Extracting Restless Shadows by Jennifer Cloud

Death creeps around the world and not as in the concept for the end of life. This syrupy creature stalks, hunts, and waits in hiding for those that it chooses and those that choose it.

Anna Carswell met death during a suicide attempt and was left with a troubling gift. She can see where death will strike next. She begins dating Nick, a man who understands her pain.

Nick blames himself for his sister’s death. During those dark years he sees death and knows it wants to claim him.

Anna and Nick hope to regain normal lives by facing Death in its home. Their other attempts have failed but in the City of the Dead, they hope to gain understanding and a future.

A college professor is determined to win Anna even if it means murder. Death also longs for the lady he set free. It doesn’t play fair either.

Click here to buy this book directly from Drollerie Press or click more to read the excerpt. Jennifer‘s super-cool and she’s offering a download to be given away to one lucky commenter!

Anna looked down at the white scars that criss-crossed over her wrists. They started just below her hand in short horizontal lines. The track faded as it approached her elbow, lost forever in the meatier part of her arm. There were four or five silvery-white marks on both arms that grew small and wrinkled over the seven years she had them.

“Fun, fun,” she mumbled as she dotted the flesh tone make-up over the right one. “Must cover up the fun.”

She rubbed the smeary goop into the lines, only mildly covering the faded marks. It took a few moments for the liquid to dry, so she finished the left one and sat in front of the mirror, elbows on the table, palms facing up, looking at herself. There was something that captivated her when she did that, like looking at her evil twin through some portal that separated this world from that. She studied her twin, the brown hair that fell an inch below her shoulders and
hung in waves around her face. Her eyes were nearly as dark as her hair, but upon closer examination they grew green with mild brown bursts surrounding the cornea.

“So what have you been up to?” she asked herself and smiled.

Her reflection didn’t answer. It only mimicked her actions. She felt hatred while staring idly at her own eyes. There were a thousand things she would change about herself if she could. Her chest wasn’t big enough, her hips were too wide, and there were a hundred minor imperfections only she could see, but that’s how it worked. She knew most people overlooked her flaws. They’d even go as far as to tell her how pretty she was, but those were the same people who never saw her scars.

She put her wrists down and started to powder them lightly in the same flesh tone color as the make-up. The scars had become her little secret. Something only she and her parents knew about. Of course there were the doctors she’d seen when it had happened, but they quickly forgot in the mad rush to help another lost child and boost their egos another mile. Her parents never spoke of it. To them, the scars marked a terrible truth to their lacking ability in raising a child.

The small pin thick lines were her secret, like the smile she used to hide her real feelings, or the way she always pretended to be interested, happy, and okay. In a way she enjoyed looking at them. It seemed fitting to carry around a shameful trophy of failure. Sometimes she believed it changed her. It reminded her of every goal she ever had and the one she hoped to complete with the help of the professor.

She finished her ritual by putting on her silver bangles. In the bathroom light they glittered as she twirled them on her arm. Her eyes caught the sparkle in the mirror and her gaze fell once more to the reflection. The twin stared back, looking mildly amused at her performance.

“Somehow I think we landed in the wrong worlds, but who’s the evil twin.”

Her eye winked in the reflection and Anna felt herself reaching out to touch the image. She moved unconsciously, but felt a weird kind of bewilderment when her fingers felt the smooth glass. Part of her expected the flesh of fingers to greet hers, as if by standing there she unlocked some mythical puzzle and actually faced a twin who mimicked her.

“I’m not that crazy.” She laughed. “Not yet at least.”

Then in answer to her statement, the mirror image shifted. The change was subtle and something she would have never noticed if she hadn’t been standing so close with her hand touching the surface. It appeared to Anna, as if her reflection switched feet or changed its balance from one side to the other.

Instinctively she drew her hand back, fearing that this was a window she stood in front of and at any moment that twin would grab her hand, lace its reflected fingers around her own, and jerk her to the other side.

“Too much caffeine. Got the eyes jumpy.”

She managed another nervous laugh. It had been a long time since she’d seen things move that shouldn’t, a very long time. Most people would consider themselves insane if a mirror shifted or the shadows looked with eyes of their own, without the help of LSD or some other college town hallucinogen. There was a time that she did doubt her sanity. There was a time when she worried about it.

Those times passed. She no longer respected the laws of physics or the definable things people labeled, in order to put them into place. Those things meant little to her, except as an example of the lie people place so their minds can absorb things rationale can’t explain. Of course, she understood all people were capable of a little distorted thinking, but the older a person grew the more the childhood abandoned magic, Santa Claus, and hope fell away to the adult world of reasons and explanations for everything.

Even now her mind tried to reason out the shift she saw. It could have been her body moving without her being aware, or a bump unfelt by her that made the image contort. She shook her head and dismissed the excuse. Only unobservant people made up lies for what the eyes could see. She was not blind like the rest. Her skills of observation were quite good and well used. She knew the shadows held eyes because she watched them, and even more importantly, she knew what those shadows were capable of doing.

With this she winked at herself again. This time the mirror obeyed perfectly. It gave her some hope that there were simple explanations an imaginative person might overlook.

Inside she knew that was the real reason she wanted to go on this trip. She wanted a logical explanation that could take away all the things she thought she witnessed at sixteen. Was there really a shadowy beast that loved her as she bled?

The questions would be answered in the catacombs. If there was nothing there, or if the others didn’t see anything, then perhaps she did go insane and held on to tragedy like a dream, letting it pervert her mind with images that couldn’t be. At least she would know.

There was something special in knowing. Some people never wanted to know the truths, finding fantasy much easier to reckon with, but she was different. She’d been different since she made those marks at sixteen. She called on death and it changed her, molested her, and stole her virginity by taking away an innocence she could never reclaim.


© Jennifer Cloud

Remember, comment to win a download of this book! Or just buy it now from Drollerie Press

It will be available in print in the near future.

7 Responses to “Extracting Restless Shadows by Jennifer Cloud”

  1. August 3, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    The book sounds very interesting. I’ve never heard of Drollerie Press. Thanks May!

  2. August 3, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    It’s a sign that you have not been reading my blog because I interviewed their publisher and two of their launch authors guested for me about 2 weeks back. I’m hurt. LOL.

  3. August 3, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    This sounds like much fun

  4. 4 Cherie J
    August 4, 2007 at 3:22 am

    Cool plot! I love when it is something unusual. Drollerie really is coming out with some cool and unusual stuff.

  5. 5 Mandy
    August 6, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    This sounds like a great book. I’m glad I got the chance to enter the contest!

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