Good evening friends and family. This year, I’m writing a new book. It’s going to be a novel I’m entitling, “The Coming: Twelve Strikes”. Originally, I threw this prologue out about two weeks ago, to get some feedback from fellow writers and friends on how I might improve the storyline. I got some really good comments, so I decided to edit the prologue in response. This is my first revision.
In the past, I’ve had problems receiving comments through blogger, so feel free to send me a comment via Facebook (Ennis Smith) or Twitter (@Ennis_C_Smith) or Google (Ennis Smith). Any and all comments are welcomed. Thank you friends and family. Enjoy.
A dull, muffled annoyance began to intensify, stirring Daniel from what was the best sleep he’d experienced in months. Possibly someone’s car alarm was set off, down the street. Maybe a cat fight was taking place in the freezing night. Daniel tossed and wrestled with the sheets, fighting against the shrill sound ever growing louder, more pronounced; closer than the street below his bedroom window. It was in the house. Daniel sprung from the bed, still half sleep, and barreled through the room. He ripped open the bedroom door and descended the steps two at a time.
“I’m coming honey! Daddy’s coming, Mary,” he yelled though the dark house.
At the bottom of the steps, Daniel landed on a stuffed animal, sending his feet into the air. His seat crashed against the hardwood floor, jarring his teeth together. A lightning bolt of pain shot up his back, as he struggled to his feet. The thud seemed to ramp up Mary’s screaming. Daniel crashed through the twins’ bedroom door, flipping the light switch. Ruth sat up in bed covering her ears against the assault.
“Daddy, make her stop screaming! What’s wrong with her?”
Daniel leaped toward the ladder of the L-shaped loft. His eyes trained on Mary as she sat cowering in the corner, screaming. Tears streamed down her cheeks and her sweaty hair lay matted across her damp forehead. Her eyes seemed to dart from one direction to the next, as she clutched her blanket tight to her little chest. At the top of the ladder, Daniel bent over the railing and reached toward Mary.
“It’s okay sweetheart. I’m here. Calm down.”
Daniel saw Mary’s frightened eyes widen, as he reached toward her. She bellowed a blood curdling shriek then, collapsed to the pillow underneath her. Daniel ripped the blanket from his limp daughter’s grasp, and lifted her one-armed by the night gown. Mary draped loose over his shoulder as he slowly descended the loft ladder.
“Daddy, what’s wrong with Zoo-Zoo?”
“Zoo-Zoo’s just had a bad dream, honey. She’s okay.”
Daniel sat on the carpeted floor cradling Mary. She slept peacefully in his arms, as he brushed her damp hair away from her sweaty scalp. Behind him in the hallway, Daniel heard the front door close. Keys jiggled as they landed inside the small dish atop the living room ottoman, and padded feet raced toward the girls’ bedroom. He glanced behind to see Dana glide into the room, still clad in nursing scrubs.
“Dear, what happened?” Dana asked. “I heard screaming outside, before I could get the car parked. Is Zoo-Zoo fine?”
“She had a bad dream and woke up screaming in the dark, Momma,” Ruth said. “I had to cover my ears.”
“You did?” Dana asked, lifting Jordan from her bed. Dana and Ruth snuggled noses. “Aw, my sugar-snap, I’m sorry you had to see that.”
Daniel stood up, still cradling Mary. He reached over and kissed Dana’s lips.
“Good morning, babe. Sorry you had to come home to this. She must’ve had one heck of a night terror.”
“Oh, my poor baby. She was doing so well. She hasn’t had a nightmare in over a year.”
“I know. This time was…somehow different, though. I can’t really explain it.”
“Different, how dear?”
“Her eyes were all over the place. Once she saw me reaching for her…”
“What? What happened, when you reached for her?”
“Momma did you get to see any dead people tonight?” Ruth asked.
“Hush sugar-snap,” Dana whispered in Ruth’s ear. “Dear, what happened when you…”
“Babe, I kid you not; she fainted. She didn’t…drift off to sleep. I think she actually fainted. I scooped her over my shoulder, brought her down to the floor, and she’s been asleep ever since.”
Dana shook her head.
“Honey, I don’t understand. How could she have fainted?”
“I don’t know babe. You’re Doctor Mom. I was hoping you could explain it to me.”
Mary shuddered in Daniel’s arms, and slowly opened her eyelids. Daniel and Dana stared into her hazel eyes.
“Good morning, my little Zoo-Zoo.” Dana kissed Mary’s forehead. “How are you, sweetheart?”
“Hi Momma,” Mary whispered. “Daddy?”
“Yeah Zoo-Zoo, Daddy’s here sweetheart. You had a little bad dream, but you’re okay now. Daddy was just putting you back to bed.”
“Daddy, they’re coming. They’re coming soon.”
Dana and Daniel exchanged a bewildered glance.
“Zoo-Zoo, do you remember what you dreamt of, honey?”
“Uh-huh,” Mary whimpered. “He said the time was near, Daddy. He said he was going to bring them back first. He said…”
Mary’s tiny chest began to heave. Dana quickly tucked Ruth under her Strawberry Shortcake sheets, then took Mary into her arms, soothing the toddler, as Mary began to sob.
“Shhhhh. It’s alright, Zoo-Zoo. Daddy won’t let anyone hurt you, baby.”
Daniel read Dana’s pleading, as she slowly rocked Mary.
“That’s right, Zoo-Zoo. Daddy won’t let anyone hurt you. I’m a tough guy. Now, who were you talking with, in your dream?”
Mary buried her tiny face into Dana’s shoulder. Tears soaked through the scrub shirt, but Dana clutched her daughter tight.
“He was bright, Daddy; like the sun. I couldn’t see his face. He was loud and scary, but he was nice to me.”
“What in the world?” Daniel whispered.
“Daddy, he told me to tell you something.”
Dana’s hazel eyes were saucers. She bit down on her bottom lip. Daniel gently stroked his wife’s arm, comforting her.
‘This is all just some sort of weird dream she had,’ he thought.
“What did the bright man say, Zoo-Zoo?”
“Time is short, Daddy. Time is short. They are coming.”
Mary closed her tiny eyes and began snoring against her mother’s shoulder; fast asleep. Dana and Daniel stood in the middle of the girls’ room staring at one another. In his mind, Daniel replayed the words his four-year old daughter had spoken.
“She’s out, dear. My God she’s asleep, as if she’d never been awake.” Dana shivered. “Danny, what’s happening here?”
“Babe, I have no idea. ‘Time is short. They are coming.’”