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Authors: EJ Wallace

ASCENSION

BOOK: ASCENSION
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Ascension

By EJ Wallace

 

Copyright © 2014

 

All Rights Reserved
. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.

 

 

Table of Contents

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

 

 

Prologue

              Thunder rumbled in the distance. A gust of wind sent a rush of cold air cascading into the bedroom. A young girl tossed and turned under her covers, shivering as the howling air broke over her. She awoke, her mahogany eyes glittering with fear.

              The drapes around her window flailed madly in the wind, like tentacles. The girl slipped out from under the covers, her bare feet touching the cold, hard wood below. Another violent gust of wind sent goosebumps down her back.

              “Sophie,” a voice whispered from the windowsill. “Sophie,” the raspy voice beckoned.

              The dark-haired girl stepped closer to the window, bathing herself in the haunting light of the full moon.

              Suddenly, the drapes wrapped themselves around her neck. She tried to scream, but the grip of the drapes was too tight, the words extinguished in the back of her throat. Then the wind returned, gushing in as the drapes jerked the girl violently off the ground.

              “NOW!” the voice bellowed as the girl's feet flailed. “Now is the era of darkness. Ezekiel shall not return! Light shall be swallowed by the abyss, and all the world will know death, despair! Every pitiful mortal will perish. And from the ashes of your people, a new world will be forged in the fires of destruction and damnation. And you, Sophie Delphine, shall see it all!” The drapes tightened their grip, and the window suddenly exploded, sending shards of glass raining down all around the girl.

              Beyond the gaping hole the window left, the girl saw a blackened world, one of ash and cinder. In the blood-smeared sky, a jagged hole, like a wound, was gouged into the skyline. There, abominations, hideous creatures poured out, howling like the swirling wind around her.

              Then the girl heard a gentle weeping. She looked to her side. There was a man there, shirtless, caked in filth and grime. He was on his knees, his fists buried in the ashes, tears leaking from eyes blue as sapphire shards. Then he turned to her, his piercing gaze freezing her solid. Behind those eyes was utter sorrow.

              “You have to fight,” the girl said. “I believe in you.” Then she took out a rag and wiped the filth from his face. Half of his brown hair became a glowing gold. “All that you need is inside you,” the girl said.

              The man pushed her away and raked at the side of his face still caked in ashes. His flesh fell away, leaving a blackened skull with protruding fangs that oozed tar. “This!” he said, grabbing the girl. “This is what I am inside.”

              The girl screamed as he stuck his clawed hand into her belly, and then she fell, wide-eyed, into the smoldering ashes...

              Sophie jolted up from her sleep. The cot she was on moaned in protest, wobbling dangerously. She looked around, remembering where she was. Only silence greeted her; the others were still sleeping. Sophie's scream hadn't woken any of them. She was thankful for it. The attendants at the orphanage never appreciated her night terrors. As much as they all smiled and tried to be polite, deep inside, Sophie knew they were afraid of her.

              She pulled a calendar out from under her cot, along with a flashlight. Very carefully, so as not to wake the others, she peeked at it.

              “One more week.” she muttered to herself. In one more week she would finally be free of this place, after sixteen years. Her heart ached with longing. Freedom was so close. Once Sophie was eighteen, the orphanage would have to let her go. Nothing could stop her now, not even the night terrors. Slowly, she drifted back to sleep, her face painted with a smug smirk.

 

 

Chapter 1

(Sophie)

 

              “Good afternoon, Sophie,” the man sitting across from her said, donning a prosthetic smile. Sophie brushed her dark hair out of her eyes so he could see her roll them more clearly.

              “What's so good about it? You're still bald as you were this morning, and I still don't have any parents,” Sophie growled.

              Sophie's psychiatrist frowned at the comment, then adjusted his glasses on his beak-like nose. He was a frail man, lanky. What was left of his hair was thin and oily.

              “You're looking at it all wrong, Sophie. Every day is a second chance, a new beginning. Life is God's gift,” he said cheerily.

              “Well, what's his return policy?” Sophie asked sharply. Her mood was foul today, her patience as thin as her psychiatrist's hair. Mr. PhD was her final obstacle. She had to pass his evaluation before the orphanage would release her. They didn't want to, because truthfully Sophie didn't have anywhere to go. They had no choice, though. As long as Sophie was a sound-minded adult, the law was very clear on the matter. So long as this man didn't mess it up, Sophie would be free.

              The psychiatrist cocked an eyebrow. “Are you saying you are suicidal?” he asked, scribbling furiously on his notepad.

              “No, but the more time I spend with you, the faster that is likely to change,” Sophie remarked. She was hoping to get under his skin. To tear down his cheery little facade, revealing his true inner self: a bitter narcissist who had no luck with the opposite sex. Sophie had always been good at reading people, and this man's masquerade was paper thin. He has been teeter tottering on the edge for months, and he almost wanted to crack; she could feel it. She studied his face closely as he responded.

              The psychiatrist shrugged. “Humor is a well-worn mask of the vulnerable and insecure.”

              Sophie laughed. “Well, with a face like yours, you might want to consider a few masks of your own.” That comment got to him. He was very self-conscious about his looks. He often thought that was why women didn't respond well to him. Truthfully though, he wasn't bad looking, just boring and too self-centered, both very unappealing traits.

              The psychiatrist’s face was now a deep shade of purple. “I don't understand the hostility here, Sophie. I'm simply trying to help you, everybody is, but you keep pushing them away. Why won't you let anyone get close to you?” he asked, his tone exuding genuine concern.

              That's when the vision struck her. They came at unpredictably, without warning or provocation. They just forced themselves inside her head and played, sometimes from her perspective, sometimes others. Sophie saw a man kneeling in a park; it was her psychiatrist. He was holding a ring, an engagement ring. The beautiful woman in front of him frowned, then closed the box. Tears began to stream down the man's face. Usually Sophie couldn't tell if the visions had already happened, were going to happen, or were occurring while she was seeing them. This vision however was clearly from the past. The psychiatrist had more hair in the vision than he did now, and Sophie had more ammunition.

              Sophie shrugged. “Maybe it's you. You seem to have a lot of trouble with women opening up to you.”

              The man's face flushed white. “W-what? What are you talking about?” he asked suspiciously.

              Another vision struck Sophie, then another, both just little snippets of the man's life. “Well, your girlfriend refused your proposal, so you moved out here to New York so you could bury your feelings under your career. Only that hasn't been going very well for you either. So now you just spend most of your nights surfing the internet and touching yourself. Mostly because nobody else will,” Sophie said matter-of-factly.

              Now the man's eyes were wide, bulging. His jaw was clenched and his teeth grinding. Sophie then got the briefest flash of the psychiatrist being fired. She grinned. Her work was done here.

              The psychiatrist jumped from his seat, his face a dark scarlet. “Listen here, you little freak! Don't think I don't know all about you. They told me why no foster family would keep you. How you scared them away with your little fortune telling gypsy tricks. I don't know how you know what you know, or where you get your information, but I know sociopathic behavior when I see it. And just for that little comment, I'm going to make sure you spend the rest of you miserable little life in a padded cell. Right where you belong.”

              Sophie only smirked. “Oh, well that would be scary and all, if you weren't about to lose your license to practice.”

              The man paused. “What?

              Sophie pointed to the camera and microphone in the room. “Forget about something? I think you'll fit in well at the unemployment line,” she said with a laugh.

              The psychiatrist looked desperate now, a vein was throbbing in his forehead, and his face was tomato red. He looked as if he might pop. “I'll kill you!” he howled, leaping at Sophie. Sophie screamed just as two men busted into the office, tackling the psychiatrist to the ground.

              “John, stop! What's gotten into you?” one of the men said as he attempted to pin down the flailing psychiatrist.

              “She's a little monster! She should be locked up!” John said, shrugging his friends off of him and rising to his feet.

              Sophie was just standing there, fresh tears pouring down her cheeks. Luckily, she could cry on command.

              The two men looked at the psychiatrist skeptically. “I think you need a little time off, John. Let’s have a little chat, shall we...” the man said.

              “N-no! I can't lose my job. I can't!”

              “Come on, John,” the man said grimly. “Everything is going to be all right. No one said anything about losing your job,” he said as the pair led the psychiatrist out of his office.

              John broke free from their grasp. “They never do.” He turned to Sophie, his breathing heavy and his eyes wide. “Just tell me how you knew,” he pleaded. “How did you know all of this was going to happen?”

              Sophie looked at him for a long time, then shrugged. “Life isn't the only gift the gods give,” she said, and the psychiatrist laughed. It was a harsh, manic laugh, acidic to the ears. Sophie would never forget it.

 

***

 

(Jake)

 

 

              Jake rocked back and forth on his heels, the anxiety gnawing at his stomach. He had a hoodie pulled down over his face and a scarf wrapped around his mouth. It still wasn't enough to keep the merciless cold out. “What's taking so long?” he finally asked.

              His friend Calvin looked over to him from the street corner. “Man, relax. I told you they're coming.”

              Jake shook his head. “I don't like this. It's never taken this long before.”

              Calvin rolled his eyes. “You say that every time. Listen, man, it's real simple. They show up, we give them the goods, they give us the cash. Everybody goes home happy.”

              Jake looked down the alleyway once more. There was still no one in sight. “Yeah, well, I don't trust Mark. I never did.”

              Calvin gave Jake a wild look. “Man, shut up!” he said, pushing Jake against the wall. “Do you need this money or not?”

              Jake hesitated, then looked at his feet. “You know that I do...”

              Calvin smiled, slapping Jake's cheek softly. “That a boy. Remember, Jake, we're family. We have to stick together. We're all we got. The others are counting on us. Now get your head screwed on straight. We don't need any problems.”

BOOK: ASCENSION
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