Excerpt - From the Ashes

Chapter One of From the Ashes

 

 

One

 

Waking

 

Penny sat up, gasping. Her eyes snapped open, and all she saw was white. Fear swamped her. Dread coursed through her veins, which consumed her when a sharp stab of pain penetrated her skull. A shriek escaped her lips and she quickly shut her eyes, covering her face with her hands. Her whole body shook as she struggled to draw breath. Tears ran down her cheeks.


What’s going on? What’s happening? Penny’s mind raced. Her muscles continuing to tremble even as the pain gradually faded and her breathing steadied.


With her hands still over her face, Penny slowly opened her eyes. Dim light turned red from her skin seeped through the gaps between her fingers. She hesitantly moved her fingers apart. Little by little the light brightened. Her eyes stung and she blinked rapidly to fight the pain and the fresh tears that welled.


Finally the pain ceased and Penny sat there with her eyes open. Her fingers were spread wide, but still all she saw was white. It was different from when she first woke a moment ago. It wasn’t the blinding white of light, but that of paint on a wall.


Penny’s hands dropped and she stared blankly at the wall in front of her, the moisture from her tears drying on her palms and cheeks.


Where am I?


Her gaze moved along the bare white wall until it came to a closed door. She scanned the room; more bare walls, another closed door, and a window covered by a yellow curtain. A table and two chairs sat in front of the window. There was a plastic bag on top of the table and a small refrigerator next to it. In the space between the table and Penny’s location was a bed, and it was then that she understood what lay beneath her.


Penny turned her attention to the bed she sat on. She took in the brown comforter covering her legs, her gaze traveling up her body until it reached the rise and fall of her chest. She shook her head. I don’t understand. I shouldn’t... The vision I had. I should be dead.


The last thing Penny remembered was lying in the middle of a car park, the gravel hard against her back as she bled to death. Her jugular had been cut, sliced open by a werewolf’s claws, and she was sure she died from the wound. She remembered inhaling a last breath before nothingness took over, but this wasn’t all. In this world where magic and the creatures of myth and legend existed in the shadows, Penny was no regular human. Ten months ago she had a vision of her own death. When her throat was cut and her final breath was taken, she knew it was her vision come true.


But she was alive.


Hesitantly, Penny raised a trembling hand to her neck. She expected to find the wet stickiness of blood and the ragged flesh of a gash, but her fingers met with smooth skin.


Penny’s hand fell. Did I dream it? Did I dream all of it?


Two nights prior to Penny being in the car park, she had escaped from the man who raised her for the past nine years, Thomas Gerard. A man who, when Penny was seven, kidnapped her and since then used her abilities to make his fortune. A fortune which allowed him to discover the existence of the supernatural and build a collection of creatures. Penny knew what kind of man her ‘adoptive father’ was, but it wasn’t until she had a vision of her friend Logan’s parents being killed by him that Penny finally found the courage and strength to escape Thomas. A man who was a monster among monsters.


Penny’s body sagged. If it was all a dream, that would mean I never escaped. She bowed her head and Penny’s gaze caught on her hand where it rested against the bed. Her eyes narrowed. Caked beneath her nails was a rust colored substance. She turned her hand over and encrusted in some of the lines of her palm was the same red substance. It looked as if her hand had been cleaned, but not thoroughly enough to remove all the blood.


“Blood.” Her voice cracked on the word as her head spun. Dizziness swamped her and she had to lie back down. “What’s going on?”


A sound caught Penny’s attention. She rolled her head to the side and her eyes landed on a young man with black hair. He stood in the open doorway situated along the bare stretch of wall. Penny’s confusion froze in her. All emotion left her as if she didn’t know what to feel at the sight of him. Quickly, she glanced away.


Out the corner of her eye, Penny saw the young man step inside the room. He closed the door and walked towards her. When he reached the end of her bed, he came to a stop, and Penny felt the weight of his gaze upon her face. Tentatively, she turned back to him. She traced the lines and contours of his tired face. His expression was one of tenderness and love, and as she watched him, his shoulders fell in relief.


Penny focused on his thoughts.


It worked, he thought. Thank God, it worked.


Penny watched the images flick through his brain as she read his mind.


She saw herself, pale and lifeless with a bloody gash on her throat. She saw a book with resurrection in the title and then an image of her body surrounded by candles as the words of a spell were chanted.


Penny grew cold as the truth washed over her. A truth that should have occurred to her the moment she woke. For someone who had been raised in the environment she had been raised in, for someone whose sister was a vampire, Penny knew firsthand the dead didn’t always stay dead. She did die. She had been dead, but she wasn’t any longer. Yet she wasn’t alive. Penny was undead. She was a zombie, and the man standing in front of her was the one who brought her back.


Saliva flooded Penny’s mouth. She felt like she was about to throw up, and she swallowed again and again to fight the nausea. Slowly, her lips parted. “Zane.”


Relief and happiness emanated from his black irises and stubble-covered face. A smile filled Zane’s lips, but quickly faltered as Penny choked out her next words.


“What have you done?”

 

© 2015 Jade Fowler

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