Authors: Laurel O’Donnell
Tags: #lost souls, #series, #paranormal, #supernatural, #ghosts, #laurel odonnell, #laurel o'donnell, #urban fantasy
Copyright © 2012 by Laurel O’Donnell
Published by ODONNELL BOOKS
Please note: This is the second book in the Lost Souls series by Laurel O’Donnell. The first book is
Lost Souls: Resurrection
Cover design by Hot Damn Designs!
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems – except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles or reviews – without permission in writing from its author, Laurel O’Donnell.
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
Souls who refuse to pass into the afterlife become wandering spirits, trapped between the world of the living and the dead. These are the
. Some of these Lost Souls have banded together, uniting to fight against an evil endangering both their existence and the safety of the human world they once inhabited. This evil has taken shape in unholy creatures called the
, beings who were once Lost Souls but who are now dark, dangerous and disturbed monsters. The Changed feed on the energy of the Lost Souls, growing stronger with each Lost Soul they drain. The ultimate goal of the Changed is to harness enough energy to return to the land of the living by possessing the body of a human. The mission of the Lost Souls is to stop them…
SAMANTHA aka SAM
– Sam is a fierce warrior, wielding an iron sword with ferocious precision. She is hot headed, loyal and smart. She has been a soul for six hundred years with her brother Ben. It is becoming increasingly difficult for her to control her anger.
– Ben is a trained fighter. He is more level-headed than his fiery-tempered sister and is often the one trying to keep everyone calm. Family means everything to him. He has vowed to find his other sister, Cora, who has recently turned into a Changed, yet he hesitates to leave Sam’s side fearing her path is the same as Cora’s.
– Known by Ben and Sam as a “freshie”, a recently deceased man, Christian is new to the world of the Lost Souls. He struggles to find his place as he learns his new abilities, such as the power to
from one place instantly to another. He is stubborn and often knocks heads with Sam.
– Damien was once a Lost Soul, but has succumb to the anger of the Changed, a being that has embraced the darker side of their ethereal world. He is Samantha’s dead husband.
– The leader of the original group of Lost Souls. He is furious with Sam and Ben for blatantly defying his orders. He no longer welcomes them as a member of his group.
Highlights from Resurrection – Episode 1:
(SPOILER ALERT: If you have not read Lost Souls: Resurrection, the following reveals all of the major plot points in that episode. If you have read “Resurrection,” or if you just want to get up to speed in the Lost Souls series, then this will give you a quick recap of the story to help you flow into “Imperfection.”)
It was going to be a good day. A good life, Christian knew. Everything had finally turned out perfect. Aurora looked up at Christian. “I love you, Daddy.” She lifted the ice cream cone to him.
Christian smiled and opened his mouth to reply.
A loud squeal filled the air and Christian instinctively lifted his gaze over her head to glance at the intersection just beyond.
A black car swerved sharply around a silver BMW. Its running daylights zeroed in on Aurora’s back as it headed straight for them.
Christian grabbed Aurora and flung her out of the way as hard as he could. Intense white lights filled his vision. He put up his hands. Somewhere in the distance, a horn sounded.
“Daddy! Daddy!” Aurora ran up to him, her blue eyes wide and fearful.
He pushed himself upright. “I’m okay.”
Tears bloomed in her eyes and she began to cry. She wasn’t looking at him. Christian frowned. Had someone been hurt? “I’m right here, princess. It’s okay.” He followed her stare…
… to find his body laying on the hood of the black car. His eyes were open, staring with a glassy expression. Blood trickled from his parted lips.
Christian stared down at himself on the hood of the black car, shocked. Immobile.
“Then let me start at the beginning. When you die, when a human dies, they are supposed to pass on. To the next world or heaven or whatever it is.” He waved his hand in the air. “But what happened to us, to you, is that there was something binding us to this life. Whether it was a person –”
Daniel nodded. “Or unfinished business. When the door opens to the next life and you don’t accept the invitation, the door closes. For good. You don’t get a second invitation.”
Christian recalled the woman on the sidewalk, the glowing woman who had appeared right after his accident. Could that have been his door?
“Either way, you are bound to this world. This life. A Lost Soul, as it were. Unable or unwilling to pass. Eventually, the task you were bound by is accomplished, or the person that bound you to this world gets old and passes.”
Christian stared at Daniel with an uneasy realization. He had not considered that Aurora would grow old while he remained as he was. He had only been concerned about protecting her now.
“Then the Soul is left alone. Wandering aimless, friendless, loveless, companionless. It’s enough to drive anyone mad. The change begins slowly. The Soul becomes more prone to anger. Less likely to listen to reason. Sometimes the change is quick, sometimes slow. The eyes are the final change. They turn black, cold, emotionless. It’s then that it is too late. The Soul is unsaveable. They have changed into vengeful, wrathful creatures. The Changed. You met one of them already.”
The white woman tilted her head to the side and her entire body wavered. Suddenly, without taking a step, she appeared in the middle of the street.
Christian’s eyes widened.
The pale ghost woman flickered again and then stood directly before him. An angry scowl wrinkled her forehead; her black eyes locked on him.
Christian stepped back, but the pale woman reached out to him, shoving her hand into his chest. An electrical charge surged through him, stiffening every muscle, every fiber in his body, with bolts of agony. Christian couldn’t move, paralyzed by the spearing shocks soaring through him.
Sam suddenly stood behind the pale woman. She swung a sword at the pale ghost woman’s back. As the blade slashed through her form, the pale woman disintegrated into a puff of black smoke.
“You hit a Changed with iron, with enough force, it disrupts them and forces them to use energy to re-form. My sword is made out of iron. That’s how I kept that Changed from sucking you dry. Every time they get disrupted, they lose some of their energy. They lose enough energy, they usually run away to come back and play another day.”
“Did you ever hit one enough times where it got permanently disrupted and disappeared forever?”
“No. They’re not that stupid.”
Samantha laid her hand on his shoulder. She could feel the strength in his muscles. With training, he might actually be a good fighter. The room shifted, the metal walls wavered, and then suddenly they stood before a door. Samantha removed her hand from his shoulder. “
“The Changed need our energy. Only the strongest ones, the ones that have gathered the most energy can achieve the Jump,” Ben said patiently.
Ben nodded. “They gather this energy and store it. It takes centuries to build up.”
“The Changed that had been following you around, the one that attacked you in the street, was old,” Samantha added. “Very old.”
“It was probably ready for the Jump.”
“What the hell is the Jump?” Christian demanded, not liking the sound of this at all.
“Possession. They take over human bodies.”
“There is only one way to kill the Changed.” Samantha cocked her head. “While they can kill us by draining our energy, we know of only one way to totally destroy them.” She glanced at Daniel. Something hot danced in her eyes; something angry set her lips in a grim line. “They are allowed to possess the human. And then we kill the human, destroying the Changed.”
“Aurora is a child!” Christian protested. “Leave my daughter alone!”
“We’re not sure, but Sam has a theory. And this might be our opportunity to try it,” Ben said.
“What theory?” Christian asked.
Ben leaned his head back against the wall. “It’s all about energy. We are creatures of energy. The Changed need energy to make the Jump. A lot of it. They store it up for years. But once they make the Jump, they have no more use for that energy. They are locked inside the human body they possess. Sam is absolutely certain the human still lives inside their body with the Changed after they make the Jump. She believes they stay trapped within their own body, unable to regain control of it.
“We have a theory that since the Changed are unable to absorb energy after they make the Jump, that if we filled it with our energy, poured our energy into it until it could take no more, it would be blasted to nothingness. An overload, of sorts.”
Aurora began to shake. Christian held his daughter in a deadly embrace, unable to sever the fusion of power pushing through him into her. Finally, he put his arms around Aurora, holding her in a tight cocooning embrace.
Ben called forth power from every cell of his body, pushing it forward into Christian. He heard a whimper.
Aurora went suddenly stiff in Christian’s arms. Her eyes opened wide. They were completely white. The power within her blasted out of her body, shooting out from every opening, her eyes, her ears, her nose, even her mouth.
Aurora tipped her head up and a stream of white blasted from her open mouth, pushing the Changed right out of her body into the air, where its ghostly form rocketed toward the ceiling, disintegrating in the bright beam of white light.
Christian crawled forward to Aurora’s side. She still hadn’t moved. “Is she…?” He couldn’t bring himself to say the words.
“No,” Samantha answered. “She’s alive.”
“There was another Changed near the house that night.”
Ben waited for her to continue.
Samantha stared straight ahead. “It was Damien.”
Ben straightened to a standing position. “It can’t be. Damien was killed.”
A wrinkle of pain etched into Samantha’s forehead. “I know that. But I’m telling you what I saw. It was Damien. I was standing across from the human’s house. No one was around. No one. And then…” She shook her head. “It was him, Ben. It was Damien.”
“A Soul? Could he have been a Soul?”
Samantha shook her head. “No. He was a Changed.”
As Ryan Johnson caught the basketball and began dribbling down the court, the crowd roared, standing to its feet as one. The Madison High School gymnasium was filled to overflowing with people packed shoulder to shoulder on the bleachers. Many more Hornet fans were forced to watch the game from the hallways. The cheers were thunderous as Ryan dribbled around one of the blue uniformed players of the opposing team.