Description: Come home to the darkness.
Kelly Rich, long estranged from her family, is forced to return home when her sister is involved in a mysterious accident. After years of suppressing the events that drove her away, she must struggle to unlock the mystery of her past in order to save her sister. But nothing is as it seems in her foreboding ancestral home, where cold hearts rule the hearth and deadly secrets lurk in the forest. Plunged back into the dream world of her youth, Kelly will have to face the dark reality of her own role in the horrors afflicting her family.
Excerpt: Copyright © 2012 Ronald Malfi
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
In the darkness, shivering, she ran.
—someone let the baby out someone let the baby out someone let the baby out someone—
She burst through clawed tree branches, her body wracked and sweating, her bare feet raw and bleeding from the frozen earth. Her heartbeat pulsed just beneath the surface of her face; her throat burned with each wheezing breath. And for a moment she thought she would faint. Around her, the darkness became blindness … and the floating orb of the moon, wide and faceless beyond the sprawling canopy of bare trees, blurred and smeared, double, trebled, augmented to a greasy horizontal smudge. Only now, thrust into a wooded clearing, was she able to pause and catch her breath, and to wipe her eyes. Runaway tears had frozen the sides of her face, her temples.
She heard a branch snap behind her. Uttered a breathless scream. Turning, she could see nothing, and could only feel her pulse throbbing inside her head and through her arms and legs, rushing the blood, warfare-like, through her body. Was she breathing? She couldn’t breathe. Was she dreaming? She couldn’t tell for certain…
Another cracking branch, like bone: closer.
Something shifted in the darkness ahead of her. Its proximity paralyzed her.
Pressing her eyes tight, she willed herself away from this place, turning, turning, and called out for her sister, her sister, her—
She could hear him breathing — too close now.
She turned to run, her eyes still shut tight, the fingerlike tree limbs probing and cutting and clawing at her. Her mind summoned images of running brook water, of forested hillsides crested with snow…of the shape, shifting, materializing, fiendishly childlike…of her sister warning her to write it down, write it down, and not to forget it, any of it…
Her legs pumping, she ran. Her heart nearly bursting through her chest, she ran, and she found she could not stop, and though she was running, she was not going anywhere. She was running underwater; she was running in a dream.
And she awoke. And she opened her eyes. And she was there, in bed, safe, warm. But afraid.
Because you are here. Because you are right here.
And she was.
And she was.
She screamed. She could not will herself back to bed, could not pull her solid form from this black woods and tuck herself back, back … could not force herself to believe she was not here.
A frozen hand fell on the back of her neck. She stumbled and fell face first to the forest floor. The side of her head struck something hard and unforgiving, and her vision briefly flickered. She dug her fingers into the soil but could not rise, could not move. Behind her, someone shifted, moved. She could hear breathing aside from her own.
“No,” she whispered. It took all her remaining strength just to get it out. “No … please…”
“Please,” a voice hissed from behind her. Very close.
“Please,” she managed again, breaking the word into hitching sobs just before the tears came. She could not think, could not move, and she felt herself falling deeper and deeper inside her own head: here, in my bed, in my room, safe, warm, here, here, here here here here, please God put me back in my room and not here here here—
The shape moved around her. She could hear footsteps crunching the dead, frost-covered leaves. And before her mind shut down, she was vaguely aware of long, icy fingers brushing back her sweaty hair.
“Pretty,” said the voice.
About the Author: Ronald Damien Malfi is the author of several short stories and screenplays, as well as the novel The Space Between. He graduated from Towson University in 1999 with a degree in English. Most notably, his short fiction can be found in the anthologies Sick: An Anthology of Illness and Of Flesh and Hunger. The Fall of Never is his second novel. He currently lives in Annapolis, Maryland.
Check it out on Samhain’s website: The Fall of Never