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Following is a short preview of something I’ve been working on for a short while.

Chapter One

Death Comes in Many Forms

One year, three months, two weeks, and two days since they left me. No. since they were taken from me. The bitterly cold, unforgiving hand of Death stole them from me, that rainy night down a dark highway. That was the night He took my life, but didn’t end it. And He still refuses to end it. He’s a spiteful son of a gun. But so am I.

When I’d told people I thought I’d seen Death, they laughed at me, thought I was joking. I had a habit of saying and doing things to make people laugh. Especially her.

But we were at the park, one evening. The sun was starting to set, and shadows were growing long as she played. Her name was Lucy.

My husband and her father, Dan, pushed her on the swing as I watched and smiled. I loved to see them play, it was one of my happiest places. I checked the time and stood up from the bench. It was getting late and I knew she was tired. Heck, I was tired.

I began to walk in their direction, when I saw movement from the corner of my eye. Darn peripheral vision, it’s not perfect and can play tricks on you. I remember a vague blackness with no concrete shape. I turned my head to see it better, a quick glance to my right. All I saw in the direction I looked was a figure slowly walking away. “Huh,” I said aloud.

“What is it?” Dan called out as gleeful Lucy smiled in the swing.

“I thought I saw something.” I told him. “Must be going blind.” I laughed. I felt a cold chill raise goosebumps on my upper arms, and turned again. The person had stopped, was looking over their shoulder, they had a hood up, and no face.

I must have turned ghostly white. “Honey are you okay?” Dan asked, he’d stopped the swing and Lucy was staring at us.

I swallowed hard, shoving down the sudden fear so I could speak. “Yeah,” I whispered. I cleared my throat. “Yes. I uh I’m just tired.”

We silently agreed to go, and he pulled Lucy out of her swing and held her. She didn’t throw her usual “but I wanna play forever” fit. She reached for me instead, opting to be carried instead of walk. Without protest we got her in the car and buckled in her car seat. I kissed her on the head and before I pulled away, she put her hands in my face. “You okay, mom?” She asked.

“Yeah, baby,” I smiled. “Mommy’s okay.” And she made me okay.

I climbed into my seat, front passenger, and buckled up. I tried not to look up. I looked at my phone, my feet, my hands. But I still felt it. A coldness that was not from the air conditioner. It was inside me.

And there it was. The figure in a yellow hoodie and jeans. Walking with its back to us. We drove toward it, then passed. I stared at it hoping as we passed it would not look it would not see me, see us.

The figure moved off to the side as we approached. We drove slowly past down the narrow road. It looked right in the car. And it had a face. A man’s face. I sighed in relief and Dan put his hand on mine. I looked at him and smiled.

Then I made a mistake.

I glanced in the side mirror. And there it stood. In the center of the road, yellow hoodie and jeans. Blackness surrounding it. And blackness for a face.

That evening went by as normal: dinner, television. I bathed Lucy, helped her brush her teeth, brushed her hair, told her a story as she got sleepier and sleepier. All the while the figure was there. In the back of my mind, black and cold.

I did not sleep. I’ve never rested well. A toddler’s kicks make it even more difficult to rest. But I didn’t sleep at all that night. Every time I closed my eyes, blackness in a yellow hoodie was there. The image was burned into my brain, and no matter how hard I tried it would not leave me. Neither would the chill.

Only one word came to mind when I tried to think of what it was, this terrible vision, this waking nightmare.