Today I bring you an excerpt from Dark Halo by Christopher Kokoski. Enjoy, and let me now what you think in the comments below!
The man in the yellow rain coat appeared in the middle of the road.
Startled, Landon slammed the brakes, seized the steering wheel and the Ford swerved sharply to the right, back tires carving mud, truck bed swinging out like a Louisville slugger at a fastball.
Landon spun the steering wheel in the same direction as the back tires. Come on, come on.
Next to him Katie’s head slid across the back of the seat, thumping against the window. Frank shouted out from behind him.
Landon was still correcting the wheels when the Ford ran over the man. Not over: Through was more accurate. “What the—?”
Cruel fingers of terror peeled back his eyelids, stapled them open while the man’s ghostly face flashed in – and then out of – the interior of the pickup, between him and Katie. The truck bed split the man in half at the waist.
By the time the Ford came to a complete stop, the front of it faced back down the road from where they had come. Rows of dark Winged Elm tress barricaded both sides of the street like the furrowed walls of a tunnel. Landon watched the weather-ready ghost, his stomach quivering, but unable to move.
He remembered the paralysis from his house when confronting the first spirit. That one had not harmed him, had just passed by him. Would this be different?
Rotating towards the pickup, regarding them with grey eyes as dark as its apparel was bright, as demented as its clothing was cherry, the ghost raised one yellow boot and stepped towards them.
Landon tried to move, but couldn’t. What would happen if the ghost kept coming? He had to protect Katie.
Moving his pupils to the corners of his eyes, he looked at her. He could see only half her face. When he went to speak, his dry throat rebelled and his tongue felt like a heavy slug in his mouth. What was going to happen to her?
Landon thought of Frank in the truck bed. Was he going through the same thing?
His finger twitched.
If he could move one finger, why not his toes or his foot? When he tested his theory, however, nothing happened. He pulled his mental energy together and commanded his foot to press down on the petal.
Frustrated, he rested for a moment, then tried to lift his foot, even one toe, but again nothing happened. He glanced back at the road.
The ghost lifted one boot, jiggled it as if to say, “I can move and you can’t, nah nah nah nah nah.” It took another step closer.
Move, foot, move.
Nothing. If he could, Landon would have screamed, punched the dash, or shattered a window. Loss of bodily control both infuriated and terrified him.
Other than his finger, the only part of his body that stirred was his heart, which thundered along, unaware that the rest of the body to which it pumped blood was all but immobile.
He wondered what lived in the woods on both sides of the road. Packs of those rat-things might squirm out, black noses raised, catching the scent of stranded human flesh. Unable to run, forced to listen to their sick feast on Gina’s body, then Frank. Eventually, they would make it into the front of the truck…
Ten feet in front of the Ford, the ghost stopped. It’s wrinkled, gray face grinned beneath the yellow hood of the raincoat.
Remembering the Satanist’s smile, Landon wondered if a contagious madness had swept the underworld. Or perhaps, like a child, the ghost knew a secret it was barely able to keep.
Taking another step, the ghost gazed directly at him. Landon wished he could check the doors to see if they were locked. He didn’t remember locking them. Straining, he glanced at Katie again. Her head remained against the window.
Wake up, baby. Please wake up.
At the grill of the Ford, the ghost halted, seeming to consider in which direction to advance. It looked indecisively from Landon to Katie. Then, abruptly, it shifted left, sliding around the grill toward the passenger’s side door.
No. No. Not her.
Landon screamed in his mind, but groaned dryly with his parched throat. Take me. Me! His heart pounded wildly in his chest, but he could not move.
Coming around to the passenger’s side door, the ghost pressed its face against the glass, the thin window the only barrier between it and Katie.
Get away from her. Get away, he cried, but nothing escaped his lips except broken gibberish.
Its corpse-grey eyes locked on Landon, the ghost poked its black tongue between pale lips and licked the window.
In a town besieged by shadowy, demonic forces, a father races against time to save his family.
Thirty-five-year old Landon Paddock has deserted his wife and daughter, abandoned his business, and secluded himself in his late parent’s southern Indiana ranch. But he’s barely lapsed into a drunken coma when a mysterious, winged stranger appears during a violent lightning storm, chasing him out into the maddening night with his estranged 15-year old daughter.
As layer after layer of reality is dissolved by a series of violent encounters, the only way to survive might be for Landon to band together with the family he destroyed to make one last stand against a sinister army of unthinkable magnitude.
He currently lives in Southern Indiana and works in Louisville, Kentucky as a national trainer. He has presented at local and national conferences on a wide spectrum of topics including communication, body language, cultural sensitivity and influence. Other notable activities include writing articles, short stories, novels and training materials for national and international audiences.
Christopher continues his passion and dedication to writing by working on additional novels, including a sequel to the Past Lives series. His most recent book is the standalone paranormal thriller, Dark Halo.