I don't think she understands what she's getting into with that one, but hey. Whatever. During the course of this hop, I'll be offering two prizes: Readers choice of a backlist book, and a handmade wire bracelet to be shipped out at the end of the tour. Unfortunately, the only book I can't offer for a prize is Haunted Hotel, as it wouldn't be fair to the other authors in the anthology to hand it out. I'll be selecting a random commenter, so be sure to include your email address!
And here's the link for the blog hop, as well.
Without further ado, here is the opening scene of The Factory:
A howling wind cut through the sparse trees as Courtney wandered an abandoned trail in the woods. The whooshing sound of the river flowed beside her and a few fossil hunters waded in shallow waters on the other bank. Courtney stayed hidden behind the trees, in the safety of solitude.
In the shadow of the Powder Factory, she shivered. The building towered over the area, three floors of macabre stories and legends. Used to create gunpowder in the forties, the entire building had suffered from a spark, an explosion that rocked its halls and killed hundreds of unsuspecting workers.
Courtney loved to wander the forests nearby. Several people had witnessed ghosts on the trails, and she wanted nothing more than to sneak into the cold and windowless building to investigate. But her friends were too chicken.
With a sigh, she turned around to go home before the sun set. Her heart raced as she looked up to find a young man standing in the path. He hadn’t been there two minutes prior. With a hand to her heart, Courtney studied him. His khaki pants and leather jacket were caked with dirt, and soot streaked across his face. He stared at her with morose eyes, hands in his pockets as he kicked at a rock on the ground.
“Hey,” he said.
Courtney swallowed and stepped towards him. “Hey. Who are you?”
“Johnny,” he replied. Something in his voice made her think of a time long gone, and she held back a few feet.
“I’m Courtney. Where’s your shoes?” She pointed to his bare feet.
“Left them at home. What are you doing out here?”
“Just walking. You?”
He cocked a smile and leaned forward, never taking his eyes from hers. “I’m going into the Powder Factory,” he whispered.
Her interest piqued, and any sense of wariness vanished. “Really? Can I come along?”
Johnny cocked his head and disappeared into the trees. She followed his trail, excitement coursing through her. When the building came into clear view, she inhaled sharply.
Was that a man she just saw in the catwalk above her?
Johnny whistled and pointed to a partially open bay door before he slipped underneath it. Adrenaline pushing her forward, Courtney took a deep breath and shimmied underneath. Pausing, she let her eyes adjust to the sudden darkness. What sunlight was left outside didn’t dare to penetrate this deep into the abandoned factory.
Johnny grabbed her hand and led her to a door on the opposite wall. The heavy steel opened with a creak that echoed into the cavernous room beyond them. Courtney walked behind Johnny, looking at the singed walls and footprints in the soot on the floor.
“Johnny, who do you think those belong to?”
He glanced down and grinned. “The ghosts,” he said.
A shiver ran down Courtney’s back, and she couldn’t shake the sudden sensation of being watched.
Looking up as Johnny led her further into the factory, she followed the curve of the ceiling as two more floors rose above them. The sun winked out of sight and the factory was cast into shadow as the moon rose high.
Dread filled the pit of Courtney’s stomach and she planted her feet in the ground. Johnny looked around to her. “Something wrong?”
“I want to go home.”
“It’s dark out. You can’t go walking around in the dark alone.”
“I’ll call my friends right now.” Yanking her hand free, she pulled her phone from her pocket and typed out a few words to send to her friends. At the Powder Factory with a weird guy. Come get me, please? Tucking her phone into her pocket, she gave Johnny a fake smile. “I’ll just go wait outside.”
But when she turned, Johnny was in front of her. His skin emitted an ethereal glow in the moonlight as he smiled at her. His grin wasn’t normal. It stretched from ear to ear, and his chuckle was low and deep. Courtney stumbled back, terror streaking through her.
“You can’t run now, Courtney.” She turned and ran, arms flailing out to the side for any semblance of a wall or table to follow. The only light she had crept between broken panes in intermittent panels along the dusty old floor.
Footsteps echoed behind her, bouncing off the walls in every direction, but when she looked back Johnny was gone. Bursting onto the second floor, Courtney searched for anything to protect her from the madman she’d mistakenly followed.
A door opened at the end of the hall and Courtney turned slowly towards it. Inky blackness seeped out into the landing, shifting and morphing as it came closer to her. Screaming, Courtney backed away and fell into another room to the side of the hall.
The door slammed closed behind her, leaving her in the dark even as she heard her friends enter the building. Screaming her lungs out, Courtney slammed her fists against the door. Desperate tears streaked down her cheeks, and she froze as a whisper floated on the breeze behind her.
Turning her head, she watched in horror as a shadow crept along the wall, in and out of the light, edging closer to her with every frantic beat of her heart. Back pressed against the door, Courtney watched as the dark shape came right upon her.
It lifted a hand and trailed a claw down her cheek, leaving a long scratch on her pale skin. Courtney tried to disappear through the door, whimpering as her friends clambered up the staircase searching for her. The shadow smiled, teeth appearing click by click in its mouth until the only light she saw was reflected from the jagged points gnawing near her face.
Courtney gathered one last scream as her eyes faded to black and the world disappeared.
~End Scene One~
Hope you enjoyed the tiny beginning! Tomorrow will find our heroine in the grips of sheer terror. Here's a fun note: The Powder Factory really does exist in Mason, Ohio, and I've drawn the description of the interior from a real life jaunt into it about twelve years ago.
To learn more about my pieces, please visit Amazon. The Delila series and Siege of Shadows are paranormal romance, By Blood is a horror (with rape trigger, just for your information), and Haunted Hotel is an erotic anthology.
Thanks for dropping in today, and don't forget to visit the other fantastic authors participating!