Wednesday, November 2, 2016

#Halloween Blog Hop, Day4: Excerpt from Kindred (The Birthrite Series, #2)

Happy Halloween!

Yes, it is still going on over here. :)

Today I give you an excerpt from the follow up to Descent (The Birthrite Series, #1), which is set to come out by the end of the year. I will say that this was not an easy one to write, and in some ways, more difficult than Descent or Sacred Atonement. But I look forward to releasing it and for you all to read it!

Now for those that haven't yet read Descent or are reading it and don't like spoilers, I have a jump cut before the excerpt. As for the rest of you, enjoy (I am also still revising the story a little)!



PART 2:
GOING BACK

In the late of the hour and the dark of her cabin, she rose from her bed and made her way to the door. Just outside the door, a weeping was heard.
She listened, her heartstrings pulled when it sounded like a child.
The woman pushed aside the notch and looked out, seeing that it was in fact a small child that sat with his back to her. She moved to quickly open the door, wondering what sort of person would leave a child to wander all alone so late at night. As the oak barrier that was between the security of her cabin and the uncertainty of the dark frontier opened, she glanced about, wondering if perhaps she would catch any site of a mother or father, but no other living soul was found.
Dread wove throughout the air around her, causing the skin of her arms to rise. She knew not where this came from, but her heart palpitated for a reason she could not explain as she laid eyes upon the child.
She made a slow move to kneel, trying to focus on the little lone one.
"Art thou lost?" Her voice reached to ne'er above a whisper.
The child continued sobbing, his back still to her. Despite her better judgment, she reached out to the lad.
"Where is your mother and father?"
The child did not answer.
In the back of her mind was a warning to shut the door and latch it tight, but her own maternal instincts could not allow her to leave the young one out in the cold dark of night. Such a thing would be inhuman.
Her hand touched the boy's shoulder.
When the child turned around, the scream she produced would be the last sound she would ever utter..." ~ L. H. Livingston, The Child with the Black Eyes



CHAPTER 3

Dayton, Ohio
June of 1933


The six ‘o’ clock sun lit Cletus's path as he walked home, just after finishing a day of work at a nearby farm. It was one of three jobs that, during the summer months, he held as a means of helping his family with paying household expenses. He was also trying to save up money for a place of his own since at eighteen, he still lived with his parents, Ronald and Eunice Blake.
Farming in the Midwest was not as lucrative has it had been prior to the 1929 stock market crash, but many communities were continuing to pull together and managing to stay afloat, therefore making some work still available. Recent years brought reports of soup and bread lines in the cities, and such images were continuing to increase and dominate the media. In these parts of the country, residents often traded goods for labor but often found themselves in a bind when trying to accommodate everyone who came into their town in search of work. Some of the more destitute were hopping on the passing locomotives, maintaining discretion inside of a freight car while traveling illegally until they reached the next rural or suburban area. Those not fortunate enough to find some form of work would then find yet another train to hop aboard and head to the next town with their future still uncertain.
Cletus glanced up toward the early evening sun as he made his way down the dirt road. From somewhere in the distance, the sound of a locomotive temporarily drowned out the calls of the evening birds of prey. The young man sighed, preferring the image of Charlie Chaplain as the happy, good-natured though bungling tramp to the grim-faced individual with fading hope that was more likely to be on that train.
As the sound of the engine faded out, a murder of crows flew closely overhead. He jumped backward, standing still as they disappeared to the infinite horizon. The scene reminded him of a segment in Lawrence Livingston's short, The Child with the Black Eyes, a story that took place on the early Colonial frontier, long before America had established itself as an entity separate from Britain. The story was a simple one, yet its words were enough to leave the reader beyond disturbed after reading the final words. The tale told of a small child traveling the land, knocking on doors of the homes that were spread across the frontier. If a resident just so happened to answer the door, the child would ask to be let in.
No one knew for certain what happened if the seemingly innocent child was allowed inside, but the good-hearted though unfortunate individual would often turn up missing, never to be seen again, or fall mysteriously (and incurably) ill. It was Livingston's most well-known work and arguably among the most terrifying tales of his time.
Lawrence Livingston was born in 1836 as the youngest son of James and Samantha Livingston. As a descendent of one of the earliest families in America's aristocracy, he had been born into a world of privilege. Much of his writings indicated him often feeling like a fish out of water among his peers, particularly after an incident when – as a boy - he dreamed of his father being killed by a recently deceased Nathaniel Fleming.
Following the events of two Novembers ago, there had been further delving into the history of both the Livingstons and the Flemings. While the origins of Cedric and Margaret Fleming remained sketchy, the lineages of their two adopted children, Nathaniel and Maxine, continued to remain as shrouded in mystery as it had been two years ago. Those with abilities to see passed what floated on the surface reached nothing but dead ends, seeming to be blocked from finding what they sought out. The Livingstons, on the other hand, had much of their family’s history known to the public. The first of the Livingston bloodline known to arrive in the early North American colonies was Robert the Elder. Born during the year 1654 in a village called Ancrum (located near Jedburgh in the County of Roxburgh, Scotland), he was one of seven children had by the Reverend John Livingston and his wife. John was a minister of the Church of Scotland and a descendant of the fourth Lord Livingston, ancestor to the Earls of Linlithgow and Callendar. When Robert the Elder was not even a boy of ten, the family was sent into exile due to John’s refusal to convert the Presbyterian Church of Scotland to the Episcopalian Church of England. The exiled family then settled in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. It was there that Robert became fluent in Dutch (which would help him greatly in his future business career). At nineteen, Livingston the Elder returned to Scotland for a time but soon sailed to Boston in the New Colonies, where his father was well-known. He went on to marry the widow of one of his Dutch business partners and settled permanently in the colony of New Netherlands (now, modern day New York).
As a successful businessman and politician, Livingston the Elder brought more prestige to the family name, and the surname became synonymous with those holding great power, including those that assisted in drafting the American Constitution. Like him, Livingston the Elder's great grandson, James Henry Robert, would court and marry a woman of Dutch descent: Samantha Jo DeWitt, daughter of Johann and Elaine DeWitt. James was also like many of his predecessors in other ways, very pragmatic. Although he attended the Presbyterian church (the Church of Scotland that his great great grandfather was once the head of) with his family, he never placed stock in the supernatural. That is until the summer solstice of 1844, just prior to the opening of the Fleming Orphanage. On that date, he had an experience that would challenge all he believed in (and all he didn’t believe in). From what little he wrote on it in his journals, he had seen a sort of apparition of a young woman taking her life by hanging. He recorded thinking that he recognized her, even going as far to say that she had ‘his Samantha's nose.’
Two years after the orphanage opened to the public, Lawrence had his dream (or omen of warning?) in which his father answered the door and was met and killed by a demonic entity that resembled Nathaniel Fleming. The dream would shape the man that Lawrence would become, along with his outlook on what humans perceived as reality.
Throughout his adulthood, Lawrence spent much of his time among the Indian tribes of New York and Pennsylvania, coming to know their languages (including sign), lore, and customs. In doing so, he learned of the early sightings involving creatures that dated back to the earliest European settlers and Viking traders, along with others with origins as far back as the first humans to walk the Earth. It was also implied that the events taking place within the Blake family, including Kimimela’s time of darkness, had influenced on him.
The darkness that tried to take Dorothy...
Despite the warm weather, Cletus shuddered at the thought. Knowing that Dorothy was no longer in this world left him with an empty void, though on occasion, the cousins were still able to communicate with one another in dreams, something they had done since early childhood. Right up until she had that night terror when she was seven…then she seemed to cut that off…
Although they had grown up far apart from one another, their bond and connection had always been a strong one. On many occasions, both had the ability to sense when the other was in pain or trouble. As the events of two Novembers ago were unfolding, he was having rather bizarre dreams involving Dorothy and a massive castle in Wallachia. Castle Alexandru, as covered in his high school’s European history class.
The castle had been inhabited by members of the Serban bloodline from the House of Draculesti, a lineage directly related to Vlad the Impaler. Just before his cousin disappeared from their natural world, he felt an urge to confess his dreams of a young Gypsy girl. During their conversation, she implored him to call her the following day.  He had gone to sleep that night, falling into yet another series of disturbing dreams involving his cousin and her friends making their way through a dark labyrinth that brought them face to face with an ancient evil. When he awoke the following morning, he had a strong feeling that life as he knew it would never be the same.
And he was right.
Many times over the last year and a half, Cletus played that final telephone conversation with Dorothy in his mind. He also remembered Tahatan phoning Ronald the following morning, informing him of the return of himself, Matthew, Liz, and Father Louis. The four had been missing for more than a week, missing from not only their town but from the world they all knew. Liz was admitted to the hospital, treated for the physical and emotional abuse she had endured.
Cletus was also made aware of his cousin's pregnancy and knew that she had been sent to another realm, even further out from where she and her husband Carl were living, to have the baby. For her safety (and the safety of those with her), she could not disclose where any of this was, especially now that she was with child. As for Carl, he successfully managed to convince the Council into allowing him to go with her. Since his own arrival in that new realm, he had acquired many allies on Council, including his longtime childhood friend, Jimmy Kratz who was starting to climb in rank. Anytime Cletus closed his eyes and concentrated hard enough, he could see Dorothy in her new, temporary place of residence. It resembled a Medieval castle, yet seemed better equipped than some of the most medically advanced hospitals he knew of. His cousin was also starting to show being with child.
Dorothy's father (Cletus's uncle Matthew) still struggled with coping as he cared for his wife after the horror that befell her just prior to Dorothy having to take leave of the world they all grew up in. Fortunately, both Uncle Matt and Aunt Liz seemed to be doing much better than even a year ago. In Matthew's last letter to Cletus's father, he told of how Liz was starting to speak in full sentences again. She also seemed determined to learn how to walk, cook, and do all she had done prior to being abducted and tortured in the basement at the Fleming Orphanage.
Chills rose higher on the young man’s arms as he recalled the first time he and his family visited Liz at the Blake property after the horrific incident. While it was nice to see Matthew and Liz with a wonderful support system, seeing her in such a state was devastating for all. But even more unsettling was the story of how she came to be this way.
Many times during that week's visit, Cletus noticed his father, Uncle Matt, Uncle Joe, and Grandpa Gerard conversing with one another in rather hushed tones. Cletus was unable to hear what was being said, though he could feel an eerie darkness reverberating in their low voices. Then after breakfast the following morning, Cletus visited the Blake family burial site out in the back field. He barely heard his grandfather Gerard Blake come up behind him...

Cletus walked among the small cluster of headstones, stopping to view each one. After starting with Charles and Emma, he moved to the stones placed over the graves of Jonathan and Kimimela.
In the many times he had been back here, he was always most drawn toward the headstones of his great-aunt Willow and great-uncle Charlie. Two headstones without bodies buried beneath them.
He stared at the two markers, recalling the story of how Willow had disappeared from her and great-aunt Maya's bedroom. Their older brother Charlie had run away from home at fifteen to enlist with the Union army during the Civil War. He was never seen again.
Cletus was lost in the mystery that surrounded Charlie and Willow. The sound of someone clearing his throat from behind wrenched him.
The young man turned to see his grandfather standing behind him. Now in his eighties, Gerard Blake had inherited much of his physical traits from his AmerIndian mother, though his grayish-blue eyes were of his Irish father and grandfather.
The gazes of grandfather and grandson met.
“Hello, Grandpa...”
Gerard greeted his grandson with a nod and rather tired smile before coming to stand beside him.
Cletus turned around, back to the headstones of Charlie and Willow, before shifting toward Aunt Amy’s:

Amy Violet Blake
Gone but never forgotten
1888-1905

Cletus looked back up at his grandfather, seeing the forlorn expression in the older man's eyes. In his many years alive, he experienced many painful losses, and losing his daughter Amy to unexplainable circumstances was among them. Anytime she was brought up (which wasn't a whole lot...as though everyone in the family was trying to escape dwelling on at least one more tragedy) a pronounced melancholy pierced the air, whether from Gerard and Violet, Cletus's father, or any of the aunts and uncles.
“I've tried locating them all,” Gerard spoke, his voice slightly choked. He turned back to Charlie's headstone. “As a young boy, your older brothers mean the world to you. Beside your father, of course.”
Cletus nodded, understanding what his grandfather meant. As the youngest child of Ronald and Eunice, his own older brothers Chayton and Raymond, played a role of great importance while growing up.
Gerard continued. “To Chaska…Charlie and I were the little brothers he had to protect and look out for. For me, those two and my father all represented everything I wanted to be.” He paused, as if recalling a special memory and chuckled slightly. “Charlie was by far the most adventurous of us all. I think he got an increased dosage of those particular genes that were prevalent in both of my parents when they were young. He was always getting into something and when the war between the North and the South was around us, we all participated to a degree, but Charlie was quick to be a hero and enlist. And because many of the militia units in Illinois were becoming pretty desperate at one point, they were taking any able bodied person that wanted to fight.”
Cletus stared at the headstone. “And you haven’t been able to reach him at all?”
Gerard sighed. “I've had short visions here and there. Some of him among other soldiers at an encampment, others of him charging across a battlefield. But one consistent vision that I have is one…where he is leading a group through a tunnel. It could very well be him leading soldiers to ambushing a Southern army, but I'm getting more of a leaning toward escape...as if he were helping people escape. Maybe prisoners of war or runaway slaves or both...” The old man paused. “I have a feeling that...he died while doing this…or sometimes shortly after…”
Both were silent and Cletus was almost afraid to question any further. Finally, the young man spoke:
“I know Uncle Matt saw Willow in some dark void when he, Tahatan, and Father Louis were trying to help Dorothy. It sounds like she is somehow still alive…and as she was on the day she disappeared.”
Gerard nodded. “My sister Willow has been lost and unreachable. Your Uncle Matt was the only one able to see her. We've all tried placing where he was taken that night, but to no success.”
Cletus frowned as a thought occurred to him. “What would happen to her if she were to be brought back? Would she age to how old she would be today or grow normally from where she is now?”
Gerard shook his head and shrugged. “I don't know.”
“Maybe we can find out...I'm sure there's a way...” Cletus's voice trailed off as Gerard's ruddy complexion paled.
The young man froze before following his grandfather's gaze back to Amy's gravestone.
Cletus started to further, but something in the air told him to listen. He focused on the grave, trying to see if maybe he would get even a little of a lead on Amy. Almost instantly, a black void formed before him, followed by blood seeping into soil. Then it the vision was wrenched from him, nearly sending him jolting backwards.
As Cletus tried catching his breath, he saw his grandfather staring at him.
“You saw it too...” the old man said...

...Yes, the two had had the same vision. He thought back to what happened with Dorothy. What almost did happen to her. Maybe Amy wasn't so fortunate...
He ignored the morbid thought, trying to push it back to the farthest region of his mind.
Since that conversation with his grandfather, the great puzzle that was the Blake family's past had grown more intricate and far less clear. Still, all were trying to remain optimistic, and there was even talk of Matthew and Liz eventually getting a place of their own and starting over once she was well enough. Matthew and Liz were also looking forward to being grandparents, even if they couldn't see or be near the child until a few weeks after the birth.
Cletus sighed, feeling relief in knowing that his cousin was safe and trying to make the most of her situation. Maintaining regular contact with Tahatan also helped, and he had taken to communicating with Reginald and Gail Carr Johnson, two of Dorothy's friends from Plains.
Reginald and Gail had been married for a year and were now living in Pennsylvania near Tahatan, with whom they tried to visit once a week. After the events of November in 1931, Cletus found himself in need of support, particularly from those who knew and understood what was taking place. Upon the young man's request, Uncle Matthew gave his nephew the addresses to the Johnson and Carr residences.
While relieved to have two more individuals to confide in, Cletus was initially hesitant about doing so. He had briefly met both on a few different occasions during visits to Plains but didn't know either very well. In the end, he decided that the best course of action would be in contacting Reginald first (the last thing he wanted was for the other young man to believe that he was stepping in on Gail).
Cletus overcame his nerves and wrote to the other young man. He awaited a response, hoping that Reginald wouldn't think it odd receiving a letter out of the blue. But the other young man did write back and didn't seem to think it odd at all.
In his first letter, Reginald assured Cletus that regular communication was not a problem, even stating that he trusted Dorothy's cousin with contacting Gail.
Throughout that following year, the three maintained their correspondence and Cletus even made a trip to Pennsylvania, visiting the Johnsons at their small apartment. In the time he was out there, he saw the wonderful marriage the newlyweds shared, including Reginald's pride in watching Gail fly a plane for the first time after earning her aviators license. Gail's dark eyes were glowing as she climbed down from the aircraft and ran over to Reginald, who greeted his wife by scooping her up and kissing her. Cletus had also brought the good news to Reginald and Gail of Jimmy being recovered from Hell and Linda giving birth to their now one-year-old daughter, Meredith.
Jimmy and Linda had managed to repair their relationship and were living together in a chateau as he received his schooling and training in the Sanctuary for the position he was to take on at Council. While it wasn't completely understood by Reginald, Gail, or Cletus what exactly this Sanctuary and Council were, Jimmy's current situation was a surprise to both Reginald and Gail. In high school, Jimmy had been a rather popular football player who didn't read much other than pulp thrillers and materials he was made read to for school. Upon graduation, his plans were to marry Linda and inherit his father's mechanic garage. Of course, those plans had been thwarted and Cletus could hardly imagine the anguish and confusion being experienced by the Kratz and Parker families.
As he continued his walk home, Cletus anticipated what would be his second trip out to Pennsylvania in another week. Once again he would be staying with Reginald and Gail at their apartment. There were also plans for the three to pay Tahatan a visit. During that time, he hoped to work up the nerve to ask his father's second cousin about the young Gypsy girl he had been dream of for most of his life.
As of now, many young men Cletus's age were going with girls, many also planning to marry and settle down. His older brothers even lived nearby with their wives and each had a child of their own. Cletus very much wanted a married life but could never bring himself to ask out any girls from town (at least not with a long term relationship in mind). His tendency to be more on the reserved side had a little to do with this, though it didn't stop him from taking a few girls out in the last four years. But lack of connection and emotional investment brought any promise of a relationship to a halt. That and seeing the mysterious Gypsy girl almost every night in his dreams since he was a boy of ten.
The girl was a couple of years younger than he was. At this time, he figured her to be sixteen years in age. He did not know her name, but found her quite pleasing to look at. Her black hair complimented her light cocoa skin and golden eyes, and her pert figure was starting to make Cletus's groin tighten anytime he thought of it. Like his great grandfather Jonathan Blake felt about his beloved Sioux wife, Cletus believed that he was meant to be with this girl and was certain that when the time was right, they would meet.
At times he also saw the old woman, whom he figured as being the girl's grandmother. Oddly, he also sensed a sort of connection between the old woman and Dorothy's husband. From what he understood, his dream girl's grandmother and a great grandfather of Carl's had met once…
In an instant, an image of a mid-nineteenth century ship sailing over an ocean appeared before him. On the deck was a young girl, no older than ten years of age and appeared to be from a family of poor Romanichal immigrants (a family also related to Jimmy Kratz…). She was at the bow of the ship, looking out to the ocean with the help of a young man with dark red hair and eyes as green as the Emerald Isle itself. There was a moment when the young man quirked up the side of his mouth, a gesture that reminded Cletus a little of Carl. Then the image left, causing the young Ohio man to let out a sigh. They truly all were connected to one another, as if their paths were destined to always be intertwined.
While the thought did offer some comfort, Cletus did feel alone in not being able to tell any of his friends exactly why it was typical for him to never go further than two dates with any girls he took out. He feared being thought of as crazy by his peers and endless jokes at his expense about how he had an imaginary ‘dream girl.’ Someone might eventually have me locked up...
Although Ronald and Eunice (particularly Ronald) were open to such things, Cletus felt that keeping his dreams of the Gypsy girl to himself for the time being was best. At least until I go to Pennsylvania next week...
With that passing thought, an image of those abandoned Victorian buildings high on a hill appeared to him. Immediately he recognized the old Fleming Orphanage. What if I returned there... Cletus flinched, having no idea what made him have such thoughts. Why would I even want to go? Or to Uncle Matt's old house... The house once lived in by Matthew Blake and his family remained on the market (not many were clamoring for real estate these days).
Cletus tried shoving away whatever urge he had in returning to Plains, but deep within his core, he could feel a strong pull there. Over the years, he learned to not doubt such intuition and once he arrived at his destination, the reasons for his being led there would reveal themselves. Father Louis would also be there to help...
In an instant, an image of the priest seated inside his chamber at Gregory the Great Church appeared. The older man was not alone either as Father Louis spoke with another middle-aged man who very much resembled Dorothy's husband. Standing with his back leaned against a wall nearby was a third man, this one with a brown complexion and hair nearly the color of coal. He was Luis Kratz, Jimmy's father.
Cletus's steps ceased as he concentrated, trying to focus on the intense conversation the three were involved in. But the image was interrupted by a dark, stone castle. Castle Alexandru...
The structure overlooked a field and from the ground, blood seeped out (as if bleeding from a fresh wound). Then quickly as it came, the vision disintegrated.
As the images faded into the air, Cletus jumped backward, startled to find himself standing outside the gate of his family's home. When did I...?
He glanced around, but decided to not question this one incident.
Letting out a shaky sigh, he was comforted by the aroma of his mother's cooking as it flowed out through the open windows. Opening the small gate in front of home, he was content in simply ending another work day and, for the time being, tried not to dwell on what might need to be done during his pending visit to Pennsylvania.

It was just an ordinary day.





Hope you enjoyed that excerpt! Check below for links on where to buy Descent along with my other written works, music, product line, and more!


And check out the other amazing authors on this blog hop!

http://francishpowellauthor.weebly.com/halloween-holiday-blog-hop.html







*****



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