Authors: Ilia Bera
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #New Adult & College, #Paranormal, #Vampires, #Contemporary Fiction, #Short Stories, #Werewolves & Shifters
FROSTBITTEN VOLUME TWO
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This book is a work of fiction. All the characters in this book are fictitious and any similarity to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidence.
Honey’s Book Hut
Copyright © 2015 by Ilia Bera
Cover by Honey Hut Design Services
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law.
To the love of my life…
May your life be filled with many dogs!
“How complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is.”
—KURT VONNEGUT, CAT’S CRADLE
BOOK TWO OF FROSTBITTEN
A CUNNING AND MOST BEAUTIFUL SIREN
It was a cold morning. Every morning was a cold morning in Snowbrooke, but that dark early morning was particularly so. The way the wind whirled the frigid frost against your sensitive skin; the way the freshly fallen powder lodged itself inside the tongue of your boot—Mother Nature had a particular grudge that icy winter morning—a certain omnipresent nemesis.
It was that night, during that insufferably cold winter wind that you could almost hear the ethereal whispering of some evocative, invisible banshee. Her words were elaborate yet elusive, mellifluous yet tortuous. Every unheard syllable resonated deep under your skin, causing every hair on your cold body to stand up straight.
It was a rare morning—an anxious morning, the kind or morning where you feel the unusual and pressing need to call your loved ones, for no other reason than to ensure everything is okay.
It was a
I still stay inside on mornings like those, opting to stay near the warmth of my inglenook—still getting chills each time that violently cold, whispering wind blows against my window. Listen, and you can hear her again—that ephemeral chilling sound that is only audible inside of your heart, eliciting a peculiar sense of mourning—a mourning for a soul yet to pass; a mourning for a lost piece of yourself.
I still remember that particular morning, as a ghastly gale roared through the monolithic mountainscape, eliciting a distant rumble as the alpine snow thundered down the rocky bluffs. A deep, subterranean grumble could be heard as the endless pounding snow settled momentarily, in wait for the next glacial gust. And between the tacit howling through that ubiquitous snowfall...
It was a quiet morning.
Even the most learned man cannot dispute that there is a strange phenomenon that exists in this world—one that cannot be explained by any science, or proved with any test. But we know that it exists because we have all experienced it at one point or another. We have all heard her fleeting voice in the pit of our souls, warning us and moving us in a different direction.
We love her voice; we hate her voice. Its the voice of reason—at times it is our own voice, and other times it is a voice so foreign, we can’t possibly attempt to understand it. It’s a teasing voice; the voice of the most beautiful siren, whispering the password to Pandora’s Box just quietly enough that we can’t quite make it out, but loud enough we know that it is close.
Throughout history, we’ve given this peculiar sensation names; names that lose their meaning thanks to shameful misuse. Epic, a word once used sparingly to describe something of legendary proportions—too incredible to even fathom. The epic scale of the pyramids of Giza, Columbus’s epic voyage across the Pacific Ocean. The last time you probably used the word was to describe a mediocre burrito from the nearby Taco-Bell, crafted by some teenager who probably is not even remotely related to a Mexican. But I digress...
Similarly, words like Chi, Prana, Qi, Mana, Lung, Ruah, or as it has been called in the west, Life Force or Energy Flow—are all words to describe the same phenomenon. You feel it when an important moment is about to happen in your life—a sense of dread you feel the moment something bad happens to a loved one. It is the force that stops the experienced flight attendant from getting on the plane; the same plane that ends up crashing violently into the ground because of an unpredictable storm that no human, and no technology could have foreseen.
“I had a bad feeling about it,” the attendant says when asked by the media. It is written off as a coincidence. Science does not dare face the issue.
It is something we feel inside of our bodies, but it has no physical shape or form. It lays dormant at the bottom of our spine and then it is released at curious moments in our lives. They say that you feel it in your body when you wake up, on the day you will meet your future soul mate. Likewise, they say you feel it the morning you wake up, before a terrible event in your life.
The day that Derek Enderby was stabbed by the homeless Philip Riley—I felt it inside of me, but I did not know what it was—not until it had happened.
Some people think it is the same force that binds lovers together—the same force that connects a mother and her child.
Some Eastern cultures believe that this power can be controlled, harnessed, and manipulated. Some Buddhists believe in a phenomenon called a Kundalini Awakening, where someone learns to awaken the life force dwelling inside of their body, using meditation. They think that Life Force—that Chi, that Prana, that Ruah—holds the power of wisdom. Some even think that it can be used to induce Astral Projection—leaving your own body and exploring the universe, and other dimensions. After a Kundalini Awakening, you start to see the world through different eyes—things begin to make sense. You begin to observe life objectively, and you begin to understand the interconnectedness of every person, every animal, and every thing in the universe. As you begin to understand the mystical Life Force, you begin to understand that it is not unique to you—that you have the same Prana inside of you that every single other person has inside of them. Every time you are upset, it can be felt subconsciously through every living thing on the planet. Likewise, when you are happy, there is an invisible energy lifting up the rest of the world.
Believe what you will. While I’ve never considered myself a mystical person, or a spiritual person, or even a religious person—It’s hard to dispute that there is something inexplicable that exists within our bodies—something that is, for lack of a better term, psychic.
I remember reading about this study in school, where thousands of people got together. They all sat peacefully and meditated—visualizing happy things, and pushing negative things out of their minds. Perhaps it was a coincidence, or perhaps it was not—but the next week, the city saw record low crime rates—down a whopping twenty-five percent. Another study showed magnified images of frozen water crystals that had been next to different people, in very different moods. The calmer and happier the person was, the more symmetrical and perfect the molecular structures were—like beautiful snowflakes on a still winter morning. When the water was exposed to someone who was angry, anxious, or frustrated, the crystals were a scattered mess—with no definable patterns. They say our bodies are over seventy percent water...
What does all of this prove? Maybe nothing—maybe something. Who knows? All that I know is, I have felt something before that defies any science that I know about.
Whatever strange Life Force might exist in the world, Kane Patrick felt it too. That early morning when Kane stood at Brittany’s doorstep, he felt a particularly strong surge of energy lingering in his spine.
It began at a very particular moment—the moment Brittany decided her problems would be easily solved by killing the hunter on the other side of her door.
Kane looked back down the street, where a young passing woman cautiously watched him—nervous given the recent string of ritualistic murders that had plagued the small town of Snowbrooke. Kane stopped knocking on the door and composed himself. He stopped yelling to be let in, and smiled at the young passing woman.
“Don’t get yourself arrested, Kane,” he muttered to himself through his forced smile. He considered running back home before the cops were called in on some domestic dispute call. He took a long, deep breath in.
At the same time, he wanted to see Brittany and try to explain himself. While he weighed his options, he watched the nervously suspecting woman turn around the street corner, out of sight.
Kane leaned his body against the door, defeated. “Brittany—Please open the door. Just give me one minute to explain,” Kane said.
Suddenly, the door opened slightly. Kane stepped back. His heart rose back out of the pit in his stomach—all hope was not lost after all.
“Brittany,” Kane said.
“What is it?” Brittany asked.
“I know that stuff makes me look like a crazy person—but I’m not. You have to believe that I won’t hurt you.”
“Kane—I don’ think you are a crazy person. I just need time to think about it, okay?”
“Can I come in?” Kane asked as he tried to push the door open more than the sliver Brittany held it.
Brittany swiftly stopped the door from opening any wider. “Not now,” she said.
“You need to understand that I do what I do to save people—I’ve saved a lot of people. I didn’t choose this life. It fell on to my lap. I didn’t want to take it, but I couldn’t live with myself, knowing that if I didn’t take it, people would die—People I could have saved.”
“Did you ever think that maybe it scares me because I worry about you? Not me? You’re covered in scars and cuts! What if you get in a fight, and one of those cuts ends up across your jugular?”
“That’s the risk I take.”
“Okay, well it’s not the risk I want to take!”
“Brittany—I want to be with you. I want you more than anything. Really—I do.”
“Would you quit hunting?” Brittany asked.
Kane sighed as he thought about it. “I—I just can’t. Morally, I have to keep doing it.”
“Then you don’t want me more than anything. You’re greedy. You want everything, despite the consequences of others.”
“Don’t say that,” Kane said.
“Admit that it’s true!” Brittany said.
Kane sighed again. His heart was pulling him in two different directions. Before Brittany, he had never loved anyone. Maybe it was greedy to expect her to accept the risk to be with him.
He clenched his hand into a fist, holding back a sudden surge of rage in his body. Being with Brittany, and remaining a hunter was unfair to Brittany. Being with her, and hanging up the crossbow was greedy to all of the future vampire victims. There was no happy middle—no situation where everyone benefits. At the end of the day, the only victim of injustice was Kane, who was yet again choosing the well being of strangers over his own life. Kane’s life was, simply put, unfair.
“Can you do me one favor?” Kane asked.
“Don’t tell anyone about me or my secret—Especially not Hanna. Okay?” Kane asked.
“I won’t tell anyone.”