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Author: Lincoln Cole
Publisher: Kindle Press
Genre: Horror/Paranormal Thriller/Urban Fantasy
Raven’s Peak is available at Amazon.
fell in love with the pain. When agony first turned to pleasure, and then to
joy. Of course, it hadn’t always been like this. He remembered screaming all
those years ago when first they put him in this cell; those memories were
vague, though, like reflections in a dusty mirror.
inconsequential. The aching need was what drove him in this moment, and
nothing else mattered. It was a primal desire: a longing for the tingly rush of
adrenaline each time the lash licked his flesh. The blood dripping down his
parched skin fulfilled him like biting into a juicy strawberry on a warm
speak with you immediately. She says her name is Frieda.”
the air like a poised snake. The Reverend remembered that name, found it
dancing in the recesses of his mind. He tried to pull himself back from the
ritual, back to reality, but it was an uphill slog through knee-deep mud to
reclaim those memories.
focus when he was in the midst of his cleansing. All he managed to cling to was
the name. Frieda. It was the name of an angel, he
knew. . . or perhaps a devil.
said and done.
only the whispers of which he could recall. The ritual reclaimed him, embraced
him with its fiery need. His memories were nothing compared to the whip in his
hand, its nine tails gracing his flesh.
left shoulder blade, scattering droplets of blood against the wall behind him.
Those droplets would stain the granite for months, he knew, before finally
fading away. He clenched his teeth in a feral grin as the whip landed with a
sickening, wet slapping sound.
from the doorway. “Does he always do that?”
into the air, poised for another strike.
his back and the tender muscles hidden there. He let out a groan of mixed agony
their voices only echoes amid the rest, an endless drone. He wanted them to
leave him alone with his ritual. They weren’t worth his time.
handcuffs this time; the last guy who tried spent a month in the hospital.”
cat-o’-nine-tails, his friend, his love, became the only sound in the roughhewn
cell, echoing off the granite walls. He took a rasping breath, blew it out, and
cracked the lash again. More blood. More agony. More pleasure.
him,” the second guard decided.
Reverend isn’t going to cause us any trouble. He only hurts himself. Right,
sickly sweet. He wished he could see his back and the scars, but there were no
mirrors in his cell. They removed the only one he had when he broke shards off
to slice into his arms and legs. They were afraid he would kill himself.
he remembered from that past life. They called the other side, the darker side.
An imperfect reflection stared back, threatening to steal pieces of the soul
the Reverend on the shoulder. Just a tap, no danger at all, but his hand never
even came close. Honed reflexes reacted before anyone could possibly understand
what was happening.
standing. He hovered above the guard who was down on his knees. The man let out
a sharp cry, his left shoulder twisted up at an uncomfortable angle by the
Reverend’s iron grip.
ready to strike at its new prey.
at the man, seeing him for the first time. He recognized him as one of the
first guardsmen he’d ever spoken with when placed in this cell. A nice European
chap with a wife and two young children. A little overweight and balding, but
hurt this man, but there was a part—a hungry, needful part—that did. That part
wanted to hurt this man in ways neither of them could even imagine. One twist
would snap his arm. Two would shatter the bone; the sound as it snapped would
be . . .
one that smelled of fear—stumbled back, struggling to draw his gun.
knees as if praying. The Reverend wondered if he prayed at night with his
family before heading to bed. Doubtless, he prayed that he would make it home
safely from work and that one of the inmates wouldn’t rip his throat out or
gouge out his eyes. Right now, he was waving his free hand at his partner to
get his attention, to stop him.
worked the gun free and pointed it at the Reverend. His hands were shaking as
he said, “Let him go!”
time: “Don’t piss him off!”
young partner’s face in that moment was precious: primal fear. It was an
expression the Reverend had seen many times in his life, and he understood the
thoughts going through the man’s mind: he couldn’t imagine how he might
die in this cell, but he believed he could. That belief
stemmed from something deeper than what his eyes could see. A terror so
profound it beggared reality.
the air. Both guards twitched and shifted, one in pain and the other in terror.
The Reverend was immovable, a statue in his sanctuary, eyes boring into the
his knees murmured. “You’ll miss, and we’ll be dead.”
weaker. “We’ll still be dead.”
lowered his gun in confused fear, pointing it at the floor. The Reverend curled
his lips and released, freeing the kneeling guard.
and climbed shakily to his feet. He backed away from the Reverend and stood
beside the other, red-faced and panting.
said. The words were hard to come by; he’d rarely spoken these last five
guard replied meekly. “My mistake.”
began. A sharp look from his companion silenced him.
stepping outside the cell. The Reverend looked longingly at the lash in his
hand before dropping it onto his hard bed. His cultivated pain had faded to a
dull ache. He would need to begin anew when he returned, restart the cleansing.
black-site prison deep below the earth’s surface, past neglected cells and
through rough cut stone. A few of the rusty cages held prisoners, but most
stood empty and silent. These prisoners were relics of a forgotten time, most
of whom couldn’t even remember the misdeed that had brought them here.
misdeeds. Every day he thought of the pain and terror he had inflicted, and
every day he prayed it would wash away.
earth, but not enough to benefit from the world’s core heat. It was kept
unnaturally cold as well to keep the prisoners docile. That meant there were
only a few lights and frigid temperatures. Last winter he thought he might lose
a finger to frostbite. He’d cherished the idea, but it wasn’t to be. He had
looked forward to cutting it off.
guards in this section of the prison, maybe one every twenty meters. The actual
security system relied on a single exit shaft as the only means of escape.
Sure, he could fight his way free, but locking the elevator meant he would
never reach the surface.
meant the situation would be contained.
bring civilians in on the secretive depths of their hellhole prison. The fewer
guards they needed to hire, the fewer people knew of their existence, and any
guards who were brought in were fed half-truths and lies about their true
purpose. How many such men and women, he’d always wondered, knew who he was or
why he was here?
the best. If they knew, they never would have been able to do their jobs.
felt the ritual wash away and he became himself once more. Just a man getting
on in years: broken, pathetic, and alone as he paid for his mistakes.
entrance of the prison: an enclosed set of rooms cut into the stone walls
backing up to a shaft. A solitary elevator bridged the prison to the world
above, guarded by six men, but that wasn’t where they took him.
side rooms, opening the door but waiting outside. Inside were a plain brown
table and one-way mirror, similar to a police station, but nothing else.
away from the door. She had brown hair and a white business suit with matching
heels. Very pristine; Frieda was always so well-dressed.
The Reverend didn’t acknowledge the man, but he did walk into the chamber. He
strode past the table and sat in the chair facing Frieda.
blue eyes and a mole on her left cheek. She looked older, and he couldn’t
remember the last time she’d come to visit him.
helped lock him in that cell.
to the guards while still facing the Reverend.
reiterated. Her tone was exactly the same, but an undercurrent was there. Hers
was a powerful presence, the type normal people obeyed instinctually. She was
always in charge, no matter the situation.
Steve replied finally, pulling the heavy metal door closed.
stared at him. Seconds slipped past.
What must he look like today? His hair and beard must be shaggy and unkempt
with strands of gray mixed into the black. He imagined his face, but with eyes
that were sunken, skin that was pale and leathery. Doubtless, he looked
thinner, almost emaciated.
the smell of which would be overpowering. It disgusted him; he hated how his
daily ritual left him, battering his body to maintain control, yet he answered
its call without question.
me the first time we met?” the Reverend asked finally, facing Frieda again.
said, ignoring his question. “You’ve been here for a long time, and things have
been getting worse.”
first meeting. I thought it was pessimistic and rhetorical,” he continued.
world is getting darker and…”
about something that might happen to someone else but never to me. I had no
idea just how spot on you were: that you were prophesizing my future,” he
spoke. “Do you remember your exact words?”
finished. Then she added softer: “I need your help.”
said: “Do you remember?”
met, I said to you: ‘Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the
process he does not become a monster.’”
Now I am a monster.”
body, and he felt every muscle tense. “That is not my name!”
he roared, slamming his fist on the table. It made a loud crashing sound,
shredding the silence, and the wood nearly folded beneath the impact.
an instant, falling into a fighting stance. One hand gripped the cross hanging
around her neck, and the other slid into her vest pocket. She wore an
expression he could barely recognize, something he’d never seen on her face
realization stung, and more than a little bit.
his seat, but he could still feel heat coursing through his veins. He forced
his pulse to slow, his emotions to subside. He loved the feeling of rage but
was terrified of what would happen if he gave into it; if he embraced it.
pocket and realized what weapon she had chosen to defend herself. A pang shot
through his chest.
minute trace of shame crossed her face. He stood slowly and walked around the
table, reaching a hand toward her. To her credit, she barely flinched as he
touched her. He gently pulled her fist out of the pocket and opened it. In her
grip was a small vial filled with water.
memories, furrowing his brow. A little girl playing in a field, picking
blueberries and laughing. A wife with auburn hair who watched him with love and
longing as he played with their daughter. He quashed them; he feared the pain
the memories would bring.
and popped the top off. She watched in resignation as he held up his right
arm and poured a few droplets onto his exposed skin. It tingled where it
touched, little more than a tickle, and he felt his skin turn hot.
he hadn’t realized he was holding.
it,” Arthur replied.
said again. When he looked at her face once more, he saw moisture in her eyes.
He couldn’t tell if it was from relief that the blessed water didn’t work, or
sadness that it almost had.
asked, gesturing at his body helplessly with his arms. “You see what I am. What
corrected. “I was ignorant and foolish. I can never be that man again.”
missing,” he said, “and countless more.”
said. “These are ours.”
potential. All three were being fostered by the Greathouse family.”
Greathouse, an old and idealistic man who just wanted to help. “Of course, you
went to Charles,” Arthur said. “He took care of your little witches until they
were ready to become soldiers.”
said. Frieda didn’t correct him. “Who took the girls?”
more. It killed three of ours.”
wasn’t ready. Not for this.”
years,” Frieda said. “She grew up.”
knew as well as she did what had happened to put him in this prison and what
part Abigail had played in it. If Abigail hadn’t stopped him…
Frieda said finally, sliding away from the minefield in the conversation.
know you were close.”
trained Abigail. Raised her from a child after rescuing her from a cult many
years earlier. It was after his own child had been murdered, and he had needed
a reason to go on with his life. His faith was wavering, and she had become his
salvation. They were more than close. They were family.
“Our informants haven’t heard anything.”
She didn’t need to.
Frieda said. “I don’t…I don’t know what else to do.”
you to do?”
late by the time the Council decides to act.”
like this,” she said.
send without the Council finding out and reprimanding you?”
she said. “I’ve taken care of everything. There is a car waiting topside and a
jet idling. So, will you help?”
thinking. “I’m not that man anymore.”
shaking her head. “You are my last hope.”
lump in his throat, “when I don’t come back? What happens when I become the new
threat and you have no one else to send?”
in the eyes.
said softly, staring at the table, “I’ll have an answer to a question I’ve
wondered about for a long time.”
my faith worth?”
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a Columbus-based author who enjoys traveling and has visited many different
parts of the world, including Australia and Cambodia, but always returns home to his
pugamonster and wife. His love for writing was kindled at an early age through
the works of Isaac Asimov and Stephen King and he enjoys telling stories to
anyone who will listen.
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Cole is giving away an autographed copy of RAVEN’S PEAK!!
- By entering
the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
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will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one autographed copy of RAVEN’S
giveaway ends midnight July 11.
- Winner will
be contacted via email on July 12.
- Winner has
48 hours to reply.