An excerpt from my novel “The Temple”–FIVE 5 star ratings at Amazon!
I woke to darkness and cat fur weighing heavily on my head. Addie purred lovingly in my ear, her claws kneading my scalp in ecstasy. Mumbling incoherent curses at her, I pushed myself up on my elbows, cackling evilly as she slid from me with an angry growl.
The sun was gone outside, but it was only twenty minutes before my alarm was set to go off at nine. I slid to a sitting position, gathering my comforter up around my shoulders while I waited for something resembling life to return to my body.
I padded downstairs rubbing sleep from my eyes with Addie on my heels. The little red light was blinking on my answering machine. The phone must have died after I talked to my sister. I hit the play button and started pulling out things to make coffee.
“Vale, it’s Mom. You got some mail here, I just wanted to double check your address before I posted it.”
“Yeah, right, you just wanted a reason to call,” I muttered, leaning over my four-cup coffee maker and inhaling the heady aroma of caffeine.
“Hello, my dear, it’s Edward. I was calling to see how your first night passed. Give me a ring.”
The first sip is always painful yet orgasmic, as it burns my tongue and brings my body to attention. I dumped a cup of kitty crunchies into Addie’s bowl and received her patented Look of Death. “You had wet stuff this morning,” I complained at her, which earned me a plaintive yowl and claws in my arm. If she weren’t the cutest little ball of fluff, I might one day launch her through a window.
My thoughts were on the Wild Hunt theory as I shampooed my hair. I wasn’t buying a supernatural explanation for something that was surely not. I made a mental note to call and set up an appointment with the Detective in charge of the case.
Ashamed, I chose my outfit with care, knowing in a few short hours I’d be seeing Brett again. Black bootleg jeans that looked great on my butt and a maroon fitted tee, topped off with a knee length button-up sweater and high heeled ankle boots. Items that passed for “nice” in my sadly non-girly wardrobe.
With about fifteen minutes to spare, I sat down on the edge of my bed and hit the remote, my TV blasting to life. I scanned through a few channels, finding nothing but bad British comedy and cooking shows. I missed the clockwork comfort of the ten o’clock news, especially knowing a girl had died and nobody was making a fuss.
Addie followed me to the door, her puffy tail swishing in exasperation. Her big yellow eyes accused me of neglect. “I’ll be back before the sun comes up,” I told her, bending down to pet her. She turned on her heel, giving me a picturesque view of her behind and no doubt as to how she felt about me leaving.
I was right on time to the Temple. Jordan met me at the door with a sneer, passing the key ring to me. “I see you survived your first night,” he said in his hoity-toity voice. “What with your ignorance of our nightly terrors, I imagined you wouldn’t take me seriously.”
“Imagined or hoped?” I retorted, brushing past him into the cool air of the great room. Maybe a little too hard, I thought evilly, watching him rub his shoulder gingerly after I hit him. There is much to be said for super strength.
“The torches have been acting up again. Don’t bother lighting them, they’ll just go out.” Stepping out the door, he held out his hand, palm up, and cleared his throat. “It’s already eleven. Next time, consider coming in a few minutes early.”
Dropping my keys into his hand, I smiled sweetly. “The shift starts at eleven. Eat shit and die.” I slammed the door and pulled the locks, snickering to myself, already planning ways to annoy him in the future. One of my biggest pet peeves has always been chauvinistic men. It runs in my family.
The Temple seemed darker than usual, the only lights being the three spotlighted goddesses. I clicked across the floor in my high heels and stopped at Cerridwen, staring up into her knowing eyes. “Goddess. Good to see you.” I nodded at her, and was startled when it looked like she winked back. Looking around, I found one lone torch flickering as the culprit.
“If that one is still lit, what the hell is he talking about?” Using the long handled grill lighter, I lit a couple of the back wall torches, making a stop in the corner to light another stick of jasmine incense. The fire light brought about another dimension to the Temple, making it feel more sacred and homier.
I checked my email in the computer room, watching a couple funny videos Macy sent via YouTube. They were the very popular roommates playing tricks on one another type things. Good for a laugh. At ten ‘til twelve, I hit the cameras and made my way to the outer door to check the locks and close the tower. I noticed that three of the five torches I’d lit were extinguished and pushing thin wisps of smoke through the air, despite that there was no noticeable breeze inside.
I posted up on Cerridwen as I’d done the night before, tucking my legs beneath me and wrapping my sweater around closer to my body. As the wind picked up and howled outside, it grew colder around me, and I noticed with confusion that I could see my breath in the air. I help up a hand, blowing on it, and shivered.
It must have dropped several degrees in a matter of minutes, and I had a sneaky suspicion I knew what was happening. Bracing myself for the shock that would come, no matter how prepared I was, I waited.
She formed from the shadows, mist pulling together into a semi-transparent form. It wasn’t my first ghost, I’d seen too many in my lifetime to find it in anyway strange that an almost two thousand year old temple had spirits. It wasn’t two years ago I’d run into an old lady haunting Wal-Mart.
Her hair reached her hips in amber colored waves, a fringe of bangs framing a sweet, heart shaped face with big blue eyes and a bow shaped mouth. She’d died in a holey pair of light washed jeans and a long sleeved shirt the color of her eyes, one crescent of flat tummy peeking beneath. When I smiled at her, she stared back in confusion.
“You can see me?” Her voice came across strong, causing her legs to waver out of existence for a split second. It takes a lot of energy to pull a spirit together, or so I’ve been told. They put too much effort into exerting some part of their “body” and it causes discrepancies in others.
“I’m Vale. I can see you.”
When she ventured forward after a moment, I could almost see her legs move, but she floated well above the floor.
We stared silently for a minute, her eyes studying my face. “You must be new. Why can you see me and the others can not?”
Her voice had a vaguely Northern European accent. I wanted to know who she was, but I figured the nice thing to do would be answer her questions first, lest she disappear. “Yeah, I’m new. I started yesterday.” I paused, listening to a mournful howl from the outside. It had to be really loud for me to hear it so easily through the thick, stone walls of the temple. As it faded, I went on, “I can see you because it’s kind of my thing.”
“Oh, it is one of your powers! I worked here once.” She lowered into a sitting position beside me, the bottom half of her body vanishing from sight. “I could lift ten times my body weight and run a mile in ten seconds. What else can you do, besides see dead people? You feel special, like you have a purpose here.”
I put her age around my own, with an unusual childlike enthusiasm. I wondered what the hell she meant by saying I was special. “Quite a few things actually. I’m sort of an all purpose gal. What’s your name?”
“When did you die?” Confusion passed across her face, and she wavered unsteadily. “Focus on me,” I told her, catching her eye and willing her to hold her form.
“I do not remember. It was 1999 last I can remember.”
“Ten years ago,” I told her thoughtfully. “What happened?”
She shrugged, her hair waving around as if it were corporeal. “I do not know. When I try to remember, it is too fuzzy. I was here, in the Temple, when it happened. I know that is truth.”
Interesting. I opened my mouth to question her further, but she began to fade. “Come back as soon as you can,” I told her quickly, and she nodded somberly at me before disappearing. Slowly, the atmosphere around me went back to normal and the goose bumps faded.