The editing of my eBook, Confession, is rapidly drawing to a close in preparation for the release on Friday, March 13th, 2020. In the next week or so pre-orders will open, and I have to say I’m a little nervous. Actually, that would be an understatement.
I’m starting to feel like a proper, grown-up writer and my moods are swaying between absolute confidence and ‘omg what am I doing?’
So, what am I up to today? I thought I’d give you a slight taste of the first chapter – not all of it, just a taste. This is the first 1,700 words of Chapter one. I hope you enjoy it. And, if you do make sure you stick around for the pre-order launch next week.
According to the movies, the day of a funeral is supposed to be grey and overcast. A formal dress-code for a solemn occasion. On the day Janice Maria Carter was laid to her eternal rest, the sky was an uninterrupted expanse of sapphire blue. The Australian sun beat down relentlessly on the black-dressed mourners, and birds sang songs sounding utterly free and joyous.
Emily Lee sat demurely on the centre seat in the front row of mourners. Her ankles neatly crossed and tucked under the hard-plastic chair. Beside her, on her left, was Gabriella Rodriguez, her partner for the past two years and to her right, Gordon Wallace, the beak-nosed family lawyer with the clammy hands and high-pitched voice.
“Janice Carter was more than what was reported in the media,” Father Eugene said, his clipped upper-crust English accent unchanged despite more than thirty years in Australia. “She was a loving friend to so many of us, a caring and devoted Grandmother to Emily, and a philanthropist who spent her final years raising money for many worthwhile causes. She will be sadly missed.”
Emily dipped her head. Using a beautiful lace-edged handkerchief, she dabbed at her dry eyes hidden behind full lensed black sunglasses.
Dear God, get a move on, Father.
Gabriella reached across and squeezed Emily’s hand. Emily turned her head, giving Gabriella a well-practised smile, dripping in sad melancholy, as she reached over to trap Gabriella’s hand in her own. She patted Gabriella’s sun-warmed skin and turned her attention back to the Priest droning on about her Grandmother’s apparently infinite perfections.
“Shouldn’t you be paying attention, Emmie?”
Emily’s eyes flicked to the area behind her Grandmother’s coffin.
Standing on the other side of the grave was a pale image of her Grandmother. She looked as though she was standing underwater. Emily squinted at the figure as it wavered in and focus.
“Not a disappointing turnout, at all,” Janice said as she observed the hundreds of mourners huddled together in a symphony of grief. “Fake as press-on nails, of course. Most only came to see what, if anything, they’ll get from the estate. Oh look, Moira’s dragged herself out into the sunlight without exploding into a pile of ashes.”
Emily glanced over her shoulder. Sitting a couple of seats to her right was her Great-Aunt Moira. Dressed in a gaudy looking hot pink and white striped suit, she wore a black fascinator, with a blood-red feather, pinned to her tightly permed grey hair. Her pale skin was as lined as a map of the Sydney underground and around her neck hung pebble-sized crystals while her ears sagged beneath the weight of her large diamond solitaires.
Great-Aunt Moira looked up and caught Emily staring at her. With an imperious pointing of her finger, she indicated for Emily to return her attention forward and look at her Grandmother’s coffin.
“Mutton dressed as fairy-floss,” Janice said with a throaty laugh. “Have to give her credit for her honesty. She’s not faking it like someone we both know. She’s dressed like a clown.”
Emily stared at the wavering image of her Grandmother. Her voice was clear; throaty and deep. Her body drifted in and out of focus, as though shining through an old movie projector.
“If you’ll all lower your heads in prayer for our dearly departed Janice,” Father Eugene’s voice cut through into Emily’s consciousness.
Emily quickly looked down, studying her ankle-length black skirt. She fingered the cashmere material, and her shoulders relaxed a little as the funeral began to draw to an end.
A gust of wind, soft and coy, danced through the assembled mourners. It did little to cool everyone down from the harsh summer heat, causing barely a shiver as it caressed the mourner’s sweating skin. Emily glanced up as the coffin began to be lowered into the ground.
Janice rematerialised out of thin air. Emily shook her head, but her Grandmother was much clearer now. Substantial enough for Emily to wonder momentarily if the coffin was empty.
“Did you believe you’d get away with it, Emmie?” Janice said. “Burying me in the dirt as though I was another dead pet you didn’t bother to feed.”
The wind slid amongst the mourners, slowly gathering speed. Smirking as she opened her mouth, Janice’s pearl white teeth glinted dangerously in the morning sun. With a deep inhale, the breeze was sucked away from the mourners. Emily’s mouth dropped open as her Grandmother began to grow with the influx of air.
Emily pulled her elbows in tight to her sides, as tremors rattled through her body. Pushing her body into the back of the chair, she reached for Gabriella’s hand, grabbing it so tightly she heard Gabriella gasp in pain. Emily swallowed against the dryness in her throat as beads of sweat sprouted along her upper lip and hairline.
Inch by inch, Janice ballooned until she was tall enough to block the sun from Emily’s line of sight. Janice’s hooded blue eyes sparkled, and her rounded face grew more prominent. She blinked slowly, ponderously, never breaking her focused gaze from Emily’s face.
Janie’s voice echoed across the cemetery, startling birds into flight. As she screamed forth the accusation, the air she’d been inhaling tore from her body in a violent gale.
Emily turned her head away from the wind. The scene behind her was chaotic. People screamed, grabbing the chairs in front of them tightly to stop themselves from being blown across the grounds of the cemetery. Trees bent against the force of the unnatural wind while those mourner’s standing at the rear were blown off their feet.
Great Aunt Moira’s fascinator was torn from her head, slamming into a nearby Willow tree with such violent force the feather embedded itself deep into its trunk. Father Eugene slammed into a Eucalyptus, slumping against the trunk with a large red knot appearing on his forehead.
Emily turned her head forward as Gabriella squeezed her hand. The bitter wind roared furiously across the mahogany coffin. The coffin rocked in its harness although it was secured enough not to tumble to the ground.
“Do you believe you’ll get away with this?”
Janice resembled a statue of a great and mighty warrior as she continued to expand. Her silver hair tore from the neat chignon she had always worn it in, twirling in the air around her head. The emerald green silk scarf around her neck became caught in the window, rising up to frame her head.
Nausea rolled through Emily as her Grandmother flickered briefly before morphing into a huge emerald Cobra, her scarf becoming its full hood flared in a warning. Venom dripped from its sharp fangs burning circles in the grass. The serpent hissed, spitting venom towards Emily before exploding into a cloud of acrid toxic-green smoke.
In less time than it took to blink, Janice reappeared, crouched low on the top of her highly polished mahogany coffin. Emily pressed herself further back into her chair as Janice faced her, screaming in an inhuman rage that turned Emily’s blood to ice.
The putrid-sweet stench of decay blanketed the wind, leaving family and mourners gagging. For the first time all day, real tears pricked at Emily’s watery eyes as the smell relentlessly forced its way into her nose and mouth. Emily screamed as her chest tightened and pain radiated from her heart and lungs.
“Murderous little bitch.”
Emily opened and closed her mouth, unable to make a sound. Her heart raced, and clammy sweat began to dribble down her spine. Her stomach churned as her throat closed over, dry and arid. Pins and needles scratched beneath the surface of her skin as she blinked rapidly.
“You will pay,” her Grandmother screamed. “I’ll make sure of it.”
Janice launched herself directly at Emily. Her long red nails stretching into razor-sharp talons. As she flew through the air, another torrent of roaring wind screamed into Emily’s chest.
Emily began shaking uncontrollably. The wind raced beneath the hard-plastic chair, lifting it from the ground. Emily clenched her fingers tightly around the seat of the chair. Squeezing her eyes tightly shut, she whimpered as the chair flew high into the air. The screams of the assembled mourner’s barely reached her, but she heard Gabriella scream her name.
Emily closed her eyes, sending out a silent prayer for help. Her Grandmother’s mocking laughter rang in her ears, almost drowning out the hurriedly muttered Our Father.
“There are no atheists in a foxhole,” Janice said with genuine humour in her voice. “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name… oh fuck, I don’t want to die, what comes next,” Janice chanted, in a fair imitation of Emily’s panicked voice, between gut-wrenching laughter. “It’s going to take more than a half-remembered pray to save your arse, Emmie.”
Emily’s chair flew back on the demonic wind before slamming into a gravestone far behind the mourners. The force of the impact snapped the granite headstone in two. Emily groaned, rolling onto her face in the dry grass.
Pain radiated up her back, and she grimaced at the sting of grazed flesh. With a groan she rolled over, blinking at the hot summer sun and the now weirdly calm January morning.
“Emily,” Gabriella screamed.
Emily lifted her head and felt an involuntary smile flitter across her lips as Gabriella raced through the mess to reach her. Everyone else, except Father Eugene, who was hot on Gabriella’s heels, stood around looking dazed and confused.
Emily forced herself to her feet with a deep, pain-filled, groan. Starting in a circle at the outer edges of Emily’s eyes, darkness flooded her vision. As she lost control of her body, Emily reached out a hand towards Gabriella.
Ice stabbed through her skin, carving itself deep into the bone as her Grandmother’s ghost grabbed her hand. Emily felt the colour drain from her face. She screamed silently against the pain, trying in vain to protect her mind from the agony of the ice-fire spreading throughout her body in ripples. Emily focused on Gabriella, who had frozen in mid-stride. As time stood still, Emily glanced towards her Grandmother’s hooded eyes and fought to stop her lower lip from trembling.
I hope you liked this sneak peek of Confession. If you did feel free to share it on your social media accounts and remember to stay tuned for a pre-order launch with a special pre-order discount coming soon.