Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Night Chill by Jeff Gunhus


Doreen couldn’t breathe. She pressed her tongue between her lips and pushed against the gag over her mouth. Nothing. She couldn’t move it. Mucous blocked her nasal passages and they wouldn’t clear no matter how hard she tried. 

Tears flowed down her face and she whimpered from the effort. Her lungs burned from lack of oxygen. On reflex, she bit down and her mouth filled with blood. Then, with a violent snort, the blockage in her nostrils partially cleared and she was able to inhale.

A few breaths and her head cleared enough to allow a different kind of panic to take hold. Her hands were bound behind her back; her legs bent back at an awkward angle in the confined space. Her first thought was that she was in a coffin. Just like in the horror movies she watched. Buried alive. Then she noticed the smells around her. The air reeked of oil and dirt.

Where am I? Oh God, what’s happening to me?

Her head ached. Thoughts churned too fast for her to hold on to anything coherent. She closed her eyes and tried to focus but the world spun around her. She opened her eyes wide, swallowing hard to fight down the urge to vomit. Even in her confusion, she understood the danger. If she threw up while the gag was over her mouth, she would die.

Then the earthquake hit. Everything shook and her body slammed into the metal walls surrounding her. Something dug into her back sending a sharp pain through her body. She tried to twist to the side but it was too tight to move. She was closed in on all sides by the walls, the ceiling only inches from her face. She flexed her arms and legs but the more she strained the more the bindings cut into her skin. Finally the pain was too much to bear and she stopped struggling. The world wasn’t shaking any more.

Maybe it wasn’t an earthquake after all.

She lay there in the dark trying to slow her breathing, trying to understand what had happened to her.

Then she felt it.


She recognized the rhythm from a different time. A better time. Laying in the back seat, wrapped up in a blanket, listening to soft country music on the radio as her momma drove home.


Tires going down the highway.

Then it all crashed over her. The blond haired man at the hardware store. Being grabbed from behind. Strong hands pressed against her mouth. A bad smell. Like chlorine. Then everything went black.

The seconds it took for the scene to replay in her mind was long enough for her to organize her thoughts. Everything fit together. The sound beneath her. The sudden, jolting movement. The cramped space. The smell. She understood what had happened.

Kidnapped--I’m in the trunk of a car.

Panic followed close behind realization. She screamed through the duct tape covering her mouth. She kicked and thrashed her body against the walls of the trunk but accomplished nothing except to inflict more pain on herself. Finally, her body went limp again from exhaustion and frustration, the only movement coming from the sobs that shook her small frame.

Doreen Johnston hadn’t whispered a prayer since she was a little girl in Sunday school, but she closed her eyes and had no problem recalling how it was done. Sweet, merciful Jesus, please let me get out of this alive. Over and over, she recited the same words, trying to find strength in them, trying to find hope. But she knew she was in real trouble. The kind of trouble where no amount of praying was going to help her. Tremors shook her limbs and she squeezed her eyes tight as if it could block out what was happening to her. Sweet, merciful Jesus, please let me get out of this alive.

Jack Tremont moves his family to the quiet mountains of Western Maryland hoping to leave behind a troubled past and restart his life. Instead, he finds himself caught up in a nightmare when his daughter Sarah is targeted by Nate Huckley, a mysterious and horrifying stranger driven by a dark power that will stop at nothing to possess Sarah.

When Sarah goes missing, suspicion falls on Jack and he must uncover the secrets of the small mountain town of Prescott City and face the evil secret hidden there. As he digs further, he learns the conspiracy reaches more deeply than he could have imagined. Finally, he will have to face the question, What is a father willing to do to save his child? The answer? Anything. Anything at all.

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Genre – Supernatural Thriller

Rating – PG13

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