This is the beta version of my novel. If you are a new reader – welcome. You can read from the start here.
New sections are released every Tuesday and Friday. Please let me know your opinion in the comments section. Thank you for reading.
Artie shuddered and pulled the blanket closer around her. The sun’s pale fingers were creeping into the sky, but it seemed to be getting colder not warmer. The hard back of the patio chair dug in between two of her vertebrae. She shifted again, knowing that it would make no difference. Every bit of her hurt.
There was a brushing sound of feet through dewed grass, then the gate creaked. Artie looked up to see a very awake Alex.
“Thank god you’re alright.” Artie leaped up and ran towards her brother. She thumped into him in a relieved hug. Her stomach complained, sending pointed reminders of where March’s foot had landed. Artie winced away and put a hand to her belly.
“Hey.” Alex’s face was creased with concern. “What’s the matter?”
Artie shook her head. “I was worried about you.”
Alex spread his arms wide. “Well here I am, safe and sound.”
“Well I woke up in the woods in my underpants feeling like a pillock.” He laughed. “I had to dodge the early morning dog walkers on the way back. Avoid getting arrested for indecent exposure.”
Alex perched on the edge of the garden table and swung his left leg. Artie sunk her teeth into her lower lip.
“What? It wasn’t that unfunny.”
Artie stared at him bleakly. “What do you remember about last night?”
“Nothing.“ Alex shrugged. “I went to sleep. I woke up this morning standing next to a tree.” He jumped up from the table. “Let’s go indoors. I don’t want Mum and Dad to get worried.”
Artie reached out. “Alex, wait. You… There was… You were..” The words fled from Artie’s mouth. What could she say that didn’t sound insane? She passed a hand through her short hair. “You don’t remember anything?”
Alex shook his head, pursed his lips.
“Nothing weird or odd or like a dream?”
A shadow fluttered through Alex’s eyes. He turned away from her. Artie plunged on.
“It’s just I saw you. With someone. With the same someone I saw you with before.”
Alex snapped. “You’re talking nonsense.”
Artie recoiled from the sudden anger in Alex’s face. His voice had hit her like a slap.
“I am not.”
Alex shook his head vigorously. “There was no one.”
He stomped to the back door and yanked it open. Artie grabbed his arm. He let her turn him face her. She looked into his eyes, behind the anger they were haunted.
“There was. You remember.” Artie said. “They aren’t human, you know. They’re monsters. She is not human-”
Alex shoved her and she landed on the floor hard. A bolt of fire passed through her as the impact jolted through her already injured ribs and stomach.
“Don’t talk about her like that.”
Alex slammed the door behind him so hard that the glass panes in it rattled.