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Heroes of Destiny

Heroes of Destiny

 

A Steampunk Adventure

John M. Davis

 

Digital Edition

 

Copyright 2016 Serenity Valley Publishing

Editing: Daniél Lecoq

 

 

 

Digital Edition, License Notes

 

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only and may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to johndavisbooks.wordpress.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. Please note that this is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people, places or events are purely coincidental.

 

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

Prologue: The Beginning

Chapter 1: One

Chapter 2: Two

Chapter 3: Three

Chapter 4: Four

Chapter 5: Five

Chapter 6: Six

Epilogue: The Future

About the Author

 

 

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

My work has always been compared to the work of Sir Terry Pratchett.

In no way, shape or form do I believe I’m on his level in terms of writing. At least not yet. Still, after several emails and reviews pointed to the same thing, I took notice. I must admit, up until this story I had never read any of Pratchett’s work. I’d heard of him, of course. I wasn’t born and raised in a cave. I’m just more of an early 1900’s pulp kind of guy.

The truth of the matter is that success is a double-edged sword. Am I rich and famous? Obviously not. But my first story (Gunship) caught on with readers and ultimately led to a #1 bestseller in The Fleet, which is an extension of the Gunship universe. I found myself in a rather odd situation. I had this cast of characters that were huge favorites among readers, even when I hadn’t planned for them to go beyond one book. Instead, I began writing stories that weren’t inside of my head to begin with. Writing was something that I’d gotten into in order to escape the world around me. It was my beach, or secluded cabin in the woods in this case. The more I wrote, the more readers asked for. It sounds like the perfect situation until you realize that the fun is gone. For the first time in my career, I found myself writing against my will. I was tired of spaceships. I was tired of intergalactic wars and love affairs between princesses and leather-backed smugglers.

One day as I sat down to hammer away at yet another adventure in space, a tweet on social media changed my career forever. Yet again, my work had been compared to Pratchett’s. Immediately I sent an email over to my editor and that night I sat down with the first 2 Discworld books. Short, clever writing and lots of comedy. I get it. Turtles in space? Well, let’s just say I haven’t made my way through the entire series yet so I’ll reserve judgment. The one thing I have taken from his work so far is that Pratchett had fun writing. It seems like he said to hell with what the normal was and wrote what he wanted to write about.

That’s how Heroes of Destiny was born. I decided to push everything else to the side and begin the framework for a story that I wanted to write.

While reading, please take it for what it is. I’m an indie author with 5 years of writing under my belt. I’m proud of that fact, but I’m not delusional. I’ve got plenty of catching up to do in order to make it to where Pratchett proudly stood. Everything in this story is everything that I enjoy reading. That’s pure honesty on my part.

As I sit here writing this prologue while listening to Michael Bolton (I live a sad life, folks), I see a bit of myself in each of these characters. I believe that every writer, whether they admit it or not, creates strong characters from within.

This story is short. It’s designed that way as it’s only a prelude of things to come. I’d like you to try it out and hopefully continue the series. It’s a dirty, ruthless marketing trick, I know. Yet it’s no trick at all. I honestly believe you’ll like this story and its characters.

Either way, I’d like to thank you for giving it a go. Chances are it’ll sit around on your eBook reader for a while. At least that’s how it happens here at home. If and when you get around to it, I want you to know that my soul bled as this story was written. It really did. Because I also look up into the bright night sky on so many occasions and feel something out there, tugging at my very being as if to rip me from Earth altogether.

It’s out there. Whatever you take from this story, I hope that I’m able to suspend your disbelief just long enough to make you believe the same thing. If so, I’ve done my job as an author.

John M. Davis

4/18/2016

 

*A special thank you to my editor, who took time out of his busy schedule of multiple beach vacations to butcher this story into awesomeness. This is your story too, D.

:)

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

Dalton James could hear the heavy footsteps banging against wooden stairs.

He’d always been able to hear them. His office was very much on the old side of things. Mt. Pleasant, Cleveland. This was Browns country and moreover, this was one of the city’s worst neighborhoods. The rent was cheap enough and the building had been everything Dalton had desired. Even down to the shitty wooden steps which led up from the street below. A warning system, if nothing more.

“Time to wake up, Sleeping Beauty.” Adam said as he entered.

The office door was just as sad looking as you’d imagine in a building that was decades behind a builder’s code. Thick wood with an antique knob and milky glass with no other purpose than to be there with his name plastered on it.

Dalton James. Private Detective.

“Beauty my ass.” Dalton replied as he raised his head from the desk.

Like everything else, his desk was a relic of severe age and neglect. It had likely been a fine piece of furniture once upon a time. The kind that you’d imagine in some upscale bank, shining beneath fancy overhead lighting. Now it was littered with the haze of age and the scars and nicks of everyday use.

“You said 8 o’clock.” Adam reminded.

Grumbling under his breath, Dalton stared at the clock which hung on the wall. It was rather large and wrapped in a steel band, resembling the clock in one of any of the thousands of labor factories around the world.

“It’s fifteen after.” Adam said. Holding up his antique pocket watch.

“Shit,” Dalton complained. Taking a large cigar of questionable origin, he quickly wrapped his lips around it as though he were snugging a newborn and flicked his windproof lighter. Drawing several deep breaths and lighting the cigar in the process. “Had the weirdest damn dream. Didn’t sleep much.”

Adam looked at him with curiosity. Finally going a bit further.

“Well?”

“Well what?”

“The dream? Same one?” Adam asked.

“Shit, I don’t remember all of the details, honestly. Yea. You and me were hunting vampires in space. Something like that. They had me in charge of a fleet-”

“They had you in charge?”

“Yea, me,” Dalton defended. “It’s my damn dream. I can be the hero if I want to be. Anyway, it doesn’t feel like I’ve slept a wink.”

It certainly wasn’t his first sleepless night. He could remember far back, even into his childhood. The same dream with details changing ever so slightly along the way. Those who knew him had pushed for the tough man to visit a sleep clinic. He had, though his was housed inside of a whiskey bottle.

“Science fiction huh?” Adam asked, taking a moment to stare at Dalton’s tiny black and white television. Wondering if they still made the damn things. Also laying on the desk were an emptied bottle of cheap wine and a half-eaten pizza. Pepperoni; banana peppers; onions; sausage; bacon and extra cheese. Just the way Dalton liked it. “Well, it could have something to do with the binge drinking, late night pizza and television.”

“Piece of shit won’t work,” Dalton snarled, glancing to the older TV. “Besides, what are you? A damn detective or something?”

“Yes, as I matter of fact I am,” Adam replied with a grin. “And so are you, so you might want to act the part. Shave or something.”

Dalton puffed away on his cigar, daring not to give a damn. Adam was clean shaven enough for the both of them. He was the type who dressed the part. He even had an antique pocket watch on a chain in his jacket’s front pocket. A watch that was very near and dear to his heart. Adam smelled of the perfect cologne crispness. He’d never been attractive, but he tried.

Getting all jazzed up wasn’t Dalton’s style. Give him a gun and a brown coat, preferably made from a cow’s ass and he was ready to go to work. Lack of sleep be damned. Grabbing a slice of the room tempered pizza, he commenced to having his breakfast.

“You keep having these dreams,” Adam said. “Maybe you should look into becoming a writer. I saw this fantastic piece on TV about-”

“Shit,” Dalton said with a cackle. “Ain’t no money in that. Besides, people would just think I was another long-winded, underpaid fool with no social life. Maybe even fetch me one of those editors. You know, the official type. One that lays on the beach all year long and takes too many damn cruises.”

“Yea,” Adam agreed. “Best stick to being a detective.”

He’d meant to answer his good friend, but Dalton stopped completely. Once again, he could hear the creaking of wooden steps. It was a lot less deafening this time around, which usually came from the steps of a client. Someone who wasn’t familiar with the building, unlike Adam Michaels, who seemed to march up the steps like a herd of buffalo fleeing a pack of burly ranch hands.

“Look professional.” Adam suggested.

His statement was returned by Dalton James, who held the smoldering cigar in his mouth. Tucked limply into the corner. His face was covered in brown man fur and experience. His back was covered with a whiskey-stained brown coat. He understood that with budget cuts across the board, the police would stay two steps behind criminals and that brought him a lot of business. So he remained casual.

As the door opened slowly, both men found themselves in awe.

I should have hidden the fucking pizza. Dalton thought.

It was a woman, but certainly no ordinary woman. Red hair fell down to the middle of her back and most importantly, she was dressed fancy. The kind of woman that there was no mistaking her importance. She had money and could have blended well with any higher class crowd. Her skin was flawless and her eyes were the perfect color. They were russet brown and very much resembled the autumn of winter.

“I’m looking for Detective James.” she said with timidness. Even so, the woman sounded too proper to be from Cleveland. At least Dalton’s side of the city, which often saw grown men fighting over the last bite of a Polish Dog from Quincy’s Bar and Grill. Where the only thing thicker than cigarette smoke were the bars on the windows.

“That’d be me,” Dalton replied. “What can I do for you?”

A night of love-making, he’d hoped. He’d long been accustomed to women coming to him with suspicions of a cheating spouse. Normally, they were a bit thick and odd-shaped. Homely looking, even. Still they found comfort in his arms more times than not. He’d always felt a bit of guilt when it came to bedding down women in distress. But a part of him had considered it a benefits packages. God knows he had no vision or dental insurance to speak of. Even the schmucks at Starbucks had that. This woman was quite different than any he’d encountered before. She was beautiful in every conceivable way. Enough so that it hurt.

“My husband…” she began.

Dalton quickly wanted to find this man. Not only to expose him as the cheating rat that he was, but to lay five forceful ones across the man’s eyes for being stupid enough to cheat on such a beautiful woman. He wasn’t alone. Dalton could see the way Adam stared at her and he knew the look well. It was like watching the eyes of a cat with prey only feet away. He suspected that there was a boner in them there slacks of Adam’s.

“He’s missing.”

“You file a report with the police?” Dalton asked.

It was a damn shame, too. He’d so hoped for a cheating spouse. At least he would have a chance with her if that were the case.

“Yes,” she replied. “But they don’t work so fast. The Cleveland Police are overbooked, as you might imagine. I need to find my husband. I have money,” she said, confirming Dalton’s theory. “I’ll pay whatever it takes.”

“OK,” he replied, pulling a yellow legal pad from his desk. Finding slight embarrassment in the fact that the he’d scrawled stick men and names on the first sheet, he quickly tore it off. Knowing that Adam was likely staring a hole through him. “I need to know what he might be wearing and the last place you-”

“I know where he is.” the woman admitted.

“You what?”

It was the first time either man had heard such an admission.

“I know where my husband is,” she said once more. “I tried to tell the police, but they won’t go after him.”

“Why’s that?” Dalton asked.

“Vampires have him.”

“Come again?”

“Vampires have him.”

All of the sudden, his shitty legal pad artwork felt a little less embarrassing. Of course! A woman this fine somehow found her way into his office and as fate would have it, she’s batshit crazy! Just the luck.

“OK, well,” Dalton replied. Doing his best not to laugh. “I believe we’re done here. If you want, I can walk you-”

“Why will no one help me?” she asked. “I understand how ridiculous it all sounds. I do. But I’m telling the truth and I’m willing to pay. They told me you’re the best.”

Of course they did! The Cleveland Police had likely sent her away with tears of laughter. They’d thrown her into his lap, the cocksuckers!

“Look,” Dalton said in a sobering tone. “I’m not trying to offend you here Mrs-”

“Blaine. Sarah Blaine.”

“Mrs. Blaine,” Dalton said. “We’re not ghost hunters and we don’t chase after the paranormal. Why? Because we have bills to pay and-”

“These aren’t ghosts,” she argued. “I’ve seen them with my own eyes. They are very real and they’ve threatened to kill me if I show back up at their doorstep. I can easily pay your bills – whatever the asking price. I have enough money.”

“They threatened you?” Adam asked.

Yes!” she replied frantically.

There it goes. Dalton thought.

His friend Adam had always been a victim of the complex. Helping a desperate woman in need. It didn’t matter how much risk or reward was involved, if you put a skirt in front of his face and tears in her eyes, Adam would bite like a slithering catfish. It was likely his only hope of getting laid. He considered himself to be good looking. He was anything but.

“No one will help me.” she said, beginning to cry.

Son of a bitch. Dalton thought.

“May, I have a word with Detective James, alone?”

Stepping out into the narrow stairwell, Sarah left them to discuss the fate of her husband. The thick glass and shitty wooden door did very little to muffle her crying.

“No,” Dalton said quickly. “Hell no.”

“Just hear me out.” Adam replied.

“She’s in here talking about vampires, Adam,” Dalton said with a laugh. “Closest I’ve ever been to a vampire was my ex-wife. She’d suck a bank account dry really quick, especially toward the end of things. Believe me, I even tried garlic on her. All of that shit.”

“Look,” Adam pleaded. “I don’t believe it either. But I do believe that she believes it. She’s willing to pay. We could go and talk to the folks she suspects. It would ease her mind and pay our bills for a couple of months. These dreams you keep having about vampires in space… This could be an omen. Either way, everybody wins.”

“They probably told her not to come back because she’s fucking nuts.” Dalton argued with emotion.

“Then let’s just go and hear it from them. Collect a paycheck in the process.”

“OK,” Dalton said. “But it’s one trip. I don’t believe in omens. We’re not running all over the damn city chasing ghosts-”

“Vampires.”

“Whatever!” Dalton fumed. “We do it my way. One and done, with payment up front. And the Cleveland P.D. never finds out. OK?”

“I’ll let her know.” Adam said with a grin.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

 

Cold Cleveland rain beat down onto his car, briefly giving it a shine once more as streetlights reflected back.

“I’ll go,” Dalton said, pulling his pistol out for a moment and inspecting even the smallest details of its uniqueness. Antiqueness, if you were to ask anyone else. The revolver had served him well… At the firing range. It was a dirty steel and hazy blue. A wooden boot wrapped beneath it, serving as its handle and it would provide 6 punishing shots if the need arose. “You stay here with the girl.”

“But-” Adam began.

Normally, he’d argue to stay with a woman so fine. And while he certainly didn’t believe her story, he’d at least planned to see it through with his own eyes. It wasn’t every day that they were chasing the trail of the undead.

“No buts,” Dalton quickly replied. “You sit tight and keep a finger on the trigger, just in case. I don’t plan on doing any shooting. Just going in to have a look around.”

He’d certainly done his fair share of shooting. Dalton had served honorably in the United States Marines, straight from Camp Pendleton in California all the way to the shit storm, otherwise known as Iraq. After serving, he’d came home to become a police officer and that too, was easily conquered by the man with far too much scruff on his face and the mouth of a sailor. In fact, he’d gotten bored with it. All of the paperwork and shunning of alcohol on the clock ultimately led him away from the official side of police work, opting to go into business for himself. What better friend to have at his side than Adam Michaels? Having served beside him in both Iraq and the mean streets of Cleveland behind a nickel slick badge.

Holstering his massive hand cannon beneath his arm, Dalton eased brown leather back over to cover the shoulder strap. For a moment, he wanted to be anywhere else. Not out of fear, mind you, but because of the rain. Cleveland had a way of pouring it down and when it hit – it hurt. The rain bit like sky-loose rattlesnakes.

“Fucking bullsh-” he began. Slamming the car door behind him.

He’d never been a fan of the undead. None of that bullshit, as he liked to think of it. He reckoned that it was nothing more than shitty script written by some movie buff living in his basement somewhere. He’d seen the dead walking on TV. Rick, or whatever in the fuck his name was. Dalton never took to it, honestly. Any deputy worth his salt would have left that big ass hat back at the station, zombies or no zombies. Dalton believed he was a might bit better at skinning the iron pony, too.

That Lori, though. He’d like to bang the-

Stopping suddenly, Dalton’s skin began to crawl. Not like the time he’d gotten into Mrs. Phillip’s garden and found himself in a nest of red ants at the age of 7. If memory served correct, he’d called her everything but the white haired senior citizen that she was. This was different, though. These were chill bumps like he’d never experienced.

It was a public drinking house according to all of the information he could pull up online. Paulie’s Tavern, though its appearance looked more like a low budget house of ill repute. Wooden boards hung by nails that hadn’t been touched in years. Nothing about the large building shined except for the patches of oil slicks out front on the city street. It was dark, but he didn’t see a sign posted with hours, so fuck it – Dalton proceeded inside.

“We’re closed, jackass.” a man said.

He was more surprised than anything. Having been caught with a decent-sized stack of money on the table in front of him.

“I’ll be the judge of that,” Dalton growled. “And if you get to calling me names again, I’ll start kicking all three of those teeth in.”

“Anthony!”

Quickly, a man sprang from a room in the back. And then another, followed by yet another one of the uglies. Before he knew it, Dalton was looking at 4 men and they were each large enough to be a menace to his survival. His heart pounded for a moment in his chest as he hugged the promising steel of his revolver.

“You need to leave.” The largest man said. Presumably Anthony.

“I’ll leave after I get some answers,” Dalton replied fast. Pulling a recent photo of Sarah’s husband. “Name’s Jerry…”

“Take it up with the police.” Anthony said with a cackle. Soon enough, they’d all began to laugh.

“Might want to rethink that,” Dalton said with a slight grin peeking from behind his thick beard. “I was a cop for a spell and know plenty of folks that way. If I make a call, they’ll come up here and strip this place down to the drywall you’ve got hanging and the dogshit sitting in the parking lot outside.”

His statement dug at the men and Dalton knew it. He could see how fast their laughter began to evolve into anger. Simmering like a pot of hobo soup.

Anthony approached Dalton and stood nearly nose-to-nose with the detective.

“Listen up, now,” he said. His voice was stern and concise. “You leave this place while you can and I don’t want to see you back here. If I do – you die.”

Dalton was a fighting man indeed, but didn’t see how he’d have a prayer of ending up on the right side of things. Revolver or not, it’d likely end up bad for the man who reeked of old pizza and cheap booze. Adam! Where the hell was his wingman? Dalton wondering for a moment if his friend had outsmarted him and convinced him to go it alone in an attempt to close some skirt in the backseat of his 1984 Lincoln. Not that he had a chance. Adam was nice enough, but his looks countered that something fierce.

“Y’all boys see him, give me a call. OK?” Dalton asked.

It was his way of backing down.

“You’ve got it, Mr. Do Right.” Anthony said.

The men began laughing and wisely, Dalton had used it as his opening to get the hell out of dodge. Backing toward the door slowly. He’d never been so glad to feel the cold rain of Cleveland.

 

 

“Well?” Adam asked.

Dalton sunk into the leather seats of his brutal cruiser and placed his hands on the steering wheel for a moment. Noticeably shaken, his hands trembled.

“Dalton?”

“She’s right.”

“She’s right?” Adam asked. Shocked.

“Something fucked up is going on inside those walls,” Dalton confirmed. “As soon as I went in, a man with strange tattoos across his hands, counting money, yelled for help. As the door swung open, I could see blood splattered on the floor momentarily.”

“Oh God!” Sarah desperately began reaching for her door’s handle.

“Whoa now,” Dalton said. “I don’t think that it was your husband’s.”

“How do you know?” Adam asked.

“Because those fuckers let me walk out alive,” he said. Trying to calm himself a bit. “If I would have gone in looking for a man they had in the back, I wouldn’t have come out of there alive. And they ain’t men. I can’t explain it, but something tells me-”

“But I know he’s there.” Sarah said.

“He ain’t there,” Dalton replied. “I’m not doubting your story; I’m just saying he’s not there now. And these guys… Or whatever they are. There’s something about ‘em.”

“Something – what? Vampires?” Adam questioned.

“Hell, I don’t know! They didn’t answer the door speaking Romanian with fucking capes on and fangs hanging out of their mouths. I just mean they’re not like us. Nothing like anyone I’ve ever met.”

He could tell by the look in their eyes. Figuring out a person at first glance had always been one of Dalton’s finer points. When he looked at the men inside of Paulie’s, he felt as if he were looking at men who were hollowed to their souls. They spoke. They walked. But they didn’t live like a normal person should have.

“So what now?” Sarah asked.

“Well, we can’t work out of the office,” Dalton said, having spotted one of the men walking outside and taking great interest in his car’s plates. “We’ll need to find a half-ass motel somewhere off of the grid. Sarah,” he turned to the backseat. Her head barely peeked over the behemoth front seat. “I’ll need a chance to clear my head and get my bearings straight.”

“Oh,” she replied. “If you need to take me home, I understand. It isn’t your mess and you’re certainly not obligated to-”

“No,” Dalton confirmed. “Hell no. You’ll be staying with us for a couple of days if that suits you? Or you can go to the police. It’s your choice but either way, it’s my professional opinion that you’re not safe alone. I can read folks pretty well and the guys I just met aren’t the kind of folks who will leave you be.”

Turning the key, Dalton quickly reached down to begin venting heat from the dashboard. As he sat back up, a man stood directly outside of his window. Pasty white skin, short colorless hair and a gaze that was damning.

He stared at the man, creature or whatever in the hell it was. There was a silent conversation all on its own taking place.

Dalton had no problem throwing a thousand-yard stare back into the freak’s direction. In fact, he did so gladly. His car may have rattled like heavy pots and pans crashing down a deep set of stairs, but it would eat up road fast enough. He proved it, quickly putting distance between his car and the man – or so he thought.

Like he’d been hit with a burst of lighting, the man, or creature, perhaps, began sprinting fast enough to catch up to the car. Even as Dalton had the pedal floored with all of his might, the older car was peaking at just over 90mph. Still, the strange figure was in his rearview mirror. Finally grabbing hold of the car’s trunk as he slowly crawled to the back window. Smashing his punishing fists into the glass.

“Get your head down!” Dalton shouted. Not that he had to. Sarah was already in the process of sliding down into the back floorboard of the car.

Whipping the large revolver from its holster, Dalton attempted to drive while aiming recklessly. Firing into the general direction.

The back windshield shattered into tiny glass particles but not much more. He’d missed. Somehow. Again the detective fired a shot, this time grazing the monster’s shoulder. It let out a bloodcurdling cry. One that was anything but human. Finally, Dalton slammed the pedal next to his foot and the large car suddenly began stopping, forcing the creature to grab hold to the exterior of the car while Sarah tumbled around in the floorboard.

“Let’s see if I miss now, you son of a bitch.” Dalton growled.

The shot burst from his revolver like a pinch from destiny. Its mark was true and whatever the being was, it immediately let loose of the car and rolled to the wayside. Left for dead as the car and its shaken occupants wasted no time getting the hell away from it. Leaving a small cloud of rubber smoke on the road as they sped away.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3

 

 

After nearly an hour of driving, the boat of a car finally pulled off at a hotel.

The Eldorado. Yay. First we run into what I presume are vampires and now we find the Hotel Eldorado. Dalton thought, looking to the sky momentarily.

The name itself brought a bit of laughter to Dalton’s lips, finding it a fitting end to one hell of a day. The motel looked like a shitty truck stop turned into a halfway house. Not the kind of place you’d take anyone of worth and he wondered if the homeless man on the bench across the street mocked him for staying. It was also the kind of place a person could get lost in and avoid the wrong kind of people for a spell.

“Sure we can’t stay at the office?” Adam asked.

Even Sarah seemed to be skeptical of his choice.

“If you want to go back and get your ass shot off, be my guest. That goes for both of you,” Dalton replied heavily. “Not me. Just keep your coats on. Ain’t no telling what we might pick up at this damn dump.”

A part of him loved it. For Dalton, this was the equivalent of camping when no real camping was available. No trees of patchy green, not in a city filled with half-repaired buildings and the smell of urban living. Nope, this was as raw as it could get. As they entered the room, two laughably small beds were covered in dirty red bedspreads. The carpet was badly stained and he could only imagine what condition the bathroom was in.

“She gets a bed and we’ll take turns watching the door.” Dalton said.

“Watching the door?”

“Yea,” Dalton replied. “I ain’t sleeping with you and I don’t rightly care to have that paper thin door kicked in, either.”

Glancing to Sarah, Adam was quickly shunned.

“I’m sleeping alone.”

“OK,” Adam replied with submission. Having hoped to weasel his way into her bed with the suggestion. “I’ll take first watch. You look like shit and you haven’t slept that much to begin with.”

As Sarah lay on the bed with hesitation, her mind began to slow down just a bit. Becoming more focused in the process.

“My husband has a study.”

And a wife with tremendously fine curves. Dalton thought.

“He might have something there. Maybe it’s something the vampires want.” Adam suggested with a nod.

“That’s what I was thinking, too.” Dalton lied.

“I don’t know,” she replied. “Lots of books and papers, mostly. He kept to himself a lot while he was in the study.”

“It’s worth a shot.” Adam said.

“First thing tomorrow morning, then.” Dalton added.

Dalton wondered if he wasn’t dreaming right now? He often found himself confused as to what was real and what was illusion, compliments of a deep imagination, insomnia and the ability to dream vividly. Judging by the smell that crept up from the bed’s pillow, it was as real as it could get.

“I wonder how many people have shagged on those bedspreads?” Adam asked.

Both Sarah and Dalton glanced into his direction.

“It’s a perfectly legitimate question.” Adam defended.

“Yes it is,” Dalton admitted. “But nobody says shagged anymore. Hell, I’m out of the loop of society and even I know that.”

Sarah giggled just a bit.

 

 

His mind was in another world.

Another universe, actually, having drifted away into one of the deepest sleeps his body had ever known. Dalton often found himself in such a place. Looking down, his boots stood tall against the thick steel flooring of a spaceship and the smell of manufactured air slipped into his nostrils with every breath.

He’d once again commanded a fleet and hoped to save humanity from the Hunters; having come to know them as vampires. Even in the deepest of slumbers he hated the undead. Dalton had found himself in the same dream with the same outcome a hundred times over, but there was always one part that bothered him. Cambria, the woman in which he’d loved so dearly in each of his dreams – who was she?

Dalton had often wondered if this dream of his was somehow a connection to some former life he’d lived. Perhaps even a lifetime to come. He wasn’t sure how that could even be possible. He only knew that when the dream came to him, it seemed as real as the rock-hard bed that he currently slept on. Why the same dream? Why this dream?

Peeling his eyes open a bit, Dalton scanned the room without moving a muscle. It was a small enough room and he’d been sly about it. Sarah slept soundly, as soundly as could have been expected, given the condition of the hotel room. Meanwhile, his friend Adam sat quietly at a small table near the window. The disposable type of table that was constructed of false wood and industrial glue.

Sitting up for a moment, Dalton bushed a hand through his unkempt hair.

“You still got an hour or-” Adam began.

“Can’t sleep,” he replied. “Might as well just get up and let you have at it.”

Adam understood. He’d known about Dalton’s inability to sleep for quite some time.

“Same dream?”

“Yep,” Dalton replied, easing himself to his feet. “Saw a coffee shop across the street. I’m going to see if they’re open and-”

“They are,” Adam replied. “It’s been pretty busy.”

He’d seen dozens of vehicles dive in and out since taking watch.

“I can watch the room from there,” Dalton said. “Just sleep with something that goes bang, just in case.”

“Plan to,” Adam nodded. “No way in hell I’d sleep without a gun after what happened earlier. You really believe something is going on? I mean… Vampires?”

“Dunno, but something is definitely going on,” Dalton admitted. “Truth be told; I enjoy this a hell of a lot more than chasing down cheating spouses.”

“If you need help, just fire a shot.” Adam said.

“I’ll be fine. Just going after some strong coffee and a quiet place to think.”

Holstering his massive pistol, Dalton pulled his brown leather coat closed. Snugging it and preparing for the cold Cleveland rain.

Fucking rain.

 

As expected, the rain dug into him a bit. Pounding against his coat as if it had the fury of retribution behind each drop. Glancing up, Dalton could see the neon glow of the diner’s red sign. Then, stopping sudden, he could see the street sign which intersected right next to the diner itself.

Cambria Street.

For a moment, he shook it off. Thinking that it was nothing more than one hell of a coincidence. But as he approached the front door of the diner, Dalton’s entire reason for existing crashed down at the heels of his thick brown boots.

The woman waiting tables… The same woman from his dream. He’d seen her face in his dreams since he was a child. How was it even possible?

He thought he must have looked like a fool, standing in the rain and showing no go inside where it was warm and dry. Dalton didn’t care. He stood and stared through the glass at a woman that he’d seen hundreds of times before. A lover from his dreams, while a total stranger in real life. Finally, he built up the courage to reach for the diner’s door and open it, ringing a bell in the process.

As the burst of warm air hit him, several people inside turned to look at him upon entering. They’d soon go back to their fried eggs, toast and whatever they could put ketchup on. He reckoned that he looked the part well enough to pass their curiosity.

Finding a booth near the corner of the diner with a window view of the hotel, Dalton eased himself into the tough red leather and tried to shake the feeling of familiarity.

“What can I get you?” the woman asked. Quickly making her way over to his booth.

“Coffee.” Dalton replied.

“That’s it? Nothing to eat?”

She was pretty enough. Brunette hair, just shorter than shoulder length and curves that could interest any man. Even the way she spoke had matched Dalton’s dream. He could tell that she looked at him differently, but dared not ask.

“Just coffee.”

“OK.” she smiled.

Dalton looked across the street through the thick veil of rainfall and watched the hotel room. He imagined Adam was laying in bed awake, or perhaps even sitting at that shitty wooden table and looking back at him. Either way, he’d seen his friend scared enough to know that he’d likely not be sleeping much either.

“Here you go. One coffee.”

“What’s your name?” Dalton asked.

“I,” she began. Pausing for a moment. “I’m not in the market for-”

“Was just curious, that’s all. Didn’t mean any harm.”

The young woman seemed to lighten up just a bit. Finally smiling.

“Krista.”

“Dalton,” he nodded. “And I’m praying that this coffee is better than that motel across the street.”

With the introduction of his name came a very strange look on her face. Moments later, Krista smiled.

“It’s not,” she admitted with a grin. “But it will keep you awake.”

“Afraid I don’t need much help with that,” Dalton said. “Thanks.”

He watched her walk away. Not out of lust, which had likely been the case with every other man in the diner. For Dalton, it was much more personal than that. Who was this mystery woman and why did he feel as though he already knew her?

Sipping the coffee, he confirmed her story. The coffee tasted like it had been brewed in the sock of a cowboy and came with trace amounts of grounds. Enough that Dalton could crunch them between his teeth every so often. Shitty coffee aside, the diner had a nice feel to it. It was a refuge against the heavy rain and strangely enough, felt like a safe haven against much more than that.

For nearly an hour, he’d watch Krista and wonder about her history while keeping an eye on the motel room’s door.

 

 

When the bell rings in a roadside diner, people glance up. That’s the natural order of things, whether you’re in a larger city or in the middle of some no name town.

Dalton had become one of those people, hearing the ringing and looking to the door accordingly. Right away, 3 men entered. Younger and casting delinquent stares, they walked in as if they knew the place well. Moments later, several of the people who’d been eating began taking their leave.

“Krista, Krista, Krista.” One of the men said.

His calling of her name had certainly captured Dalton’s attention.

“I don’t want any trouble.” she replied.

“Trouble?” the man replied with a laugh. “I’m just here to pay my respects and to see if you’ve thought my proposition over.”

“I’m not interested,” Krista replied. “I’ve no plans to date anyone right now. I’ve told you this countless times.”

“Date?” he asked. “I never said we’d be an official thing. Just a couple of young people having some fun.”

“Young?” another one of the men laughed, causing the group of men to laugh as well.

Krista was visibly upset. It was all over her face.

“So how about it?” he persisted.

“I said no,” she replied. “Thank you.”

As she attempted to walk away, the man grabbed her at the wrist. Giving Dalton all of the ammunition he needed.

“She said no,” Dalton tested. “So how about you unhand the girl before I get to breaking bones.”

For a moment, Dalton felt strange. He could feel the eyes of the man investigating him as if his own soul was being searched. Within a split second, the man stood in front of him. Having covered the entire length of the diner with inhuman speed.

“What’d you say?” the man asked.

“Eric!” Krista shouted. “He’s just trying to protect me. He doesn’t know,” she added. Pleading with the man. “Let it go.”

Dalton could see the look of clammy white rushing over the man’s skin. At that very moment, he understood that he was dealing with something undead. Ridiculous, sure. But why not? After the day he’d had – Dalton couldn’t explain it and he likely wouldn’t dare try. But Eric was something other than human.

“I believe I said,” Dalton replied, skinning his revolver and holding it inches from Eric’s face. “If you put hands on the woman again – I’ll kill you. I know what you are. You come in here with your grins and feeling of superiority. But you have no idea what I’m capable of. I once shot a man for eating my can of pork and beans.”

Eric didn’t show fear, but his face told a story all its own. He understood that Dalton was no ordinary man.

“He’s the one Anthony is looking for.” one of the others said.

“Yea,” Eric replied. “Good old Anthony.”

Taking a moment, he looked around the small diner.

“Anthony ain’t here.” Eric said.

“He’s still spoken for. You know the code.”

Placing a hand to the back of his neck, Eric closed his eyes for a moment. He longed for the fight so much, yet understood the code of his kind.

Finally, Eric took a breath and opened his slim blue eyes once more.

“I can’t kill you. Not while you’re spoken for. But I promise that if you don’t get that puny weapon out of my face I’ll make you wish for death.”

“Pulled this weapon off of an armed military man who threatened the same. This weapon right here will put a full grown bear down and you’re weighing a buck-eighty at best, so I like my chances. Three of you and six shots in this bitch. I don’t miss, so you get to doing whatever it is you feel the need to do.”

“When Anthony catches up to you, I’ll be there to see it,” Eric boasted. “I can’t wait for that moment.”

Flicking the barrel of his man-slayer just a bit, Dalton grinned.

“Shoo now, and take your wannabe boy band with you. That shit played out in the early 90s and thank God for it.”

Stepping away slowly, Eric turned to Krista.

“See you soon enough, doll,” he warned. “You think my offer over.”

With the same ringing of the diner bell, the three of them were gone. Having dissipated into the rain like magic.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4

 

 

“Don’t worry, they’re friends.” Dalton said.

As Adam and Sarah entered the diner the following morning, the sun peeked over the surrounding buildings and for a moment, Cleveland was beautiful.

“I really wish you hadn’t done that last night.” Krista admitted.

“What other choice was there? Let those fools drag you out kicking?”

Dalton had a point. He didn’t have much choice in the matter, given the fact that he, just like Adam, had a soft spot for women in trouble. Always had. The first fight he’d ever gotten into was over a girl being bullied in the first grade. He could remember ripping Albert Jonas a new asshole over that one and then some.

“You’re always picking up women,” Adam suggested with a slight grin. “I can’t take you anywhere.”

“Is that a fact?” Dalton asked, glancing up to Adam with Sarah following closely behind. It was certainly the pot calling the kettle black.

“This young lady was about to be roughed up by some locals last night. I thought I’d sit here and make sure she was alright.”

“You didn’t kick anyone’s ass?” Adam wondered.

“These weren’t normal guys.” Dalton replied.

“What were they?”

Dalton shrugged, giving the floor to Krista.

“It’s bad luck to put your keys on the table,” Krista suggested as Adam put them in front of him. “People seem to forget about them more times than not. I really need to be getting home…” she added.

“It’s OK. I already know what they are,” Sarah replied fast. “I’d just like to hear someone else say it, so I know I’m not crazy.”

Krista looked at each of them. Considering her next words carefully. Next, she glanced through the diner’s window to ensure that no one else was looking on.

“Vampires.”

She expected laughter to follow. It didn’t.

“I know. They have my husband.” Sarah replied.

“Then he’s already dead.”

The confession hurt Sarah. She didn’t want to hear it, though deep down she already knew it to be true. She’d known since the beginning.

“I need to know everything that you know about these vampires.” Dalton said.

“I can’t,” Krista replied. “If I do, they’ll kill me.”

“We can protect you.” Dalton said.

It was a bold statement, given the fact that he had no idea what he was up against. That said, his revolver had protected folks plenty of times before.

“You don’t understand,” Krista said. “They rule the night. Eric wanted me. He… He promised to protect me in speaking for me. It would have made me off-limits to every other vampire out there. I had considered it because I’ve seen so many others go missing.”

“How many are we talking about?” Dalton asked.

“In Cleveland?” Krista replied. “I don’t know. Hundreds, maybe even thousands. From what I’ve overheard, they’re worldwide.”

“You’ve heard all of this?” Adam questioned.

“You’d be surprised what you hear in a diner if you pay attention. People have a way of talking when the coffee is hot.” Krista nodded.

Pay attention. That’s something Krista had done her entire life. She’d learned at a very young age that you could learn so much more just by listening. It had become a part of the woman she’d grown to be.

“Other people have to know about this shit.” Dalton said.

“They do,” Krista replied. “There are a few who fight back, but not enough. I suppose they gather what intelligence they can in hopes of one day fighting back in force.”

“My husband…” Sarah began.

“What is it?” Adam asked.

“He’s always been one to question everything. Nearly a month ago, he began to become secretive. Even to me. He often went into his study and locked the door behind him. Maybe he knew?”

“Perhaps,” Krista said. “When they kill for blood, it’s usually random. Folks off of the street, that sort of thing.”

“They took my husband from our home. It would have taken some planning.”

“Then he knew.” Krista replied.

“Well then, we need to go check that study of his.” Dalton stated.

“They tossed it already. There’s nothing-” Sarah began.

“I’m a detective, dear. Remember? I could find the hair on a gnat’s ass from about 40 paces away.”

He’d told the same joke plenty of times before, yet it always brought laughs. Even to Adam, who’d heard it more times than he could count. Krista, meanwhile, remained stone-faced and staring. Remembering the expression from her dreams.

“Adam, you and Sarah bring the car around. We need to get to it.”

“Gotcha.” Adam replied.

Grabbing the set of keys from the diner’s table, Adam and Sarah quickly exited the diner. Using great caution in doing so.

“I have to be honest,” Dalton admitted. “I have these dreams. I-”

“I have them too.” Krista replied.

“What? How can that be?”

“I don’t know.” she continued her stare.

“We’re on this ship and for whatever reason, we’re in control.” he began.

“An entire fleet in orbit. The undead beneath us on planets that we once considered our homes.”

Placing his face into an open hand for a moment, Dalton tried to rub the sleeplessness from his forehead.

“Yea.”

“This neighborhood is my home. Always has been,” she admitted. “But something is telling me to go with you on the journey that awaits.”

He looked like a man filled with indecision.

“Or not?” she asked.

“Oh, yea. You’re more than welcome to come along. In fact, I’d prefer you did. I’d like to keep you safe.”

“But you look with doubt?”

“Trying to decide between the eggs and toast or the pancakes and bacon. How’s the bacon here?” Dalton asked with a grin.

Slowly, Krista returned his smile with one of her own. She’d never met a man quite like the detective who wrapped himself in brown leather and hid beneath bushy whiskers. A unique man indeed, though she felt as though she’d known him for a thousand years.

“I think you should go with bacon and eggs.” Krista smiled.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5

 

 

They had spent most of the day at Dalton’s office, watching him dig through boxes of belongings. His tall, narrow closet was filled with nearly as many boxes as a newlywed couple would have moved into a brand new starter home. While Adam had never used the term hoarder, he had certainly thought it a time or two.

Finally, Dalton had packed everything he possibly could into a single duffel bag. Between the art of smoking cigars, of course. Adam spent the time getting to know the women and giving them the history of himself and Dalton James. Finally, as he was finishing up his laundry list of truths weaved with boastful lies of heroic deeds, Dalton glanced to the large clock on the wall. Grinning a bit.

“This son of a bitch has been with me since captivity,” he said. “It wouldn’t matter if we were fishing for deep sea crab or hunting vampires… I’m taking it.”

“You’re going to carry a clock with you?” Sarah asked.

“She’s right, old friend,” Adam replied. “You should just get a pocket watch like-”

“This ain’t about telling time. Not for me,” Dalton said. “This is a token. A reminder of when life had beaten me down to the point of surrender. Instead of calling it quits, I told that inner voice inside of my head, the weak voice, to go fuck itself.”

“He does this sometimes.” Adam warned with a whisper.

Meanwhile, Dalton glanced at the clock with a sweet grin on his face.

“We should get going,” Adam suggested. “You know how Cleveland traffic gets right after lunchtime.”

“Yea. Fuck it.” Dalton said.

Tucking the antique clock and its deep history beneath his arm, Dalton pulled yet another cigar out of his brown coat and flicked his lighter to the ready. Puffing for a moment and nodding with approval.

“Once had an Iraqi soldier tell me that my cigar days were over,” he admitted. “I ended up feeding that son of a bitch to the desert hedgehogs.”

With his bold statement came a lull of quiet from the group. They weren’t sure what to say. However, they were damn sure that he’d be allowed to smoke his cigar in peace.

 

After well over an hour of driving through heavy traffic, they found themselves on a quiet, winding road that led into the countryside. Making the following hour of driving very peaceful compared to the first.

“It’s up ahead.” Sarah said.

Cresting the hill in front of them, Dalton’s first impression was that the house was something of marvel. The late afternoon sun beamed down from the sky like a painting and illuminated its edges. The house had been well worth the longer than expected drive into the deep suburbs of Cleveland.

It looked like it had been plucked straight out of a magazine. The type that depicts only the best of living conditions. There was a large, luxurious post-style lamp in the yard and the home itself was two stories, each of them crafted with both fine wood and hand-set stone. For Sarah, it was home. For the folks traveling with her, it was nothing short of a spectacle.

“Holy shit,” Dalton said. “What did your husband do for a living?”

“Real estate investments.” Sarah replied.

“Write that shit down, Adam,” Dalton said. “We’ll look it up later.”

Adam glanced to his friend with a bit of shame. He found it odd that Dalton would bring up the woman’s missing, presumably dead husband. Still, he had a point. Everything about the house spoke of money.

Stepping from the large car, Dalton shut his door with authority. Taking a moment to feel out his holstered revolver with his chest.

“This shouldn’t take long.”

“The study has been tossed pretty hard,” an emotional Sarah replied. “I don’t know how my husband would have come across anything of importance or how these people found him. But I’m sure they found whatever they were looking for.”

“We’ll see about that.” he replied.

Walking into the large home, the first thing that stood out was the mere size of the sitting room. Dalton counted 7 couches, 2 of which were plenty overstuffed and levels above what he normally slept on. They were white and a crisp white, at that. He imagined they’d never been sat on beyond the day of purchase.

To his experience, the largest of houses were usually the loneliest ones. Sarah’s home certainly didn’t do anything to alter that. It looked more like a museum than a home.

“I spent most of my time in the kitchen,” Sarah admitted. “I’ve always like to cook. My husband found himself in the study more times than not.”

Dalton waited for direction.

“This way.”

 

He’d never seen so many damn books in all of his life.

Dalton had wandered into a few bookstores in his time, though it usually involved following a heart-shaped skirt. Reading had never been a mainstay in his life unless you counted the monthly titty magazines. At which point he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Throughout the entire study, which was rather large, were custom built bookshelves that towered several feet above the tallest of them. Each was made with a deep-stained cherry wood and looked important enough to have been in the White House. Thousands of books, which normally meant at least a hundred stories of high school vampires and naïve young women falling in love. It was an odds game. Proof that middle-aged soccer moms were out there, somewhere. Undertaking lengthy searches for hands holding apples on the covers of literary dung heaps.

Running his hand across a very large desk, Dalton encountered several stacks of papers and a half-emptied bottle of lager. Talk about alcohol abuse. Waste not – want not. Meanwhile, Adam sifted through the thousands of books, appearing to be more curious of the literary selection than he was finding answers.

“You read?” Krista asked.

“Oh yea.” Adam replied.

“Little Golden Books and all that shit,” Dalton said with a cackling laugh. “See Jack fall down the hill. You know.”

“You’re hilarious,” Adam said without as much as a grin. “Actually, I’m into the classics. Lovecraft. Fitzgerald…”

“Hustler.” Dalton said.

“No, not Hustler. I like few pictures and plenty of words-”

“No, I mean I found a Hustler,” Dalton remarked. “It means we’re getting close.”

It was like fishing with a man who’d done so all of his life. He couldn’t hear the fish and they certainly didn’t speak his language, yet he claimed to talk to them. It was a subliminal intuition thing, or, complete bullshit. Depending on who you asked. If a man spent all of his time in the study, he likely sat near the titty magazines.”

“How do you know?” Sarah asked.

“Sleepy Hollow has been read,” he pointed out. “Meanwhile, Twilight is covered in dust. So your husband knew his literature. That leads me to believe that he spent a lot of time with the titty magazines. The pages are worn.”

“Oh-” Sarah was quite speechless.

Reaching down, Dalton slapped the top of the massive desk with authority. Falling from beneath it, a steel box crashed onto the floor. It wasn’t very large, perhaps only big enough to fit a single hardback into, but it’d been hidden well.”

“You’re like the nude centerfold whisperer.” Adam suggested.

“Just doing my part.”

“So there was something.” Sarah said.

“Could be anything,” Dalton replied. Inspecting the box. “But I’d say the lengths in which your husband went to hide this… Something important is in here.”

 

Nearly an hour later, each of them knew the truth.

There was an underground of things that refused to be explained, and vampires were only the tip of the iceberg. Demons, lycans, a cannibalistic group of powerful executives knows as The Sect – quite honestly, too many private societies to wrap their heads around. Lots of rambling about waypoints and what appeared to be an official sketch of something. Large and eerily scientific. But there was one thing in particular that caught their attention. Sarah’s husband spoke of it several times within the entries of his private journal. Their leader, Gabriel, was often referred to as both a man not of this world and a master of shadows.

“Looks like your husband saw something he shouldn’t have. He began crawling deeper down the rabbit hole on his own.” Dalton said.

Sarah found herself quite emotional as they read through the journal entries which had been written by his hands. She missed him. God how she missed him.

Dalton was right, though. He’d not been a real estate investor, at least not in the more recent months. Instead, he’d lived among the societies and helped them with day to day operations. According to his journal, the multitude of factions had found a way to co-exist, though many of them loathed the others.

Beneath the scenes, behind all of the presidential bullshit and a puppet congress had been those who truly were in charge. Dalton found it quite funny that Sarah’s husband had lied about being a real estate investor, while, in many ways, he was. Helping vampires and lycans divide city streets and doing what he could to keep the peace between them. It also explained the large house and substantial bank account on Sarah’s part.

“Here.” Dalton said, placing a finger on the journal and sharing it with everyone.

But there are others who fight. Those who know the truth. These resistance fighters are few and far between, but growing strong enough to cause concern within the circles of darkness. Our own military is blind to the fact that they’re being controlled from behind the curtain. Our leaders are mere puppets and helpless to speak up. Yet many of those who know the truth are protecting us in ways that the common man or woman knows nothing about. They are the true heroes.

“So other people know.” Adam reiterated.

“Question is… What do we do now that we know?” Dalton asked.

“My husband may still be out there – somewhere.” Sarah said.

She did so in a very naïve manner.

“We don’t have the funds to fight back,” Dalton admitted. “We don’t have the weapons or the manpower… Hell, I’m still trying to absorb the fact that the undead live among us.”

“I have the funds,” Sarah replied. “If you promise to search for my husband, I have enough to get us started. If there are others-”

“It would be suicide,” Krista turned to the distraught woman. “I know what these vampires are capable of. I’ve heard them talk-”

“Fuck ‘em.” Dalton grumbled.

“I have a job,” Krista added. “I have an apartment. I have responsibilities. I can’t just drop everything and leave.”

“Let’s just sleep on it,” Adam suggested. “That is, if Sarah is OK with us staying for the night?”

“Of course. I’d feel better – I don’t want to be alone.”

“OK. We can sleep here, study the journal and figure out what to do next.” Adam replied, smiling a bit with appreciation.

 

“Anything new?” Krista asked.

Walking out onto the large deck of the home, she took a moment to soak in the sound of rain. It splashed forcefully against the metal roof, giving her a sense of calm.

Dalton shook his head – quiet. He’d found himself reading over the journal once more. The same, damning information.

“When I was a small girl, around 6 years of age, we had this home in North Carolina. It’s hard to explain, really. Nothing fancy. Just an old farm house that needed a lot of fixing up. My mom loved that place. What I remember the most is the sound of rain during the thick of springtime. It used to come down harder than anything you could imagine. It’s my favorite childhood memory.”

Dalton nodded. The softer side buried deep within him understood.

“Why do we both have the same dreams?” she asked with complete bluntness.

Dalton wanted to answer her, he did. But he honestly didn’t know.

“What does it mean?”

“It means that I’m not as fucking crazy as I thought,” he replied with a fancy grin. “I don’t know. It means something, though. It has to.”

“If I tell you something, can you keep it between the two of us?”

He recognized her style of talk. She planned to entrust him with a secret and he suspected that it was a damn tough one.

“Yes.” Dalton finally replied. Resting his hands on the white wooden railing of the deck as it splashed with rain.

“I can see them.”

“I was hoping for something a little less complicated,” Dalton said with a grin. “Like lying on your taxes. Or?”

“At first, I believed something was wrong inside of my head. My own parents never knew. I was afraid to tell them,” Krista said. “I’ve spent an entire lifetime trying to push it out of my head. When I got the job at the diner, I began to see them once more. Worse, they understood that I had the sight. I believe it’s what attracted them to me.”

Dalton had believed it was her legs up to that point. Long, slender legs which appeared to run themselves up to the small heart shape that rested on her lower back. Her admission blew his theory all to hell. Still, she had great legs.

“You can see vampires?” he finally managed to ask.

“Yes.”

Krista didn’t know how he would take the news. She eagerly waited a response.

“Well damn. What do they look like?” he asked with a smile.

It was returned in kind.

“Hard to explain. For me, there is a very soft glow around them. My eyes would have me believe that I’m looking at them through a hazy window. At times I can also see them in true form. Horrific creatures of mythology. For the longest time I wasn’t sure what I was seeing. It’s not been an easy thing to accept.”

Dalton understood.

“Don’t worry yourself about it too much. We all have talents, some of which are unwanted. I’ve got this thing. It’s a curse, really. Attracting stray dogs seems to be my thing.”

“Whiskey.” Krista replied slowly.

The name dug into him and for good reason. In nearly every dream he’d had over the past few years, Dalton found himself on a spaceship with Krista by his side. She’d used a different name in his dreams, but one name had remained the same. Whiskey, the name of his faithful stray dog.

“I’ve got to be honest with you,” Dalton replied. “It scares the hell out of me. The way you know these things, it’s-”

“I’m sorry.” Krista apologized.

“Don’t be. You haven’t done anything wrong,” he turned to face her. “The truth is, I’m trying to figure out if we were an item in some former life… Or some future life. Hell, I don’t know. That’s what bothers me. If I’m supposed to be doing something here, I don’t want to mess it up. You know?”

“I think so.” Krista replied.

“Sometimes I catch myself slipping up and nearly calling you Cambria-”

“It’s why I took the job at the diner,” she admitted. “Well, the street name and the fact that I had rent to pay.”

“At what point did you know it was me?” he asked.

“The moment you walked into the diner. Everything inside of me froze and I hadn’t planned to speak to you. Something drew me over to that booth.”

“Something brought me to the diner as well. Something I can’t explain. I told Adam that I was going for coffee, but I felt something pushing me there.”

“Well, for the record, I’m glad you came,” Krista replied. “No matter what you decide come tomorrow morning, I just hope that you don’t vanish into thin air as quickly as you showed up.” she added.

“Not a chance.”

Krista waited for several moments. She felt compelled to stay with him, but questioned her feelings.

“I should get some sleep.”

“Sleep well.” Dalton replied with a smile.

“Are you coming in to-”

“I don’t sleep much,” he admitted. “There’s an outbreak on the planets below and I have to figure out how to save humanity, remember?”

A quick glance into the sky revealed a handful of stars through the broken rain clouds. They jerked at his soul like a road map to his destiny. Turning back for a moment, he could see Krista beginning to undress. Dalton watched her through the small panes of glass that served as the door’s window, but not for the reasons he’d usually stare at a woman so beautiful. In fact, he saw nothing that should have remained private, other than the soft and delicate skin of her back, which seemed to glow against the soft lighting inside.

Dalton found himself awestruck. Krista’s back was covered in a single tattoo. It spread from shoulder to shoulder and came to a point near her waist. A fantastic tattoo indeed, which took the shape of a Victorian heart. It was certainly a work of art and presented itself accordingly. He found himself wondering about the heart’s meaning for much of the night as he sat alone, beneath the stars of destiny.

 

 

“Good morning, buddy.” Adam said.

He walked out onto the deck as Dalton stood in the same place he had been for most of the night. It had rained for hours upon hours, but gradually, the clouds had parted to reveal a perfect night sky.

“You snore like a damn freight train.” Dalton replied. Eventually grinning.

“I lay my head down wherever I can and my body does the rest.” Adam said.

“Did it happen to find its way to Sarah’s bedroom?”

“No,” Adam replied, innocent of the fact. “She’s beautiful. I won’t deny it. But with the possibility of her husband-”

“That son of a bitch is taking an eternal dirt nap. You know it as well as I do.” Dalton replied.

“Yea,” Adam said. “I think you’re right. But Sarah believes there’s hope and I don’t want to interfere with that. It wouldn’t be right.”

“No sir, I don’t suspect it would.”

“Good morning.” Krista said, slowly closing the door behind her.

“I hope you slept better than I did.” Dalton stated.

“I slept,” she replied. “But it was the same. We were on a ship and being hunted down by vampires.”

“In space?” Adam asked.

“Yes.” Krista replied.

“Sounds interesting,” Adam admitted. “Like one of those television shows. I keep telling Dalton to pursue it.”

“Nah, some asshole in a suit would just cancel it after 1 season.” Dalton growled. He’d seen it happen more than once.

Sarah made her way to the group, choosing to leave the door open behind her. She’d showered and dressed rather well, given the fact that the others could have doubled as half-starved vagrants.

“Well?” Sarah asked.

She wanted to find her husband or find closure, whichever fate had in store for her. This would be her only real chance.

“I spent a good part of my life trying to keep evil at bay,” Dalton said. “First, I went hunting terrorists all over the damn world for guys who were a lot younger and trained by some stiff at a military academy. Then I got into law enforcement here at home. I felt obligated to try and keep our streets safe. I wanted to be the one who kept the bad guys away.”

Dalton stopped to stare across the beautiful landscape which overlooked a healthy patch of land around the house.

“You OK, buddy?” Adam asked.

“No. I’m fucking pissed off,” Dalton spouted off. “Yesterday I find out that it was all for nothing. It’s all bullshit. This whole time I’ve been putting my own life on the line and the bad guys have been here at home, among us. I feel lied to and it’s not sitting too well with me. My pappy didn’t raise a quitter.”

“I don’t understand?” Sarah admitted.

“Means I’m not done beating the bad guys down,” Dalton said. “Vampire teeth be damned, I’m coming and my revolver is bringing salvation with it.”

“And the cannibals.” Adam remarked.

“Lycans.” Krista added.

“Lycans, cannibals, vampires, aspiring rappers and people that throw away perfectly good beer,” Dalton said. “Fuck ‘em all!”

“So this means we’re in the game of hunting the paranormal now?” Adam asked.

“I took up the job of helping Sarah find her husband and I plan to finish it. Krista and I – we have some kind of 5th dimension shit going on with our minds and I’d love to know why. So yea, to answer your question, I plan on seeing this through.”

“It could be dangerous.” Adam said with a smile.

He knew his friend well enough to know how to fire him up.

“I look danger in the face while I’m handing his ass to him,” Dalton bragged. “But we do need a plan.”

“I can outfit us with whatever we need and we can begin to look for the one they call Gabriel. My husband spoke of him often in his journal. Perhaps the answers are there.” Sarah replied with hope.

“If anyone is not OK with this, speak up. I don’t want any of you to feel forced into taking this on,” Dalton said. “Including you, Adam.”

“I’m with you,” Adam replied. “There’s only so much department store detective work a man can take. I want to help Sarah find her husband.”

She looked to him with a warm smile.

“Krista?” Dalton asked.

“I have no idea what’s out there, but I do know that you and I are supposed to find it together,” Krista replied. “I feel safe with you.”

“Sarah, I assume-”

“I’m in,” she replied quickly. “I want to find my husband or find the monsters who took him from me and make them pay… Dearly.”

“They will,” Dalton promised. “We should stay here today. I don’t believe the office will be safe. Let’s use the day to gather the things we need. First thing tomorrow morning, we’ll get back to my office long enough to round a few more things up. Then,” Dalton said.

He paused for several moments as the group stared at him, waiting for a finished statement. They’d need to wait a bit longer as he pulled a thick cigar from his coat pocket and gently lit it with his shiny windproof lighter.

“We go hunting.”

 

 

They’d spent the day once again searching the study for any more clues that might be lurking about. Sarah had even found that Dalton and her husband wore nearly the same size in clothes, outfitting him with a fancy dress coat and slacks. Still, the brown coat and worn cowboy boots remained. His choice, not hers.

In confidence, Sarah had admitted her biggest fault to Adam. Though beautiful and very proper, she was afraid of what others thought. So much, in fact, that she often spent time alone in one of the many large rooms at her home. It was her way of becoming invisible to those who carried the opinions she so feared.

 

As Dalton sat there quietly that night, watching everyone else sleep, he once again read through the handwritten journal of a man who’d vanished into thin air. Dalton wondered how such horrors could have existed under his nose the entire time. A world filled with delusional truth and staged by those who lived in shadows.

Little did he know it would be their last night in such a place.

“Up again?” Krista asked quietly.

She’d woken up with very little effort. Suffering from many of the same dreams that had plagued Dalton over the years.

“I, uh,” he began. “Yea.”

“Would you like to stand outside beneath the stars?” she asked.

Of course he did.

Not only was Krista a woman of beauty, but she held many secrets. Keys to his own destiny, though neither of them quite understood how the other played into it all. For the both of them, it was far worse than knowing nothing. They could feel a sense of obligation to the other, paths crossing beneath the eyes of God; yet neither understood why.

Holding the door open for Krista, Dalton nodded with a smile.

A slight chill hit them as they walked outside, but nothing too overwhelming. Especially for two folks who’d long been used to Cleveland and its cycle of weather.

“May I ask you something?”

“Sure.” Krista replied.

“Last night, I-” he began. Hoping that he hadn’t intruded. “There’s a magnificent tattoo on your back. I didn’t see anything else, I just-”

Krista began to giggle a bit.

“Relax,” she said. “I feel like we’re already married because of the dreams. I’m comfortable around you.”

“Still, I didn’t see anything.” he stated firmly.

“It would have been OK if you did.”

Her confession quickly turned their conversation into one that carried with it a very tense feeling.

“Oh.” Dalton finally replied.

“My mom used to call me her little heart. A nickname of mine, I suppose. She had this eccentric necklace. It was pewter, red and black. A heart. Rather big and gaudy I must admit, but it looked great on her.”

“And the tattoo, that’s of the heart?” Dalton asked.

“Yes,” Krista replied. Looking blank as she continued. “My parents died when I was only six. It’s funny, I don’t remember that much about holidays or even when they passed away. I suppose my mind shoved it aside. But I’ve always remembered that heart. To me, it was the one bond that my mother and I shared.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to-”

“It’s OK,” Krista said. Finally smiling. “That was a long time ago.”

“Well, if it means anything, the ink looks good on you.”

A smile began to peek from beneath his beard. Moments later, they kissed.

Krista entered the house shortly after. She said nothing. She didn’t need to.

He didn’t either. Not with the cool wind blowing past every few seconds and a formidable sky of stars overhead. For Dalton, the night was ending perfectly.

Nearly an hour later with the house sitting quiet and a single lamp aiding him with reading, Dalton began to doze off. Catching himself many times at first, but finally succumbing to the kind of sleep that incarcerates the best of us.

 

“Good morning.” Sarah said.

At first, her voice startled him just a bit. Soon after, Dalton raised up to a seated position and grabbed the journal.

“We need to check something.”

“What?” Sarah asked. “Krista and I were cooking break-”

“This can’t wait,” he replied quickly. “In your husband’s journal, he speaks of a waypoint. Several of them, actually, but I believe this specific waypoint is less than an hour away.”

“Where?” Sarah asked.

“From your backdoor… In the woods.”

“I don’t understand?”

“We need to go and check it out. We’ll have to walk, but I believe we can be there in an hour or so, if the terrain takes it easy on us.”

“You want to walk into the woods?” she asked.

“This can be the clue we need to find your husband. Whatever is out there in those woods was very important to him. I wouldn’t be doing my job unless-”

“Can we at least take the food with us?” Krista interrupted.

“Sure,” Dalton replied. “Just tell Adam to be ready to move in 5 minutes. Tell him to load for bear and, from the looks of it,” Dalton peered through the shades of the home. “There very well may be bears in those woods.”

“Great.” Sarah nodded.

“If you’d like to stay back here while we-”

“No. I want to find my husband.” she insisted.

“OK. Good. Well we need to go in just a few minutes.”

 

“Now what?” Adam asked.

Both Sarah and Krista sat down to rest their feet. They’d walked into the woods and followed the mapped out instructions closely. Bringing them to the exact spot in the journal.

“I dunno.” Dalton admitted.

“You don’t know?” Adam placed a hand atop his head. “We just walked an hour, most of which was uphill. You brought us to a small clearing with a handful of stumped trees and no idea what to do next?”

“It’s a handwritten journal, not a damn set of instructions on how to put a computer desk together!” Dalton shouted.

“Guys. Let’s just sit down, rest and eat breakfast. OK?” Krista asked.

Dalton carried a scowl on his face. Still, he took her up on the offer.

“We’ve got biscuits, bacon and orange juice.” Sarah said. Handing out a plate wrapped in foil to each person.

“I can do bacon.” Dalton said. Calming himself.

Meanwhile, Adam watched Sarah rest herself onto a stump and begin to eat. Her soft, tender lips handled the meat with authority.

“May want to make sure she’s on birth control before you go eye fucking her.” Dalton said with a whisper.

“What? I didn’t-” Adam began to plead.

His attempt to cover his tracks were met with a sarcastic stare.

“Yea. OK.” Adam finally admitted.

“Just keep it at random glances. That’s what I do.”

Dalton smiled wide. Feeling rather sleepy as he did so.

 

 

Chapter 6

 

 

He thought that perhaps it were a dream. The light was just too harsh for his own eyes to fathom. First, he cracked his eyes open but barely. Doing what he could to combat the strong will of the heavy light. As his eyes adjusted, Dalton found it a bit easier to open his eyelids entirely. But not without squinting.

What madness was this? He found himself near the cliff of an ocean; waves crashed into the bottom rocks and their mighty build. What appeared to be a ruined temple of stone lay nearby. Nothing more than a pile of rocks, really, but it was obviously something that had been important once upon a time. Thick green devil grass blew gently against the landscape which surrounded them. Them. His friends who continued to sleep. This certainly could be no dream, but rather a work of some type of magic.

“Get up!” he shouted.

Dalton had always been a man of calm demeanor. He was the type of person that when faced with even the worst of tragedies, he would remain at ease and do the sensible thing. This was much different, though. For the first time in a good many years, Dalton’s skin crawled with fear and uncertainty.

“Adam, get up!” he shouted once more.

Anything would have been better than being alone in some strange place. Shifting his eyes above for a moment, Dalton could see four rather large planets against a tapestry of smaller stars. A very large, bright orange sun; a bright green planet that could have easily doubled as a sun, a gigantic moon of deep blues and grays; and he could see a good portion of a fourth planet that was decently-sized, yet hard to explain. It was a color that his eyes had never seen before. If explaining it to another, Dalton would have described it as a splashed mixture of gray and true red, both of which seemed to reflect an eerie yellow back to him.

“What?” Adam replied with grumpiness in his voice. “I was sleeping well-”

At that very moment, his eyes, too, discovered a foreign land around them. Meanwhile, Dalton’s facial expression changed drastically. Pulling his revolver quickly, Dalton peered down its barrel to the man.

“Who the fuck are you?”

“What do you mean who am I? It’s Adam, your best friend and longtime drinking buddy. Now put the gun down. The gun…”

Dalton noticed it too. His sketchy revolver had been replaced with something of esteemed beauty. It was solid gold in appearance, with very strange designs inlaid. A pistol-style blunderbuss weapon.

What the… Dalton thought.

Straightening his arm up once more, Dalton became serious.

“If you’re Adam, what’s my favorite brand of alcohol?”

“If I’m Adam?” he asked. “All of them!”

Dalton mulled the answer for a moment. Finally shrugging and easing the very strange revolver back into the holster on his vest.

“You look,” Dalton admitted. “Like an underwear model or something.”

“Huh?”

Adam rushed over to begin sifting through a bag of items. The same bag that the group had packed the previous night. Finally, he found silver whiskey flask. It was empty, which usually meant it was only valuable to the local garbage collector. But in this case he’d quickly found a reflection staring back at him.

“I,” Adam mumbled. “I look like an underwear model.”

“Yea. I already said that.”

Adam couldn’t believe it and he certainly couldn’t explain it. His face was now chiseled to perfection and wavy brown hair only added to his poster boy looks. The planets hanging overhead only added to the disbelief that each of them now currently shared.

What is going on?” Krista asked.

Dalton shrugged. Either they all somehow shared the same dream, or there was something much larger at work. Something magical.

“I dunno, but look at me,” Adam grinned. “I’m gorgeous.”

“Wait.” Krista said. Holding her arm out.

“What is it?” Dalton asked.

“Something’s coming.”

“I don’t see anything?” Sarah said.

She’d always been a proper woman. Now, Sarah found herself speaking as though she were a university professor. All without a drop of effort. It took her back almost as much as did Adam’s newly found looks… And locks.

Skinning his revolver and aiming with surgical precision, Dalton scanned the horizon in the direction Krista had pointed. Sure enough, moments later two men came into their direction on horseback. Galloping hard at first and then slowing up with the sight of a drawn revolver. Stopping only feet away from the group.

“Whoa now,” a man said. “You’ll want to be putting that away.”

Dalton remained steady with his pistol. He soon found that both men had rifles bearing down on him as well.

“Holster it, friend.”

“Friend? I don’t even know you.” Dalton replied.

“Well you’re not a vampire,” the man admitted. “Or a lycan.”

“Or a goblin, lizard man, dragon, demon spawn, baku or chimera.” the second man added with a nod.

“You forgot griffin.” the first replied.

“Look,” Dalton said. “It ain’t that you both aren’t entertaining, but I don’t know you. So either get on with it… Or get on.”

He shooed them away with his revolver.

“Get on with it,” the first rider said. “This guy. We come over the hill and right into the barrel of a gun for no reason. Law of the land says we have the right to drop you where you stand. Only reason I haven’t is I wouldn’t be able to sleep tonight knowing I helped bury a man in such a sad looking brown coat.”

“What my partner is trying to say… We’re going to count to 3 and if that revolver hasn’t dropped, you will die.”

Dalton understood that he could take one of them out. His aim was true enough for that. But two men, both mounted and bearing down on him with long rifles?

“One.”

“Dalton,” Adam said. “I’d drop it if I were you.”

“Two.”

“Dalton!” Krista said loudly.

“Ah shit!” he grumbled. Tossing the revolver to the thick dirt below.

“Now see,” one of the riders said. “That wasn’t so hard. Now we can all talk with a smile on our face and no one has to die.”

“Where you headed?” the other rider asked.

Dalton burst into laughter. “Buddy. You won’t believe the story if I told it.”

“We don’t know,” Adam added quickly. “We came onto some information in a journal. We walked for an hour and sat down to rest. After that… I’m not sure. Believe me, I know it sounds crazy, but…”

“No. It sounds about right,” one of the riders admitted. “Even if you guys flew coach, rather than first class. This waypoint is way past its prime.”

“What?” Dalton asked. “It sounds like the talk of a damned fool!”

“I was caving in Norther California,” the rider replied. “My friend here is from North Carolina. We’re all from somewhere, right?”

“I… I don’t understand?” Sarah admitted.

“The big green sun,” one of the riders pointed out. “That’s Atlas. Just a bit to the right if you squint really hard, there’s a small blue planet.”

“I don’t see it.” she replied.

“That’s because you’d need perfect conditions and a mighty strong looking glass,” the man chuckled. “But it’s Earth.”

“What?” Sarah asked, echoing everyone’s thoughts.

“I know,” he admitted. “I’ve been here going on 5 years myself. It took me a while to come to terms with it. After that, I set off to find a way back home. Now, knowing what I do, I’m not so sure I’d go back.”

“What did the trip gift you guys with?” the other rider asked.

Dalton was overwhelmed. Sitting down in the thick, dry dirt and doing what he could to put everything together.

“Well, I’m mighty good looking all of the sudden.” Adam admitted.

“If you say so.” one of the riders joked.

“Name’s Kevin. This is Jack. You OK, buddy?”

Dalton continued to sit with his head resting on a single hand. Completely and utterly stunned.

“Ah, the newness will pass. Just head that way,” Kevin said, pointing into a direction near where they’d ridden from. “You’ll run right into Veros. It’s a small town, but safe enough. Just get there by dark.”

“Why’s that?” Krista asked.

Kevin looked to his friend Jack. Realizing that the group was new to the way things worked on their fine planet.

“All those fine things we named off. They own the night. Humanity has this place during the day. You’ve got plenty of time, just get there and don’t be pulling random guns on people. Some folks frown on it.”

“Maybe we’ll see you back there later. Right now, we’ve got a run to make.”

“Wait.” Krista said, spotting something that sent nerve pulses throughout her body. Kevin’s saddlebag was branded with something she knew all too well. The heart of a necklace that her mother had once worn. There was no mistaking it.

“Ma’am?” Kevin asked.

“That heart. How did it come to be on your bag?”

She was desperate for answers. Dalton understood why, though the rest of her group remained puzzled.

“Things work much differently here. Kings. Queens. You’ve much to learn, but I’m sure that all of your questions will be answered soon. Good day.”

Tilting his hat, Kevin began riding off. Quickly followed by his friend.

“Wai-” Krista began.

Adam grabbed her by the arm and nodded.

“We’ll figure it out – together.”

Krista didn’t want to wait for her answers, but understood. They were all in shock and Dalton, much more so than she was.

“Gotta be dreaming.” Dalton said as he sat down on the patches of dry soil and swaying grass beneath him.

“You OK?” Sarah asked. Sitting beside him, she placed a hand on his back. It was tough to swallow, but he was taking the news harder than the rest. Especially Adam, who enjoyed the fact that he’d been upgraded in the looks department.

“This can’t be happening,” he said with a laugh of frustration. “I’m a detective from Cleveland. I take on one job, one, and now I’m on some foreign planet where people are telling me to get inside by dark. Creatures lurk about. Hell, my friend looks like he could pass for a model in some firefighter’s catalog! I don’t want to be here!”

“I know.” Sarah said in a comforting voice.

Meanwhile, Dalton stared up into the sky. Looking for the small blue planet which had been deemed Earth by total strangers. Squinting like hell, yet seeing nnothing.

“My husband may be here,” Sarah said. “Wherever here is.”

“Your husband’s not here, OK?” Dalton replied. “He’s dead. He has been from the start and we all know it. You need to accept that.”

Sarah teared up and stood to her feet quickly. Nodding, she looked down to Dalton with truth in her eyes.

“Maybe, but I have to believe he’s not. It’s better than believing in nothing.”

As she walked away from him, Dalton felt terrible. The pit of his stomach clinched into a knot and the feeling of guilt eased itself to his furthest extremities.

“I’m sorry,” he admitted as she walked away. “I just… I don’t want to be here!”

“None of us do,” Krista replied. Quickly taking Sarah’s seat beside the man of ill-chosen words. “But it’s where we are. We should head into that direction, get into town and figure out our next move.”

“She’s right.” Adam added.

“Stay out of it, Fabio!” Dalton growled. “Just stand over there with your perfect skin and eat grapes and goat cheese and all of that shit!”

“What’d I do?” Adam asked.

Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.

“Listen,” Krista said. “You and I share something special. I don’t even know what it is, but I know I’m right. Our destiny is one in the same. This group needs you to be strong if we’re going to survive.”

“Yea,” Dalton admitted. “This is probably just a dream anyway. We’ll end up waking up in the middle of the woods with a bad case of food poising to blame. If we do, I’m leaving. I’m a detective. I don’t hunt in the shadows for the boogeyman.”

“If this is a dream and we wake up, do me a favor.”

“What’s that?” Dalton asked.

“Kiss me.”

He began to smile. Still fearful of what was to come, but easing up just a bit.

“And if this isn’t a dream?”

“Then kiss me anyway.”

As he leaned in kiss her, Dalton calmed once more.

“You be the strength that we need and I’ll be the comforting voice that you need, OK?” Krista asked.

“I can do that. Now if you’ll excuse me.”

Walking several feet, he came up behind Sarah as she cried silently.

“I’m sorry,” he said once more. “You’re right. He could be alive and here on this rock somewhere, just the same as we are. I don’t know at this point. If your husband is here, we’ll find him. You have my word.”

Turning to the strong man and his sincerity, Sarah smiled and hugged him tight. For a moment, neither person was visible.

“What the hell?” Adam asked.

“What?” Dalton replied.

“You disappeared. Both of you.”

“What?” Dalton asked once more.

Sarah looked dumbfounded as well. Grabbing Dalton moments later and hugging him tight again – becoming invisible.

“No shit.” Adam said.

They would later find out that the trip granted everyone something unexplainable. Often times in concert with their own personality. Adam was a self-proclaimed man of the women, therefore, he was granted dazzling looks. Dalton’s trusted revolver had been replaced by something technically superior. Married to his own DNA, no other could wield it with results. Sarah had often wanted to hide away from the world. She felt like a social outcast, even with the look of beauty. The trip had given her the ability to disappear for short periods of time. Completely vanished to the naked eye, though not completely naked to the vanished eye. That would have been a sight to behold.

“You knew they were coming,” Adam quickly said. “You know where the town is already.” he added, pointing at Krista.

“Yes. Strangely I do,” she admitted. “I don’t know, I feel like a human compass of some sort. There is no danger around us. No undead. My feelings tell me this.”

“No shit.” Dalton said.

She’d always watched people from a distance, especially after taking on the job of waiting tables. Krista had learned to become observant. Paying attention had led her away from trouble countless times. The trip had amplified her ability to do so a thousand times over.

“I’m gonna miss the Cleveland Browns.” Adam admitted.

“Not me,” Dalton replied. “It’s not like we’re going to miss a Superbowl run or anything like that.”

“This is true.”

“So, to town?” Krista asked.

“Yea,” Dalton replied. “No matter what happens. No matter who we meet or what circumstances we find ourselves in from this moment forward. We’re together – the four of us. We’re family now.”

“That means you just kissed your sister.” Adam giggled.

“I’ll smack that damn Calvin Klein look off of your face.”

“Point taken,” Adam nodded. “Ladies. After you.”

And that’s how their adventure would begin. Four separate lives from Cleveland, Ohio, marred by fate and magic. They would learn of the trip and the fact that thousands had taken it before them. One of several waypoints back on Earth had led them to such a place. It had also explained how horrors such as vampires and lycans had found their way to Earth. Similar waypoints on this alien planet must have existed.

Finding their way home had become a top priority. Meanwhile, Sarah would relentlessly continue to search for her husband. Something within her soul led her to believe that he was out there – somewhere.

He was.

Though he was no longer the man she remembered.

 

 

 

 

Epilogue

 

 

One of the most commonly asked questions I get is will there be more? In this case, plenty more. I can’t explain it entirely. I can only say with absolute truth that this place indeed exists somewhere up in the blanket of twinkling stars above us. This is a story that I have to get out. These characters and their adventures have hijacked my daily routine of thought and they must be heard. I’m happy to oblige.

I hope you enjoyed this short prelude to the real story. I certainly enjoyed writing it. I always welcome comments and suggestions to make my work better. You can email them to [email protected] Don’t worry, I’ll eventually answer. That usually shocks folks but I’m here to create stories that you can (hopefully) get lost in. That’s why I read. I like to escape the world of war, political scandals and regulations for just a few hours here and there.

Will there be more? As I said, it’s the most often asked question. My reply usually is I didn’t know people enjoyed it. If you have time, please leave a review on the website where you downloaded the book. It literally makes a huge difference for us indie authors. Other potential readers can find our work because of your reviews. Most importantly, us authors use the reviews (and sales) to determine if another book should be written. At least I do.

I’ll end with a sincere thank you. I look forward to the coming adventures just as much as anyone. Some would call it… Destiny.

 

 

 

 

About the Author

 

 

John M. Davis has authored over 20 stories and is a best-selling author on the Amazon Kindle. Married to the love of his life for 15 years (and counting), John and his wife have two fantastic children and currently live in the mountains of Virginia. When he’s not writing fiction, John is a sportswriter and covers the Legends Football League. He enjoys the sport of weightlifting, cigars and good music. Dalton James is currently kicking his ass in fan mail.

 

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Heroes of Destiny

Is Dalton James a hero? Certainly not! He’s a grumpy private detective that drinks too much whiskey and smokes too many cigars. He hopes to earn enough money to pay the monthly bills and once in a while get a woman or two into his bed. But what if omens, faith and destiny all work together to make him a hero? This is the story of one such man. Welcome to the fantastic adventures of Dalton James and the Heroes of Destiny.

  • Author: John M. Davis
  • Published: 2016-05-19 14:20:14
  • Words: 16185
Heroes of Destiny Heroes of Destiny