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How About a Free Chapter?

For today’s post, I thought I’d give away something free…a chapter from MKPI Odd Case Files: The Cow & The Coven.  If you’re on the fence about throwing money around on a book you’re not sure you’ll love, or even like, maybe this will help you make up your mind.  I hope you enjoy this chapter from the book, and feel free to comment–any and all comments are certainly appreciated–it’s all part of our journey together!

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Chapter One

“Crime & Meditation”

            Linoleum.  It wasn’t exactly the thing Robert expected one of his last visions to be; especially the worn, yellowing linoleum that lined the floor beneath him.  Considering that his eyes felt fifty sizes too big within his skull, well, Robert felt that he really shouldn’t have been seeing anything.  As far as last looks go, it wasn’t the worst his psyche could conjure up.  However, it lacked the ability to produce the particular joie de vivre that say, Italian tiles or hardwood floors might have.  Regardless of whether or not linoleum was Robert’s choice of last visions, linoleum was what he got.

            Of course, linoleum wasn’t quite the problem—his eyes were.  Swollen to three times their original size, they felt in danger of popping forth from Robert’s skull, or just exploding altogether.  They felt like large citrus fruits inside of his eye sockets, the nerve endings all around his skull screamed out in agony each time he tried to focus or move his eyes in any direction.  Upon awakening, Robert had trouble remembering why his eyes hurt so much—why they were so swollen—why his whole head screamed out that something was burning inside of his brain.  Given a little thought, the reason came back, making his cranium ache even more—which hadn’t seemed possible just moments before.

            A bump.

            Okay. 

            A mountain.

            There was a mountain on the back of Robert’s head.  And it throbbed.  Oh, how it throbbed!  Every nerve, every pore, every hair follicle screamed out in agony from the pain inside of that mountain.  Robert winced, a hiss of breath escaping between his teeth as he reached back to rub the bump on his head.  A loud rattling of chains made Robert’s head scream out in pain even more loudly as something kept his hands from reaching the bump.

            Handcuffs?

            Manacles?

            Maybe shackles?

            Yes.  Shackles was the right term.  Robert squinted in pain at his wrists, finding thick bands of metal encircling them.  Chains ran from round eye-hole hooks on the shackles and down to the floor where they met another set of hooks secured into the floor.  Cement.  That’s what the linoleum was laid upon.  The hooks were driven through the linoleum and into the cement.  Unless he was incredibly lucky, no amount of tugging would pull the hooks free of the floor.

            He hadn’t been chained to the floor before.  Had he?  No, he hadn’t.  He had been standing when the world went topsy-turvy and the floor came up to meet the side of his face.  Robert winced again as his brain replayed the resounding “crunch” his facial bones had created when they met the cold, hard floor.  No.  He had been standing before he became intimately involved with the linoleum upon which he now knelt.  Robert rubbed his wrists, suddenly aware of how raw they seemed underneath the shackles.

            What time was it?

            What day?

            Who had done this?

            The thoughts only made the pounding in his skull multiply like a barrage of fireworks behind his eyes.  Robert’s temples throbbed with pain so violently that he knew it would have to be visible to anyone that looked upon his visage.  His brain was crying out that he was in agony and it was none too pleased.

            How much time had passed?

            Was it still the same day?

            Was it light outside?

            Dark?

            Robert found that he could think no more clearly, even when he prodded his brain into action, trying to get his mind to work.  Whomever—or whatever—had clocked him had done a bang-up job.  Robert smiled at the pun and even smiling made his face hurt.  Robert’s lips were dry as sand but he dared not try to moisten them with his tongue, fearing the amount of pain that simple motion might bring on.  The more he thought about it—as much as his brain would allow anyway—the more he realized that every. single. inch. of his body hurt.  There wasn’t a single spot on his body that didn’t cry out in pain.  Dear God and Goddess, what damage had been done?

            Robert tried in vain to steal a look down at his body, but even tilting his head or rotating his neck made his body scream in anger.  The bump on his head throbbed harder, making the room spin as Robert became still once again, trying to calm himself.  How much damage would have to be done to a person to create this feeling?  In his relatively short life, Robert had suffered a scrape or two, but nothing came close to the agony he was in presently.

            Once, when he had been barely twelve years old, Robert had fallen from the tree house his father had built for him in their back yard.  It had been in the middle of the night and Robert had been sleeping in the tree house.  The fifteen-foot fall straight to the ground had literally knocked the wind, and quite nearly the life, out of young Robert.  He didn’t know how long he had lain unconscious, for it was still dark out when he came to his senses.

            The first thing that Robert had noticed upon awakening beneath the cool shade branches of the tree was the stars.  The stars were beautiful on such a quiet summer evening.  Just moments later, his body had screamed out that he was in pain.  Barely able to move, the young Robert had lifted his upper body, somewhat in a sit up position.  Upon looking down at his lower body, he found that both of his legs were bent at oddly placed angles.  His knees were turned completely the wrong way.  It was hard to tell in the dark of the night, but he believed he could see something white protruding from both of his shins.

            How long he screamed, Robert was never sure.  But one thing was for sure—the sun was coming up over the horizon when someone finally heard him.  For the next six weeks, Robert was almost always in pain, or at the least, discomfort.  For the six weeks after that, the pain became less, but didn’t disappear entirely until twelve weeks had passed.  The injuries from that single fall were enough to make Robert cringe any time he reminisced.  The bump on his head and his swollen face hurt more than he could ever remember his body ever hurting.

            His legs.

            God, how the bones had stuck through the skin.  His legs had been the most gut-wrenching sight he had seen at the age of twelve. 

            It was amazing how little blood had escaped the wounds that the protruding bones had created.  It seemed nothing more than a drizzle at the time.  The blood loss had probably been much worse than he remembered, but it seemed as though the bones had created corks for the wounds.

            God, how his head hurt.

            Why didn’t he remember the fall from the tree?  One would think that such a fall, no matter how brief, would at least be in the subconscious somewhere.  Fifteen feet isn’t quite that far a distance until you find yourself falling from a tree.  So, why couldn’t he remember the fall?  And how had he fallen from such a secure fort?    

            Oh, God!  My legs are broken!!! 

            His head.

            Not his legs.

            Oh, Goddess!  They’re bleeding!  My legs!

            Robert shook his head; the simple movement sent blinding white bursts of light showering before his eyes.  The pain was enough to make him remember that his legs weren’t broken, it was his head.  Good Lord, he was going crazy.

            Can only go crazy if you have the inclination.

            Shut up!

            Robert shook his head again, the bursts of light going off again.  When the lights cleared, his mind seemed to clear as well.  Finally, he slowly seemed to start thinking right.  His mind was clearing of all thoughts of broken legs and crazy thoughts.  Slowly, the pain started to even out, and the act of moving his head no longer sent sharp stabs of pain through his entire body.  It still hurt like a son-of-a-bitch, but it didn’t incapacitate him.

            Why was he in this position?  Why was he chained to the floor?  Who or what had done this to him?  Who or what had hit him in the back of the head?  Why did his face feel like so much meat?  Why would someone hit him over the head only to chain him to the floor?  If they wanted to kill him, wouldn’t they have done it already? 

            Maybe they want you to be awake and incapacitated for the rest?

            Robert shivered at the thought. 

The rest of what?

            Torture, stupid!

            Torture?  Torture?  Ah, yes.  He was familiar with the term.  Torture.  The little voice inside his head clued him in to a possible motive for being bound to the floor.  The person or thing that had done this to him wasn’t happy to kill him while he lay incapacitated on the cold floor.  No, it or they wanted to wait until he was awake so that he could scream in agony through something far worse.  The little voice inside of his head told him to not scream for help, but work harder at getting out of the shackles.  To do anything to get out of this situation.  Staying on the floor with your wrists bound was a one-way ticket to Deadsville.

            The voice!

            Robert’s eyes opened wide within their sockets at the thought.  The movement hurt, but not as badly as it would’ve a few minutes prior.

            Jeez, what a dope. 

            Why was he on the floor carrying on conversations with himself when he could just use the voice to tell him what had happened?  Play it back?  He hadn’t gone through all of the Awakening Your Sixth Sense training and Channeling Your Inner Voice classes at the Temple to ignore it all now.  Robert tried to calm himself down, bring his thumpity-thump-a-thump heart beat under control, slow his breathing.  The effort, at first, did nothing but make him hurt more and become more paranoid.  More agitated.  More pained.

            Who could possibly be calm when they had a bump the size of goddamned Pike’s Peak on their head and found themselves chained to a floor??!?!?!  Nobody, that’s who! 

            It’s easy.

            Really.

            Just ignore the pain.

            Ignore the body.

            Focus the mind.

            ‘Focus on this.’  Robert mentally flipped off his inner voice.

            The body had to be calm regardless of his unpleasant mental disposition, Robert found himself thinking.  The breathing had to be controlled.  The heart had to be beating evenly.  No adrenaline.  No anxiety.  No fear.  Just calm.  All you have to do is be calm.  Slow your breathing and find a rhythm.  Make your heart beat slow and steady.  Make your mind stop going off on a tangent every single time a new thought entered your head.  It was easy.  This was kids’ stuff. 

            That’s it.

            Just breathe.

            Be calm.

            Focus.

            Robert let go of his fears, his pain, and his paranoia.  Let go of himself.  His heart began to slow and find its natural rhythm once again.  His breathing became normal bit by bit, and finally, Robert found that he was no longer bound to the floor in the dark room.  No longer was he impotent and scared.  He was no longer his body.  Now his body was merely a cataleptic lump of flesh while his mind was quite sentient.

            Meditating was quite easy when one put their mind to it.  Sure, it took practice.  One had to know the proper breathing techniques.  Most importantly one had to know how to clear their mind of all thoughts.  Not an easy task, but after years of practice, Robert could put himself in a meditative trance even within the state he currently found himself.  All he had to do was remember how to do it and have the courage to do it.

            At first, Robert merely found that his pain and fear were lessened by his meditative trance.  But then again, he was barely aware of this feeling.  Calmness and warmth spread through his body and he felt peaceful.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

            He was vaguely aware that he was in a new state, but this seemed to not matter.  In this new state there was no pain, no fear, and no shackles.  No cruddy linoleum to gaze down upon.  There was merely blissful darkness that could be molded into anything his mind chose.  With a thought, he could be transported to the most beautiful white sand beaches imaginable.  He could be at home.  He could be in a forest.  He could be…unshackled.

            The thought of shackles brought his situation to the forefront of his mind’s questions and immediately the scenery a few hours ago came spilling through his mind’s eye.  Robert had come to the Temple.  His wife.  His sister-in-law.  He had left them at his home.  Something hadn’t been right.  What had happened?  Had he done something?  His wife had been upset.  His sister-in-law hadn’t been acting right.  Something had been wrong.  His mind couldn’t remember, but something had been wrong when he left home.

            Regardless of the situation at his home, he had definitely come to the Temple to finish some inventory and paperwork and to lock up.  The paperwork hadn’t taken as long as he had imagined, but it was near midnight when he finally laid down his pen.  Locking up hadn’t taken too terribly long either.  He had started with the front door and worked his way around the building, checking all of the exits.  When he had gotten to the back exit—the fire doors—something…someone had burst through. 

            That was it!  Someone had burst through the fire doors so violently that one of the doors had knocked Robert to the ground.  The back of Robert’s head had struck the floor when he fell and his vision had blurred momentarily.  When he had finally shaken the blurriness from his eyes, he had been looking up at a figured cloaked in the darkness that the extinguished lights had provided. 

            I knew this person!

            Didn’t I??

            Oh, dear Goddess.

            Robert’s eyes flew open, his mind ripping itself away from his meditative state and his place of calm.  Immediately, Robert began tugging at the shackles around his wrists, against the protests of his skull.  He brought his feet underneath himself and pushed upwards, hoping that sheer force would break the metal cuffs. 

            Hurry!

            You can do it!

            Maybe he would be unable to break the cuffs, but surely he could pull the pins out of the ground below.  He would just have to pull the chains from the ground and run.  Run as far and as fast as possible.  Get out of this place.  Run to the police.  He wasn’t safe here.

            You never were.

            Sweat began pouring down Robert’s brow as he tugged at the chains like a wild animal.  The metal cuffs began digging into the flesh of his wrists, banging into his bones on each yank of his arms.  Each tug of his arms made the metal of the shackles dig deeper and deeper into his flesh until finally, he bled. 

            Blood oozed out of the cuts on his wrists and still Robert tugged.  Feeling the slippery warmth at his wrists, Robert fell to his knees again.  Frantically, Robert began rubbing the slippery blood over his hands and wrists, hoping the lubricating blood would let him slip out of the shackles. 

            That won’t work!

            Of course it’ll work!

            Robert tugged at one of the shackles with one hand while wiggling the hand that was bound by the shackle.  With each tug and twist, the cut in his wrist became deeper and his hands were no less free.  Blood began flowing quickly over his arms and hands as he tugged harder and harder, beginning to froth at the mouth like a caged animal.

            The cut on his wrist split open, blood flowing like a waterfall from the wound and splattering to the ground below.  Within seconds, Robert’s head began to spin and his vision became fuzzy.  Oh, good Goddess, what had he done?  Was he going to finish the job that had already been started for him? 

            His breathing became ragged again as the pain from the wound began to register in his skull.  Robert’s heart began pounding at the sight of the blood oozing from his wrist.  Thumpity-thump-a-thump-thumpity-thumpity-thump-thump.  The pounding of his heart reached his ears as he swooned and almost toppled to the ground in a heap.  So loud was the pounding that Robert didn’t even hear the approaching footsteps. 

            As soon as the shadow of his attacker loomed over his body, Robert looked up expectantly.  His vision blurred, his head rolled on his shoulders and his stomach began to churn.  Amazingly, Robert felt calm.  A calm that could only come before a storm.  Calm that could only come before certain death.  Robert found that he was fine with this.

            “It won’t do you any good.”  The voice came as though underwater.  “You won’t get out.”

            Robert went to answer, but found that his body didn’t care to cooperate.

            “I do mean it when I say that I’m sorry for this.”  The figure spoke calmly over him as Robert looked up with blurry eyes.  “Sorry that I hadn’t done this sooner.”

            As his focus began to return, Robert spotted the bat resting on his attacker’s shoulder, slowly tapping up and down in a slow rhythm.  As his eyes flickered downwards for a moment he noticed the axe in his attacker’s other hand.  Yes, his attacker was sorry for not having done this sooner.  Robert wasn’t surprised in the least.  He was surprised that it hadn’t happened already.  Fate.  Most people are surprised when they meet it.  Amazingly, Robert wasn’t.

            “Take as your last thought this.”  The figure spoke more clearly, Robert’s ears not nearly as cottony as they once were.  “Am I doing this because you deserve it, or because I deserve the pleasure of finally getting to do it?”

            Robert flicked his eyes up to the bat, watching it rise high in the air.  And in the last few seconds he had left, Robert closed his eyes, calmly returning to his peaceful state of meditation.

 

Until next time…

You can also read chapter 2 here and chapter 3 here.

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