Today I welcome horror author M. Lauryl Lewis to my blog. Here is an excerpt from her latest novel, Grace Lost.
I was able to hear Emilie moan in anger above over my own sobbing. Immediately after she cried out, I heard the sound of my revolver firing overhead. I felt my stomach drop, my skin went ice cold, and Susan began sobbing beside me. The flicker of intrusive thought in my head had been mercifully brief. Boggs stood and walked up the stairs slowly, leaving me and Susan to comfort each other.
“What was that?” she asked me, her voice full of fear and disgust.
“Louisa woke up,” was all I could choke out.
I knew the door upstairs opened because Emilie’s crying got louder. I could hear Boggs’ muffled talking, and I could hear when Gus broke down for the first time since I had met him. The sound of a grown man weeping is in itself a frightening and heart wrenching thing.
Gus’ expression of grief got louder for a brief period while he walked through the hall. I heard his bedroom door close and knew he had shut himself in the room as a way to cope.
“I have to go to Boggs and Emilie,” I whispered to Susan.
I stood, shakily.
“Don’t leave me alone?” she begged. Her face was a mess of tears and grief.
I held a hand out to her, and she took it. She stood and we walked the stairs together.
“Susan, go into my room and wait? I’ll be back soon.”
She nodded and let herself into the room I shared with Boggs. I hesitantly walked to the room where mother and baby had died and entered. The many candles that Emilie and Susan had lit earlier in the day still flickered. Boggs was standing at the foot of the bed, looking at the mother who in death still clung to her baby.
“Where’s Emilie?” I asked quietly.
He turned to me, his eyes threatening to spill tears of their own. “She’s with Gus. They’re a mess.”
“I sent Susan to our room,” I said.
Boggs nodded. “Louisa came back, Zoe. Gus had to…”
I interrupted to spare him from having to explain. “I heard. The baby?” I asked.
He shook his head. “It’s just been still. I told Gus I’d watch for a while, though.”
I noticed Boggs held my revolver in his right hand.
“Maybe it won’t happen,” I said, hopeful.
They say a watched pot never boils, but talking about it makes it happen. It was then that I heard that faint tiny cry again, and felt the dead baby invade my mind.
Boggs looked at me for confirmation.
I nodded once. “It’s turned.”
He sighed. “What should we do?”
“I think a gun is overkill, pardon the pun,” I said through fresh tears.
“I’ll do it, Zoe. I’ll make it quick.”
“Please hurry, Boggs? Send him to be with his mom and dad?”
He nodded. I left the room and went to sit with Susan. I got to our doorway. I never heard anything, but knew it was over when the spark in my mind died. I hoped I’d never come to learn how Boggs had gone about it.
I took a deep breath, and walked into our room. Susan was sitting on the bed, her back resting on our headboard.
She looked up at me, her face illuminated by the glow of a single candle.
“It’s over,” I said. “They’re all together now. A family of three.”
“Can I stay in here tonight?” asked the other woman through her tears.
I nodded. “Of course.” I couldn’t send her to be alone downstairs or expect her to return to her room where the corpses of our friend and her baby remained.
I walked over to the bed and sat down beside her. “Why don’t you climb under the covers? Try to sleep.”
She nodded. “Ok.”
I tucked the woman in. “I need to use the bathroom for a little while, Susan. I’ll be back in a while.”
She nodded. “Zoe?”
“Thanks for being nice to me.”
I smiled at her, but didn’t put much effort into making it seem sincere.
I walked alone to the bathroom, where I intended to draw a hot bath and try to soak many layers of evil off of myself. I was filthy. I lit a large candle that we kept on the counter. I studied myself in the mirror. My clothes were mucky from our trek through the woods. I wasn’t sure if the blood smeared on my arm was from Louisa, the faceless little girl in pigtails, or something I wasn’t even aware of. Dirt was smeared on my face. I took my clothes off and piled them near the sink. I walked to the claw foot tub and started the water. Once it was warm, I put the stopper in the drain and climbed in. I sat upright and drew my legs up, curling into a ball. I cried openly, hoping the sound of the water running would drown out my sobs. I wanted to be alone. I ached from head to toe, inside and out. I was tired of living in a Hell on Earth and tired of losing friends. I was tired of being afraid day and night. The tub eventually filled and I shut the water off. I let myself slip under the water and hoped to soak my troubles away. I came up for air and let myself just lay there with my eyes closed.
After a night spent at a run-down cabin in the woods, estranged friends Zoe and Boggs wake to find that the dead have risen. They flee, hoping to find safety, but instead find themselves surrounded by their worst nightmares. Joined by two other survivors, they will face unimaginable horrors and suffer unthinkable losses as the rules of nature are rewritten. They will soon realize that the living dead aren’t just the shambling, mindless creatures that legends portray.
M. Lauryl is a wife, mother, author, former registered nurse, and nature-lover. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest of the US, her books take place from seashore to mountains, often in the areas she loves the most. Her biggest goals in writing are to create realistic (and flawed) characters and to make readers feel the emotions of her stories.