by Jeffrey Altabef & Erynn Altabef
Juliet Wildfire Stone hears voices and sees visions, but she can’t make out what they mean. Her eccentric grandfather tells her stories about the Great Wind Spirit and Coyote, but he might as well be speaking another language. None of it makes any sense.
When she stumbles upon a series of murders, she can’t help but worry her grandfather might be involved. To discover the truth, Juliet must choose between her new life at an elite private school and her Native American heritage.
Once she uncovers an ancient secret society formed over two hundred years ago to keep her safe, she starts to wonder whether there’s some truth to those old stories her grandfather has been telling her.
All she wants is to be an average sixteen-year-old girl, but she has never been average—could never be average.
Betrayed by those she loves, she must decide whether to run or risk everything by fulfilling her destiny as the Chosen.
Everything about me is a lie.
My entire life is a leaning tower of lies that threatens to collapse at any moment and bury me so deep I may never climb out from under the rubble.
I slam the bathroom door and my hand trembles as the old-fashioned steel bolt slides into place.
The locked door offers no real safety. Locked doors can be broken, but it does give me a moment of privacy and a chance to breathe. So much has happened over the past few days. It’s like I’ve become a totally different person, someone unrecognizable.
The adrenaline that had been pumping through my veins has completely melted away now as I lean against the wooden door. My breath comes fast and ragged. My body feels heavy and weary and my legs weaken. Gravity pulls me down. Too tired to resist, I slide down the length of the door until the white marble floor rushes up to meet me.
I work hard to steady my breath and focus on taking in fresh air, expelling the old. It’s a simple process, yet it takes all of my concentration. When air starts to flow, my eyes close. Time slows and drifts by erratically.
Images flash through my mind—an eclectic group of memories: childhood birthdays, second place in a spelling bee, hanging out with Troy, rock climbing with Sicheii. Most are happy, but they’re all tainted now. The lies spoil them. They were never true. They were just part of a story, one that’s changed forever.
My weary mind reaches for sleep, but I resist. Too much time would be wasted. There’s too much for me to do. Too many loose ends need to be tied, so I open moist eyes and wipe away tears I don’t recall crying.
When my vision clears, crimson-streaked fingers flutter near my face as if directed by someone else. I thought blood looked like ketchup, but it’s darker and thicker than you would think. My hands spin in tight circles. Each finger is stained with thick, mud-colored smears.
Whose blood is on them?
A cold sweat coats my back and my chest tightens. This blood must be scrubbed away immediately. It starts to burn as if it’s alive, as if possessed by dark spirits, spirits that want to harm me. It freaks me out. I have got to wash them clean now, this second, immediately, before....
I turn the faucet and hot water tumbles over my skin. I frantically rub my fingers together and hope friction and water alone will make the blood disappear. The water in the sink turns red and then pink, but traces of blood stubbornly stay behind. A bar of soap rests on the edge of the porcelain sink. Lather squishes between my fingers—twisting and turning, scrubbing and rinsing. My skin turns raw from the rubbing, and when the water has lost all its warmth, I turn the faucet off.
Hard to find specks of blood cling to my flesh, but I still see them and feel them.
Will they ever wipe clean? I don’t think so.
A silent scream builds deep within me, which so desperately wants to be released it practically hurts, but no sound slips past my lips. I’m too tired to scream.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Wind Catcher: A Chosen Novel is a joint project between the father/daughter team of Jeff Altabef and Erynn Altabef. Jeff Altabef is an award winning author who has two published thrillers. He has a column on The Examiner focused on writing, and a blog designed to encourage writing by those that like telling stories. He spends time volunteering at the writing center in the local community college. Erynn Altabef is an avid reader, dancer, and community activist who has just earned her Girl Scout Gold Award. When she’s not in High School, she loves reading, performing in school musicals, baking, and watching movies with her friends.
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