Paranormal, Mystery, Fantasy
A little girl jumps off a window, two men die in a car crash. They seem like unfortunate incidents, but are they connected to the demonic group ‘Grasp’?
Fifteen long years later. Alice is alone and without her memory. In an unforeseen happenstance she meets her neighbor’s rich and charming boyfriend Derek. He seems a person she could confide in, a person she could trust and perhaps also a person she could fall for. Will Alice be able to keep distance so that she could return to her forgotten love- Lance?
Meanwhile the Grasp re-summon a demon responsible for many deaths. They clearly have some unfinished business with Alice, and there is only one way for her to find out- recover the past. But will the past be the solution to her problems or a life threatening problem with no escape?
Under the Grasp of nighttide both Alice’s love and life are at stake as she braces for the abrupt turn her quest will take.
Free on Kindle Unlimited
The darkness lowered itself on a little soul that night as she ascended the dwindling stairwell. Each creak below her feet silenced her small sobs. Moonlight forced its way through slit-like windows, illuminating her tears. Of course, the light was overpowered by shadows of evil that had left stains already on these stairs. But that was of little concern to her, as she was included in the tainted things here tonight.
Lily Creg wasn’t scared of her surroundings, being only eight years old. The sole thing that frightened her–more than terrifying slimy snakes–was herself. There was certain wrongness in the night air–she called it ‘the Grasp of Nighttide.’ She’d been told that it was actually “night time,” but she preferred her way of saying it; it sounded scarier.
She never could explain what exactly was happening to her. After gathering a lot of courage, she made repeated attempts to convince her mom that something was wrong–it was taught at school to ask for help from grown-ups when in trouble–but Mary, her mom, did not believe a word. Her big sister, Irin, laughed at her, saying she had it all in her head–silly ideas. She even shook Lily these days to make it clear that watching too many movies had messed her up.
It was just the youngest member in the family who stepped up to support her. Her two-and-a-half year old sister, Kate, wiped Lily’s tears. “No cry Lily…pleash no cry. Kate with you.”
But nothing could be done now; her mom kept steady in her decision to take Lily to the phsycytrist or whoever that was, tomorrow. Irin could laugh all she wanted, but Lily knew that she would end locked up in a dark hospital room. No one could understand her, and if this carried on, more people would die.
She continued to climb without bothering to tug at the long rope which hung from the top of the tower all the way to the ground. If she did so, lights below every fifth step would turn on. Mary had put in a lot of work and money to complete this part of the house and the small passenger elevator still patiently waited at the bottom to be set up. Her mom had made Lily’s room the way she had really wanted. Lily had been thrilled with her tower bedroom once, but now she felt nauseous when it came to heights, because it reminded her of what she was responsible for.
Beyond the pretty pink door at the top, a hexagonal room took shape. It was everything she had ever wanted – a dream come true. For a moment she allowed herself a moment to look around the room, particularly at the colorful butterfly and flowers painted on the red wall. The butterfly– Razo she called it–always cheered her up and would get a pat on the wings for its service. She smiled and touched the slightly bigger right wing. The small bit of happiness Lily was left with turned into a gasp of horror as the red paint on the wall began to melt and seep slowly into Razo. The wings twisted and disintegrated. The flowers also merged with the paint and disappeared along with their stems. She fell back, her eyes wide with fear as she realized that the paint on the wall didn’t look like paint anymore; it had transformed into something more deadly. Blood. And it crept on the floor, slowly advancing towards her feet.
“No,” Lily shut her eyes and covered her ears. But as her mind shut to the horrors of the outside world, they opened the gates to a scarier thing: the truth. Flashbacks of her best friend, Auria, and the dozen others who leaped to their death replayed in her mind. The sound when their skulls cracked, the way their bodies twisted, the blood. And Lily was the only one responsible.
“I have got to go,” Lily said with a determination few her age could possess. “Everyone is better off without me.” She opened her eyes and as if the blood had accepted her words, it no longer lingered in the room. Razo and the flowers were back up on the wall with no trace of damage.
Before the blood could come back and destroy Razo again or she could start doing her evil deeds, she looked around for a way out. Lily dragged her pink desk to the side of the room and climbed on it. Her mum promised that opening the window would be easier soon, but for time being Lily had to deal with the heavy push up window. Even after finally managing to get it open, it took a few minutes before it could be certain that the window wouldn’t fall shut again.
The cold outside greeted her along with the unwelcome sight of the dead lawn. The research area beside their house, ‘GNCRA’ – which mum said had mean people who were going to snatch away their land once–was lit by tall street lamps, but after the fence that marked the end of the research area, everything remained dark. There was no light spreading outside their home, even along the road up to their driveway, except for the generous moonlight tonight. Mary would even switch off the porch light no matter how much Lily told her not to.
Icy wind blew, forcing her to grab hold of the wall. This was near snow time in Castle Pines. She knew because she had lived here for as long as her mind could recall. Three snowmen with different colored scarves always came up on the dead lawn, but this winter the snowmen count would fall to two. Staying wasn’t an option for Lily now. Her family had to be safe. Not just them–everyone.
“Mom said you protect good little girls at night, moon angel,” she said looking at the moon with a sorrowful expression. “You weren’t there when Auria died, or else you would have saved her. I have been very bad. Please forgive me.”
‘Make a stitch in time… Don’t. You just have to make a stitch in time,’ blew along with the wind. But she didn’t understand what it meant and she didn’t have time to figure it out.
The wind chime’s little notes started to tinkle violently. Lily closed her eyes, took a deep breath and jumped.
There was no way to say for sure how long it took before Lily woke up on the blood stained ground. The darkness cleared, giving her surroundings back. She had forgotten how bad she felt and came to focus on her family and neighbors. Why were the neighbors here? None of them ever showed up after dark. The only visitor’s presence that made sense was Halley Rolek- her mum’s best friend. She didn’t have her daughter Anna though.
Scared of the dark, Lily smiled. She took pride in being very brave as far as children-particularly girls- went.
Oh, maybe they came because she was hurt. But that didn’t make sense, because none of them were even looking at her. Her mum was crying and chewing at the woolen sweater she wore. A neighbor carried Kate at the doorstep. Irin didn’t even look her way. There was no attempt to take her to a hospital, though Lily felt there was perhaps no need for that anyway. Some bandages would do for now. But the expressions she saw made her scared.
“Mom,” Lily cried. “What happened?”
She didn’t answer her; maybe she was not loud enough.
“Mom!” she shouted.
Still no answer. In fact, no one heard her. Lily began to panic, but kept still because she was already bleeding and it could get worse.
The sound of the sirens closed in. The police had arrived to rescue her. At first Lily thought the tall officer spotted her, but strangely enough, he stood right next to her face. Lily tried to roll over, scared that the officer would step on her.
“Step back.” Another police officer closed in with a light.
The figure caught in the trees was clearly lit by the white light. A marshmallow-like body poked onto a stick. The dark eyes were open, lips parted and blood red, slightly brown waves of hair being blown in all directions. The cries and screams lasted for a minute. It was Lily. She was impaled on a sharp edge of a branch that Mary had ordered cut off last week. It had stabbed her, and the pool of blood below her had trickled down from her body.
Not able to see her own plight, Lily ran back to the house. She stopped for a moment to look at Kate in the hall. She was sucking her thumb, tears streaming down her rosy cheeks and staining her pretty pink ‘Hello Kitty’ frock. Lily first took a few steps towards her, and then with tears forming in her own eyes, she turned around. Trying to be brave, even in what she knew was an almost non-existent state, Lily returned to her room upstairs and looked out the window as the ghastly figure was retrieved and taken away. Lily died at midnight on September 14, 1995.
In the midst of that very same night, John Frost mingled with the shadows. His hawk eyes set on Veronica Wilson, monitoring her every move. Her husband, Ray Wilson, died in an accident a little over an hour ago. Of course, John knew it was no ordinary accident, but Veronica had been an unwanted witness. He looked at her and back at his watch again. It was unlikely Veronica would relay to the police what she’d seen. He kept a shaking hand on his chest, reminding his heart to beat. Tonight, it took a lot out of him to complete the mission and he couldn’t fail. He licked his lips before dialing on the new cell phone, recalling the phone call he had made an hour ago.
“Yes, Your Majesty. I’m still at Kansas.”
“What about the witness?”
John cast a glance back at Veronica. She wasn’t in a position to open up to anyone anytime soon.
“She is bound to her own worry, Your Majesty,” John managed a proper sentence. “She won’t be trouble. Rather, I think this will help us in the long run.”
“Very well, if you say so. Diane will take it from here. She’s through with the girl in Colorado.”
“Okay, Your Majesty,” he said and looked in his pocket mirror just to confirm he hadn’t taken in any of the magic from tonight. The other Grasp members could be young again, but he didn’t want to lower his age. If he did, he’d have to leave the love of his life, Rosalie, who was unaware of his involvement with the Grasp.
The Queen cleared her throat and John realized there was something he missed. “The Grasp will prevail, Your Majesty.”
The commanding voice was replaced by the small voice of his little girl. “Daddy?”
“Oh, Steph,” John sighed in relief. “Are you okay?”
“Yes. She left, Daddy. And don’t worry, she was only teaching me a few things about the demons. I wasn’t scared of her.”
“Good girl.” John tried not to sound nervous. He had an idea of what the Queen would do if anything went wrong with the mission. And he couldn’t lose Stephanie. Steph was a bright kid, hope for the Grasp. She would be in his shoes one day, carrying out the mission to ‘kill and live.’ The Queen would never try to harm her then; he had the gut feeling that she would be an important member. “I’ll be back by morning, sweetheart. Love you.”
“Did you summon the demon?” she asked. “Do you think I will too, someday?”
“Yeah,” John thought back to the accident scene, where Ray was hit by a truck. As he analyzed the situation, he sensed this demon would go a long way. Then he looked at Veronica, who was though drowned in sorrow, quite aware of what happened. If he was in her place, he’d be worried too. But his emotions only came forth when his family was involved. This for him was work, and witnessing the sorrow and despair of others was a usual affair.
“Are you there?” Steph whispered. “Is everything alright?”
John smirked as he put on his hat and turned from the scene. His Cadillac was waiting on the other side of the alley.
“The demon is just getting started, Steph,” his words bounced off the dark walls. “It is just getting started.”
It started out as a mystery killing
After every day came the dark
People in isolation walked the deserted streets
Then the demon left its mark.
No one knew which night it would come
Neither did they know how it did what was done,
All they knew was to be aware
That a new era of darkness had begun.
15 years later…
You were, you are, you shall always be
My love, for eternity
Moments with you I cherish the most……
I can’t imagine myself without you
On my own, I can’t possibly do
We’ll stay together like the sea and coast…
A raindrop fell on Alice’s face and her thoughts were cut off. She blinked once…twice…trying to switch back to reality. The song had magically appeared from the lost memory box at the back of her mind. Still dreamy, she looked up towards the sky and a clear drop fell into her right eye, this time wiping the temporary film covering it. It was true, she did remember something from her life and she had to capture it before it could be snatched away.
She fumbled through the contents of her purse for a scrap of paper, but she only had a couple of old receipts. That should do for now, she thought, scanning for the longest one she had. After resolving a conflict between last week’s and last month’s receipt, she settled with the latter.
She wrote it down in haste, managing the space by writing small and dark to make it legible over printed words. Absent-mindedly, her mind registered the items from the receipt: carrots, lettuce, bread, eggs, cereal, apple, and oranges, making up for perhaps the biggest purchase she’d ever made at one time. She shaded the song against the scant raindrops that threatened to wipe it away. Whatever those lines meant to her, she could not afford to lose it again–nay, never again.
Halfway through, she turned the receipt over to finish the song. I can’t imagine myself…. The ink that was flowing perfectly along a moment ago stopped. Alice shook it hard and tried again. No use.
“Argh, this pen!” She gave it another shake before tossing it over her shoulder in anger. “I won’t let go of the song.” She frantically felt through her purse even though she was aware she had nothing else to write with. Among the ‘papery’ contents, her hand pulled out something that could probably be a substitute–a lipstick. She twisted it open.
It would be impossible to finish with that, she thought.
She looked around and spotted a person leaning on a tree directly opposite where she sat. His legs were slightly crossed and ended in good-looking heavy boots. A newspaper hid his face while getting gradually damp with the rain. As Alice went closer, she realized that the headline was from a month ago.
“Do you have a pen I can borrow?” she asked.
He didn’t answer.
“Excuse me sir,” Alice tried to get his attention.
Instead of at least looking at her, he pulled the paper so close to his face that surely he couldn’t read a word.
Can’t deal with psychos now, Alice thought.
Luckily, a man in his early thirties came along, dressed in a Sherlock Holmes-style coat with an umbrella in one hand and a book in the other. Alice would have ignored him, seeing as he was in a hurry already, but a more important detail caught her eye: a silver pen was securely hooked to the book cover. Although she normally wouldn’t have, in her desperation she went up to him.
“May I borrow your pen, please?” Alice sounded almost frantic.
Somewhat unsure of this woman, he brought the book in front of him. “Keep it,” he said in a rushed voice. She took it from him in a second with only one thought in mind- Now I can finish. By the time she looked up again, the man was gone. She turned around in time to see him fading in the distance.
“Hey, thanks,” she shouted, although she knew he was well out of range. She glanced back at the arrogant newspaper man in triumph, whom she thought was looking, but wasn’t.
Back on the bench, the receipt was gone. She’d left it right under her purse, but it wasn’t there. It wasn’t there or anywhere else to be found. It seemed like hidden forces were plotting against her. After all, she came down here almost every day and would sit idly, often trying to gather what might’ve happened to her. It seemed that today, everything from the book of tricks was being tried and she would lose the song to the dark.
I will not lose it, Alice pulled out more paper in haste. The lipstick had not been securely closed and as she pulled it out of her purse, it dove into the muddy puddle below. Alice kept a hand over her pocket and winced, recalling the money it had cost. She half bent in in an effort to pick it up, then stopped. She rewrote the song—this time on three separate smaller receipts–and stowed them in her pocket. She gave the now-brown lipstick, which was once crimson red, one last hard look before pulling her eyes away.
The evening sky was blotted out by dark clouds, nothing unusual, as the Colorado skies were meant to be that way, especially with winter reeling in. Castle Pines was no exception. Any day now, snow would start to fall as the temperature continued to plummet. The local farmers studied the sky carefully, trying to judge when they should bring their livestock in, worrying about how much feed was going to cost them for the winter. The snow would convert the area into a winter wonderland with beautiful scenery: tall snow-covered pines and fields covered with new-fallen snow. It would be picture perfect. The snow blankets would glisten over the rolling landscape, giving the place a quiet, peaceful feel. The locals mentioned the winter here to be bleak, but that wouldn’t bother Alice; her life in itself was miserable.
The rain started to fall softly, steadily. “I wish each drop was a moment of my past,” she whispered, stopping and reaching out her cupped palm to catch a few of them. Her expression was that of someone who was left with nothing. She felt like she was ‘Alice in Wonderland’.
Alice knew nothing about the land, she corrected, but at least she knew about herself.
The eerie feeling that someone was watching crept over her; the hairs on the back of her neck bristled. She turned towards the newspaper man, who still paid no heed. In one quick scan, Alice caught the onlookers. On the furthest side of the park, near the smaller iron gate, Mr. and Mrs. Paul sat staring at her. This wasn’t the first time they had done so. They sensed that Alice was alone after months of observation, and that might have appealed to them.
Mr. Paul, a retired accountant, who was clearly over seventy years of age, warmed himself with a puffy jacket that made him look twice his actual size. A colorful shawl with shapes on it was draped around his neck. Mrs. Diane Paul, his wife of three months however, was fifty-nine, according to what Alice had heard. With her twinkling eyes and faint wrinkles, she looked younger than her age. It seemed to Alice that just a week ago, Mrs. Paul had appeared even younger. The winter must have taken its toll on her. She wore a short sleeved sweater over a jacket and different gloves on each hand. The couple huddled under an umbrella and watched Alice as if she starred in a telecast of a sad old movie.
The pity stares again, Alice thought and started walking.
Why can’t they be happy that they have each other? With their looks still scorching her back, Alice nearly slipped while trying to walk faster. She tossed her long brown ponytail back in an effort to appear oblivious to the near fall. But it was only another few steps before her leg rammed into a bench. Her knee took full impact of what felt like a blow from a hammer. A great show for grandpa and grandma–for free! What could be better than to watch a girl howling and jumping on one leg? All of a sudden, she could make out the sound of heavy boots approaching her. But Alice had had enough of what was happening. Ignoring the pain, she ran towards the gate, the path wet with a blend of rain and her tears.