This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
First frost. The very event anticipated by us inhabitants of number 7 Lucky Lane. Crouched in front of the gate, I waited for the word to go. I pinched a frozen blade of grass and watched my warmth melt the ice.
Life among the undead wasn’t bad enough for my father today. A smart man would have said, just off the damn thing and move on. But no, today he wanted to capture one. Goddamnit.
Chris, my older brother by two years, crept along the fence toward me. I turned to talk to Dad but he faced the other way. Theo, Chris’s best friend since, well, forever, ran along the fence headed toward us.
“Dad, what’s the point? It’s dead,” I said.
“Anna, the point is,” he whispered while he peered through the fence slats, “it’s Calvin.”
“I don’t think--”
“And,” he cut across me. His breath fogged the space between us in the chill morning air. “I owe it to him. Besides, I need to know.”
Theo reached the gate, climbed the apple tree, and peered into the street and churchyard beyond. “All clear,” he whispered.
“Right,” Dad said. “We all know what to do. So let’s go, and be quiet.”
My sister Susan fitted an arrow to her bow and stood over me. I glanced up and for a brief moment our eyes met. Bitch. The word floated through my mind. Time, that cure for all hurts, rendered hazy my memory of the events which caused our rift. Silly, but the anger remained.
Dad unlocked the gate. Mindful of the squeak, he pushed forward, careful to hold the door just right. We filed out and proceeded down the street.
“There he is.” Chris nodded toward Calvin.
My heart pounded as I stared at the beast, which had once been our neighbor. Pallid skin hung loosely over an emaciated frame. No longer a rich ebony, its skin had begun the transformation to moaner grey. Shit, that means it’s at least three months dead. How the hell did it find its way back here?
“Damn, I can smell it from here,” Theo whispered as an ammonia rich stench of decay wafted over us.
It’d fed recently. I shuddered.
“Shhh, there’s two more in the churchyard,” Dad said.
Far away, but uncomfortably close. We had three minutes tops, to collect our quarry and get back under cover. “Okay, let’s do this,” I said.
I handed Dad our fireplace tongs when we entered Calvin’s yard. The moaner that had once been Calvin had its back to us. Theo stomped past me and leaped in front of the beast.
Theo used his machete to cut off one, then the other of its outstretched hands. Dad and Chris seized its arms. Theo ran forward and grabbed its head by the ears.
“Quick, Anna,” Dad grunted.
I wrapped my dog’s runner chain around its chest, slipped the clasp into the eyelet and drew the chain taut.
“Pull,” Theo yelled when his hands began to slip off its head.
I heaved with all my strength. Too hard, I realized after the fact. The moaner toppled onto me. I slammed to the ground. “Ooof,” escaped my lips. My lungs seized. I struggled to inhale, but breath eluded me.
Dad fell on top of us, his face inches from the beast’s mouth. Chris lifted his foot, smashed down, and crushed the moaner’s jaw. Dad rolled off. Theo grabbed it by the legs and pulled it off me.
Theo and Chris seized the moaner’s arms and yanked it upright. Dad took the chain from me while I fought to breathe. I flailed on the ground, desperate to draw a lungful of air. At last, I pulled a ragged gasp, seized the tongs from the grass and staggered to my feet. Lungs on fire, I circled in front of the moaner and grabbed it by the neck.
“Two on the road,” Theo said. He dropped its arm, and followed by Chris, went after the new threat.
Dad and I worked the beast toward the road. Its handless arms, stripped of menace, flailed to no purpose. The monster snapped its jaws and thrust its neck forward in a vain attempt to reach me. I pushed it backward with the tongs while Dad pulled on the chain.
Chris and Theo made it to the gate. After I passed through, Chris shut the gate and snapped the lock closed with a reassuring click.
“Anna, the tree.” Dad nodded to the gumball tree in our front yard.
Theo and Chris took hold of the arms and helped push it across the yard. I shoved it against the tree. Dad proceeded to wrap the chain around both the tree and moaner. Finished, he stepped back and we all let go. Its arms thrashed about and it snapped its jaws at us, but it wasn’t going anywhere.
Dad duct taped the moaner’s neck to the tree. Much too loud, the sound of tape ripping from the roll echoed across the yard. Satisfied the head was secure, he cut the tape.
He turned to me and in between pants said, “Well, that was easy.” He took off his cap to reveal a shock of greasy, dirt blond hair and wiped perspiration from his forehead and neck.
“I sure hope it’s fucking worth it,” I said while I fought the urge to vomit.
Theo flashed a smile. “Oh ho, quite the potty mouth today. I like it. Kinda turns me on.”
“Park that thing before I cut it off,” Dad said with a warning glance to Theo. “And, Anna, watch your language.”
“I just don’t see--”
“We’re not done yet,” Dad cut across me. Again. “We have to make sure it’s not gonna walk if it breaks free.”
“Got it.” Theo ran toward the front door.
“Chris,” Dad called to my brother, who stood behind the beast and held its wallet. Dad’s brow furrowed in bemusement. “What are you doing, son?”
Chris opened the wallet and sighed. He glanced up to see Dad and me staring at him. “He owed me and Chet fifty bucks for his lawn.”
Dad gazed at me, his mouth open. I gaped at Dad, and we both turned to Chris.
Theo emerged from the house and burst into laughter. Dad and I joined in. Chris, Calvin’s wallet in hand, appeared perplexed for a moment before realization crept over his face. He too joined in the laughter, which seemed as infectious as the plague that had engulfed our world.
Theo struggled to speak. “What a moron.” He stopped laughing, aware of the danger. “Only you.”
“Okay, let’s wrap this up,” Dad said. “Theo, you know what to do?”
“Yes sir.” He hefted a sledgehammer over his shoulder.
Dad and Chris headed for the front door. I had the unfortunate task of being Theo’s, as Dad called it, outdoors buddy. I turned away and put my fingers in my ears, having no desire to witness the gruesome job Theo had to perform.
Kevin Brand: My overall rating: 4.8/5 starsLoved. Every. Second. Everytime I came back to continue reading I got this overwhelming feeling of getting hooked on the first sentence... Over and over and again!The only things that were missing for me include more descriptions on what happens when Reuben touches s...
genlynne2379: I read the other review of this book and I must say that I disagree with it wholeheartedly. I do not believe the author put the apostrophes in the names just to be unique, but because the characters are supposedly of a different race than humans. They are Anmah. They should have different names a...
JWalker: I loved this story from start to finish! It flows at a really nice pace and the story world feels so real. The fight sequences are a treat especially when Isanfyre is training to become a warrior. I found the names really cool and thankfully easy to pronounce. Personally I have always struggled w...
Jessica Esa: With a tantalising end to the first chapter, the authour has given us a treat and a welcome addition to the fantasy adventure genre. To limit it to just such would be an injustice however, as this novel clearly draws on elements of historical fiction, fairy tale and horror. Simply, there's someth...
Cassie Jacobson: So many twists and turns. Keeps you wanting to read to see what happens next. The main character is detailed well. The struggles and growth of Joby makes you admire her. It gives you a proud satisfied feeling while reading it. A refreshing difference then most books out there today, and in a w...
maewilde25: I liked this, though it dragged on for over 200pages and heaven knows I did not expect the plot twist in the middle. David being Cristiãn. I was wondering when he would show up and didn't know he was there all along. it looks like there should be a sequel, please let there be a sequel. I know the...
Hali McGowan: when will the third book be done? I am absolutely hooked. I red the first two books within less than a week. I'm itching for the third one. The plotline is absolutely wonderful. I've never been much for sci-fi ish books. but you've got me hooked on this series
nirrmitshah: A truely touching story where you'd be at the edge of your seat for the most time. even though the starting might seem rushed, the story was extremely interesting and entertaining. I think certain parts could be added detailing the Mynds's culture. As well as more details on the Jhanthru history....
Bri Hoffer: I couldn't put it down!! The characters are all incredibly likable, and it's so descriptive you can see, smell, and feel thier surroundings. Great story, and very well written. I cannot wait for follow up stories. there were a few grammatical errors, but nothing that I could move right over.
harry142018: This story was gripping and very professionally written. With lots of twists and slight of hand tricks, the author deceives the reader until finally showing their cards at the end. With several subplots all intertwining to create the main plot, this really is an interesting and engaging read.
makaylakay: I love love this story! It's written incredibly and well thought-out plot! I love how it's a different twist in fantasy fiction, other then the usual vampire or werewolves. Love the romantics and drawn to the two characters so much already! This book will draw you in within the first chapter and ...
Charlie_8472: Recommended to me by a friend, I thought I'd give this a read. As a hobbyist blacksmith, the blurb certainly caught my attention. I found the sentence about them drinking, dancing and fighting a strange combination of activities, perhaps a reflection of the writer’s personality and humour. Howeve...
sujitha nair: What's so distinct about this story was that it could easily be real. Praveena can be your classmate, neighbor or that girl you saw at the coffee shop today. The important decisions she makes and the dilemmas she faces, remind us of our own twisted lives.