Between the Cracks and Burning Doors: Book 2 of The Extraction List Series

Between The Cracks and Burning Doors


Book 2 of The Extraction List Series




Renee N. Meland



All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2014 by Renee N. Meland


Cover Art by Nathalia Suellen

Edited by Andrew Wetzel of Stumptown Editorial

Formatting by Polgarus Studio


First Ebook Edition: July 2014


This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. No part of this work may be reproduced in any form without the express consent of the author.



Between the Cracks and Burning Doors

Book 2 of The Extraction List Series


ISBN 978-0-9960029-6-7 (print)

ISBN 978-0-9960029-7-4 (ebook)

For all the authors who inspire me every day, through their work and their sense of community

“There are certain events in your life that are markers, and when they arrive, there are no longer days, weeks, or even years: only the before, and the after.”

-Cain Foley


The first time I killed someone, it was an accident. Though I guess it was the kind of accident that happens when you squeeze your hands around someone’s neck for too long, or when you shove someone standing too close to the edge of a building. For my first kill, I accidentally killed my father when I beat him to death with a pipe.

He had set me up that night, I’m sure of it. I was always careful to leave the TV volume down so I wouldn’t be caught. But when I flipped the power on that night, the news roared. The woman I wanted to see was there, giving a speech like always, but her voice came out with the force of thunder.

Sweat drenched my body when I heard the door from my parents’ upstairs bedroom fly open and hit the wall. The foundation shook and so did my limbs. I sat frozen in a seated position as I heard his footsteps. All I could focus on was his shiny patent leather shoes coming toward me. Even in the middle of the night, he took the time to slip them on.

I could smell him before I even saw his feet. He constantly stunk of mouthwash and old cologne; it was some putrid mix of sandalwood and beach vacations that we would never take. He cackled as he stepped toward me, so the minty air from his breath reached me before his hand did.

I felt my head hit the floor before I felt the familiar sting in my cheek. “You’re so stupid. You really think you’ll ever leave here? Where do you think you’re going to go, huh? You need me. She hasn’t come for you and she never will!” He kicked me in the side with his foot. My stomach clenched from the impact.

I usually kept quiet when he hit me. At most, I would agree with whatever he was saying to stop him before he did

It never worked.

No matter what I said, or didn’t say, the blows would keep coming. My mother was always conveniently upstairs, but no one can tell me she couldn’t hear the snap of his belt or the furniture rattle as he shoved me into it.

That night was different. Maybe it was watching the woman from the television, or maybe it was the way his smile stretched across his face as he struck me, I don’t know. But when he was finished and heading back upstairs, I spat towards him.

My cheeks burned as I did it. In fact, my whole body felt like it was on fire. But I’d be lying if I said I wished I could take it back. Even when he turned, eyes wide when he noticed the wad of saliva glistening on the concrete floor, I didn’t regret it one bit.

I may have even cracked a smile.

He charged toward me, and I could see the brand name on the scuffed shoe sole as it slammed down against my rib cage. Over and over again, a foot almost as big as my torso stomped into me. I could feel some ribs start to snap in two, like an oak being torn apart by an earthquake. Then the blows came down on my head.

When stars started to fill my eyes, I realized one thing: if I didn’t stop him, he was going to kill me. The last thing I would see before my eyes shut forever would be the cold gray of the basement floor.

That’s when I noticed the pipe on the basement floor, the silver of it gleaming dully in the dim overhead light, waiting for me to notice it. There seemed to be no other reason for this object to be within my grasp at that moment.

Fueled only by adrenalin and the will to live, I reached for it.

I only managed to hit his knee at first, but it was a clean hit. He wailed as he went down, landing hard and clutching the injured knee to his chest. “I’m going to kill you, you little shit. I’ll kill you for this.”

was the one dripping with sweat. Now,
cheeks flushed red with mortal fear.

I lifted myself off the ground. I can’t be sure the grin that he had on his face every time he beat me didn’t slip across my own. I hovered over his broken body. I swung the pipe down on his other knee and could hear the cartilage shatter.

The sound of it rang through my ears with the sweetness of a long-forgotten lullaby.

His voice seemed to echo from a distant place as I struck him again, this time in the ribs. I didn’t wait to gauge the impact. It could have been two more strikes or a thousand; I’ll never know.

I didn’t hear his next words—which may have just been screams, I can’t be sure—because as he started to crawl away, I caved his head in with one final blow to the temple.

He didn’t rise again. I was alone with the silence and the blood dripping from the pipe down to my fingertips.

Then I was the one that started screaming.

There used to be this blonde woman on television. She would later change the world, but for now, let’s start with her changing my life. When I was still living with my parents in a suburb of Washington, D.C., she would come on the television and talk about the state of our country. While staring out through the television with a look of strength and sympathy, she’d tell us about gangs roaming the streets and how the gang members were getting younger and younger.

The one that killed her kid was younger than I was.

She would point her slender finger at the screen, and look directly at me through the camera. She told anyone who tuned in that since the economy crashed and all the businesses went overseas, parents were never home because they were constantly trying to find ways to make money…and their kids were paying the price. Those kids weren’t getting the love and the guidance they needed from their parents, so they were turning to older gang members for comfort and affection. They would put their arms around these children and promise them a family…if they’d only help out a little. Every night on the news, they showed footage of kids smashing store windows and grabbing whatever was on display, or pointing a gun in a woman’s face as they snatched her purse. The woman on the screen promised that one day, with the help of a bill she was trying to get passed, she would rescue all the children from parents who couldn’t be bothered to look after their children. She would take the children to a magical place, far away from gangs and criminals, where they would be happy and loved. She promised that the children would be healed from their horrible upbringings and go on to be whatever they dreamed they could be.

Sounds stupid now, but in my dreams she arrived at my doorstep in one of those chariots used back in ancient Rome, flanked by men on giant black horses. She would politely knock on our door and inform my parents that she had come for me and that I would be leaving with her forever. And if they tried to stop her? Those men on black horses would do the rest.

So I waited. Every night I would sneak downstairs to our basement to watch for the pretty blonde woman on the TV, hoping that when she spoke she would give me some clue as to when she would come to take
away. I wanted my turn to come more than anything.

Sometimes, during dinner, my father would turn on the TV and the pretty blonde woman would be giving a speech on the early news. He used to laugh at her. He used to laugh at the angel who had promised to rescue me someday. As he spoke, I would stare down into my noodles and take my anger out on an unsuspecting piece of broccoli, stabbing it with my fork until it was green pulp. “Who does this woman think she is? Who is she to say who can raise children and who can’t? It’ll never work. This whole Parental Morality Law, it’ll never see the light of day.” Afterwards, he would come over to me and, of all things, ruffle my hair with his hand. Almost like he loved me. “Don’t worry, Cain, you aren’t going anywhere. Look.” He pointed at the screen, which displayed the “criteria” that made a good parent. “I hit every one of those. She’s never coming for you, not ever.” And then he would grin, and his perfect teeth would glisten in the light of our dining room, where I sat speechless. “Now get to your room.”

After he and my mother went to bed, I would make my move, tiptoeing down to the basement where I could watch the woman on the ten o’clock news without interruptions. The basement was ice cold, but I didn’t care. I threw a dusty brown blanket over my shoulders and flipped on the switch.

That night changed everything.


The pipe fell from my trembling hand, but I couldn’t hear it land on the floor over my screams. Dust came up in waves, and I remember it clinging to my lungs as I gasped for air.

No one tells you this, but you know when someone’s dead. There’s no need to check a pulse or watch for an exhalation; just being human means you know. You look into a person’s face and they’re just gone. All that’s left is a dullness in their eyes where their soul used to be. Instead of reflecting a person, it’s just natural moisture gleaming in the light before it’s dried up forever.

I didn’t know that though, so I shook my father as hard as I could. I ignored the fact that his head was caved in and the bones in his legs had ripped through his skin. I begged him to wake up. I even tried to negotiate, telling him I promised to be good and that I’d never watch the woman on the TV again. I’d do whatever he wanted as long as he woke up.

I was still bartering with him when my mother arrived at the bottom of the stairs. “What have you done? Oh my God, Cain, what have you done?” Her tired, cracked hands fell across her face.

She just looked at him, not daring to touch him. I don’t know why but I had expected some sort of sentiment. I had expected her to close his eyes with the tips of her fingers. I had expected her to lay down with him and pretend he could still hold her in his arms.

Instead, she turned to me. “Go. You have to go. You have to get out of here right now.” She glanced over at the pipe. “I’ll take care of this. You have to go. Grab your backpack and take some food from the kitchen. You have to leave and never come back, do you understand?”

I stared at her. I remember trying to force my mouth to open, to let out some brilliant words that would make the whole thing rewind itself so we could go back to the before. But instead, I said nothing at all. There are certain events in your life that are markers, and when they arrive, there are no longer days, weeks, or even years: only the before, and the after.

I felt her hands tighten around my shoulders. She shook me hard, harder than I had been shaking my father’s corpse. “Listen to me, you have to go. They cannot find you. If they find you, they’ll lock you up. Go!” She shoved me toward the stairs. I took them two steps at a time, and I didn’t turn around.


The rain plummeted down in sheets that night. My backpack rested tightly on my shoulder blades, and the weight of it made me feel as though I was sinking into the sidewalk. I had thrown in every can of food I could find. The rain dripped down through my shirt and the cloth rubbed my skin raw as I walked to nowhere.

It was typical that my mother would send me away in the middle of the night; she was always a useless coward. I wondered if she’d even bury my father. It wouldn’t have surprised me in the least if after I left she had just walked back upstairs and locked the door, leaving the problem there on the floor and hoping it would just rot away. Or maybe she’d taken off in her car, halfway to another state by now, driving away from the inconvenience of having a son who snapped on her watch. Maybe our house was sitting there empty, every dish, every stick of furniture still in its place, waiting for someone to bring the house to life again. Because if she stayed, she’d have to admit that she could have stopped the situation before it got so far beyond repair.

The streets were barren until I wandered into what my mom called the “bad” part of town. Most people didn’t dare go out at night anymore, but the “bad” neighborhood was lively. There was a bar on every corner, and people who looked like they hadn’t bathed in years were leaning against their walls, smoking cigarettes that they bought in place of food. The sound of the ash escaping their lips hovered in the air. Music boomed against the walls of the bars I ran past, but all I could make out was the bass.

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