Updated: Mar 25, 2022
As many of you know, I am taking a break from the Slaughter Series to focus on another. The new series is a bit more creepy. It's called the Night Trips Series, and it is more in line with what Dean Koontz would write.
The first book is written and I am more than halfway through with the second. I thought I would give you the first chapter of Book 2 in order to give you a better idea of what these will entail.
don't worry, I am returning to the Slaughter series after the first of the year. There will be a book 7, but I wanted to stretch my creative wings a bit.
So... until we return to Slaughter, enjoy a sneak peek of Book 2 of the Night Trips Series entitled "Snatch"...
Chapter 1: PLB
It isn’t often you fill your mom with joy and creep her out with the same act. But that’s what Hailey had done. One moment, her mom was giddy with happiness at having her wedding ring back. The next, there was real worry and concern in her eyes. Her mom hugged her, of course. That’s what moms do when their daughters save their bacon. Yet, it was a timid, standoffish sort of hug. Like she wanted it to be over with as soon as she could.
It was Hailey’s own fault. The twelve-year-old had been doing this sort of thing for years. She had just been keeping her abilities mostly to herself, but when mom asked her how she had performed the trick, Hailey Crowder had decided to come clean and explain.
Mom blinked, asked for more information, then promptly accused her of making things up. Not liking being referred to as a liar, Hailey put on another show. And just like that, Hailey was instructed to never do it again and to never ever talk about it. It was creepy, she had been told. People would freak out. They’d ask her mom if Hailey had been rescued from some carnival sideshow and not adopted the normal way.
Hailey didn’t like that, not one little bit. She should have been celebrated. Instead, she was told to shut up and pretend it never happened. Not cool. Not cool at all.
She should have just brought her mom the stupid thing and said she found it under a bed somewhere. Amanda Crowder would have never suspected anything, and Hailey could have continued on with her life like nothing ever happened.
As she sat in her room at her tiny makeup table, Hailey considered all that had happened, reprimanding herself for ever making the decision to be truthful. Whoever said the truth would set you free obviously didn’t have powers. And powers were neither good nor bad. They just were. You have lungs, you breathe. You have eyes, you see. You have powers, you use them. For good, of course. Always for good. And Hailey had. Used them for good, that is.
Her mom had lost her wedding ring. The poor woman started off mildly concerned, but it quickly grew into a full-fledged panic. She was crying and tearing the house apart to recover the ring. According to her mom, it was worth over five grand. To a twelve-year-old, that sounded like a small fortune. So, why wouldn’t Hailey do her best to help her mom get her ring back?
She looked the normal way first, pulling open drawers and crawling under beds. When that failed, she decided to use the technique that she knew would work. Since Hailey had never paid too much attention to what the small piece of jewelry looked like, she asked her mom if they had a close-up picture of it. Amanda looked at her curiously but pulled out a photo from their wedding album. It was an eight by ten of just their hands, showcasing the ring. It twinkled and sparkled under the light like something from a TV commercial. Her mom was right, it was beautiful.
Hailey closed her eyes and pictured the ring in her mind. She could see it floating in a sea of black, all alone and shimmering from an unknown light source just like the photo. Slowly, ever so slowly, the world began to materialize around the ring in a growing circle. At first, she could see it on a piece of gray and weathered wood. Just a small circle of it. Soon, the circle began to expand, and the tiny bit of wood turned into a plank, then a series of planks all pressed together. In her mind’s eye, Hailey pictured herself sitting cross-legged in front of the ring, looking down at it, admiring it, wondering if she would ever have one just like it in her future.
She looked up at the receding wall of black. It fell away from her in bits, details emerging where nothing had been only a moment before. The planks became a dock, stretched out over inky water. The water became a pond, their pond. Soon, her bubble of blackness became the world around both the ring and Hailey, sitting all crisscross applesauce on the dock behind their house, looking out at the reeds that circled the water, hearing the music of croaking frogs and buzzing insects, feeling the breeze on her face. She wasn’t there, of course. Not really. She was standing in the kitchen, holding the photograph in front of her mother with her eyes closed, but it felt as real as could be, smelled as real as could be, sounded like she was sitting there for real with the sun on her face and the Oklahoma wind in her ears.
She opened her eyes and looked at her mom. “The ring is sitting at the end of the dock out back.”
Her mother’s eyebrows closed together, unsure of what was going on or how Hailey could know that unless she had known all along. All at once, recognition covered her face. “Wait! That’s right! Yesterday, I went out to the pond to read a book. I remember thinking that I might need some sunscreen and had bought some along. I took the ring off while I sat there with my feet hanging off the end and rubbed lotion on my arms and neck. Could you be right?”
Hailey had been, of course. She was never wrong about finding things.
Her mother had raced for the back with Hailey in tow, a big smile on Hailey’s face, knowing how happy her mother would be when she found the ring.
She had been happy, but only for a few seconds.
Her mother looked at her, the smile fading, suspicion forming in her eyes. “You knew this was here the whole time, didn’t you?”
Hailey had smiled and shaken her head. “I know it sounds crazy, but I can prove it. Here,” she said, handing over her phone. “Put it anywhere you like. I’ll wait in my room and then tell you exactly where you put it.”
Hailey did. Twice.
That’s when Amanda became officially creeped out. Since then, Hailey had been sulking in her room. For the first time, she wondered about her biological parents. Would her real mom had accepted her talents? Did she have talents of her own? What about her biological father? Had Hailey’s talents been handed down to her genetically?
Were they gypsies in a carnival as her mom had sarcastically said? Did they volunteer for some sort of weird drug experiment in college? Hailey didn’t know, but suddenly, for the first time ever, she wanted to know who they were.
Until then, she had been content knowing she could do what she did. She never really thought about it much. She just did it. Right then, because of her mother’s rejection of her talents, Hailey wanted to know more about her biological parents.
Her close friends knew she could find things, but she had never filled them in on the details. They didn’t know how she could do it. They just knew she could. Kids were more accepting of things. They looked at it as some sort of magic trick that Hailey never revealed the secret to. They called her The Finder.
Her best friend, Sierra, called her PLB. It stood for Personal Locator Beacon. Sierra was always losing things. Hailey would close her eyes, see the object, then pretend to not know where it was at first. She would ask Sierra questions about where was the last place she had seen it. She would rummage around a few minutes, then walk right to it. Once, Sierra had called her saying she had lost her purse. Over the phone, Hailey said she had seen it behind her dresser one time she was over visiting. Maybe it had fallen back there again? It was there, of course; Hailey had seen it. Sierra had called Hailey her personal locator beacon and the name had stuck ever since.
Sierra didn’t think she was creepy. But then again, Hailey had never told her how she did what she did.
Maybe her mom was right. Maybe people would be creeped out if they knew the details. Perhaps she should never reveal the secret ever again. She wouldn’t stop finding things. Never. It was who she was. But she could be sneakier about it.
Thinking about Sierra made her want to go visit her friend. She grabbed her phone and the house keys she kept on a lanyard. Sierra lived a few blocks over in the same high-end, wooded subdivision. Downstairs, her mom was staring at the TV. The news was on, and something had captured her mom’s attention.
“Headed to Sierra’s, is that OK?”
Her mom didn’t turn around, eyes glued to the screen. “Two girls have gone missing in Norman. One little girl last month. One this week. With the second one missing from the same neighborhood, the police suspect they’ve been kidnapped. I’m sorry, what did you say?”
The Oklahoma City area was surrounded by several smaller towns. They lived on the outskirts of Edmond, an upscale town on the north side of OKC with a higher-than-average income ratio. Norman was on the south side; nowhere close.
Hailey sighed. “I asked if I could go to Sierra’s house. I’ll be back by supper.”
Her mom nodded and turned back to the TV. “Yeah, sure, but nowhere else. There are creepy people out there.”
The statement stung and made Hailey’s cheeks flush in anger. Did her mom have to use that word so much? Had the woman not even realized she had lumped her daughter into the same group as child molesters and kidnappers? Creepy? Really?
On the way out, Hailey closed the door just a little harder than she should have.