My Soul to Lose Page 4




Terror and grief swirled inside me like a black storm, drowning out everything else. Every thought. Every possibility. Every hope.

And still I screamed.

One of the mall cops reached for me, and I stumbled backward. I tripped on the base of the display bed and went down on my butt. My jaw snapped shut—a brief mercy. But my head still rang with the echo of my shriek, and I couldn’t hear him. And an instant later, the scream burst free again.

Surprised, the cop stepped back, speaking into his walkie again. He was desperate. Terrified.

So was I.

Emma knelt next to me, hands over her ears. Her purse lay forgotten on the ground. “Kaylee!” she shouted, but made no sound I could hear. She reached for her phone.

And as she dialed, color suddenly drained from the world, like The Wizard of Oz in reverse. Emma went gray. The cops went gray. The shoppers went gray. And suddenly everyone stood in a swirling, twisting colorless fog.

I sat in the fog.

Still screaming, I waved my hands near the ground, trying to feel. Real fog was cold and damp, but this was…insubstantial. I couldn’t feel it at all. Couldn’t stir it. But I could see it. I could see things in it.

On my left, something twisted. Writhed. Something too thick and vertical to be serpentine. It twisted somehow through a shelf of towels, without ever touching the shoppers pressed against them, as far from me as they could get without leaving the department.

Apparently I was enough of a freak show to justify the pain of listening to me.

On my right, something scuttled through the mist on the ground, where it was thickest. It scurried toward me, and I leaped to my feet and dragged Emma away. The cops jumped back, startled all over again.

Emma pulled free of my grip, her eyes wide in terror. And that’s when I shut down. I couldn’t take anymore, but I couldn’t make it stop. I couldn’t stop the shrieking, or the pain, or the stares, or the fog, or the eerie movement. And worst of all, I couldn’t stop the certainty that that child—that poor little boy in the wheelchair—was going to die.


Dimly I realized I’d closed my eyes. Tried to block it all out.

I reached out blindly, desperate to get out of the fog I couldn’t feel. Could no longer see. My hands brushed something soft and high. Something I no longer had the word for. I scrambled up on it, crawling over mounds of material.

I curled into a ball, clutching something plush to my chest with one hand. Running my fingers over it again and again. Clinging to the only physical reality that still existed for me.

Hurt. I hurt. My neck hurt.

My fingers were wet. Sticky.

Something grabbed my arm. Held me down.

I thrashed. I screamed. I hurt.

Sharp pain bit into my leg, then fire exploded beneath my skin. I blinked, and a familiar face came into focus over me, gray in thefog. Aunt Val. Emma stood behind my aunt, face streaked with mascara-stained tears. Aunt Val said something I couldn’t hear. And suddenly my eyes were heavy.

New panic flooded me. I couldn’t move. Couldn’t make my eyes open. And still my vocal chords strained. The world was closing in on me, dark and narrow, with no sound but the harsh wail that still poured from my abused throat.

A new darkness. Pure. No more gray.

And still I screamed…

My dreams were a jumble of violent chaos. Thrashing limbs. Bruising grips. Churning shadows. And through it all was that never-ending screech, now a hoarse echo of its former strength, but no less painful.

Light shone through my closed eyelids; my world was a red blur. The air felt wrong. Too cold. It smelled wrong. Too clean.

My eyes flew open, but I had to blink several times to make them focus. My tongue was so dry it felt like sandpaper against my lips. My mouth tasted funny, and every muscle in my body ached.

I tried to push myself up, but my arms wouldn’t work. Couldn’t work. They were tied to something. My pulse raced. I kicked, but my legs were bound too.

No! Heart pounding, I pulled on my arms and legs, then jerked them left to right, but couldn’t move more than a few inches in any direction. I was strapped to the bed by my wrists and ankles, and I couldn’t sit up. Couldn’t turn over. Couldn’t prop myself up on my elbows. Couldn’t even scratch my own nose.

“Help!” I cried, but my voice was only a hoarse croak. No vowels or consonants involved. Blinking again, I rolled my head to first one side, then the other, trying to get my bearings.

The room was claustrophobically small. Empty, other than me, the camera mounted in one corner, and the high, hard mattress beneath me. The walls were sterile, white cinder block. There were no windows in my line of sight, and I couldn’t see the floor. But the decor and the antiseptic smell were dead giveaways.

A hospital. I was strapped to a hospital bed. All alone.

It was like one of Emma’s video games, where the character wakes up in a strange room with no memory of how he got there. Except, in real life, there was no chest in the corner holding the key to my chains and survival advice written on parchment.

Hopefully there were also no video-game monsters waiting to eat me the moment I got loose, because even if someone had left me a gun, I wouldn’t have known how to use it.

But my objective was clear: Get out. Go home.

Unfortunately, that was easier said than done without the use of my hands.

My pulse swooshed in my ears, a hollow echo of real fear. That overpowering need to scream was gone, but a different kind of panic had settled into its place. What if there was a fire? Or a tornado? Or more screaming? Would anyone come get me, or would they leave me here to die? I would be easy prey for those shadow things, or a natural disaster, or any random psycho who wandered past.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies