Chapter 1

I walked through the forest as I had numerous times before, the air heavy with the scent of fallen pine needles and bug spray. In these woods you were more likely to succumb to a voracious throng of blood sucking insects than a mountain lion or bear. The crunch of the undergrowth and twigs was the only sound save the rustle of the trees in the slight breeze, making its way through the seemingly endless troughs and crests of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, here in northern New Mexico. I began to worry that the silence indicated the presence of a predator far more dangerous than a horde of mosquitoes. I carried on nonetheless. I had to get where my feet were taking me.

Why I had decided to stray off the bike path after dusk was a mystery to me. I’m very familiar with these hills and know the direction to march if I were ever lost so that wasn’t a concern. What was a concern is that I had apparently decided to undertake this voyage barefoot. While trying to work out where my brain had been when I started out on my bicycle this evening movement in the trees caught my attention. A bit up the hill from where I was standing there appeared to be an ardent struggle. I was already walking barefoot in the woods with a thousand tiny vampires just aching to get at my sweet plasma so I decided to throw caution to the wind and investigate the wild like an eager tv ranger.

I tried to focus on the area of struggle, but any real light had been gone from the forest for nearly an hour. The moon wasn’t due for a few hours, if at all, by the lack of the telltale glow to the east. I had to use what little light late dusk provided, and decided to go down a few yards to where there was more cover. As I worked my way through the pines the victim of the apparent struggle let out a scream that I immediately took as human but it seemed too high pitched. I cocked my head to see if that would allow me to recognize the sound. It didn’t. All it accomplished was me standing as if trying to remember some long lost fact about sports trivia. At that moment my heart decided to see if it could pound it’s way forcibly from my chest.

I stood still for another a minute or two and debated against going to investigate any further. I figured I was already inviting a deadly infection on my little toe so I might as well go on. My curiosity was piqued. I moved up the hill as I must’ve been forty feet to the right of the disturbance. When I thought I climbed up far enough I began to move towards where the incident was taking place. I could no longer discern any movement from the shadows. This had an unsettling effect. For all I knew I was being stalked as the second course. I wondered what might be for desert.

Still my curiosity had the better of me so I plunged deeper into the area where I thought I would find a pile of rabbit fur or at least some disturbed Earth where a hungry bobcat had laid claim to his dinner. What I found was more than anyone should be expected to handle. A female child no more than 10 years old lay before me. She was nude from the waist down. Blood trickled from her left eye. The rope around her neck was so tight that it caused her eyes to bulge and made her face swell so that her head almost seemed too big for her frail body. Her mouth was open from a scream that never came, or else from gasping for breath that showed the same respect. It was in looking at her mouth that I also discovered her tongue had been cut out. She had managed to give up her dinner to the ground before her throat had closed.

I felt a bitterness rise inside of my chest. If I had not taken the long path to the scene I may have been able to save her. Maybe not from the horrific things some animal did to her but at least save her from being torn from the world. I suddenly felt watched and scanned the forest for any sign of the monster who was undoubtedly still working his way around the labyrinth of bushes. I wanted to leave but knew that if I left her here the many creatures of the forest would use her for sustenance. She couldn’t be used again. I knelt beside her, and not wanting to hurt her any further, removed my shirt to cover her up. If anyone saw me come out of the forest with her I was at least going to allow her to keep some sort of dignity. I began to loosen the rope from around her neck. As I was about to remove the murder weapon completely, the lifeless girl reached out and grabbed my face with ice cold hands and hissed at me with a voice that would chill any horror flick lover.

“Help me.”
Last edited by magicninja_ at Dec 10, 2009,
Chapter 2

While in the shower the image of that girl was etched in my brain. The vision was so vivid if I had been wearing shoes it would be impossible to distinguish dream from reality. Since no footwear was involved the fact that it was a dream was apparent from the moment I noticed. I’m not a brave or foolish person. It wouldn’t be like me to wander in the forest near nightfall, much less throw myself headlong into a dangerous situation without first thinking through every possible move. The cleansing rituals finished I turned off the shower and heard the sink go on.

“Is that you?”

“Of course it’s me. Who else would walk in on you in the shower?”

She was right of course. Samantha always came in during my shower to brush her teeth. When asked why she doesn’t just wait her turn she always justifies it by saying she can’t stand the film like feeling in the morning. I like to think she needs to see me naked just to get through the day. When I slid the shower door aside she stood there in a plain white tank top and short pink shorts. Her red hair flowed to just below her shoulders. When the sight of her eyes reached me through the mirror I felt a surge of tingles run through my chest. She must have used her woman’s intuition to sense that I was feeling a bit off this morning.

“You feeling ok?”

“I had a dream.”

“So did Dr. King.”

“Do you know anything else but sarcasm?”

“What?” she laughed looking not a bit apologetic.

Samantha was one of the few who I have told, and actually believed, that I had prophetic dreams. Not all my dreams are prophetic but this one had me worried. Only dreams that are remembered the next day ever come to fruition. Sometimes it comes soon, sometimes not for months. Almost all of these dreams have been benign in nature. There was the time when in fourth grade I dreamed that Kyle Landon would fall and break his arm during recess. There was also the dream about the big rig jackknifing and killing an elderly couple that convinced Sam of my psychic attribute. However, most of the time I can merely only predict with great accuracy where Sam and her sister would have lunch sometime in the future. That wouldn’t seem special in and of its self if not for the details that come with it.

“Was it another car wreck?” she asked with genuine concern.

“No” I could hear my voice falling flat.

“So what was it?”


“For something that is nothing it sure seems to have you worked up.”

On that note I made my exit from our now crowded bathroom. I didn’t want to ruin her day with the details of my night time reverie. I walked through the living room of our one bedroom apartment. The apartment was lit by only a small lamp acquired from the local secondhand store. Most of the furniture while not shabby was handed down to us from friends and family. For what we lacked in material possession, we made up for with people who cared about us.

My father, James Parker, had worked hard all his life. He started out in the coal mine that fed the economy of this town for a few decades while the mineral wealth held out. When the veins dried up he became a laborer at one of the three metal shops here in town. He welded together steel frames and doors that would become the skeletons and portals of schools and hospitals being built around the country. It wasn’t easy work but he did it anyway. My mother, Henrietta Figueroa is a bank teller for a major national chain that parks itself here. She spends all day sifting through other people’s money.

It was at this bank where my parents met. My father went in to open an account and they hit it off. They got married in 1974 when the impending birth of my brother James Jr. seemed all but written in stone. Eleven years later I arrived to join the clan and five years after me our little brother Derrick joined us to complete the circle. My parents divorced when I was seven. I don’t delve into the details of the split but apparently they just grew tired of each other. I wasn’t kept up late nights by big arguments like some children, so it came as more of a surprise. In a great back flipping of the society norm we lived with my father.

My father had been diagnosed with diabetes when he was 30 and it came to pass 20 years later when I was eleven years old that the disease finally caught up with him. It started out slow at first and to look at him you wouldn’t notice. The first thing to go was his eyesight. I remember first noticing a big problem when on a dark road my dad failed to recognize a curve in the road and drove the El Ranchero straight into an embankment. Soon he was driving 40 on the highway and soon enough not at all. Later that year I dialed 911 for the first time when my father became unresponsive. The docs say his sugar was up around six hundred or about five hundred past normal.

Being legally blind my father could no longer work. We lived of his disability payments from the government. Three years after his first hospital visit my father was back in with an infected cut on his foot. Two weeks later his leg count was down to one. It wasn’t long before my father ended up in an assisted living facility. He wasn’t watching his sugar like someone with diabetes should. He was getting sent to the hospital four or five times a year. It seems that each time he went he was in worse and worse shape. Responsibility of my 12 year old brother fell to me. My mother had remarried and moved to Albuquerque and had taken him in for a short time, but he was a little more than unruly and eventually came back to live with me. I had a job at a fast food joint and my father gave me most of the money from the disability payments to pay for rent and bills. Not more than a year later my old man had to be placed on dialysis. After this his health deteriorated quicker than I expected.

I had a hard time visiting my father at the hospital after that. It was too hard to see the man who raised two boys alone in that condition. In February of 2003 my older brother came to the house to tell us that dad was back at the hospital in pretty bad shape. I was getting ready to go when his cell phone rang and brought us news that our father was dead. He had succumbed to upper gastrointestinal rupture from the years he was wracked by acid reflux disease, a common side effect of diabetes. After the funeral my mother took my brother to live with her again. I now had no income from the government to sustain us. My job was fine for me, but it wasn’t enough for both of us. I took to rooming with friends.

One of the friends had a friend named Samantha. She is a few years older than me and our courtship has taken time, but we ended up together. We’ve been co-habitating for a few years now. I got a steadier job as a convenience store clerk and we’ve been able to survive.

After getting dressed in my uniform I went back to the bathroom to finish grooming. Sam was already in the shower.

“You’re gonna be late.” She called over the sound of the spray.

“Nah, Paul is opening up today” I replied, “and I’m not waiting out there for him again.”

She knew Paul well enough to know I didn’t need to rush myself. I got on with the combing of the hair and the shaving of the face. When I was finished I took one more look in the mirror, making sure to be neat enough for public viewing.

“I should be home around two thirty. Did you need me to pick anything up?”

“Some lunch would be nice”

“Anything special?”

“No just go ahead and surprise me.”

I made a mental note not to forget some food on the way home. I grabbed my jacket, and with a glance to the clock, headed out into the world of commercial bliss to earn my keep.
Last edited by magicninja_ at Dec 10, 2009,
Chapter 3

The ride to work, on my trusty 12 speed Huffy, would have been enjoyable had the specter of the night’s dream hadn’t kept running through my mind. I had to hope that the dream wouldn’t become reality, but knew in my heart that this girl was marked. Having something like that on your mind could drive a person straight to the asylum. If she was destined for that fate there would be nothing I could do to help. I didn’t know who the girl was or if the mountains that were the backdrop were even around here. I couldn’t tell the police that a young girl was going to be killed soon because if she did turn up missing, I would be the prime suspect.

Cruising into the parking lot it was plain to see that my prediction of Paul being late was true. I went around the gas pumps on the North side of the station and chained my bike to the railing near the door. The store was on the main street that bisected the small town and I stood as visual comedy for the early workers as they drove by to their own jobs. Checking the time on my watch I found that I was five minutes late myself.

“Dammit Paul” I sighed.

The longer the wait was, the better the odds that my thoughts would turn back to the dream. The dream itself was bad enough. I didn’t want to spend the rest of the day reliving it. Just as the image was creeping back into my mind’s eye Paul arrived in the silver Buick he had inherited from his grandmother.

“Sorry Lee” he said after noting my expression, “My mom made me toss the trash on my way out.”

“You need to move out already.”

“Kiss. My. Ass.”

Paul had a way of saying things that showed him to be more of a dork than his looks alone. He was short and scrawny and wore thick rimmed glasses which didn’t suit his face at all. His nose could be considered mousy. He was my friend so it was my job to let him know of his style whenever I could. We had met in high school after his family moved here from Texas. He was an easy target for the bullies with his accent and appearance. I thought he was funny. It was Paul who got me the job here at the station, so I owe him at least my honesty.

“You wanna hurry with the key?”

“Shut up.”

“Jimenez is eyeballing you” I said noticing the older gentleman watching from his truck, “He needs his fix.”
When Paul had finally got the deadbolt open we entered our beige and red establishment and began the process of making it fit to run. Paul set the coffee to brew and I set out to be sure the night crew had stocked the cooler. Upon returning I found Paul behind the counter and Mr. Jimenez fixing up his morning java.

“You boys get later every morning.”

“I was here. You can blame Paul.”

“Don’t bullshit me boy. I was out there at a quarter to six. You didn’t show up ‘til ten til”

“Well, when you’ve known Paul as long as I have…..”

“Where’s the lady with the paper?” Jimenez asked, sounding more impatient by the second, “She better not be late too.”

As if lured by Mr. Jimenez’s need for the news Mrs. Hernandez showed up on cue. She was never late. She showed up at six am, without fail, with the Albuquerque Journal and the Denver Post. She was followed in by Bob Helton, Howard Jennings, and Pablo Martinez. The morning coffee rush was about to be in full swing. The usual suspects would hang out on the side of the counter near the coffee discussing the happenings in the paper and various rumors spread around town. After they left the clientele would turn mostly to housewives stopping in for a pack of smokes or some gas for the day of errands that needed to be done. Raton is a quiet and predictable town and I hoped it was going to remain that way.

Around eleven Paul decided to take his lunch break before the kids were let loose from the high school to peruse our aisles for junk food. I didn’t get a customer for ten minutes after he left and used the time while he was gone to again dwell on the dream. I couldn’t help but begin to feel that the girl was somehow familiar to me. In a stupor over the enigma I barely noticed the bell that jingles when someone walks in.

“Hi Mrs. Huggins. How are we today?”

“Oh I’m doing just fine. You on the other hand look like you have the weight of the world on your head Lee Parker.”

“Oh just lack of sleep I suppose” I responded with a forced smile, “What can I help you with today?”

She handed me a lotto ticket and asked that it be scanned to see if she had won. Most people will watch the drawing on television but Mrs. Huggins found it easier to just bring her ticket in to find out the verdict. She was dressed more than casually today so I decided to make conversation and find out her plans for the day.

“All dolled up today aren’t we? What you have going on?”
“Oh it’s my granddaughters eleventh birthday today. I’m going to help Janet with the decorations and food for the party”

Janet had been a senior when I was a freshman. She had her daughter when she was 16 but still managed to finish school. She was now a teller at the same bank my mom worked at. The ticket scanner told me that Mrs. Huggins had won three dollars.

“How is Janet? I haven’t seen her for awhile.”

“Oh she’s doing good. Wyatt got a job with the pipeline construction and is making good money.”

“That’s nice” I said turning my attention to my job, “You want the cash or are we reinvesting?”

“Let’s see…..well just get me another three sets of numbers for Saturday night.”

“Yes ma’am”

“Well, better just make it five sets. I had two dollars ready in case I didn’t win anything” she said with a smile.

“Will do.” I said while punching in the commands to the ticket machine, “That’ll make it two dollars.”

She opened her wallet and my heart jumped into my throat. Staring back at me from behind a plastic picture frame was my dead girl.
Chapter 4

Trying to maintain my composure I pulled the ticket from the machine and looked it over to be sure it was built right.

“That your granddaughter?

“Why yes it is. Julia. She’s going to be all smiles when she gets to her party.”

“I’m sure she will.”

“Well I got to be getting on with the day. Get some rest you hear?”

“Yes ma’m. I’ll do that.”

With that she walked out of the store and drove away to what would probably be her granddaughter’s last birthday party. The power of that knowledge dropped me onto the stool we kept behind the counter. My hands were shaking. What could I do? Nothing. There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t go to the police. They would think I was insane, as would Janet if I told her. My only option was to try to stop it myself. How I was going to do that was something I would need time to work out.

I was saved from dwelling on it too long as Paul returned just late enough to catch the first of the lunch rush. Once that crowd had dispersed I asked Paul if I could do some of the side work and cut out early. I was halfway home when I remembered lunch. I turned around and went to the local sub shop.

When I got home Sam was sitting in the living room watching the daily soap operas. It was disheartening to see her turn into a middle aged housewife so soon but life is slow here. I would make it a mission to be sure it stayed that way.

“Hey” I blurted as I opened the door.

“Hey. You’re home early….” She responded as she turned her attention back to the set, “What’d you get me?”

“A meatball sub”

“Lettuce and cheese?”

“Lettuce and cheese.”

We sat and ate our lunch with the overacted drama playing in front of us. Sam occasionally would stop and fill me in about the goings on with her favorite characters. I nodded and tried to look interested but all the while my thoughts were on Janet’s daughter. There had to be something I could do.

After we had finished eating and the credits rolled I told Sam about the dream. I didn’t hold back any details. I even mentioned how I knew it was a dream because I was shoeless. She admonished me for being stupid enough to investigate and reassured me that it was just a dream and not to worry about it. I could tell that she knew as I did that the little girl was in trouble.

“That’s not all. I know who the girl is.”

“Really? Who is she?”

“Janet Feldman’s daughter Julia” I said as I rubbed my hands over my face, “Janet’s mom came into the store today and I noticed a picture in her wallet. It was her.”

“Are you sure?”

“It was her.”

She went on a tirade about how I couldn’t let it happen and to call the police. I told her my excuse of looking like a loon or else being the prime suspect if things did go bad. Her added pressure was something I expected but I didn’t like it all the same. I decided on a place to start and booted up the laptop. A good samaritan in the neighborhood left their wireless network open so I was able to leech the internet off of them.

“Now’s not the time for internet poker Lee.”

“I’m gonna look up the sex offenders in Raton. I figure it’s a good place to start.”

I got to the site for New Mexico sex offenders lookup and popped in the search criteria for our small town. Seven names came up on the list. One jumped out at me immediately. Along with my dreams my psychic abilities include a very reliable intuition. The name Gilbert Doyle seemed to ooze wrongness. This guy was defiantly up to something. The picture next to the name also issued forth an evil aura. He looked like a bulldog with thick salt and pepper eyebrows. His hair was in the advanced stages of falling out and what was left was thin and stringy.

“What is it?”

“This guy is giving me bad vibes.”

“You think it’s him?”

“I dunno but I’d have to say the odds are in his favor.”
I didn’t really have a next step. All I really had was a bad feeling that Doyle was up to know good. It wasn’t much to go on but it was a start.

“Why don’t you call the sheriff?”

Sherriff Jaime Mendez had been my father’s best friend. He may as well have been an uncle. I had told him about my gift by informing him about the big rig jackknifing. I thought he hadn’t believed me but he had waited at the exit nearest to the accident. I couldn’t tell him the time it would happen so he stood there for two and a half hours before the truck blew a tire and caused the old man to over correct and flip his car. He was on the site within a minute but there was nothing that could’ve been done to save the elderly couple. Hopefully there can be something done to prevent the demise of little Julia.

“I guess I’m going to have to.”

I grabbed our communal cell phone and keyed in the sheriff’s number. He answered on the second ring.
so far its a really good book well uhhhh if im late asz hell on this book its bc i just made this so.... yea well thats wat i had to say