towns.”
Christensen disagreed as he rolled up his window. “I think it’s more like a dump. Sir.”
Brikker was not surprised at the darkness. What surprised was that foul odor; the hideous transformation of Strong. The man rarely suffered but minor aches and the occasional bout of nausea after a Turn, but how it had affected him in this manner, yet showed not the least in the private, was a puzzle. Perhaps it had something to do with the homosexual gene (of which he was certain existed and could be eradicated in time), but that was only speculation. More likely, the queer was simply one of the fortunate few who suffered no ill effects of the Turn, unlike the vast majority predisposed to certain side effects of the magic. And thus it did not surprise him when he reached up and touched his cheek and found it blistered and worn. He could smell his own blood from the open sores. Could taste it on his lips.
What most surprised—and intrigued—was this strange turn of events. Richards had struggled to summon the magic, had nearly destroyed himself in the process; had nearly destroyed all of them. He could still see the burning bodies in his mind, the fall from human to human waste, terrifying. He could not recall such horror, nor such agony. And from this moment onward, he would remember the agony.
The world was different now; of that he was certain. Perhaps a rebirth of ten minutes had come … perhaps fifteen. Nonetheless, the effects would be far-reaching in every sense: There would be mild chaos and confusion for a radius of several miles. Miles of wasteland, yes, and perhaps that would serve as a saving grace. But what he did not know, could not possibly know, were the full implications of this strangest of Turns. Richards had not only struggled, he had suffered the loss of his greatest strength: control.
Indeed, to grasp Time’s Wheel and draw it back without thought, with no guiding hand … who knew its danger. The Turn itself had been disastrous, and already this new world had taken a darker path. The air reeked of filth; Strong was a fright, as was he. He would heal, surely, his nausea would pass, and his eyesight, of which he had never suffered the least ill, would clear. Yet the question tasked him: What darker surprises awaited?
“Sir.” It was Strong.
“Shit,” Christensen muttered. He was struggling to read the directions on his crumpled notes.
Brikker lowered his window. At least all had not changed.
In the distance, the farmhouse burned.
“That’s the place,” Christensen said. “Jesus.”
In the other direction, far to their right along the road perpendicular to them, Brikker saw a pair of headlamps in the blackness. The vehicle was moving at quite the rate of speed. The bumpkin who would be hero, he thought. Or was it the farm boy?
It mattered little. What mattered was avoiding another collision.
“Slow down,” he snapped.
“Slow down?” Strong asked. “What for?”
Strong eased up on the gas and brought them under the speed limit.
Brikker nodded to himself as a second pair of lights appeared, perhaps a quarter mile behind the first vehicle. It was closing quickly.
All three vehicles converged toward the intersection. The first, a flatbed, Brikker now discerned, had slowed as it approached. It was still a hundred yards shy.
“Stop,” Brikker said. “Let them pass.”
Strong hesitated, clearly wondering why, but followed the order to the letter. The black car slowed, creeping up on the intersection. It finally stopped, a safe thirty feet from the stop.
Award-winning author David C. Cassidy takes you on an extraordinary journey into the heart of the human soul, where one man’s incredible story of courage and tragedy will lift you, shock you, stir you—and leave you begging for more.
Velvet Rain is a rollicking thrill ride, pitting unstoppable power against unstoppable evil. With a nerve-wracking beat that weaves paranormal and horror with a deeply human touch, this is a gripping tale of heartbreak and redemption, terror and torment, with a stunning climax that is simply unforgettable.
HE WAS BORN A MIRACLE.
IT WILL TAKE ONE TO SAVE THE WORLD.
A mysterious drifter, Kain Richards is the last of his kind—and a man on the run. Once a tortured prisoner and pawn in a secret government experiment, his freedom hangs in the balance against the relentless pursuit from Brikker, an obsessed and brutal madman who will stop at nothing to possess him.
Born with the Turn—the godlike power to reverse time—Kain’s ability is constrained inside a “bubble” that alters time within it. The further back he turns, the larger the bubble, the larger the effect—and the greater, stranger, and more dire and unpredictable the consequences, for those within, and beyond, the Turn’s reach.
Kain also possesses the Sense, giving him knowledge of the previous timeline and fuzzy, incomplete glimpses of the future. While the vast majority of the population don’t have the Sense, some do—and Brikker is one of them. And yet, while those who have it aren’t even aware of it, experiencing little more than déjà vu when time has turned, Brikker’s Sense far exceeds Kain’s, and is utterly dangerous. Not only can he remember every detail of a previous timeline, his glimpses into the future are far deeper, far more telling, giving him a deadly advantage. As these glimpses can only occur when time has turned, Kain is the key to Brikker’s twisted plans that tread an unalterable path to a terrifying future of death and destruction.
Knowing full well he must keep to the road, yet worn from the chase and his curse of the Turn, Kain settles into a job as a farmhand, only to fall for a beautiful and sensible Iowa farmwoman. Unable to stay but unwilling to leave, his dark secret sets their lives in peril. His health and his powers failing, only an iron will in an epic final battle will give him the chance to stand against the evil menace that threatens to consume him and the woman he loves—and to save the world from a hellish apocalypse.
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David C. Cassidy
Award-winning author David C. Cassidy is the twisted mind behind several chilling books of horror and suspense. An author, photographer, and graphic designer—and a half-decent juggler—he spends his writing life creating tales of terror where Bad Things Happen To Good People. Raised by wolves, he grew up with a love of nature, music, science, and history, with thrillers and horror novels feeding the dark side of his seriously disturbed imagination. He talks to his characters, talks often, and most times they listen. But the real fun starts when they tell him to take a hike, and they Open That Door anyway. Idiots.
David lives and plays in Ontario, Canada. From Mozart to Vivaldi, classic jazz to classic rock, he feels naked without his iPod. Suffering from MAD—Multiple Activity Disorder—he divides his time between writing and workouts, photography and Photoshop, reading and rollerblading. An avid amateur astronomer, he loves the night sky, chasing the stars with his telescope. Sometimes he eats.