by Lisa Amowitz
Release Date: 09/09/14
Spencer Hill Press
The light is darker than you think…
High school student Bobby Pendell already has his hands full—he works almost every night to support his disabled-vet father and gifted little brother. Then he meets the beautiful new girl in town, who just happens to be his boss’s daughter. Bobby has rules about that kind of thing. Nothing matters more than keeping his job.
When Bobby starts to get blinding migraines that come with scary, violent hallucinations, his livelihood is on the line. Soon, he must face the stunning possibility that the visions of murder are actually real. With his world going dark, Bobby is set on the trail of the serial killer terrorizing his small town. With everyone else convinced he’s the prime suspect, Bobby realizes that he, or the girl he loves, might be killer’s next victim.
Bobby stared at the evergreens reflected in the silvery water. He’d offered to bring Dad down here and carry him into the boat. He was certainly big enough to carry him now.
“Nope,” Dad had said flatly. “My fishing days are over. My ass is never getting in a boat again.”
With his work schedule, Bobby had never found time to teach his eleven-year old brother Aaron to swim, so that left him out.
Whatever. Dad drowned his troubles in beer and guitars. Bobby could never tell if people came to the Woods Café to see the wheelchair-bound vet strum his heart out because they enjoyed the music or to honor his sacrifice. Didn’t matter. At least it got Dad out of the house, and drummed up some business for Dad’s best friend, Jerry Woods.
Dealing with Dad wasn’t easy, but self-pity was a luxury Bobby couldn’t afford. Someone had to work, and bussing tables at the newly reopened Graxton Grill six nights a week left Bobby little time for anything else.
A loud splash from beside the boat jarred him from his drifting thoughts. He peered into the green depths, hoping to spot Mongo, Dad’s name for the legendary bass he had been trying to catch ever since he could hook a worm.
The dark waters stirred, pulling the boat slightly backward. Bobby dipped the oars into the water to paddle away from the disturbance, but the gently insistent pull kept him from making progress. The boat was being slowly dragged into some kind of current and had begun to pick up speed.
In his whole life, Bobby had never seen more than windblown ripples on Scratch Lake. Mongo was rumored to be huge, but he doubted striped bass grew large enough to churn up the waters like that.
Bobby thrust the oars into the water, paddling harder. The back of his head hurt. And the harder he rowed, the more his head throbbed like a dull drumbeat. A whirlpool was forming. No fish could ever disturb Scratch Lake like that.
Unnerved, Bobby yanked at the engine cord, but the motor only coughed, sputtered, and went quiet. The boat was captive to the steadily spinning water and Bobby could only squint helplessly into the depths as the headache hammered behind his eyes.
The lake’s center was rumored to be fifty feet deep. No one really knew, but as the boat sped in dizzying circles, Bobby could see clear down to the lake bottom inside the whirlpool’s tapered funnel. He gasped. Spread-eagled on the slimy rocks, on a bed of pond weeds, lay a pile of bones, a split, unmistakably human skull resting on the top.
Bobby swallowed hard, breathing fast and shallow.
It can’t be real. I’m not seeing this.
He’d been so eager to get on the lake that morning he’d forgotten to eat. And he should have. The headache was creeping to his eyes, and now he was seeing things. Feeling and experiencing things that couldn’t be happening.
The pile of bones at the bottom of the lake was as sharp and clear as a photo.
Nausea clutched his insides. His head felt like it was about to split open. Bobby clamped his eyes shut. Sucking in deep breaths, he tried to slow the rising panic and listened to his heart slam against his chest wall. He had to get a grip and get away before the water dragged him and his boat to the bottom of the lake.
This can’t be happening.
Was it a migraine? His mother had suffered from those.
But did migraines make people hallucinate?
In the distance, Pete’s barking bounced off the opposite shore. The ache at the back of his head now a white-hot knifepoint, Bobby paddled wildly to break free from the water’s pull, but he made no headway.
The boat continued to spin slowly at the edge of the vortex. Bobby tried to peer down into the whirlpool to make sure the horrible thing was gone, but his sight was filmed with a deep red overlay, a black smudge at its center, obliterating details and reducing the world to a featureless bloodstain.
No matter how many times he blinked, he couldn’t see the water that smacked against the metal flank of the boat. He could barely make out the dim outline of the hand he held up in front of his face.
The pain was too much. Again, he groped for the throttle and tugged at it three times, but still the damned engine wouldn’t catch.
The pain bore down on him, the red film thickening to a dark mass.
He couldn’t see at all. He could only feel the boat slowly spinning, stuck in the water’s strange rotation.
“Pete!” Bobby called out at the top of his lungs, “Pete!”
And then, as abruptly as it had started churning, he felt the water go still.
Pete’s nervous bark reverberated across the lake. Unable to see, Bobby dipped the oars into the water and began to paddle slowly toward the distant sound, praying he was headed in the right direction.
There’d be no fish for dinner this week.
Lisa has been a professor of Graphic Design at her beloved Bronx Community College where she has been tormenting and cajoling students for nearly seventeen years. She started writing eight years ago because she wanted something to illustrate, but somehow, instead ended up writing YA. Probably because her mind is too dark and twisted for small children.
BREAKING GLASS which will be released in July, 2013 from Spencer Hill Press, is her first published work. VISION, the first of the Finder series will be released in 2014, along with an unnamed sequel in the following year. LIFE AND BETH will also be released in the near future, along with graphic novel style art.
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