Excerpt: Shadowpath-Chapter 8 At Reason’s Edge

It’s the eighth anniversary of the publication of my first novel, Shadowpath. You can get it on sale on Amazon.

The Story So Far: As it appears that the murderer who targeted Dr. Frost is going free, she decides to turn the tables and bring him to place where she can take care of the situation. Only, it goes horribly wrong: Elisabeth meets her doppelganger and her doppelganger’s family, a husband she-never-had and a shaking up of everthing she thought was real.

Elisabeth first noticed the shadows, long and jagged and incorrect. The light was diffuse and a chill had settled into the air. The world was holding its breath.

She was in her living room, propped up against a wall. As she tried to move her hand, it passed through a cloud of dust motes suspended in the light. They stirred slowly and returned to their original position, leaving no trace of Elisabeth’s passing.

“I’ll be brief,” Jack said, “because in a minute you’ll be able to move and then you’ll try something stupid.” Elisabeth looked to her left. He was right next to her, kneeling.

“What… did… you…,” Elisabeth gasped, barely able to form the words. “It’s not drugs, if that’s what you’re wondering. Or hypnosis. Your brain’s just adjusting to an abnormal situation. Think of it as the first time you’ve stuck your head underwater.”

Elisabeth tried to respond and Jack gently touched her lips to silence her. She blinked and he was across the room, next to a wall. “I don’t know how I got this way,” he admitted. “Maybe it was the accident that triggered it, but if it was, why hasn’t it happened to others? Or maybe he—the Morrigan—did something to me.”

Elisabeth struggled to get up, landed back on her butt, supported only by her numb elbows.

“Here is what I’ve found—that every thought you think, every dream you dream casts a shadow that is just as real, just as vital as the world you live in.” Jack ran his fingers across the wall, and as he did, the wall rippled, changing behind his fingers, adding paint, wallpaper, decorations.

“Some few of us, I don’t know how many, can reach into those shadows, those ripples of reality, and we can manipulate them, travel to them, bring them to us.” A side table sprang up behind Jack’s footstep, followed by a broken toy and the lost sob of a child.

“But the jail…,” Elisabeth’s voice was gaining strength. She was feeling clearer.

Jack frowned. “Certain places have a set purpose that doesn’t change, like sharp rocks in a stream. For every prisoner who dreams of freedom, a hundred thousand pray the person stays in. It’s… exhausting, dangerous, to find a way out.”

Elisabeth managed to regain her feet. “Where are we?”

“This?” Jack indicated the world around him. “This is the Sunset Road, the Via Umbrae, the Shadow Path, the boundary between our real world and the others.”

Jack was alongside her again, hand slamming into the wall. “Did you know that most people simply go mad when faced with this truth? They spend the rest of their lives locked up in asylums screaming.”

“Like you?” retorted Elisabeth.

Jack backed away. “I’m better now.”

“Why am I here?”

Jack shoved his hands in his pockets and turned away. “I’m sorry.”

Elisabeth shook her head. Sorry? About what? Then she knew. “I’m bait.”

Jack nodded. “Well-informed bait, but bait.”

“Son of a bitch!” Elisabeth jammed her hand in her pocket. Good. The gun was still there. She drew it and pointed.

“Minute’s up,” Jack said and Elisabeth fired. The recoil, stronger than expected, hurt her arm.

Jack was gone, a green after-image hanging in the air where he had stood. The light had gone out. Was it nighttime? When had that happened? Outside, the sound of voices…

“In here! Yes, I heard a shot! Just move!” Susan’s voice. There was a noted drop in the sound outside, followed by the tension required for police swarm tactics. As they broke down the doors, Elisabeth just let the gun drop from her numb fingers to hit the floor.

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