Autumn Brody thought it was a one-time thing. A haunted dorm room, with restless spirits seeking justice for the crimes committed against them. For seventeen months, she’s been able to move forward, believing it to be true.
Autumn, it turns out, was very wrong. She’s not the first in her family to see the dead, and the dead are far from done with her.
In this sneak peek of the second book in the Autumn Brody series, Autumn is confronted by her great-grandmother’s spirit — a woman who learned the hard way how dangerous their gift could be.
Change of Season, the first book in the series, re-releases in a reworked ‘Director’s Cut’ on March 14th, 2015. Waiting For A Star To Fall is slated for summer 2015 publication.
The Creative Writing classroom, grade eleven. Where it all began.
I stand near the window, watching as the first snowfall settles into an icing sugar blanket over the campus. I’ve never been a fan of snow or the cold, but there’s something different about the intricate flakes tumbling from the sky. There’s a dryness to them, a sense of it not being real. I open the window, press my hand against the screen until it tumbles out. My fingers stretch to catch the precipitation, pulling them inside for closer inspection.
They’re not snowflakes. Their texture is more that of a dust, crumbling between my thumb and forefinger.
“Stardust,” a voice behind me says.
I turn around, instinctively recoiling from her despite my own request for this meeting. My need doesn’t shake the sense of dread, nor does it somehow normalize these exchanges. I’m still talking to the dead, and it still terrifies me.
“You asked for me. I’m here.”
I nod. “People are dying. Because of me, a woman is dead.”
Louise frowns. “You really love to put the weight of the world upon your shoulders, don’t you? You’re more dangerous to yourself than I thought.”
Puzzled and chilled, I shut the window. “I don’t understand.”
“Yours is the bleeding heart that becomes a puppet in the wrong spirit’s hands, if you don’t learn to control the door,” she explained. “You’re starting to understand, aren’t you?”
“I need help to stop the killer.”
Louise edges forward now and I can see her feet are bare. Behind her, a shimmer of light hovers near the exit. No larger than a basketball, it pulses, blinking in pink.
“She’s already crossed,” Louise tells me. “Not all violent ends create a restless soul. Despite her death, she had no unfinished business compelling enough to remain. All she is now, is stardust. Remains cast aside as a descent begins.”
“You know already.”
Glancing at the fading orb, she cradles it in her palm and blows gently upon it. It drifts slowly in my direction, its hue dimming rapidly to an off-white.
“The first lesson is to listen to the quiet ones. They’re safest, but they have something to say. All of us do.”
The orb has shrunk to the size of a softball, slow-blinking at me. I reach out tentatively, my finger grazing its airy surface. I close my eyes, willing it to speak to me, offering to hear its message. The orb hovers beside me, as if pausing to scrutinize me. I can feel it looking through me.
‘I trusted,’ I hear a soft female voice say. ‘It was a lie.’
“I don’t understand…”
The room begins to spin and I grab wildly at the window ledge, only to find it’s gone. It’s all gone: the familiar brick and mortar of my scholastic days is crumbling away, soaring through the night sky and ignited. Falling stars tumbling to the weary bosom of earth.
I slam face-first into a white door and realize I’m in some sort of hallway. An apartment building? The door reads 2B and I try the knob, unsure of what I expect. I know I didn’t expect it to turn and open for me.
I enter slowly, keeping a wall to my back as I study my surroundings. Exposed brick on a far wall. A black leather sectional sofa faces a plasma TV. The glass of what was once a coffee table is fragmented on a blue and grey area rug, sparkling like the diamond on my hand. A shattered glass lamp from Ikea, the polished stones it once contained now scattered like pennies in a well.
To my right, a kitchen. Open concept, it features an island that divides it from the dining room proper. Simple marble countertop, standard fridge in aluminum finish. Marring its pristine surface is a splash of blood at head-level — for me, anyway. A shattered bowl in a pool of deep crimson on the floor suggests a life once mundane quickly became a life ended.
“Who did this?” I whisper.
There is no reply, only the peculiar clock on the mantel. Seemingly a large crystal similar to raw sapphire, its hands shift to the hour and a bird merges, tweeting its song. The melody is familiar, but I can’t place it.
A creaking jars me from my study of the timepiece. Spinning around, I spy a shadow in the farthest corner of the apartment. It begins to move, to approach. I understand that somehow, it sees me. It knows what I know.
“Get me out of here!” I plead softly.
“Get yourself out,” Louise replies, standing beside me now.
The shadow edges closer and within it, the glint of a blade. A knife. Can you die in a dream? As I press myself against the wall, I wonder if I’m about to find out.
“Help yourself. You have to learn.” Glancing at the approaching figure, she stands before me. Shielding me from harm. “Find an anchor in your mind. Something you can go back to. Focus on it and feel the door shut.”
Something to go home to… Someone…
‘I’m your constant,’ Andrew whispers in my ear.
A constant. Never changing. Always there. I think of him now, think of the minutiae of his features. I think of the feel of his arms around me and I close my eyes. Pull me back inside, I urge him.
The figure is five feet away. It has no face, only eyes. Eyes of coal that bore through me, that cut to my core and know I am weak flesh, ripe for the taking. It’s now or never.
“GET OUT!” Louise screams.
In my mind, I see the door to the tunnels beneath Casteel, sturdy metal and silver knob. I see my prison, the one I’ve escaped. With all of my might, I heave it shut…