Reader Note: This is an excerpt from chapter three of DARK MIND. It is not a story spoiler. Emily Stone must decide how she will get out of her dangerous situation deep in the jungle of Kauai.
Two tattered wicker chairs sat on opposite sides of the porch in front of two sash windows. The screens around the sitting area used to keep most pesky mosquitoes away had long since deteriorated, curled and ripped vertically from age and constant humidity.
First step, then the second onto the porch felt like a carnival fun house with sloping sides and uneven movement from the weight of two people.
The blonde man pushed Emily’s left shoulder with the barrel of the gun urging her into the house. The rickety screen door squeaked as Emily slowly pulled it open, it slipped slightly off at a strange angle due to neglect.
Darkness greeted her with an unknown agenda.
She contemplated her next move and waited for an opening to pounce – the sooner the better. The man didn’t expect any resistance from a woman who appeared submissive and frightened – all the classic victim behaviors that Emily was not.
The brightness outside wasn’t enough to overexpose her eyesight inside the cottage. The interior windows covered with heavy black drapes and lack of any luminescent made for a creepy entrance. Slasher movies with chainsaw murderers flashed through her mind.
The hair stood up on the back of Emily’s neck even before the pungent smell of old garbage, booze, and human body sweat hit her senses. The putrid odor kept increasing as she moved deeper into the living room and made her swallow hard to keep from gagging. She knew if she continued into the house it would be next to impossible to escape – too many unknowns not in her favor.
Elements of surprise slowed her pace. She counted down the seconds and inventoried the thrift store furniture consisting of a broken down couch with protruding springs, two overstuffed, mismatched chairs, and a small fold out table with two straight back chairs.
Pieces of mangoes, pineapples, and empty beer bottles covered the table; the fruit had turned dark around the edges allowing flies to feast on the blackened remnants.
“Company.” The British man announced as the screen door slammed shut behind them, the broken door still wobbled on its rusted hinges, squeaking for a few seconds.
Emily’s odds for escape now doubled with two people in the house, instead of just one man with a shotgun.
Her uncertainties now realized.
Small steps forward, left foot, right foot, then pivoting to the left and spinning around to face her attacker, Emily pounced on the man, pressed against him close enough to smell his sickly sweat, and shoved the shotgun upward blasting off a shot through the ceiling. Splinters and chunks of drywall sprinkled the living room like an early snow dusting of winter in the mountains.
The room echoed from the blast. A couple of seconds passed before the world had normal audible sounds.
Emily knew she couldn’t overpower the man, but she used her quick self-defense moves to her advantage.
Momentarily stunned, the man blinked twice and before he could retaliate, Emily slammed the heel of her right hand into his face making direct contact with his nose. Blood instantly spurted from his membranes and she felt the slippery, warm liquid on her hand spattering her face and white t-shirt.
Rage and adrenaline pumped through her body and catapulted her forward as she landed a solid right hook on his jaw. He didn’t stand a chance and dropped to the floor. The shotgun flew, completing one full revolution, end over end, and rested next to the sagging couch.
Fighting the urge to kick his face repeatedly for what he had done to the little girl in the basement, Emily took a set of plastic zip ties from her pocket, rolled the bleeding man on his side, and expertly looped his hands. She pulled them tight – too tight. She didn’t care. He moaned, dazed by the blitz attack.
Just as Emily turned to find an entrance to the basement to find Cassie, a large, muscular man with dark tattoos that seemed to ooze around his grubby white tank top grabbed her by the neck and pushed her backwards onto the couch. Her fall wasn’t cushioned and she could feel every sofa steel spring jab into her back. Pain pierced her spine. The hulk of a man pressed his body against Emily and squeezed the air from her lungs.
He groped at her sides and her jeans in a frenzy of excitement.
She couldn’t move her arms or wiggle her body loose from his enormous weight thrust against her one hundred-fifteen pound frame. Slowly turning her head to the left, she saw the dark inked flesh of his right shoulder and sunk her teeth deep into the muscle. The powerful human jaw cut through the soft tissue and then sliced through the muscle. He cried out in agony with an animal wail, retreating long enough for Emily to slide out from under him and hit the uneven wooden floor. Emily crawled toward the shotgun and prayed that it had another bullet in the chamber.
Before she could reach the gun, she was tugged roughly by her hair, dragged a couple of feet backward, picked up like a rag doll, and thrown to the floor on the other side of the room. The huge man with a long ponytail stood in front of the door blocking any means of escape for Emily.
Bleeding from his shoulder, red ooze seeped further down his shirt as he stood staring at her with a wide, terrifying smile on his face, reminiscent of the inbred family member intent on wreaking havoc on any unsuspecting visitor who happened upon their place in the woods. It piqued some type of sick, twisted game to him. He was oblivious to his partner lying on the floor whimpering softly and didn’t care if he were alive or dead. His focus was on Emily as his personal sadistic plaything until he killed her.
Not clear if he was a brutal psychopath or merely a caged wild animal that acted as the muscle partner in crime, Emily knew she was out manned, out maneuvered, and out gunned.
She stood up shakily and readied herself in a standoff against her opponent. Her options were to hope that Rick would rescue her, probably not going to happen soon enough, or hand-to-hand combat with an overdriven testosterone, dominated Neanderthal, which was highly unlikely, or plan three…
She tried to stand up straight to size up the fervent man as a sharp, searing pain exploded down the base of her neck to her lower back, like a lightning bolt, which caused her knees to quiver. Light headed with difficulty breathing, Emily remembered her early training at the police academy, which seemed like another lifetime ago. She kept her physical training updated even though she wasn’t a sworn police officer anymore.
She pushed off with her left foot and took three well-placed steps, covered her face leading with her elbows, and crashed through the single pane, sash window. She tucked and rolled at the perfect time, hit the catawampus porch, bounced once, and continued down the two stairs to the soft, reddish dirt of the island.Excerpt from Dark Mind All rights reserved. Copyright © 2011 Jennifer Chase
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A heart stopping passage. A very well chosen one as I want to know how Emily came to be in this mess and what she will do when, or if she escapes from it. Also, I learned one new word today : catawampus! Thanks for sharing this from your novel. Did you find it difficult to chose a suitable excerpt that didn’t give anything away?
Thank you Martin 🙂 I wanted to find an excerpt that gave a little insight into Emily’s work. When I was a kid I thought “catawampus” was a type of cat! And then my neighbor a couple of years ago used it as something that was out of balance or slightly askew… funny how that works out in writing.